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 ūüôā
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.

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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

 

 

No Resolutions – Lots of Intention

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I never make New Year’s resolutions and in fact, never have. Growing up they were never part of my own experience as none of my family ever made them and the only time I was really aware of them being mentioned was by people discussing how quickly they had broken them, usually in connection to losing weight or giving up something they really enjoyed but felt others disapproved of. I guess I have never really seen the point of making a resolution that¬†I knew there was a high chance I was going to break or to make one that was to do with others opinions or judgements not something that was actually important to me.

This doesn’t mean though that I don’t do anything. I actually do quite a lot around this time of year and this year it has felt necessary to do more than most years for some reason. The reason why doesn’t matter, what matters is that I listened to the messages, the awareness, the gut instinct that what I did and continue to do now, is important in some way.

So what have I been doing?

Those of you who read my blog will know that I have been doing ¬†a lot of reflecting, looking back at what has been going on, looking at what needs to be left behind, changed in some way and what I want to hold on to. Part of the way I have been doing this, this year, ¬†is that I have¬†made a list of all that I do, the ways I go about my life, things I am happy with, things that I am not, things that I am not sure about and so on…..I’m sure you get the picture. I then made column of the pros and cons of each and then a final column for am I keeping them on not. This was a really interesting thing to do as it really helped me clarify my thinking and see what was happening. I have let it sit there for some days now and this again has given me space to reflect on my initial thoughts.

Today I was fortunate enough to¬†be able to go to a women’s circle which gave us all a few¬†hours of time for reflecting on the year gone and what we were stepping into, fire to release, to transform and water to help carry the flow of our intentions into the coming year. This was very much in line with what I had been feeling I¬†needed to do and also in line with what astrologers have been¬†saying about planetary alignments and the need to be clear about what we take forward into 2017. Also numerologicaly we are leaving a number 9 year which is the end of a cycle and entering a number 1 year which is new beginnings, so it really makes sense to have a good clear out before we go.

I had wanted to share a post about the planetary alignments but as so often happens couldn’t find what I was looking for but instead came across this……..

AT THE END OF THE YEAR

As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they become inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.

Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.

We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.

John O’Donohue

Excerpt from, ‘At the End of the Year’
BENEDICTUS (Europe) / TO BLESS THE SPACE BETWEEN US (US)

May our reflections bring us clarity and insight, may we recognise the many blessing that the past year has given us even if the lessons sometimes have been hard, and may we carry forward our dreams for the coming year in the knowledge that we create our own reality and dream our world into being.

Happy New Year and a blessed, peaceful and abundant 2017 everyone xx

Three Days of Stillness

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Although many people seem to believe that once Winter Solstice is passed the days immediately get longer again this is far from true. Instead the sun  maintains its Solstice position, resting on the horizon, for a total of three days providing us with three days of stillness before we turn towards the light once more.

In what can be ‘crazy season’ even if we don’t buy into the enforced celebration of commercialism that Christmas can bring, three days of stillness sounds like magic. Three days in which we can rest, go within, gain insight, release, give thanks to Mother Earth, the sun, the moon, tune into and recognise the turn of the wheel and make plans for the new year ahead. How many of us though allow ourselves this ‘time out of time’?

I do always manage to stop and mark Winter Solstice itself in some way but three days? Not if I am being completely honest.

This year though is different as I really have no choice. Many times, being less than patient with myself, working through anything rather than giving in, this would be a problem, but at the moment¬†I am strangely Ok with it all, perhaps because my own need to be still coincides with the Earth’s need to stop so we are in some way energetically¬†empathic¬†with each other at the moment. I know from past experience that being still and going into the void often brings me the greatest insights and so instead of being concerned that the house isn’t tidy and that I don’t know what the next meal will be I am just allowing myself to consciously take three days of stillness, admittedly on top of the several days I have already had.

I had begun this part of the year with the idea that I would¬†do some serious reflecting aware that there was a lot that I was pushing myself to do that was maybe not completely right. I had intended to be journalling every step of this process so that I had a record of my decisions, I had decided I would weigh up the pros and cons of everything and then that I would release what I needed to into the fire at the ceremony I had arranged¬†for today. Spirit though seems to have other ideas for I have not picked up pen and paper once but have slumbered in that ‘in between’, state, journeying to non ordinary reality and have thus done all of this there supported by my guides and allies, throwing away things that my guides have then been showing me that I need to reconsider and realising that I was not seeing things clearly. Then being shown how much I still have that does needs to be gone through and sifted out, things that in ordinary reality I might not have even identified. Not one word of this has gone onto paper but it is burnt deeply within me now, so much so that this morning I found myself thinking about whether my shamanic practice ¬†could possibly fit what someone was looking for, before quickly realising that I wasn’t going to do that any more, that the only thing that mattered was what I actually did and not what anyone else was doing, that I didn’t care anymore. Total freedom.

I still have two more days of stillness to come and I am going to make the most of them, excited in many ways to see what other insights and understanding come to me when I completely surrender.

So what else could we use these three days of stillness for should we choose to take the time out to use them?

There are many ways to spend this time including giving thanks for and making offerings to our Earth Mother but these are a few simple ideas of ways to take some time to be still.

