Walking with ancestors

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This morning was one of those mornings when I felt my time was well spent. I was called to visit woods, a particular place I know well. Whenever I am called like this I always follow and I got in my car this morning open to what messages awaited me.

A smell of pines surrounded me on the way to the woods and a field of associations opened up in my awareness. Pines connect me to home, a land I was born in and another place where that association is often activated in is Scotland. I love pine trees and I am so familiar with the smell. While driving I craved to see them and realised that was one reason I was called to this particular wood and not any other. This is the only place where I can find pines in a particular corner of that forest I knew well and worked in before.

 

As I walked into the woods with confidence and anticipation I came across a broken pine branch straight away. I picked it up and put it against my face. The smell at this point was constantly around me and I breathed it in deeply feeling connected. I also felt not alone. It took me back to the days when I was young and mushroom picking with my parents and grandparents. I also remembered my encounters with pines in Scotland and Wales, thick, furry canopy in dark green against the purest blue of the sky. Soft carpet of fallen needles underneath my feet and that crunch of dry foliage and sticks that is so familiar to my ears.

And then there it was, a squirrel. It sat still at the foot of a pine tree and I felt energy going through me and tears coming to my eyes. Grandmother. Memories flooded in. My grandmother loved squirrels. She even had a couple of stuffed ones in her flat. I remember them vividly sitting on top of a television. I watched the squirrel and it watched me. I never before witnessed a squirrel be so still for quite some time. It didn’t run or turn just watched me before starting to climb a tree but slowly with shaking her tail in an interesting sort of way. I felt my grandmother near me as she often is. I the sat down on a stump and my granddad came to mine. I didn’t know him too well but I was around him a lot and have so many memories of him painting and care taking his wounded foot. It needed bandages changed every day and he would do it in this tiny stool, looked like a tree stump. I felt him around too.
In a distance I perceived a deer, vulnerable, soft and gentle, innocent and pure. My sister, I thought, and with a fresh breeze I observed a silver beech swaying her long green sleeves in a wind dance. The birch is a maiden tree to me and also strongly associated with my home land. My sister died young and was the sweetest soul.

Pine smell continued to be around me and it felt comforting. My relatives are buried in a pine woodland cemetery far away in Russia, Siberia. Three graves together amidst pines with rows singing their demands and moans into the wind. Don’t you think crows often sound like that they are dissatisfied with it all. I love them, very characterful and unashamed of their nature. My sense of smell took me to that cemetery once again, a place I remember well. I also had an awareness of my father currently being there and perhaps in the actual cemetery as I sat on a tree stump in England communing with ancestors in nature. I created an intuitive ‘grave’ collage on the ground and while in that space it felt like I was in the actual place.

 

They live within us and their ash fertilising our souls and make us grow with each breath and memory of that connection.
I have always associated deep sadness with the land of my birth, yet today I don’t feel it. They have moved on a long time ago and I have known about it for sometime. They are together, but also go on travels of their own to be with their own essence. It is a forever kind of connection like water or air that couldn’t separate itself from one another’s being. Even with letting go the memory is stamped forever on a canvas of their experience. They might become strangers over cycles yet there will always be a certain recognition on every encounter and there are many encounters throughout a life time, I believe.

As I was leaving I came across these three crosses amidst trees. They looked significant and made sense to me.

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This Litha I am incorporating my ancestors’ altar into my main one for the first time. It feels right to perform a ritual in their honour around this time in June, around anniversary dates and what today’s walk taught me was that remembering my blood lines is to be included in my spiritual practice and something that is natural and within me.

Beltane 2017 re-defined

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This year is all about transformation on a level unheard of before. It is about renewing in ways completely fresh and bold, something that had never manifested in our lives. We are born in an energy of a great opportunity to change things radically, to look at ourselves with no excuses or hiding behind what is familiar. In many ways there is nowhere to hide and neither does it make sense any more. Masks and personas are becoming extinct and the spirit calls for us to embrace ourselves in what we have always meant to be.

