Sowing Seeds

So chuffed to have my words used by artist Jamie Reid (he of Sex Pistols album cover artwork fame!!) on his poster/flier for his Seed Fling at Hull City of Culture Festival this weekend! The words are actually adapted from the committal piece I wrote for my dad’s funeral – very touched that it will be used for Jamie’s Seed Fling on the banks of the Humber.

The Witch Within

I have been thinking a lot about my Witchy/Wiccan roots. As I have felt increasingly connected to my spiritual life again, I decided to perform a re-dedication ceremony as part of my Beltane ritual this year. I performed my first self-initiation ceremony at Imbolc  over 21 years ago and for years after I would rededicate every year at that time. I would rise just before dawn and go to woodland near my childhood home. I had a special place with a big old tree stump as my altar; it was always such a magical experience offering up my commitment to the elements, the spirits of place and my deities as the dawn chorus broke and the sun rose.

My initial self-initiation is still so vivid in my memory. After months of research and honouring the festivals, I had planned to go at sunrise to another special place of mine in a forest on the South Downs but that night I was restless with excitement and anticipation, and as I lay awake in the early hours, I got the strongest sense that I should do the ceremony in my garden.

At that time, I lived in a house-share with friends in a wonderful house that I loved. The area, although at the edge of a city, was surrounded by mature trees and was a fabulous place for wild-life. Our garden was like a little woodland grove (foxes would doze on the lawn in the middle of the day!)  and it turned out to be the perfect place to dedicate myself to my Wiccan path.

The night was the coldest of that year, minus six with a stunning star-filled sky. Standing in the dark shadow of the trees, a circle of sky above my head, as I cast circle, called in the quarters and the Goddess and God, the blackness beneath those trees seem to be filled with a watching presence that made my heart beat hard and fast. As I spoke those words, it genuinely felt as if  I was being listened to, and at the point in my ritual where I asked  the forces of nature and the Divine to accept my dedication, I gazed up and saw an enormous shooting star. It was such a perfect moment of synchronicity.

It had taken several years to get to that moment. I had first started to be drawn to Witchcraft in the late 80’s. Unlike today, sources to learn about this path were few and covens even fewer. I met a woman in the early 90’s who had been a coven witch in London and we became friends. She lent me books on the Western Mystery Tradition and we had some fantastic conversations which led me to tentatively explore. I had read books by the Farrars and knew there was something at the heart of it that called me, but the traditional forms of Wicca felt too formal for me. It wasn’t until the mid-90’s when at University I took a module on Goddess Spirituality – and with the publication of books like Rae Beth’s Hedgewitch, Scott Cunningham’s solitary Wicca series, Teresa Moorey’s fab little books and the discovery of StarHawk’s Spiral Dance – that I could begin to see a structure to this path that I could explore without having to find a group to work with.

This time saw a sudden inrush of new people to the path; this birth and rapid expansion of eclectic forms of Wicca and Witchcraft brought with it new resources and fresh inspiration. It was an exciting time. I joined the Pagan Federation, met others who I would celebrate ritual with for years after, and began to truly learn in earnest.

It is now fascinating to me to see how my path has developed and changed over time. The beauty of this spirituality is that it is free from dogma; you are required to really engage with your own experience, what this teaches you and where it leads you. Over the years I have witnessed others on the path try and enforce ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways of practicing but this really is missing the point and seems to me a residue of some of the religious dogma of our Christian heritage. 21 years of practice has taught me that there is no ‘correct’ way; that the path evolves and changes as you do and that this is a strength to be celebrated.

When we are a newbie on the path, it is natural to look outside ourselves for examples of what our ‘witchiness’ is. But in time, I began to discovery who the witch within me was; I learnt exactly which practices strengthened my connection to nature, deity and self; I found the expressions of deity that spoke to me most strongly and I also gained the confidence to accept that these might well change over time; I learned that we will have moments of thrilling personal expansion but also the most fallow and stagnant phases where spiritual doubt and disconnection bring its own valuable lessons.

Committed long-term practice brings a confidence to discard or embrace as feels appropriate. I have rejected, questioned and adapted techniques and tools countless times along the way, discovering that the system really is just that, a method to help you connect. The real deal is the connection itself, and if what you practice isn’t getting you to that place, change it! Experiment and enjoy that process because everything on your path is an opportunity to learn and grow.

My re-dedication this year has brought with it a sense of gratitude for all those years of learning and exploring. Whatever the next 21 years brings – if I am granted that time, gods willing – that star burning its path across the heavens that I witnessed on that special night will stay with me.

