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MagickalArts

January, 2019

The Wiccan Path

Happy New Year Everyone! This year, 2019 is a number “3” year (add 2+0+1+9=12/ 1+2 =3); a year of change and creation. Three is the number of trinity’s harmony. From the relationship and collaboration of two a third is created; the totality of its sum of parts. This may take the form of fulfilling and creating what you desire most, creating a new passion fueled by a latent wish, putting into action what you’ve been yearning to do as you create the product of those efforts.

In keeping with this creative approach I am revisiting and sharing the online course I wrote in 2014, to serve as the stimulus for those interested in Wicca and earth-centered practices and creating a path of their own. Please enjoy this excerpt and many blessings for a fabulous New “creational” Year!!

Excerpted from “A Year and A Day on the Wiccan Path”…..

The Wiccan Path is one of initiatory experience. Each step taken upon this path leads towards greater understanding of your own Divine nature, which in turn brings a greater understanding of the natural world and the Divinity that exists around you. By definition, initiation is an act that sets in motion some course of events. In the case of a spiritual pursuit, initiation opens the seeker to embracing their spiritual nature as a support and foundation to their mundane nature. The spiritual path of a Wiccan (Witch) is one filled with the beauty of the natural world and the mystery of the world within each of us. The path leads to the subtle realms of the astral – the far reaches of the cosmos – and the shadows that lay hidden and buried within each of us. We practice the Craft of the Wise, which in ancient times was the gifts of the healers and the seers whose ability to see far and wide and enter so completely into alliance with the physical natural world was depended upon to ensure viable crops, healthy livestock, fertility and a sustainable life for those in whom the wise lived. In ancient times the knowledge was carefully passed in the style of oral tradition, the mysteries given ear to ear hand to hand. Although many of those traditions, rituals and wise ways are lost to the modern practitioner of Wicca, many of the core principles remain, having evolved just as we as a people have evolved, become modernized and have at our fingertips ways of communicating large volumes of information. The information provided in this course of study barely scratches the surface of what is a uniquely complex and diverse spiritual path and that to a large degree can only superficially claim its heritage in the ancient practices of which we truly know so little. Wicca is rooted in the experiential, and is a way of life that is not limited by lack of sacred space, tools or financial resources. From the Wiccan perspective, all of the natural world is sacred space and the greatest tool of working is our physical nature holding the pure essence of each individual’s Divine spirit that is priceless in

Ritual and Celebration

Wiccans use ancient and modern ceremonies, rituals and shamanic practices to attune themselves to the natural rhythms of nature, the world, and the universe as a way to commune with this divine force. In particular, the lives and daily activities of the ancient peoples were very much dependent upon and intertwined with the position of the sun and the agricultural cycles that were dependent upon movement throughout the year. The Witch’s Wheel of the Year is a reflection of those needs. The calling forth of the Light of the newly birthed Sun at the time of the Winter Solstice ensured that there would be a new cycle of planting, sowing and reaping the much needed harvest for continued life.

The Sabbats (Solar Celebrations) of the Wiccan year are eight in number. Four correspond to the astronomical transitions of the equinoxes and the solstices. These are the Vernal (Ostara) and Autumnal Equinoxes (Mabon) and the Winter (Yule) and Summer (Litha) Solstices. The other Four, or cross quarter days are those that mark the time between the equinoxes and solstices. These were the dates of celebration of the progression through the changing of the seasons and the preparations for the times of transit from one season to the next. These are Samhain (the Witch’s New Year) – Imbolc (February 1) – Beltaine (May 1st) and Lammas (August 1st).

There are many overlays that are associated with these Sabbats, the most prominent being the cycle of the God and Goddess as they move through the stages of birth- fertility- harvest and death. In this way, the physical world and the Divine world were mirror reflections and the offering of devotion and celebration of one ensured the continuation of the other.

Deity

The God, Lugh and The Goddess, Brighid

Depending upon one’s point of view, Wicca can be considered a monotheistic, duotheistic, polytheistic, henotheistic religion.

Wicca is monotheistic (belief in a single deity): Some Wiccans recognize a single supreme being, sometimes called “The All” or “The One.” The Goddess and God are viewed as the female and male aspects of this single deity.
• Wicca is duotheistic (belief in two deities; a.k.a. rarely as bitheistic): Wiccans often worship a female Goddess and a male God, often called the Lady and Lord.
• Wicca is polytheistic (belief in many deities): Many Wiccans recognize the existence of many ancient Gods and Goddesses, including but certainly not limited to: Aphrodite, emis, Briget, Diana, Dionysius, Fergus, Hecate, Isis, Pan, Thor, etc.
• Wicca is henotheistic (belief in a single main deity among many): Many Wiccans view the many ancient deities as being aspects of the Lady and Lord, and view the latter as the male and female aspects of “The One.”

