living

Book Review – Everyday Enchantments by Maria DeBlassie

December, 2018

Musings on Ordinary Magic and Daily Conjurings

 

 

Maria’s book is described as a collection of ‘micro-meditations and celebratory reflections on living life as a wild woman’. How could I not be intrigued? Though far from a true wild woman myself thanks to my urban-slash-suburban setting, I’m always drawn to the idea of being freer, away from the hubbub and city grind. This book holds chapter after chapter of golden, glowing moments from just such a life, and is as compelling as it is calming.

Each chapter is short and sweet in the best possible meaning of that phrase. One chapter focuses on the magic of chamomile, from the point of view of taking the tiny, dried buds and bringing them to life in a soothing cup of tea. Another reflects on the divine powers of the onion. This is true ‘everyday’ magic. Rituals we may go through every day without perhaps realising the power inherent within our actions. Maria encourages us to pause, drink in what we are doing and absorb every moment’s magical potential.

I love the meditative nature of the chapters. Most are written in the second person, a style I normally find a bit jarring. In this book it works really well. This is because it is written in the same way a guided meditation is spoken to you. As you read you can almost hear a gentle voice whispering the words directly into your brain and allowing you to completely visualise and lose yourself in each moment.

I have found this book immensely useful for reminding me to stop and take stock. It helps me enjoy each moment more fully, not by trying to recapture the moments in the book but by following the example of living fully in each minute and being grateful for the enchantment that flows through every second. A thoroughly wonderful book. Recommended for all.

Everyday Enchantments: Musings on Ordinary Magic & Daily Conjurings on Amazon

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About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

 

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

 

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

Findhorn: Reflections on Peace

October, 2018

NB: This is a combination of two pieces that originally appeared in my personal blog Living from the Inside Out in July 2010 that has been edited and updated for publication in Pagan Pages Magazine in October 2018. I’ve retained the present tense the article was originally written in.

In 2010, I had the great honour of visiting Findhorn Foundation in Scotland. Doing an Experience Week there was really life-changing for me in more ways than I can speak about with words. I highly recommend a pilgrimage there to anyone who hasn’t been yet. First, it might be good to explain a bit about what Findhorn Foundation is and how it got started.  The Foundation is a spiritual community, education center, and ecovillage.  There are two geographical parts to the community: Cluny College is the main education center and where I am staying and then there is The Park, which is the place where it all started from a caravan about forty years ago. The purpose of this community is encapsulated in their vision: “By living and working together, putting spiritual values into practice, we are creating a positive and sustainable future for humanity and the planet.” The three principles Findhorn works with are as follows: listening to one’s inner voice, co-creation with nature, and work is love in action.

“The Findhorn Community was begun in 1962 by Peter and Eileen Caddy and Dorothy Maclean. All three had followed disciplined spiritual paths for many years. They first came to northeast Scotland in 1957 to manage the Cluny Hill Hotel in the town of Forres, which they did remarkably successfully. Eileen received guidance in her meditations from an inner divine source she called ‘the still small voice within’ and Peter ran the hotel according to this guidance and his own intuition. In this unorthodox way – and with many delightful and unlikely incidents – Cluny Hill swiftly became a thriving and successful four-star hotel. After several years however, Peter and Eileen’s employment was terminated, and with nowhere to go and little money, they moved with their three young sons and Dorothy to a caravan in the nearby seaside village of Findhorn.

Feeding six people on unemployment benefit was difficult, so Peter decided to start growing vegetables. The land in the caravan park was sandy and dry but he persevered. Dorothy discovered she was able to intuitively contact the overlighting spirits of plants – which she called angels, and then devas – who gave her instructions on how to make the most of their fledgling garden. She and Peter translated this guidance into action, and with amazing results. From the barren sandy soil of the Findhorn Bay Caravan Park grew huge plants, herbs and flowers of dozens of kinds, most famously the now-legendary 40-pound cabbages. Word spread, horticultural experts came and were stunned, and the garden at Findhorn became famous.” (www.findhorn.org)

As part of the Experience Week program, we work in one of the departments in the community four mornings in the week.  The departments to choose from are: kitchens, gardens, homecare, and maintenance. Everything in this community is done in a ritualistic way.  When we gather in any circle of people–be it our experience week group, to eat a meal or in our work groups-–an attunement to each other is always done by holding hands and setting an intention for our time together.  This is preceded by a lighting the candle in a beautiful centerpiece garland of flowers that is common here in every room and pictured above at the beginning of the post.  In many ways, this centerpiece has come to represent what this community is about.  Everything that happens here is done with a particular intention set by the group beforehand. That doesn’t mean there are no problems, conflicts, or hiccups–we are human, after all– and yet because people are holding their intention with the commitment to take ownership of their shadow aspects, things seem to work out well in the end.

