Saturday, March 6, 2021

Kore Returns to Earth Again.....

As the days on Earth lengthen and turn towards spring, we find Queen Persephone in the Underworld with her lover, King Hades. She tends to the souls of those who wait for life to call upon them once again. 

But even in this timeless place, time passes. And Mystery has its way with us all. In this place of sameness the unexpected happens. A whiff of air drifts in and mingles with the mists and vapors of the Underworld. The sconces and torches flutter and quickly regain their steady glow.  

A murmur arises among the Shades, “from whence comes this breeze?” A sadness of memory flutters through rushing from shadow to shadow until it is dampened amidst the fog and the vapors.

But that freshness finds its way to Persephone. The Queen raises her head and sniffs.

 

“What is this? An aroma of newness? Here among the Dead there is no newness. All remains. All remains. No change comes to this place. All remains.”

 

Nonetheless, curiosity, a scampering child of Time, tugs on a corner of Persephone's awareness.

 

“Rest, my Lady." counsels Hades. "Your time of service within these realms is not yet complete. There are more souls to be tended. Come, here, feast once more with me! Lie once more with me! Our love lies beyond time, beyond human understanding, beyond the reckoning of cycles. Stay with me, my Lady, stay!"


“My Lord, You are most gracious. Here do I reign in splendor. Here do I fulfill a destiny that reaches into my soul. And yet...” 

 

And yet, the crown begins to lie heavy on Persephone's brow. The pomegranate seeds Persephone ate when she first arrived in the Underworld, their potency wears thin. After all she had eaten but 6 of them. Their spell will not last forever. Even in this place where time waits, their magic will not last forever.

 

A thirst Persephone only vaguely remembers arises within her. Her heart yearns. But for what? She hardly knows. 

 

A longing has taken root in Persephone's heart. A restlessness that finds no solace in tending those who have passed this way or even in the entertainment Hades offers. The stirring of memory rises within her. The air surrounding her becomes stifling. Her lungs call out for air and she knows that change has come.

 

From some corner in this Place of Shades, a pinprick of light beckons. Invisible to most it catches the eye of Queen Persephone and quickly as quicksilver she follows it. “I remember not where this will lead me and yet follow it I must!”

 

“I will return, My Lord!” She pledges. “I’ll not forget…”

 

And Lord Hades sighs for the long silent months that await Him. For forget she must. And return again, she must. For the cycle will be fulfilled. But the waiting in this timeless place lays heavy on his heart.

 

For Memory, a Goddess of Time, works in strange and mysterious ways. She plays tricks on us all. The best of intentions falls prey to her wiles. Memory imprints herself deeply within us all and bides her time until she reemerges. Which she does at her Will.

 

And Persephone? Her steps growing lighter as she begins her ascent. Cautiously at first, and then ever more boldly, she follows the light that guides her, opening the way. 

With each step she grows younger, stepping backwards, or is it forwards into innocence. The wisdom of the Queen falls away, replaced by a wide-eyed youth. 

 

Her step becomes a skip and then a slight run. Her hair that had been bound as befits a Queen falls soft, cascading over Her shoulders. Her gown of darkened heavy velvet and fog melts into the lightness of gossamer and of silk. 

 

The aroma of forever drifts off, as the scent of tomorrow eases its way along the path that rises ever rises towards the surface. 

 

In the Upper World, the world of humans and their Godds, Demeter has answered a call of a meadow beside the rock face. A place where all the world holds it breath and waits. ”This place… this place it feels familiar,” She muses.

 

And as The Mother walks across the meadow, once again grasses and flowers rise up in Her step. She breathes in the fragrance and thinks, “Ah! Familiar. It has been long since I walked in this place and smelled the freshness herein. Long since I felt hope stirring in my heart.”

 

“Look! The first snowdrops! Can it be? It must be!” And Demeter looks about wildly hoping against hope.

 

Out from the cleft in the rock wall, Kore steps, a Maiden once more. A carpet of sunny yellow winter aconite and pure white snowdrops bloom where she steps.

 

“Mother!” She cries.

 

“Child” cries the Mother.

 

And spring returns to the Earth once again.

 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Kindness

I was raised in a household in which Kindness was not a value. I had to learn it as an adult.

That is not to say that there weren’t other noble values in my childhood home, but Kindness wasn't prime among them.

 

It was when I found the poem Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye that my journey towards Kindness actually began.

 

I dont remember how or when I found the poem or who pointed it out to me. What I do know is that it stuck. It was similar to the time in the late 1970s when I was sitting regularly at Insight Meditation Center in Barre, Massachusetts. At the end of my 10 minutes meeting with the teacher, I made the statement, This word compassion, you use it a lot. I dont think I know what it means.” The teacher just smiled.


Although I didn’t recognize it at the time, finding the poem Kindness was a step along the path towards finding out.