 

Climbing Down from the Tree

Druidcraft Tarot

I’ve been truly feeling the energies of Beltane this year. It is a joyous festival that celebrates love and passion; the natural world explodes into life; the greening and blossoming cracking open our senses.

Traditionally, Beltane honours the ecstatic union of opposites, of goddess and god  – it is about sacred sex and the alchemical transformation that we are offered when we open ourselves to another. This ‘other’ is not limited to a person but can include all elements that live outside of us, and so we can discover this union not only with our lovers but with the world itself. A key word for Beltane is ‘opening’, a process in which we allow ourselves to be deeply touched by the environment outside our perceived boundaries. It helps us to recognize that life is a circuit that flows between self and other and like the blossom that unfurls for the bee, in that contact the potential for something new is born – we are fertilized by life.

Being open takes trust and to truly trust the heart must be free to engage fully and yet when our hearts have been bruised, our natural response is to close down. Initially, this protective mechanism is necessary; if life has dealt us a painful blow, strengthening our boundaries can aid us in catching our breath and re-centering ourselves; it is a part of the healing. Sometimes shutting ourselves away to lick our wounds is all that we are capable of. At those moments we need to show ourselves a little compassion;not judge ourselves so harshly for turning our back on life. However, if the hurt has been profound, we can become stuck, not wanting or feeling able to take down our defenses and let life in.

I have spent the last four years intimately exploring the impact of grief and depression – coming out the other side, I have been pondering the nature of our inner seasons. Of course, the seasons in nature flow endlessly one into the other; we can generally predict the length of time that winter will be with us; we can look forward to the coming of spring. Our emotional seasons are a little less easy to judge. When we find ourselves caught in a harsh emotional winter, the certain return of spring can feel, well, a little less certain.

Depression is a world apart from the expansive energy of Beltane. When we are depressed, nothing truly touches us, we close down – we become numb to the inspiration that contact with ‘other’ can bring. If we use the metaphor of seasons for our emotional states, depression is a painfully harsh winter. It is helpful not to place judgement on whether this season is ‘natural’ or pathological – psychologically speaking – like winter in the natural world, it is a vital part of a cyclical whole. Rather, we must ask ourselves, what is winter’s value, its meaning and its gifts? Winter brings needed rest – a stasis that is actually a pause between the breath of living – its pulse slows and deepens until it can barely be felt. It is a stillness that asks that we turn inward and open to our inner life, to see what dead wood needs to be cleared and released, what treasures lie hidden.

I am a huge fan of Tarot. All through my journey with depression and grief, my personal Tarot spreads were haunted by the Hanged Man card. The Hanged Man in Tarot symbolism is an archetype of surrender. In life, he can represent sacrifice – the giving up of something precious and the trust it takes to surrender to this process, long before hindsight has given you the opportunity to see the deeper meaning of that sacrifice, or the gifts it may have eventually brought.

Rider-Waite

In the traditional Rider-Waite deck, the Hanged Man is hung upside down from his foot and around his head is a halo of light. He is suspended and passive, although not bound – his hands are free and so he could easily untie himself and walk away from that tree. This suggests that something more profound is happening here. There is a purpose to this stasis, to this lack of movement. In fact, there is movement occurring but it is subtle and happens beneath the surface. Being hung from his foot, he is forced to see the world from a completely different angle -not exactly a comfortable thing to do as the blood rushes to his head!

Every time I saw him appear in my spreads, he pissed me off! I wanted him to go away and I could feel this powerful resistance to his presence. But as time went on and I was forced to go inward – to sit patiently with my feelings of sorrow and loss – his presence began to make perfect sense. I was being required to embody that stasis, the crippling lack of emotional movement, the discomfort of it and rather than fighting it, I had to surrender to it, trusting that it wouldn’t destroy me. And in that trust – the kind of trust that has absolutely no guarantees of happier times returning – in that perfect trust, in that act of faith, the path back to my heart appeared.

To open my heart again, I had to surrender to life and trust, and to do that fully I realised it was time to let it all go, let the hurt and pain be taken by gravity as I swung in the breeze, suspended by my foot. I had to go inward, sit, wait, be…

Green Witch tarot

The Hanged Man takes us to a place where we can forgive life for striking the killer blow; where we can forgive others for hurting us; where we can forgive ourselves for not measuring up, and in that forgiveness and non-judgmental acceptance of exactly where we find ourselves, the cracks in our heart start letting in the light and warmth, and that Beltane blossoming begins; there really is no stopping it.