  • Sit¬†by a window and spend time gently observing¬†nature
  • Curl up and listen to music, allowing ourselves to receive healing¬†from the sounds
  • Watch the sunrise and sunset
  • Hold a simple fire ceremony, writing down what we wish to release and then surrendering it to the element of fire
  • Sit in the darkness and¬†spend time in reflection
  • Light a candle and welcome the light back in, perhaps thinking of our plans for the coming year, sowing the seeds that the light can germinate over the next months
  • Journey or undertake a guided meditation to meet our guides and ask for support or guidance
  • Journey or undertake a guided meditation to ask to be shown our soul’s purpose for the coming year
  • Make a vision board of¬†your intentions or hopes for the new year

This is a symbolic time, a time of new beginnings, of setting intentions, of the light returning to shine in and push back the dark and lead us forward, so taking time out gives us chance to go into this consciously not blindly in the rush of it all. I for one am determined this year to make the most of it all, working in harness with the energy of the earth instead of running against it.

 

The Night of the Mothers – Solstice Eve

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I am quite poorly at the moment with a very nasty virus that is doing the rounds here. It has left me coughing and totally wiped out, so much so that I have had to cancel the Solstice Gathering with friends that had been planned for tomorrow. This is very sad as its the first time we would have been able to gather for Winter Solstice for some years due to work commitments and the first time my stone circle would have been used for a group celebration but it is sensible, there will be other times.

As I am really not up to concentrating to write anything at length at the moment, or not anything that makes much sense anyway, I thought it was perhaps worth revisiting two posts from previous years that relate to today, the eve of solstice, things that you might not find unless you delve back through the archives.

In the first post I talk about discovering  Modranicht or Night of the Mothers which can be seen as the beginning of the Solstice festivities

And in the second Elen Sentier, talks about her own experience of honouring the feminine on the eve of Solstice 

Whatever and however you are celebrating at this time of the year may I wish you all Solstice Blessings and Seasons Greetings. Here’s to a healthy, happy, peaceful and abundant 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

Making Space for Something New

 

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One of the things I often¬†talk to my students about is clearing space on an energetic level so that they create space for something new to come in. If you imagine (or maybe you don’t need much imagination here ūüôā ) your wardrobe so full that you can no longer fit anything in, this is what our lives can get like. The problem is that unlike in our bedrooms where there may be somewhere else to stash that newly acquired bargain, in our inner lives there is no way of doing this. If our inner lives are full there simply is room for anything new to come in.

So how do we go about clearing our inner lives?

Our outer life reflects our inner life so that is a great place to begin. The wardrobe, cupboards, drawers, bookshelves etc are all good places to start. Have a look through them, what is there that is no longer worn, looked at, valued, liked? Throw it out, find it a new home, donate it to a charity, pay it forward, move it on.

All of this stirs up, shifts energy and creates space for something new.

One other way is to go through our phones, look at our contacts and delete any that are no longer needed, no longer relevant. People take up space too.

I have just done this with my very old address book which was full of crossing out and new addresses added as people moved, business cards, sticky notes etc of numbers some of which I no longer recognised. My brand new address book is now only has addresses and phone numbers of people I actually know and want to stay in touch with. I am doing the same with the contact list on my computer of course.

And….thanks to Facebook deleting the Interest List option, and thanks to a helping hand as to how to access my liked pages, I have spent some time going through all these pages and unliking many of them. I was astounded to find how many pages there were there that I had never knowingly heard of, no longer used and can’t remember ever liking. So a big spring clean and I am clearer and lighter than I have been for a long time. Who’d have thought that having been so annoyed with Facebook the other day I’d have ended up feeling gratitude towards them.

We do expend a lot of energy holding on energetically to both things and people that we no longer need or which are no longer serving us. All they do is clog us up and take up space. On a Macro or global scale this year has been one of holding fear, uncertainty, anger, disbelief and more besides, on a micro scale much of this is also being held by us individually and therefore is taking up energy and space. It takes way more energy to hold on than it does to let go, which is why this Winter Solstice will find me, along with some close friends, making a community prayer bundle in the form of a despacho, (the image at the top of this blog is of a despacho all ready to be wrapped up as an offering) and along with gifts for the spirits, adding in all that we are asking to release on behalf of the world and ourselves.  In a fire ceremony we will then make the offering of the despacho and ask that the element of fire, along with the spirits, accept our offering. In this way we can help to release, clear and make space, hopefully for something that serves us all better.

Samhain non ritual, ritual

 

As a Bard with the OBOD I valiantly worked my way through the rituals associated with the eight festivals of the year. My own guides advised me to do this so that I whenever I went my own way, I did so from a place of understanding, which made complete sense and over the year and a bit, this gave me a much stronger connection to all the times when the wheel turns rather than just the ones that resonated with me most strongly. As an Ovate now I have completely let go of this practice and have reverted to going where I am guided or drawn, attempting to live the wheel of the year rather than focusing on the rituals.

Samhain, the end of one year and the beginning of another, again saw me doing my own thing which as a solitary practitioner is easy to do in a way that were I to mark the festivals with others would not be.

Originally I had thought that I might use the space on the 29th, when I had plenty of free time, to mark Samhain and had in mind working in some way within my stone circle. What actually happened was that on Saturday I spent the day in the garden cutting back some of our hedging, something that is very much part of clearing and tidying at the end of the year. The 30th then saw me on a forest walk, enjoying the crunch of leaves beneath my feet and the changing colours of the trees and plants around me.

The 31st, Samhain itself, again found me in the garden, continuing the clearing and tidying, planting bulbs for the spring and eventually in the stone circle lighting a Samhain fire. This gave me chance to work with my allies and the spirits of the place, to sit within the stones and mark the passing of the year by offering the fruits of the land, leaves, wood, herbs – Rosemary, Sage, Bay Leaves and the last of the Evening Primrose flowers to the ancestors.

This year, this is what felt and continues to feel absolutely right for me, this time next year