Daily Om ~ Exploring the Soul

flowers2Remembering who we really are is the first step in awakening to our spiritual path.
Throughout the journey from birth to death, many people choose to question life, strive for improvement, seek out knowledge, and search for the divine. Simply put, this is the essence of spirituality. One’s spiritual practice can take on many forms, because embracing the spiritual is a very personal pursuit. While many people do relate their spirituality to a God or Goddess, this quest for the divine, or oneness with the universe, always springs from within. It doesn’t matter where you find your spiritual path. We are all fundamentally spiritual beings and the essence of that lies in knowing one’s true self and finding a peace that comes from within rather than the outside world. It is in remembering this that we awaken to our personal path.

The spiritual path springs forth from a daily routine that reaffirms our personal connection with a purpose or a way of life. Practicing compassion, gratitude, appreciation, forgiveness, generosity, meditation, and taking care of one’s wellbeing can all be a part of one’s spiritual life. If you are new to exploring your personal spirituality, remember that this is a process. You may want to spend a few moments each day giving yourself a spiritual gift. Try a new form of meditation, visit a sanctuary, or explore a specific deity.

Accepting the importance of spirituality can be a healthy decision, because a spiritual practice tends to include habits that promote healthy living. Take the time to carefully determine the action, thought, and ritual that most speaks to your soul. Remember that your most profound spiritual experiences may also come from the simple intricacies that make up your life. See the interconnectedness of all things. As you explore your “inner work,” you will be walking your spiritual path and feeling your oneness with the universe.

Source: Daily Om

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.

 

The Three Kindreds

5446_576954122314584_224581038_nI’m not sure if I’ve written about this topic before, my memory isn’t serving me too well at present and, well, I’m too lazy right now to be trawling through all my previous posts, but I thought I’d write something about The Three Kindreds. In my spiritual path I honour these three kindreds; the Ancestors, the Green Clan and the Shining Ones. Who are they?

The Ancestors really speak for themselves don’t they; all who have gone before. My blood relatives certainly but in fact ALL who have gone before and passed over from this earthly material realm, whether they be human or animal. In fact to distinguish between humans and animals is rather a moot point for me because we humans ARE in fact animals aren’t we. If we share 98% of our genes with orangutans and chimpanzees then yes we are animals. I can’t really distinguish between related and non-related human ancestors because all are my ancestors as we are always linked in the web of life, all share a common ancestor and all share the same emotions, feelings etc. My ancestors are your ancestors and I honour them for their wisdom, their knowledge, their struggles, their hopes and dreams. The Ancestors guide me, teach me and protect me. In turn I honour them by giving them the gift of remembrance and a continuity with the living.

The Green Clan are all the spirits of nature in all their wonderful diversity; the Fae, plant spirits, tree dryads etc. Why do I honour these? Because they impart to me spiritual wisdom that is superlative in its nature – a different kind of wisdom from that given by the Ancestors. Tied to the earthly realm but not of it if you like. They help to break down the human ego, assist in right living whilst I am still on the material plane. In return I do my part in trying to live with consciousness and mindfulness.

The Shining Ones are those who have reached enlightenment, whether they be deities or bodhisattvas. Their wisdom, knowledge and protection is beyond human perspectives as they are not of the material. Their true gift is helping humans to live as spirits in human form, and not merely as humans who have a spirit. In my understanding and experience they teach enlightenment but do not give it; we have to do our part. However we can call upon them with all our hopes, dreams, needs and sufferings and they provide everything at the right time – which is not the same as ours, as they work on a completely different spiritual wavelength to us. However, of course we can interact with them and they wish us to do so. How do I honour them? Each has his/her own likes and dislikes, just as we do. It is only by close communication with them that I learn of these and this shapes my gifts to them – spiritual discernment is the key.

Daily Om ~ Enlightenment at Home

CHE_IMG_0231sNot everyone will feel the need to travel afar to become enlightened as that can happen right where you are.

Many spiritual seekers feel called to far-flung places across the globe in the interest of pursuing the path of their enlightenment. This may indeed be the right course of action for certain people, but it is by no means necessary to attaining an enlightened consciousness. Enlightenment can take root anywhere on earth, as long as the seeker is an open and ready vessel for higher consciousness. All we need is a powerful intention, and a willingness to do the work necessary to moving forward on our path.

In terms of spiritual practice, at this moment, there are more tools available to more people than at any other time in history. We have access to so much wisdom through the vehicles of books, magazines, the Internet, television, and film. In addition, the time-honoured practice of meditation is free, and sitting quietly everyday, listening to the universe, is a great way to start the journey within. There is further inspiration in the fact that the greatest teachers we have are our own life experiences, and they come to us every day with new lessons and new opportunities to learn. If we look at the people around us, we may realize that we have a spiritual community already intact, and if we don’t, we can find one, if not in our own neighbourhood, then on-line.

Meanwhile, if we feel called to travel in search of teachers and experiences, then by all means, we should. But if we can’t go to India, or Burma, or Indonesia, or if we don’t have the desire, this is not an obstacle in terms of our spiritual development. In fact, we may simply be aware that our time and energy is best spent in our own homes, with our meditation practice and all the complications and joys of our own lives. We can confidently stay in one place, knowing that everything that we need to attain enlightenment is always available right where we are.

