The Abundant Flower Blessings Ritual

Following on from the themes of my last post, here is a little ritual we have performed at the Summer Solstice to honour the things we are blessed with.

The Abundant Flower Blessing:  That we may focus on the good things in our lives.

Pre-ritual:

In your own time at home prior to the ritual, make an abundance flower, performing a kind of mini ritual as you make it. Settle yourself, draw circle and call Guardians, Goddess and God, if this feels right.  Cut a round piece of card (the size is up to you and depends on how big you want your flower to be), and several petal shaped pieces of card (again the size and quantity is dependant on how big your flower is and how many blessings you wish to acknowledge). Choose whatever colours feel appropriate

Perform the following:

Pick up your round card and say,

This represents my flower’s centre and also the gift of my life. It is round and complete. Just as my life is complete; just as I am complete. I am good enough as I am and my life is full of blessings.

Write on the card ‘The Blessing of the Gift of Life’. Now take the petal shaped pieces of card and on each of these write something good about your life; a blessing for each petal. As you finish each petal, place it around the centre card until you have created an open flower.

When the flower is complete, stick it on a piece of card ready to bring to the ritual.

The Ritual:

Perform the following:

Hold up your flower to your heart and say,

This flower is the blossoming of my life; a joyful reminder of all the abundant blessings I possess.

If you feel comfortable doing so you may read out your blessings –whatever feels right for you.

Then ponder on the centre of your flower and say

The centre of my flower is the place that will produce an abundance of seeds, each one a future blessing not yet known, seen, or dreamed of. The Goddess is endlessly giving; my life is full of her riches. She supports me and supplies all of my needs. I make a pledge of daily gratitude to give thanks for all the good things in my life. I promise that despite all the hurts and challenges that might face me, I will never lose sight of my blessings, and because of this, my difficulties will never overwhelm me. My abundant flower is a precious gift of the Goddess and God and it blooms in my heart always, constantly producing yet more blessings. My flower of abundance and gratitude will bloom in each season, both day and night. I celebrate the joy and love and the wisdom I have gained. Blessed Be.

Now hold up your flower to the Solstice sun (or in the direction of the sunrise if it is overcast) and ask for the blessings of the Solstice Sun upon your life in your own words. Visualise the sun rising up through your body, its golden light filling you until it bursts out of your head, showering your whole aura in its golden light. See your flower of blessings and abundance blossoming in your heart. Give thanks and give a gift of your breath (the most precious thing you have).

This can also be done at anytime when you want to give thanks and acknowledge all that you have in your life.

 

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Vines and Happy Times

'To Be Reborn As Your Favorite Flower' by Monserrat

On the south-facing slopes of Brading down is the Adgestone Vineyard. It is an idyllic spot, sheltered by the undulations of the land as it slopes down towards the impressive arch of Sandown Bay. From here you can look out across the fields and the ocean, Ventnor downs rising in the distance to the south, Culver Cliff and Bembridge Harbour to the east.

The vineyard produces three very nice wines, one white and two red. It also has a lovely little café, with a wooden veranda interlaced with vines. It is one of my favourite spots on the Island. There is nothing quite like sitting and drinking coffee looking up over the lines of vines, the land edged on both sides by wind-breaks of large poplar trees whose leaves sing constantly in the breezes. It is such a peaceful place.

Today we ate lunch there. Buzzards coasted the tree covered summit of the downs, occasionally floating out on the thermals across the vineyard, spreading their wing tips with all the ease of a creature at one with the subtle shifts in current, the air the most perfect of companions in the most elegant of dances.

About half a mile or so to the east, through a small gap in the trees, the red, living plant roof of the building that houses the excavated Roman Villa can be seen. Its own undulating shape blends in beautifully with the surrounding fields. The Villa’s stunning mosaics hint at its own ancient vineyards. The current vineyard may well have been in the exact spot of the Romano British one, the sheltered south-facing aspect perfect for growing grapes. I love this thought, the sense of continuity making those ancestors appear very close in their connection to present day Islanders. They, like we, were blessed by the Island’s abundance and I feel such a sense of gratitude that this bounty continues to thrive and bless us.

