The Strangest of Times – Staying at Home Week 9

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I like siting in the garden and quite enjoy doing ‘big’ things like building a new bed, a path or a wall, but hate the fiddly stuff, so as a non gardener I am fascinated by the fact that this year I am lovingly nurturing lettuce. They were purchased, planted in small pots and have now been transplanted to larger ones so they have room to grow. The photo is an early one and some are now big enough for us to be taking leaves for our tea. Some lettuce plants are also in a small bed in the garden and I visit daily monitoring their growth and comparing the potted ones with the garden ones. Now it seems it’s not only lettuce I am growing. A few weeks ago I had a conversation with some friends online about growing coriander from supermarket seeds. We all took a different approach. Both of them bruised their seeds as recommended by his Indian father, one soaked hers and planted hers in a pot, the other planted his straight in the pot. I researched online and placed mine between sheets of wet kitchen towel and waited for them to sprout. After about two weeks of nothing happening I got fed up with watering mine and with nothing happening, threw them away. At the weekend I was sent pictures of both sets of coriander plants, tiny little shoots peaking above the earth. So I have now bruised seeds and have them planted out in pots. Three weeks time all being well I should have tiny shoots appearing. If I am still writing this blog by then I will let you know.

This week I actually managed to do a live online yoga class. Really gentle yoga that worked on the psoas muscle. I have had an ongoing abdominal injury for well over a year now. The ‘it settles, I do something and it goes again’ kind of injury. Nothing serious but annoying enough to stop me doing lots of things such as a lot of exercises in the gym and also now Zumba which I am really sad about. Anyway, the psoas muscle connects to the abdominal muscles and by the end of the session of slow stretching, the right side of my body which is where the injury is, had felt tight at the start had loosened a little. So far so good 🙂 I woke up the next day and was aware my ribs were sore, by the end of the day I could hardly move. I couldn’t get out of the chair, cough or laugh without it hurting. Not an injury but muscles that hadn’t been used for the last months being woken up. So much for slow gentle yoga! I am doing it again as soon as this settles enough for me to move 😉

We are now a few days into Phase 1 of easing the lockdown. Online there were pictures of queues at DIY shops and MacDonald’s which opened 6 of its drive throughs in Dublin. For me though the only difference it made was that the small garage in my village opened and I was able to get my car serviced and so keep the warrantee valid 🙂

I tried to do Yoga Nidra this week, something I usually love but found it hard to settle in to. I am used to doing it at the end of a yoga session and not as a stand alone so this may have been part of it, maybe it wasn’t right for me today, or maybe I am just too scattered to relax in to it at the moment. I’m going to let it go for now and come back to it another time, see how I feel then. Like everything at the moment it seems best to simply acknowledge it, let it go and move on.

On a positive note I have managed to read not one but two books recently which is a huge improvement on how I was a few weeks ago. My concentration seems to be improving as far as reading is concerned at least.

I am still working with Air which is the energy that connects to the mind and so governs the intellect, reasoning, memory, thoughts, knowledge and comprehension. It is interesting that I have now begun working with yoga which focuses a lot on the use of the breath, the inhalation, the exhalation and the sigh, the cleansing breath to release as the body is allowed to settle.

I’m not sure how long my Air phase will last but I am certainly less ‘scratchy’ than I was last week, a little calmer and feeling a bit more like myself.

 

The Strangest of Times – Week 8

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I’m beginning to find it harder to know what to write here now as the days are all starting to merge into one and it is getting difficult to recall what has happened and how I am feeling. This may of course be a bi-product of the lockdown as I read somewhere the other day that confusion and forgetfulness are common when the brain is not being used in the same way as it is used to. Not too sure mine is being used at all really.

So how have I been spending the time? The garden is getting a tidy up in areas that we have been putting off for years. We have actually finished sorting out a large corner in the front of the house. I say finished because we started this about a year ago. The guys that cut our hedges have, for the last two or three years, been itching to get in there and cut it all back. Every year I stop them telling them we have plans. Last year we cut back overgrown shrubs, cleared brambles and ivy and there it sat. Until the last few days that is, when we moved large stones to form a border, raked earth, made a small curved bed and filled the remaining space with gravel to connect it to the drive. Our stone Buddha was moved from the back of the house and ornamental grasses planted in the bed. What was really lovely was that the whole time we were working we were joined by a Robin searching for nesting materials and any bugs we dug up. Nice to be working in harmony with nature.