I have met a ton of people this past week from both campuses and what surprised me most was that these people are from every country in the world imaginable.  I thought that I was coming to a place where there would be mostly Scottish and English people.  In my group alone there are people from the following places: Scotland, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France, Norway, Canada and the US.  And there are people who have been living in the community for over thirty-five years.  It has been fascinating to talk to them about their personal journeys of evolution in that time.  All the founders have passed on besides Dorothy who still lives near the original caravan.  It is a vibrant community with a lot going on: various workshops and ongoing classes are offered on a regular basis. 

They really encourage people to meditate and to find a type of meditation that is natural for them.  I enjoyed hearing the different meditations that people did to get access to their inner voice: ironing clothes, doing dishes, sitting meditation, guided meditation, walking meditation, singing meditation, dancing meditation, and being in nature.  The last one seemed to be the most common; folks all over the world go out into nature when they want to quiet their minds and hear that inner guidance.  As a shamanic practitioner, it was not surprising to me that nature was considered the most healing source for people all over the world.

I have been attending the singing meditation every morning before I leave on the bus for my love in action work at The Park.  Singing has always been my main way of connecting with Spirit and with myself.  My mom and my godmother used to joke that I sang more than I talked when I was a kid.  I really always did have a song in my head and that has not abated as I’ve become older.  Singing for me is my way to express what is going on inside me and to let that out so that there is room for Spirit to enter and take care of the rest. Singing is also the way I celebrate life, expressing gratitude and joy.

In order to decide what love in action department each of us was going to work in for the week our facilitators took our group through a guided meditation.  They asked us to notice which department elicited an inner response of some sort when it was read aloud and to make note of it.  Then when the meditation was over, they read out the departments again and people raised their hands.  There were only a certain number of places to be filled for each department and so after a bit of juggling, everyone found a home.  I was really surprised that I was not in the gardens.  I was drawn to do homecare at the Park.  This work entails cleaning and caring for several buildings at the Park including all three sanctuaries and the big community center where everyone comes for their meals and tea.  In these communities, we all eat together and the kitchen department cooks for everyone so there isn’t a need for people to cook at home unless they want to. 

I wasn’t really sure why I was in Homecare at the beginning, but now at the end of the week, I am getting clarity around that after this morning.  Part of my love in action at the Park is caring for the sanctuaries.  We clean them physically and then energetically by sending up prayers or singing or ringing bells after our work is done.  I was one of the people who went to cut flowers for the sanctuary candles and then spent time arranging them.  I really love this creative work so I was thrilled to be with the flowers and make something beautiful for the community center tables and sanctuaries.  I was perplexed the entire week that in the Homecare Nest where we meet every morning, our sanctuary candle had rocks around instead of flowers.  After all, it is not winter where I could understand rocks, shells, feathers, and pine cones replacing flowers in a seasonal way.  Another thing I noticed is that almost everyone in the group had some sort of body illness or then were drained of energy.  Then today when I was cleaning the Nature Sanctuary (by far my favourite place on both campuses), I realized that I too was exhausted by giving so much of myself without taking time to receive some of that love in action.  When I went to do the flowers for the sanctuaries, this morning, I also grabbed our ceramic container from the Nest, emptied it of the rocks and created an arrangement for us to enjoy.  When we came back in after our love in action was done to debrief and “tune out” (give thanks and blow the candle out to a cause), I found it interesting that only one person noticed the new arrangement in the middle.  During my sharing, I explained my revelation and we all decided to clean the Nest for ourselves as a project for tomorrow (my last day).  

And I realized why I was there in that group.  I have that tendency in my life to give more than I allow myself to receive.  In a way, I think that those of us that are natural caregivers tend towards neglecting ourselves, our space, and our own inner lives.  When I looked around our group this morning, I saw exhausted people who simply had not taken the time to care for themselves.  It may seem like an insane thing to do when the “to do” list is a mile long, and I have learned this week that doing up a flower arrangement–even when there are piles of laundry to get through–makes all the difference.  It gave me the inspiration to do those piles of laundry with joy and love.  It took the drudgery out of the work and turned my focus to seeing it as a meditation.  Stewart Friendship, a Glaswegian man who is a longtime resident, told me that it is not love in action if you have the end goal in mind.  When he explained that, he said that everything that needs doing gets done eventually.  Part of the purpose of attunement is to align with the most easeful way to accomplish something.  What gets in my way, I realized, is all the planning of how I think it “should” go; if I am in the flow and stay in that meditative state, the most easeful way reveals itself step by step.