At this time around the solstice, the Island is stunningly beautiful. There has been such an abundance of honeysuckle, its deliciously sweet fragrant flowers interweaving their creamy, red-tinged petals throughout mile upon mile of hedgerow. At the noon of the year, I perceive the Goddess as Lady of life’s abundant blessings. Here, in her local expression, she is the rich red earth, the fertile ground of my being; the explosion of life, colour and joy that enraptures my senses and feeds my body and spirit. She is the heady scent of rose and the pungent thick muskiness of elder flower; the cool peace of forests and the exhilarating skies of downland; she is a field of poppies and corn chamomile vibrant with the sun. She blesses us with the vital rains, lush rivers and wetlands teeming with life; the deep wells and sparkling springs; she is the moon and the ever-changing tides; the hem of her gown the vast ocean, its salt water helping to cleanse and heal our wounds. I call the Solstice Goddess the Mother of Sweetness; she is the keeper of the abundant and overflowing chalice of life that renews and nourishes, and her cup is the place within us that can never run dry. Each animal and plant, each drop of water, each clod of earth is radiant with her spirit. She is the ecstasy of the earth and when we open to her, each cell brightens with the strength of her love.

At this time I also view the God as Father of the Solstice Sun. For me, is not only the growing heat that warms and comforts but also the lush greenery that is irresistibly drawn by that glowing light. Through him we engage with the joy in our hearts; he is that bright gasp of knowing how good it is to be alive. His spark of life burns deeply within us, opening us to the inspiration that enables us to live our time here in love and happiness. When we open to him we are filled with his strength of spirit, the burning delight of his creative power. His heat makes fertile the body of the Goddess; his light sparkling upon her surfaces. At this time of the rich fullness of the year, he is the sun to her moon; the fire to her water. She reflects him lovingly and soothes him when he grows too hot; he warms her cool depths and stirs her passions. Together they nourish, nurture and bring all life to fruition; from the ecstasy of their union all life comes. As life swells into the sensual abundance of summer, from the Goddess’s Chalice all blessing abundantly pour, each one shining with his golden spirit.

At this time it is good to count one’s blessings; to acknowledge and gives thanks for those things that enrich our lives; the people, the experiences, the simple but blissful moments of watching buzzards and drinking coffee.

Rainbow Fish and Honey Bees

Spent a blissful couple of hours at the Crown Inn in Shorwell on Sunday afternoon; a rather lovely country pub whose garden is next to a stream and pond, both home to the most amazing rainbow trout. We sat in the sun, had lunch and watched the ducklings and baby moorhens learn to negotiate their way in their new watery world, whilst the ducks performed the aquatic equivalent of pacing the edges of the pond, eager for titbits from customers’ plates. The pond was lush with marshmallow, reeds and grasses and large arum lilies grew in pleasingly placed clumps, their impressive white trumpets perfectly arranged. In the centre of the pond stood a dove cote; the doves, white as arum lilies, did their own pacing on the pond’s edge, pecking around my feet, as equally expectant as the ducks for the odd piece of my lunch.

We were struck by how the bird life that moved around the surface of the pond was quite untroubled by the fish life that moved beneath. The large rainbow trout swam in the shallows; the sunlight and clarity of the water combined to show off their iridescence. Their mustard backs were speckled with black dots, the rainbow strip of colours running the length of their bodies, a mesmerising line that reeled in the brightness of the sun and reflected back a magical and otherworldly glistening. They performed a kind of sinuous dance with each other that was constant, gently sliding along each other’s bodies, only occasionally snapping in irritation or warning. Winding in and out of each other’s space, they occasionally surfaced, their backs arching above the water like miniature whales, snapping their open mouths around the air.

Watching their seemingly carefully choreographed and elegant movements, I caught myself feeling extraordinarily happy. This has been a rare feeling over the last few months but, as the weeks pass without taking any hormones, I feel these moments of spontaneous joy more and more. How we are able to interact with the world makes all the difference to our well-being. When we feel ourselves part of that dance of connection – perceiving the movement of our lives in tandem with the movement of the world around us – we feel ourselves to be most alive. Having felt so cut off these last few months, sensing this reconnection has made me realise how much I miss being around people. I have become increasingly hermit-like over the years, actually really enjoying my solitude; there was certainly a point in my life when I hated being alone and so finding kinship with my own company has been so valuable for me. I think it is important to feel at home with one’s aloneness, to understand that being alone is not the same as being lonely. We can feel utterly lonely in the company of others, so of course, it is all about our relationship with ourselves. However, the warmth and interaction of others is an emotional and spiritual food source we all need to survive and I can recognise the signs of my own social malnutrition!

