Summer and exposure

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As summer energy begins to spread through the land in its blooming attire we have an opportunity to come out, lay bare, expose.

Summer is a time for outer expression, exploring potential and examining inner and outer in its full spectrum. As nature steps into its blooming coat, so do we seek opening up and exploring. This is a ‘Full Moon time’ in its energetic signature, if you like, where things have built up within and without and it is time to show ourselves to the world and to ourselves, warts and all.

My trip to the island of Skomer on the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales made me see parallels between how nature comes into its full potential and how it is an opportunity for us to expose all that had been hidden, open up to a more authentic way of being. The insight came through my own experience of fully exposing parts of myself that might not seem favourable, ugly even, yet while in nature I felt it almost necessary to go with whatever was manifesting within and it felt safe. This experience was new and I suspect there will now be more chances for me to ‘show myself’ fully. I have been in ‘hiding’ during summer months for as long as I remember, yet, perhaps, the time has come to make changes in ways of expression and authenticity.

With exposure comes acceptance and an integration follows, which is an important part to bringing us back to whole, back to ourselves. Was I scared I won’t be accepted or be judged? In the moment I didn’t think, I simply was in a state I was in. I did and didn’t enjoy it, as one would expect, but with exposure and real experience comes such clarity and awareness, which is so useful. On reflection when an opportunity comes for an exposure so does fear for not being accepted for who we are. As a society certain traits and behaviours might be looked down on, but there is also a chance that people that you surround yourself with will sit through that ‘exposure’ with you and become curious about sides of you they might not have seen before. If they manage to hold the experience and still feel the same those are the people that are meant to be around you, furthermore it gives others an opportunity to do the same, i.e. becoming more ‘exposing’ of themselves, accepting of others and freer as a result. We are all dark and light, beautiful and less so, hard and soft and the ability to be present with it all makes us stronger in knowing ourselves and connecting even deeper with others. We often fear alienating others and seek to conform, hide and comply, but we all know what that feels like. Sooner or later all of our inner pieces that are yearning to be exposed will spill into an ugly mess.

I felt inspired watching nature in its most open state, in its full blooming capacity. Nature doesn’t think or waits to be exposed it just does it regardless every year. Summer is the culmination of that energy manifesting everywhere. With exposure comes danger, as beauty can be just as threatening as ugliness. On some level we are threatened not just by others’ beauty, but by our own. We often do not see or realise our own beauty and potential, so we remain hidden and silent. ‘Be brave’, summer would say, bloom anyway even when someone might step on our blooming heart or cut us down mindlessly without a second thought. The song we sing might be our last, as we take flight into the summer air, but sing anyway, the more beautiful the better. Exposure of the body, mind and spirit is so necessary and summer is a powerful time to explore ourselves in our most vulnerable, naked state. There is a potential to be fully empowered.

I learnt the only way to be authentic is just that – expose. Summer allows that space and a perfect opportunity to seek acceptance from within. If we can stand our own shadow energies, watch it unfold, manage to contain it post-exposure and still be ok, we become more whole. This process is of freeing ourselves from the thinking that is harsh and judgemental, often coming from within. Take inspiration from blooming flowers and singing birds, vulnerable, but free in knowing they are blooming even if just for a short time. Nature is accepting of itself, it is not critical, shy or seeking approval. It just is. What greater example is there of authenticity of being.

 

The night before Easter Sunday

The night I felt like praying was the night before Easter Sunday 2017. We are in North Wales, Snowdonia.

