Sometimes We Just Need to Slow Down and Be Quiet

Oct 15, 03:59 PM

The full moon is waning, the days are getting shorter , and we are quickly approaching Samhain, the Celtic new year and beginning of the darkest quarter. It is the time of dying. The time of year where the plants sink back down into the earth, the birds fly south, the animals get ready for winter. It’s a time for us to slow down and begin to take stock of the year. What did we learn, what were our big mistakes, what can we do better next time, and what can we let go of to make room for the new? (I’ve been learning that we can actually let go of way more than we realize.) What can we keep to bring forward into 2020, or finish up before the new year. Can we die a little every day too with the season, or does that scare us? Making friends with death is practiced on the shamanic path, but really it’s just a part of life. Everything dies. Everything worldly dies. This makes room for rebirth. Can we get a little more comfortable with death this fall?

ON Samhain our Celtic ancestors would walk their land with candle lit gourds to scare off unwanted spirits. It was a way to cleanse the land before winter, so that everything could rest and be fresh in the spring. I love these old customs not just because they are enjoyable to do, but because they work. People feel good when they drive up our driveway and I feel good living here. John continually remarks on how safe the wild animals feel coming here, and we enjoy their company. Cleansing rituals are important and our fast paced world doesn’t have room for that anymore.

Autumn is a time of slowness, of death and decay, of rest, and release. How can we all participate in this seasonal cycle, so that we too are renewed and fresh in the spring? I’m not one for elaborate rituals, I like ones that I can do spontaneously when ever I feel moved to do so. A simple Samhain ritual is to just sit and be quiet everyday, to acknowledge our blessings and life, and to let die what can die on the exhale of our breath. Most times the greatest medicine is the simplest, and usually it’s because we are more likely to do it. And most often all we really need is to slow down and rest for a spell. That gives the healing forces in our bodies and psyche’s time to do their magic.

I wish you all rest this fall. Deep rest and release, so that we are more able to go into those deep scary places collectively and embrace our wholeness. There is always rebirth. Always.

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The Spirit of Fall

Sep 23, 12:52 PM

It’s Equinox. A time of balance when the sun is rising and setting over the equator giving the entire world half it’s light. IN a few days the length of sunlight will decrease dramatically until the winter solstice. Our days will become shorter and our nights much longer. What does this mean for us? For our northern ancestors it meant storing food and getting ready for winter. There was worry of famine, storms, and extreme cold so people worked hard to be ready. Because we are our ancestors we can still carry that worry and feeling of dread or foreboding. Some people can suffer depression or anxiety in the fall and winter, perhaps SAD has as much to do with our ancestral memory as it does with our biological reaction to light depletion. And its not that a lot of us don’t have real worries about food and heat in the winter with the cost of living and employment being what they are.

Our ancestors cultivated a strong relationship to helping spirits such as ancestor spirits, animal spirits, faeries and gnomes, house spirits, tree and water spirits and guiding spirits such as goddesses and god like beings. With the companionship and help from all these spirits the worry is lessened and the comfort is strengthened. As well, in the autumn as the nights get longer, the veil between the worlds gets thinner allowing us to have more communication and interaction with these spiritual beings. On Halloween or Samhain purification celebrations took place in order to keep the bad spirits away so that our ancestors could be blessed with only helpful spirits in their lives. They knew that to have a spiritual relationship meant that one gets the good with the bad, so they had rituals to maximize the good and minimize the bad. However there were times when even the bad spirits were recognized and appreciated, such as honouring the demons at the winter solstice. Our ancestors understood that to completely deny and disrespect the forces of chaos and destruction was also asking for trouble. A balance always needed to be kept.

Another antidote to fall anxiety and worry is gratitude. Our ancestors also knew that nothing is really ours in this world. Everything is a gift from Spirit be it food, shelter or beauty, health, and success. So offering our gratitude to the spiritual beings who support life was a daily practice. Along with the daily expressions of gratitude were more elaborate rituals of the give away, which is exemplified on our Thanksgiving and Christmas where we give to others what we have, in order to keep the balance.

Sadly, in our secular lives, we often don’t include the spirits of the dead and nature in our festivities, which cuts us off from a dimension of juiciness that could add a lot of joy and colour to our lives. Now the worry isn’t so much about being burned at the stake like it used to be, but more about finding the time. We live such busy distracted lives, it’s hard to take a moment out for a gratitude prayer, although when we do, our lives and the lives of those around us are transformed. I remember years ago in a shamanic circle we were all asked to care for a particular spirit over a period of time, as part of our training. One woman spoke up and said “oh no, not another puppy!” And we all got it. How can we possibly add one more being to our already full lives of care taking. The answer came over time to those of us who attempted the project. We expand. We get bigger so that we can hold more and give more. And that capacity to expand goes beyond our wildest imaginations so there’s no worry of over expansion! I just finished Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s memoir “Falling in Love with the World”, where he demonstrates the human’s mind blowing capacity for expansion. This expansion always embodies more love.

So the spirit of the fall, as I have come to see it, is a kind preparation for winter death where we let go of contraction and start to expand deeper and wider into the mystery. The distractions of summer are winding down and the preparations for winter, the true time of wise open emptiness, are beginning. All of a sudden we find ourselves in moments of quiet and space where we can just be. With the darker evenings, there may be less to do. As this happens it may be comforting to know that we are not alone and are surrounded by those that love us even if we don’t see them.

