Imbolc

The earth is awakening.  Buds are clearly visible on the trees. There are flashes of red roaring through the branches of some plants.  The air feels more open and the deep hibernation feeling of January is beginning to lift.

How January has been a month of feeling like a mole,  examining the roots.  The last two Januarys have been snow covered in Scotland,  it has felt quite a shock to be with the bareness of the land this year.  But in a way everything which has happened to me has felt more intimate and open.  The rawness has taken me to some amazing relisations.

And now it is Imbolc.  We held our Imbolc manifestation day last Sunday,  and had a fire at the end of it to journey with the fire to receive vision for our paths on the year ahead.  We talked about Brigitte,  the tri-fold Goddess of this time of year,  and how we felt the  energy of Brigitte working through us and through everything on this planet.  We owned this energy.

I love myths and stories and the way that this whole dream in which we are dreaming has come into form through stories. The creations of characters and archetypes keep the dreams flowing and help them to be graspable for human comprehension.  As co-creators of our reality,  we really need to understand and have safe and true forms and mapping systems to work with.  I love how simple it is with the medicine wheel and how nature shows us the way. 

So who is Brigitte really?  She’s a beautiful powerful Goddess of fire.  She is water flowing from the well of inspiration.  She’s a mid-wife  and helps to bring dreams into creation and physical form.  She’s the Goddess of poets and smiths who work with the fire of the forge.  That is how we bring her to life and read her.  She’s gentle and nurturing. She’s passionate and strong.  She is guardian to what is pure and true.  She can’t help but keep the cycle of life flowing.  She is an inevitable force of creation.  She is also an inevitable force of destruction and letting go.  The archetype of Brigitte is a crystallisation of the forces of nature which are at work at this time of year.  We use the information to help us to be this energy.

Keening is the word given to the activity of the fairy folk as they cry and weep and wail and let go of their sadness for what is lost,  in order to allow the creation of the new to come into being.  I think at this time of year of the tears which Demeter cried for the loss of her daughter Persephone to the underworld,  in the Mediterranean myth.  I  think of the importance of mourning for what we have lost in order to allow the growth of what is ready to come to us.

The last month,   I have noticed myself struggling to accept certain processes which have needed to happen in me in order to move into the new.  Kindness and diligence in listening to what my body and emotions have been telling me have been the way to cross this territory I have found.  Daily reiki,  a careful diet and taking the tme to listen and talk through what I have found difficult has been essestial.  The keening and the allowing is bringing a new dance through.  My friends who I work alongside in the therapy co-op,  talk of people bringing similar symptoms and problems to their sessions at this time of year. 

The force of Brigitte is relentless. It is the force of the cycle – the wheel turnng.  This force  brings things into being.  It’s the sense of being alive,  having fire and passion,  and having ideas for what stirs the passion.  It is the will to live each of us can feel,  and that we feel and witness coming through with such tremendous power at this time of year.  It is also the fact that the new is ready to come back into being.  We have absolutley no choice but to move forwards.  It is the song of life which does not go backwards.  But it is also the stories of the past which can bring inspiration or express sadness and lessons,  which we put into words through ballads and song.

The power of the wheel turning at this time of year is immense.  I remember after a miscarriage a few years ago,  having my periods keep on coming back around.  It almost felt like a rude interruption.  I couldn’t believe that my body could just keep on relentlesly releasing and creating the conditions to create again.  There was no capacity to be empathic or lenient with me shown by my body.  My reproductive cycle was an incredible machine which carried on regardless.  I was really struck by the pragmatic force of the programme we live within and had to find spaces to care for my sadness which acknowledged and appreciated the strength of the continuum.

Sometimes I sit on the earth and just imagine and attune to what is going on under the earth right now in all of these seeds and bulbs.  I feel that energy of encouragement and support which is our birth-right on this wheel of time and which activates growth and new life right now.  I rmember how supported we are being in this dream,  and how we can either acceopt this support and run with it,  use it for healing projects,  share it with our families and communities,  or we can hold on tight to fixed ideas and notice that we don’t really feel very good.

Imbolc means ewe’s milk.  It is the flow of nourishment and life.  It is the blessing of the mother who gives and supports life. 

