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Spiralled Edges

February 1st, 2016

Why Change Matters

She changes everything she touches and
everything she touches, changes
She changes everything she touches and
everything she touches, changes
Change is, touch is; touch is, change is.
Change us, touch us; touch us, change us.
We are changers;
everything we touch can change.
We are changers;
everything we touch can change.

– Starhawk

I will freely admit, I don’t like change. I like my routines and I don’t like it when they have to be changed for any reason, at times to the detriment of my own health and well-being. In the midst of this dislike, I also know that change is an inevitable part of being alive. So why do we resist it so much? Why do we cling tight-fisted to ideas and rituals and beliefs that aren’t serving us?

Biology plays a big part here. Deep in the temporal lobe of our brain lies a small almond shaped cluster of cells called the amygdala. The full role and purpose of the amygdala is still not known, but it is believed that it is part of the limbic system where emotions and emotional responses, including fear and anxiety are generated, processed, and filed as memories in the brain.

Change can generate anxiety because it puts us into a new situation, and we don’t have a readily available emotional response for dealing with that new situation. For early humans, this would have been a protective mechanism. Routines and sameness kept them safe from harm. Those who ventured away from tribal or clan routines and rituals put themselves or clan members at risk.

Of course, we know that this anxiety around changes can be more or less pronounced in different people. It was a willingness or a desire that led those earliest groups of proto-humans to leave the African continent 1 million years ago, and continues to drive humans today as they venture into outer space. I have no desire to ever leave planet Earth, my youngest son on the other hand would love to become a xeno-anthropologist and have the opportunity to one day explore ancient civilizations on other planets. (That we have not yet actually discovered any ancient civilizations on other planets is only a minor deterrent in his dreams.)

So, if we have such a strong predilection towards sameness, why does change matter?

It matters because change is constantly going on all around us, and because sometimes sameness is not good for our well-being. All things are changing, constantly. Inside our bodies, cells are created and destroyed, rebuilding our entire selves over the course of a few years. Around us, the Earth moves through its seasons, things are born, and die. All in a never ending circle.

Yes, sameness and routine has been necessary over the centuries to keep us safe from harm, but refusal to change and refusal to adjust to changes can be just as harmful. Living things that can’t, or won’t, change will die. Ideas and beliefs and even languages that never change are dead.

Worse though, we can get caught up in a desperate attempt to pull everything back to “the way it used to be”. A prime example of this are the many religions today that are seeing dwindling congregations and finding that they are less relevant in people’s lives because they cannot let go of rules and ideas about human behaviour and social ethics that may have been true even 200 years ago, but are not held to be true by the majority of people today.

Change matters because without change we stop living. We stop growing. We stop becoming more fully complete and whole as human beings. Change matters because if we are not able to cast off old beliefs that no longer serve us, we will become stuck in an unending rut of growing unhappiness.

Spiralled Edges – New Beginnings and Imbolc Chaos and Change

I had an entire idea for a nice article about Imbolc and how it symbolises new beginnings in our lives. But I’ve torn that all up, in a figurative sense, because of all that is happening around the world in recent weeks.

The US has a new president, Great Britain is poised to leave the European Union, and refugees are fleeing yet another war in yet another country. Right now, the whole world is really chaotic, and really rather scary.

As human beings, we tend to not like chaos and change. Change can be dangerous our subconscious tells us. People who study such things can tell you that there is even a part of the brain, located in the amygdala that makes us feel really uncomfortable when there is too much change too quickly in our lives.

But change is also an inevitable part of living, and of dying. We are always in a constant state of change, as is the world around us and everything in it.

She changes everything She touches, and everything She touches changes.”

Sometimes, change is subtle, and we don’t realise what has happened until we look back. Sometimes, change is in your face, drastic, and painful. It’s chaotic.

Newsfeeds online are filled with headlines designed to grab our attention and instil the greatest amount of fear. Clickbait we call it. Designed purely to get your attention and get you to click a link. It’s only when you’ve read halfway down that you realise the headline in no way matches the meat of the story

That chaos has to happen in order for change to occur. That is what we are seeing around the world today. Incredible chaos, scary chaos.

All of this chaos, all of this hatred and fear, the backlash against women and people of colour, against those who are disabled, those who follow a different religion or come from a different economic background? It’s not new. It’s always been around us, like an infection hidden deep within.