(excerpted from: http://www.religioustolerance.org)

There is no right or wrong to any of the beliefs above. The underlying principle is that of polarity and the belief that there is both the masculine and feminine Divine principle within all living beings. This approach to deity supports the belief in the immanence of the Divine. That the qualities of Deity exist within all of life, and that through acknowledgement and embracing of this inherent birthright, that Divinity may become transcendent in nature.

The Natural World

WICCA is considered a nature-based religion. The environment and those things that comprise the manifest world including animals, plants, minerals are considered sacred and part of the Divine web of interconnectedness. Many Wiccans are involved in environmental activities and feel it a natural part of their spiritual practice to recycle and live lightly on Mother Earth. The use and knowledge of herbs and their medicinal properties is often undertaken gladly as a study of practice and it is not unusual to find many Wiccans attracted to professions where healing modalities can be performed. Animals are considered companions and treated with the same care, love and respect

that would be afforded another human. Human and animal rights, environmental issues and preservation of our natural resources are all a focus of those following a Wiccan Path of spirituality.

The Cosmos

The ancients were limited to what could be seen with the naked eye or what mystical inferences could be gathered from what was overtly presented and the myths that were created as result. Structures were built in accord with the movement of the sun (Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid) that aligned with specific seasonal events and astrology had its beginnings in predicting certain outcomes and points of focus based on what could be observed in the heavens.

The scientific breakthroughs showing the similarities in or own physical constitution and that of the geology of our planet, as well as the stars and planets links us to our own stellar nature and the desire for access to weaving that universal magick of that starseed into all of our endeavors. According to scientist, Carl Sagan, the carbon, nitrogen and oxygen atoms in our bodies, as well as atoms of all other heavy elements, were created in previous generations of stars over 4.5 billion years ago.

One of the things that has not changed is that of the celebration and worship of the Moon and her energies and attributions within a Wiccan practice. The lunar tides are seen as the domain of the Goddess and the feminine energies. The planets and the magick woven with their energies extend the reach of practical magick into the realms of space and time continuum. And, the increasing awareness of our place within the vastness of the Cosmos provides a richly layered perspective for those of the Craft.

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

The Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

A Year With Gaia on Amazon

The Eternal Cord

Temple of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous Devotions

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

The Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning the Parts of SELF

The Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

Sleeping with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights of Devotion

A Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings for the Year

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

Going Back to My Roots

December, 2018

(Roots by Frida Kahlo)

 

Be like a tree. Stay grounded. Connect with your roots. Turn over a new leaf. Bend before you break. Enjoy your unique natural beauty. Keep growing.”

-Joanne Rapits

 

I’ve been going through major internal shifts in the last year. Recently, I’ve been making some changes in my life that are shaking up relationships with people I love. Some of these patterns are co-dependent and that is a no-go for me. When I read this quote by Victor Hugo, I realized that I have a changeable mind and ways of being that used to work for me in those relationships stop working as my thinking shifts: “Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.” But one thing that keeps uncovering itself at deeper levels are my values; these, I’ve discovered don’t change. They do, however, reveal themselves more completely as I get older. As I grow towards my chronological elder hood, I see how important it is to be who I am at my essence. The intent that takes the most courage for me to keep meeting is to be who I really am, no matter what.

 

Over the last month or so, my paternal grandma–who I called Avó Maria–has been showing up in my 
dreams at night. She died when she was in her nineties in 2014. She had a big hand in raising me. As a 
child I spent a lot more time with her than I did my parents. My family were new immigrants to Canada 
at the time and my parents worked hard to build a life for us here. 

I am so grateful for the time I got to spend with my Avó Maria. 

In my dreams, we are back in her house only this time, I am in my adult body. 

We are doing the same things together that we always did: cooking, picking vegetables for meals, crocheting,
praying, and talking. The overwhelming feeling in the dream is one of comfort: You know, the kind you feel
when you are with someone who really loves, accepts, and gets you at an essence level. My dream ends with
her telling me in Portuguese to go back to my roots: volta para tuas raízes.