I am about to go and post some birthday presents and cards to my mum who gave me life and then go for a walk to see the buds and life in the gardens down to the beach.  Counting blessings and feeling supported.  These are the messages of Imbolc for me.  In this blessed contented space I can allow the flow of inspiration to awaken the fire within and see what is truly ready for me in my life these months to come.  The only way to really get that is to feel the holding of life around me.  The keening is over,  the new blessing is begun.

 

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The Rowan tree and the stillness

The wind blew the rowan tree at the back of the house down a couple of days ago.   She could have fallen on the house,  with the right wind direction for destruction,  but of course she didn’t.  There is so much protection and nourishment here.  I intuited its fall as I phoned the house agent to let her know it may happen and returned to the window to see the roots out of the ground and her horizontal  form.  I felt  such a peace in her surrender.  It was poignant.  And I felt so blessed that the house was unscathed.

The rowan and her protective energy.  I had been taking the findhorn essence of rowan in the autumn,  with startling effects.  In the end I had simply taken to meditating with the rowan tree behind my bedroom as the remedy proved too strong.  The key words were forgiveness.  The affirmation is as Marilyn,  the maker of the essences writes is as follows:  ‘I experience forgiveness of myself and others and surrender to unconditional healing love.’

The winds and gales of winter these last two weeks.  How I have felt stories rage through me and archetypal patterns come to the surface to be acknowledged and unshackled from their prisons.  I love the work of Hellinger,  and practice constellation work as part of my practice.  The healing that can come from unheard voices finally being announced.  The airing of shame,  guilt and disappointment.  What it can free.  I had felt the winds as a great unhingeing which had shaken ancestral and cultural realisations onto my doorstep for me to bless and forgive with all my heart. 

I had also experienced a great film loop being repeated,  as they do until they are complete,  knowing this time,  that in my wiser state of mind I could keep my centre and bring great healing to this script by being compassionate and holding belief in healing.  I think I can safely say that I have wore the acute anxiety and let it release from my system and born only faith as an armour to see me through to the safe shores of love and healing.  I feel calm and open to all possibilities which bring the next part of the story.

Journeying with the spirit of the rowan to check her soul would go safely back home,  I was struck by how much I felt close to her.  The neighbours we have that grow into us so quickly.  A short relationship of 5 months,  but very deep,  helped by the remedy I guess.    In the gap of her absence,  I feel the calm too.   Like we are even more together now.  It is what I always sense with death,  and the realisation always surprises me.  At this time of year in the medicine wheel,  when the darkness has reign and we live more in death than life the reality of the closeness of the other side is even more tangible.  The view up the garden is open and I sense she is not there with her wide protective arms which with the wrong wind direction could have been a danger.

And I think on protection,  and the archetypes we are born into of the earth mother and the earth father.  How the parents  feel the ancestral difficulties of being able to stay true and centred as the mother or father to the child. How,  as children we are grooved in the marks of  worries and separation which are born by the parents. And then, the real story of how  as adults we have the possibility,  working with nature and her cycles,  working with the ways of cleansing and letting go, and then planting new true seeds of stories of finding  our own true mother or father archetypes.  We can be centred in the process  and hold the responsibility of healing the wounds,  letting out the pain,  setting new belief systems in place to benefit all generations.

And I think of the rowan and the journey I have been on with her since I moved here and the space she has left,  and the protector within myself that I now refer to noticing she is not there anymore.  Noticing also,  in her instability in the end,  I was more fearful of her crushing me.  But she didn’t.  The winds and the grace of destiny installed a peaceful surrender because it was time.  I had learnt her lesson as a nature mother and she left me with her medicine.

And I know I am the rowan now.  I blend with her power.  I am the protector and the faith,  because I can forgive and I surrender to unconditional love.

 

A pilgrimage to Balmerino Abbey

I awoke abruptly,  feeling my head sink into the pillow to try to capture the intention for my dreaming I had set the previous night.  I couldn’t reach it,  as is often the case.  But,  immediately insights came in about a longing and a clinging.  I could feel it in my body,  housed in my heart and I could feel the ancestry in my dad’s line playing a part in the wound I felt there.

