Return

yinyang-owlsGreetings! It has been a very long while since I wrote anything here.  Suffering from severe depression and physical ill-health has made doing anything worthwhile very difficult. However, I have been mulling things over and would like to give this a try again. Mainly to endeavour to pull myself back into life but also to carve out an authentic life for myself as I feel that authenticity has been lacking for a very long time. In fact everything seems to have been lacking for eons it seems. Hence the reason for my choice of title…a returning.

But I would also like to say something about my choice of picture for this post – the owl yin yang thumbnail. First of all the concept of yin and yang or Taijitu as the symbol is known is important to me. Now, I am not a Buddhist or Taoist (although I have a keen interest), so a simple definition of Taijitu is this:

Two halves that together complete wholeness. Yin and yang are also the starting point for change. When something is whole, by definition it is unchanging and complete. So when you split something into two halves – yin / yang, it upsets the equilibrium of wholeness. This starts both halves chasing after each other as they seek a new balance with each other.

Yin is viewed as the dark or shadow half of the whole and yang as the light half. Moreover, yin is often seen as female and receptive, and yang as masculine and projective. Another example is Night (Yin) and Day (Yang). Yin Yang is the concept of duality forming a whole. But for me the main point is that we need BOTH in BALANCE in order to be authentic and whole. The irony of this concept is that we can never really be at that place of utter wholeness, I guess that is the irony of the human condition because yin and yang are forever chasing each other trying to balance each other out.

Neither Yin nor Yang are absolute. Nothing is completely Yin or completely Yang. Each aspect contains the beginning point for the other aspect. For example: day becomes night and then night becomes day…Yin and Yang are interdependent upon each other so that the definition of one requires the definition for the other to be complete.

So life is a continual struggle to balance these aspects in harmony within ourselves; and I say struggle because we have to contend with inner and outside influences that seek to off-set the balance. For example our own psychology and experiences, our external cultures and how we view the world external to ourselves.

I chose Taijitu in the form of two owls to represent wisdom. In folklore and in pagan ways, among other things, the owl can represent wisdom. In seeking balance within myself I need wisdom that comes from listening carefully to my own instinct as well as other sources, but mainly from my own intuitive self which has long gone unheeded.

So, I hope to be writing more as time goes on and recovering the parts of myself I have lost or cast off.

Reference: What is Yin Yang? http://personaltao.com/teachings/questions/what-is-yin-yang/

 

Advertisements

Thoughts on the natural and supernatural

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis marks a new journey I am taking, well actually not so new at all but now in the company of like-minded and good people who share thoughts in common. I am honoured to be participating in The Faerie Ring and posts with this logo will share my journey and thoughts with you all. I’d like to talk today about the natural and supernatural, or reality and fantasy as some might put it.

For me there really is no difference, or rather the supernatural and the natural permeates and blends with each other so there really is no demarcation line between the two. I suppose this might be because of my shamanic practice, where spirits abound everywhere [all that is…is alive]. This even extends to the human species – we ARE spirits in human form, and not humans with a spirit if you see what I mean. So, for me the spirit world (or supernatural as some call it) is very much a reality. Of course some might call it fantasy on my part and that’s ok – each to his or her own understanding.

However, I do believe in fantasy over reality too. For me, fantasy abounds when I do not think or act in my best interests. A really easy example would be to think that relationships always stay in the ‘honeymoon’ period and don’t need working on – that’s fantasy. Another fantasy would be to think I can just work a spell and not act in accordance with it. For example, to work an abundance spell for more money and then to spend frivolously. For me reality is that we need to be working and acting in accordance with our intention, whatever they may be.

Much of what the world sees as fantasy these days has its roots in the collective unconscious (Jung) and has built upon what our ancient ancestors once believed to be true. Everything has a kernel of truth in it. What we do with that truth is entirely up to us.

An Offerenda

On the last Full Moon, I performed an *offerenda*. This is something used by
Peruvian and South American shamans to give thanks to the plant spirits that
help them to heal others. Of course it is also performed on The Day of The Dead,
to thank the ancestors. In essence it is a rite of thanksgiving and
gratitude.

So, despite all the ups and downs I’ve been having I really
felt it necessary to perform an offerenda, and what better time to do it than on
the Full Moon and the one nearest to Lughnassadh, a time of thanksgiving
also.

In the first picture you can see some of the offerings I gave,
which have to be formally arranged in layers. You can’t see all of them but it
consisted of grains, chocolate, frankincense, herbs and flowers as well as oak
bark. In the picture you can also see my letter of thanksgiving to the
spirits.

Offerenda 22July13FullMoon pic1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now here is my offerenda all wrapped up and placed on my
outside altar, covered with a sprinkling of calendula and rose petals.

