Monday, February 19, 2018

Big Dipper: a vessel needing filled up

Little Dipper by Mira Scott, buy see her paintings
“Our body is a sacred temple/A place to connect with people./As we aren't staying any younger/ We might as well keep it stronger.” ― Ana Claudia AntunesThe Tao of Physical and Spiritual

“Your body is home for your breath, your mind, your soul—how can you treat it like the sacred container that it is.”— Kristin Diversi

“This is the time of the great weaving of women…To get her deepest truths, a woman doesn’t ascend but rather descends.  This is why she has feared herself where both her yes and her no, her strength and vulnerability create conditions for her whole self to be both leveled and raised up simultaneously as a vessel of the fiercest feminine power imagined. – Alisa Starkweather


In Max Dushu’s article about Xi Wangmu, she describes how the goddess gains her power from the dipper stars.   I’ve been contemplating this idea this week; what if this is a metaphor?  

A dipper is a ladle or a scoop by definition.  It could also be define as a vessel or container to carry a solid or liquid.  In this discussion, I'm talking about Xi Wangmu’s power.  And, what if the dipper was within Xi Wangmu?  Thus the dipper stars are there to remind us where she gets her power: within.  Maybe the dipper stars remind her to take time and refuel this power?  

My body is considered a sacred vessel and it too holds my power.  But, unlike Xi Wangmu, I don’t take enough time to refuel.  I give and give—depleting my energy.   And, if I do refuel it -- most often it is with junk.  Junk being: candy, reading a no think novel, or binge watching tv.   


blessing the boats
By Lucille Clifton (1936-2010)
(at St. Mary’s)

my the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back     may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that


Girl at Duck Pond, Paula Modersohn-Becker
See it at Museaum Belvedere
As you know, it’s that time of year again.  LENT.  LENT: 40 days of being solemn and reflecting and giving up to make space for the divine moments.    The word originates from Anglo-Saxon Lenten, meaning “spring.” or getting ready for spring.  This year, as in the past I will not be giving up, but bringing in.  I will be continuing a Lenten Season based on Candice Benbow’s article of how women already give-up.  

This past year, my sacred vessel doesn’t need to be emptied any more.  Turning it up-side-down, there isn’t much left.  I’ve worried about my son’s health issues, coped with my own health issues that haven’t gone away, worried about my dad’s health, worried about my friend who is homeless, worried about finances with a child in college, worried about yet another job responsibility added to my overflowing plate, worried about the working conditions of my job…worried about…  Then there are the worries from outside my home and are from my community and my country.  Each worry has taken a drink from my sacred vessel.  The D*** news gets worse each day. On the day of love (Valentine's Day), marked with tragedy. 

Friday, I cried at the computer.  My origami stars next to my desk reminded of my words I wrote on them.  Strong words.  Inspired, I choose one word to fill-up my vessel during Lent.  Spontaneous laughter.   

I promised to laugh – belly laugh—the kind that causes tears to run down my cheek and leg. 

ARTUAL (Art + Ritual)

This week I am working on those projects that have a little bit to go.  One is a tie quilt that needs its binding sewn and the other a pullover sweater that I knitted (I’m changing it into a cardigan).  Both have been drinking from the vessel by not being completed. 

Now is the time. 

Your quest – find those creative projects that you haven’t completed.  Do it now.  

Update: 2/19/2018:  Finished up a tie quilt by asking C over for an afternoon craft day.  Then watched a funny movie on Hulu.

Update: 2/21/2018:  I laughed at the Black Panther.  It was because of my age and the jokes were related to my experiences as an older woman.  Most of the audience didn't know Grace Jones.  (Link to her singing Slave to the Rhythm)

Monday, February 12, 2018

Losing Course

Big Dipper Pole Star / Ursa Major by Kasia
See and buy her artwork
“The great safeguard of society and of domestic life was, that opinions were not acted on. Sane people did what their neighbors did, so that if any lunatics were at large, one might know and avoid them.” ― George Eliot, Middlemarch

“Don't stay in the harbour and miss the greatness of the sea. Just because everyone else is anchored, doesn't mean you have to be.” ― Joyce Rachelle

“Once conform, once do what other people do because they do it, and a lethargy steals over all the finer nerves and faculties of the soul. She becomes all outer show and inward emptiness; dull, callous, and indifferent.” ― Virginia Woolf