I spent an hour dreaming into connection and feeling the bliss of being able to laze in bed and then got up knowing that today I had to go to Balmerino Abbey.

Balmerino is probably my most special place in Fife.  We lived close to it when my children were born and I would often visit the river there to throw stones into the water with them to make wishes and relieve the desire to throw something which children (and pent up mothers) often have!

The abbey and its chestnut tree were a sacred space for feminine connection and I have always felt the Mary energy there very strong.  My site for Air on the Dragon Theatre,  Fife map is this place,  and I have a painting of it on my bedroom wall  (above).

More recently,  my  healing friend Paul Mccaig and I have been visiting the abbey and have found its grounds naturally deep and effective for energy work.  There are many guides and monks as well as Mary who come forward to support healing projects and the use of this site for sacred work goes back far further than Christianity.  It is an initiation site especially  for feminine healing and I recommend anyone who searches healing in this area to visit the place.

Incidentally,  the poem on the seat was a piece I helped some children create for the 2000 year of the Artist project.  One of the children was the grandson of the keeper of the abbey at that time and he taught us the trick about the clockwise hand movement the poem mentions,  and the wishing through the tree.  The chestnut tree is expecially good for upper world astral travel,  for anyone who is drawn to work Shamanically there.

So,  an hour later I was on the path to Balmerino.  I had decided this would be a pilgrimmage for me to find out more about the wound I was feeling in the emptiness of winter and to ultimately bring healing to this wound.

I have to say that these days I am not a retreat person by choice.  These 3 days of easy retreat (ie I can go to the shop and say hello to people and chat with my cat) are the first days I have allowed the word retreat to come into my vocabulary and experience for years.  Historically,  retreats for me have been the most disturbing experiences of black suicidal horrors which built up days before and took months to dredge from my system,  that I decided to avoid them for the sake of my children and my sanity.  I did a 10 day silent retreat in India years ago which took me through these spaces,  but gave me sufficient time to emerge restored.  But anything less than this,  which I only had time for as a mother of young children,  has not been sufficient to take me through the domains needed to complete.  Journeying has been a gift for me to carefully manage my healing times. 

So,  this third day of my retreat with Winter… to take a 7 mile pilgrimage from my house to the abbey and back again has been quite a step for me! 

I really brought on the healing on this journey todayand managed to get to that gnawing place of self-loathing.  My inner-cheerleader was jumping about like a maniac.  ‘Yippee!!  Healing opportunity.  You’ve made it!’  Meanwhile my inner victim was staring down the cliff sides at the rocks and river below contemplating getting out of her body.  The mediator was baring her teeth,  grimmacing and going… ‘Boy,  you’d best not stay in this place too long,  you might really go mad this time.’  I came back up the path by the river from the abbey feeling like Jack Nicholson from One Flew over the Cuckoo’s nest convinced that this was it,  everybody would now know I was unstable and paranoid!

The wound which the emptiness of Winter helped me find…  I was like a happy child wandering to the abbey.  It was only when I reached the chamber,  sat in the sacred space there and felt the light all around me that the seeming neurosis began to arise.  I sat in the light of the cermonial space witnessing the wound as a place where a part of me was trying hard to run away because she felt she had done something very wrong whilst the same part of me,  lodged in exactly the same place was trying desperately to find someone to cling to to look after her and protect her from the judgment.  This was the running/clinging dynamic that was set up in me.  This was the part that had recently been isolating me from being able to be close in relationship with anyone.  To come close was to step into a dementing script with yours truly and typically the people who had stepped in had scripts of their own for us to contend with too.  No thank you!

I realised I had just evoked hell on earth for myself, thanked the space for its blessings,  visited the chestnut tree and then began the walk back home.

Throughout the return journey I was consumed by the feeling of self-loathing and guilt that the part who thought she had done something wrong was stuck in.  I replayed every single part of my life when I had felt like this,  and kept returning to major ones in an awful nauseous cycle.  It was so obvious I was on a loop that was set up somewhere.  I saw myself bitterly trapped in this storyline that I was to blame.  I travelled through time to different periods and saw this played out there too.  I kept returning to my dad’s line and felt the extremeity of the stuckness.  Occasionally I saw trees and felt the nourishment of nature,  but really I just felt doomed.  The track home was a most miserable path.  I also periodically felt feelings of utter cringeing when I saw myself as a stupid little woman who just went about irritating everyone.  My God!  Where had this come from?

