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As much as I can feel like I was born in the wrong era and find myself drawn to earlier times of cobblestone streets or ancient temples, I am extremely grateful for technology right now.

Let me explain.

Not only is modern technology connecting us in this very moment through underground cables and wireless routers and efficiently powered smartphones…

Not only is modern technology making it possible for you to google something on the web and go down a rabbit hole to eventually find that life changing blog post or informative article or long lost friend you thought you’d never see again…

Modern technology has made it so I have been able to connect with Helena – the original mother of my lineage – who walked this earth a mere 20,000 years ago.

Cue tears-in-my-eyes-jaw-on-the-floor when I found that out.

Here’s how it happened…

I began this year with a desire to connect more deeply with my own ancestry.

As someone who has always been drawn to ancient cultures and yearned for a deeper connection to spiritual traditions, I started to become aware of many women who were like me (of European descent) that were teetering on the edge of appropriating other cultural traditions. I believe this comes from a desire to feel connected to something deeper and bigger than ourselves, but can result in further perpetuating the marginalization of minority groups in this world.

I recognized times in my own life when I was unknowingly appropriating other cultures, and wanted to make a shift. I wanted to honor these cultural traditions as sacred and also come to more deeply understand my own.

Throughout my life, I’ve had little stirrings of knowing around certain cultures.

When I watched Outlander for the first time, I openly wept. The hilly Scottish countryside, the songs, the historical context all felt so deeply real to me.

When Tim and I visited Iceland several years ago, I also couldn’t help but feel so at home wherever we traveled to (which is strange since the conditions are so harsh in that part of the world).

I also felt this sense of familiarity when I traveled to India during my junior year of college and it comes back up whenever I read about the indigenous tribes of the Northeastern states. It perplexes my rational mind, but I believe this to be a connection to my soul lineage – the line of ancestry that I resonate with from the deepest core of my essence. These are the life ways that I can remember, that I already know, without logical explanation for it.

Through all this realization and exploration, I decided I needed deeper clarity on who my people are and were.

So for the winter holidays, Tim and I gifted each other the ancestry test from 23andMe. We surprised ourselves with how excited we both were to spit in a tube and finally find out what our actual global ancestry was. It took 8 anxious weeks to get our results back.

It turns out, I’m 99.7% European, concentrated mostly in the northwestern regions. Here’s a screenshot of my results:

My results pretty much confirmed what I knew to be true (with a few unexpected data points – like the fact that I am 0.3% Native American and 1.6% Ashkenazi Jewish), but then something very magical happened.

I was sharing my results on Instagram stories and my friend messaged me, asking if I knew who my Clan Mother was. My response was, “No, but tell what that is because my whole body is tingling with intense curiosity!”

She explained that, for people who are primarily of European descent, the DNA they inherit from their mothers can be traced back many thousands of years back to just one woman – the common maternal ancestor for her clan.*

The idea of finding out who my ancestral grandmother was got me googling like crazy, learning about this world of Mitochondrial DNA (or mtDNA).

Here’s a cool fact: Your mtDNA assists your cells in using oxygen. So every time you breathe, you are using the mtDNA of your your clan mother.

The moment I read this, the feeling I felt was indescribably palpable. Thanks to modern genetic science, I had the opportunity to connect with my 20,000 year old Grandmother.

Using my ancestry report from 23andMe, I was able to easily find my maternal DNA Haplogroup which is a long chain of letters and numbers. What’s important, however, is the letter it begins with as there are only seven of them. For me, that letter is H.

Armed with my letter H, I found my way to the work of Oxford genetics professor Bryan Sykes who wrote a book called The Seven Daughters of Eve. In his book, Bryan has taken each of these seven letters (representing each Clan Mother) and given each of them a name and a story.

My clan mother is Helena (Greek for light).

According to Sykes, Helena lived 20,000 years ago at a time when the last Ice Age was at its most severe. In the winter, the Atlantic Ocean froze and pack ice could be found as far south as Bordeaux in France. Britain was still joined to continental Europe by dry land, and what are now the English midlands, central Wales, and southern Ireland were all buried under ice.

