Updated: Jul 22, 2021
Rhythm / Devotion is a series of interviews intended to illuminate the connection to ritual & rhythm in our daily lives. This series explores the intimacy of routine, the magic of the ordinary, & how these small acts of devotion set the stage for larger workings in the world ~
What is your name & where are you in the world?
My name is Maribeth Helen Keane. Los Angeles, California is where I live and learn among the abundant land of the Tongva peoples.
How do you define yourself & your work?
I have really always been a writer and a deep thinker ~ my mom says I was born paying close attention to the world around me. I am fascinated by what makes us who we are; I am a curious inquirer. I am an artist, a community herbalist, an intuitive guide, a communicator with the invisible realms, a flower poet, a lover, a sensitive empath, a tea enthusiast.
Astrology is a language I move in intimate connection with every day ~ I am an Aquarius sun, Virgo rising, Gemini moon. Mercury is the ruling planet of my chart and flows through my chart in the sign of Pisces in the 6th house (with my sun) which I identify very strongly with among my work and how I move through the world on a daily basis.
Will you walk us through what a day in your life looks like? Begin with how you greet the morning & guide us until you close off the day in the eve ~
Currently, like many of us, I’m at a bit of a threshold of change in my life, but as I’m writing this and throughout the pandemic this is how my days have looked ::
I wake early to the enthusiastic meowing of my sweet cat, Scarlette. She wakes me around 6:30am by experimenting with many different meowing styles while knocking all of the rocks and books off my bedside table. She will often settle for a little cuddle and then we get up. I slowly rise and will usually say hello to my plants on the porch just off our bedroom. Then I scrape my tongue and move into the front part of our apartment to let my partner continue resting while I begin my morning routine.
I drink a large glass of warm water with a pinch of salt as I heat up water for tea. At this time I prepare Scarlette’s breakfast and usually do a few light stretches to further wake my body, notice the light in the apartment, the birdsong, and greet the plants on the porch off of the kitchen. I talk with my plants often throughout the day and love having them to check in with, admire, and receive medicine from. Scarlette loves lounging with them, too.
Once the water is hot, I brew a cup of Japanese sencha tea. I always begin my day with sencha, its energy and fresh green grassy flavor is so enlivening, I love it.
Once Scarlette is fed she’ll take a rest while I sit down at my desk to sip tea and begin my morning with some reflection. I light a candle, some incense, and write down a few things I am feeling grateful for + a short intention for the day. This helps me to have some roots to return to, which for my mind is essential to coming back down to earth throughout the day.
From here I spend some time with my tarot deck, asking what my guides would have me know for the day. Then I do a guided meditation and take a few drops of the flower essences I’m currently working with. After this time connecting with my body and with spirit, I make some breakfast, shower, and then take a walk, practice qigong, or reflect on what needs my attention for the day. I have a pretty anxious mind in the morning, so I have truly grown to cherish my morning routine as a foundational place to begin again, every day.
The next part of my day is usually spent doing some computer or creative work at my desk, which is also one of my altars. I try to stay as connected with spirit as I can throughout the day ~ I do this by creating little altars around our space to check in with, lighting candles when beginning my work, pausing for tea and to sit with my plants, taking walks to visit the plants in my neighborhood and feel the sun on my skin. Wonder is something I’m intentionally integrating more of into my routines.
My work and creative projects can vary day to day. Sometimes I am working on the book I’m writing, answering emails, writing my newsletter, creating herbal medicine, dreaming up new projects, or shipping out products. After some working hours I’ll pause for lunch.
After lunch I usually rest before engaging in some movement or creative exploration in the later afternoon. I was a photographer for many years and have recently begun taking photos again, so sometimes the afternoon is spent out wandering with a camera. I love having this practice back in my life in a much gentler and intuitive way than it used to be.
After a rest I will often clean up our space or my partner and I might take a long walk up into Griffith Park. Sometimes I spend the late afternoon writing or doing a little more work depending on my energy levels, inspiration, or what needs to be done.
