Coming back to yourself – identity and spirit

russian forest in autumn

As a psychotherapist and a transpersonal approach practitioner the aim of my work with clients is to facilitate making ‘whole’ and help clients get back to themselves, get back ‘home’.

This time of year brings me closer to my roots, to my ancestors of birth and land. I begin communicating with and seeing them more clearly. My food changes according to how they had eaten and I occupy myself with activities, music, books that had been familiar to them. Most of those traditions are closely woven with nature cycles, seasons. My home and people carry nature in their blood. It is as natural to us as mother’s milk. All traditions and customs that we undertake every season is never questioned by anyone. They are observed in a way that flows very naturally between generations, genders and ages. There is this common knowing, understanding and love of nature. We are in a very close relationship with all things nature. Spirit, emotions, intellect and physical sensations can all be linked to our expression through a relationship with nature. There are references to it in literature, poetry, music and language is filled with a variety of descriptions of moods, changes and emotion-evocative experiences. Nature is a living breathing being for my ancestors and myself.

What happened to me five years ago was a shift, a push towards ‘home’, back to myself. I needed to get back to my roots from which I also needed to cut off for some time in order to survive and fit in. I had to start a process of remembering, re-integration, re-igniting of my knowledge, resonance and love of what roots and home meant for me. This journey also connected me to the land that I currently live on and through finding striking similarities in the landscape and the emotions that it evoked in me, that remembering of ‘home’ journey became very rich and fulfilling. The process happened with nature spirit flowing through me at all times. I connected to my roots through learning and remembering about trees, weather patterns, the elements, magic, plants, my love for certain things in nature and remembering and connecting who I was then and who I am now in terms of what spirit lives within me.

I am writing this after watching a wonderful presentation on ‘Identity and spirituality’ as part of my CPD and it reminded me of my own process of connecting with my roots and establishing a solid knowing and understanding who I am now through who I was then and the process of becoming and evolving. It is the process of finding what is at the centre of my being.

In my practice I feel passionate about working with both issues, identity and spirituality, and both are closely linked in making ‘whole’.

It opens up discussion about your beliefs on whether we are spiritual beings having an experience on Earth or are we human beings with a spiritual nature. It might mean the same to some, to others there are clear differences. It would depend on your own personal experiences regarding spirit and beliefs about life on earth and afterlife. To me, spirit is an integral part of who we are along with our other aspects or functions, cognitive, emotional, physical and all operate together and ideally harmoniously. However, where there is a lack of presence or distorting in operation in one or more of these functions then a ‘whole’ is disturbed. For example, a person struggles to express their emotions or their thoughts are distorted or they manifest their difficulties rooted in the mind or heart through the body or their spirit is asleep or remains unreachable or unknown. In my work as a transpersonal therapist I aim to bring a person into balance, and to get all functions/aspects operating together and in harmony.

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My eclectic spiritual path

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What is eclectic? The definition is ‘deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources’, i.e. my spiritual path is shaping up to be a collection of ideas, theories, philosophies and ways of practicing my connection with the spirit.

I started out many years ago on a path of Witchcraft. It is still strongly present in my work with the elements, herbalism, connecting with the Goddess and flowing with the moon cycles, although my spell crafting practice have reduced dramatically. I have always been an intuitive witch, followed by a kitchen and hedge orientation. This particular journey began when I first connected to a part of myself asleep for a long time. I experienced awakening within myself when someone on outside pointed out some qualities and abilities I had no name for. I was gifted a book of shadows, an athame and a deck of Tarot cards and when exploring the meaning of it all I came back to my own deep alignment to the path of witchcraft. It did feel like coming home, calm, peaceful and deeply knowing. Things began to open up for me, transform and manifest at a fast speed.

All my paths’ directions came to me through intuitive and meaningful coincidences, i.e. I was directed towards a particular way of exploring my relationship to spirit be it through personal encounters with people, programmes I watched, images that came to me or groups I connected with. All these events felt very natural and noticeably meaningful to my development on my own unique spiritual path.