Offerenda 22July13FullMoon pic2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The time of burning. Whilst it was burning I gave thanks
to the Three Kindreds – the green clan, the ancestors and the shining
ones.

Offerenda 22July13FullMoon pic4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It took a while to burn but while it was burning the
smoke smelled delicious – all that frankincense I’d given. When the flames had
completely died down and it had finished smoking I doused the whole thing with
water as it has been extremely hot here in England and we’ve had a lot of grass
fires and I didn’t want to start one in my own back yard!

Offerenda 22July13FullMoon pic7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This offerenda gave me the opportunity to really thank
those who have helped and supported me and continue to do so, whether they are
humans or spirits. It gave me a chance to thank the Universe for all the
wonderful things I am given on a daily basis. And while I was physically alone
while doing this rite, I was definitely not spiritually alone because while I
might not have seen the spirits and some of my loved ones, I definitely sensed
them. It was a really special time and one I shall definitely be repeating in
the future.

 

Fire and Water

fireandwaterAs I sit here slowly basting in my own juices in this HEAT I’ve been thinking about the fire element. Right now in England we are officially having a heat wave, that is 5 continuous days with the temperature at least 2 degrees below 30 degrees. Seeing at it’s been hitting 30 degrees here in Kent for the last few days then yes, a heat wave it is. What makes matters worse is I am unable to have my windows open because of my escaping cats, which means my house is like a sauna. I’ve got my bedroom ones cracked but that’s as far as it goes. I’m thinking of doing something with some chicken wire to make some kind of screen.
Anyway, back to heat and the fire element. not only is it very hot here but I was also thinking of all the terrible fires that have been occurring in various parts of the world, not only the USA and Canada but in Australia and Europe too. It seems Gaia wants us to notice something – transformation by fire. Will we, can we transform? I think the human race depends on it.
But then in other parts of the world they’ve had terrible floods – Pakistan and Bangladesh with thousands drowned and killed.
Two elements – fire and water – reeking havoc on us humans. It feels like the earth is convulsing and I think it will continue to do so because it cannot take much more of our crass stupidity (am talking about the human species as a whole here, not individuals).
Yet, it is well known amongst pagan and metaphysical circles that there IS a shift in people on a fundamentally deeper level. Not just pagans but people from all different persuasions and spiritual paths. However, right now I think WE as a group are in the minority compared to the billions of people who inhabit this planet.
Fire and water. You’d think they are incompatible and yet, as elements, they work well together. Fire burns and transforms and water cleanses and heals. A very simple example is how terribly hot I was on Saturday when I visited my daughter – hot, a bit sunburnt and heat exhausted. Then I came home to a beautiful cool shower. Both very different experiences and yet they both did something important, not just physically but mentally too. The joy of being out in the sun and the cool calmness of the shower – both lifted my spirits but in different ways.
Of course when fire and water seem to be out of control (OUR control) as in the fires and the flooding throughout the world it seems a vastly different picture. But there is a message for us here, a lesson to be learnt. I do hope mankind will learn it!

The Hungry Ghosts

the hungery ghostsToday’s card is The Hungry Ghosts from Collette Baron-Reid’s beautiful deck Wisdom of the Hidden Realms. Who are the Hungry Ghosts? Anything that keeps you from being in the present – thoughts, memories from the past, attachment to things gone, attachment to things you haven’t yet got, worries concerning your future, feelings of lack, striving for unobtainable things etc. The list can be long but I hope you get my drift.

We all suffer from these hungry ghosts and yes, the word is suffer. By not allowing ourselves to be fully present in the moment we suffer as these hungry ghosts do their work. We keep them alive, feed them with our sorrows, our depression, our anger, our negativity. We feed them and thus empower them and then become trapped in their web. Sad to say we are our own worst enemies aren’t we. But you knew that didn’t you. Quite often we just throw up our hands in despair and ask ‘but what can I do about it?’, while the ghosts gorge on our sufferings.

But oh, they do look pretty don’t they? That is the trick of our minds. We become lovers to our suffering; to the point that we think it’s natural and real. We don’t want to let them go do we? We say ‘oh but it’s not easy’ and that’s our excuse for allowing them in to wreak havoc on our lives.

I speak from experience, and yes, I do allow these hungry ghosts to sup from my table at times, It is the human condition to want to engage with them. However, I know from experience that when I’m fully in the present, without thinking about the past or the future, I send these ghosts away for a while and allow my true self, spirit, to be present and then the joy and happiness is revealed. Of course it still means I might have lack, or sorrow or whatever, but I sit with these things and accept them just for what they are. They have no stranglehold on me.