I am feeling out of sorts with flare ups of anger and that moaning voice talking harshly to me and all those around me. It feels unpleasant and I find myself unable to control it coming out. This is not unfamiliar to me and I often feel at a loss when this happens. I have experienced this voice over and over again for many years and it comes as quickly as it leaves. I am yet to work through whether this is something within me that continues to manifest as unhealed or is this a past-life memory, vibration or personality trait mine or someone else’s.  I might say it feels like a possession of some sort when something from within is desperate to be heard and the voice of pain, bitter disappointment and cruel criticism would not be silent. It feels slightly ‘out of body’ when I can hear and see myself yet I am unable to have any say over what happens or gets said. Post-episode I always feel deep sadness and yesterday I also felt incredible guilt. What happened and what was expressed felt wrong and hurtful and I knew it wasn’t my intention. I felt shame, wanting to atone, a deep sense of feeling sorry for those around me. It was a real genuine sense of wanting to say ‘I am sorry’. It had a mixture of love in it, deep love and compassion.  I saw myself going on my knees at the edge of my bed wanting to pray, ask for forgiveness and release and the idea of God was very present. As a pagan this puzzled me but I remained opened to whatever was coming up. Pagan, of course, pray too in various ways, but this felt different to me. It was God I wanted. Something strong and new was being born in order to aid me with my troubles. I realised something within was uncontainable and I needed to be contained, held and understood. I felt confused and alone. I suggested to my husband I went to church the following day and I felt even more confused as if another part of me, the lost, loving one was seeking resolution and release of the pain caused by a cruel, angry side. I fell into mini-despair about it all and almost froze into a sleep, which was restless and broken.

The morning didn’t seem to bring much relief yet I felt stronger and more intent on understanding what was happening. It also felt joyful and light somewhat and I delighted in beautiful pictures that my parents sent me of Easter eggs and their celebratory table full of traditional food of the season. It felt warm, contained, simple and knowing. It felt like another ‘home’, my mother. The theme of Home was coming through in the mix of it all. I realised that even though I grew up in a non-religious family one holiday that was always celebrated in a traditional way was Easter. I glanced back into my past and remembered gatherings around a table full of pies and baked deliciousness with colourful eggs (real ones) prepared by my mother with the whole family partaking in a celebration I never really understood. No one ever explained its meaning or told me things I needed to do, I simply followed what others did like knocking eggs together to see whose would break first. It was like a game. We did that with each member of the family and ate a lot of eggs that day, we all loved eggs. I always felt there was something quite complete and versatile about eggs.

We decided to go to the forest for some fresh air. Magnificent old pines looked inviting bowing in their knowledge and welcome as I stepped on the path. It felt homely, fresh yet wild and still uncontained. I realised how nature can overwhelm me often and I don’t always feel safe in the space in a way I need necessarily. The idea of a church hadn’t left me still this morning. After spending a few hours wondering through the beautiful forest breathing in fresh spring air we ended up in a village and sat outside next to a church. I was drawn to it instantly and realised this Easter Sunday I must go in, I am being called into a church of a different making to stand at the altar, which is not a forest floor or the altar in my home. I went through the old door decorated in spring flowers and it hit me. I began vibrating all over with shivering sensations spreading throughout my body. I was all alone in this beautiful old church facing the altar. God is Risen! I smiled as this felt like my spirit or the spirit that I know well recognised the spirit present in this place. I knew it is one spirit, it is all the same thing, something spiritual that we all possess and know deep down and that alignment felt instantly soothing and the church felt welcoming. Another feeling I did receive was of that containment. I truly know and understand the meaning of a church being a refuge for so many, it is such a container of people’s troubles, prayers and joys. I get it. I felt contained and held, something I needed more than anything since last night. I lit a candle in honour of everyone that had passed and asked for health and happiness for all my loved ones. I walked away from it lighter, much lighter.

