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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Yearly signatures

 As 2015 was all about building strong interpersonal relationship. All about love

2016 was all about intense shadow work, a type where we were given little choice but to face our individual and collective Demons with an aim to understand, accept and transform.

2017 is all about here and now, being present with yourself and life. It is about questioning what it is all about here in the life that we have created for ourselves so far. It is not so much about reflecting on the past but moving forward and thinking ahead with actively engaging with our present. This year is a great opportunity to consolidate and bring to active being, feeling and doing day by day, moment by moment. It is about creating steps and rituals which root us in who we are and what we are doing here. It is about meaning and purpose and participation in all things heart, community, work, relationships. No more messing around, time to really live! 

It is about the Sun rather than the Moon, about light with holding darkness in check and awareness. About blooming rather than withdrawing, opening up not closing down. It’s about being a warrior for the good of yourself and humanity at large! 

Struggling to stay in ‘winter’

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I am struggling with staying in the moment. Is it a ‘curse’ of winter? Through running workshops and personal interactions I have been noticing how common it is for people to want to escape winter. More spring pictures pop up on social media in December and beginning of January. I am doing the same at this point, wanting to escape?

First, I feel I need to redefine when IS winter for me personally. Over the last few years I have embraced December/January as the most productive time of the year for me, a period of high Fire energy and creativity. During this season I write a lot, I feel in high spirits and I possess confidence like at no other point during a year. You know how we all like the familiar and we try to stay in that place of comfort and I thought I was experiencing the same energy this year, however, something is not aligning for me this January, things are changing. I noticed I am not able to stay present as much and yesterday I bought spring flowers for myself, which evoked a very obvious yearning for spring in me. Weather wise it is mild and raining outside, which, I feel takes away from my ‘winter’ feeling and I wish we had snow, frost and lower temperatures. I realised it is harder in that respect to stay in ‘winter’ for the reasons external as well as internal. Instead of feeling confident and raring to go, I do feel a bit flat and very doubtful. Fire element is being replaced by Water, a bit distorted water too, which is normally a spring signature for me. This is something new in me and for the first time in years I am unconsciously seeking ‘spring’, not in any way forceful or desperate, but I notice that shift. I begin to think about the future, jumping ahead, worrying ‘what if’ and things that I need to do. I also feel resentment left over from last year, something I am working on as well. Restfulness is also present, I can’t seem to settle. This is interesting to me and something that makes me wonder what my spring is going to be like (here, jumping ahead again) this year.

What are you feeling this winter? Notice your vibration and emotional and physical energy surrounding the season? What comes up for me is a need for a water ritual, contained water specifically and I am intent on writing a specific poem/spell for the Water element to perform later on.

The main and most important point is to bring ourselves back into the present, which somewhat, I realised, is very challenging to do during winter.

Here I offer beautiful words from BOOK describing exactly what is currently occurring within my awareness:

“In tune with most mystical spiritual traditions, one of the key teachings of Druidry is perfect presence. Instead of spending our lives in a mist of memories, doing all we can to hold onto and recreate past experiences, and ever reaching into the future, clinging to dreams, shying away from fears of what might or might not happen, we bring our focus into the here and now. We self-locate: we find ourselves in time and space. It’s an elusive place, the present, for immediately we catch a moment it disappears into the past. Immediately we grasp where we are it is difficult, the currents of nature ensuring perpetual change. But we aren’t taking photographs, snapshots for the collection; we are learning to live, and to do so means learning how to stay in that flow of evanescent instants.”

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