Helena spent her childhood on the shoreline and in the woodlands south of the ice sheets. She would help her mother comb the woods for wild mushrooms and toadstools, or wade into the brackish lagoons searching for oysters. Her father patrolled the woods alone, on the lookout for small deer and other mammals to hunt with handmade spears.

Knowing I am a descendent of Helena brings me a sense of grounded connection – like a tree whose roots go deep into earth for miles and miles – rooting me into a lineage of women that go back thousands of years. It gives me a deeper feeling of purpose – that I am Helena’s legacy.

That she hand-stitched clothes with sinew and pelts to survive through those ice cold winters and birthed her babies in a cave by the river during the annual reindeer migration to 20,000 years later pass on her DNA through the very breath that moves through my lungs brings me to my knees in awe.

So, even though I still wonder what it would have been like to be a medicine woman in ancient Ireland or a parfumier in 18th century France or Nordic warrioress in old Scandinavia, I’m also eternally grateful to be alive here in this moment. To have the ability to connect to Helena and all of her that is within me.

Curious about the other clan mothers? Here they are below:

{image via The Seven Daughters of Eve}

The clan of Ursula (Latin for she-bear)

The clan of Xenia (Greek for hospitable)

The clan of Helena (Greek for light)

The clan of Velda (Scandinavian for ruler)

The clan of Tara (Gaelic for rocky hill)

The clan of Katrine (Greek for pure)

The clan of Jasmine (Persian for flower)

*This is true for all major cultural clusters around the world. Among Native Americans, there were four clan mothers, among Japanese people, there were nine clan mothers, etc. For the purposes of this article, I will be focusing on my own European ancestry but I encourage you to research your own.

Now I want to hear from you!

Do you know who your clan mother is? Have you researched your ancestral heritage? What did you find out?

Share in the comments below.

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How my genetic ancestry report helped me find my 20,000 year old Grandmother. Read the post to learn how you can find your own!

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Water is sacred.

You probably know this already.

Afterall, 75% of your body is made up of water.

You know what else? Trees are made up of 75% water too.

Water is in your blood, your brain cells, your saliva and your tears. You were created and birthed in an amniotic sac filled with water.

You can live a month without food, but just a week without water.

Connection to a water source has been the source of community creation for thousands of years. It’s a source of nourishment, sign of access to food, and the transfer of goods and people through its ability to move.

In the energetic and earth medicine space, water is connected to empathy, emotion, and embodied intuition. Water is a carrier of energy and feelings and it can hold so much. Water teaches us how to release our emotions, how the depths can serve us as we expand, and how to replenish ourselves to cultivate resilience.

We live in such a modern world – with toilets that flush with ease and taps that produce water within an instant of turning them on.

In our privileged access to water, many of us have lost our deeper connection to and reverence of its very existence.

So how can we reconnect to water and deepen our relationship with it?

Care for your lands. Keep your water clean and support organizations who do the same.

In ancient cultures, wells were decorated and altars were placed nearby to show gratitude and respect to the waters. In ancient Europe, the sacred Hawthorn tree (which was the tree to stand under during a wedding ceremony and to conceive a baby near) was planted near wells.

If you live near a well or source of water (like a river or reservoir), consider creating an altar next to it or leaving an offering to show gratitude.

What I’ve been trying to do is thank my water when I bathe, flush the toilet, cook, or wash my clothes. I remind myself the water has journeyed a long distance – from the sky to the rivers to the reservoir to the pipes that bring it out the tap whenever I turn it.

I thank it for my life. The water that surrounds me and is within me.

I also researched where my water primarily comes from to form a deeper connection with it.

Where I live, 75% of my water comes from rainwater captured on the mountain I live just next to – called Mt. Tamalpais. When I learned that (from a simple google search), I felt a powerful resonance in my body. To be able to wake up, walk outside, and look up at the mountain watershed that nourishes me feels like such a beautiful blessing.