My heart has been opening gradually petal by petal and it is the best feeling! It is a common quote now but one that is still beautiful and poignant,

The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~ Anais Nin

 

 

The Peace After the Storm – The Cailleach of Winter

 

frost-008

I find myself stood alone on moorland in the depths of winter. The sky is bright with countless stars and the ground glistens with frost. The air is crisp and sharp against my skin. Above me, on a rocky crag I see the glow of a fire and I instinctively walk towards its light. When I reach the summit, sat in the golden circle of fire light is a woman, her face is lined with age, her long silver hair threaded with buzzard and owl feathers. Her dark cloak is dotted with stars as mesmerising as the night sky and around her neck hang circlets of threaded bone. To her left is a staff rooted in the ground, topped with a deer skull and to her right a hunched, leafless tree, weathered and gnarled by countless storms; amongst its branches an owl nestles, its dark eyes as fathomless and watchful as the depths of space.

I know this woman…she is as ancient as time and held within her silence is the knowledge of countless ages and generations; of countless lives and deaths – she is the keeper of ancestral memories. I know this woman…Cailleach, Grandmother of stone, of mountain, cliff and cave, and rocky, windswept crag; she is my bedrock of strength and endurance. Ancient Bone Mother, she is the frame upon which our lives take shape. Rugged and timeless, her wildness inspires journeys into the remote and lonely places of our souls, for it is here that we find her, her face bright in the moonless night, her profound winter stillness our sacred song of dark wisdom. She is the starry heavens and the depths of space, the place where life returns after death, the place where all potential dwells. Spinner and weaver, she works the threads of life into complex patterns of beauty and wonder; she sings over our bones and remakes us anew; keen as beak and talon, beautiful as the arching sky that carries her feathered spirit, she is the Ancient Crone of all knowing and in the depths of winter she calls to us.

The above is a meditation I experienced just after the Winter Solstice. I had settled and made myself quiet, not expecting to have an active visualisation but this came without prompting and played out in my mind without any effort or direction on my part. As I sat before this extraordinary Goddess, she showed me a vision of myself. I was being hauled up by a rope through a narrow vertical passage of rock, rising up from deep within the earth. I looked up and the circular opening at the surface was perfectly aligned with the sun. Its light was breathtakingly golden and lit the chamber as I rose up toward it; it was a stunningly beautiful sight, both exhilarating and comforting.

Since then, this Ancient Crone Goddess has occupied my times of contemplation and meditation; she has been opening me up to the energy of the season and the beauty of winter. January can be such a difficult month. Although the light is gradually increasing, here in the Northern Hemisphere winter shows itself in earnest – it can feel very gloomy post the Christmas frenzy and the accumulative lack of sun and light can lower our spirits and leave us lethargic. However, I have felt something very different this year. I have felt incredibly settled and peaceful.

My life over the last three and a half years has been deeply challenging for many different reasons. It had begun to feel like I had taken up permanent residence in the churning cauldron of Ceridwen’s transformative energy. I was suspended in a perpetual Samhain of loss, grief and enforced release and I seemed to be fighting it all the way. Inwardly, I knew that these experiences were asking me to make some profound changes, a relentless confrontation of my shadow self that was urging me on to a more authentic and honest relationship with myself and my life. I was being simmered in the heat, my old self falling away from the bone – it was painful, took a seeming age and brought me moments of deep depression and anger.

This winter has brought a sudden and unexpected peace. It’s not like I don’t have challenging situations still to deal with, and yet something has shifted. My perpetual Samhain has lifted and in finding my own personal wheel moving round to the Winter Solstice, I have had a powerful realisation of the gifts of this season.

In my own experience, the Crone energy of Samhain is incredibly dynamic.  Although the world is dying back, there is intensity in this transformation reflected in the burning colours of autumn. The energy of transition can be a massive challenge and our resistance to it can create a tension that produces its own energy. Samhain brings us to that moment of release, to the pain of loss, to the place of acceptance and letting go but the Winter Solstice and the heart of winter shows us a very different Crone energy. After the intensity of Samhain we come to the peace and stillness. Life sits and waits deep beneath the soil; this is the moment between the exhale and inhale of the year, it is that place where we are given a chance to assimilate all the powerful transformation that the deaths of Samhain have brought us. I have known this intellectually for years but this year, I have felt it in my heart and body.

