musings and adventures along the path
musings + adventure along the path
This Too Belongs.
I’ve started subbing at the local middle school in the past few weeks. Being in a classroom with these alternately tender, sweet, annoying, exasperating, inspiring souls day in and day out opens the mind to wondering and reflecting. I overheard one student say she was held back to repeat a year and I can relate to that in how I have felt recently about my own earth school classroom. The scenarios we are, many of us facing, can feel literally like being “held back”. We may feel stuck in our circumstances, what with the limitations or even death to our once ordinary routines and daily rounds. Restrictions are placed on nearly any and everything we never had to think twice about. And with no real end in sight, for our household this means being suspended in a holding pattern that I have been struggling with and chafing against. Not wanting this. Resisting doing what I don’t want to do (yes, read subbing at a middle school, HA!). Not wanting being unable to retreat to the sanctuary of my beloved libraries to research, read, write, blog, muse. Not allowed to linger with friends at the coffeehouse, meet for gatherings with soul sisters for dinner and conversation. To meditate at the sangha. Not having the deep quiet and solitude I need for sanity sake in the home. Not wanting the difficulties I face in my personal life. Not wanting to gaze into that cracked mirror, see a reflection that pains me deeply. Depression, the black dog that skulks alongside whenever I stray too far into thinking about what is not working has me wondering: What will my future hold? What will become of me? How will I overcome all that has been lost? Can I create something better for myself?
I’ve been reminded that This Too Belongs. Reminded that I do have a choice in how I hold my life right now. And that the not wanted belongs. The pain of what has ended belongs. The missing of friends, special places, of feeling safe; this too, belongs. Holding close and with compassion our human instinct to push away. And pause to reconsider. At times like this we can open our hearts to what we are feeling with care and awareness. The hurt belongs. The sadness and grief, yes, they belong. The worry of the unknown, belongs. Inviting the depths of Life in its many shades allows the heart to open with dignity and authenticity, to be truly alive. To accept with grace that today, the dishes may pile up in the sink. The big plans I had for de-cluttering, for dust bunny removal on an epic scale, for painting, organizing paperwork, wild wandering, have given way to another agenda. One that includes very little accomplishing outwardly. Writing today, acknowledging here, is a ritual of profound vulnerability that makes being not ok, ok. That makes not doing, ok. That makes accepting the wariness, weariness, the need for space to be and allow the yuck room to surface and be named in the light of day. The rite of including is a healing one, a transformational one, a humane one. Attending and befriending the unwanted today is an act of soul magic. And if I have also named a place you find yourself in too, may you join me in the circle of self-care, love and interconnectedness.
You belong, too.
A wonderful podcast to take a listen to:
Another rambling soon….
Ramblings of a Wild Magician
musings + adventures along the path…..
My stars, riding on wings of change, hope, liberation, creative inspiration, spirit murmurings, nature messages…. and so much on and in my mind that wants a home. Feels like it needs a dedicated space to nest- right here.
For you who have read my creative writings, or personal sharings that have been sent to you over the years, they will continue on now under this Ramblings page. They may also include poetry, videos, photography….whatever is coming down from the muse. So many of the experiences lately seem to be not just for me, but for all of us and I’d like to put them out for you.
And so, on we go, soul kin + kith!
On Rhamanta: A Sin Eaters Guide to Signs + Messages
Today begins the adventure with a technique I came across in a book I’m devouring, Walking with the Sin Eater: A Celtic Pilgrimage on the Dragon Path by Ross Heaven. I ran across this chronicle online and got chills when I read the title, and that was enough for me to know to order it. I’d not heard of the author before and didn’t think I needed yet another shaman book, but there you have it. To listen to the deeper voice is an ongoing practice.
He speaks of the practice of Rhamanta, the “ancient Celtic practice of taking guidance from nature”:
“..relies on our surrender to chance and destiny. It in its simplest form, it means holding a question in mind and walking out into the fields and forests with a desire only to be led by the whispers of spirit. The flight of birds across a valley, the play of sunlight on leaves, or even a gust of wind might then become significant and provide the answers we are looking for, since …’nature is the visible face of spirit: a way of connecting with intelligent forces who know far more than we do’.”