My mom gave me her eye look.  It was a sly sideways glance as she unloaded the grocery items onto the conveyor belt.  Her eyes were slit and her lips: an unmovable red line. 
I put the paper back into its metal slot next to the candy and gum.  The tabloid showed a space alien with large enticing eyes.  I was compelled to buy it.  The alien stood shaking hands with President Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office, both had a friendly smiling and looked directly at the photographer.  There was another photo showed a space disk flying away in the evening sky with the Washington Monument in the background.  The paper was like the previous weeks warning:  space beings were meeting with federal officials and the public was being denied access to these talks.         
“They steal your money with that trash.”
I tried to explain how my classmates were talking about the aliens and I wanted to read the article like they did.  I didn’t want to be weird and not know. 
“Pure rubbish.”  Mom said in a harsh whisper that only I could hear.  
Mom was a nurse who worshiped the scientific method and grew up during the duck and cover Cold War/McCarthy era.  “Question everything before believing,” was one of her ideology.  She stated that this newspaper offered no proof that there were aliens.  The photos?  Mom pointed to the handshake.  Jimmy Carter’s hand didn’t match up right and the picture looked vaguely familiar to her—most likely stolen from the Associated Press.  “Tell your friends they need to use their minds and not be sucked in to believing.”  She probably ended this conversation with her usual “if your friends jumped off the bridge would you…” statement.
This week I was reminded this grocery store interaction.  What is truth and what could derail me from my North Star Intentions I hold for the year.

A friend sent me two Ted Talks: 1) Gary Kovacs talk about behavior tracking.  2) Eli Pariser talk about algorithms that explains how my conservative family members have been eliminated from my Facebook feed.  
My friend’s message continued discussing their alarm at how the internet is creating a personalized bubble for me.   It – the internet or those who make big bucks off this type of spying  – has been filtering what it thinks I/we need to see like craft coupons from Michaels or spiritual retreats with white only sisters or cheap hockey tickets.   She wanted to know if I was concerned. 
Yes, it made me upset to learn that this algorithm function was eliminating what other interests I have (spiritual retreats with sisters who are from all traditions and races or cheap baseball tickets or new running shoe coupons) or what I may find uncomfortable (how to talk about racism with a covert racist). 
My friend followed with the National Public Radio’s article on Russians were infiltrating into normal everyday types of conversations.  She proposed: could they (an unnamed source) create chaos by infiltrating the issues she felt dear too (i.e., environmental, women’s rights, child abuse, sexual assault). 
I assured her that we could see through it; we were smart with graduate degrees.  However, it did cause me to wonder about how the internet was filtering my view of topics?   Or, influencing my ideas or tailoring a small circle of friends who agree on everything.  Or, how the internet algorithms and bots taken me off course?  Meaning fogging my sight of my North Star?  I wonder how I could stay vigilant. 

Yesterday, I was looking at my feed on Facebook and up popped a headline “Look who voted no on the Violence Against Women’s Act Tuesday.”  My first gut reaction was anger, next more anger because I hadn’t been notified that this vote was happening.  After all this emotion, I realized that some of the faces were no longer in the senate.  I almost was pulled onto a bandwagon from these outside influencers.   Derailed from my North Star place.


The Stars Align by Sherry Harridence, Acrylic. 
See and buy her paintings 
Under on Small Star
By Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012)

My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My apologies to necessity if I'm mistaken, after all.
Please, don't be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due.
May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade.
My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second.
My apologies to past loves for thinking that the latest is the first.
Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing flowers home.
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger.
I apologize for my record of minuets to those who cry from the depths.
I apologize to those who wait in railway stations for being asleep today at five a.m.
Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing from time to time.
Pardon me, deserts, that I don't rush to you bearing a spoonful of water.
And you, falcon, unchanging year after year, always in the same cage,
your gaze always fixed on the same point in space,
forgive me, even if it turns out you were stuffed.
My apologies to the felled tree for the table's four legs.
My apologies to great questions for small answers.
Truth, please don't pay me much attention.
Dignity, please be magnanimous.
Bear with me, O mystery of existence, as I pluck the occasional thread from your train.
Soul, don't take offense that I've only got you now and then.
My apologies to everything that I can't be everywhere at once.
My apologies to everyone that I can't be each woman and each man.
I know I won't be justified as long as I live,
since I myself stand in my own way.
Don't bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words,
then labor heavily so that they may seem light.