This ancient Goddess of winter offers us the chance to grasp the bigger picture of our own lives; in her stillness, we can make sense of the patterns and take in the lessons at a cellular level until they are part of us. She is an Ancestral Goddess because these lessons become layered upon the experience of all our ancestors like a rich much that will fuel the future. In the cauldron, we are stripped down to the bone, the bare essentials of who we are, and the Cailleach of Winter tenderly gathers this messy bundle of bones, laying them upon the frozen earth, piece by piece, until our core shape can be seen once more. In the still, lifeless darkness, she dreams the flesh back upon our bones; her strength becomes the fabric of our sinew and as she herself transforms into the fiery Brighid of Imbolc, she will – when the time is right – light the spark of inspiration within us that reanimates our being.

We can get impatient for Imbolc in the depths of the dark and cold days, but that is missing out on a gift. This Ancient Crone teaches us the mysteries of suspension. When I think of her, my thoughts are drawn to the Hanged Man in Tarot, an archetypal experience that, on one level, can be deeply frustrating, particularly when we have the urge to move forward. However, he is often portrayed with a halo of light and a peaceful expression because he is essentially about surrendering to stillness, going inward for the purposes of Gnosis. Winter can do this for us; we can allow it to teach us to patiently wait, and in the waiting – as the dust of the year settles upon a barren earth – we can begin to truly see in a new way, from a new perspective, all that we have learnt, each lesson that has become a part of who we are. This Goddess brings us clarity – she asks that we be honest and authentic in our review of what works in our lives and what hinders but she also dwells in our envisioning; she is the flight of the mind and imagination; the architect of our future.

The Ancient Lady of winter brings us peace after the storm; still waters after the churning. Her enduring love, deep knowing and wisdom, brings us to that place of hope of joy. That place where the dark stillness explodes into star light. For we are each a burning star born in her dark and infinite womb; we are each an expression of hope and new vision born of endings and release. We are each a Solstice sun.

This winter, don’t be too hasty for spring; revel in those frosty mornings and feel her clarity in its bite. See her take shape in the fog of your breath; turn inward and find her there; know that she has the power to birth new life from death, warmth from cold. She is your faithful guide, your sacred strength and vision. From the soil of the earth and the dust of the stars she has shaped you.

Carolyn Hillyer

Carolyn Hillyer

Art work by the wonderful Carolyn Hillyer – her website can be found here.
Photo source 

Reaching For The Balance

balance

The Autumn Equinox is here again. As the sun’s path lowers in the sky and the season changes, the light changes also; it becomes a paradoxical mixture of clarity and softness; there is a kind of sweet melancholy in it, but also a joy. These seemingly contradictory states lead me to reflect on the themes of this festival, and as we honour the time of equal night and day, my thoughts turn to the subject of balance.

Balance is often equated with stillness and yet when I stand on one leg, I am aware that in order to stay still and not topple, my body is going through a series of subtle muscles adjustments. This suggests to me that balance is actually quite active – we put effort in to achieving that centred, rooted place. I think this is true for all areas where we seek equilibrium, right from our emotional selves to our health and working lives, we constantly have to adjust our balance to settle, and it’s not hard to realise when we are off kilter  – we feel it in the symptoms of unease, worry, illness and discord. But even these are not a problem because such emotions and conditions communicate that it is time to adjust our footing and regain balance. The trick is to stay aware and keep actively engaged with the process.

I have been drawn to work with the Egyptian Goddess Ma’at recently as part of a wider practice of honouring the lunar cycle. I have chosen a series of Goddesses who, to  me, express certain energies of the moon’s phases and I have been meditating with each Goddess and journaling on how each of their energies are currently playing out in my being and my wider life.  I am focusing on the Maiden, Lover, Mother/Queen, Wise Women/Priestess and Crone Energies at the waxing crescent, waxing gibbous, full, waning crescent and dark moon respectively, with the goddess Bast, Hathor, Isis, Nepthys and Sekhmet.

I had felt the need to reconnect with the moon cycle because I had been struggling to maintain balance in my own life, upended by difficult changes, struggling with depression and realising that I had become stuck and stagnant in my energy and focus. Recognising how much I was resisting change, I thought that working with the mutable cycles of the moon would be both helpful in breaking the dam and going with the flow.

Ma’at came into the equation because I was reminded by my own experience that the ever-moving cycle of birth, expansion, fullness, harvest, release and death is governed by a harmonising principle; this constant adjusting to maintain the balance is what keeps creation functioning; every part of the cycle is vital to the harmony of the whole.

