Archive for November, 2009

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Loss

November 19, 2009

J4 and Maine 022

Moon Phase: Waxing
Retrogrades: Uranus

Today is the first anniversary of my grandmother’s death. She was in her 90’s, had suffered from a long and debilitating illness, and it was time for her to go. That didn’t make it any easier — she was the glue for many things, and, in spite of all the comforts of “moving on” and “she’ll always be with you”, it’s not the same as being able to pick u the phone and talk to her or drive up to visit. It’s still painful, almost every day.

That’s not to say that our relationship was all sunshine and roses. Quite the contrary — it was tempestuous, to say the least. She disagreed that my decisions differed from hers. Her decisions included going straight from family to marriage to moving in with her brother to “do for” him after they were both widowed. She was a brilliant artist who always put her art last and “sacrificed” for everyone else, especially men. She was exceptionally strong and talented, but believed that a woman’s job was to seem subservient, even though she was the one actually doing all the work.

I made a decision early in life that my writing would be a priority, and anyone who expected to retain a permanent part of my life had to deal with that. Yes, I sometimes put my own plans on hold to be a “helpmeet”. I quickly found out that was not the path for me, and I was not willing to keep pushing my own work to the back in order to help/promote/support the work of someone else’s to the exclusion of my work. I wanted an equal partnership, not a constant battle for control, and I was certainly NOT going to take the traditional “woman’s” role.

We frustrated each other, because my grandmother believed my choices were “wrong” and I believed she’d sacrificed her talent for people who weren’t as talented as she was. We learned from each other what did not work for us.

We were on the same page, literally and figuratively, when it came to books and a love of reading. She had an entire wall of books in her dining room, floor to ceiling. An architect had to build support posts in the basement so the floor didn’t sag. It was in her bookcases where I first became enamored of Dickens, Austin, and Poe, and where I got my first exposure to authors like Daphne du Maurier and Somerset Maugham. When, many years later, I travelled to Cornwall and took photos of many du Maurier haunts, including Lantaglos Church, only 1/4 of a mile from my rented farmhouse, where du Maurier was married, my grandmother delighted in living the trip vicariously through me. Neither of us were whiners, and we shared contempt for those who whined. Something needs to be done, you go and do it without a fuss. We also shared a love of travel and a curiosity about the world.

She was far more gregarious than I am, comfortable in any social situation. She once travelled to Europe with my mother, visiting family land friends in countries where she couldn’t speak the language. She’d go out to parties until 2 AM and find ways to communicate when my mother went to bed early, exhausted.

She was an extraordinary woman who chose to always put herself last, and then got frustrated when people took it for granted. She could be harsh, judgmental, and yet, if you were in trouble, she’d fight like a bear to help you out.

I learned a lot from her on many levels. I miss her and salute her.

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Tapped on the Shoulder

November 16, 2009

Met June 07 014

Moon Phase: New
Retrogrades: Uranus

Many of us who walk this spiritual path have patron goddesses/spirits/saints with whom we work. We develop relationships over the years. Sometimes we drift away from one, only to return. Sometimes our work with one is done, and another chooses us. There’s a great deal of debate as to whether one can or should mix pantheons; what I’ve discovered is that, when you get a tap on the shoulder, you need to pay attention, no matter what the pantheon. In other words, yes, I mix pantheons, but it’s more “that’s the way it worked for me” than something I set out to do.

When I was first studying the path, I wanted to work with a very particular, strong, warrior-type goddess. Unfortunately, she let me know, in no uncertain terms, that I wasn’t ready. I sulked, I pouted, I raged, but that’s the way it was. There were other guiding spirits with whom I developed close relationships that have deepened over the years.

A few months ago, working through a rough patch that involved a lot of conflict and something where I had to be strong, reasoned, and, at times, extremely aggressive with a take-no-prisoners attitude. I fretted, having a few minutes of the whole “why me”? experience.

“Ahem.” It was an almost audible cough. But, as I sat there, contemplating the situation and how I had to respond (because gentleness, kindness, and diplomacy had only escalated the situation), I realized that the goddess with whom I’d wanted to work so many years ago was very much a presence in the current situation. A guiding force, so to speak. I’d gotten what I wanted – -just not in the way I expected! I had to laugh at the irony of it, and was also grateful.