Artual (Art + Ritual) 

Last week, I talked about my new year's focus: that which makes me feel alive and nurtures my heart.  I wrote affirmations around the following phrases:

I am
I create
I allow
I see
I cultivate
I manifest
I believe in the possibility that

What I noticed about my affirmations were key words that really struck home.  Such as magical moment, laughter, joy, higher view, love, connection, divine presence…  these words struck directly to my Polaris Star -  the point within my heart.  That place where my true self lives; a place that isn’t influenced by the dipper stars scooping and pouring through the seasons.  That place that doesn’t have a care about Facebook feeds or space aliens.  I quickly decided that the words had more power than the affirmations.  

I decided to create something to remind me of this heart place when I am at my desk.  What I came up with was a jar filled with origami stars.  Within each star is written key word or phrases.  I am hoping that this will remind me to not be swayed.  I've included a how to picture for making the stars.  

Monday, February 5, 2018

Wishing on a star

Big Dipper, Karen Elzinga, see and purchase her art
“Life is a dream, what you make of it is reality.” S.T. Holmes

“There's no point having wishes if you don't at least try to do them” - Sally Nicholls, Ways to Live Forever

“I've wished for things and never really had the chance...It's time to stop dreaming and do something about it. You've got to know what you want, then...go.” - Deb Caletti, The Six Rules of Maybe

It is unusual that I get to see anything "cool" during Ohio winters.  Last Wednesday morning's lunar eclipse was no exception.  I got up early hoping to see the full moon turn red as lipstick, but the skies were clouded over and the weather station predicted snow.  The moon didn't appear nor did the stars.  I was relegated to watch the eclipse via NASA internet streaming.     

This month I'm switching to another aspect of Xi Wangmu: the Big Dipper.  I learned to identify this star pattern in Girl Scouts (NOTE: a pattern not a constellation, but part of one).  It was probably a requirement for a badge and I was into acquiring badges.  What fascinated me, and still does, is how the seven stars move around the fix point, the North Star (Polaris).  Each season being in a different position of scooping and pouring out.       

It was the Phoenicians who showed Greek astronomer Thales, (600 BC) how they used the the Little Dipper to navigate the sea.  Thales in turn showed the Greek sailors a new way to steer by the stars.  When I look up at the Dippers on the occasional clear winter night, I wish my life could be as easy as following the Polaris star.  

The Falling Star
Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)

“I saw a star slide down the sky,
Blinding the north as it went by,
Too burning and too quick to hold,
Too lovely to be bought or sold,
Good only to make wishes on
And then forever to be gone.”


I have been re-thinking, what do I need in my life to make me happy? Yes a yellow mustang convertible would be fun, but would I be happy. Similarly, It would be nice to have a mansion in the woods, but would I be happy? My annual intention setting is different this year. I have scaled it back to: what do I need to be happy. With this in mind, I answered the following affirmation statements.

I am
I create
I allow
I see
I cultivate
I manifest
I believe in the possibility that

What I realized from this exercise, I needed to move, dance, twirl; and I needed to express more joy and love.  The mansion didn't appear.  Instead, I need to manifest spontaneous laughter.     

These are what I am wishing for this year.  These are my intentions.  

Monday, January 29, 2018

Reviving the Tiger Ritual

Katsushika Hokusai, Woodblock print, 1849
“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”  - Judy Blume, Tiger Eyes 

"So this is what I will do. I will gather together my past and look. I will see a thing that has already happened. the pain that cut my spirit loose. I will hold that pain in my hand until it becomes hard and shiny, more clear. And then my fierceness can come back, my golden side, my black side. I will use this sharp pain to penetrate my daughter's tough skin and cut her tiger spirit loose. She will fight me, because this is the nature of two tigers. But I will win and giver her my spirit, because this is the way a mother loves her daughter." - Amy Tan, Joy Luck Club

"But the tigers come at night/ With their voices soft as thunder/ As they tear your hope apart/ As they turn your dream to shame"  Susan Boyle singing Britain's Got Talent  "I dreamed a dreamed."


As you have been reading, I devoted these past four weeks studying aspects of the tiger power.  Motherfather Spirit kept presenting me with one thing that zaps my tiger power: my inner critic.  I declare myself a strong woman, but I too, have an inner critic that gives me comments about my unworthiness and not-enoughness and my imperfections.  I've been on several "list serves"  and I realized I'm not alone.  Others have their own inner critic and it functions in the same way: zapping our tiger power. 