On Christmas day,  I had watched the film The Season of the Witch,  which had synchronistically arrived from Love Film.  Love film,  for those who don’t know,  send out films from your chosen lists randomly.  I had been struck by the not coincidence that I was watching a film about Witch hunts, on my retreat,  at a time when I had put my intention as clearing guilt in the feminine psyche. 

So, the walk continued and I found CBT techniques (cognitive behavioural therapy) a saving grace as I resurrected my pragmatic (Earth medicine) side to look at the facts and be realistic so that I didn’t completely fall to pieces.  I knew that whatever the outcome,  I was going to clear this wound.  I had no control on outcome and keeping people in my life or avoiding loss or pain,  but what I did know from my experience with this work was that if I kept on track with allowing things to come to the surface and not hiding the wound, I would allow allow the release and unravelling of the program,  healing would follow and I would not have to carry this story anymore. 

It was amazing that as soon as I stepped back in through my door everything turned into a children’s nursery and the state of emergency dissolved.  Things have fallen into perspective and the panic has subsided.  I don’t really know what happened there.  

What I do love about my own process,  which I have learnt because I need to contain the healing intensities to protect and make sure I am there for my chldren in my everyday life,  is how I can put things into time zones of when I am and am not available for this deep work.  Also, I love  how there are beautiful spaces set up on the earth’s surface to accelerate and enhance the healing when we want to work with them.  These have been set up by the ancestors and the earth spirits and used for millennia.  In modern times,  people in the know’ are re-activating them.

‘7 miles of a pilgrimage to Balmerino Abbey,  what must the Camino 30 day trek do to people?’  I posted on my face book page.  My Shamanic friend Ellie Douglas said she’d walk with me.  I said did she really know what she would be letting herself in for??  Meaning,  would she be friend enough to go through that with me!!

Dredging up the wounds and allowing them to be felt and then transformed by the healing light of the guides and angels is a wonderful way of releasing the archetypal conditioning that is in our memories and in our genes.  Working with the dragon lines and the sacred sites is a deep and powerful way of energising and directing this process.  I am sure this blog will reveal more places for working this way.  Being strict in keeping the traumatic stories contained and not going into the horizontal in relationships and human domains is a strict requirement for this work.  I guess that is why the monks and nuns are so helpful!  They understand well the benefits of solitary vertical work.

I intend to tread more of these sacred paths in Fife and build more and more beautiful containers for this work.  I know  am only just learning about these sites and how to work with the medicine wheel with them.  I am grateful for the guidance I am given every step of the way.

Oh and thank you Paul for helping set up that space at Balmerino Abbey.  It works!

The fullness and then the emptiness of Winter

This Winter solstice morning took us up Dragon Hill at the back of the house to watch the sun rise and eat our red-icing coated biscuits my friend Nicki had baked for us.  We were able to preview the effects of the twinkling rising sun before we met her in person,  by the mirror- flashing windows of Dundee across the river, shining in exaltation. 

We sang our song,  the old circle round tune –

”The sun is born again today,  we greet the sun’s first morning rays,  we sing and celebrate the light,  the sun’s born in the longest night…’

Filled with golden,  munching on our biscuits,  I reflected on how many times we’d completed this ritual:  At the beach in Findhorn with the music sounding out of the car stereo,  at the back of our house in Ceres, on the doorstep in Forres,  up the Hill of Tarvit in the snow, up Green Hill in Fife with masses of friends.  And that first Winter Solstice with a baby 12 cycles ago, trudging up the hill with Arin at 6 months on my back and followed by my faithful white cat Freja.    How Arin’s coming along had made me so accutely aware of the creative forces of the body and the truth of the natural. I knew I had to turn all my attention to make a life more in tune to serve my children and to serve the healing of my own soul.