I took this practice out with me yesterday morning when I went out to do Earthshare with my group in the pouring rain.  Twenty-six of us descended on the muddy crop fields like locusts and weeded the rows of carrots and onions in about three hours.  Many hands do indeed make light work.  I am accustomed to working as a gardener in the rain and rather enjoy it most times.  Others in my group were not so sure about this!  The work ended up being playful and joyful.  We all sang songs or talked or went about our work quietly.  At one stage, it was so wet that the mud was spilling over into my hiking boots and I had to pull my feet out of the earth that was sucking me in.  I looked over at Ken and he had taken his shoes and socks off so I followed suit.  I felt like a kid playing in the mud.  Others started taking off their shoes in droves and soon we were laughing like children and having a good time.  I even made peace with the occasional encounter with what Scottish folks lovingly call stabbies and jabbies (another name for prickly thistles).  I enjoyed working the earth with my bare hands and feet and was so grateful that I got to garden after all this summer. 

As I looked around our group this week, I saw people from many different backgrounds, cultures, life experiences, gender, sexual orientation, and professions.  It amazes me still that peace and common ground can be found in such diversity.  I am not sure why it surprises me; nature thrives on variety.   Certainly, my creative ideas seem to come from places that my imagination reaches but my logical intelligence cannot always access.  I believe that Brent Cameron (founder of SelfDesign Learning Community) is onto something when he says that creativity is human kind’s best bet at getting out of the problems we’ve gotten ourselves into; the same thinking that created the problems will not get us out of them. 

In our group this week, I set my intention to sit in my heart space while being with people and listening to them.  I didn’t always agree with what they said or how they did things, and yet I understood where they were coming from with their words and their actions.  There is something interesting that happens with deep listening from the heart: all those differences evaporate and don’t actually matter anymore.  I think it all goes back to a principle that a wise kindergarten teacher once shared with me when I was a student teacher:  all behaviour makes sense on some level. She was encouraging me to put myself in the children’s shoes to understand why they might be responding a certain way, what they are feeling, and perhaps intuit what they might need that they can’t verbalize. And this week, I saw that with our group. 

The angel card we drew for our group was SUPPORT and I really saw people holding each other with openness in their hearts during some pretty rough moments.  And I think that is really what brings about peace.  Can we leave room for people to show up exactly as they are and hold a loving space where they have the possibility to transform a pattern in their life that is not working for them?  We were proof this week that this could be done cross-culturally.  And I find myself sending up prayers that world leaders, nations, and citizens of the planet wake up to this way of deep listening in order to access creative solutions to the problems that threaten to wipe out the human species.  As Brent Cameron said, these are human created problems.  We got ourselves into them and I know from experience that we can get ourselves out of them with a willingness to put our wisdom and love into action.

“What matters is creating the space where people feel safe to share their truth and support each other. To end the cycle of violence and bring peace to our families, communities, and the planet, we need to expand our ‘I’…and connect to the compassion of the cosmic…The ancient wisdom traditions of India offer three powerful principles for transformation and peace–one loving thought, one loving word, and one loving act at a time.”

-Deepak Chopra, M.D.

 

Resources:

Jennifer Engrácio’s blog:

Living from the Inside Out: https://jenniferengracio.wordpress.com/

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Self-Love: The Gift of Living Aloha

August, 2018

Love is the only emotion that expands intelligence.”

-Humberto Maturana

Recently, my partner and I went to see the new documentary about one of my childhood heroes, Fred Rogers. The film “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” touched me at a deep, universal soul level; I am rarely affected this way by movies so this experience had my attention. I wept through the film wondering what words I could use to describe what I was feeling. When I was a kid, I used to watch “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood” every weekday on television. At some point in the show, he would say the healing words that made me feel truly seen and accepted for who I was: “I like you just as you are.” In a society that is always telling us that we are not good enough, this was–and remains–a radical statement. If people love themselves, that love can’t help but extend out to others. From a shamanic perspective, the dark energies of the universe cannot exist in such blazing light. This is the way we use our personal power as humans to transform hate into love, as this quote by Adebe DeRango-Adem alludes to: Loving who you are means giving yourself permission to cherish your authenticity, and forgive the times you forgot your own power.” In Traditional Hawaiian Medicine, this is the way to maintain our personal sovereignty. Freedom starts with how we treat ourselves on the inside.