He suggests, as his mentor in the book, Adam, did, to do a moving meditation with deep, slow breathing, slow steps and letting the eyes go soft and on the ground, with awareness in the belly, like you are being pulled by the land, so as to not feel as if you are guiding yourself.
He further suggests looking for three signs, or “allowing them to find us”. We can then check the information each against the other and then bring them all together to reveal a final answer.
I’ve done many kinds of divination over the years, but the idea of weaving the signs together this way was new and I wanted to give it a try. So on my walk around the town greene I did a modified version. I was walking alert and asking my question when almost immediately nature began to nudge me. You know how it feels when someone is reaching out to you to get your attention? Like that. A sound makes you stop to listen more carefully, or an object stands out in stark relief, or like it is glowing or willing you to notice it.
I had this happen three times during the course of my walk and then as if to underscore it all, a fourth that catches my attention and breath, causing me to stop in my tracks and listen with joy. In the words of my dear friend and Irish author, Grace Clunie:
“The wild Goose was a symbol of ‘Spirit presence’ for Celtic Christians. The symbol is about the strange cry of the Goose as it flies- usually ‘appearing out of the blue’ and startling the hearer- it’s an eerie unearthly sound. In the same way Spirit comes to us often unexpectedly, startling us, waking us up our to our mediocrity. Helping us to see the miracles in the mundane. “
So while I won’t go into my question itself, I did feel that 2 of the signs were meant to give you today:
The images above of the heart shaped impression on the sidewalk is one that instructs us to “walk a path of heart to be fulfilled and on course.” Whatever that means to you. For me, it is to be true to oneself, yes, and to come from a deeper place in these days, of the heart, rather than merely the intellect or mind. It is about living more deeply and taking our challenges to that place for guidance, which can be difficult when we don’t necessarily want to be in that gracious space….but yet it is the one we are all being invited to center ourselves in and from….I also think it relates to how “the heart of America is getting a chance to grow with the new President.”
Sign # 2
The Canada Hemlock
The two of them photographed felt like a gateway, portal to another awareness for sure. But there is also some lovely magic I learned about them while researching:
“Hemlocks as a means of warmth and heat
Hemlock as an aid to magical transformation
Hemlock magically growing from a needle and offering aid”
“Message: This is a time of change and movement. By approaching change with grace, we allow life to unfold before us without fear or anxiety. This may indicate that moving or travel is necessary to help gain a new perspective on a current situation. This is also a time to focus on long-term planning and visioning as you go with the flow in the present.
Challenge: Rigidity and inability to relax. Trying to control what is happening now and feeling ineffectual. Work with hemlock to loosen up and flow with more grace and ease.”
How spot on is this?
When I gathered all the messages / signs together, I did find they came together in a way I could pull from and not only was it reassuring, but meaningful. I had not encountered Hemlock on this level before, in fact how many times had I looped around the greene not having paid these two any mind?! Today when I saw them I greeted them and went over to visit for a bit.
So there you have it. If you have yet to open to this dimension of relationship with nature I encourage you to give it a try, even if you ask a more general question like, “Do you have a message for me today?” And see what happens.
See you soon for another Rambling….
To our wild magic lives,
I’ve spent the past two months reading cover to cover Making a Life: Working by Hand and Discovering the Life You’re Meant to Live . I’ve been captivated by crazy talented makers from all over the world, basking in their creative passion, determination, vision and ethos to build lives they cherish by the talent of their hands and vision of heart.
In one of the profiles, I found a quote that I’ve been reading most days as a way to remind me, much like Buddhist monks who contemplate death (and living fully) by sitting in a morgue, that this life has an expiration date. Remembering we are all headed towards our own ending is a helpful nudge toward making the most of the time we have.