I remembered how I had been studying my MA in Fine Art at Duncan of Jordanstone in Dundee,  obsessive with the idea of art being about healing and restoring wholeness. I was making films and installations about bringing nature and humans back together.  And then the pregnancy came along – a natural art piece on the duration of the course.   I had just come out of hospital from a life saving liver operation – my life saved by a surgeon Dr Wood at Ninewell’s hospital on my father’s birthday.  I guess this was the marking that I would be living a different kind of life – and 5 weeks later, Arin’s spirit  came along with full enthusiasm to speed me along.  Our daughter Tsen followed 21 months after Arin’s birth.

I guess I’m mentioning this,  to in some way stress the importance that motherhood has had for me in bringing me into a life more connected to soul.  It is the act of caring for others before the self,  tending for their well-being and specialness and the greater good which opens soul.  I’m not saying that we all need to have children to feel this way,  but for me it has been the push I needed to change my lifestyle and educate my will.  It is equally  the act of opening to nature,  the planet that we share and tending for that together which brings soul consciousness into being and brings the medicine wheel to life.

At Winter solstice the sun symbolically died and then was reborn,   as it did every year before.  Threading back through the years,  I traced the same scent of hope,  wonder and excitement for what would come into the new.  This year, it was with  a bolt of gratitude in the golden light,  that I had never quite experienced before.  I guess it was the amount of blessings I had experienced in the past year,  which I knew were powered by the accumulation of the practice of working with the medicine wheel with myself and others, and also by my dad who had been helping me from the other side for the past 13 months!   I guess it was also an appreciation that I really did feel happy in my skin this year and maybe an anticipation of 2012 and its glories to come. 

We returned to the car to find its exhaust hanging off and scraping on the ground.  A quick calling on resources to get the children to school and then a very blessed mend of the car by my local garage.  I like to see my car as telling me how I’m doing.  I knew I did feel exhausted.  The past weeks had been magnificent,  but I had been aware I was running a marathon and didn’t quite know why.  I would deal with my own exhaustion later!

So,  I remember this Solstice,  and the run to it the most twinkling and holy of months.  We had a tree from the 1st December and had had lots of seasonal times baking mince pies,  wrapping presents,  reading stories and filling the house with fairy lights.  I had been holding lots of deep and successful Shamanic sessions for people,  which were richer than ever,  due to the depossession work I had been trained in last Summer by Betsy Bergstrom,  and the wealth of spiritual guides and angels I had reconnected with through this work.  I’d also been working with the antlered creatures,  so found this time of year a Shaman’s paradise.  I was able to embrace Santa as a Shaman in flight,  bringing his/ her spiritual gifts to the world.  I just wanted to keep showering the blessings.

And now it’s boxing day.  My children have been away to their granny and grandpas with their dad since Christmas eve.  I have been tending to my own exhaustion and enjoying solitude with my cat Isis.  I have spent two days reading Creations Heartbeat,  a book about the reindeer by Linda S Leonard,  which my Shamanic friend Imelda Almqvist recommended to me.

I say enjoying… the reindeer are renowned for their ability to guide humans through the dark nights of the soul.  From fullness and twinkling and the almost tangible potential of glory and wonder to come which I felt at the new Winter sun, I have had two full days of embracing and then barking at emptiness.  Nature has been wondrous all around me,  I feel soul easily.  Yet,  there is a part of my soul that feels ripped out and I have been feverishly looking to connect myself with someone or something to fill its place.  The dark night has penetrated my soul.

The aching which the emptiness of Winter can expose.  The staring into the wounds which the lack of distraction of company and movement can bring on!  I feel myself like a clinging child who wants to curl into someone else’s shape and be carried around and looked after.  And yet,  there’s a part of me that is thoroughly satisfied with my isolation and knows anybody here would spoil it and I wouldn’t get to the source of something. 

The emptiness of Winter brings the soul’s true longng to life so we know where to direct the vision for the months ahead.  These are the teachings of the medicine wheel and nature.   The emptiness of Winter exposes the wounds which need to be healed to allow more wholeness to come through in the world of soul flowing.  It is only by exposing the wounds and healing them that I can than direct my vision and be sure that what I desire is true and soul-driven and not driven by my ego that wants to control someone or something.

The reindeer tribes live a life so arduous and challenging, moving with the weather and the harshest of conditions,  and yet the reindeer keep them on track as to what is real and what is guided.  The reindeer are living a life half here,  half with spirit.  they traverse the worlds as a Shaman does.  The life of spiritual plenty they provide for the tribe with their close connecton must be so wondrous.   