I think this work in the garden fits with the clearing out and decluttering that was suggested as part of my work with Air 🙂 I kinda think the author, Denise Linn, had rooms in the house in mind but as the garden is part of my home for me it counts. We have also been rescuing plants, shrubs, hedging from overgrown ivy which definitely counts as clearing out.

Although we are still getting home delivery for our shopping we made an Aldi run this week to get some things we can’t get online. No browsing, structured list each according to shop layout, a trolley each, a quiet time of day and we were in and out without a bother. Our wine rack is full, we have nuts, seeds, hand soap and hand cream plus of course a few things that were on neither list of course, but no browsing and nothing from the middle aisle 🙂

I also had to pick up a repeat prescription this week and our pharmacy has a system where you text and they have it ready for you at the pick up time you request. This is a million times better than going in, ordering and having to wait around while it is done so I do hope this is one thing that carries on after the lockdown.

I have been doing some art work this week and am enjoying working on a new piece. It helps that I took a photo that really called me to work with it, so it is something I actually want to do. All our exhibitions are cancelled or postponed for the foreseeable future so I have no purpose for doing this other than that I want to, which is lovely.

Also I have begun to read again, not snippets online but an actual ebook. I get ebooks online from our library and usually get through one every few days. Since the lockdown I have had to renew every book I’ve borrowed at least once. I had only been managing a about a chapter before I lost interest and found my attention wandering, but the last couple of days I am up to four or five chapters which is a huge improvement. It would be nice to stop feeling scattered and unable to concentrate on anything for long, so I really hope this continues. It does feel a step in the right direction.

I have noticed that I am getting a bit ‘frayed at the edges’ and that others seem to be the same. I have been getting a lot of ‘your lockdown is easier than ours’ online because the sea is within our 5km, but this is hard for all of us wherever we live. I think we all need to bear in mind, myself included, that we really have no idea how anyone else is feeling or how they are coping with the lockdown. We still have a long way to go with this.

The weekend saw a welcome break for all of us here with our village community online Bingo. This was 2 hrs of much needed craic. We had all registered online, been sent bingo cards for two games, prizes of chocolates, wine, spirits, vouchers were donated and last night everyone logged on to the youtube channel and the fun began. Prizes for a line and a card and spot prizes throughout, online live chat and a good bit of banter made the time fly.  A lot of work went into the preparation and execution but it would be really good to do it or something similar again.

The coming week sees the first easing of our lockdown. Garden centres, hardware shops, opticians. garages, electrical, phone and computer repair shops and a few other ‘essential’ services can reopen. This is good news as my car is due a service, We can also meet up with four other people outdoors as long as we maintain social distancing. We have pretty much been doing this anyway, by chance, when coming across neighbours or friends when out walking but it’s official now anyway. Golf and tennis are also allowed reopen but only to those within 5km. We are all still staying at home and exercising within 5km apart from shopping, medical etc so this won’t mean any change for me at all except I have had a friend, who lives locally, ask if I’d like to go for a socially distanced walk one day. I will, as a new person to chat to while walking, even if it is from either side of the road, could be nice 🙂

 

The Strangest of Times – Stay at Home Week 7

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I have mentioned in previous blogs that we are doing all of our shopping online and getting it delivered. We have just noticed that it takes us far less time to put away the shopping when it’s delivered than when we shop ourselves. So far we have not worked out why this is. When the shopping arrives it can either be loose in crates or inside a huge plastic bag in the crate. We either lift the bag out and return the crate to the doorstep or take the shopping out of the crate and put it on the floor so we can return the crate. It’s all very slick, no contact with the driver and although it is way more expensive than shopping ourselves in Aldi or Lidl it is safer or at least feels safer. Bit puzzling why putting it away should be quicker though.