You don’t get rid of infection by burying it deeper in the body and pretending it doesn’t exist, which is what people have tried to do the past 50+ years, since the last time of massive global change in the 1960s and 70s. No, you get rid of infection by bringing it to the surface and removing it from the body.

That is what we are seeing now, and what we have been seeing in pockets for some time now. Pockets of stagnated slimy nasty hate-filled fear coming to a head and being released.

What does any of this mean for those of us who are Pagan?

It means making sure this infection deep within society continues to be expelled. It means taking time to hold sacred space around those who are being directly impacted by these changes. It means standing up and saying “No!” to prejudice and hatred. It’s doing what energy work, or magic, or healing we can do, not to bring order, but to help the deeply embedded, institutionalised infection be revealed and eradicated.

It means keeping our mouths shut, especially those of us who follow a Western European Pagan tradition, and allowing those from other traditions and cultures around the globe to speak their truth. People of colour, people who are Native American, people who have systematically been silenced in order to keep that infection hidden away have their stories to tell and we all need to actively listen.

We can’t take an attitude of “it isn’t happening to me” because we don’t know that it won’t be us tomorrow.

Spiralled Edges – Finding Balance

It may be because I was born with Libra Rising, but for most of my life I have been a person who likes balance.

One doesn’t walk a balanced path though. Instead it is a constant fluctuation between extremes. Sometimes that fluctuation is very tiny with minute changes most people never notice. Other times, these fluctuations can be huge, with massive changes that send you reeling back and forth for some time.

 


When we think about walking in balance, our vision is that it is somehow a static event. We reach balance and then we are in balance. This could not be further from the truth. The scales of Libra are not a modern set of digital scales that automatically display a number. And neither are our lives. These are, instead, an old-fashioned set of apothecary scales. Balance doesn’t come immediately, weights are placed on one side, or taken off, weighing heavy first in one direction and then the other until finally, for a brief moment, perfect balance is achieved.

Even a simple task like walking gives us a clear example of how we are constantly making slight corrections in order to stay in an upright position. A teacher many years ago told me, walking is nothing more than a series of controlled falls. My leg lifts, my body moves forward. Before I fall, I set my foot down and bring my other foot forward. Both feet meet briefly at the centre, then the second foot moves forward and once again I am falling forward until I set my foot down again.

Move my foot forward too far, and I am off balance and fall. Set my foot down too early or too late and I am off balance and fall.

This doesn’t stop when we are standing still either. We constantly make minute corrections in our balance, moving first one way and then another slightly shifting a foot leaning slightly forward or back.

As much as I like balance, my life has been one of extremes. I’ve dealt with heartbreak and loss, depression and anxiety, PTSD. Finding balance here has meant taking prescription antidepressants in order to keep my emotions from swinging too far into the suppressed position. Finding balance in my physical body means taking more prescription medications. There is no shame in needing medications for managing mental illnesses or physical illnesses.

Finding balance does not mean you never experience extremes, and moving away from the centre does not mean that you are out of balance. Remember that apothecary scale, swinging one way and the other.

Living on the spiralled edge means constantly making slight corrections, first to one side then the other, sometimes leaning a bit too far one direction or the other in order to bring life back into balance from the opposite extreme.

As a Pagan witch I strive to find a balance between the extremes. I’m not always successful, but as I remind myself, balance is the journey not the destination.

See page for picture [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Everything Changes

 

Years ago I learned a chant in the Pagan community which went

She changes everything she touches

And everything she touches, changes.

One of the basic tenets of any nature-based religion is that things change. Those changes may be subtle, they may be difficult to see, but over time as we move through the seasons everything changes.

I am not the same person I was a year ago. And neither are you. I’m carrying a lot more grey hairs, a few more wrinkles. And a lot less emotional baggage.

Sometimes, we hang on to ideas or beliefs or emotions that don’t serve us, and don’t allow us to grow. That fear of change is what keeps us in abusive relationships, keeps us from finding a new job, and keeps us from pursuing a dream.

I found myself in just one of these ruts in recent years. When I separated from my ex-husband in 2012 my world was turned upside down. I had become so firmly entrenched in a life that was mentally and emotionally abusive that I couldn’t even recognise it as such.

I knew I was unhappy. I knew that I sometimes had strong urges and a desire to escape. My resistance to change kept me from doing something about it. Better to be unhappy in a marriage I knew than face an unknown.

saying

created by NanLT

 

If my life hadn’t been shaken up, there’s a good chance I would still be there. Even then it wasn’t until I had been out of that marriage for over a year that I was able to recognise and admit that there had been abuse. And now, 3 years later, I am beginning to embrace life once again.