As an adult, I can see that Mr. Rogers was expressing a world view that I too held as truth and have been able to articulate better recently. I was invited to speak to mental health nursing students at a university from the point of view of a recovering addict who healed using shamanic medicine. In my sharing, I pointed out that some addicts are not able to heal without including the spiritual aspect of life, so often times mainstream medicine alone won’t cut if for folks like me. We also talked a lot about self-acceptance and how vital it is to the healing process. Many students were confused by this: “Why would you accept something that is causing harm like addiction?” In shamanic practice, we say that life is the greatest teacher. Our practice is in learning from every situation life throws at us. With each new challenge, we have a chance to grow our characters while becoming more content living in the present. We live in the present so we can see life as it is–not as we’d like it to be. If we don’t acknowledge the truth of our situations, we have no chance to transform our lives into ones that are aligned with our individual values and sacred dreams.

Like many of you, I was taught implicitly that I had to earn approval and acceptance by what I contributed and how I acted. It wasn’t enough to just “be.” Growing up Catholic, I was taught that I was a flawed being who had to prove my worthiness. I could understand how it was hard for the students at the university to grok how we could improve our characters by loving ourselves just as we are in this moment when many of them grew up with this belief too: If we don’t work hard to change the things we don’t like about ourselves, then we will never improve ourselves. It was hard initially for me to understand this, too. I learned that acceptance means being honest with ourselves about what is so and we can do that without applying negative self-talk and cruelty to the mix. Contrary to what many of us were taught, violence does not in and of itself inspire positive change. As Uncle Harry Uhane Jim says, “Love doesn’t prevent trauma; it prevails it.” If we really want to create positive change in our lives, the journey may involve endeavoring to learn to love ourselves the way the Creator/Creatrix does. In my experience, the universe doesn’t punish us for our actions; it merely gives us many opportunities to remember that we come from light and aloha. We can change course at any time as sovereign beings.

There is a saying I’ve heard that we are each a cell in the body of the Great Spirit. Christians express a similar sentiment when they say that we are all children of God. If we follow that out, it only makes sense that self-love is important because how we treat ourselves says something about our relationship with the energy of creation. It wasn’t until I started studying Traditional Hawaiian Medicine and practicing lomilomi that I began to understand the importance of maintaining this energy flow of aloha between me and Great Spirit. Simply put, aloha is the unconditional love of Spirit that moves through us with every breath we take. Lomilomi teaches the receiver and giver both how to live in a state of aloha where the energy of Spirit moves through the body with ease and grace. Richard Gunderman said that [w]hen Rogers encouraged children to be kinder and more loving, he believed that he was not only promoting public health, but also nurturing the most important part of a human being—the part that exhibits a divine spark.” Remembering that we come from aloha is vitally important to our healing as spirit beings in human form.

Often, people tell me that they didn’t come to a group ceremony because they weren’t “fit for human consumption”– or to say it more neutrally, they weren’t at their best. To that, I say: “That is exactly when we need to come together in healing–when we are not feeling great. This simply means that we have forgotten that we are made of light and need a reminder.” Over the years, I’ve adopted Mr. Roger’s statement and encouraged people to come as they are. Emotional expression is a valid way of communicating with the world. We don’t always feel bright or cheerful and expressing this authentically is truthful. If ceremonies are to be effective, there must be space for this. I may not always like the way people choose to express themselves, but I’ve trained myself to stay open to listening to the unmet universal needs they are revealing through their words and actions. I believe loving and being loved in return is a universal human need. Validating others as legitimate beings however they appear in the moment opens the door to greater healing. By holding space and healthy boundaries, we can support each other in figuring out new ways to heal, grow, communicate, and learn.

On my personal healing journey, I’ve tried healing by beating myself up and also by practicing realigning myself with the energy of aloha. What I’ve found is that starting from the belief that I come from aloha is an easier road to healing than staying with the belief that I am inherently bad and in need of fixing. I found that feeding this false belief took up a lot of precious energy that could have been going towards living my life purpose. Treating myself as a sacred being has helped me to enjoy the gift of being alive in a human body. Whatever happens, I can be present and practice new ways to move through challenges. I also catch more of the joyful moments because I am not so wrapped up in how I think things should go. I am not so caught up in presenting the perfect “me” that I think people want to see. Surprising things bring me pleasure when I can stay in this place of self-love. How can you practice living aloha to support your healing today? How might this help you enjoy your life more? When your container is filled with aloha, how will you actively allow that to spill over into your community?

I leave you with Mr. Roger’s words just before his death: “I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger. I like you just the way you are. And what’s more, I’m so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you’ll do everything you can to keep them safe. And to help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods. It’s such a good feeling to know that we’re lifelong friends.” I send my heartfelt gratitude and blessings to your spirit, Fred Rogers.

