From Maiden to Mother – summer soul work

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I am feeling inspired today having gone through a challenging time in the last few weeks. Energies have been slowly building up to the peak point that is Summer Solstice and this year it was the hottest day. I am not good with heat.

What transpired in everything that surrounded me lately is the replay of my struggles on a journey of motherhood, a reminder of that difficult time of birthing and coming into the role of mother. What got activated this year not for the first time and became so profoundly present was my passage from Maiden to mother and I believe this year is that time not just to begin this process, but possibly to complete it. I felt during spring I have come into a space of acceptance. It was a physical experience of knowing that I had passed that threshold from maidenhood into mother consciously for the first time in ten years. My physical mother’s energy assisted me well in those times and deepened our connection.

HERE is a post I wrote back in March about that experience.

On my altar this morning I placed Maiden and Mother with favourite flowers of my physical mother. As always this was spontaneous and inspired by energies running through my body. I woke up early today feeling alive again as the heat dropped and the sun is not shining. I can breathe again and think and be in the space I am comfortable in. Comfort comes up a lot in a way that I am with others, myself, my son, and my husband. This feels crucial to cultivate that space for exploring this transition into comfort place of the Mother for me.

Ten years on and only now this year I feel the soil is finally fertile for me to birth my inner mother fully into being, accept her within and express her externally. This doesn’t just relate to the physicality of being a mother to my son although my relationship to that has been transforming steadily over the last few years and there is less and less battling with the external against what I feel within. It is activated now and again still and I do believe that echoes of struggles will always remain on some level. Experience for me had been traumatic and violently raw in many ways and traces of that trauma is bound to come in, but I have awareness of that and actively seeking to move into a healing space where my painful memories can be held in acceptance and contained in self-love.

This journey is also about the changes in me internally, my body, my face, my hair, skin and voice. What I look like now is nothing what I did before I became a mother and when in my maidenhood. There is however this freeing lack of yearning, desire and need to conform and hold on to that youth conditioning, which carries such a desperate self-abandoning and punishing signature. Looking back at my young self, that maiden was sick mentally, emotionally and physically. Her soul was stunted into non-being, non-acceptance and zero self-expression due to fear, anxiety, extreme criticism of herself and multiple traumas buried deep within. She existed in the name of validation and approval based on physical beauty. Many of us, former maidens had been there.

Now I am feeling liberated in the state of what it means to be a woman and a mother from inside out. Shining the light of soul, acknowledging all and every single qualities within and using that in the world regardless with complete acceptance. I feel summer will help me do this, summer is here to strip me off all remaining clothing that no longer fits me and doesn’t represent me as I am in my Mother/Woman way of being. Summer is the Full moon of the year, the fully pregnant time when all is ripe and beautiful ready to birth the new and transformed.

Summer Solstice 2017

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Summer Solstice sizzled away like a hot fire pit and this morning we have fresh air and breeze. It is as if the earth is about to take a deep breath out and join in a dance with the brewing storm. I am up early this morning as I feel the storm coming and I become alive again after a very hot week and the hottest day of the year – Summer Solstice 2017.

I was faced with so many challenges during the week, confronted with the burning Sun, which seemly held no mercy for my discomfort and I moaned and moaned till I could bear it no longer. When Summer Solstice came and the heat reached its highest peak here in the UK my voice was gone and my spirit dimmed to a faint whisper of acknowledgment of my troubles. In that ‘melting’ I began to recognise my powerlessness against what appeared full of people to be a big lesson in love, patience and gratitude. I ended up taking a journey to the city, on a hot train and to my surprise I remained calm and collected with no grinding within my mind or heart. I stepped into a space of surrendering. I recognised it and that inner silence felt soothing. I remained in observation of things around me and within me and communicating gently with nature in its hottest burning state. I felt it smiling inviting all growth into dancing and fires burning all over the globe in honouring the Sun smelt delicious. The song of the Bard enchanted me into trance-like state of love, peace and gratitude.