Altar, container, church are all various forms of sitting with the Divine whether it is one God, Goddess, Nature, Spirit or the Source, whatever it might be it is all off the same root, off the same home and it doesn’t have to have a name, face, physical form or a particular way of being. It is a feeling, an emotion, an experience.  It is recognisable when it is present in the atmosphere around whether it is in a forest or in an old village church. Spirit is present everywhere and more potent in places of worship, energy is simply more concentrated, as many desires, wishes and prayers are shared in these places and potent rituals had been performed there for centuries. Places hold that vibration. It occurred to me that whatever is being called force in any given moment, following it with curiosity and an open heart can lead to discoveries not so new, perhaps, yet surprising may be. I felt in union with all and asked for peace within myself and religions around the world whether you are pagan, Christian, Muslin or Hindu. That Spirit that unites all spiritual paths has the same message of love, the same feeling of peace and sacredness whatever religious variations in how worshipping is done. It can be in a church, in a corner of your bedroom, in the sea, on the forest floor or on top of the mountain. It is all about working with energies unseen, but deeply felt and allowing it to touch us in ways that are healing and soothing. It is about asking for guidance and seeking answers when we are at a loss and knowing we are not alone. We all come from spirit and to spirit we will return just like seasons come and go, the wheel of the year keeps on turning we continue on our journey through cycles of life and today is the day of renewal, light coming back and celebrating spring.

I remain curious to exploring my connection to Easter, some Christian elements and what it all means for my spiritual path. I remain open and allowing. It is valid and important to give it space and consideration and allow experiences touch me. This year, as I go through the cycles in nature I am even more intent to explore what each season, cycle, festival mean to me and  I am already beginning to see some elements, that will be included in my future, which hadn’t been considered before. I am creating my own version of the wheel of the year, if you like, and it feels exciting and very personal. I am also grateful for these spiritual experiences and new insights that happen when I am travelling away from home in lands steeped in history and stunning landscape. I love how the Land never fails to facilitate my growth.

Will I be praying again and asking for forgiveness and restoration of peace within? I am pretty sure I will. This experience felt deeply important on the night before Easter, divine timing, one might say, and the feeling afterwards was even more profound. Who will I be praying to and in what form? Will it be in the forest, my bedroom or the church, who knows, but whatever I am called I will follow. It is a fascinating journey of piecing things together, it seems. Another thing to remember, of course, is that there is a constant change, an evolution that occurs. I found nothing is completely static in a spiritual practice and that is what is wonderful about this personal journey. It is like reading a book, which offers more and more possibilities with a promise of always adding mystery and wonderment to my experience.

 

Celebrating ME

Well-done, you deserve it, you earned it, you worked very hard and did so well

Natures-Majesty

These are powerful validating affirmations that tell ourselves that we matter, we are able and we deserve success. Today I am set on giving myself that validation I have been shying away from all the way through my childhood and early adulthood. Today is an important day when my hard work over many years has come to a completion. Today is a game-changer in how I celebrate myself.

Today made me realise like nothing ever did before in such a clear and almost unbalancing way that I don’t know how to celebrate myself and my achievements. This is no surprise how this insight came about, as this is not the first one this year, which feels like things must change and not only that, I have no choice in the matter, but to redefine it completely anew. My old signature pulled me into a certain familiar way of feeling and instead of feeling elated and satisfied there was this emptiness. I felt like hiding, shying away and holding my breath. Before I would have moved on to the next thing without stopping, honouring and validating what happened as something very important. I must mark it and stay in that energy for much longer than a few minutes this time. I noticed this today more than I ever did before in my life and there was a voice within me, a very distant one yet I heard it, which told me to stop, listen and question and I did. I felt a touch of anger, followed by sadness and a sense of injustice towards myself. I also connected this to an exact event in my childhood that changed my perception of myself and my achievements in an instant.

My mother in response to witnessing my happiness and pride in my achievements told me to stop the display of joy I was feeling inside, be humble and don’t show the pride in the excellent performance I had given. I remember that so vividly like it was yesterday. In that moment my spark went out. I didn’t understand it, but I instantly felt there was something wrong with me and took the message on that being happy was not the thing one did and expressing joy was definitely not for public display. It is profound how a single word, an event can affect someone’s whole life and how instantly I learnt a behaviour that continued through the years.

I now know that what my mother meant was not in any way a reflection on me or my achievements. I now know that her love for me didn’t stop flowing in that moment and her pride in my achievements didn’t disappear. It was just a moment, in which a child introjected words in a way that child could.

