The Ties That Bind

In the New Age community there is often talk about the act of cutting cords. This essentially means the severing of the binds that connect us to negative habits or people, any damaging ties to the past, situations that no longer serve us and things or relationships that drain us in our present. These cords have a very real, physical impact on us and some clairvoyants claim they can see them actually attached to our bodies. Anything that stirs a powerful negative emotion can take up residence not only in our minds and emotions – we all know what it is like to obsess over something and the way that can make us feel – but it can also be held in our bodies manifesting as tension, anxiety or stress.  The cutting of cords is seen as a kind of emotional and psychic housecleaning because carrying unwanted baggage or suffering toxic relationships are not healthy for any of us.

However, I have never felt entirely comfortable with the idea of ‘cutting’ cords. It feels like a very sudden and almost violent severing of something that, although might be holding us back, is nevertheless a part of us and may have been so for many years. It might just be semantics but I much prefer the image of untying a knot, or unravelling a plait as a method of visual releasing. It somehow is a better analogy to the process of letting go, because in truth, it can take time to remove those negative thoughts, relationships, habits and situations that bind us. The cutting of a cord suggests instantaneous results which for most of us, doesn’t really happen. Those things have been woven into our lives over time, and the painful nature of them means that they need some gentle handling and loving patience to let them go. For me, any magical or ritual act must be followed up with ‘acting in accord’; that is following through on our intention with action that supports it. This is the hard work bit, the place where we practice our intention until it becomes a reality.

The image of a knot or plait unravelling resonates with me because the act of weaving a thread and unpicking it, suggest that we have a creative input into the living of our lives. Unravelling the binds gives us time to honour those relationships or the experiences of our lives that have possibly brought us to a bad place.  The energy of those things remains in our hands and we are given the choice to reweave them in ways that are more appropriate for who we are now, or for who we would like to be.

In the past I have used plaiting and knotting of cords in ritual as a way of focusing attention on what I want to bring into my life, so it makes sense to use this technique in reverse for what I wish to remove. When we are struggling with those emotional shackles or with relationships that do us harm, we need to be kind with ourselves and understand that it’s ok if the letting go takes a little time. We are asked to be patience but consistent; to acknowledge any pain, sadness or resistance around the issue – we don’t have time to do that if we cut. Cutting demands an immediate end; unweaving coaxes it gently.

I guess I feel that cutting doesn’t give me the time to integrate the experience. We can’t remove our past, unlive what has happened; those things remain and are a part of us. However,  by unweaving and reweaving, we take what is ours and make it anew; we transform challenging life energy into something more productive for ourselves; we weave a new pattern for our lives.

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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.

 

Yoga, Ritual and the Art of Change

As Pagans, when we perform ritual, we are using the magic of action and movement; our bodies expressing and re-enforcing the intention of our being to embrace and honour change. In Pagan spiritual practice the body is perceived as sacred, and we try to challenge those cultural preconceptions that the mind and intellect are superior. With an understanding that we have all been influenced by the body/spirit split that still dominates much of our culture, we attempt to perceive of these parts of ourselves as more holistically interwoven, as extensions of each other, and in doing so, open ourselves to a deeper understanding of self and other.

 

For a few years now I have practiced Yoga, more or less daily. I was first introduced to it when I was sixteen. I was training to be a dancer and so liked the physical challenge of its poses. Through it I first encountered meditation and with these techniques brought myself out of a particularly awful three years, post my mother’s death. I didn’t fully grasp what Yoga was but was acutely aware of the benefits.

 

Over the years I have left and come back to it as a practice, something in me remembering the feelings of that initial encounter. Through it, I gained my first real understanding that change and transformation were possible and that I could play a central part in its unfolding in my own life.

 

Now that I am much older, my understanding of it, and my relationship to it, has deepened. Some people mistakenly assume that Yoga is a way of the mind controlling the body, forcing it into unnatural positions, to tame its unpredictable nature. But I have found that, on the contrary, it is a dance between body, emotion, mind and spirit, a coming together of these in movement and breath, focus and stillness. It reaches for the flow within us.

 

Our bodies are an extraordinary miracle. Through them we access the material world around us via our senses; it is both the boundary that separates us from others and our environment but also our gateway to sensuous and intimate interaction with these. Our bodies are deeply responsive to our emotional lives and over time, our emotions can sculpt the shape of our physical selves, displaying our wounds and struggles to the world around us. If we leave our bodies out of our spiritual practice, the chances are we are cutting ourselves off from a valuable source of knowledge and potential for change.

 

After a session of Yoga, I am often surprised by the emotions that surface within me as I relax on my mat. Unresolved emotions are often stored in our bodies. When we involve the body in spiritual practice, we enable many of these to be released and processed. Barely acknowledged emotional stuff can block the conscious efforts we make towards change; they can sabotage the conscious plans we have for ourselves. When the body speaks, when our emotional truths are fully heard, we stand a better chance of embracing healthy change in our lives.

 

Loving to write, I am aware of how much my mind enjoys playing over ideas. I often become caught up in the chatter of that internal dialogue, entranced by the construction of systems, the placing together of language in order to explain my world to myself. Both Yoga and ritual has enabled me to coax out of myself the often ignored voice of body and feeling. At these moments of connection and communication, I am given the opportunity to open to a greater personal authenticity in the relationship I have with myself. It is not always a comfortable moment – the mind is adept in finding distractions from anything it might find unpalatable, boxing off anything that contradicts an ideal. However, the intense relief in allowing the truth of our beings to emerge (warts and all) is a powerful thing; it is the trigger point of our most important, life-changing transformations.

 

We hide so much of ourselves (or is that just me?), fearing that to express ourselves as we truly are might lead to rejection. I think there is a great healing in letting the body speak; in allowing it to articulate our deepest, most profound needs. Without doing so, we cut ourselves off from true intimacy with others and our environment; we become severed from our core.