So I decided to paint a little reminder to myself – using my beloved watercolor paints.

I painted my mountain, wrote out a little blessing, and cut the paper to fit an extra frame I had lying around – placing the frame just above our kitchen sink. I’m going to make one for our toilet next.

There’s more I can do to create deeper awareness of and honoring of my source of water – but this feels like a really tangible first step that I encourage you to join me in.

I want to hear from you!

Did you look up your source of water? Tell me what it is! How else can you honor the sacred waters in your life?

Leave a comment below.

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Click through to read how I'm connecting more deeply to the waters that nourish me.

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“Bees and flowers….you can’t invite one in without the other.”

A knowing shiver ran down my spine as I heard those words uttered. I felt my lips mouth a knowing yes as I listened to the radiant shamanic bee priestess speak these words of truth.

For a few months now, I’ve been taking a class called The Folk Medicine and Magic of Old Europe with the amazing Liz Migliorelli.

One weekend a month, I make the long trek up twisty roads – through vineyards, and orchards, dense redwood forests, and along a widening river that finally meets the wild sea town of Mendocino. 12 of us meet in an old red cabin, circling around an altar of candlelight, photos and belongings of our ancestors, and the medicines we make together.

My time in that cabin has been profoundly altering. Not so much in the gathering of knowledge (I’ve got books upon books of stories, facts, and data for that), but in the remembering of the wisdom that already flows through me.

This past weekend, as the sun trickled through the windows and mingled in and out of the incense smoke swirling around us, I became re-enchanted with the honeybee.

As women, we are so naturally drawn to beauty. Flowers are such a profound expression of nature’s range of artistry when it comes to the beauty of this planet.

But flowers (and life itself) would not exist without the honeybee.

Did you know that the honeybee spends the last 2 weeks of her life making love?

Let me explain.

The majority of the bees in the hive are ladies (sisters, actually). They spend most of their short lifetime working in the hive – feeding the young, tending to the queen, cleaning comb, and making sure the hive is in working order.

It is only in their last 2 weeks of their life that they leave the hive to interact with the flowers and pollinate.

Flowers are the sexual organs of a plant. They flaunt their unique shapes and colors to attract the bees to their flowing nectar, who in turn drop some pollen from their bee bodies into the flower and allow for fertilization.

How incredibly beautiful is that? Raw, life-force energy embodied in her final days.

The honeybee was revered in ancient cultures – a symbol of sovereignty and queendom.

She is deeply connected with all living things and isn’t afraid to use her venom when threatened.

In ancient Greece, the bee priestesses (or the melissae) would congregate at the Temple of Delphi where there was a spring from which they would receive the wisdom of the earth. The beehive – the entire unit of bees – was the keeper of that wisdom.

A single bee cannot be of service without her sisters.

That, to me, shows that we cannot do it alone. The honeybee and her hive – perhaps one of the most exquisite creations nature has created – illustrates this beautifully.

And her honey, a gift. Intoxicating in its sweetness and nourishing in its properties.

In some ancient cultures, honey used to be the first thing that touched a baby’s lips before she took the first drink of milk from her mother’s breast – a symbol of her divinity in human form.

Raw honey is a sacred thing that nourishes our human bodies in so many ways. Beyond the sweetness that delights the tongue, honey is antimicrobial, antibacterial and an antioxidant for the body.

A few ways to incorporate honey into your self-care rituals:

Milk & Honey Bath

Add 1 cup whole milk and 3 tbsp raw honey to a hot bath for a sensual, skin-softening bathing experience.

Herb Infused Honey

Infuse strong smelling aromatic herbs into honey to add to teas and food. I’m about to make use of the lemon balm growing in my garden and will add in some lavender.

You can infuse in 2 ways, depending on if you have dry or fresh herbs.