We have been socialising more of late, which has been great, and as if nature wanted to drive the point home – to really make sure that we understood how important our group connections are to our happiness – we were invaded by a swarm of bees on Friday. They came in the afternoon and at first completely surrounded the house. I ran around shutting windows and trying not to jam any of them in the window vents as they attempted to squeeze their way in through the tiny holes. They were obviously looking for a new home. They chaotically flew around the entire house for some time and then moved to the front of the building, an impressive mass of humming and frenetic movement. Bit by bit they appeared to disperse but on later inspection I found them all clumped around each other at the centre of a bush in the large planter outside our home; stragglers flew around the top, betraying the swarm’s presence.

We called Dave the Bee Keeper and he spent the next two hours placing the swarm in a bee basket. Carefully trimming back the bush, he removed the section with the bees attached, placing them gently in the basket and waiting patiently for the remaining bees to huddle around the queen. She was buried beneath a protective, writhing mass of wings and legs.

It was fascinating to watch the swarm of individual bees gather together to form a whole, rather in the way that solitary slime moulds suddenly decide to come together to form beautiful single fungus shapes. The individual’s sense of its oneness with the whole is striking and we – although so keen to think of ourselves as unique individuals – also need to feel our place within the group.

On a personal level, that means forming relationships with our friends, family and colleagues but on a bigger scale it is also crucial to feel ourselves a part of the wider human community; expanding even further to feel our interconnection with all life and hopefully celebrating our place within it.

This whole area has been a bit tricky for me in recent times: I have rather pushed many people away in the fear of being hurt or rejected. This is a residue of my family split and the more difficult experiences in life that have built over time. These can make us brittle and guarded if we do not process them. However, now that so much of the dust of my past angst and upset is beginning to settle, I can feel my edges softening and I am yearning for good old fashioned human contact. There have been some lovely people who have come into my life in recent times; a reflection in so many ways of this new shift.

Perhaps we all go through periods of ebb and flow in our connection to others but it is true that so many of ours greatest life lessons and gifts come from the reflection we see of ourselves in another’s eyes. This can be a painful experience – relationships of any kind can be an incredible challenge at times – but more often than not they bring such joy.  Finding one’s soul tribe and feeling oneself a part of that can bring deep healing; to touch and be touched, whether it is intellectually, emotionally, physically, sexually or soulfully, can renew and revive us. I am learning once again that we are the dance of bees and rainbow fish.

Hathor, Vulvas and Belly Laughs

'The Fullness of Life' by Mara Berendt Friedman

I have been hormone free for a few days now – I have stopped taking Utovlan and so far (fingers crossed!) no nasty symptoms: no pain, blood or moods swings. Gradually, I can feel my brain sparking to life once more. It has been the most challenging six months and yet, as I have felt myself at last move more clearly into view, I can begin to acknowledge that this whole experience has helped to put certain things into perspective. As I start to feel myself surface, the family angst and loss – even my original menstrual problems – now feel like a picnic; the emotional energy that simmered beneath these seems to have fizzled rather. I can now see more clearly that pre-implant, I had been so punishing of myself; beating myself psychologically with the guilt I felt over my sister’s death; wearing myself out with anger at my family and the changes that had rampaged through my life, so much so, that I was denying myself pleasure and joy, convinced that I was undeserving of such. Having spent months struggling with awful side-effects that I had no control over, I now realise that, with regard to the responses to life that I do have a choice in, it seems incredible that I should want to hold on to so much negativity. As is often the case, amongst the worst of it all, there has been a blessing. 

The impact of the implant – despite being a horrendous experience – has been a wake up call: the realisation dawns that my life has become incredible imbalanced. After months of feeling poorly, it is clear to me now that the antidote to overdosing on crisis is to expose oneself to an ample dose of joy and pleasure. I have made a decision to court my own pleasure unashamedly. Being drug free, this aim now feels an attainable goal at last.