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Creativity

Aug 26, 05:30 PM

I’ve been thinking more and more about where creativity comes into my own life. I believe all these ancient ancestral practices of connection and belonging actually ignite our creative juices and that is actually the point of it. The point of ritual isn’t ritual, it’s to release or enhance or ignite something in relationship to spiritual forces. To make change happen. We use our creativity to make it real, to make the ritual work. With a reconnection to our own innate creativity we can begin to dream a new dream for the earth, and not just dream it, but actually create it.

Creativity is the key.

Firstly, everyone is creative. I never thought I was. I remember as a child grown ups would tell me I was so creative and I NEVER felt that. I thought I was the least creative person around. Looking back, I see that I was indeed very creative, but I only saw my insecurities and where I was lacking. And in my own wounded heart, I was lacking so very much, that even if I was creative I didn’t deserve to acknowledge it. So I punished myself by denying and suppressing my creativity. Many many hard decades later, I have been able to unravel those restricting beliefs and start to see and admit and even embrace and celebrate my creativity. Dare I say, if I can do it, anyone can? I’m really not sure if there’s any deeper point to life than to create and relate within the field of love. If we can love and create and relate, we are a blessing to the world, and oh my does the world need more of that!

There is so much talk about creating a new world, and yes we need to, but not from our minds, from our hearts. Our creative life must come from our hearts, and our minds must follow the heart. We need to first make this change in our own lives. I think that’s what Joseph Campbell meant when he said follow your bliss. Our bliss is our creative relational heart.

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A Prayer for Healing, Balance, and Sacred Reciprocity

Mar 28, 05:20 PM

As I teach in all my workshops, in the evening I go up the hill on my land and feed the spirits of the earth. I’ve made a few “friends” this way and it allows me to say good night to the day and the spirit of place. I also get to take a moment to appreciate the weather, the setting sun, rising moon, and the various daily activities of change on the earth. Simple appreciation is what allows life to thrive. Having a consistent appreciation practice took years to develop as it brought up all my resistance, it’s also a subtle and humbling practice which takes time, quietude, and patience. I’ve also discovered that the “land” prefers meat, so I need to find something meaty every night to serve, and that is sometimes a pain. There are nights when the land just gets oats and cream or tuna juice.

The principle of reciprocity, “As above so below, as within so without”, was drilled into my body as a young shamanic student. I understood the concept, but it must be experienced and lived for a while. It inspired me to seek out inner harmony and balance as guiding principles, and it allows me to appreciate the subtle nuances of the weathers and land as voices of spirit whom I converse with. What I appreciate and acknowledge, appreciates and acknowledges back, and I feel tended to as I tend to it. I don’t assume that nature wants me there, and I try not to interrupt. I approach with reverence, and there are those special moments when I know that something was given or shown just for me, and those moments feed my soul. It takes a general slowing down of business to get into this flow and when people ask me why I don’t promote my business more on social media…this is why. I’m too busy being slow and quiet!

When I am finished feeding and appreciating, I say a prayer for the land, all the beings on the land, and all beings everywhere on earth. Sometimes my prayers are elaborate, and turn into outpourings of my deepest desires, and other times they are simple such as this:

May this land and all beings be free, may it be happy and free of suffering and the roots of suffering. May all beings be safe, have enough food to eat, be warm and dry tonight and get a good nights sleep. I love you.

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Connection and Belonging at Imbolc

Feb 1, 11:05 AM

January 31st at sunset begins the feast day of Imbolc where we honour the strengthening sun and the fire in our hearts and bellies. Many practioners of the old ways tie a scarf outside at night during Imbolc to ask for blessings from Brighid for the coming year. I have been practicing this for over a decade and use the scarf for myself or clients when extra comfort and healing from the Goddess are needed. It is a beautiful yearly ritual and I invite all those who wish, to join me. Of course Brighid is with us all year long, but this time is particularly devoted to her. Imbolc is also a powerful time to make an offering of food, drink, and prayer to the land and waters for their healing and renewal. I think one could practice these rituals up until lunar astrological Imbolc on the 4th and still gather strength from these transformational cosmic forces.

In simple rituals such as these we remember and rekindle our connection and belonging to the earth and each other. A few nights ago I awoke from a dream, and in that liminal space felt the oneness of all beings. I felt I was part of one big being with earth, not one of billions of separate animals on earth. All animals are part of this one being with earth. This gifted presence lasted for hours, and although this is not a new experience it is always a reminder of a truth that can not be dismissed. And in simple daily ritual of honouring earth and the Divine, we remember more clearly this unity. In ritual we bless our lives that we are a part of this great magnificent force of life.

In these sacred days of unity leading to Imbolc, I was given the phrase “ I am connected with this, I belong here” to say throughout the day as kind of a mindfulness practice. I am connected with this life on earth in each and every moment, if I allow myself, and so are you. We all belong here. That is the sacred fire of Brighid, our belonging. She invites us back, not in a religious dogmatic sense but in the very aliveness and life force of earth. And if you like this phrase, you can use it too. What ever you do in your days, connect with it fully, and know that you belong here.

In response to these teachings which came to me through Spirit, I’ve made an essence blend from my Sedona and local flower and crystal essences. It is called Sacred Fire, and it ignites the forces of connection and belonging, healing the spaces in us which have forgotten this truth. The sacred fire is always here for us to come back to day after day no matter how lonely or off track we may have become. And for those with Celtic hearts, it is Brighid who tends the flame.

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