Since last year Druidry started show itself in various forms inviting me to explore it further. I began to read a lot and experienced many feelings, positive and negative, making me unpick various meanings. In particular I began my work with ancestors of blood, place and spirit. My deep connection to Celtic lands was clear and I felt a need to bring my skills and experiences into the open, out into the community. At that point I felt my life purpose became to clarify more and more. I recently attended a Druid Grove’s Lammas ceremony and although it felt deeply familiar and holding it strikingly highlighted for me how solitary I am and how my preference is strongly for intuitive practice rather than an organised ritualistic practice. I seemed to have taken a step back, which then made me think more about my initial direction as a solitary witch. I am not sure at this point that the call to join a community is currently working. Perhaps, it was a way to test and adjust, for which I am grateful.

Buddhism has been strongly present for me in the last year or so and just as I felt my Transpersonal/spiritual 5th plane of consciousness self very deeply, the Buddha within me aligned with that vibration. The vibration of peace and serenity, by far, the most precious vibration for me. For as long as I lived all I have ever wanted was inner peace and saw it as something elusive and unattainable until a few years ago when my spiritual awakening happened and I saw and experienced my Buddha self. I am in love with the vibration and it comes to me in the most natural way when I work with my clients. In my day-to-day life, however, connecting to that energy has always been a challenge. I have struggled to connect spiritual and earthly and experienced the split, or rather a challenge to bring one into another and vice versa, but this is the biggest challenge for us all, they say and a life-long work. I have a deep understanding of what that means and continue working with various aspects of myself through psycho-spiritual and therapeutic practices. Buddhist ways of being away of the present moment, middle way and mindfulness are practices I don’t see abandoning any time soon, however, some elements of the path remind me too much of Christian commandments and that word alone puts me off. In fact I stopped reading a book recently as soon as the author made a comparison with that and rules and conditions. Who know I might go back to the back one day and see how I feel. Meditation also remains a challenge and I am still exploring a way that sits the best with me. Actually the way Druids describe it resonates better, they call it an active participation in the process rather than abandoning all thoughts. I am an engagement sort of person and journeying techniques, e.g. are the ones I am used to the most.

Nature reverence and worship, as well as, the Wheel of the year strongly remains at the centre of my spiritual path. This has been one constant and beautiful way of my connection to myself and spirit. It has been a confirmation of the wholeness and connectivity of all things. I continue working with the Elements, trees and spirit animals, as well as maintaining my very strong connection to the land. My relationship to sacred sites, stone circles and Celtic ancient lands remains continuous. Scotland is and will always be my spiritual home, but I am also deeply connected to the land of Wales and Ireland. Magic, enchantment and wonder of all things nature is in my heart daily and have been my saviour, sacred connection to love and gratitude.

I think I have always been an eclectic sort of person. I could never see myself following one way completely and utterly, as my mind is curious and constantly questioning and evolving. I remain in curiosity and wonder and for things to settle within me they must align and resonate with my deep experience of spirit. It needs to make my heart sing and produce ringing in my ears and a sweet song on my lips for me to call it my way. This reminds me, as an example, that when I work with herbs either in my kitchen or recently by a Scottish Loch, I suddenly started to sing in the voice I hardly ever hear within me. It felt flowing and natural and I went to a place that is my spiritual retreat, my soul connected with the energy of spirit in a way that could not be broken. I experience joy and complete balance in moments like that. It feels right, it feels like home and very familiar.

What am I? I am Pagan and I am Intuitive, for sure. I am a nature spirit, seer and a Crone at heart. My spiritual name is White Hart Rose.

If you are on a spiritual path and, perhaps, finding it challenging to pinpoint what your path is, I suggest you relax. Remain open, patient and take it as a life-long commitment to finding your way while connecting to the elements of whatever spiritual paths come your way, those elements that make your soul sing whether it is collecting herbs or meditating. You are not lost, you are collecting parts of yourself that might have been lost or hidden and resurrecting your own experience of spirit the way it has always been within you.

Much love and many blessings!