You can pour the honey over dried herbs and letting it sit for 2 weeks before straining and bottle. You can also warm the honey in a double boiler (being sure it doesn’t get too warm and start to cook) and place dry-wilted fresh herbs in the warm honey for 4-5 minutes at a time 3 days in a row (letting it sit in the pot overnight with the herbs between warming sessions) before straining and bottling.

Check out this video I made 4 years ago that shows me infusing dry herbs into honey using cheesecloth.

Raw Honey Face Mask

To soften and moisturize dry skin that’s recovering from the winter, spread raw honey all over your face (or body for that matter) and let sit for 10 mins before washing off with warm water.

Honey is not to be taken for granted. 1 worker bee produces 1/10th of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.

I urge you to get to know a local beekeeper and purchase honey that is raw and not processed. The large-scale, conventional honey industry doesn’t serve the longevity of bee populations and processes their honeys so much that it’s nothing much than sugar syrup when you add it to your tea.

I want to hear from you!

What’s your relationship to the honeybee? Did you grow up scared of its sting? Do you keep bees yourself? How do you work with honey in your kitchen or medicine making?

Leave a comment below.

Many thanks to Ariella Daly and Liz Migliorelli for their teaching on the bee that inspired this writing.

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The sacred honeybee. Learn more about ancient bee priestesses and self-care rituals using raw honey.

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Recently, a beloved sister in The Creative Sisterhood shared an article that struck a nerve with many women in the community, including myself. It brought up beliefs around what it means to be successful, the sheer exhaustion of striving, and the glorification of the Type A perfectionist in modern day culture.

Through the sharing of our own experiences, it quickly became clear to all of us that healing is needed around the not-enoughness we often feel as modern day creative women.

But this idea of making peace with mediocre feels half-baked to me.

While it is reclaiming your own sense of well-being as the true measure for a full and happy life, it is still comparing it to the standards of conventional society – deeming it mediocre.

The dictionary definition of mediocre is “of only moderate quality, not very good.”

So if embracing a slow life of tending to your beloved garden, knitting while your cat sits on your lap in the evenings, reading books on the porch at sunset, and working a job that makes you enough money to keep doing all those things that bring you joy…I wouldn’t exactly categorize your life as “of only moderate quality.” I would characterize it was purposeful, sacred, and freaking amazing.

My point is this: what brings you joy and pleasure and purpose is the only thing that really matters.

Where we get tripped up (even me…still) is when we compare it to the stories and images we are presented with on a daily basis with the headline of “wildly successful.”

And I don’t mean to make this all sound so simple.

The transition we are all experiencing (from the linear model of success to a more felt sense of life pleasure) is deeply healing work.

The system of patriarchy that has ruled society for thousands of years tells us that if we follow the straight line that is laid out for us, everything will be ok. Work long hours, keep your head down, don’t make a splash by being too different, and you will be rewarded in the end.

But I am telling you this:

You don’t need to suffer in order to succeed.

You don’t need to keep striving in order to make your dreams happen.

You don’t have to do it all on your own and never ask for help for fear of appearing weak.

You don’t need to hold it all together all the time.

You don’t have to do it the way your mother or father or brother or boss or mentor did it.

If it doesn’t feel good, stop.

You are still incredibly brave and smart and worthy of everything you desire. It is when you remember who you are, your true nature, than all the striving becomes less important.

Because you have found devotion – something far more invigorating than blind ambition.

I want to hear from you:

If you weren’t afraid of what other people would think, say, or do what would you do?

Share in the comments below, sister.

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Read more about my thoughts on a culture of striving and the not-enoughness we all feel.

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Once again, the sun is telling us we are in a time of transition.

A transition from the quiet reflective winter into the quickening energy of spring. The soil is warming, new shoots are bursting through and buds are starting to bloom.

This past Monday (the 20th of March), we in the northern hemisphere crossed over the equinox – where both day and night are equal – into Spring.