To the ancient Egyptians, Ma’at was Divine Universal Balance that functioned both at the Macrocosm of the Cosmos and Nature and the Microcosm of Society and the human individual. To them, it was crucial to the well-being of the whole – be it nature, community or person – to seek balance and harmony between all the constituent parts. Without Ma’at, there is chaos, discord and imbalance, the interconnected flow of the cycle is broken and trouble ensues.

The Egyptians recognised that maintaining the balance of Ma’at was active and ongoing; building a relationship with Ma’at was a job for life. We see how destructive ignoring the function of Ma’at is when we look at the environmental problems we face, where the harmony and interconnectedness of life has been disregarded and is causing a terrible imbalance with dreadful consequences. At the Micro level, my lunar journey has helped me to see the painful results of ignoring Ma’at in my own life; getting stuck in the intense shedding and shadow work of the waning and dark moon, whilst forgetting the renewal, joy and expansion of the waxing phases, has led to complete burn out for me, both physically and emotionally. Working with and fully engaging with every phase has widened my focus and I feel much lighter and brighter for it.

What working with Ma’at has taught me is that we are each active participants in our own well-being; that we have choices in our responses to life and that we are constantly guided back to that place of equilibrium if we listen to our intuition and act for our own highest good and the highest good of others. It is heartening to think that being out of balance contains its own lessons for growth and in itself holds the key to regaining our footing.little-girl

Ma’at demands that we honour and engage with all the parts of ourselves and our lives; that we embrace and stay present in each phase of the cycle, always mindful of its relationship to the whole. In this season of the Equinox, take time to reflect on your own balancing act; honour all that you are, every experience; take heed of any discomfort you might feel and let it speak to you about how you can come back into alignment with yourself. In truth, balance is not total stillness, it’s a dance.

Brighter Future

pink-rose

I have recently had a couple of wonderful Rahanni healing sessions with Georgie from Brighter Future. As well as giving Rahanni healing, Georgie offers Reiki, Life-Coaching, Holistic Theraphy and Meditation; I met her when I attended a meditation evening held by her at my local crystal shop Waves of Inspiration. During the meditation, Georgie gave me some Rahanni healing; I have received energy healing before in the past but never as strongly felt as this. I experienced tangible, physical sensations and instinctively knew that I should book a session with her.

The last five years have been a time of intense transition for me; many major life changes – everything from separation and divorce to new love and bereavement – and after the death of my dad three years ago, the immense changes took their toll and I began to slip into depression.

When I think of that time, it leads me to recall that amazing opening line from Dante’s Divine Comedy:

In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost…

Dante’s famous quote sums up beautifully those times in our life that are often called ‘dark nights of the soul’. I have come to believe that those challenging moments – when all of our dependable signposts on the path seemingly disappear – are actually a vital part of the process of living and growing (more on this in a future post). Of course, that feels like cold comfort when you are struggling and after an extended period of feeling incredibly low and hopeless, I came to recognise that I had become a little stuck in that ‘dark wood’, holding on to the hurt and the grief in ways that were self-destructive.

After realising I needed some help, I initially took the conventional route of anti-depressants and CBT counselling, both of which were useful. However, the pills were hellish to withdraw from and it became clear that it would be easy to become dependent on their weirdly numbing and unreal euphoria for ever – plenty of people do.

I appreciate that the Doctor’s who helped me, tried their best with the time and resources available, but what is so apparent when you visit healers such as Georgie, is that there is a vital element missing in the conventional treatment of emotional and psychological pain. For me, that missing element is a spiritual dimension.  I have come to believe that we are energetic beings and how we manage that energy will shape how we feel and act.

The first session with Georgie was very emotional for me because she created and held such a loving and compassionate space to begin releasing and healing. That spiritual aspect of my being was included and welcomed. I felt totally heard; Georgie listened without judgement and made me feel utterly safe and at ease. She gave me some wonderful practical advise and the Rahanni healing had a powerful impact on me. My second session was joyful – I felt like giggling the entire way though! – and left me absolutely buzzing. In both sessions, the healing seemed to draw to the surface insights and realisations, openings in my psyche that have continued to widen as the weeks have passed. It has made me realise that I need to reengage with my creative self, with the things I love doing – writing here on my blog being one of them – reconnecting to and healing my sense of self. I can also see that I need to forgive and trust life again.

Not only is Georgie a gifted energy healer, she also gently guides you to a greater understanding of where you are and to how you can find a more positive route back to well-being and happiness. With Georgie’s help, I have felt that knot of tangled and stuck mental, emotional and physical energy gradually unraveling and shifting; the stagnancy and apathy of depression  washed through with a lightness and vibrancy that feels deeply cleansing and uplifting. I know there is still work to do, but it definitely feels like the ice is melting and the river is starting to flow. Thank you Georgie! Your help and understanding are priceless gifts.