The other thing about shopping online is that we do the order the day before the delivery, adding anything to the cart or removing it depending on what we need. What this means is that by the time the delivery arrives I have forgotten what we ordered. This plus the fact that there may be substitutions or missing items means every delivery is a surprise.

Since the start of the lockdown we have been blessed with dry sunny weather, not over warm most days but great for getting out in the fresh air in the garden or for a walk. The last two days though it has been cold and wet and I have realised that I do not feel like doing anything much. I know in theory that we feel better when the sun shines but this is the first time I have noticed the direct affect it has on how much I want to move around and do things.

Luckily the cold and wet didn’t last long and yes, the desire to move and do things returned with the sunshine and relative warmth. I have gone from someone who didn’t like getting soil on her hands and always wore gloves while gardening to someone who has had dirt under her nails. I should say here that that isn’t because I don’t like getting my hands dirty but because I don’t like slugs and worms. The new found dirt is only potting compost but it’s a start 🙂

Outside in my workspace I was drawn to pick up a set of Soul Coaching cards by Denise Linn. I rarely work with cards so when I am drawn to a pack then I know there is a good reason for it and the message is likely to be an important one. The card I drew was Simplicity. I was then guided to find the book Soul Coaching which is a 28 week course working with the elements, that I have worked through before and found useful. On opening it I found the first few weeks work are with Air and the first week’s work is on Simplicity 🙂 Reassessing, clearing out, simplifying things are the key messages so even though at the moment I am not planning to work through the whole course it seems there are clear messages for me about working with Air and doing some clearing out to simplify my life at the moment which in so many ways makes complete sense. It is after all a time where everything is stripped back and less complicated than it has been for a long time but it seems I still have more to do here which is completely ok.

Journeying this week found me burying something in a white box and I had the real sense that even though I couldn’t see what the box contained, I was burying a part of the past, a part I no longer needed which again would fit with the idea of clearing out and letting things go. This is a good thing, whatever it is I am to release as it makes space for something new to come in which is always exciting.

This week brought the beauty of the last Supermoon of the year and unlike during the previous one, one had fairly clear skies and a beautiful view of the moon both in the evening and at dawn the next day. By some miracle I woke for dawn and actually saw it for real. As always I went straight back to sleep but luckily my husband stayed awake and took pictures of the moon and the dawn. so I could experience it virtually  🙂

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We have eight more days of the present lockdown and then on 18th May things should relax a little more. Whether this happens or not depends on the number of cases in the next few days. Deaths are thankfully falling as are the number in ICU but unfortunately  each day brings large numbers of new cases still. The sooner testing the general population starts for real and some proper contract tracing happens the better. It’s the only way that a true picture of how we are doing will emerge.

Although I am walking and still working out a little with resistance bands and light weights, made from water bottles filled with stones, I am clearly  not doing as much as I was in the gym and at Zumba as I have noticed that I am losing muscle tone 😦 I guess this isn’t that much of a problem in the scheme of things but it is interesting how quickly muscle tone can go and maybe an indicator that when this is all over I will actually need to get myself back into the gym instead of playing at it here. Unless that is, by then I really won’t care. As I am writing this I am wondering if maybe this is what I need to let go of and leave behind after all I am not getting any younger and by the time I can safely get back into a gym I will be even older of course. I am sure with the help of Air I will discover this over the coming days or weeks now.

 

Monday Musings – Altars

imageThe only thing an altar should be is a special place to you, other than that it can be anything and be anywhere e.g. in the house, in a special room, on a shelf, in a window, on the floor, or even outside in nature. It can change whenever it needs to change such as over time as you change, with the seasons or with each turn of the wheel of the year. It can be a place where you go to connect with something e.g. spirits, the divine, with your ancestors, or with yourself. It can be a place where you worship or simply a place you like to visit.

The photo on here is of my own altar. It is basically the top shelf of a bookcase in my healing room. Despite having a Cambodian Buddha on it, my altar is not somewhere that I go to worship for I do not worship gods, goddesses or any spirit come to that. My altar is a place where I keep some of the things that are important to me and this includes some of the tools whose spirits I work with. All of the items there are present because their energy makes a positive contribution in some way.