In her book, Tiger's Wife, Tea Obreht describes the tigers in the zoo.  Bombs are exploding in an unnamed Balkan city, noise and the underlying fear causes stress to animals.  The caged tigers begin eating their young and one gnaws away at his leg until it is becomes gangrene.  There have been points in my life that I have allowed my inner critic to consume my tiger power.  My inner critic knows my weak points: not a good mother; a mother should be at home; only being able to have one child; art work that is rejected, my career is in a public health issue that will never stop (violence prevention).  And then there is society and the media that echo my critic...  During these times, I've walked into my work cubicle to hide or have sat in front of the television--staring unable to work, to create, to make.  I become like Obreht's tiger eating my creations before they can grow up. 

Intellectually, I know that this voice isn't truthful and works out of fear or wanting to keep me safe. 

Susan Boyle
This tiger study has also allowed me to recognize that I must have a bag of magic tricks to stop the inner critic.  Mine includes poems, songs, inspiration youtube videos that tell the critic "haa haa. take that."  One of my favorites is watching Susan Boyle's Britian's Got Talent audition.  She boldly walks onto the stage facing an audience that is under the "Mirror Mirror on the Wall Spell."  Susan is a middle aged woman with streaks of gray hair; who by the way she talks and appears looks like she didn't have any talent.  The (spell bound) cynical audience laughed at her comments.  But, when she opened her mouth to sing; there was a dramatic change.  "I know what they were thinking, but why should it matter as long as I can sing? It's not a beauty contest."  Susan Boyle told The Sunday Times.  She had her tiger spirit on that day.  It inspires mine.  

Music has always shook up my inner critic.  Singing songs while twirling, dancing, and acting out the lyrics... the voice gets drowned out.  

Create your own magic bag to build up your tiger spirit.  The following are on my play list.

Ode to Joy - Flash mob 

Talkin' bout a Revolution
Tracy Chapman

MOANA song "I Am Moana" (Song of the Ancestors)
Auli'i Cravalho

Rise Up
Andra Day

Girl On Fire
Alicia Keys

Sunny Side of Street
Billy Holliday “Lady Day”

One Love 
Bob Marley

Defying Gravity - Wicked
Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth

Taming the Tiger
Joni Mitchel


A Gaelic Blessing 
John Rutter

All Things Bright and Beautiful (Makes me think of my Grandmother) John Rutter

Monday, January 22, 2018

Oppressing the Tiger

Queen Mother of the West; earthenware,
Han Dynasty
"Nobody knows her beginning or her end" the Zhuang.

“She was a hurt animal- a tiger willing to destroy the whole jungle to get a thorn out of its paw. And he knew she would destroy him, too, if he got in her way.” Kit Alloway, Dreamfire.

“Such an angry little Kitten, with such sad eyes. Who hurt you, Georgia? Who took the light out of those pretty blue eyes, ehh?” Lesley Jones, The Story of Us

In her essay about Xi Wangmu, Max Dashu describes the attempt to strip the goddess of her power. Courtly writers during the Han dynasty airbrushed her tiger looks. They transformed a strong goddess with wild hair, tiger teeth and a tail into a young demure aristocratic woman whose agency came from finding a “prince.” Powerful men perceived that Xi Wangmu had been assigned too much governance in weaving the universe. When the public didn’t buy these changes, officials stated that Xi Wangmu was a slut who preyed on men to build up her power (Chi). She lured men into her peach garden with promises of immorality and zapped them.       

Propaganda has power. By the late Ming dynasty, the public believed the new stories told about Xi Wangmu. She became a minor character in her narratives. Her tiger power attributes were re-assigned to another goddess. Xi Wangmu's Seventh Night Festival welcoming fall now emphasized the weaver girl’s quest to find a husband. Xi Wangmu became an enduring Auntie or Godmother who assisted the weaver girl's journey and she became an intercessor assisting unmarried women find husbands. 

Aunt Jennifer's Tigers
by Adrienne Rich (1929 - 2012)

Aunt Jennifer's tigers prance across a screen,
Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
They do not fear the men beneath the tree;
They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.

Aunt Jennifer's finger fluttering through her wool
Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.
The massive weight of Uncle's wedding band
Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer's hand.

When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie
Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.
The tigers in the panel that she made
Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.

Eleanor Roosevelt statue at 72nd and Riverside Drive, NY, NY
by Penelope Jencks. 1996.
Photo by Katherine Weber, hat by Jessica Brockington,

This past weekend marked the one year anniversary of the women's marches. This year I headed south to Cincinnati for rehearsal. I am part of an Ohio V-Day (Vagina Monologue) production. I'll be reading my #Metoo poem. The women in my production are diverse in age, sexual orientation, single versus married, race and culture. We are a group of women who have written stories and poems around the theme of "what it means being a woman." It is a narrative on how to rise up.