I highly recommend working with Georgie, particularly if you are grieving, or finding it hard to move on and let go of hurt and loss. She is a beautiful, kind and empathetic soul, a wonderful healer and a fabulous meditation teacher. Her Facebook page Brighter Future can be found here.

Let Go And Let Goddess/God

autumn mist

Samhain is upon us and I have been feeling strongly the energies of release this year. At this festival, we think about our connections to the Ancestors and to all those we have loved in this life who have now passed over. I have been moving through my own grieving process having lost my dad a couple of years ago. It has been a long and difficult journey but there comes a point when we arrive at a place of acceptance within ourselves. Letting go of those who mean so much to us has its own time span; it is something that cannot be forced or faked; we must feel those painful feelings of loss that the absence of loved ones can bring. Eventually, something shifts. It is not that we ever let go completely, for those dear ones are never very far away, however, there does come a moment when we can surrender up our grief, handing it tenderly over to the Divine. As the trees prepare to shed, I feel that I find myself willing to offer up my own grief in order to move on.

Samhain is a gateway, a door to be walked through between two places. Physical death is a threshold between one state of existence and another; we can grasp the truth of this in a psychological sense through the many experiences of our lives when we are confronted with endings. Of course, not all ending are unwelcome; some are easier to move through but all endings bring us to that threshold and, to truly pass through it, we must eventually surrender what was, in order to embrace the potential of what will be.autumn branches

I recently bought myself a decorative gift box – I had read somewhere the idea of having a ‘Let go and Let Goddess/God’ box. This would be a container where I could place all those issues or situations in my life that I was holding on to, to the detriment of moving on. I would write on slips of paper, anything that I felt I was struggling to release. This very simple act of writing down and placing inside the box with the intension of giving over to the Divine, has been for me a wonderfully helpful experience. It has felt like an emotional fist inside me – my rigid psychological grip around all those hurts and struggle – has been relaxed and opened, transformed into a hand ready to receive.

Surrender is intimately linked to our capacity to trust. When we accept and let go, we place our trust in the Divine, in ourselves, in life and in the healing power of Divine Grace. It is a powerfully magical act that brings with it an enormous sense of peace and relief. Not only that, it is the first step that we take over the threshold and into another life .We leave behind what needs to be shed but we take with us the wisdom and the hope that wisdom brings.autumn-threshold

Samhain has many layers. One of them is undoubtedly the pain of loss and grief – the Dark Goddess and God with scythe in hand whose initiations can leave us feeling like our entire lives have been dismantled. But this is only a part of the process. For me, the deepest mysteries of this festival are found in the profound transformation that comes at the moment of surrender. The dark expressions of the Divine that brings us our most challenging life experiences, soften into the deepest compassion at the moment of true release. It is at that moment that we can fully understand the paradox that each ending is in fact a new beginning.

I dream of my dad often and feel his love as strongly as ever but I now realise that I can let go of the pain and loss, and in doing so, embrace the love. Loss is like the alchemist’s alembic; it holds us within its often unbearable intensity until we are distilled into a more potent version of ourselves. It is the Goddess’ cauldron that we all enter, surrendering to her all that we are in order to become all that we could be. As I cross over the threshold this Samhain – as I let go; as I trust in the power of release – the sweet, dark, softening peace of surrender will hold me.

Are You Your Biggest Fan

solar-plexus-close-up

Previously, I have written about the Base and Sacral Chakras and their gifts of grounding and joyful grace and continue now with a short exploration of the Solar Plexus Chakra.

The Solar Plexus Chakra, as its name suggests, can be likened to the body’s engine room. As the sun fuels life on our beautiful planet, this chakra enables us to metabolise our food into energy; it also aids us in taking our thoughts and turning these into action. It is a wonderful yellow in colour, our very own sun at the centre of our body and being.

As an energy centre that deals with action, it is also a place where both our fears and our courage reside. We all know that feeling of agitation or butterflies in our solar plexus as we engage with our anxieties or desires. The Solar Plexus Chakra teaches us that we can move through these fears with positive action, and in doing so, we build our courage and confidence in the process.