Over the last few years May Day for me had been a sad time of hiding and illness, falling into a trap of a script playing out during that time over and over. Within a fail before or on the day there will be obstacles, emotional, mental and most of all physical that would prevent me from any kind of celebrating. A negative masculine would rear its ugly head and any kind of merging with a Green Man would become an ugly prospect. My mental state would become so bitter and angry at the masculine that a sight of a May pole would be a big ‘no, no’. This year just when I thought I was ok, having previously set my intention on not falling for the old tricks of my unhealed past, it struck again with manifestations in my internal and external life where masculine was not good to me. I fell into sadness, as predicted, but then something within me continued to fight.

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Druid path exploration begins

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Sadness rose within me and took me by surprise as I was reading words on a page. I felt tears coming up to the surface and my chest froze in deep sorrow. Anger and bitter disappointment followed the waves of deep mourning inside and I felt like abandoning the whole idea of reading about how Druidry, the ancient religion was overthrown by Christianity. Celts, I felt, didn’t fight hard enough somehow, or at least that’s how it came across in the book I was reading and, perhaps, it is subjective to the writing. Of course, we have little to no evidence of what it was like back in Neolithic times when Druids were practicing their nature laws. Nevertheless the feeling within me could not be ignored. I wept for nature, Earth, people.

What it felt like to me was a siege of something sacred and intuitive with nature, like fire that lived within people’s hearts was extinguished and their will was taken hostage and the earth entrapped in a cage. I also felt enraged at the idea of something being take away from nature, earth and attached to one singular deity where in nature there are so many. The earth is living and breathing, it is not an abstract concept, passive and static, hijacked, as I like to say it. It is described rather than lived every day in all its beauty. This is my experience anyway.

My experience of Yule and Christmas this year, I felt, reflected my feelings towards these two religions. I never experienced this before, which spoke to me of some growth happening within seeking to define a new way for me. There was a huge amount of resistance and dissonance present with Christmas to a point of wanting to completely redefine how I do things going forward. Yule I love very much and that is here to stay. I introduced an element of ‘called travel’ to my celebration this year, i.e. travelling to a sacred place I am called towards during Winter Solstice. I enjoyed that very much.

I began studying Druidry in the last three months, as the calling was becoming louder and signs began to sprout into my consciousness to pick up books and begin delving into exploring Druidic branch of Pagan spirituality. Having been on nature-based path for a few years now I mainly adopted principles of Wicca, working with the elements, herbs, rituals and spells, moon cycles, adopting animist perspective and also creating other rules of my own and ways of doing things that resonated with my soul. I have always been an intuitive witch and pagan rather than a ritualistic practitioner. HERE I write about differences.

Druidry called to me when I began to align with the idea of Living spirituality more and bringing spirit into life, getting actively involved in community work and walking the path as a way of life every day.

The first book I read Ancient Celtic Wisdom for Everyday Life by Sophie Cornish covered Celtic history and Druidic tradition through centuries. I describe my feelings above towards a transition from pagan to christian way of things and the deep sadness that I felt while reading this particular book. It was very strong and for more than a moment I considered whether I should carry on. It had such an effect on me. I did not enjoy this particular book. I felt it lacked passion and warmth and at several points I experienced resistance. However, it gives an account of history one does need to read about when starting out. One thing that did confirm I was somehow on the right track was a sentence within the first pages of the book referring to a link between Celtic culture and Russia. This was the first time I ever came across a sort of evidence in a book that such a link existed and I felt excited.