The Land of dreaming

Caingorms National park, Scotland
Upland spring by Loch Etchachan, Cairngorm National Park, Grampian Area. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

Am I asleep or am I dreaming? What is this feeling of all consuming something my heart struggles to hold yet wants so deeply? I am overjoyed yet bereft at the same time. I cry and laugh all in one moment of sheer madness when I lay my hands on the land. My feet touch the green softness moist with the promise of morning dew. I live, I die, I am in haven yet in pain.

My love affair with the land began a few years ago when I first experienced this strange merging with something. I came upon a place that had a certain smell, vibration where I felt I died and gone to heaven, where my body struggled to adjust to all that air, space and majestic wilderness. Did it touch upon my own sleepy wild heart? It made me cry mad words into the air and at others surrounding me. It made no sense to myself or anyone else yet I couldn’t stop screaming, crying and falling breathless on the grass of the earth seemingly sacred to my soul. It felt like reawakening of love of some kind, familiar yet new, scary yet exciting. Ever since the first step upon the land this dance of confusion carried on summer after summer.

Ambivalent, powerful pull like a voice that screams terrible words one minute and sings a soft lullaby the next. I hear it always yet the message is unclear. Come, go, stay, leave, dance, sit, scream, be quiet. Whatever it all means I find the unfolding of this relationship fascinating.

I am still searching for a settlement. It is alive in my mind, but reality is quite scary. Whenever I am in the land of my dreaming I feel hugely overwhelmed, bitter-sweet, can’t breathe it is too much air type of situation, total intoxication, grief at the thought of separation, yet a relief somewhat when away, but not for long, as the yearning of the heart returns just as strong to merge with it again and it continues like this year after year. I find myself quite confused about it all by now…

I love it so much it hurts

I love it so much it hurts. The land welcomes me this time with open arms and I feel nothing but warmth and nurture. I feel at home and I instantly recognise that familiar smell of the land, which I know well. It is raining and I am in my element of gentle water standing on a lake shore watching gentle giants mountains hugging the shore. I touch the water, it is clear and crispy cold and through my body pure joy spreads. It is a dance of recognition, which I feel a lot stronger this time round. While my husband looks nostalgic for hot weather and home, I am home. I tell him that most of my happiest memories took place either in rain or snow and I acknowledge that link and it makes sense.

Isle of Mull – lush and green with landscape showing off its mountains, valleys, lochs, forests and sea. It is such a mixture of the elements that makes it so rich. It is incredibly peaceful here like nowhere else I had felt in Scotland so far; well, perhaps, only the first time in Perthshire where my love for the land first stuck me. We are staying in the middle of nowhere and it feels so safe to me here. It feels like no one and nothing would find me here and if I was to stay I would be happy for the rest of my days. My heart begins to ache along with joy I cry inside for wanting to merge with the land forever. It hurts in my chest and with each breath I can’t seem to get enough. That feeling of safety is a new one, as previously while in Scotland I have always felt conflicted and often anxious, even scared. Not this time. Here I have come into myself somehow and the land here is so gentle in comparison with Northern Highlands or the Isle of Skye, e.g. Those places activated my shadow material and threw me into an emotional turmoil amidst some deeply spiritual experiences. The land there is fierce, wild, unforgiving and untouchable in its stunning beauty. It is majestic and independent. Here I am held, firmly and I can hear the land speaking to me. It is gentle and soothing. Vibration is of softness and it touches on places within me much lighter and happier. This reflects in our relational dynamics between the boys and me. Our trip was very different this time round like we all tapped into a gentler way of being with one another, there is less conflict and more recognition and acknowledgment of needs all around.

Standing in the garden I witness deer coming in closer grazing on lush green vegetation surrounding the house. It is a beautiful sight and they stop and stare at me in silent pause. God it is so peaceful here! Even deer is different here compared to imposing huge stags of the Highlands. These deer are gentler and smaller and devoid of antler crowns. My response to them is also strikingly different, less of knee shaking awe and worship-like way of witnessing them, it is quieter, softer and more ‘homely’ somewhat. As I lie in bed looking out of the window with views to die for I feel my heart beating with such love. It is intense and aching, as I already know how hard it will be leaving this land in a few days.