 

When I found that poem, or when it found me, I was living in a ramshackle owner-built house on a gentle hilltop in a community of about 1000 people. I had a partner and we were raising our young kids on that idyllic land. I was starting my own business, landscaping, and we were on as ground as shaky the house that held us.

 

I printed out a copy of the poem and put it on the side of the fridge closest to the kitchen sink. Every day when I washed the dishes, I read and re-read the poem.

Every day after I read it I shook my head thinking, I get it. But I dont get it.”

 

Time passed. The partner left. The business prospered. The kids grew. I continued walking my personal path of healing, doing my daily practices, deepening my magical training, and began offering classes and co-creating community and personal rituals and ceremonies in my European-based traditions. 

 

And I continued reading the poem.

 

Now and again, I thought I caught a glimmer. But then I sadly shook my head. No,” I would think. Im not sure. Exactly.”

 

Life unfolded, as it does. In time, with the kids grown and flown from the nest, The Goddess, The Great Mystery, Life Force (call it what you will) picked me up and set me back down in a new life set in a small city far from my beloved hills with a new partner and in need of a new livelihood.

 

And so, I got to work and created myself anew using the skills and tools I had so carefully gathered during my previous chapter.

 

Moving house is a challenge at the best of times. Moving lives is a greater challenge that so many of us face. What to take; what to leave behind.

 

One of the things I took was that wrinkled, stained, somewhat battered copy of Kindness that had graced my fridge for all of those years. Now it lives a gentler life on the bulletin board next to the desk where I write these words.

I dont actually read it multiple times each day anymore, although I do glance at it frequently. The words are imprinted in my soul.

 

And I have found that, slow learner that I am, that Kindness has permeated my life. 

 


Now, I am not saying that Im great at it, or that I never stray into old habits of mind. Because I most certainly do.

 

But I am saying that Kindness has become a friend who lives in my heart and calls me back from whatever worn out old patterns may have reasserted themselves.

 

Because after all, that is what Kindness does. But Naomi Shihab Nye says it so much better than I:

 

Kindness

Naomi Shihab Nye - 1952-

 

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.

 

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness

you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho

lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,

how he too was someone

who journeyed through the night with plans

and the simple breath that kept him alive.

 

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

 

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

It is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend.

From Words Under the Words: Selected Poems. Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

On Foundations...

On Foundations


The Tower tarot card shows us a stone tower crumbling. Our first thought: Disaster! 

 

2020 was indeed a year of toppling Towers. And now in 2021 it looks like the house of cards that was erected in place of The Tower is also toppling. What will we build in its stead?

 

The Tower card in the Smith-Waite deck (a.k.a. Rider Waite or Universal Waite) shows a burning tower that has been struck by lightning. People are hurtling towards the Earth. But if you look closely you will notice that they fall through many yods. These yods may look like flames but are actually the Hebrew letter that is the beginning of the Tetragrammaton, the unpronounceable name of the God. 

 

And if we examine Pamela Coleman Smith’s artwork carefully we see that The Tower rests on a foundation that is incapable of holding it up.

 

It might be lightning that sets the fire, but it is the faulty foundation that gives us little alternative other than jumping.

 

We can compare our lives to the Tower—especially when the unexpected arrives. We want to know that we can make it through. We want to know that our foundation is strong.

 

This is why when I designed and taught Priestessing Your Life (2010 – 2020), I developed a set of practices based on the skills of grounding, and centering and, incorporating my years of training with T. Thorn Coyle, integrated alignment with our Divine selves. These are, I believe, the foundational skills any a spiritual path. I taught them at the beginning of the program and we practiced them throughout the training.

 

Then, a few years ago the Wild Ginger Witch Camp organizers noticed an assumption that we had been operating under. We recognized that when we were newbies on our spiritual path, we learned the fundamentals. We learned to ground. We learned to center and to anchor our work in our bodies. We learned these skills thoroughly until they became second nature.  They were so ingrained; we assumed that everyone walking a spiritual path shared our understanding, practice and skill. 

 

Then we looked around. What were people actually doing when we invited them to ground at the beginning of ritual? We realized that we so weren’t sure.  So Wild Ginger began to offer these fundamental skills and understandings to offer the possibility of self care so necessary to walk a spiritual path.

 

In a similar vein when I brought my work online, my co-teacher and I offered a course called The Basics. We needed to know that everyone was starting on the same page. Surprisingly, a number of seasoned practitioners as well as first time students took the course. 


Now we have expanded this offering to include additional skills of deep work in trance or journeying along with grounding, centering and body awareness. 
 

To my surprise and delight I recognized that by expanding the practice to align ourselves with our Divinity and to open the conversation between our innermost self and our outer world self, this course became a place where some of the Priestessing Your Life skills can find a new home. 