For the first time in weeks I attended my poor, neglected shrine, covering it with fresh flowers, lighting candles and incense and spending some quiet time there. Sitting at my shrine and thinking how pretty it looked, my thoughts were drawn to Hathor. My Druidry has never been solely about the Celtic world. There are Celtic and British gods whom I feel greatly drawn to but I have always been very eclectic in my approach to the Divine. I feel it is best to go where you feel called and so there are gods and goddesses from many different pantheons that are special to me. As with many pagans, Egypt holds a great fascination, as does it gods. I have already written here about Sekhmet and Bast but I also feel a huge affection for Hathor.

In her book Gods of Ancient Egypt, Barbara Watterson describes Hathor as ‘Golden One, the joyous goddess of love, music and intoxication, the bringer of happiness’. Music and dance were very much a part of her worship; the Greeks associated her with their own lusty Aphrodite, understanding that Hathor puts us firmly in touch with the pleasures and needs of the body; we ignore her to our own cost and a lack of her in our lives can leave us feeling painfully dry and empty.

Hathor is a cow Goddess, often depicted as a woman with the ears and horns of a cow, the sun disk resting between these. Watterson writes,

In predynastic times, the cow represented fertility; she was the great mother. Statuettes of naked woman with arms upraised in imitation of cow’s horns have been found in graves of the period, placed there presumably because they had been used as votive offerings to the mother goddess…Other predynastic vases are painted with arms holding breasts, or figures of women dancing with their arms held up and curved towards their heads.

On my left arm I have a tattoo based upon one of these ancient votive figurines that have been found on the banks of the Nile. From a distance, the tattoo actually looks like the head of a cow with horns! I feel rather pleased that this in some way links me with Hathor, her image indelibly drawn beneath my skin as a constant reminding to honour the sweetness that she so generously offers each of us.

There is a myth concerning Hathor that mirrors almost exactly a moment in the Persephone story. In the Greek myth, some versions tell that when Demeter is deeply grieving the loss of Kore, she is approached by Baubo who proceeds to cheer Demeter up by flashing her vulva. A similar tale is told of Hathor, Watterson writes,

The story goes that Re, having been insulted by one of the lesser gods, retired to his booth to sulk. And Hathor came and stood before him and uncovered her vagina in front of his face; an act that cheered up the Lord of the Universe so much that he laughed and rejoined his company of Gods.

Both Baubo and Hathor’s story remind us of the value of joy when we have come to take our lives and our pain too seriously. This is not to devalue the meaning of our struggles or the right of any of us to express anguish at our losses but rather this approach helps us to remember that the power of laughter can enable us to overcome our darkest times and to place our angst into perspective within the wider scheme of our lives. When Baubo and Hathor expose themselves with such glee – very much as the Sheila na Gig does also – it is an act that is in such contrast to the moment that a shift in feeling is inevitable: both Demeter and Re are playfully shocked out of their mood and life suddenly looks very different.

We can become so internalised by our struggles, allowing these to distort our perception. Having others act as a useful sounding board can draw us out of this narrow self-focus, enabling us to see the bigger picture. In Japanese mythology, the Shaman Goddess Uzume provides a similar function as Baubo and Hathor for the Sun Goddess Amaterasu Omi Kami. Like Re, Amaterasu has been insulted by her brother the moon and is hiding in a cave. No amount of pleading by the gods will entice her out. Uzume successfully lures the Sun Goddess from the darkness by performing a comic dance, whereby she exposes and plays with her vulva and breasts and makes the assembled company of gods laugh so much that the curious Amaterasu cannot help but emerge.

The gift of Hathor, Baubo and Uzume is that they place us in touch with the wisdom of the belly and the healing impact of laughter and joy. In depression or sadness, we can so often retire to our heads, leaving our bodies in an apathetic and neglected state. When we laugh, we are drawn straight back into the body in a very physical way, right down into the belly, rooting ourselves once more in the world around us, and in doing so, giving us the opportunity to view things in a different light. Laughter changes our brain and body chemistry; joy is a must.