And yes, I’m still working with her. I haven’t lost any of the others, but my spiritual tribe is expanding.

Last week, I stopped on a whim at a library sale. I’m a bibliophile, borderline bibliomaniac. I adore books, libraries, bookstores, all of that. Always have. I was working on a story set in 1898. I happened to pick up a large, hardcover biography for 50 cents, simply because it sounded interesting. I got home and started reading. Not only was it well-written and parts of it relevant to my short story, it was also relevant to three other WIPs. Talk about luck — and a tap on the shoulder from Seshat, the goddess of libraries and scribes.

I’m in the process of gathering images and objects to build an altar to Seshat — on top of a bookcase. She’s been guiding me quietly from the background for a long time. Now she’s stepped forward and asked for recognition. I shan’t refuse her.

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Daily Chakra Cleansing

November 13, 2009

Here’s an exercise to help you if you feel out of sorts, or to help keep you sorted. It takes about ten minutes or less. I usually do it after I finish my morning yoga, but before I do my meditation sit.

Cast an informal circle just large enough to contain you. (By “informal”, I mean you’re casting it while sitting, not walking the circle three times or calling in the directions).

Starting at the top of your head, open each chakra, one by one. When you reach the bottom take a deep breath, and work your way back up doing the following:

Starting with the root chakra, at the base of your spine, imagine a swirl of red light moving through it, cleaning it. When it feels clean and bright, disperse the light, and close the chakra. Move up to the next chakra, do the same thing, but this time with orange light. Work your way up, chakra by chakra (third=yellow, fourth=green, fifth=lapis, sixth=indigo, seventh=violet or white, depending on your practice).

Clean and balance each chakra with its corresponding light, and, once it’s clean and the light dissipated, it’s very important to close it. You don’t want to wander around with open chakras. You’ll make yourself sick.

Once all the chakras are clean and closed, take a minute to let white line run through them, from the crown to the root, and make sure everything feels centered and aligned. Ground, take down your circle, and you’re ready to meet the day from a much stronger perspective.

Anytime you feel out of sorts during the day, find a place where you won’t be disturbed for a few minutes and either run through the whole line of chakras, or just open and clean the one feeling the most out of whack. Cleansing when you feel good helps build strength for the more difficult days.

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Flexibility

November 9, 2009

IMG_0672

Flexibility

I thought I had Samhain all planned out — big ritual as the launch of a year’s worth of Gaia-focused rituals. It seemed perfect timing, especially since our landlords slaughtered all the gorgeous, mature trees on the property.

And then, friends took ill. Very, very ill. So the ritual had to be re-fashioned, the day it was to take place, with the focus on healing.

One could argue that the original ritual had to do with healing as well, the healing of the desecrated land, and that the desecration of land is connected to illness. All of that is true. But the focus of the ritual shifted to dealing with the practicalities of physical illness in humans.

Was I angry? Did I resent having to change the ritual at the last minute? Five years ago, the answer would have been a resounding ‘yes.” This time, it was a clear “no.” You do what needs to be done WHEN it needs to be done, not when it’s convenient to do it.

Did I see the connection between illness in people and illness n the land and feed one into the other? Yes. Do I feel that it strengthened the ritual? Yes, because it reconnected to the land, and that’s part of what we do.

Did it mean long hours on an already over-scheduled week, rewriting, running out to buy last minute items, re-configuring? Of course. But it was worth it.

Had I stuck to the originally planned ritual, it would have felt wrong, and lost potency. Had I limited myself to simply switching rituals, I would have felt that I short-shifted the land on which I live for people who are far away, in spite of my connection. By finding connections between the two and seeing how they could support each other, I was able to create a ritual that served both needs and was stronger for so doing.

The reminder in this is that we live in a web, not on a linear path. When we lift our heads from what is directly before us, look around, and see how it connects and is interdependent, we learn to integrate different facets of our life to create a stronger and more unified whole.