I’ve been sitting with this directive for a few weeks now. I’ve taken this question into ceremony, I’ve prayed about it, and I’ve stayed silent to hear the response from Avó Maria or Great Spirit or my ancestors or the land. It turns out they all had something to say about it! Paradoxically, this statement– volta para tuas raízes–has so many meanings on different levels. I remembered the many lessons Avó Maria taught me about the things my ancestors valued. Like all children, I’ve taken the values from my culture that resonate with me and left behind others that don’t. Among those that remain into adulthood are: inclusion, community service, hospitality, open-mindedness, and open-heartedness. Then there are the spiritual values that I feel come from Great Spirit of unconditional love, unity and equality among all of Spirit’s creations. From the land, I remember the values of diversity, creativity, and advocacy.

 

When I talk about raízes now, I see this going past my blood line to the earth, the sky, and all my relations in nature. My body comes from the earth and I am rooted in the Great Mother herself. It took me a long time to feel like I belonged here on earth but the Earth Mother was patient until I remembered the truth. My spirit comes from the sky; no matter what happens, it can never be damaged or destroyed–only transformed. I believe that Spirit will simply give me many chances and lifetimes to grow and change until I am finally living in alignment with the essence of who I am and why Spirit created me so.  Rumi reminds me that Everything [I] see has its roots in the unseen world. The forces change yet the essence remains the same.”

 

As I work through the spiritual causes of the autoimmune issues I’ve been facing in my body, I notice how part of my spirit has been living in the past searching for the answer to the question of where I belong. Through journeying in the spirit world, I realized that much of my consciousness was holding onto a past life where I felt I’d been completely accepted for who I was. I was living with this desperate feeling that if I let go of that past lifetime that I would never find my place in this present lifetime. Buddha reminded me that the only time is NOW: Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

 

I am aware that I have little control of what happens in the universe save for my response to the present moment’s happenings. My life hasn’t turned out the way I expected it to, however, I am so grateful that Spirit’s hand reached into my life at pivotal moments to re-direct me to stay on my path with heart. The truth is that I have no idea where my Sacred Dream is taking me and this scares me sometimes. I wonder if I will drift so far away from my raízes that I will be unrecognizable to those I love. But these are simply fears and I’ve never let them stop me before from creating positive change in my life. After all these weeks, I do know one thing…If I stay rooted in my values and I keep sharing my gifts through my essential being, my life will be well lived–no matter what surprises the universe sends my way.

***

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

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

Book Review – Astrology for Success: Make the Most of Your Sun Sign Potential by Cass and Janie Jackson

October, 2018

Astrology for Success: Make the Most of Your Sun Sign Potential

by Cass and Janie Jackson

Being an astrologer, I am always on the look out for books that are clear and concise in a format that is easily understandable by the lay person. Astrology for Success by Cass and Janie Jackson fills that niche quite nicely. In fact, their other books seem to also follow this premise that simple is best.

The authors have chosen to focus on the Sun Sign in a natal chart as the tool of use in understanding your innate potential. This decision aligns quite nicely for those who are accustomed to reading daily horoscopes that, most often, are Sun Sign based. I would venture to guess that most people know at least their astrological Sun Sign, if for no other reason that as a fact of trivia and identification. So, this book already speaks to a broader audience than many books on astrology would.

Each of the thirteen chapters is dedicated to a single astrological sign, in accord with their placement around the flat wheel. The thirteenth chapter is a charming teaser for anyone who wishes to explore another biggie in the natal chart- your Rising sign. This little tidbit at the end adds another layer of interest beyond the personality and traits of the Sun Sign.

Each chapter analyzes the Main Characteristics of the astrological sign, the Plan for Success based upon the innate potential of that sign’s characteristics, Health, Relationships, Career Paths and highlights of Chronological Patterns that potentially play out in the course of the individual’s lifetime. Although the chapters are short, there is enough to sink your teeth into and prompt a deeper look in self-analysis and awareness.

This is definitely a book I would recommend to my students and clients who are interested in having some usable information on hand in a simple format.

Astrology for Success: Make the Most of Your Sun Sign Potential

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2)

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1)

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

MagickalArts

October, 2018

Remembering to Re-Member

I recently did a tarot reading for myself that resulted in the cards clearly relaying the message of re-membering and reassembling my present gifts to enhance the relationships I currently enjoy. Particularly the relationship I have with the various parts of my SELF.

This process is about the alchemy of strengthening existing relationships and creating new ones that offer opportunities for collaborative and creative sharing.  For most of us it is an easier task to attend to those relationships outside of ourselves. The hardest is facing and biding the space of dialogue between the various parts of our Inner Selves. This inner landscape can be frightening and aversion is the go-to when we should instead be diving in deeply.