I find as I creep day by day nearer this final passage, (barring any unwelcome surprises that might deliver me sooner), thinking about what I still hope to accomplish and experience-what I wish for is the fire to make it happen. This quote from Apple icon, Steve Jobs is one such ember:
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything-all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure-these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
My heart consistently points me toward achievements and experiences bigger than what I feel equipped to handle, larger than I can accomplish. Maybe you too, have a heart with dreams and wishes that daunt you, but that won’t give you peace until you at least take them seriously, attempt to make something of them.
In that case, let me offer my dear poet John O’Donohue (who himself left this world at the tender age of 52) as another voice to turn to when clear and deep wisdom is needed. I’ll leave you with his words on courage just in case you need them, and wish for you the joys of a life full of what you came to live for.
When the light around lessens
And your thoughts darken until
Your body feels fear turn
Cold as a stone inside,
When you find yourself bereft
Of any belief in yourself
And all you unknowingly
Leaned on has fallen,
When one voice commands
Your whole heart,
And it is raven dark,
Steady yourself and see
That it is your own thinking
That darkens your world.
Search and you will find
A diamond-thought of light,
Know that you are not alone,
And that this darkness has purpose;
Gradually it will school your eyes,
To find the one gift your life requires
Hidden within this night-corner.
Invoke the learning
Of every suffering
You have suffered.
Close your eyes.
Gather all the kindling
About your heart
To create one spark
That is all you need
To nourish the flame
That will cleanse the dark
Of its weight of festered fear.
A new confidence will come alive
To urge you towards higher ground
Where your imagination
will learn to engage difficulty
As its most rewarding threshold!
In ancient cultures shamans learned that to name that which you feared was a practical way to begin to have power over it.
from –A Path With Heart: A Guide Through the Perils & Promises of Spiritual Life, Jack Kornfield
I get some of my most pithy inspirations while walking the treadmill in the morning. I do my best to get to the gym before 7am, with a book of some kind to read that bridges the inner connection while I tromp along. I’ve grown accustomed to being led to passages and pages, sometimes well away from the bookmark where I left off reading. I trust the flow. Once I read that Steven Spielberg got some of his best ideas in the shower, and studies have shown that we can open to a greater wellspring of knowingness, solutions to problems, answers to deep questions, and higher awareness when we are engaged in some repetitive task or routine that doesn’t require our single-minded attention. The combination of reading and walking is hypnotic and induces an almost trance like state that opens my mind to creative possibilities and options I wouldn’t sense in my everyday rational thought mode. It sets me up to begin the day feeling aligned with the something greater, divine.
Lately I’ve been savoring Making A Life: Working by Hand and Discovering the Life You Are Meant to Live by Melanie Falick. Devoted to telling stories of makers near and far with story headings like , “A Weaver’s Prayer”, Dyeing For A Better World”, “Curiosity As Wayfinder”, “Work in Progress”, each morning I’m drawn into worlds of artists who are living lives of beauty, meaning, and abundance of their own design. As I clomp along, shaking off the cobwebs of the night, I am treated to viewpoints and lifestyles that broaden and enrich my own, that give me courage and fortify my forward momentum. In tandem with this joyful read, is the deep and nourishing; A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils & Promises of Spiritual Life by Jack Kornfield. In Chapter Seven, Naming the Demons, Kornfield says:
We talked about the general principle of turning difficulties into practice. Recognizing these forces and giving them a name is a specific and precise way to work with them and develop our understanding. We can begin to name and acknowledge many beautiful states that grace our lives: joy, well-being, peace, love, enthusiasm, kindness. This is a way to honor and nurture them. In the same way, naming the difficulties we encounter brings clarity and understanding and can unlock and free the valuable energy bound up in them.
In the psychotherapy approach, Internal Family Systems, multiple sub-personality/ies within a person’s mental system are identified and addressed. Typically these represent the wounded parts and painful emotions that seek to control and keep a person from the pain of the wounded parts. PsychologyToday.com notes: “The sub-personalities are often in conflict with each other and with one’s core and undamaged Self, a concept at the core of every individual, and the essence of who you are.”