Celebrations are a huge part of my culture, always had been, yet I often felt on the fringes of that experience. It was always ‘out there’ and not ‘within’, directed and meant for someone else and never myself. That explains lack of birthday parties and gatherings in my honour and even when it did happen with my parents initiating it, I felt almost embarassed. Disconnection and detachment from the happy feelings that were present when something was achieved, earned and deserved continued throughout my life. Success became my secret joyous flow, which I felt I had to hide. To me success always leads to happiness. It never changed from that day when I was a child, it simply became hidden until now. Success is my primary happiness signature and nothing makes me feel the way that does to this day. I honour it, name it and recognise it when it comes.

So, today, I tell myself openly and unapologetically, I have done it, I worked incredibly hard, always determined, focused and dedicated. I got myself here, no one else, I did it all with unwavering self-belief and commitment to hard work. I celebrate myself today and my intention is to create my own ‘Ritual of completion’ to honour this insight and connection to myself on another level, something that I can carry with me and remind myself I matter, my achievements matter and success feels happy and joyous to me. (details of the ritual to come in a future post)

Today I also reflected on the theme of self and accomplishment in nature. I thought of the Land in a way that I experience it and how it never fails to inspire and bring out sheer admiration in me. The land knows its wisdom and beauty. It adopts, flows and bends with the elements and challenges of fire and floods. It survives and continues to grow in the face of adversity. It falls, it gets up again and basks in its own glory of knowing it is great, it is beautiful, had and soft, silent and roaring, hot and cold, it is whole in its majesty. It is not ashamed, apologetic or shy in decorating itself throughout seasons in celebration of its cycles. It is forever living in the knowledge of its beauty within and without and it honours itself deeply and in return we honour it out there and within us. Whenever I experience that sensation of fulfilment, inspiration and glory in nature I am able to connect with it inside of me and the feeling is utterly beautiful and whole.

 

The land is calling yet again…

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The land is calling, but this time the call comes from a specific place. It is heard from the Isle of Skye. My soul is picking up on the spaciousness of the land, strong wind bound in its roar crashing against the rocks watching over rough waters. The voice is beautiful, it is mixture of a whistle, whining and deep bass notes. It has a voice or rather vibration boom boom like a beating heart that reaches my awareness and pulls at my soul’s veil asking to join it in its half melody, half drumming. It is intoxicating.

It is soothing to me to know it is there, it exists and its heart is beating in unison with my own. Loving from a distance is familiar to me. Being separated by space, but nothing else is also known. I have loved from a distance many times over, with all my being, bones, cells, toes, hairs on my arms and senses. The love so big I was breathing for one reason only to keep it alive. That’s where grief also comes in when a love so strong continues to live within me after many years of eternal separation. I feel this is what I experience whenever I am away from the land. Love and deep sorrow of separation are in embrace. Time there though there is a knowing that I can answer the call and I can merge with the land, as it is there, calling, wailing in its windy voice and splashing waves onto my naked feet. I can smell heather, it is warm to the touch. It get tangled in my hair as I lay my head against the moisture of the earth. It is easy for me to become each and everything that land is – rocks, mountains, grass, animals, clouds, the sun and the moon. Words are simply not enough to describe the connection in the soul. It just is so…

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My first experience on the island POST 

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

 

Ode to the Land 

 
In my dreams you visit me like a deep soulful cry from within

You touch my senses as I sit in solitude in the forest

Water takes me straight to the expansive lochs of your bosom
You contain and penetrate the essence of me

I weep, I run, I stop, I listen to the call that links my soul to thee

My breathing holds its flow as I hear your name and suddenly I am transformed into the old Cailleagh walking the hills and mountains with deer by my side
The smell of pit, bog, pine and vibrant heather feels like blood in my veins, warm and homely

The air in you is essential to my survival

My feet are deeply rooted in your landscape and my heart beats with every changing season. I wish to walk it till the end of time, till it’s my time to have my bones scattered amidst your beauty

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.