Resources:

article: Self-Care Is a Radical Act, But Not in the Way We’re Practising It Right Now

https://www.flare.com/living/self-care-is-a-radical-act/

article: Mr. Roger’s Message of Love

http://www.dailygood.org/story/2062/mister-roger-s-message-of-love-richard-gunderman/

about Lomilomi:

http://spiraldanceshamanics.com/lomilomi/

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic practitioner, Reiki Master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’S Shamanic Journey into Healing

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Witch & Popcorn

July, 2018

 

Bright Blessings, movie lovers!

This time, I reviewed a film that is considered by some to be one of the top films of all time, and is celebrated as a story of women’s empowerment in a time when women’s rights were still being fought for. It is also a story of love, the ties of family, and the power of women’s magic.

The Color Purple.

Here is a trailer:

The story follows the life of Celie, from her tragic beginnings to her personal triumphs after reclaiming the strength that was beaten out of her.

Her sexuality was robbed of her until she took it back.

Her belief she was beautiful was taken from her until a soul sister showed it to her, and kept at it until Celie believed.

Her sister and children were taken from her until she used magic to instill understanding in the one man who had the power to see to it she got her family back.

A dominant theme was that in the world Celie was born into, the men had the power to make decisions, but it was the women who made life happen.

Almost all of the men in the film were either emotionally crippled, selfish, stupid, lazy, or rapists. They relied very heavily on the women to feed, clothe, clean them, give them children, and take care of said children. The women were the ones who made a house more than a filthy shack with tattered walls, and it was the women who brought happiness. The women were the ones who created, and facilitated relationships through gatherings, healing the sick, forgiving ugly behaviors, ignoring nasty remarks, being beautiful, making music, and giving the unconditional love that makes it worth it to get out of bed in the morning.

The women in The Color Purple are shining examples of family matrons, and mother goddesses. Without them, there is nothing.

Two of the men redeemed themselves in the film, because they allowed the women to reach into them, and pull the good out. Harpo, who finally acknowledged the goddess in his beloved, Sophia, intimately played by Oprah Winfrey, realized his wrongs, and did all the things he needed to in order to correct them.

Mister, who was abused by his father from childhood, lived to become an abuser himself, but he sees the err of his ways, and changes. He redeemed himself too late, and while he was the one who brought Celie back with her family, he had hurt Celie too much for her to be able to trust him again. The pain of the boy who never truly grew into a man because he was never allowed to love, and be who he was is beautifully portrayed by Danny Glover.

The theme of men being threatened by women’s strength, wisdom, power, and bonds was painfully explored by author Alice Walker, a champion of women’s rights. She, herself was subject to abuse at the hands of men in her own family, and was neglected due to boys being favored. She was able to explore the damage that dysfunction creates, while providing a happy ending for everybody in the film, even the men who hurt innocent people.

Early in the film, it is established Celie has the power to keep the people she loves close to her, no matter what anybody else does to her. Her two children are taken away from her by her step father, but she always longs for them. Her sister, Nettie is separated from her by Mister, but both Nettie and Celie hold onto faith that “not even death” can keep them apart.

Because of Nettie and Celie’s will they stay united, the powers that be bring Celie’s two children together with Nettie when she has to flee when Mister banished her. The emotional reunion of the whole family, with Mister looking on, significantly aged from losing Celie, won’t leave a dry eye in the house, and I would advise you have a full box of tissues, something to cuddle, and chocolate when you watch this film.

Connection to the ancestors, and what Walker refers to as “The Motherland”, in Nettie’s case, Africa is elaborated in the film. Once Nettie goes to Africa, she sees the good and bad of the indigenous way of life. The good shares the knowledge of where you came from, who you are, and the interconnectedness of all those who are part of your tribe and family.

As Celie is ripped from family, she creates her own tribe. Sister friend Shug both needed Celie’s healing, and continued sisterhood. As she was seen as a “star” by all but Celie, who saw the humanity and brokenness in Shug, there was nobody she could confide in like she did Celie. In the same way, Shug saw all the untapped potential in Celie everybody else was blind to.

Shug’s pain lies in the fact her father rejected her, took away her children, and banished her from the family. He, a preacher, considered her unclean, having had children out of wedlock. Years later, through persistence, Shug is able to reconcile with her father. I know everybody hates spoilers, but I cannot help but share the link to the very moving scene where the reconciliation happens.

Another member of Celie’s adopted tribe, Miss Sophia, who married Mister’s son, Harpo is a shining example of the kind of powerful woman the men felt threatened by. Women are told from the time they are girls to be agreeable, conform, be small and quiet, and submit. Sophia is quite the opposite, and no amount of beating down keeps her down for long. She goes through a short period where she behaves as a shell of a woman, because of severe trauma that lasts for years. But when Celie finally comes out, and reclaims her own power, she gives Sophia the strength to reclaim her own.