This Chakra has held the greatest challenges for me. I have long wrestled with my confidence and my fears of not being good enough. This in turn has often made it very difficult to act. When we fear we will fail; when we let our lack of confidence prevent us from even trying, the light of our inner sun is diminished and we rob the world of our talents and potential to serve and contribute. When this becomes a habit, it can rob us of our energy and joy too. We are beings in a material world and positive action is key to materialising our visions and plans. In short, we all need to take risks and to act in the world if we are to truly grow and learn.

I have slowly and painfully realised on my journey with this energy centre, that’ feeling the fear and doing it anyway’, as the saying goes, is a far less damaging option that retreating from it.sunflower closeup

In working with this Chakra, I noticed how difficult it was for me to support and encourage myself. Like many, I had internalised this hyper-critical voice that denigrated my efforts. I felt the need to act but this was so often undermined by my rather hateful and mean-spirited inner critic. There have been so many times in my life when I have walked away from challenges that would have enriched me and built my confidence because I convinced myself there would be no point. This conflict between our inner judge and our urge to act can be utterly paralysing, demoralising and de-energising. It can lead to depression, apathy and a lack of inspiration; it can feel as if the light has gone out in our life.

This chakra flourishes when we decide to allow ourselves to shine. Many of us were brought up to believe that expressing our talents was tantamount to ‘showing off’ and therefore inherently negative. Humility is a noble virtue but not if it robs the world of your divinely gifted talents. I love to see others shine; it is so wonderful to witness people deeply connected to their life path and sharing this with the world and I always feel good when I encourage others. Why wouldn’t I do the same for myself? The world needs us to express and act on our gifts; it enables beautiful, healing, inspiring, life-changing things to be birthed into the world. We owe this to ourselves and each other.

8609e66039aa8dab5754a672c8420bcf_640

It is vital that we all allow ourselves to shine and to encourage others to do the same by showing appreciation, by praising, by bearing witness to our unique and glorious selves. We each need to be our own biggest fan! When we do this for ourselves we can take joy in our actions, we can back ourselves to take the risks that are needed to move forward, and we can encourage ourselves to recover when we fall. We can also rid ourselves of petty envy and jealousy; let go of the ‘compare and despair’ mentality that can lead us to be less than supportive of each other. It is interesting that the Solar Plexus Chakra resides between the Sacral and the Heart Chakras. For me, this suggests that our actions flourish best when they work in tandem with pleasure, playfulness and creativity (Sacral) along with love, compassion and joy (Heart). When we express these qualities in our actions with self and other, everyone benefits.

This energy centre teaches that we are all more than enough as we are; children of the Divine; blazing stars in the body of the Universe. So, let that sun in your tummy glow brightly – let it warm and energise your body, heart, mind and spirit. Be your own biggest fan and shine!

Life Is A Dance

life is a danceMy previous post was about the importance of grounding and of my love of the Chakra system; of how the Root Chakra teaches us to feel ourselves as embodied beings. As important as it is to feel ourselves steady as a rock, it is equally important not to allow our beings to become set in stone. We need to be rooted but we also need to experience flexibility and motion, physically in the movement of our bodies but also in our emotional, mental and spiritual expression.

The Root Chakra is ruled by the element of earth, it has weight and density. The Sacral Chakra however, is ruled by water; it teaches us about the value of flow. When this chakra is functioning healthily, we can move through life with ease and grace, riding the currents, adapting our course without resistance, embracing the changes with faith and optimism. We feel our emotions moving through and out of us, thereby, never overwhelming us as they might if we held them tightly within us. When water becomes trapped, it can become stagnant and deadly to us; it is the same with our emotions – if we repress, suppress, or become rigidly fixated and stuck, our emotions can cause us a great deal of pain and even illness.flexible Just as our bodies need flexibility for ease of movement, so do our minds and emotions. Stiffening on any level limits our experience and increases tension within our beings; to stay flexible we have to keep moving. Being flexible and open allows for an exchange between us and the world that can shift us out of our stasis; there is a circuit set up between us and other which challenges and exposes us to new ideas and ways to be. It is the place of relationship and union, a place where we allow the connection with life to transform us.