I felt my relationship with the masculine challenged in the physical and spiritual sense and I knew it needed to be repairs, as ‘heat’, distorted fire within me raptured it. I began consciously cooling down in terms of being ok with what is and being accepting of releasing with the sweat what needed to go. I understood that my voice had a major place in how my discomfort is perceived and its effect of others. I pulled back, withdrawn to reflect on the sound of my voice and the meaning of the words spoken. It is within the balance of expressing your inner most uncomfortable cries within your soul and body and respecting the space where others co-exist. It is always about the balance and both are equally important if we are to be authentic. It is as much you as it is others, no more and no less. As we look within more the outside transforms and as the outsides engages with us we discover things within. Through the ‘voice’ work I offered a hand of reparation to the masculine and embraced its firy nourishment. There is still mistrust, yes, caution and suspicion and subsequent wish to withdraw. I am very aware of that, but what I choose is not only engage with that restraint within me in response to the masculine heat, I am also willing to expose my face to the brightest, hottest heat that seeks my attention.

I feel alive today post-Solstice and very inspired to continue this journey with deep gratitude and love in my heart and seeking engagement more and more with myself and others. Summer teaches connection, relationship to yourself and others. It is a time to be sociable, to acknowledge those links we have with others and recognise our contribution to that collective dance. It is the NOW time, summer, when we look at our achievements and life as a whole ‘warts and all’ and come out proud into a play field of our life with full engagement and appreciation.

 

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.

Pregnant Earth

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I am not a summer soul. Year after year I experience a withdrawal as days get longer and the sun gets hotter. The build up to Summer solstice is particularly difficult with doubts, uncertainties and complexities I feel lost in. It is in parallel to my feelings about the Full Moon phase when things come to a culmination and then start to fade as a waning moon. I am not good with the Full moon and withdraw every time only to come out to shine with each New moon – my favourite time.

I notice how my outings in nature become infrequent and my engagement with the earth subsides. I find working in heat difficult and the sight of weeds overwhelming. Even my blooming plot brings on a sense of helplessness as everything doubles in size and spreads across the plot. This is it, it is a feeling of overwhelm, a time when I feel u contained and my vision obscured. I begin to miss crisp autumn/winter mornings when I could go into the woods and see right through it with walking anywhere off the path without having obstructions. This is something I can’t do in the summer as overgrown paths and greenery covers all from view. It can feel suffocating and adding a heat into the mix I am powerless. It is a time of rest, sleep and seclusion for me.

Many years ago I myself was in the last weeks of my pregnancy at this time of year, ready to release, and my experience was somewhat similar to how I usually feel in my uncertainty and resistance to summer. Perhaps, that association stayed strong within me, a difficult time, something I am only now connecting with. Perhaps, summer is also a reminder of that time when I felt overwhelmed.

With Litha coming next week, a time when the sun stands still in its fullest glory and the longest day of the year is upon us, I am in anticipation, as if waiting for a relief, a time when things once again start to wind down slowly. I feel the waning from that day forward and always feel relieved and let free.
In summer I go North to landscape of mountains, lakes and space around me. I feel free in that landscape and in need to see ahead of me unconstricted by the overgrowth of forests. This year I am taking a crossing to an an Isle of Mull over the sea to experience an open road with mountains and waters shaping the landscape.

Inclusion and exclusion

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This week’s insights and explorations are all about inclusion and exclusion. Walking away and joining in.
My dreams have reflected back to me what is playing out in my psyche and I always reflect on what that might mean for me in my waking life. A series of dreams happened late last week where I would be walking away from my responsibilities and connections. There was a sense of ‘throwing in a towel’, giving up on what feels hard and uncomfortable. Those dreams followed by a series of dreams, which explored connection, inclusion and walking through difficulties to see what’s on the other side. The concluding dream was three beds in a room put close together with my bed being the largest and in the middle. There was a feeling of belonging and being accepted into a connection. That felt good. Walking away felt good but a sense of relief was temporary, whereas inclusion felt a more solid, continuous way of being.