This turning within to remember and reassemble those parts of self is the first act of collaborative self-relationship. When we claim our natural state of balance – the place where both our light and shadow natures intertwine and become as one source of strength, we begin the act of memory of our Divine potential. When we gather together those gifts of heart and mind and body and align them with our Soul’s purpose we begin the alchemy of reassembling what had been scattered and separated.

As that inner relationship is tended and nurtured we can begin to expand and extend the joy found in that process to infuse those outer relationships we hold so dear. And, the positive energy that flows from a mutual exchange of life lived in totality brings with it the shared experience and sweetness of grace for all that was freely given and all that was gratefully received.

This time of the year, in particular, offers the space of alignment and memorializing both the ancestors who have passed beyond the veils and the current relationships we have with our beloveds that should be cherished while still part of our corporeal experience. We are familiar with the admonition that in the event of a plane crash, the parent, should place the oxygen mask on them self first and then on the child. The reason being that they can be of no help to the child if passed out on the floor. Use this strategy for your process of gathering all of who and what you are together. Re-member to attend to the synthesis and unification of your self-awareness so that you may better commune with those who surround you.

This month I will use the gifts of the harvest, the chill in the air as the seasons change and the parting of the veils, allowing access to my ancestors to spend time reflecting on those parts of myself that have lain dormant and unloved. I will embrace them as my own and use them to build a stronger foundation upon which I may more generously give to those who live and commune with me. I will infuse all of my being with the memory of deep connection to all of life and the blessed quiet of unnecessary chatter that keeps me from being whole in all of my selves. What will you re-member?

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2)

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1)

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

I LOVE ME TOO!

July, 2017

Middle Son (15) is a bit of a jester and trickster both. Whenever I tell him that I love him, he gives me a lopsided grin and replies: “I love me too!”

 

 

As well as funny I think this is actually brilliant as we are constantly being told that we can only love others in as far as well love ourselves. And if we do not love ourselves (wholeheartedly, sufficiently) our love for others becomes distorted because our own needs and unresolved issues colour the space. Manipulation and unresolved shadow material often comes into play, even if this is unintended and we are not aware of it.

Many of us grew up in families where love is not unconditional but conditional on us behaving a certain way and meeting the expectations of the parent, sometimes even living out the parent’s own unlived dreams. We grew up in families where co-dependency was rife and manipulation (trying to control both situations and people) the norm.

For some people I know being “loved properly” means arriving at a healthy degree of separation. A few months ago I asked the same son if he felt that “he receives enough love”. He shouted: “Too much!!” and ran off, slamming the door to his room shut behind him. After that moment , I have tried to give him more space and to be less openly affectionate with him. The cute blonde toddler that used to clamor : ”Cuddle me! Cuddle me!” has morphed into a young man who needs to leave the realm of home and mother to make his mark in the world.

That lack of “healthy separation” informs many key relationships in my life. I am very much ” my son’s mother”, I thrive in relationships where there is space, where it is OK to retreat and go silent, where it is OK to say that now is not a good time to meet or talk. Where my love for painting, writing, music and wide open space is understood and honoured.

 

 

I love the fact that my son has put both these dynamics into words, that he is aware of them and able to voice his needs. Loving ourselves – it is easier said than done isn’t it?! What does it mean to truly love ourselves?

In my perception of the world, love without a spiritual dimension often nosedives, crashes. There are many self-help books on the market that tell us to change our beliefs, to think positively, to use positive affirmations, to use visualisation to create desired outcomes and so forth. In my experience all those things certainly have their places and uses – but they cannot stand alone, they must be embedded in a personal cosmology and commitment to spirit (as we perceive spirit, a power greater than ourselves), a dedicated spiritual path.

Relationships with members of our family of origin often remain tricky and sticky for life because we are not given the space to change (and the changes we do make are frowned upon or ridiculed) and also because there are unspoken expectations and limits that erect a kind of trip wire between people. “Beyond this point expect hand grenades and landmines…”

Example: my own mother grew up as the child of a very abusive and manipulative mother who actively ‘broke her spirit’ (those were the words she used, her parenting goal) and made my mother her child servant: tending to her every need. This pattern carried on all through adult life. As a young child I observed my mother jumping in the car every time the phone rang with another demand from Oma (grandma).

My mother had been given a Roman Catholic upbringing (with a determined focus on self –sacrifice, putting others first and admiration for martyrs to the faith etc.) She truly believed that unconditional love meant meeting every single demand that Oma threw at her. Oma had many health problems (at least in part because medical issues were the legitimate road to attention from doctors, priests and her own daughter). I think you get the picture! My mother did not attend higher education. She chose not to work outside the home because “Oma and her three children came first”.

Oma died when I was 19 years old. Today my mother is nearly 79 years old and looking back on her life. One painful lesson I have had to learn is that loving myself means even operating a healthy degree of separation between my mother and me. Healthy boundaries that reflect the person I have become (I turned 50 a few weeks ago). My mother perceives those boundaries as me being a bit cold and distant. She has not done therapy. She has not delved deeply into the forces that shaped her own life and reflected on them. She prefers to think that “Life dealt her a pack of cards and she did her best with those cards”. She chooses not to see that she could have made many different choices along the way. Taking the role of victim (or “done to person”) absolves people from the need to take responsibility.

I myself actively choose to do a lot of work on family stuff. As a shamanic practitioner I am also very much aware of the pull of ancestral forces and unresolved ancestral issues expressing themselves through living members of families (often the most sensitive or psychic member of a family). I have chosen not to follow the “daughter sacrifices herself for her mother” dynamic or script. Even as a young child observing this, it felt all wrong to me. Instead I have worked on releasing and transmuting this from the family field. It is interesting too that I have three sons and no daughter – almost as if the Universe thought: “Enough of mother-daughter agony destroying lives. Let’s skip a generation….”

For my mother this is all very puzzling. After a lifetime of making sacrifices for others – who is going to do it for her as she navigates old age? An eldest and only daughter who lives abroad and works full-time is incomprehensible to her. And don’t worry, my brothers and I keep a very close eye on things, my mother is very far from abandoned and surrounded by wonderful neighbours and friends who also help her in many ways.

My mother is very affectionate. She tells me every phone call that she loves me. There are moments I feel like taking a leaf out of my son’s book and saying: “Yes, I love you and I love me too!” Meaning: if you truly love me, release me to my own dreams and calling, release me from the martyr archetype that runs so strong in you. Spare me your never-ending diatribes on working mothers (as the root cause of all evil in our society – in your perception) and take joy in my achievements.

This is all true, yet is also a simplification. Last year I published my first book (Natural Born Shamans, in English) and my mother has spent many hours with an English-Dutch dictionary, slowly reading many chapters of it. She does take pride in my creations – the ones that do not clash with her needs and values anyway.

 

 

Essentially I have two families. My family of origin with whom I am in relationship but operate healthy distance and boundaries. Then there is my spiritual family: the people I am thrilled to share the Web of Life with. These are the people who give me space, who encourage me to make choices that are good for my soul (not the easy choices that keep me stuck in my personal comfort zone). They are the people who truly rejoice in the things that make my heart sing – and this is mutual, I also give them both space and undivided attention in the right measure. I delight in their achievements, I will actively encourage them and cheer them on when they try new ways of being in the world. I feel no envy at their achievements – when they do something amazing I think: Road sign! If they can do it, maybe I too will try and succeed at something new. They are showing others the way!

It is only when we love ourselves that we learn that only very little other people do and say (even if they are talking about us) reflects on us. It reflects on who they are, where they are and the people they surround themselves with. These days I only take to heart feedback and constructive criticism from people who come from a place of love and wanting the very best for me. Not people who have not done any work on themselves.

I love you but I love me too!

 

***

 

About Imelda

Imelda Almqvist teaches shamanism, sacred art and internationally. 

Her book “Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life”, Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages was published by Moon in August 2016. 

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

 

Imelda is a presenter on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True

http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/aff_c?offer_id=124&aff_id=2260&url_id=86

 

And she will present on the Shamanism Global Summit with The Shift Network on July 25tth

http://shamanismsummit.com/program/132

 

 

Spiralled Edges

July, 2015

Spiralled Edges: The Changing Role of Parenting

bike

 

Today is Father’s Day in the UK and America and that has put me in mind of how my relationships with my sons has changed over time.

As a parent, I know that if I am doing my job correctly the day will come when my children won’t need me to make decisions for them or hold them up. I have to trust that I have given them the skills they need to navigate their way through adulthood.

My eldest son is an adult, and has been for several years. Occasionally, I will have someone ask me – “How could you let him do X?” To which I respond, “It’s none of my business.” While he will share parts of his life with me, my role has mother is very much in the background.

On the other hand, my younger sons are on the cusp of adolescence (complete with hormonal mood swings, suddenly standing taller than me, and grunting responses). They are beginning to assert their independence. But, they still need me to provide boundaries and structure as they explore what it means to be adults within the safety net of home.

As I have grown and developed as a person, my relationships with Deity have changed in much the same ways as my relationship as a parent towards my children has changed.

As a child, in a figurative sense but also perhaps literal, I needed the Gods to hold me up, and carry me through the difficulties in life. Rules needed to be strict, with little room for interpretation.

When I entered spiritual adolescence, I began to question my relationships with Deity, and began to rebel against the authority placed upon me. Which rules fit, which don’t? Don’t hold me up, let me do it myself.

In recent years, my relationship has begun to change once again. The Gods are taking a step back. “Please hold me up,” I say. “I can’t do it.” And they told me, “Yes, you can.”

It’s a scary place to be. But the exhilarating thrill as I realised that yes, I really was capable and strong enough to hold myself up… Imagine the first time you rode your bike without stabilisers or your parent holding you upright.

Can I do it? What if I fall? To which the Gods reply, “Of course you can do it. You have proven to yourself that you can.” And they take a step back to allow me to find my own balance and strength.

footprints

 

I know They’re around. I can call upon Them for advice or support when I need Them. But They aren’t carrying me any longer. When life becomes difficult, and I see just one set of footprints in the sand, they are my footprints because I am strong enough and capable enough to walk on my own even through life’s troubles. If you look carefully though, you just might spot the faint outline of my Patron Deities in the background, beaming with pride.

Image 1: By Laura Blankenship (Day 150: First bike ride) via Wikimedia Commons. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Image 2: By Rosendahl [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Book Review: Buddhism for Couples by Sarah Napthali

June, 2015

Buddhism for Couples

By: Sarah Napthali

Paperback: 248 pages (tentative)

Publisher: Jeremy P. Tarcher / Penguin (June 2015)

buddhism for couples cover

In The Miracle of Mindfulness, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh tells the story of a father who struggled to balance his Buddhist practice with his daily responsibilities of being a father and a husband. After the finite hours of his day were divided between work, wife, daughter, and son, there was barely any time left for himself. It was only when he changed his idea of “free time” or “his time” to include running after his children and shopping with his wife that his days opened up and he found he had all the time he needed.

This anecdote remains with me over the years, because it beautifully illustrates the Buddhist approach to life’s problems. Buddhism puts the responsibility of our reactions and emotions strictly on ourselves, not whatever circumstance we tend to blame at the time. The First Noble Truth acknowledges dissatisfaction and suffering as an integral part of life, and the Second Noble Truth sets the cause of this on ourselves, our perception of ourselves, and the yearning that fills the void between how we want things to be and how they really are. We can do something impossible, like making more time, simply by changing our perspective toward the mundane and routine.

It is this uncompromising simplicity of the Buddhist teaching that is so hard to put into practice. The middle way between humility and being a pushover, honesty and being critical, it is wavering at the best of times, let alone with the strong emotions of relationships. Practicing Buddhist compassion toward strangers is so much easier than where it really counts. At home, our insecurities easily manifest in the little frustrations that we either handle badly or sweep away only to pile up in the corners. There they build into ghosts of dissatisfaction, secret tallies of unfairness cataloging who contributes more to the household, thoughts of what other peoples’ marriages are like, and whether whether we were not heard or just ignored.

It is in this context that Sarah Napthali explores Buddhist practice in her new book coming out this June. Using frequent anecdotes and drawing heavily on research in psychology, sociology, Buddhist authorities and relationship gurus, Napthali explores how Buddhist teaching can explain the troubled waters of our relationships and how to use Buddha’s teachings on non-attachment with those we are most attached to. Time and again her honesty in confronting her own shortcomings lets us drop our guard and opens us to see our own failings. Many times she uses humor to show the ridiculousness of our own habitual responses. In the chapter on anger, for instance, she asks us to imagine a book on relationships offering the following advice:

  • If you really want your message to sink in, raise your voice a few decibels.
  • Talking through gritted teeth helps to convey how strongly you feel and should achieve your goals.
  • Expressing contempt is a powerful tool.
  • An angry look can work a treat.
  • Give sulking a try.

In one moment she has simultaneously made us laugh and confront what each of us has done on many occasion.

Buddhism for Couples is highly readable. The tone is easy, almost conversational, peppered with anecdotes and quotations throughout, and the short chapters conform easily to the morning commute and the opportunistic reading of a hectic schedule. Each chapter is closed by a “homework” list of Things to Consider and Things to Do, which I found especially helpful and apropos. In her references, she draws heavily on experts in psychology and sociology, Buddhism and relationship gurus across the board. Ms. Napthali has also avoided two of my pet peeves – lax research and poor citations. A full reference section is included at the back of the book and, although missing from my evaluation copy, it looks like an index might be included in the finished edition as well, which is always a bonus.

Despite the Buddhist theme, the book’s advice is practical and honest enough to ring true for anyone open to the presentation. It also does not require both partners (or either partner for that matter) to be Buddhist. Buddhism for Couples a great book to explore both the dynamic of relationships in the West and the difficulties of the practical, daily spiritual path. Being a man, not having children, and not having any major marital issues of ones own, I felt I was not the target audience of many parts of the book. Indeed, I found myself glossing over chapters on housework or sex, which (naturally) were written from a more female perspective. Even so, I found myself enjoying the book and getting a lot out of it – a new perspective on familiar issues.

Ask Your Mama

July, 2011

Are you cyclically confused? In a ceremonial quandary? Completely clueless? Wonder no more.

*Ask Your Mama

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Spirituality and Didn’t Know Who to Ask™

by

©Mama Donna Henes, Urban Shaman

A Question of Being Ready

Dear Mama Donna,

Now this may get complicated! I have been wanting “a relationship” (no specific person in mind) for some time, and recently got to where (legally) it could happen — but now I’m terrified! Anytime someone (any male) starts to get even friendly I pull back. I get snappish and sarcastic. I RUN away (literally and figuratively and emotionally.) Can you tell whether it is that:

1) I’m scared and don’t trust my judgment anymore?

2) I’m not supposed to be in a love situation just now, give it time?

3) I’m just one of the natural solos and should stop worrying about it?

4) Other?

What spell/ritual might I use to help me figure out what I need to do? Any help on this would be SO much appreciated. Thanks very much.

Scared of love, Long Island

Dear Scared,

It seems to me that although you think you want a relationship, you clearly are not ready to get too close to anyone just now. Perhaps you feel that you should want one, and so feel exasperated by your own visceral rejections of such a possibility.

All of the potential reasons that you listed seem to be true. And you know what? They are all valid and perfectly OK. I think that it is not a matter of trusting your judgment about another person, but rather trusting your own gut feelings and emotions. If you truly wanted to get close to someone, you would. And when you are ready, you surely will. And if you never want to, that is fine, too.

When you mention that you are legally able to have a relationship now, I am supposing that you mean that you have recently been divorced. That would explain your hesitation to get involved again. Often when we are in a marriage or partnership that is not a good and fulfilling one, we lose ourselves somewhere along the way. I sense that the relationship that you truly need to cultivate is a one-to-one love affair with yourself.

It has become somewhat clichéd to say that only when we love ourselves completely, are we able to love another. But, like most truisms, it is quite true. Why not take this time of being alone to get to know yourself again? To learn who you are — separate from anyone else. What are your own likes and dislikes? What are your dreams and desires? What pleases you?

It is crucial to learn how to be alone without being lonely. If you can entertain and please yourself, you will not have to depend on someone else to make you happy. Knowing that you don’t need someone else to fulfill you, relieves a great deal of pressure and allows you to enter a relationship on more equal footing, with fewer unrealistic expectations.

Spend some quality time at home — just you, yourself, and you. Turn off the computer and TV. Put on your favorite music, or simply savor the silence. Work at creating a warm, rich atmosphere for your own comfort and aesthetic enjoyment. Indulge in sensory delights. Light candles and incense. Take long, lovely baths. Cook beautifully prepared and presented meals just for you.

Court yourself. Get all dressed up purely for the fun of it. Take yourself on a dream date. Go somewhere you have been meaning to go. Do things that you love. Buy yourself flowers, perfume, and special treats. Pull down the shades, turn off the lights, and dance till you drop. Massage your body with sweet oils. Kiss yourself. Masturbate.

Engage in projects of self-discovery in order to reconnect with your higher nature and your inner best self. Do an exercise tape. Go for a run, walk, or bike ride. Read your Tarot cards. Consult the I Ching. Do yoga. Meditate, drum, chant. Write in your journal. Paint a picture or your walls. Sing silly songs. Have a good cry. Laugh out loud.

