Sowing Seeds


With Imbolc almost upon us, although many rituals are about purification for me it is the perfect time to think about sowing seeds, the seeds that will then have chance to germinate as we move through the spring and this gives everything a head start.  

I am of course not talking about actual seeds in the garden, as the earth is too cold for us to do that still, at least it is where I live, but the seeds of ideas, plans, intentions for the things that we would like to bring in during the coming year.

If, like me, you have been using the past weeks to reflect and let go of whatever is no longer needed, then space has been cleared for the new to come in, if not then there is still time to do this, no one says this can only be done once a year or only during the winter. The more space there is in our lives the more we can co-create, without space it is a bit like piling more and more in the wardrobe without moving anything out, something I am  unfortunalty very guilty of. Fortunately in the rest of my life I am much better at having a regular clear out ūüôā 

As an OBOD Ovate I have plenty of access to rituals, but as a shamanic and energy healer I much prefer to use my intuition, listen to my guides and allies and work with the energy of both the place I am holding my ritual in and of course the day itself. Consequently I have no idea what type of ritual or ceremony I will have for Imbolc yet.

These are just two ways that could be used to sow seeds at Imbolc though :

1. Planting Actual Seeds

  • Prepare a pot with soil and have a handful of seeds ready. 
  • Take one seed and hold it in your hand, focus on ONE thing you want to bring in and breathe this into the seed
  • Plant the seed in the pot 
  • Repeat with one seed for each idea
  • Water the seeds and place the pot where you will see it regularly 
  • Every time you see the pot, every time you water the seeds think of all the things you are growing 

2. Working with the Elements Fire and Air

  • Take a sheet of paper and cut it into strips
  • On each strip write one idea, plan or intention 
  • Find a safe place to have a small fire, or use a burning bowl, 
  • Taking one piece of paper at a time read what you have written there.
  •  Do this twice, once internally for your heart and once out loud using your voice and the air of your breath to give your intention power.
  • Place this piece of paper into the flame so the element of fire can transform the energy of your idea. 
  • Repeat with each piece of paper
  • When the fire has dies down and the ashes are cool, blow or throw them into the air doe the element Air can breathe life into your ideas. 

No Resolutions – Lots of Intention

fullsizeoutput_991

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

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

Summer Solstice

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 15.00.28

Summer Solstice is usually one of my favourite times of the year. I love the balance of day and night and coming as it does in the midst of summer, celebrating outside is often not only possible but enjoyable. Summer Solstice is the one time of year I really look forward to marking by some kind of ritual, sometimes with friends and sometimes as a solitary.

This year though, for some reason it is different. Time has somehow got away from me and was only a day or two ago that I actually realised Solstice was creeping up on me, for one moment I even thought I had missed it completely. This came as quite a shock for even though I don’t religiously follow the ritual of a wheel of the year, I do, in my own way, acknowledge the passing of time and the turning of the wheel.

This year as part of my Ovate training with the OBOD I have been trying to live the wheel by ¬†observing changes in the world around me so that I am always aware of where and when I am. Because it has been warm, dry and sunny I have been outside a lot, in the garden, working with plants, tidying, planting and just generally enjoying the natural world around me. Perhaps it is because it’s been such amazing weather (not always the case where I live),¬†¬†that I somehow hadn’t noticed the passing of time, or perhaps I have just so been caught up in the enjoyment of a dry, warm spell that I haven’t been aware of where in the year I am. Whatever has happened Summer Solstice is tapping on my shoulder and at the moment I have no plans.

In many ways I am pleased about this for it gives me complete freedom to work with my intuition, my guides, allies and the¬†spirits of place, on the day of Summer Solstice itself, ¬†to mark the time in whatever way I am guided. I actually prefer this way of creating ceremony or ritual to using anything anyone else has constructed or which can be found in a book and of course if I am¬†alone I don’t have to take into account anyone else’s energy or wishes.

I am almost expecting that solstice this year will be different anyway, the energy higher perhaps as with the full moon just a few hours before the Summer Solstice sunrise it can hardly fail to have some effect. I am though being patient and with a few days to spare I still have time to sow the seeds of Summer Solstice, to wait to see how they germinate, what grows from them and what form the ritual takes this year.

Do you keep a journal for your experiences?

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 14.53.21

The good thing about doing a challenge that no one knows I’m doing is that I can pick and choose what I do ūüôā For the last couple of weeks I haven’t really felt like writing, plus there has been lots of other things to do, more important things, like cutting the hedges before the birds start nesting and getting the area of garden prepared and sown with wild flowers to attract butterflies but with all of that done I’m back…for now at least….

Having found my way back the next questions on the challenge, questions 7 and 8, didn’t appeal to me at all.Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 10.49.22

So because I can do what I want I am skipping ahead to number 9, ‘Do you keep a journal for your experiences?’ because this I do.

At the beginning I resisted keeping one even though my Reiki Master apprenticeship asked that I did. When younger I had never kept, nor wanted to keep, a diary so didn’t see why I should start doing so as a mature adult. Reluctantly and under no small amount of pressure I eventually gave in and resorted to loose leaf paper in a ring binder on the grounds I could take pages out and destroy them should I so choose. Needless to say I never did.

