SUBSCRIBE

Spiralled Edges

October 1st, 2016

Culling Time

Come September when autumn winds start to chill our focus is on the harvest. I have friends from all over who are busy canning and preserving fruits and vegetables they have grown in their gardens. Those of us who don’t have access to a garden or allotment may be looking at ideas we planted in the spring. How have they grown? Are they ready for harvesting and completion?

The focus is very much on bringing in the harvest, whether literal or symbolic, but little attention is given to the other part of this season – this is a time of culling.

For the farmer, this meant looking at his livestock and making a decision on which would be worth keeping over the winter, and which would need to be killed to provide food for his family, but also to make sure there was enough food on hand for the livestock he did keep. In addition, he would need to think about the number of animals that he might get the following year when mothers dropped their young.

These days, most of us don’t have these worries because we probably don’t live on farms. We can still look during this time of year to see what needs to be culled from our own lives though.

Now is the time to do work to release those outworn ideas that once served a purpose, but are now holding us down. It’s the time to take a look at what is cluttering up our lives, whether they be physical objects or outworn habits. It’s time to do a bit of culling.

spiral

 

This doesn’t mean that it’s time to spend a few days bashing yourself over the head for every perceived fault. Even the most unhealthy habit or behaviour at one time served a purpose, though you may not remember any more what that purpose was.

When looking ask yourself – does this serve me in a healthy way? Does it bring me joy? Has it served its purpose? Then take the steps you need to cull what is no longer needed or wanted.

I won’t go into all the various systems and programs that can be followed, and there are many. Many people find success with Fly Lady or Side-Tracked Home Executive when it comes to decluttering. You may also look at support groups or professional help. Sometimes, habits and behaviours have become so ingrained that we don’t even realise we are doing them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And don’t be too ruthless either when deciding what needs to be culled. Remember, the careful farmer always made sure he kept enough breeding stock on hand to sustain the farm in the coming year.

When you are ready, you may want to do a small ceremony. This is one that you could adapt for your own circumstances.

Culling Spell

You will need:

  • A fireproof dish
  • A small piece of paper and pen
  • A candle and means to light it.

Prepare yourself in whatever way you wish beforehand. You may also want to light candles, clear the area with incense, and/or create a ritual circle.

When you are ready, sit with the tools before you.

Centre yourself, then state what it is that you wish to cull from your life. Write it down on the paper.

You may state these words, or some of your own choosing.

“Today I wish to release (this behaviour/habit/thought process) from my life. It has served its purpose (state what that purpose was if you know), but I have grown and it no longer serves me. I am grateful for the purpose it once had for me and release it now with gratitude and love. “

Light the paper and place it in the fireproof dish. Allow what you have released to be consumed by the flame while saying the following, or similar words of your own choosing:

“Peace surround me,

Light shine within me.

I release this now with gratitude and love.”

When finished sit quietly for a few minutes. Then take any remaining ashes from the paper and dispose of them someplace away from your home. Running water is ideal.

What do you need to cull from your life?

Image in public domain, source of quote is unknown

 

Spiralled Edges – The Narrow Life Path

Think about being on your life path for a moment. What does it look like?

slinky

When I thought about my own life path, for some reason I always pictured myself on a tight rope, carefully balancing my life on that thin rope and avoiding the extremes of leaning too far either direction. I didn’t want to fall off my path!

I’ve been working on changing this narrow view of my own life path over the past few years. I had a first clue that perhaps I wasn’t seeing things as they were when I did a shamanic journey for the purpose of discovering what I was supposed to be doing on this life path I was trying so hard to stay on.

I found myself on a spiralling walkway, and soon discovered where I was going “wrong”. When I blundered in trying to walk a straight and narrow line, I kept falling off. It was only when I followed each spiral around that I was able to remain on my own path.

Oh, maybe I had things wrong. Maybe life paths aren’t straight Roman roads efficiently taking us from Point A (birth) to Point B (death). Maybe, just maybe, they’re spiraling roads that lead us through experiences and events.

Just as important for me was the realisation that this path I was on was not a slender, narrow precipitous trail, but a wide road with plenty of room on either side for wandering. I didn’t have to worry about falling off the side as there were no edges.