The Buddha is on my altar simply because I like its energy and the peace it brings me when I look at it. The Buddhist prayer wheel is from Nepal which brings back memories, also I love the idea that inside it is the Buddhist peace prayer and that every spin of the wheel sends out the prayer 10,000 times to the world. Tucked in between the prayer wheel and the Buddha is a Reiki crystal which was a present from one of my students. The shape and energy of the crystal remind me of the purity of the energy of Reiki and the gift of being able to work with it and pass it on to others. The key on the blue ribbon was also a present. On it is inscribed that it is a journeying key and this reflects another very important area of my life, that of shamanism.

At the back are two fetishes from the witch’s market in Peru, a sun which, along with the small candle, represents the element Fire and the Condor which came from a witch who told me it was for a traveller. It also balances the energy of Eagle which is here in the small bundle of eagle feathers at the front right. I have other feathers there too, the large feather is from Condor and was another gift. Its spirit works with me in many ways including realigning, clearing and smoothing the energy field. There are other feathers here but the remaining feather that can be clearly seen is Owl. This was a gift at a time of initiation and its spirit now works with me usually at times of initiation of others. Feathers also represent the element Air whereas the various stones that can be seen on my altar represent the energy of Earth. I know how important it is for me to have balance in the energy of elements so also on my altar is, but perhaps not visible here, a shell which represents the element Water.

There are other items on my altar but I am sure that by now you get the idea. Sometimes I add to my altar, sometimes I take away. The cloth and colour of cloth changes often but there is no regular pattern to the changes. Some items are always there, some shift in and out depending on what I need. I always check the energy of the placing of things on my altar and while it may not always look amazing, the energy of it is always perfect for me and the space it is in.

One thing I hadn’t realised until I was writing this is how many of the items on my altar have been gifted to me. This does not have to be so but is how it is for me, at the moment anyway.

There are no rules about altars, no right or wrong, so creating an altar is always a very personal activity and reflects the person who has created it, their energy, their beliefs and what is important to them.

 

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Pagan Blog Project – Conversation

A conversation about Earth

I have been thinking a lot about the effects of the recent weather, the storms bringing air and water in the form of rain and wind and how much devastation it is causing to everything around us. I was focusing on this as I journeyed and had the following somewhat surprising conversation.

Drawn down into Earth I am shown molecules of water and am told:

Each of these has a role to play. It is necessary for the devastation to occur so that Earth can be fed what she needs. To deprive her of this so you can be safe is putting yourself above her. You drain and deforest huge swathes of land so that the moisture she receives is not enough. How else is she to feed and nourish herself so that she may feed and nourish you unless she takes what she needs? Any devastation is regrettable but without it she will die.

Air brings the water to her, it is the vehicle upon which droplets are carried and is the catalyst that drives seas and rivers to swell and feed the land, without air she would die.

Mankind must come to a point of acknowledging that they are responsible for this. All Earth has done is take back that which has been taken from her. Unless changes are made this will happen again for balance must be restored.

Pagan Blog Project – Cleansing

Extracted from Shaman Corner Blog Post – Moon Books Blog

February was originally named after the Latin februum, which means Purification which is another name for cleansing. Purification or cleansing rituals called Februa were always held on February 15th which in the old lunar calendar was full moon.

The idea of February being a month of purification, a time where we can cleanse ourselves, purify our body, mind and spirit before moving into the new energy and new beginnings that come with Spring seems to fit.

I often use fire ceremony at other times of the year to cleanse and transform, to let go of the old and to make way for the new. I have many different ways of doing this, but as this is a new way of thinking about February for me, I decided to journey to ask my guides for a fire ritual that could be used at this time of year for the purpose of purification. I was given a lovely ritual but to my surprise it was one that used all four elements and not just fire.