Spring is a time of childlike wonder – when neither harsh winter or the merciless summer is present. It’s about new life and hope, the planting of seeds and the activation of the fertility cycle.

via

This time is associated with the goddess Ostara – the springtime goddess of fertility and rebirth. She is often depicted out in nature (usually with a hare and basket or nest of eggs) and is sometimes pregnant.

Ostara is her Celtic name. Eostre is her Saxon name. This is where the word for the Christian celebration “Easter” came from.

East-er referring to the sun rising in the east – warming of the earth to plant crops and sustain yourself another year.

You can see more depictions of the springtime goddess here.

The Egg Tradition

The coming of spring after the quiet sleep of winter is traditionally associated with fertility and creation of new life. This is physically represented through flowers, seeds, rabbits, and eggs.

Ancient traditions of working with eggs include farmers keeping them in their pockets as they planted new seeds. The tradition of the egg hunt has roots in a playful game of hiding chicken eggs all around the village. If you found one, it was good luck for an abundant year with a bountiful harvest.

Rituals for Transitioning into Spring

Transitioning into spring can feel emotionally heavy as well. When you are moving from the innerworld of winter towards the outerworld of the new season, so much needs to be shed and honored before the energy and life-force of spring can feel really good in your body.

This is where ritual comes in.

Ritual helps you ground into what you’re feeling (the shedding of thick sadness, increased energy that feels overwhelming, etc) to move you into the new energy with grace and sustained energy.

A springtime ritual can be anything that honors your emotions and helps to gently move you through the transition to spring.

A ritual I’ve done in the past has been a springtime cleanse of my body – moving to more greens and bitter vegetables to cleanse my liver and move my blood after the stagnancy of winter.

Another ritual I love doing during the spring is naturally dying eggs with elements from nature. I show you how I do it here.

I place these dyed and decorated eggs in baskets around the house and on my altar space to welcome in the energy of new life and rebirth in my own life and in the soil beneath me.


This year, I’ve been getting really into making egg candles out of beeswax. Here is the mold I got off amazon (grease with coconut oil first!) and, if you want the candles without having to make them, this etsy seller has beautiful eggs straight from the beekeeper in Ohio.

Once I have my egg candle, I follow the ancestral tradition of carving intentions into the candle before burning. This can be actual words or images. These intentions serve as the metaphorical seeds I’m planting for this season of growth. I place the egg on my altar (or kitchen table at meal time) and burn it with love and hope in my heart.

Spring Herbal Floor Wash

A new ritual I’ve come to love to welcome in the newness of spring to your home space is giving my floors an herbal floor wash.

Rather than tune into the perfectionism focused cleanliness that can come up around “spring cleaning”, this herb infused floor wash is about bringing intention to clearing out the stagnant energy of winter in your space and welcoming in the freshness of spring.

 

You’ll need:

  • Fresh rosemary
  • Lemon essential oil (optional)
  • Quartz crystal (optional)
  • Large bucket
  • Mop

Heat water on the stove until it’s just boiling. Fill your bucket with torn pieces of rosemary (tearing it releases the oils) and pour the hot water over it. Add in a few drops of the essential oil if you so desire and drop in the crystal if you have it on hand.

Cover the bucket with a cloth and let the herbs steep and marry for at least 30 minutes. Once steeped, remove the cloth and carefully (with gloves if it’s still really hot!) remove the herbs and crystal.

Carry your bucket and mop into a room and, before beginning, take a moment to breathe deep, close your eyes, and think about what you want to feel when you step into this room once you’ve completed washing the floors. Examples could be: fresh, sparkling, peaceful, joyous, excited, crisp, and inspired.

When you’re ready, dip your mop into bucket and thoughtfully wash your floor.

Once complete, walk way to let the floor dry naturally and enjoy the new spring energy of your room.

I’d love to hear from you!

How do you plan to welcome in spring over these next few weeks? Have you tried a magical floor wash or plan to now?

Share in the comments below.

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Read more about creative rituals you can do to welcome spring in your home and your heart, including a magical floor wash I'm currently obsessed with!

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