This got me thinking about connection and belonging vs withdrawing and walking away, isolation. What is for the best? It comes down to balance and often when opposing dreams occur it tells me of a need to balance things out. Balance is incredibly important for humans to gain a fuller understanding of themselves and their position, role within a group. Balance provides a wider, richer experience of life on the whole. It comes down to allowing yourself to be with discomfort to find out what’s on the other end of it. Very often there are more advantages than disadvantages I find when we push through some barriers consciously and allow ourselves to feel what is not necessarily pleasant in the moment. Rich learning manifests as a result of pushing through fears and resistance. If we stay in a state of resistance nothing changes and growth doesn’t occur. So whichever way we decide to go, whether it is walking away or staying it is vital we are fully aware of what we are trying to achieve. Sometimes walking away is the best thing, but sometimes staying is what’s needed and working through what feels uncomfortable.

I am an introvert by nature and love solitude but in recent years I have been allowing myself to join in, connect and express myself more out there and what transpired is this other side of my personality that thrives in groups and amongst people. I discover I learn a lot through human connections and feedback. I become more balanced and whole. There is a side to me that loves observing and engaging with humans and when that is balanced with honouring my time of solitude and withdrawal it feels better. Through interactions I have become braver to expose sides of me that might not be acceptable and seeing reactions and responses which provide me with a lot of learning. My authentic self is blooming in expressing what is with no judgement or fear.

Humans are complex and there are ways of being within us all that vary depending on where we are and who we are with. Conscious engagement with the whole of us and not just certain parts of ourselves makes it real, human and honest. Through others’ witnessing that honest expression of who I am seems to have an effect on others around and it is that collective growing and exploration that makes relationships so valuable. We learn from one another via connecting with the whole.

Including or excluding yourself should be a conscious choice depending what our intentions are. What would make our experience here on earth richer and more whole? What would be the benefit of one way or another and it is in the mixture and making those decisions for ourselves we find what matters, what works and what makes us grow intimately. Stepping fully into life with a heart open and authentic self present is a manifestation of the spiritual. It is in life we become aware of beauty and ugliness of human nature with full acceptance and non-judgements. It is through other people we become aware of things within ourselves and by exploring ourselves we make others reflect of their behaviours and values.

Being fully present in life and authentic within yourself and on outside is a beautiful thing and all I ever wanted and I am finally seeing that manifestation, which is a result of walking through fears, embracing the whole human nature warts and all and engaging nevertheless always wanting to learn, reflect and integrate.

Today I feel grateful for all the connections that exist in my life.

Where there is discomfort there is an opportunity for change

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Potential is hidden within us all and pain and discomfort are ways of accessing it. Yes, staying with what is difficult in the moment creates an opening for changing things. When we are anxious, worried or feeling down there is a sign that something isn’t right. If we allow ourselves to truly embrace the way that we feel in that moment and hold our feelings as if they were our children we have a chance to discover things we run away from or parts of ourselves that have been needing attention to a long time.

Where there is discomfort there is a sign that an adjustment is needed in either our reactions, behaviours or dynamics. Some situations would trigger us into a place of dissonance, which is a perfect place to start, as when we know what we don’t like we can also discover what we do like.

Most of all we lack the ability to be with ourselves especially in moments of discomfort yet this is exactly where we need to focus our attention to discover who we truly are. A reaction happens for a reason, feelings surface for a reason and asking yourself ‘what is happening’ and ‘what do I need right now’ and ‘what does it mean’ can be invaluable. It holds a feeling, a vibration in that moment and we take a pause to look at it, to feel it, find a place where it is the strongest in the body and become curious. When we shift perspective from ‘this doesn’t feel good, I must pretend it is not happening or I must get rid of it’ to ‘this doesn’t feel good, I wonder why and what it is telling me, what is the lesson here’ things have different results. One way only delays the process that needs attention until the next time we feel a certain way, the other grabs the opportunity not just to explore what is happening, but through paying attention to your feeling you ultimately give yourself attention. This is self-loving, it is validating, it is acknowledging something is not right and allowing for a change to occur. Only by staying with we can move through something and come out of it with a different perspective.