Performing the Despacho ritual the other weekend was an important step in letting go of the food that feeds the hungry ghosts. Of course they are still there but they have no hold on me, at present. And I have the power to allow them back in or not and I choose NOT!

There is always a possibility that I will feed the hungry ghosts again but being aware of this allows me the power to not feed them – a choice. We do have a choice in how we walk through life. There is always a choice.

Despacho Ritual ~ New Moon 8th July 2013

Last night I did my first despacho ritual to give thanks for my many blessings, to release what isn’t serving me anymore, and to renew myself. I filled my paper with 3 sigils representing what I was releasing, garlic, rue, red sandalwood, peony petals, frankincense, copal benzoin and mandrake. I also added slips of paper with my thanks for my blessings on one, and what I was releasing on the other. A feather from my kitties toy to represent them, and some good dark chocolate to represent the good things given to me by the Universe. I then blew my thanks into one bay leaf, my releases into another, and my affirmations into a third.

After meditating for a while I waited until exactly midnight and went outside to burn my despacho, which I laid on a bed of peony leaves. Set fire to it and watched it burn, with the scent of the various herbs and resins filling the air. Sitting outside, with the scented night air, the sounds of foxes surrounding me, the twinkling stars above, and the power of the new moon was a cleansing and invigorating experience, in which I feel renewed and filled with joy.

burning well

From little acorns mighty oaks will grow

DSCF1501I have two baby oaks growing in my garden – what a sweet blessing! Have no idea how they got there but I have my suspicions. About three years ago I cast a handful of acorns around my garden as part of a ritual I was doing. Well I did forget I’d done this until now. Or maybe they are the children of the oaks that stand behind the boundary fence at the very back of the garden. Who knows but for the fact they are here. One is much small than the other and I’m not sure if they will both survive but I’m going to try to keep them safe. I’ve already cut away the tall grasses and thistle plants surrounding them so they both get access to sunlight.

So what is the meaning for me? Well the oak tree has been a symbol of strength, power and sacredness in a great many cultures and indigenous tribes across Europe. The Celts especially, and the Teutonic tribes, venerated oaks and considered them chieftain amongst trees. Oaks were associated with a great number of deities – Zeus, Jupiter, The Dagda and Thor amongst others. The Green Man is always most often seen surrounded by a partial mask of oak leaves. Because they live a long time (it takes an oak a very long time to grow so I won’t see these at their full glory during my present incarnation) they embody endurance too. And of course wisdom from the Gods.

The oak also stands for great protection, justice, honesty and bravery. Apparently its associated stone is Aventurine so I will lay one of these at each stone as a blessing for it – a gift! It’s position on the Wheel of the Year is at the Summer Solstice, when once again the Oak King will battle with his brother the Holly King. But this time it’s the Holly King that will win the bout and the waning year begins once more.

The medicinal park of the Oak is its bark, because of the strong astringent properties. Internally as a tea it helps fight diarrhoea and dysentery. Externally it can be used to treat haemorrhoids, inflamed gums, wounds, and eczema. The tannin found in oak can help reduce minor blistering by boiling a piece of the bark in a small amount of water until a strong solution is reached, and applying to the affected area.

It is tradition for the Litha fire to be oak wood representing the God, since this is the time of year when oak reaches its Zenith power.

The Oak trees essence helps boost energy levels and the ability to manifest our goals. The tree’s roots mirror its branches and stretch as far below ground as the branches do above  – this reminds me of the saying ‘As Above So Below’, which usually refers to the astral plane and the physical but I think it can also refer to the physical and the underground realms, the land of the dead.

Oak twigs bound together with red thread into a solar cross or a pentagram will make a greatly protective talisman for the home, car, or in your desk or at work.

LESSON OF THE Oak from The Wisdom of Trees by Jane Gifford

The oak represents courage and endurance and the protective power of faith. The tree’s noble presence and nurturing habit reassured ancient people that, with the good will of their gods, their leader, and their warriors, they could prevail against all odds. As the Tree of the Dagda, the oak offers protection and hospitality without question, although its true rewards are only apparent to the honest and brave. The ancient Celts deplored lies and cowardice. To be judged mean-spirited could result in exclusion from the clan, which was one of the most shameful and most feared of all possible punishments. Like the oak, we would do well to receive without prejudice all those who seek our help, sharing what we have without resentment or reservation. The oak reminds us all that the strength to prevail, come what may, lies in an open mind and a generous spirit. Inflexibility, however, is the oak’s one weakness and the tree is prone to lose limbs in storms. The oak therefore carries the warning that stubborn strength that resists will not endure and may break under strain.

I honour the energy of oak, the doorway to the mysteries. I will call upon the strength of the Horned One when I feel in need of protection. So mote it be