Here are some points that I liked when reading through the book mentioned above and below. Some of them are already at the centre of my practice:

  • reverence and connection to the land
  • active spirituality, living spirituality
  • relating and communicating with deities and gods of the land
  • the idea of sacred circle, elements, simple way of practicing
  • standing stones relationship
  • trees and herbs
  • spirit grounded and manifested in the land and in earthly life
  • celebrating the wheel of the year
  • a feeling of pride in doing and honour in carrying on an ancient tradition
  • it is easier for others from outside to relate to, e.g. in comparison to witchcraft
  • Awen – I love that there is a word defining spirit
  • Dryad relationship (one of my very early discoveries)
  • Peaceful and light with the Sun at the centre
  • Natural, intuitive magic and way of relating

As I continued reading I felt I would definitely be adding to my already established practice rather than replacing or taking something away. I value my practices and have solidified ways of engaging with this spirituality that I am going to keep.

Redefinition of names stood out for me and what people on this path call themselves. It made me think of my own name, my personal energetic signature and I am curious to explore that further. I noticed some shifts with regards to calling myself or others a Witch. There was definitely a shift in my preference and what it meant. I came up against some resistance and discomfort even. Druid word is not yet definted either and there is more to explore there. It feels very big at the moment. I also considered an idea of not having any label or name and it is certainly a possibility. I am not attaching to a particular way of naming things, it is all about experience, which is at the heart of what I do and how I live my life and my spiritual path.

The next book I read I absolutely loved and I highly recommend it Principles of Druidry by Emma Restall Orr

I started reading Living Druidry by Emma Restall Orr last night by the same author and again I love it so far.

Excited to continue on this journey of discovery

 

Sacred Land Trinity 

Scottish Highlands

Snowdonia, Wales

Connemara, Ireland

I worked with a bereaved client at the beginning of my psychotherapy training called Margaret. She was 83 years old and what a force of nature she was. Such passion for life, such grit, commitment, devotion, determination and inner strength like I rarely have come across in life, perhaps, only of my own mother. She was Irish. I loved her stories of growing up on a family farm in harsh conditions and amidst complicated family dynamics, but a place so beautiful that whenever she spoke of it I heard a song full of beautiful lyrics and melody of her voice changing into a sweet poetry with each breath. Our relationship was pure enchantment.

Ireland, I seemed to love the place without knowing why or how, I felt I knew it on some level. I married an Irishman first time round. I found the accent musically pleasing and lulling to my senses. Margaret spoke of returning to the land at the age of 83 after the death of her husband. Connemara. Perhaps she’s there now.

Years later I find that particular place is calling to me. Ireland. Through very subtle feelings, round about connections and encounters and things I have read it is as if I am weaving a plan, a map that will eventually take me there. I remain in wonder and curiosity with a sense of peace of getting to know that land one day.

Perhaps it is the completion of the sacred Land trinity for me, the first two being Scottish Highlands and Snowdonia, Wales. Perhaps I am on a journey of rediscovering some Celtic heritage of the British Isles, the path of Druidry that yes, lives in my DNA.

What a joyous journey I often stop to reflect, the one with soul at the centre of it all and spirit that is held in the land, in nature.

Th greatest gift of all

photoA man walked along a deserted beach when he came upon a cave. He heard many stories told that the greatest gift of all lied inside it. With confidence he walked up to the entrance when suddenly the door slammed shut right in front of him and a face appeared in the stone covering the entrance.

The face spoke, ‘To gain entry you must have wisdom of the sea, land and sky’ and it disappeared. The man stood confused. ‘What does that all mean? I don’t like water, woods scare me and flying is impossible’ he pondered on what the face said.

The face appeared once more, ‘What you are thinking are obstacles your mind puts in your way, you are out of touch with your body and emotions. Within you lie treasures of courage, vision, curiosity and intuition. Go on your way and once you obtain the wisdom of the sea, land and sky, you can enter the cave.’

The man walked towards the ocean and sat down on the shore in deep thought. Suddenly a seal came up to the surface and said, ‘I feel myself breathe when I swim in the water. It is invigorating, freeing and soothing. When I swim I hold faith that my body is so intelligent it will not only carry me through it, it will also open up the sea world beyond. With breathing you can feel deep within your body, which is a precious vessel of your soul’.

‘My soul? said the man. How do I know I have one?’