But even this view doesn’t feel quite right to me anymore. As I have pondered the idea of walking a spiralled path, I can see now that my life path isn’t like the pristine and curved spirals of a brand new slinky.

No, mine is more like the slinky that has been taken out of the box and used a few years. There are kinks and twists, tangled areas, places that have been untangled but not quite gone back into the original pattern. Each of those twists and tangles and bends represents an event in my life, or a place of learning. All of the evidence that I am a person who has lived!

So this gets me to thinking, is a life path laid out in front of us, predetermined as to its destination and route before we were born. Or, as is more and more looking to be the case, does our path unfold before us as we go, with each twist, each turn, each step into the future determined by our actions and words right now in the present.

I can’t fall off my path because now is the only part that exists. Each detour, each opportunity missed or taken, each decision, each learning experience has led me to where I am right now.

So for those who come to me asking, “How can I find out my life purpose?” I can say to them in all sincerity, “You find it by living your life now.”

Image credit: “2006-02-04 Metal spiral” by Roger McLassus – Picture taken and uploaded by Roger McLassus.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2006-02-04_Metal_spiral.jpg#/media/File:2006-02-04_Metal_spiral.jpg

Spiralled Edges – Just Be

I recently read a blog article talking about the necessity, and great difficulty, some have in holding sacred space without actively doing something. So much emphasis on our self-worth is placed on doing, on being productive. We downplay and devalue the place and purpose for just being. We use the practice of doing to hide from our selves.

Sometimes the greatest act of love we can provide is to just be and hold Sacred Space for someone without trying to do for them.

Sometimes, we become impatient when growth and change or knowledge doesn’t come as rapidly as we want it to. We mistake times of dormancy for stagnation or even a movement backwards from our hoped for goal. We forget, that sometimes the seeds of change need to lie hidden within, buried within us, just being without doing, growing in strength while the outer world moves on.

There can be power in stillness. This isn’t a time when nothing happens, it isn’t a time of death. It is a time of being without doing.

A few years back, when going through personal difficulties I went to Spirit to ask “What do I need to be doing? What can I do to become well again?” They responded by telling me, “Don’t do, just be.”

Finally, they told me to stop doing shamanic journey work even to go into my Sacred Garden, and to practice being fully physically present in my body. I didn’t realise how much of my life had been spent mentally outside my physical body until I started trying to be more fully aware and more fully present within it. Psychologists would call it disassociating. Shamans might call it journeying. I called it feeling out of sync with myself.

A lot of my work over the past few years has been towards rediscovering what it feels like, both the good and the bad, being fully present inside my own skin.

I by no means make any claim to having fully learned this lesson yet. But, I’m getting better at it and find that I am more aware of when I love outside of my physical body, and more easily able to move back into sync with my physical self. Sometimes, I do fall back into that state of thinking I should be doing… something. If I could just find that one thing that I must do. And Spirit tells me, infinitely patient, “Don’t do, just be”.

Right now, we are moving ever closer to the final harvest in the Wheel of the Year, Samhain. The veil between worlds has thinned and our focus is on the dying God who will soon be journeying to the Underworld.

Then He, and the world itself (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), will naturally move from a state of doing into a state of being. It is a time for inner reflection. It is a time for being, the most sacred and loving practice that we can do for ourselves, and for others around us.

As you sit in this time of being, let yourself just be without trying to hurry back to the Earth’s stirring and awakening. Practice being with a friend who is going through difficulties without trying to do for them, without trying to fix them, without trying to change them. Practice being inside yourself as you go through difficulties without trying to do, without trying to fix, and without trying to change. Allow yourself to just be, with acceptance and understanding.

The time for doing will come round again, in its own time.

Over the years I have on occasion had times when I have found myself questioning. Can I still call myself a witch when I am not fully immersed in nature? Am I really Pagan when I don’t fully live my life around an agricultural calendar?

While my grandparents, and their grandparents and theirs, going back further in time were all farmers, none in my mother or father’s generation have followed in that pat. I have lived in urban areas for the majority of my life, and I have been on the outer edge of Greater London for over 15 years.

Add into this the repeated comments I see on social media and in different shamanic and Pagan groups about the importance and need to be in nature, to learn from nature, to surround myself by it.