In contrast with the beauty of Africa, an example of the things Nettie is shocked about in Africa is that like men, and white people in the rural South in the early 20th century, indigenous African tribal people portrayed in the film did not believe in allowing females to attend school. Reading, and learning anything besides having babies and keeping house was forbidden for girls in the tribal village where Nettie lived. Nettie, Celie, and other women in both Africa and America in the film defied that taboo, to rise to individuality, and freedom from oppression.

A recurring theme of one of the ways Mister keeps Nettie from Celie is his confiscation of letters Nettie sends Celie year after lonely year. Mister understands the power of the written word, and for decades, hid the letters in a plank under the floor in his closet. Nettie, allowed to go to school, would come home, and teach Celie to read, and it is because of this, once Celie and Shug find Nettie’s letters, Celie’s healing begins.

The first time Celie reads Nettie’s letter, Celie’s transformation begins. Although she fears what atrocities will happen to her if Mister discovers she has defied him, she continues reading her letters. One by one, Celie’s righteous anger wells up, and she grows stronger and stronger. Her strength peaks at the Easter Supper- a dinner celebrating resurrection of the divine dead into eternal life- that Celie tells Mister what he deserves to hear, leaves Mister, and physically places a curse on him. “I curse you. Until you do right by me, everything you think about is going to crumble.” She elaborates it a second time after Shug physically removes Celie from the house to get her to safety.

That curse works, and is broken only when Mister does right by Celie.

The binds of mothers with children, and sisters as well as the relationship to the continent where generations of ancestors lived, are buried, and their bodies create the very soil walked upon all explore the bond of blood. For some, blood really IS thicker than water.

This powerful magic confirms what magical practitioners have always known. The will of love is more powerful than the will to destroy. Not even death can separate what is united in love.

While many reviewers have seen this as simply a story of women’s empowerment, I see the magic and witchery in it, and the power of women to be the physical embodiment of the goddess on earth.

I have watched this film probably a dozen or more times in my life, as well as read the book it is based on. I recommend both.

Blessed Be, and happy movie watching!

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel

 

 

 

 

Finding the Pagan Way

May, 2015

This month, I want to talk about healing, drumming, and an amazing personal experience that involves both activities. Tina and I have been drumming for several years now, travelling to venues around Lincolnshire and demonstrating Shamanic Drumming.

Many people have reported good effects and inner experiences which have helped them in their lives. I saw Tina trance many times and manifest her guide, Nicholas Black Elk.

I even had an hour long training session with him at Cleethorpes beach in Lincolnshire,- when He/Tina demonstrated many variations of the basic shamanic beat and left me exhausted from trying to keep up!

When I started writing these articles, it was with the foolish notion that there were few surprises left in store for me. I have always wanted to write, but I have never maintained the effort for long enough to accomplish much until a few years ago. I started to showcase my poetry online because I was impelled to do so by Spirit, and I had thought no further about my writing than that.

Then, as I have mentioned in an earlier article , I was cajoled into contacting Bill Oliver ( boysoblue.com) by a well known local medium, Eileen Akrill. From the Muse was born, and shortly afterwards, we had the artwork and manuscript ready for our first book, “The Faery Realms” (soon to be released) by Galde Press.

Almost two years ago, I had some terrifying news. After months of arguments and insistence by Tina, I went to the doctor to get treatment for a cough that would not clear.

I was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

I was not long married, and had I realised in time that I was so ill, I would have cancelled our ritual of handfasting. As it was, Tina was amazing, as always, so I swallowed my dread of the future and I pressed on.

I realised that I could not work for too many more years as a welder and metal fabricator and I put much more effort into my writing.

In the past year, Bill and I revamped the Faery Realms and collected enough material for several other books. We are waiting on the publication of the “Faery Realms” before deciding how to proceed with them. I was anxious to write as much as possible while my health was still good.

About one month ago, I received a phone call from the doctor’s that left me in a state of shock. However, my story starts a little further back in time….

Faery Healing

Sparkling lights that fly and flicker in the corners of your eyes.

Clouds of butterflies that rise in multi coloured clouds into a pale blue sky.

Shivers softly spread across a cloud of daisies on a sunny day.

Blossoms blow like warm pink snow and decorate the hedgerows,-

That the faeries blessed to bring the little creatures rest,

So many years ago.

Can’t you hear them laughing in the wind?

Chattering with the magpies and engaged in huddled whispers with the trees.

Listen to the happy songs of faeries singing in the breeze.

Watch them flitting by, as laughingly they chase the last of winters leaves.

Let their laughter chase away your troubles,

As they fill your heart with ease.

When the warmer days allow,

Stretch out on the leafy ground beneath a shady bough.