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Reasons we reach for food and nature’s wisdom

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  1. Genuine hunger – instinctual us, animal us
  2. Meeting an emotional need. Using food as something pleasurable to get away from something painful we are feeling
  3. Being stuck in a pattern, a habit, automatic behaviour associated with certain activities

This week is all about the body and I felt it would be useful to summarise some information on our relationship with food. I am reinforcing these messages for myself as much as for everyone else and I hope you will find it useful.

We all heard of binge eating, emotional eating, overeating, over-consuming on calories, mindless eating, etc. These are unhealthy patterns of behaviour, which we either do consciously with a purpose or unconsciously.

There is one way of eating, which is natural and the most helpful is to eat when you are hungry. When we are consciously aware and mindful of clues sent to us by the body, NOT our mind, indicating it is time to eat. When we know we are ready for intake of food, we need calories and there is a genuine need for nourishment on a physical level. It is when we know that if we don’t eat we might not ‘survive’, it is instinctual function for our body to sustain life through taking in some food.

The other two ways of relating to food are the ones to watch for. One is us using food as a way of making us feel ‘better’, that pleasure trap when we seek a relief from a difficult emotional state and wanting to feel pleasure and we do it through food. This is emotional eating. I know, e.g. in the past my emotional eating had been connected closely to grief. It works similarly with other habits, like smoking, e.g., which for me, again used to be a way to gain relief when I felt unsafe. Very specific emotions that I would need to release through using something else. Once you identify what it is that you are ‘running away’ from through inducing pleasure using food, then it is time to FEEL that emotion, allow it to be, having courage to be with that, as it is part of you.

One other reason we eat is through habit. Something that we keep on doing automatically to a point that we are not always conscious of, we simply do it when engaging with a certain activity. A good example is watching TV in the evening. Many would reach for food when watching movies, favourite programmes, because this is something that they have done over and over again for a long time, hence a habit is formed and the brain knows it is food time once you are on that sofa switching on your television. The first thing to do is to become aware of where you might be using food, in what situations and circumstances that you might have not realised. The only way to break that pattern is to learn to interrupt that behaviour consciously. Once you are aware, conscious then you can begin to stop it in its tracks. It is like changing a cycle, interrupting something repeatedly should rewire our habitual thinking or automatic actions into doing something else. This needs to be practiced again and again and there will be time when you will be able to watch television without overloading on calories. This would happen overtime through interruption of the cycle and engaging with activities that take you away from that pattern and from food. Do something instead for a period of time to give your brain a different message. Remove your association between watching a film and eating.

Now think of nature in all its presentations and with all its inhabitants and species. What stands out to you when you look to nature? With me it is balance, it is a beginning, a middle and the end. It is time for everything where nothing is rushed or delayed, where everything has its place. Summer doesn’t come before spring, flowers do not bloom in winter and the earth is not producing food when the ground is frozen. Nature teaches us that there is a system of elements that constantly working together to achieve an overall balance. Sometimes challenges are thrown in its way in a way of adverse weather conditions like floods and droughts, yet it recovers, it catches up and it continues to live. There is a force of survival and thriving for that equilibrium state where everything is just as it should be.

Now think of your body in the same way. Evaluate when it is the right time for you to eat, e.g. are you a morning eater? Are you more of a snacker or a bigger, more regular meal eater? What is your body’s preference and schedule for calorie intake? What feels most natural and nourishing? Do you follow your body’s natural rhythms or are you even aware of it? The goal is to bring your body into balance with your mind, your spirit and your emotional world. Is it in balance? What foods bring you joy not when you use it to avoid something else, but when you seek to give your body nourishment and enhancement in order to feel better?

My connection to nature and the earth has helped me balance out my physical and emotional enormously. Eating produce that comes from earth gives my brain a message that it is fresh, it is filled with water and sunshine and it is full of nutrients. It is good for me. Remember doing something enough times repeatedly can rewire your brain into knowing it is working and good for you. Start small with changing one or two things a week in order to increase your potential for balance in the body, add something beneficial or take away something that is not good for you. Small, steady and continuous steps.

Remember to get sunshine and rain water on your face, as well as feeling the earth with your bare feet whenever you can. Connect to the wisdom of the intelligent system that is nature, the earth and let its wisdom go into all areas of your life, your relationship with your body and food included.

Many blessings!