If I, someone who has been following this path for over 2 decades, find myself questioning my part and my role, and my right to call myself Pagan, shamanic healer, witch where does that leave the newcomer? Are they asking even more questions, or perhaps even abandoning these ideas because they got the idea that they can’t be Pagan because they live in a city flat, or because they buy their ritual ingredients via mail order instead of picking them in a forest glade?

Spiral1

Elephant Walk along the Thames near Tower Bridge

 

The answer isn’t to abandon all thoughts of being Pagan, but to look for and learn to recognise nature in the cracks and edges of the urban life.

I’ve been trying to make a point of noticing nature as I go about my day in recent weeks, and also of doing what I can to bring nature into my environment. If the witch cannot go to Nature, then bring Nature to the witch.

Early each morning, I wake and get ready for my day. On the day I am writing this we are less than 2 weeks from the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. Living as far north as I do, this means that the days are really short. It is still dark when I leave the house for school runs at 7am. Because I am driving mostly towards the East I can watch the gradually brightening sky as I go. Sometimes, like this morning, I am able to see the Morning Star (Venus). While I am driving I mentally say good morning to the Earth, the Sky, and the Sun when I see it peaking over the tops of buildings.

The school run over, I can finally sit down to breakfast and a morning cup of tea. I didn’t rear the pigs or chickens which provide my bacon and egg. I didn’t grow or even pick the tea or the sugar beet, and I didn’t milk the cow. I begin my meal with a silent thank you to those who did grow, pick, and rear this food, and to the animals and plants which made this sacrifice so that I could continue to live.

I do this for every meal, or at least I try to remember to do this.

Finding Nature in the Edges also means doing what I can to bring it into my life. I am very fortunate in that the flat where I live with my sons has a small back garden – it’s about 15

several damson trees and lots of flowering shrubs, and a small lawn. Washing lines strung between the flat and two trees provide space to dry clothing in the sun – when it isn’t raining.

Because I wanted to draw nature into our lives more, I set up a bird feeding station in the middle of the grass. There I provide a variety of seeds, nuts, and fat for the local birds, and one rather persistent squirrel.

spiral3

While watching from my window I have seen the above grey squirrel, a group of 4 white pigeons, a family group of 4 great tits, and a mated pair of British robins. More rarely I see a blackbird, and once I caught a fleeting glance and heard the sound of a green parakeet. (Yes, a parakeet!)

I also have brought Nature inside. On the kitchen window ledge you will find an aloe plant, a crocus, 4 sprouting grapefruit trees, and a sprouting carrot top suspended in water. In the summer, I have pots of fresh herbs growing outside the back door on the patio area.

On the other side of the kitchen, I have set up an aquarium which houses 12 tropical fish. The bubbling sound of the water can be very relaxing, as can taking a few minutes out of a frantic morning or evening to just watch them swimming around.

Spiral2

 

As you can clearly see, even living in a city I am surrounded by Nature. How often do we pass by these signs of Nature and discount them because we’re not in the country? How often do we fail to recognise Nature all around us because we think it only counts when we also don’t have signs of urban life around us?

My task for you this month is a very simple one. Each day, several times a day, remember to look to find Nature in the cracks and edges of your life? Look up the identity of a bird you see, if you don’t know what it is already. Notice the weeds growing between the cracks in the pavement and instead of reaching for a knife to cut them out or weed killer to kill them, take a moment to marvel at just how amazing it is that Nature can find places to grow in even the seemingly most inhospitable areas.

When buying your vegetables and grains and meats at the grocery store, take the time to notice where it was grown, and give thanks to the farmers and the plants and animals for the sacrifice they have made in order that others may live.

Notice when the sun comes up, and goes down. Notice the moon and the stars. If you can’t see them directly, notice their effects around you.

Bring Nature into the cracks and edges of your own life.

 

Parakeets – there are several sizeable colonies of parakeets living in SE London. They frequently make the rounds of back garden bird feeders. It’s not known how or when these non-native birds became established in the area. Apparently, parakeets and native pigeons are providing an abundant food source for native peregrine falcons which are making a welcome comeback into urban areas of England.

 

All images ©NanLT

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.

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply