Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How Now Brown Cow

Sometimes the simplest things can hurl you back in time to a memory from long ago. This morning while I was driving on a SoCal freeway, a truck pulled in front of me. It was a dairy truck and painted on the back was a picture of a smiling brown cow, winking at me from over a fence.

Immediately I was flung back to a childhood memory of My Brown Cow. I called her Bess; a more elegant version of "Bossy". She was a Brown Swiss, and she grazed in the field in back of my parents’ home. She lived in a barn that was one of the last rural farms in that part of Pennsylvania. The suburbs of Philadelphia had all but crowded out the cows at that point in time.
Bess knew I would bring her an apple and a face rub. Every day I would come home from grade school, enter my parents’ front door and race through the kitchen and out the back door, and every day there she would be, standing at the corner of the yard, on the other side of the fence, waiting for me. Every day. She was there. Every day I would hug her and kiss her nose, wet though it was, and talk to her and tell her about my day. And every day those immense liquid brown eyes would take in the stories of my triumphs and failures, my proud achievements and my abject disappointments. She’d crunch her apple. I’d comb her soft coat. I’d braid her tail hair. Once I put ribbons in it.

One day when I ran out, she wasn’t there. I waited and finally left the apple on the fence post. I never saw her again.

A few years later we moved to the farm in Maine. My father had determined he wanted to ‘go back to the earth’ and so bought a small dairy farm that had a herd of about forty cows. It was there I learned the composition of a good dairy herd; the mix needed to produce the best overall butterfat content: Holstein for volume, Guernsey and Jersey for high butterfat, Brown Swiss for balance. We also had a magnificent Ayreshire, resplendent with horns, for character. Her name was Ramona.

Cherie was the Grande Dame of the herd. An older lady, she had reached the age where she could no longer be bred, and her milk production was diminished. My tender heart wanted to keep her as a pet. I flashed back to Bess and poured out my love on Cherie. I pleaded with my father not to sell Cherie and screamed and clung to her when the slaughter wagon came and the butcher put a rope around her neck to take her away. I still have a photograph in my mind of her huge wise eyes as they regarded my father pulling me off her as I hit him and tried vainly to bargain: I would pay for her feed, I would make sure she was not a burden. Promising, promising, but to no use. Cherie knew full well what was happening. She was more resigned than I and went calmly to her fate. She understood she had no options. I did not yet accept that I too had no options at that point in my life. So I fought. She accepted. I never saw her again.

Rebecca was a small Jersey. Every day in the summer I would go out to the field to call in the herd, and as she was heavily pregnant she was reluctant to get up and walk back to the barn. Every day I would go and sit down and cajole her to move. And finally she would, slowly and with great effort, get up making soft sounds of protest and woofs of exertion. I would nestle myself against her hip, with her swollen belly in front of me and my arm flung over her soft back. We would slowly walk back to the barn each night that way.

I went away to college and one day I came home and all the cows were gone. My father had wearied of dairy farming. Another phase over; another hobby discarded. I never saw them again.

My memories of cows are warm and wonderful. The feel of their soft hair. The snorfting sound they make when they breathe. The gentle nuzzle of their head as they ask for a treat or a hug. They are sweet, pacific creatures who possess wisdom and emotion, and who form attachments as we do. And I just love them.

So you’ll excuse me when I decline to go with you to the steak house. Or refuse to eat a fast food burger. Yes, I know it’s the cycle of life, but it’s no longer the cycle of my life. The mass production of beef is immoral and cruel. And I owe it to Bess and Cherie and Rebecca and the others.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

By the Dark of the Moon

We are within the influence of New Moon for the next few days: a time to conclude and prepare.

The New Moon energy is wonderfully suited to clearing out, making room, and formulating plans. Wrap up the work that you have been laboring on for the past four weeks. Look forward to what is coming and plan what you shall accomplish or achieve in the next four weeks. Gather up that which must leave your life and set it free – and this especially means energetic junk that has no use for you. Let pain and resentment go away in a little pink bubble or something – just let it go. Clear away the detritus that has attached itself to you in the past lunar cycle, so that you can enter the next all clean and shiny. With ongoing projects, make note of your accomplishments, and gauge what you can make progress on in the next month. Give thanks for guidance and resources received.

The Time of the Dark is also useful for time dimension work. History reveals itself more easily during this moon energy. Take time to meditate on your life events, and see what lessons and knowledge reveal that you have not yet understood regarding your life path. I like to sit outside when I do this, and dig my feet into the earth. But you can do it in your 20th floor condo if you like. Just do it.

And consider too, what I call the ‘backwards casting spell’. What you think and intend in the present can affect the past. Think back and intend accordingly. If only you send soothing comforting energy to a past difficult time, that is a help. For many, this is a strange and advanced concept. I assure you: it is not only possible, it is remarkable.

Moon work typically makes use of lunar energy for three days before, and three days after the actual moment of a moon phase. We’re in the New Moon influence now. So take some time now to balance your life and you will benefit from the harmony you create.