I’m not doing this without structure though. Because while I may be embracing changes and finding new understanding of how very constant change is, I am also becoming more fully aware of how important structure and routines are for me. It is these routines which provide the foundations and scaffolding through which change can occur.

woman

public domain, Wikimedia commons

A good analogy which I have come across relates to weaving. Handmade woven cloth can be very colourful and creative. Weaving can be done on anything from a small table-top loom to larger looms taking up a room. Each works in the same way. Strong warp threads are placed lengthwise on the loom, and the creative weft threads are woven back and forth across the width.

If the warp threads are not strong enough to support the weft threads, the weaving will break apart.

This is how I am striving to create my life today. Daily routines for personal care, and personal spiritual practises provide the warp which supports my emotional and spiritual weft.

The result is an ongoing process. Sometimes, the warp breaks. Usually because I have neglected my routines. Sometimes, I realise that something I am weaving for myself isn’t what I want and I need to discard it.

This is where one of the biggest stumbling blocks would have been for me in the past, and I need to be aware of it in my present and future. That inability to step away from something that isn’t working because I am afraid of change.

I’m not doing all of this alone. Over time I have been pulling together an assortment of tools and support. I’ve been releasing trapped emotions and discovering my voice through various complementary and alternative healing techniques: shamanic journeying, Dr Bradley Nelson (Emotion Code), EFT and Reiki. I have been advocating for my needs and discovering my truth through the daily exercises of HeatherAsh Amara (Warrior Goddess Training), daily morning pages (The Artist’s Way) and David Hamilton, PhD (I {heart} Me: The Science of Self-Love). Most important of all though is I am learning to be more forgiving and gentler towards myself.

What are you weaving in your own life today? Are there broken and unwanted threads that need to be snipped away or replaced?

The weeks leading up to Imbolc are perhaps some of my most favourite in the year. While the Northern Hemisphere may still be in the grips of winter, everywhere you look there are signs that the Earth is beginning to stir and awaken from sleep.

Imbolc is a time of new beginnings, new life, and new birth. And it begins with the Earth itself.

The first week after Yule the earth continues to be shrouded in long nights. Where I live, the sun begins to set before 4pm in winter, and doesn’t fully rise again until close to 8am. Gradually though, from mid- January I begin to notice that the sun is staying up just a bit longer in the afternoons, and rising a bit earlier in the morning. Instead of turning my lights on at 3:30, I can leave them off until 4:30. Instead of leaving the house in total darkness at 7am, I notice the faint glimmer of sunrise to the East.

 

crocus

 

 

This week, I saw the second sign of the Earth’s stirrings. Peeping up from the ground can now be seen the shoots of crocuses and primroses. These earliest flowers bloom in February, and for me it is their arrival which signals the arrival of Imbolc. We may yet have snow this season, but even that doesn’t keep these precious blooms from coming. They push up through the snow to display their colourful flowers on a background of white. Winter is not yet over, spring is not yet come, but there is a promise of new beginnings which can be seen and felt.

It is not just plants that are awakened at Imbolc. In people too there is a restlessness, and urge to break out and grow, to push past that which is holding us down so that we can display our worth and beauty.

This is an ideal time of year for doing initiations, and also for doing work focused on new projects and new endeavours. Over time this has been somewhat pushed back into New Year’s Day at the beginning of January, but in some ways I feel that the promises and resolutions we make at the New Year when the promise of the Earth’s re-awakening is not yet felt, become part of those old and dying things which we discard in the dead of Winter. Far better to make these vows and begin these new endeavours at Imbolc.

If the promises you made at Yule/New Year’s Day seem far away and your enthusiasm is beginning to wane, why not use this season of awakening and new life to re-make those resolutions.

Here is a very simple bit of spell work that you can use to breathe life into your upcoming projects.

You will need a pot of soil (or compost) and some seeds. I suggest a lovely flower from a bulb. That way you’ll have something to hold in your hands and really focus on for the next part.

Place the pot and the seeds on your altar and create a circle (or not) as you usually do. Focus your energy first on what it is you want to accomplish in this upcoming growing season. What do you want to grow in your own life? It may help to write things down on paper.