Source: Daily Om

G is for Green Witchcraft

5446_576954122314584_224581038_nThis week’s post for The Pagan Blog Project is about Green Witchcraft, or what I see it as. Green Witchcraft is actually many things to many people but there are some things in common – a deep love of nature and in particular plants and trees, a deep interest in the old ways (i.e. the myths and legends pre-christianity), and a yearning to live ones life in synchrony with the seasons and the cycles of the moon. Of course many would also add the environmentalist and eco-witch aspect in there too.

Much has been written about Green Witchcraft, there are many really lovely authors out there who have written some very informative books on this aspect of witchcraft. One in particular is Ann Moura whose many books on the subject are well worth reading.  Some people see green witchcraft as synonymous with hedge witchery or being a kitchen witch and I guess this is true, at least for the hedge witch. For me green witchcraft is everything I’ve mentioned in the first paragraph but I don’t think there are really any hard and fast definitions with this, like life itself, the Craft evolves and definitions have to be fluid rather than rigid.

My life as a Green Witch largely revolves around what used to be called wort cunning; the knowledge and use of plants for healing and magical purposes – I guess I’m a 21st Century cunning woman! Although I live on the edge of a small town in Kent, England, I immerse myself as much as possible in nature. Even nature can be found in back gardens and suburban places. However, I’m lucky in that I don’t live too far from the country and indeed my back garden backs on to a small woodland area and beyond that fields. Environmentalism and concern for the ecosystems of the world do concern me but I wouldn’t call myself an activist by any means. I just go about my business fairly quietly with not too much obviousness. I leave the activism for others and I’m sure they do a very good job of it too but that’s not to say I don’t care. I just do my part in other quieter ways.

For me, Green Witchcraft touches my soul and it feels like finally coming home to the place I’m meant to be. It’s different for everyone though – we each find this ‘coming come’ in different aspects of the Craft, or for many too even in different religions, although the Craft isn’t a religion. I don’t think it really matters what religion one is, or what aspect of the Craft one follows as long as it truly speaks to your soul and you are balanced. As long as balance and harmony is there then it is the true path for you; fundamentalism in any form is just not good for the spirit and is a sign of ego thinking, which doesn’t come from spirit but from the human mind.

The ironic thing is, I never expected to be a Green Witch, not at all, it just crept up on me slowly over the years although I’ve always had a love of nature and green things and have never been happier in green fields and woodlands. But I truly believe that if you just open your mind and heart, and are patient, your true path will appear. It might take many years, as it did for me, or might come in a few months. It doesn’t matter – when you’re on it you will know, not in your head but in your heart. That’s not to say you won’t have doubts because I certainly did. However, my true path kept pulling me back like a song you just cannot get out of your mind. Although I’m sure there are some who never have such doubts about their path.

I love this path – the greening of the land; the changing of the seasons; the waxing and waning of the moon and the effect this has on things; the plants and trees and the secrets they hold for the betterment of all. It’s not always an easy path but it’s the one my spirit has chosen for me at this time.

B is for Berkano

birkano For the second post for ‘B’ for the Pagan Blog Project I thought I’d write a bit about Berkano (or Birch). Mind you, I’m not an officionado of the Runes, and don’t use them very often in my spiritual path as I prefer to use the Ogham. However, there are times when I’m drawn to them at certain times of year; and Spring is one of them. The rune Berkano literally means ‘birch twig or branch’ and is associated with the Goddess or Great Mother. Pronounced *bear-kawn-oh* its phonetic value is the letter B. It is the rune of continued growth and continual rebirth or renewal in all things; the rune of becoming. This is so fitting for this time of year don’t you think? Even now, where I live, though the ground is still hard, and frosts and snow are still our guests, new life can be seen – tiny buds on the trees, snowdrops poking their fresh green spears through the earth and the dawn chorus starting to  greet us each morning. Yes indeed, new growth is around us and also within us – all our aspirations and hopes are rekindled ready to fire up and get going.

The energy of Berkano is that of containing and releasing, female fertility, trees and plant life. Symbolically it stands for motherhood, childbirth and child raising, the womb, gardening and healing. It governs the rebirth of the spirit, liberation, sanctuary, the realization of stillness, the Now-ness of all things and the bringing ideas to fruition in the creative process. It also symbolises the birch grove – the hidden sanctuary in times of need. The birch is among one of the first trees to awaken in the spring time, and so Berkano is about the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Healing of all sorts is strongest through this rune, particularly recuperation, rejuvenation, purification, detoxification and regeneration. Birch trees have long been associated with fertility and the protection of children and women. In Scandinavia and early American colonies, birches were planted in front of a home to protect those within it.

Berkano  is the rune of the Great Mother, the goddess worshipped as Nerthus by the early Germanic people, who became Holda on the continent and was split into Hel and Freya in the Norse countries. The Earth Goddess is the mother of manifestation and of birth and rebirth.

Working with Berkano

1. Research the Northern Goddesses. Make notes on those you find interesting, or who draw you.

2. Arrange a rite of passage for a family member or a friend. These have now been secularised as birthday parties, baby showers etc. However, they are also ways you can bring the influence of Berkano into your family or circle of friends.

3. Plant seeds.

4. Visit a birch grove or anywhere where birches grow. Spend some time there with the trees, either in meditation or just enjoying their company.

Reference

The Runes Workbook by Leon D. Wild.