As I stepped into my journey I noticed I was dressed in white and wearing a headdress of willow. Within a shamanic journey everything is symbolic so I have interpreted the white dress as representing the holding of the intention to be purified and the willow headdress as needing to be flexible with the ritual. In my journey I made use of a stream, river stones, fallen leaves and soil and as I know I wont always have these to hand, I have been flexible and have adapted the ritual so it may be used more easily.

February Purification Ritual

  • Holding the intention to be purified, shower or bathe until you feel that your physical body has been completely cleansed. Allow the water to away anything that you are able to release.
  • Continue to hold the intention to be purified
  • Take river stones, smooth pebbles from the beach or smooth stones from the garden and build a base for your fire.
  • On top of the stones build a small fire using wood you have gathered if possible.
  • Light the fire.
  • If indoors, a base could be made of small stones or crystals and a candle or night light set on top of them to represent fire.
  • Collect leaves that have fallen from the trees and which have been lying underneath them.
  • Drop handfuls of leaves onto the fire so that they create smoke.
  • Indoors bundles of dried herbs such as sage, sweetgrass, lavender or rosemary, which are good for cleansing could be used to create smoke. These could also be added to the fire outdoors too of course.
  • When there is enough smoke step into it so that it can cleanse the energy body.
  • As air moves the smoke follow its movements, turning, twisting, dancing until the smoke has permeated every part of the energy body.
  • If indoors then hands or a feather can be used to brush the smoke through the whole of the energy body.
  • When the energy body feels completely purified pick up a handful of earth and sprinkle it over the fire to douse the smoke. Make sure the fire is completely out.
  • If indoors earth or sand can be used in the same way.
  • Finish by thanking everything that has been used in the ritual for helping with the purification.

This ritual could be used at any time of the month but perhaps the full moon, which is always a good time for letting go, would add extra energy to the ritual

Spring……or not

Spring …….or not

I’m sitting writing this shortly after Imbolc. The wind has been howling, seas are wild, tides high and villages, towns and cities are under water. This morning our power went off and we were literally left in the dark.

Imbolc in the Celtic tradition is when we see the first signs of spring and in Ireland it is still taught in schools that February 1st is the first day of spring, although the term Imbolc is unlikely to be used. Many is the year though that the weather has had other ideas, although none as bad as this one.

Having lived most of my life in England where 1st March is more likely to be considered the first day of Spring, with it being the start of the three Spring months, March, April, May, the annual disappointment that February brings rain, winds and very occasionally here, snow, has taken some getting used to.

So why then is this belief so out of line with the seasons and the Gregorian calendar?

Imbolc marks what is in the Celtic calendar a cross quarter day, a fire festival and the time that the crone gives up the icy grip she has on nature to make way for the maiden. Traditionally it falls mid way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox although nowadays it usually settles around the 1st or 2nd February.

The pagan goddess associated with Imbolc is Brigid, the Celtic fire goddess but when Christianity reached these shores she was appropriated by the church and her mantle passed to St Brigid, born in Co. Louth, who founded a monastery in Kildare and lived out her days there. Imbolc was then renamed as St Brigid’s Day.

A St Bigid’s Cross has since become a well known symbol of Ireland. It is made from a specific type of rush and the making of it is still taught today. Many homes especially in rural areas would have a St Brigid’s cross hanging in them to protect from fire. When I first came to live in Ireland I was taught how to make one and told that I should make a fresh one each year to hang in the rafters of my house, that way it would be sure never to burn down. I still have a St Brigid’s cross hanging in my home.

So where am I in all of this, brought up with the Gregorian calendar but living with the Celtic?

I’m caught in the middle and like many hedge my bets. I celebrate Imbolc by sowing the seeds of what I wish to grow in the coming year, working with fire and water to assist me. This year standing out in the garden with a gale blowing around me I also called upon the element of air. But I find it very hard to ever think of this as Spring.

For me this is the time when the earth begins to wake up, stirring occurs and yes the crone loosens her icy grip although she often doesn’t entirely loose it. I like to think of the maiden as a seed being sown under the mantle of winter with all the protective covering that winter brings, a bit like the seeds I have just sown. I see her cosy there, protected, warm and safe, given time and nourishment by the earth so that when March comes she really is ready to step forth and become Spring.