Many of our stories are similar to Adrienne Rich's poem or the backlash Eleanor Roosevelt received for choosing to activate her power. This Ohio V-day program will have stories about how our tiger spirit has been taken away. There will be stories telling how women have been caged into spaces and how women have used self-blame for things others did to us. These V-Day stories also offer hope. They cultivate self-compassion and compassion towards other women. They narrate how to stop the blame game and how to listen with an open heart and offer empathy to other women.  And, how to become a sister.    

Artual: (Art plus ritual) a phrase coined by Whitney Freya

Homelights definition is: Anything you do or make is creating, and ultimately is Art. When you connect art with ritual it becomes Artual.

Weeping Tiger Salad

Grilled Steak Marinade:

Juice of 2 limes
1/8 ground coriander
1/8 red pepper
1/8 ground ginger
1/4 cup of soy sauce

Mix together marinade.  Marinate steaks for 30 minutes.  Grill both sides of steaks until done.

Salad dressing:

1 Tbsp: Vegetarian or non-fish fish sauce substitute: "In a saucepan, simmer 3 cups of water, 1/4 ounce of shiitake mushrooms, 3 Tbsp of salt, and 2 Tbs of soy sauce over medium heat until reduced by half. Strain, cool, and store in refrigerator for up to three weeks"
Cooks Illustrated.

Juice from 2 limes
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Thai chili chopped finely (I put mine in the food processor)
1/8 tsp of ground coriander 
splash of olive oil

Mix salad dressing together and toss salad.  Serve the grilled steak on the side.   

Monday, January 15, 2018

Tiger's Stripes: Joy and Grief

Tiger 虎 Japanese, Edo period, 1830 (Bunsei 13/Tenpô 1),
1st month Artist Utagawa Kunisada I (Toyokuni III),
Japanese, 1786–1864, Woodblock print (surimono);
ink and color on paper

“We have to embrace obstacles to reach the next stage of joy.”  Goldie Hawn

“Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.” Helen Keller

It happened again.  I received another: “Thank you for your submission.  We really enjoyed reading it, but we aren’t going to publish it (written in a nicer tone).  Please send us more.”  It is the eight time for this short story about grief, neighborhood rumors and mis-perceptions.  I sat staring at the e-mail for at least several minutes with my “magic eight ball.”  My heart is all weepy and the self-critic in her high voice saying:  “I told you this was going to happen.”  

I immediately silence her with:  “Is it worth trying to find a literary magazine or just self-publish?”   It is a question I've been mulling over lately before sharing my creations.  She doesn’t have an answer. 

Himalayan tiger panel sold by Loft House, Austin ,TX
Dance with the Tiger
Songwriters: John Stewart and Rosanne Cash

In every woman and man lies the seed of the fear
Of just how alone are all who live here
Denying the fear is the name of the game
To stare at the fear is going insane
Forgiving the fear is one up on Cane
Is to dance with the tiger
And laugh at the rain

Don't give me your life, I have one of my own
It was a brilliant idea inventing the home
Creatures of habit, American fools
Reaching for stars while we're standing on stools
Letting it go is jumping the train
Is to dance with the tiger
Letting it go though we won't be the same
Is to dance with the tiger
Letting it go is the name of the game
Is to dance with the tiger
And laugh at the rain

If you ask a preschooler the difference between a tiger and a lion, the answer is always a tiger has orange and black stripes.   The markings on their forehead are thought to resemble the Chinese character “King.”  This idea may have influenced author Jorge Lois Borge.  Borge wrote two stories about how the tiger stripes were coded messages from the divine—runic divination waiting to be read.  Zoologists would debunk these mystical ideas, firmly stating that the patterns were for camouflage.  The tiger's stripes mimic the shaded patterns of the sun coming through the trees and grasses.  Either way they are a mystical animal that walks in harmony with their environment.  The tiger is a perfect companion to Xi Wangmu.

I interpret their markings as a balance between joy and desires (orange) and grief (black).  For me, it often hard to maintain this balance.  I find myself always tilting towards the grief.  I admit, I have been trained to see the worst case scenario and this way of seeing is cheered on my inner critic.  She, most likely out of fear or wanting to protect me from future disappointments, projects the worse worse worse thing that could happen.  It is out of these moments I betray myself and don’t create.  I don’t sit and the computer, don’t knit a row, don’t color, don’t make yummy cookies, don’t…   I don’t make.