Once you have in mind what it is you wish to grow, hold the seed in your hands and focus your intentions into it. Speak your intentions either out loud or in your mind. If you wish, you can assign a specific project to individual seeds.

 

soil

 

Now hold the pot of soil in your hands and focus what it is that *you* need to do in order to bring these projects into being. It’s all well and good to say you are going to learn how to dance, become healthier, read 10 books, complete a course, or what have you. If you don’t actually go to dance classes, eat healthy foods and exercise (however that is defined for you), pick up a book, or do the coursework, your seeds will be trying to grow on barren soil.

Having focused your intentions and your desires fully, take any bits of paper you may have written on and bury those deep within the pot of soil.

Speak your desire into each seed and push it into the soil to plant it. Cover it over and water it.

Keep your seed and pot in a protected environment. Nurture and water it over the coming weeks. As the seed grows, so too will the things you are growing in your life.

Spiralled Edges: Seeds of Change

We are moving out of winter, a season of potential and stillness, a time for reflecting on the past and planning for the future. There may still be days with snow and frost, or where I live rain and chilly mornings, but the subtle signs of a month ago that the Earth was waking from slumber are now clearly visible. I saw a magnolia tree in bloom the other morning, and every day I pass dozens of patches of blooming daffodils and crocuses.

I’ve noticed that I am becoming more fully awake as well right now. Ideas and thoughts which I had begun ruminating over back in December are starting to come together. Gentle synchronicities are guiding me to put thoughts into actions.

In thinking of these things, I am reminded quite clearly of the Amulets I use in divination and oracle work. Winter’s time of stillness can be found in the ‘Hand with Seeds’ amulet. This is an amulet of responsibility, or as I like to say it “response – ability”, but it is also an amulet of potentiality.

spiral

 

A potential for growth is present, but is not yet ready to emerge. The tools for change and growth are in your hand, but you have not yet planted them.

This is where I was over the past few months. Slowly finding and gathering the seeds needed for my next stage of growth. One very clear message I kept getting is that I need to find a ‘warrior’s healing’ and continue practicing being in my body.

Not sure where it would lead, I planted those ideas, those seeds, and left them to grow. The thing with seeds is that once planted, you can’t keep digging them up to check their progress. Have they grown enough? Are they ready to come up through the soil yet? Doing so will kill them.

It’s the same with our own potential for growth when we plant our ideas. We have to allow them to grow in darkness. We have to trust that even though we can’t see results, things are happening as they should.

Some seeds peep through the soil in a matter of hours, some take days, some may take months. Some ideas may be planted in a place that can’t sustain growth, others fall on fertile ground. I am reminded of one of the parables of the New Testament Christian Bible.

The Parable of the Sower.

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

This parable, according to biblical passages refers to people hearing the messages of God and heaven which Jesus was telling.

I think it can also very easily bring meaning to the Hands with Seeds amulet. We each hold the seeds for change and growth which we need in our hand. Those seeds which we plant in good soil are the ones which will come to fruition. Those which we carelessly scatter on unsuitable ground may begin to grow but will quickly perish.

I planted my own seeds over a month ago, and in recent days and weeks I have seen the beginnings of growth starting to emerge. My seeds in hand have become seedlings.

spiral2

 

These ideas which were planted are beginning to emerge. One friend’s off hand comments about Forrest Yoga which led to me reading “Fierce Medicine.” A Tai chi/qigong class I started taking in February. An opportunity to be a case study for someone seeking certification in Emotion Code Healing, and work I have been doing on myself in this area. A link a friend sent me on a global EFT webinar which led to reading a book on using EFT for body acceptance. Another friend’s random recommendation to her Facebook followers for a book on learning to love one’s self. “I (heart) Me: The Science of Self Love”. A computer generated book recommendation based upon other things I have read which led to my finding “Warrior Goddess Training Becoming the Woman You are Meant to Be”.

Some seeds which relate to ideas I have on my own body image have emerged that I don’t particularly like and believe me I would love to be able to stamp them back down into the ground, but I can recognise that these seedlings are opportunities to remove obstacles from my past which have held me back and kept me from being fully present inside my skin.

It may be that over time some ideas will be thinned away so that the strongest can thrive as I re-evaluate just what it is that I want and need. For now though, I am letting each grow to see what it can become.

What seeds are you growing right now in your life?

 

Hand with Seeds and Sprouting Seed Amulet images are both taken by NanLT.

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