I soon realised how the keeping of a journal helped me to see what was going on, to find patterns, tease out threads and understand the process I was going through, to connect the dots as it were. Without my journal I would never have made connections between events or experiences several months or even years apart, nor would I have had a clear picture of my own development.

I still keep a journal only now its a spiral bound book, nothing fancy, just a normal A4 notebook, and I don’t use it every day, just when something feels significant, when I chat to my guides or when I take a shamanic journey for myself. I also have more than one journal, the one I have described plus smaller A5 ones that are my journey through the Order of the Bards, Ovates and Druids, first as a Bard and now as an Ovate. These are smaller as they sometimes go out and about with me. At the moment I have two of these plus a book of rituals as they each serve a different purpose.

When I’m teaching, be it Reiki or Shamanism, I always suggest students keep a journal for without one I have no idea how you can go back and make sense of things e.g. by seeing patterns or by finding the deeper, sometimes hidden, meaning in a journey. No matter how intelligent we believe we are, nor how good our memories, we cannot possibly hold all of our experiences any other way and if we wish to see how far we have come and know where we need to go next our journals can show us the way.

 

Getting going

I could blame the recent inertia on the weather, the floods on a million and one things but some reflection points to only one thing in all honesty and that is the fact the start of the calendar year doesn’t really hold any great¬†meaning for me anymore.

For the last couple of years I have been training with the Order of the Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD). Initially as a Bard I lived the eight fold wheel of the year though the ritual of the festivals, Imbolc, Spring Equinox or Alban Eilir, Beltane, Summer Solstice or Alban Hefin, Lughnasadha, Autumn Equinox or Alban Elfed, Samhain and Winter Solstice or Alban Arthan. This meant that in terms of ritual, my new year slipped in and out around Samhain.

New to working the passing of the year in this way I struggled with the seasonal entity of Christmas 2014, feeling out of sync with the dates of the cultural festival. The start of the new year though, the opening of the brand new diary, the filling in of dates and appointments was as much part of my own ritual as anything else that I did.

This year though has been different for I am now wandering deep in the forest know as the Ovate grade. Here I have felt less need to perform the eight rituals but instead have been moving closer to living the wheel of the year. This has meant that I have found myself developing a much closer and deeper awareness of the day by day changes of the seasons rather than focusing on the one moment in time that the rituals had been for me as a Bard.

At Christmas we were both slow enough to put up the tree. For the first time  I was fully aware of how I was simply going through the motions without any attachment to them in any way. It goes without saying of course that I enjoyed the chance to meet with friends, the time to sit, catch up without other demands on our time and share to food. In busy lives this time year provides a rare enough chance to spend time in this way.

Somewhere along the road prior to Christmas I had managed to remember to buy a new diary. This diary far from being pulled out on 1st January, has sat on the side unopened, unnoticed and unwanted until last night when I managed to find the motivation to pick it up and make it up for the coming months, transferring dates and notes from the old one. It was this that made me notice how little impact the shift from 2015 to 2016 had made one me. There had been no excitement about the newness of the year, no interest in the chance to shape the weeks or months ahead, simply a gentle rolling forward, a following on from what had been there before. This then made me appreciate that there had been another shift in my own alignment with the wheel of the year and where Christmas had been the time I noticed this in 2014, in 2015 the awareness came with New Year.

Without the setting of resolutions, the newness of the year or anything else connected with it to get me going, I now need to fall back on my own resources, to shake off the inertia of the last weeks. The diary is made up, dates are inked or penciled in, the sun is shining, the sky is blue and Imbolc isn’t to far away so maybe it won’t be too difficult.:)

 

 

Darkness to Light

We are just about to enter the darkest part of the year, the few days that lead up to the Winter Solstice on 21st/22nd December.

Usually I love this time of year, the chance to sink into the darkness, to drop into the void, release, let go and be reborn into the light as the wheel of the year turns once again. I always enjoy Winter Solstice more than Summer Solstice because as much both Solstices offer the chance to reflect, release and move on, the Winter Solstice also offers the promise of brighter times ahead, the ‘stretch in the day’ as we say here.

This year though the run up to Solstice has been difficult even before we get into the next few days. I have lost count of how many times I have heard someone say to me that they will be glad when Solstice is over. I don’t think I have ever heard this before.

The reason for this is that in Ireland we have had very bad weather; storms, floods, weeks where it hasn’t stopped raining and days where there has not really been any daylight. This has come on top of a very poor, cool, summer with little in the way of sunshine.

I don’t suffer from SAD, depression or anything similar plus I am lucky enough to have had winter sunshine, yet I am very aware of the effect that the lack of light is having on me. I don’t think I have ever been as aware of the dark days ahead as I am at the moment.

Solstice will come and go, the days will grow longer, the darkness will lose its grip. I am just hoping that in the days ahead there will be enough light for us to notice this.