Feel the winter darkness drain into the soft and yielding earth.

Let the fairies fill your heart with joy, and all the sadness of the winter fly,

Let the pains and strains of life just gently flow away.

Let your world begin again , and start afresh, a brand new day.

Patrick W Kavanagh 09/03/2015

paganway1

 

By: Boy So Blue Graphic s and photography

 

An amazing experience

About eight weeks ago we were having a small drumming circle at a friends house. Most people there had been members of the “Spirit of the Drum” group since its creation. We also had a friend of our hosts who had previously trained with a shaman and who had just joined our group after attending several of our Open Drumming Circles. After we have raised the energy with drumming, we usually take turns to sit in the centre and receive healing from the group.

I do not often volunteer, but on this particular night I did. Our new member said that he would take the healing and I sat in the centre and closed my eyes. Often, people have visions and journeys during the healing, but although I was not in a normal state of consciousness, I was very aware of everything happening in the room.

I was surprised to hear strange voices around me. I was convinced that I had an aboriginal gentleman chanting and dancing in a circle around me. I saw a creature appear in front of me, which I later realised was a bush baby. Then someone I took to be a South American witchdoctor or shaman ( by the sound of their voice) started to pull something from my lungs. I was very curious at this stage, as only Tina and my doctor knew of my illness. When I eventually opened my eyes.. Our new member looked like a completely different person for a moment. Then I slowly came back to normal awareness.

About three days later, I realised that I had not been coughing or wheezing since the healing. I had a strong feeling that I had to stop smoking. It was like a quiet voice in my head telling me that I had a good reason to stop. So I did. It took several weeks to arrange an appointment and have my breathing checked. My initial results came back normal, and I asked if I could stop taking the respirator. I was told I had to keep taking it as my condition is incurable.

Then a week later, the doctor’s office phoned to tell me to stop taking the medication as, having examined all the results,- it seems that I do not appear to have the disease. They recommended that I pick up another type of inhaler as a standby, in case I ever had a relapse. But, told me to stop taking any treatment.

The reality of having more time to live a full life has slowly dawned on me over this past month.

I had not realised how much the shadow of sickness, and a slow death, had preyed on my mind.

Spirit of the Drum will be making even more vigorous efforts to spread our message of spirituality without dogma. As the years go on, we will make every effort to share our experiences of the power of the drum for healing and enlightenment.

Of this, I am very certain….

Sleeping Hearts.

In the misty forests from our memories and dreams,

The lives of ancient ages are relived, as worry fades away.

The balance that we lost so long ago is once again returned.

Our sleeping hearts are healed to help us face the coming day.

Stay a while and let your spirit play among the joyful Fae.

Running barefoot through the ever-morning mist.

Who could ever love this daylight world where greed holds away,

Once we have but tasted, just a single faery kiss.

Let us watch the sun arise once more, above the mystic western shore.

Tinkling laughter in the shelter of the trees, and fragrant blossoms scent the breeze,

Jewelled webs adorn the daisy chains as sunlight sparkles on the fields.

Our child-like eyes absorb the beauty all around, and all the peace this faery land can yield.

Rest a little while as tiny angels dance in joyful circles in the rising light.

Let their music fill your heart and fill your soul with healing light.

Join in with the dance and let your body glow with pure delight.

Hand in hand we spin and spin, and weave the faery spell to heal all wrongs,

For here among the gentle Fae, is truly where our sleeping heart belongs.

Patrick W Kavanagh

27/09/2014

paganway2

Picture by Bill Oliver (Boy So Blue Graphic s)

The Ways of the Old Community

April, 2015

Merry Meet!!

How would you like to have a safe, neutral place to take a spiritual retreat to in order to escape mundane life activities, for a weekend or even a week or more with people of like mind or just by yourself? Learn something new about yourself, discover different paths, meet new people. A place to reconnect with nature? Relax in our meditation gardens, with a walk in the woods or visit our Shrine. Bring your tent or camper and relax a while! Future plans include cabins! Each site will have their own fire pit and grills will be accepted with restrictions. Currently no electrical or water hookups – Possible future option with wind and solar power.

Maybe you’d like to purchase true natural items like foods, candles, or incense? We’ll offer a variety of items in our store including the above mentioned, either hand or home made by us with the items we grow on site.

Well that’s our dream and just what we are creating on 46 acres in scenic Western New York at The Ways of the Old! We have many future plans as we grow leading to a Wiccan based Pagan community with community (free) gardens and greenhouse, farmer’s market, regular semi and annual events with vendors and live music, various classes, study groups, and rituals along with a number of local volunteering/donation projects such as hospitals, animal shelters, chemotherapy patients and food banks/soup kitchen’s among others.