And thus, Foundations was born. 

 


Learn more about Foundations and
how to sign up on my Announcements page.



 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Your Cloak of Tenderness: A touch of comfort for challenging times



A dear friend and current student asked the question, "How can I remember who I am?". 


The question really hit home because it’s a question I have asked myself for years beyond counting. In fact, much of my personal work, both spiritually and psychologically, is focused on being able to remember who I am -- Most especially when I have strayed into old habits of heart and mind


That’s when our personal practices step in. For me, noticing that I am living an old script is a call to pause, pay attention and invoke the witness-self that mindfulness helps us developAny number of meditation teachers will offer the instruction, “when you notice that your mind has strayed very gently, bring yourself back [to the breath].” This instruction is deceptively simple because it is so hard to do. My mind screams out, “If I can’t remember who I am, how the *explicative, explicative* am I going to remember to bring myself back!”

 

And that is where daily practice comes in. Moan, groan…..

We all have little strategies throughout our days that bring us back. Perhaps for you, it’s taking that extra 3 minutes in the washroom. Or waking up 15 minutes early to sit with your cuppa. Or taking the dog for a walk in the fresh dawn air, or at dusk. Perhaps you remember to plant your feet on the ground and maybe even to take an extra breath or two, giving your mind the opportunity to anchor itself in present time. Perhaps its some technique you picked up at a class or training that appears in the landscape of your mind.



There are as many ways to bring yourself back as there are wanderers to gather in. Whatever your choice of anchor, the important part is that you use it. As soon as you recognize that you have wandered.

 

For many of us, there is a tendency to be hard on ourselves when we notice that we have wandered off chasing down some story lodged in the dim recesses of our mindsThe challenge becomes not only returning to the Now, but doing it gently.

 

With this in mind, I offer to you the possibility of creating a Cloak of Tenderness. I am not sure where or when this piece of work entered my mind and my life. Perhaps someone led me through it long ago. Perhaps I made it up. I have been using it for so long I just don’t remember its origin. But here it is. 


Cloak of Tenderness Guided Meditation (YouTube) 


May it be helpful…..


Update/Showing Up for Yourself Series April 2021

Join our upcoming course for more resources for self-compassion. 
Learn more about Showing Up for Yourself on my Announcements page.



Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Courage Feeds Compassion, Compassion Feeds Courage


I have found myself saying to a number of people lately, 
Life brings us to our work…” 

This is most certainly true of me, and perhaps for it you as well.

 

As I walk the path that lies before me I am supported by the skills and tools I have learned along the way. I think of these things as my *practices* and quite frankly, I would be lost without them.

 

Aside from the skills of Grounding (connecting myself with Earth and Sky) and Centering (staying in touch with the Core of my being, my most essential Self), I call upon the qualities of Courage and Compassion. I access them through the breath, a practice that I first learned from my teacher, T. Thorn Coyle.

 

The practice itself is simple: breathe in Courage, breathe out Compassion. Or sometimes I reverse them, breathing in Compassion and breathing out Courage. It works either way for me, depending on the circumstance.

 

But it is the definitions of Courage and Compassion that really matter here. Rather than trying to connect with some airy-fairy concept, when Life calls upon me to show up for myself, for a beloved, or for a situation, I need to know exactly what I mean when I invoke these qualities in order to be present, no-matter-what.

 

Sometimes I can take the time to do automatic writing in order to get my current definitions out of my mind and onto a page.*

 

Other times I just have to hunker down into my being and call up the Courage and Compassion of the moment that lives somewhere deep within.

 

However I get there, leaning into this combination of Courage and Compassion settles me into the moment and I have access to presence and am able to show up as my best self.

 

I have attached a short video of me leading one version of this practice. I hope that it is as helpful for you as it has been for me.

 

~~~~~~~ 


   ~~~~~~~

 

*To try automatic writing, set a timer for a specific amount of time, 10 minutes, 15, 20. Then take yourself into a deep state of being by whatever method works the best for you.

While you are in this deep place begin writing and dont stop until the timer goes off. In this case you might write for 15 minutes about Courage and another 15 minutes about compassion.

 

If you are lucky, you will write down all of the things you know off the top of your head and the timer will still be ticking away.

DONT STOP WRITING! This is the pivotal moment.

 

At this point you can write anything. This is stupid! I hate this!, etc.” are good examples.

 

After several moments of whining on the page, something new will likely emerge. This is the treasure you have been seeking.

Keep writing until the timer goes off.

Then sit back and read what you have written.

Pay special attention to new ideas or anything that surprises you. This may be your personal definition of Courage or Compassion.

 

 

During a recent automatic writing session recently I recalled a conversation I had with a different teacher back in the 1970’s. I had been sitting meditation at the Insight Meditation Society in Central Massachusetts for some time. And I kept hearing this new-to-me word, Compassion. In my 10 minutes-every-other-day talking with a teacher I blurted out my question, “This word Compassion you keep talking about. I don’t get it. I don’t know what it means!”

The teacher was kind. His response went something like, “Just keep sitting. It will come.”

 

Today I find myself stepping into compassion which turns out to see-saw between “responding accurately in a timely fashion” (T. Thorn Coyle) and offering as much spaciousness to any given situation as I can manage.

 

 

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Forging Your Own Path!



May the path unfold before you, even as you walk upon it!”

                                                 Sophia, embroidered on a blue jeans patch, 1976

 

As we step forward in our lives we are continually faced with decisions, the outcome of which 

is never fully and consciously known.  It is only when we look back that we see that there was a path. And that somehow, miraculously, we walked it. 

 

Perhaps we created it. Or maybe we simply allowed it to unfold.

 

When I came to Canada 10 ½ years ago, following my heart and some unnamed impulse that one might call The Goddess, I imagined that I would continue landscaping.

Instead I created myself anew. I leaned into the skills that I had assembled through formal education, trainings and mentoring, and decades of lived experience, and stepped into the role of Guide, Mentor, Counsellor and Teacher.  What had once been a sideline now took centre stage.

 

The first iteration, Priestessing Your Life, a 13 month training in personal and spiritual empowerment, has now run for 9 Cycles!

 

I love the term Priestessing. To me it means the practice of holding the big picture’ while attending to the details. I think of it as a non-gendered role, and I have experienced people of many gender identities stepping into Priestessing both in their lives and within their communities.

 

But not everyone experiences the term Priestessing as non-gendered. Some people saw it as a female-associated word, label and role. And so I was troubled. 

 

Over the years I searched for a new name for this training. To no avail. Then, as Cycle 9 began, I sensed that this would be the final offering of Priestessing Your Life. I was both surprised and satisfied. After all, it had had a great run.

 

But, as Cycle 9 unfolded, I again found it deeply satisfying to teach the group of people who had answered the Cycles call.  I felt confused. Where had this sense of finality come from? How would I find balance between that sense of ending and the excitement I felt moving forward, in the present, with this teaching?

 

Then, mid-Cycle and in the midst of my questioning, came COVID-19, and the world changed. In an instant.  The challenge now was to discover how to move forward with the in-person model that had worked so well all these years. The work is powerful and deep. The container that held the group stretched, and it stretched well, holding participants from diverse locations and communities.

 

And then it didnt.

 

Zoom fatigue set in.

 

With the advent of summer, and a flattened curve, a smaller, tighter group met in person again, in the garden. Held within the abundance of the gardens we recharged our container and the work deepened.

 

But COVID-19 isnt going away although summer will.  And what was to follow Cycle 9?

 

Some of you know that there are unseen allies, Mysterious Ones, with whom I work. Back in February, at Imbolc, Bridhe (Brighid to some) had whispered in my ear, Forging Your Own Path”.  I had put this concept at the back of my mind while I muddled my way from the old normal’ (B.C., before COVID) through lockdown into now and the new normal.

 

OK, I thought. ‘Forging Your Own Path’. I began to run with it even though I still didnt fully understand.  COVID-19had changed everything, and suddenly, after years of resistance, I recognized that my work could be and needed to be online.

 

Forging Your Own Path emerged as the new incarnation of Priestessing Your Life! 

 

Like Priestessing Your Life, Forging Your Own Path will focus on the four Powers: To Know, To Will, To Dare, To Choose Silence – (or Not!)  Although the framework for the program resembles its predecessor, this is a model that constantly changes and shifts, taking each group and each person face to face with their individual journey within the context of the group container.


The group will remain small with a maximum of 12 participants to support intimacy and trust. 

We will meet twice monthly on Zoom. I will continue to offer one optional individual session monthly to support you in the Work.

 

Life continues to move us along and our path continues to unfold. I invite you to step onto your path as it unfold beneath your feet. Forging Your Own Path begins at the Samhain season. I will be sending out invitations to join us, um, soon.....




 

Painting by Margaret Rossiter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Some Thoughts.....

I have been trying to write a blog post for the past several weeks now. Probably more than a month, two months, or more. I keep on writing and deleting. What I had wanted to write about was the way in which I work with Breath as a tool to support humans stepping into reciprocity with Life.

And then I remembered Eric Gardner. I think about George Floyd.

I am an older middle-aged white woman of privilege. I grew up in the 1950’s on the east coast of the United States. The safest person in my childhood was a Black woman.

I am heart broken and outranged that people who look like me are murdering people who look like the people who nurtured me as a young child.

This does not protect me from internalized or systemic racism. Or many other –isms.

And so I work for justice in any way, in all of the ways, that I know how.