Going with the flow demands a certain level of trust in life and self. Our fears can cause us to stiffen and resist just at the point life is asking us to relax and surrender to the rush. It is no accident to me that the sacral chakra is also the place of our child-like joy and the seat of sensual pleasure. There have been many times in my life when I have frozen myself out with the fear of ‘what if’ rather than trusting in the direction my life is taking me. When you start to engage with your adaptability in the face of change, it is a real joy and a confidence boost, and makes the transient nature of life more of an adventure than a struggle. We are reminded to draw upon our child-like innocence and excitement about life, where each day is a new adventure and we feel ourselves at home in the dance of the day to day.

lovely_dolphinstangoThis chakra is also the place of our creativity. We need that circuit of exchange with the world to feed our creative spark. We cannot hold on to our creations, they must be shared with the world; once again that circulating current between within and without must be honoured. If we hold onto our creativity, if we don’t express it because of fear or lack of confidence, then we often find that it starts to wither. Little can survive in stagnancy; we can’t thrive in a stranglehold.

If you feel stuck, if you are joyless and feel resistance straining within you, try one simple technique – move! Move your body: get up and dance; go for a walk, a run, a swim. Move your emotions: share an intimate moment with someone you love; make love: listen to music that moves you, or watch a movie that stirs you. Move you mind: read a book; have a discussion. Move your Spirit: perform a ritual, chant, pray, speak of all that you are grateful for today.

We are not designed to stay still. Even in our moments of deep meditation, huge shifts are bubbling away in our deepest core; our cells constantly dying and being reborn.

Make a promise to yourself to approach your life with trust, ease and grace. Life is a dance.what am i grateful for today in the sand

 

Back Down To Earth

Feet-on-ground-in-ivy

Nature never hurries. Atom by atom, little by little she achieves her work. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you noticed how our perception of time directly affects how much time we have? When you have a million things on the go and a ‘to do’ list that seems endless, observe that when you respond to the situation with a sense of panic or rush, time starts to whiz by alarmingly fast. Conversely, when we relax and go slow, time slows too and we get things done with less effort. If you don’t believe me, try it.

Slowing down and relaxing into the moment is a magical process. As Pagans, we come to know the value of grounding – our spirituality teaches us the importance of feeling the tap root of our body and psyche secure within the earth. Sometimes we when start to explore spirituality we can become overly enchanted by flights into spirit or the otherworld; we can find ourselves working solely in our heads, reading and thinking about a path but not actually committing to the work of manifesting that path in our lives. Earth spirituality reminds us we are matter; we exist within a material universe that requires that we feel the value of gravity, the way it shapes and strengthens us. It encourages us to celebrate and embrace the limitations and boundaries of earthly life and to recognise that all those exciting flights of spirit and inspirational thought can only benefit ourselves and others when we ground and manifest them here in the material realm.the-redwoods-in-yosemite-national-park

A great part of an Earth based path is learning to perceive energy. We do this by tuning in to our environment and ourselves. Some energies are light and have a faster frequency, others have a greater density and are slower moving – the energy of a dragonfly feels very different to a boulder on the beach. As we develop sensitivity to these differences, we can also begin to sense the energy frequencies of our own being. I am a huge fan of the chakra system because it understands that the various levels of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual makeup are composed of energy centres resonating at different speeds, each with its own qualities and purpose but all working together as (hopefully) a healthy, functioning whole. No one centre is more or less important than any other and to place too much of a focus on one or two at the expense of the others can bring us some challenges and even impact on our health. Balance is key.

rooted photo

To go back to our earlier example of being stuck in our heads, we know that thought resonates to a faster frequency. We don’t experience it as having the same limitations or boundaries that our physical bodies are subject too. However, if we spend too much time in our heads without tending our physical needs, an imbalance will occur – we cannot live by thought alone, we need food, water, exercise, cuddles, a roof over our heads… In short, we need to ground ourselves in Mother Earth and our bodies; feel our roots within her, enjoying the soil’s denser, slower energy, allowing it to steady and energise us.

The root chakra – Muladhara – is the place within us that has an extraordinary and magical capacity to take our creativity and manifest it here in the material realm. It is not afraid to take it slow because it has stamina, strength and endurance – it knows the patient power of consistency. It takes one look at our ‘to do’ lists, shrugs and goes about them one simple step at a time, utterly rooted in the present moment, no rush, no panic.

As one chakra opens us to the next, being thoroughly grounded in the root can then lead us to the ease of movement, flow and flexibility that comes with the second chakra, a centre of joy and creativity. As we become rooted in our bodies and the earth – as we feel at home in the moment – we can then explore the uncertainty of change, learning to respond to its ebb and flow with grace and joy. It is so much harder to do this without our tap-root deeply secured.roots

When you feel stressed, rushed and overworked, slow down; enjoy being in your body, nurture it, feed it, give it pleasure, let it rest, feel the worry drain into the earth and watch as it transforms into peace and renewed strength.

Remember, when you ground, time is always on your side.

« Older entries