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.

 

How a ‘no’ can be a ‘yes’ in disguise

crossroads, decision making

What are your reactions when you hear a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ from people in various life situations. It is interesting to observe how our bodies vibrate when we receive something that we ‘think’ we want to hear and how our reactions are when we are refused something.

We all seek feeling good potentially and would like to go in the direction of having a positive feedback from others. It makes us feel good. And that is just fine for as long as there is awareness of what our intentions, motivations, desires are in that moment when we ask for a ‘yes’ or we expect a ‘yes’. WE also need to be aware of what our potentially reaction might be should a ‘no’ come in. Can we handle it? Can we see the ‘gold’ in receiving a message we might not have expected. Can we decipher a message from within that ‘no’ and ultimately turn it into a ‘yes’ for ourselves without anyone or anything being attached to that decision.

I had an experience a few days ago when what I thought I wanted wasn’t in my best interest. I didn’t know that until I received a ‘no’ when my unconscious needs definitely wanted a ‘yes’. It is very useful to self-reflect post a situation, interaction or a turn of event and come to some sort of grounding within to ensure we are ok with what occurred and, if possible, to see alternative ways of looking at things, be fluid with our interpretations. I felt I couldn’t make a certain decision. My heart was saying one thing and my head another and I was stuck for some time, which was an uncomfortable position to be in. After weeks of holding the ongoing debate between my head and my heart I decided to ask for guidance from someone else. Another great tool I am discovering about asking for help and trusting others to lend a helping hand. As I was waiting for messages to come in and still trying to work it out for myself I went with my heart on impulse, or what transpired later, an intuitive leep in order to push things and get them moving and see what happens. I received a ‘no’ to my request, which I ‘thought’ I wanted to get a ‘yes’ to. The interesting shift that happened in my feeling body was a very pleasant relief for the first time in weeks when I heard that ‘no’. In that moment my decision was made. It was a ‘yes’ in disguise, a guiding voice of what was needed, not what I thought I wanted. My fear and anxiety subsided and for the first time in week I felt grounded and fully present in my body.

I thought of parallels of how this can present itself in nature. It is fundamentally about a contrast in energies and vibrations. It can’t be sunny all the time, right? Neither we wouldn’t want it to be, well, I wouldn’t. It is that push and pull between need and want. Nature needs sunshine and warmth just as much as it needs rainfall, frost, decay and snow cover. When I experience nature I am in the vibration of both, what we perceive positive and negative, dark and light and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would neither avoid going for a walk if I am called if it rains. That, to me, means that there is something for me to learn from being in the rain in that moment, on that day. It might not be what I want, but it most certainly always what I need, as I often find out after my commune with nature. ‘Yes’ and ‘no’ work in a similar way and it is up to us to be able to receive it with wisdom and acceptance that it is exactly what we need in any given moment.

What I really want to zoom in on with this example is encourage an experiment with what it might be like to hear a ‘no’? Can you hold it objectively without being thrown into a space where it feels like a personal attack or rejection? Hearing a ‘no’ can tell us a lot about our thoughts, scripts and unconscious wounds we might be carrying that need a light thrown on them. We all like a ‘yes’ and there is nothing wrong with that, but a ‘yes’ can also be a trap if we are not careful. It is all in the vibration of how it is given and the felt sense when we receive it. What does it do to us? Does it feel like it lands in the right place or does it carry an unwelcome vibration? Drilling down into how it feels is helpful going from the initial impact to how energy lands, spreads and surrounds our senses and whether it goes away or stays in a way that feels good or bad.

My ‘no’ was a very strong, assertive and clear ‘no’, a ‘no’ I couldn’t argue with and it felt definite and contained. I felt so much better, as I could finally say ‘yes’ to myself after hearing a ‘no’ from outside. I turned inwards for reassurance and it was there, clear and grounded in the knowledge that a ‘no’ meant I could commit to the right path for me for now.