As evening rolls in I will often water my plants, meditate and begin dinner. I love cooking dinner and sitting down at the table over candlelight to reflect on the day. After dinner I usually read or finish up any loose ends from the day before settling in to watch a show or film. I make a cup of restful tea and slip off to bed around 10:30pm.
You are a writer, herbalist, and intuitive guide ~ how do you prepare yourself &/or your space to enter into these practices?
When we moved into our current place I got a very sweet thrifted wooden working table, it has these wonderful carved legs. This table sits beneath a long window in our living room that opens up to the sky (we’re on the third floor). From here I love to look up from my work and watch the sky changing color, the clouds moving by, and any bird friends that might be sitting atop the building across from us. Having this sacred intentional space has honestly shifted my whole practice of working and creating.
I always, always light candles, I recently started dipping my own, it’s a wonderfully meditative process. This practice of lighting candles is my most direct connection to both spirit and intention. At my desk I have the flower essences I am working with so I often take a drop of each when beginning creative work or work with clients. I also call on and open to my spirit guides and the wisdom of my ancestors. After any work I’m engaged in, I take a few drops of a rose & tulsi elixir to come back to my body and ground back into my heart space if I’ve been in flow for a while. I always check in with my breath and my body before and after engaging in the work that I do.
If I’m working with plants or creating plant medicine it’s important that I am in communication with the medicine itself as I make it, and with the plants as I tend to them. This slows my work down and is essential to the intention of what I’m creating, my connection to it, and what I hope others will receive when they use the products I create. Everything is made on this altar and begins it’s infusion process here next to a photo of my grandmother, a water offering I keep in a sacred little vessel for the guides & spirits I work with, and the plant medicines I use during the creative process. All of this is infused into everything I create and is very much a part of the medicine.
Rose is the guide I work with most often for support, especially in client work. When I’m moving into a space to guide others I always call in my own guides as well as theirs. Then I will call on the spirit of rose for protection and heart-centered wisdom and pull some cards from the Take Good Care deck, which is an oracle deck I created and work with every day. Upon closing out a client session I will either have a snack or go get my feet on the earth to further integrate the session and come back to my body.
What do you do/not do if you are feeling stuck around your work?
I usually surrender to the process and take a break. Admittedly this sometimes happens after arguing with spirit a bit if I want to see something through and it’s clear I need some space or reflection to reroute. I most often take a walk or get in a bath, sometimes I’ll shift to working on something different, but mostly I need to fully step away from my desk and get a new perspective while reconnecting with my body.
Sometimes the stuckness lasts a lot longer than is comfortable ~ days or weeks. This is where I have to gather a lot of trust and surrender to this part of the process that requires more stillness. I always struggle when I arrive at these thresholds, I like to be moving and in communication so the invitation to slow down can really cause an intense stir of resistance in my mind and body. This is when meditating, releasing my feelings or energy through movement, checking in with a friend who can reflect some perspective, or getting in some water is necessary. Connection is really important as I can tend towards isolation and that will often further contract me.
Do you have a movement practice?
I practice Qigong and I walk. I was a dancer for 16 years so that very much is still in my bones and I love putting on music and releasing myself into movement that way. I love being in water, so I also spend some time swimming when I can.
What does structure mean to you, or what is your philosophy around ritual/routine?
I had a lot of structure growing up and it was challenging for me, I never felt like I quite fit into the structures that were offered to me, even when they were beautifully supportive. As I got older I began to completely abandon what I knew of structure. This in many ways left me seeking a sense of belonging far outside of my self, which left me feeling quite disconnected from any source of rootedness.
Since living with chronic illness over the past decade and exploring a lot of different ways to structure my life, I’ve come into a place right now where structure, ritual, routine (I have really come to know these things as interweaving) are becoming true allies. It’s taken me a long time to get here and a lot of surrender and learning when to say no, when to embrace yes, and ultimately build my foundations from the truths within me. I know that inherently I will always need to come into any structures or routines with room to create my own pathways within them. I’m coming to know the magic in this instead of feeling shame about it. It’s definitely still something that’s in process and perhaps a lifelong ebb & flow.