This isn’t living in balance.  It is a life walking in grief and shadow.  Orange has changed into its shadow.  It is an orange that relies on what people say and not on self-reliance.  It is taunted on by shadow black telling you, “You are unworthy.”    

Black has another meaning.  It is a mourning color recognizing death.  It is a color to be used for grounding, banishing or breaking curses.  Perhaps, the tiger’s stripes is a balance creativity and freedom (orange) by dismissing the inner critic. 

I will send off my short story again to another publication. 

Tiger Embroidery 
Artual (Art + Ritual) a phase coined by Whitney Freya 

Looking to the left, you will see that I have finished my tiger embroidery.  It was done riding in the car cross country (i.e., 3 days - USA).  

I have decided to make this creation into a pillow.  My son asked if he could have it.  It will be making it's trip back west hopefully by the end of the month.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Claiming Tiger Power

Korean Folk Art: Tiger and Magpie

"The living self has one purpose only, to come into is own fullness of being, as a tree comes into full blossom, or a bird into spring beauty, or a tiger into luster." D.H. Lawrence.

"Animal totems, like the tiger, come from the Other Side to protect us while we are away from Home." Sylvia Browne

When I was born, I received many stuffed animals.  One was an orange and black tiger.  It was given to me by my aunt who was attending University of Missouri (Mizzou).  Her school's mascot was a tiger.  According to UM history, the tiger honors a group of men (and women?) from the U.S. Civil War.  A local militia called themselves the Missouri Tigers and protected the city of Columbia, Missouri against pro-confederate forces. My stuffed tiger never appear to be terrible, angry, or ready to pounce.  Instead my tiger had a friendly smile, her tail curled up, and she was in what my son called the meatloaf position ready to take a snooze.   

In choosing a deity to study, SOF - T.A. recommended that I reflect if there were any animal patterns in my lifetime.  Throughout my life there has been tigers, bees, and blue birds often appearing.  T.A. next suggestion was to look for a deity with these animals.  When I did the search, Xi Wangmu, Grandmother of the West appeared.  Reading further, many of her symbols have appeared in my life.

Xi Wangmu is considered one of the oldest Goddess in China.  She lives in the Kunlun mountains in a garden.  She is known for her peaches that she grows.  One of the animals Xi Wangmu has been associated with is a tiger in ancient text.  She is shown as both a mother tigress with her cubs and a tigress with sharp claws and teeth.  The tiger becomes a metaphor of who she is.  Xi Wangmu is a Goddess holding balance and able to: create or destroy, promote disease or healing, foster life or death.    

The Jungle by Helena Perez Garcia 
A Dying Tiger -- moaned for a Drink.
Emily Dickinson (1863)

A Dying Tiger — moaned for Drink —
I hunted all the Sand —

I caught the Dripping of a Rock
And bore it in my Hand —

His Mighty Balls — in death were thick —
But searching — I could see
A Vision on the Retina

Of Water — and of me —

‘Twas not my blame — who sped too slow —
‘Twas not his blame — who died
While I was reaching him —
But ’twas — the fact that He was dead —

To be associated with a tiger is a good thing.  I see tigers as tough, brave, and courageous, but in a balanced way.  Yes, they can throw their weight around (500 lbs.), but they do it with grace and necessity.  They don't stockpile for the apocalypse.  They take what they need.  Tigers appear to live from a place of abundance rather than scarcity.  To me, they approach life much differently than humans who are always needing more things.

I also see tigers as having patience by waiting for the best meal or the best catch.  They stalk out their meal by moving around and getting a better perspective.  They seem to do this same behavior when looking for the best shady place to take a snooze.  I don't see tigers having an inner critic or having self doubt or self judgment.  If things don't work out they pick themselves up and try again or move on to the next place.

Artual (Art + Ritual: a phrase coined by Whitney Freya)          

As I suggested in last week's post.  This year, I will continue to emphasize creating things with my hands.  I googled ideas and really liked Jessica Marquez's "Satin Stitch Nepali Tiger Pillow."

I've made changes to Marquez's pattern.  1) I painted the tiger onto a piece of natural linen.  (A piece of fabric saved for a rainy day.)  2) I like orange tigers.  Thus, I used an bright orange acrylic paint from the craft area in Target.       

It took me about an hour to paint the tiger and another hour to dry before I got out my iron.

I expect that your tiger will look different from mine.  You are a different artist than me.  I also encourage you as your stitching to not think: "When am I going to get this thing done!!!!"  Rather let the stitches be a meditation on how you can be more tiger-like in your approach to life.