Currently we are fundraising to help us with the costs of building the Shrine, store, necessary legal fees and other start-up and planning costs:

http://teespring.com/twoto – Unique, one of a kind shirts available in different styles, sizes, and colors! Preorder only until Friday March 28! Be one of the few to own the first shirt dedicated to The Ways of the Old!

http://creeksideauctions.com – Our public auction site. Also offer classified and want ads along with different auction formats. If you would like to donate or sell please contact us for a discount voucher, available for a limited time only!

http://gofundme.com/6tuu28

If you know of other ideas for fundraising or would like to donate a portion of your sales please contact us.

We post updates on our Facebook and GoFundMe pages of progress made and goals reached along with our next steps/course of action. Photos will also be added where possible.

We are also considering an advisory board to assist us with planning and ideas. If you are interested please contact us. It would be helpful but not necessary to be able to meet us on location at times.

To contact us or discuss any ideas/options/suggestions, please do so via Facebook or email empywitch@gmail.com

Your Founders are:
Rev. Mountain Rose, Priestess
Thunder Wolf

Come check us out on Facebook at:
http://facebook.com/thewaysoftheold

Blessed Be,

The Ways of the Old

Perthro’s Pronouncements

March, 2012

LIVING WITH STRANGERS

I’ve made a change of residence since I wrote last month, and because of that, I thought I might write a little about the experience, and how it relates to my study of our deities.

I moved to a house with total strangers as roommates, which was something I had never done before. They were total strangers because I had only talked to the landlady on the phone the day before I moved in, so I knew next to nothing about them. Then, about a week ago, another person moved in to the other room she is renting, who is also a total stranger to me. I have gotten to know the landlady and her boyfriend who stays here pretty well in the three weeks I have been here, but I only met my other roommate this past weekend. Anyway, to say this has been quite an experience for me is putting it mildly. Never have I lived with someone, or multiple people, as I do now, that weren’t at least friends with me prior to me moving in. I have had no idea what to expect from them, and while so far it seems we all get along really well, you never know what may happen, especially when you know next to nothing about the people you live with.

To many of you this situation might not seem like that big of a deal, and it’s really NOT. But for me, it’s just the fact that it’s a new experience that makes it something worth mentioning. I am always eager to experience new things, no matter what they are. Well, barring any forays into extreme sports that is. Not my cup of tea. But this experience is something that I can learn from, and I can learn from the new people in my life, which is what I’d like to talk about here.

My newest roommate and I had a talk over the weekend about what we believed in relation to religion, and he had some interesting thoughts I’d like to share. He believes in God, and heaven and hell, like many Christians do, but he had a unique viewpoint about them that I’m not even sure I can adequately describe here. He believes in the triple aspects of God, in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but to him they are two parts of spirit (Father, Son) and one part soul (Spirit). He believes in 3 levels of heaven, which, according to him, our souls reside at that level. The part of us that lives here on earth is but a minor part of us, like the spirit parts of God, and further, he believes that this lifetime is our one and only that we have on earth. I plan on talking more with him about his beliefs, but suffice it to say at this point that I find his beliefs to be the most unique I have ever heard from a person of the Christian pantheon. He believes in both angels and demons, and that they are both constructs of God, but that there are also other beings that live outside of our physical existence (that God created) as well, but they are all less than God, because he is the only one of his kind.

The reason I see this man’s beliefs to be so intriguing has to do with the fact that some of what he’s told me is very similar to what I believe, but he’s using different terms to describe it. While I don’t believe that “God” is the only deity, nor do I believe that he is the only one of his “kind”, I can’t dismiss his beliefs because he thinks there’s only one.  I don’t believe in heaven or hell, but the way he describes his beliefs about what and where they are makes me think we are more similar in belief than it may appear on the surface. He sees them being right here with us, but invisible, much as I believe that the spiritual world is on a different frequency than we are here in the physical one, and hence invisible. He described his ideas about how the earth and all of creation came to be created, by God, and even though I don’t subscribe to the idea of creation, the way he made it sound was very plausible, if not altogether likely. I plan to talk more with him about it, if he’s willing, and see if there is any common ground we can find.

My point in all this is that you never know who will come into your life, and most of the time, you may not know why, but I believe there is always a reason for it. This man may have come into MY life to give me a different perspective on what I believe, or, to add to my understanding of our deities. Or, he’s just here to show me what it’s like to live with a stranger. You never know. I’ve always said that I don’t believe in coincidences, and that I believe that everything in life happens for a reason. I may not know the reason right now, but I know there’s a reason.

So far, living with strangers has turned out to be a lot better than I expected.