Fire in the stones; full moon and lunar eclipse


I’m not big on rituals simply for the sake of them. Even after spending time as an OBOD bard working my way carefully and methodically through the rituals and ceremonies I happily abandoned them again as soon as I began working as an Ovate and felt it was right to do so. For me it’s much more important to work shamanically, connecting with the energies around me, the spirits of wherever I am, with myself and also with my allies and then to work spontaneously following any guidance I’m being given. In this way any ritual takes place as and when it feels right or necessary and not just because it is a particular time of the year or turn of the wheel.

Even though it is nearly a year since my stone circle was created during which time I have worked within it and held fires, since filling the space with wood chip and so ‘finishing it’, it has taken me a while to be ready to really work there again. Last month though, at full moon I at last was called there and also drawn to work with fire.

I set my fire pit in the stone lined area I had created in the centre of my stone circle, laid bundles of garden sage and rosemary amongst the flames and then I spent some time there working with the energy of the circle and the spirits of the place, releasing both into the fire and into the energy of the full moon. As this was my first fire there since placing the wood chip around the stones and I was more than a little concerned about setting light to the wood chip but I was careful of sparks and all was ok 🙂
Tonight is both a full moon and a lunar eclipse, just the kind of evening where it would be brilliant to light another fire in the fire pit and spend some time within the stones once again but today it has been raining and is expected to continue to do so. The sky is very overcast so I suspect the chances of seeing either moon or eclipse tonight are pretty much none existent. This though does not negate the power of either the moon nor the lunar eclipse.

I have not been drawn to visit and sit with fire in my stone circle tonight but this does not mean that I am not mindful of the energies around me, nor of the need to be aware of their effects. As with any full moon I will be aware of what I am ready to give up, what has come to an end and what I can release to make space for something new but tonight I will be doing so in a gentler way than when I work with the powerful transformative energy of fire and to balance the strong energies around at this particular full moon, will be working with the energy of water instead.

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Grounding – 4 ways to ground yourself

 

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I have just been reading an article in the paper regarding grounding. It’s big news apparently because it features on Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘Gloop’. Those of us who work with energy though, know exactly how important it is to ground ourselves and I for one love the summer when I can be bare foot and in contact with the earth 24/7 🙂 In the winter I am also bare foot as often as possible even when it’s cold. There is nothing nicer nor better for your health than taking your shoes and socks off an walking bare foot on grass, earth, the beach, anywhere really. It is Earth energy that feeds and nourishes our physical bodies, keeps us grounded, in touch with our bodies and which helps our physical bodies have what they need to heal.

Grounding is a practice that can also help us ‘get out of our heads’ and so is also beneficial for our mental health.

I also ground myself when I arrive in a new place when travelling. Connecting with the Earth energy of a new place or country can help to relieve jet lag and even altitude problems if arriving in a place where the altitude is high.

So how do we ground ourselves? Like anything else there is no one way that works for everyone so the best way is to experiment and find what works for you.

The following are some of the ways that I use myself and with my students. If you find it difficult to do these while you are reading you might like to get a friend to read them to you while you try them out or even record yourself in some way so you can listen and follow the steps.

 

Grounding 1

  • Go outside and find a quiet space with some grass, bare earth or beach, where you will be undisturbed.
  • Take your shoes off and walk barefoot on the grass, earth or sand.
  • With every step be aware of your foot and its connection with the surface you are walking on and with the Earth.
  • As you walk, breath in deeply imagining the breath coming up through the soles of your feet as you place each foot on the Earth.
  • Focus only on your breathing, the feel of the surface and the Earth energy as it flows into you.

 

Grounding  2

  • Sit quietly with your feet flat on the floor, without shoes is best, and make sure your spine is straight.
  • Close your eyes and imagine, sense or visualise, roots flowing from the soles of your feet into the Earth (Don’t worry if you are not on the ground floor this will still work).
  • Send the roots flowing down, spreading out beneath your feet, anchoring firmly into the Earth.
  • Now breathe in deeply imagining the breath coming up from the Earth into the soles of your feet, up your legs and into your body.
  • Continue this for a few minutes at least and with every breath feel the connection between the soles of your feet and the Earth becoming stronger as if a magnet is pulling you.

Grounding 3

  • Sit quietly with your feet flat on the floor, without shoes is best, and make sure your spine is straight.
  • Close your eyes and imagine, sense or visualise, a Lotus Flower opened out beneath you and yourself sat upon it.
  • Imagine, visualise, sense or simply know that the roots of the Lotus Flower flow deep into the Earth beneath you.
  • Now breathe in deeply imagining the breath coming up from the Earth into the base of your spine and into your body.
  • Continue this for a for as long as you wish and with every breath feel the Earth energy flowing up into your body, breathing the energy up into you as far as feels comfortable for you.

 

Grounding  4

  • Sit comfortably, your spine should be straight and your feet flat on the ground
  • Place your hands in your lap and relax
  • Take a few deep breaths and release anything on your mind
  • If you find thoughts coming into your mind, just let them go like passing clouds,     don’t attach yourself to them
  • Now bring your awareness to your feet and feel their connection with the earth
  • Breathe in deeply this time breathing in through the soles of your feet
  • Feel yourself connecting even more strongly with the earth.
  • You might like to sink some roots into the earth so that you are really anchored
  • Take a few more breaths through your feet and draw the energy as far up into your body as is comfortable for you
  • Now bring your awareness the base of your spine and imagine or visualise a thick taproot going from your spine into the Earth
  • Let the taproot flow down deep into the Earth connecting you even more strongly
  • Breathe in again knowing that you are breathing in all the nurturing energy of the Earth
  • Continue to breathe the Earth energy up into your body, up through your belly and up into your diaphragm under your ribs if it feels comfortable for you to do so.

Oak part 2

The first time I wrote about my oak was in April this year. At that time I shared a picture taken last summer.  Over the winter the oak naturally lost its leaves and it was slow coming back this summer and I was concerned it had been lost.

Last year I was told that they liked being planted with companions and that this where they were happiest and when I was gifted the oaklings I had made a mental note of the fact that wherever they were growing holly saplings were growing alongside them so I was wondering about planting the oak with holly.

I then spoke to a fellow OBOD member who quite successfully grows oak from tiny saplings and acorns and learnt that his are potted in large pots and given room to grow.

My poor oakling was in the tiniest pot and so a new home was found and it seems to be growing now. I’m hoping that if all goes well it may be big enough and strong enough this time next year to be planted out in the garden in its permanent home.

Oak

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For as long as I can remember I have been draw to the Oak tree. I have, over the years, collected leaves, twigs, windfall wood and two years ago was gifted three tiny oak saplings. When I say tiny I really do mean tiny as none measured more than six inches.

The saplings were planted in pots and nurtured over the last two winters. Sadly one didn’t make it and so I now have two. They haven’t grown much but are producing new leaves which I hope is a good sign.

Last year I was told they grow best with company and as they are in individual pots I may now move them to a larger pot, all together and with a holly sapling for company. In the wild they grow alongside holly so I figure this is worth a go. I have space in the garden but they are too tiny to plant out and as we have rabbits I wouldn’t rate their chances very highly if I did.

There is a lot of tree lore related to trees and much can be found online but I want to share this with you: OBOD Tree Lore Oak

Familiars and Allies

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A ‘Familiar’ is according to the definitions, a traditional term used for an animal, often a pet, who assists a witch in their spiritual and magical workings and with whom the witch can communicate. I also read today that many modern witches call any animal that lives with them their familiar. I am not a witch so I actually have no idea whether any of this is true or not but for nearly thirteen years I had a cat who I would happily have described as my familiar had I been so.

My cat used to hang around in my workspace at any given chance. This was fine when I was alone but difficult when I had clients coming for Reiki or students training with me. I used to have to brush down chairs and remove it from the space before anyone arrived yet many was the time it crept back in to sit alongside students being attuned to Reiki or laid under the treatment table whilst I was working on someone.

It was though around the time I began working with my guides that I noticed a change in my cat. I had promised my guides that I would spend ten minutes a day working with them, something I found difficult to make myself do. My cat would take itself off every morning, sit on the step of the log cabin that is my treatment space and wait for me to go out there to work. This used to make me feel very guilty and so I would take my coffee out, open the door and then my cat and I would go in and work with my guides. Once I was finished my cat would take itself off and only come back if I was working on anything it felt was interesting. In this way my cat worked alongside me making flower essences, building my labyrinth, making shamanic drums, giving and during healing sessions. It would be by my side when I was studying, on my lap when I journeyed and nagging me if there was something I was supposed to be doing but was avoiding.

As a shamanic healer I have allies, some of whom are animal, who I work with in non ordinary reality, these I suppose are my equivalent of a familiar in many ways as they assist me in my work, work on my behalf, guide me and communicate with me. In this reality though, although I consider crow to be one of my allies, there has yet to be a replacement for my cat.

And as promised when I began working through the alphabet again a link to my first ‘F is for’ post.

F is for Flower Essences and if you are into flower essences I also found a past post on working with the essences

 

 

 

Cleansing and Purifcation

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I have blogged before about how I used to really dislike the month of February, how after the Winter Solstice, the seasonal celebrations, the period of recovery, of getting back to normal, it always felt a bit flat, a bit nothing in particular and that I was always relieved when it was over. I then discovered that historically February was the month of cleansing and purification and it all felt a bit better. Yet here I am on Imbolc itself, the first day of spring with the wind howling and the rain lashing, if ever it felt a time for closing down and hibernating, today, and if the forecast is right, the next couple of days are it, never mind a spring clean and a purification of home and of body. This is a good reminder for me of why I am usually delighted and not a small bit relieved for it to be March with its promise of better things to come. Mind I have until 15th February before the historical period of Purification began so there is still time…..she says hopefully.

This does seem a good time for me to share two of my past blogs which contain information about February, pagan rituals and ideas for cleansing and purification, again this should save you trawling back through the archives for them:

Cleansing 

Spring Cleaning 

This year, on the whole so far, the winter has been mild, the winds often slack and our windows have been wide open more than they have been closed so the need I usually have to open them wide and allow the element of air to move through and do its work is needed less than usual it seems. The garden is not covered in bits of windfall from the ash and hawthorn and so I have no need to go gathering kindling, at the moment anyway. So unless anything changes as the month unfolds, this February my cleansing and purification is going to focus on ME 🙂

Since the summer I have been working in a gym again, the first time for six of seven years. I am discovering muscles I hadn’t seen for a long time and a physical strength that I had thought was lost forever. My 2017 cleansing and purification rituals then are going to be used to get to know it again, how it is now, to deeply cleanse by spending time with it rather than the quick in and out of the shower it is used to. The purification will be through what I eat which will be as healthy and light as I can make it during the winter. So lots of fresh fish, vegetables, salads, meals made from scratch and of course the odd bar of chocolate and glass of wine 🙂

 

 

Brigid and Brigid’s Cross

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One of the first things that I learnt to do when I moved to Ireland was to make a St Brigid’s cross. I hadn’t heard of them at all before I moved and had to be taught not only how to make it but also what to do with it when it was made.

Describing how to make one is complicated without diagrams so having found this online today I thought I would share it in case anyone else is drawn to make one. This link includes a nice video if a child making one, it’s not difficult 🙂 I like that the instructions say to use straws or reeds for there are a special type of reed that grow in wetlands, used to make them here, a reed I recognise whenever I come across it, but the site of which I always forget come February.

I was told that it was the tradition where I live, to make a new Brigid’s cross every year and to place it in the loft on a rafter to protect the house from fire, which used to be a common problem in old houses in Ireland. In old houses chimneys were left unlined and any chimney fire could easily escape and leap through the loft space taking the roof and very often the whole house. I have since discovered that they are also used to ward off evil but maybe I looked too innocent to be told that I might need to do this 🙂 It was a long time ago!

So who was Brigid?

Brigid was a Pre-Christian, Celtic goddess who was associated with smithcraft, poetry, healing, childbirth. She is sometimes spoken of as a Triple Goddess and is always closely associated with fire. In fact the fire associations are so strong that a perpetual fire was set at Kildare in her honour, a fire which still burns today. Brigid is also known of as  Brid, Bride, Brighid, Brigit, Brigantia, Briginda, and Brigdu.

In Irish mythology Brigid appears as a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann and was the daughter of the Dagda, wife of Bres and had a son named Ruadán. To the Catholic Church though she is known as Saint Brigid and spoken of only as sharing her name with the Celtic goddess. It is said that St Brigid was the child of  Brocca, a Christian woman baptized by Saint Patrick, and that her father was Dubthach, a Leinster chieftain. As Brocca was a slave, Brigid was born into slavery. Some stories say that Brigid was baptised by St Patrick, others that she grew up as his friend.

If you would like to read more about Brigid, the Celtic goddess though the OBOD have an article that can be accessed here and which contains a lot of additional information.

What is known is that the the pagan festival of Imbolc or Imbolg, is associated with the goddess Brigid. The festival marks the beginning of spring has been celebrated since ancient times. It is a Cross Quarter Day, midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  It can actually fall anywhere between 2nd & 7th of February as it is calculated as the mid point between the astronomical Winter Solstice and the astronomical Spring Equinox, however it is often celebrated on 1st February, which is the same date as the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion celebrate St Brigid’s Day.

And what about Brigid’s crosses?

There are many stories her as to how the tradition of these crosses originated and this is just one of them:

There was an old pagan Chieftain who was on his deathbed in Kildare when his servants summoned Brigid to his beside in the hope that the she might be able to calm his restless spirit. Brigid is said to have sat by his bed, consoling and calming him . Whilst she was here she picked up some rushes from the floor and began weaving them into the distinctive cross pattern. As she weaved, she explained the meaning of the cross to the sick Chieftain and it is thought her calming words brought peace to his soul and requested that he be baptised as a Christian  before his passing. Ever since that day it has been customary on the eve of Brigid’s Feast Day on 1st February, to fashion a St Brigid’s Cross of straw or rushes and place it in the roof of the house over the door as a means of protecting the house.

Brigid has always been held in high regard in Ireland, many wells in all parts of the country are named after her, the symbol of her cross is to be found in many Irish designs and there is even a pilgrimage route that can be walked, known as an the Brigid’s Way an Ancient Path between Sky and Earth