Once you have spent some goodly amount of time involved wholeheartedly in these lovely endeavors, you might consider planning a ritual such as the one that I have done many times with others in similar circumstances. I call it “A Woman Who Marries Herself.” It is wedding for one.

Some women do it alone, some in front of witnesses with or without someone to officiate. You can design it any way you like in order for it to be personally relevant. As in any ritual, you should choose a special time and place, meaningful symbols, resonant words to read to recite.

The idea is to commit yourself to yourself. To have and to hold, for better and for worse, till death do you part. A pledge to love and honor and cherish yourself always. To hold true to yourself — your wants, your needs, your ideals, your values. This ceremony seals your self-devotion, thus making you whole unto yourself. Like a Virgin.

This is not meant to seal yourself off from others or to replace any future relationships, but to make sure that you do not get involved for the wrong reasons — out of fear or desperation. You will emerge from these exercises with the secure knowledge that you are your own best lover. And when you are ready, you will be able to share that love with someone special who will appreciate and return it in kind.

With blessings that love, honor and cherish,

xxMama Donna

*Are you cyclically confused? In a ceremonial quandary? Completely clueless? Wonder no more. *Send your questions about seasons, cycles, celebrations, ceremonies and spirit to Mama Donna at: CityShaman@aol.com

.

**************************************************************

Donna Henes is an internationally renowned urban shaman, ritual expert, award-winning author, popular speaker and workshop leader whose joyful celebrations of celestial events have introduced ancient traditional rituals and contemporary ceremonies to millions of people in more than 100 cities since 1972. She has published four books, a CD, an acclaimed Ezine and writes for The Huffington Post and UPI Religion and Spirituality Forum. Mama Donna, as she is affectionately called, maintains a ceremonial center, spirit shop, ritual practice and consultancy in Exotic Brooklyn, NY where she works with individuals, groups, institutions, municipalities and corporations to create meaningful ceremonies for every imaginable occasion.

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Steps to Heal your Relationships With Self and Others

April, 2006

The Good, Bad and the Ugly of relationships.

If you find yourself in the same type of relationship time after time, you might enjoy this little exercise. Take three sheets of paper, at the top of the first write Good. At the top of the second sheet write Bad. At the top of the third sheet write Ugly. With your candles lit and soft healing music playing in the background you are ready to look at and learn from your last relationship. You can also do this exercise for each relationship you have been in, including the one with your parents.

Take a few deep breaths and sit with the first sheet of paper titled Good. Allow your mind to go over all the wonderful and positive aspects of the relationship. Write down what attracted you to that person, all the great feelings you had. Name everything you can remember that was really good about that person, yourself and the relationship. Take you time.

Now take the second sheet of paper with Bad at the top and remember and write down all the hurtful, negative, painful aspects of the relationship. You might be very specific and write down situations one at the time that happened, or just general aspects.

Give yourself several days to complete these two lists. Be honest about yourself and your partner in the relationship. This isn’t an exercise to blame or judge or name call. This is an opportunity for you to really dig into the mechanics of your relationship.

When you feel ready to move onto the third page titled Ugly begin to list your regrets. Keeping in mind the other two lists as you remember and write, record things you wish you had done, said, not done or said on this list.
Take your time making this list, as it is the most insightful of the three. When you have listed your regrets move on to the last stage of this exercise.

Take a beautiful piece of stationary and at the top write “My Relationship With Love”. Begin your day by reading to yourself this statement, “I will only speak to myself with love, confidence and respect.” Having made the three lists you are ready now to discover what it is you are really seeking in a relationship with others. Note the areas which repeat themselves over and over in your past relationships. If you discover you seek acceptance, then write this down and covenant with yourself to accept you. If you seek unconditional love, then vow to love yourself in this manner.
Continue working on this sheet of paper until you find yourself thinking differently about relationships and about your part in them. Stand before a mirror several times a day and tell yourself “I love you”.

I read many years ago that relationships suffer due to two broken people coming together expecting the relationship to make them whole. This never works. We must first be whole, then we will attract others who are whole and together we will bless and encourage each other for further growth.

***

author bio:

Donna Devane is a single mom and talented artist, working on the net since 96. She creates One of a Kind (OOAK) art dolls, spirit dolls, gemstone jewelry and offers selfhealing lessons on her website. She is also a certified GIYAME healer.
Manyfeather
LyonZPath
2000

Original handcrafted Gemstone Jewelry, Spirit Healing OOAK Dolls, Santas, Fairy Dolls.
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