‘By breathing and feeling the water, as you glide through its surface and depths, by merging with the ocean as one and tuning into the feeling of being in the body, alive and flowing. You have not been present with yourself for a long time and lost touch with what it feels like to be free flowing with emotions.’

‘That sounds beautifully simple’, the man thought. Walking into the ocean he began to swim experiencing what the seal described to him. ‘I feel my soul’, the man screamed in delight.

The man sat on the shore when a bird few by and stopped to tell him a story of its experience in the air and how when it surrendered to the wind and allowed for it to carry it the bird’s heart expanded in freedom and joy. ‘We birds have skills and much experience in flying high and low, but without allowing and being one with the elements control threatens to take the wonderful feeling of freedom away’.

‘What if I fall? said the man

‘What if you don’t fall? said the bird. Fear, control and lack of faith is what holds you back from feeling fully alive’.

The man reflected on what the bird said and became overwhelmed by a feeling of wanting to fly with the wind and to look over the world from above. At that moment a mole popped its head from underneath the earth and began describing what it was like for him to be in touch with the soil he lived in. ‘But it is dark underneath’, the man quickly started to protest.

The mole said, ‘When you get accustomed to being in the dark you begin to see the light, a special kind of light, a light that feels homely, peaceful and glorious’.

The man suddenly felt deeply sad and alone for he had not experienced any of the things animals talked about for a long time. So, he decided to become each creature for a day to live through their experiences and learn to breath, feel, surrender and being comfortable in the dark. He decided it was time he learnt the wisdom of the sea, land and sky and when he was done, he was transformed. Many years had passed and the man undertook many more trials and challenges to obtain the wisdom the face on the cave spoke about. And when one day he was passing by the cave again the entrance was wide open for him to walk through. There was light streaming from within. The man recognised it as that special kind of light the mole told him about many years before.

There was a creature inside sitting against a beautiful lush tree with birds singing all round and water running off the rocks as clear as crystal and things growing in all splendour of colours and shapes. The creature smiled warmly at the man and said, ‘Welcome to your inner self. You have come far by learning the wisdom of the sea, land and sky. The greatest gift of all is your own inner beauty. You are home now.’

The man cried tears of joy and his heart filled up with love and gratitude. He felt in a state of belonging with everything and everyone. He felt whole.

Raw Pagan

Naming Trees

Sharing some wonderful pictures taken by tree lovers in the UK 

  
Mystique encounters 

  
Medusa

  
Young brothers 

  
Midsummer Fairytale 

  
Emerald depths

  
The Oak and the Birch – the sacred marriage 

  
Standing tall 

Summer Solstice 2016 

 
In the summer I am not ‘in my element’ in a sense that my creativity stops, thinking slows down and I experience and feel the world around me through my senses and in stillness. I have less energy and vigour. This explains slowing down of writing and fewer piano playing sessions at this point.

While Nature explodes in her colours, scents and sounds my expression struggles to shine.  As I prepare for a workshop on ‘seasons and psyche’ I once again become aware of my quietness of expression and creativity during summer months as opposed to late autumn and winter months, which, for me, sparkle with creative Fire and immense productivity.

Hot weather makes me sleepy, I enjoy quiet reading time in the shade and spending time with my plants once evenings set in. The majesty of green in nature is impossible not to love and enjoy and I experience it in my heart with quiet acknowledgement rather than explosion of creative expression.

On the eve of Summer Solstice I reflect once again on the year so far and just how many bumps in the road I have come up against yet, and I say it with pride, every challenge has been overcome and things have transformed as a result of rolling with it and allowing transformation and learning to take place.

With open heart and ever-present mind I welcome the turning of the Wheel and this period of transition and the beginning of decline towards darkness in nature. I look forward to the ripeness and richness of the gifts from the Earth yet to come, freshness of evening air still to be enjoyed and my forthcoming trip to my spiritual home.

Wishing you all blessed Summer Solstice and many wonderful lessons and transformational experiences during the summer months.
Much love and many blessings!