Ritual is really the foundation of all that I do and keeps me connected with what feels most important to me on a daily basis. It’s where I have found some freedom after feeling a lot of difficulty around seeking belonging and connection, rootedness, in other ways. I’ve been able to find spaciousness having structure in my life that supports the essence of who I am, for that I am grateful and feel inspired to show up every day with curiosity about how I can be more present with what brings me into the center of my own belonging.
What are you listening to, reading, or watching these days?
Mmm…I have been listening to a lot of Mary Lattimore, Arooj Aftab, and Julianna Barwick. Always Yo La Tengo.
I just finished reading Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and Touring the Land of the Dead, two novellas by Maki Kashimada. I’ve also been working through a book my best friend gave me called Decolonizing Non-Violent Communication by Meenadchi which has really been an incredible resource.
B and I have been watching The Sopranos together as we had never seen it! Around the time of the Oscars we watched, and loved The Father, Sound of Metal, and Nomadland. I think we’re both really eager to get back to the wonderful movie theaters in our neighborhood.
Any last words of wisdom?
Follow pleasure, listen to the sounds around you, cherish your breath, honor rest, remember the sky, come into the wisdom of your own heart, witness what is illuminated there in the center of you, meet the plants in your neighborhood & visit them often, trust in your own timing, your own sacred becoming and the quiet spaces that call you home ~
How can we find your work?
The best way to connect with my work is through:
~ my website maribethhelen.com
~ signing up for my newsletter
~ and on instagram @maribethhelen
Thank you so much, Maribeth Helen, for your beautiful work in this world & for sharing your rhythm devotion with us ~
I connect the flower essence of Bird's Eye Speedwell (Veronica persica) as a beautiful companion to Maribeth Helen Keane & her work in the world.
I made my Bird's Eye Speedwell essence under a full moon in Virgo in the afternoon of 27.February, 2021 with 5 blossoms, some stems, & leaves in the Moon by Moon gardens in North Carolina.
The beautiful blue-purple flowers of Bird's Eye Speedwell are one of the first flowers to flourish on the waysides of the gardens after Imbolc. Bird's Eye Speedwell covers the ground like a quiet blanket woven with the creeping threads of its stems & dappled with the blue gems of its inflorescence. Speedwell is so called because the corolla easily falls off & flies away as soon as it is gathered--Speedwell was an equivalent of Good-bye or Farewell in days of yore.
Speedwell loves the earth & it loves the sky--this essence brings us the love of both, too. Grounding us into place, we are invited to explore the earth to take up space upon this planet, to find nourishment in it & to nourish it in return. Turning our faces towards the sky & the ever warming sun, Speedwell also reminds us to look up for needed perspective, to dream, to see the bigger picture & not get too lost in the mundane.
So this essence brings us into balance & equilibrium with space, perspective, time. It allows us our minds to fluidly move between a macro & micro lens, which gives us a strong sense of place & peacefulness with our place in the world. Bird's Eye Speedwell essence helps us to surrender because we can trust in a greater plan, knowing that we are held by the earth, & that there is a higher power--Spirits, guides, deities, energy... watching over us, helping us along the way. Thus, it encourages us to unveil ourselves, trusting we are held from many sides & tethered to our core.
Bird's Eye Speedwell essence gifts us with clarity, insight, & discernment, helping us to truly see & interpret the world around us & through us. This essence encourages curiosity, connection, & attentiveness to both our inner & outer experiences. In doing so, it helps us to parse out that which is not in alignment with our inner wisdom. It helps us to weave our threads of inner knowing & personal truth into the world with care, intention, detail, & awareness. This essence softly grounds us & allows us to live our practices authentically, intuitively, & consistently.
Bird's Eye Speedwell is an essence that holds a tremendous amount of compassion, both for self & others. In many ways, this essence can help us to see into the heart's of others, because it encourages us to live & think with empathy for all creatures & beings.
Call on Bird's Eye Speedwell essence for gentle grounding, mental clarity, vision, & insight; to deepen a meditation or self-reflective practice; to feel interconnection & inspiration within the world around & above you; to nourish compassion & empathy, letting your sensitivity in the world be your guide.
Find a bottle of Bird's Eye Speedwell flower essence for yourself or a loved one here ~