As I read about them,  eyes half filled with tears,  I was aware that this emptiness in me was somehow created by my divorce from the natural world,  my separation from the guides in physical form.  Yet,  as I stepped out to walk the path to the beach later and then sang to the seals at dusk,  I knew how happy and connected I really felt.  It was in reach all the time.

But there was no tribe around to sing with me.  No soul-mate to understand me and sing the harmony….  Ah,  but how easy to feel what is missing and hold onto it like a should,  instead of baring the wound and letting it be healed by facing it.  I have no idea what this emptiness is really – the soul mate and the tribe are illusions which fill a gap in my imagination,  which truly only the true part of myself can fill.  Sacred tribe and sacred relationship are created by resonance,  not by filling holes!  In my awareness, I know I  have sad storylines I could keep on living and pulling people into if I’m not brave enough to expose the truth.  It’s exciting really.  What on earth is my wounded soul bearing?  How can I best heal it in the wonder of these reindeer guided nights of dark Winter?

Tonight I will sleep with the queery  on the emptiness of Winter under my pillow.  I will ask my dreams to show me what this emptiness really  is that I am so scared of embracing.  Tomorrow is my last day of isolation before I move into the world again.

Medicine Soul

Messages in the Wheel of time…. 

I begin this venture as the medicine wheel enters  Winter and the element of Earth in the Celtic calendar.  I intend to make posts every week on my musings as we journey with nature and the seasons.  My longing in writing this blog,  is to create a very ordinary commentary on what the medicine wheel at its most fundamental level simply is:  the wheel of the year.  The medicine wheel is the wheel which we traverse for a cycle of the spiral,  until the wheel turns again. 

The medicine wheel is the wheel of empowerment which holds us in  the process of all of life’s natural cycles.  These are:  living and dying,  growing and decaying,  filling and emptying,  waking up and going to sleep,  the in breath and outbreath,  as just a few examples.  In the seasons of planet earth we find ourselves informed and moulded by the changing seasons.  To work mindfully with the medicine wheel with intention and understanding of its seasons is to participate as powerful and fulfilled co-creators in the dream of life.  It is also to experience the wonder of the healing potentials brought by moving with the creative flow. 

Medicine Wheel life is about restoring wholeness,  bringing our heart-beat back into alignment with the rhythms and cadences of our own solar system as experienced from the perspective of planet earth.  Life without medicine wheel congruence,  is a life of separation from the real flow,  and generally a life which favours linear direction and the goals of achievement and accumulation. It is an ego-serving path.   Medicine wheel life honours the process and allows the growth of what is natural and most deeply satisfyng and in turn allows the release of what is ready to be shed.  Medicine wheel life is a soul-serving path.

 

 

Soul is an interesting concept,  whose meaning will become more clear through the reading of what comes to the surface in this blog.  Essentially,  it is helpful to see soul as a feeling which connects us with everything else:  the very opposite to the separate self.  Soul can be felt as the stirring,  moving and sensing part of ourselves.  It moves in a similar way to music.  To be tending your soul is to tend your connection to the world.  It is to feel life force running through you, poignant in its ability to make you recognise yourself as a conscious being,  but not necessarily belonging to you. 

Through the meanderings of this blog,  you will see also the various festivals and ceremonies which have been honoured by Medicine wheel embracing cultures,  and will notice also how many are still inherent in our 21st century modified way of living,  all but  slightly off centre of their true place in the wheel of the year.  You will see through the writing and the timing of these festivals and traditions how they fit beautifully as a way of directing the optimum flow of the energy of a particular season to help bring soul visions into life.

The Celtic medicine wheel has four quadrants which represent  the four seasons of Winter,  Spring,  Summer and Autumn,  the four elements of   Earth,  Air,  Fire and Water and  the four directions of North,  East,  South and  West respectively.  The centre of the medicine wheel,  sacred space has special significance as being that which contains all: unity; the mystery.

We entered North – Winter- Earth on the morning of Winter Solstice, the 22nd December  The next 3 months will be experiential and by-the-way jottings on the nature of Winter and its workings on a simple human life.