Reading the books together raises awareness of the various parts of me waving hands for attention. This year a more focused commitment to developing my education and experience in the fiber art world speaks to the Creatix in me, to the One Who Needs Solitude and Beautiful Space to Create. To follow the at times overpowering urge to make, and most often things I ‘ve never tried before like mixing natural dyes, dyeing yarn and fabric, and stitching and upcycling clothing, messenger bags, home decor, book covers, and accessories. Another possible direction is a movement, Craftivism, “the art of gentle protest”, that may fit in somehow with a course I am co-developing with a friend (more to follow on that). This also plays into what could be a natural fit to offer the combination of making and mindfulness into a class or group experience, so the Teacher/ Maker’s feelers are up.
At the same time, those sub-personalities wiggle to the spotlight for their say, and to do their best to save me from the hurts that they are sure will come from new growth spurts, putting myself out in different ways, and rescue me from the not uncommon frustrations that go along with learning curves. And make no mistake there are deep wounds around learning. I had forgotten the shaming that came with being a student over the years. But up it’s popped lately. The Shamed is front and center and so Name It To Tame It is part one of a powerful healing process. Whether shamanism, Buddhism, psychology or Soul Collage, each draws from the common well of getting to the root of what ails us and naming as a way to identify and clarify. Ultimately, when coupled with various activities such as making Soul Collage cards, art or written journaling, soul retrieval work through shamanism, naming and sitting with the energy and feelings, body sensations with Insight meditation techniques, guided imagery meditation to meet the parts that are in conflict with our next steps, we can work to reclaim lost or bound up energy within, and re-access the Self, the core and wholeness always present. We Name It To Claim It.
I’d love to hear about your learning adventures for the year. What are you setting your sights on? Are you doing your own Naming to Tame & Claim? If so, Brava! May you gain your freedom, joy and ease. See you on the path. xx
Only one hour away from North Andover, but worlds different from my daily rounds, is the St. Scholastica Priory. I first learned of the sanctuary when I needed a mama break, an overnight away from home to rest and regroup when Niko was an infant and while we actually lived in Central Mass. Located in Petersham, nestled amongst 200 acres of woodlands and surrounded by 10,000 acres of conservation land, the space offers a unique experience for retreatants.
I stayed at the guesthouse for several days, with only one other occupant so quiet and peace were ample and welcome. The sisters and brothers participate in the seven hours of Divine Office (below, the weekday schedule) :
and as a guest one is welcome to attend all, sung in mostly Latin Gregorian chant. One is also invited to eat lunch in silence with the sisters (or brothers if male) in their dining hall, with the exception of their Olde English Sheepdog pup who is not silent at all, but adorable nonetheless!
I spent my days reflecting, meditating on the coming days of 2020 and doing some deep healing and processing. The first days were nourishing, bathed in the sounds of chanting and the devotional energy shed layers of stress and concern that have blanketed me for months. The rhythms of regular prayer were a salve and comforting. Having the sole purpose of devoting time without other agenda in this way allowed for a shaking loose of constraints and reconnection with essentials; breath, body, heart. The absence of duty, familiar surroundings and routine opened space to be with life and its spirit in undistracted ways.
Purposely setting aside distraction invites the arrival of that which needs attention, and so I spent a fair amount of my retreat sitting with and wrangling with shadowy messengers. And it was as it should be.
To book lodgings contact the guest mistress. While there is not set fee for visiting, donations are welcome.
to learn more about the sanctuary: St. Scholastica Priory
The introduction to the saints and mystics began early on my spiritual path. Theirs were some of the first stories and divine beings I learned about. They stirred my heart especially, thinking about the circumstances many of them endured and lived, loved and thrived through. St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) , Benedictine abbess, visionary, composer, polymath was tithed to the Church at a young age-if one can imagine such a thing- and is reported to have become an anchorite, deliberately walled into the confines of a structure with only the barest living essentials, spending her days within the strict enclosure (at least until later in life when she became magistra of her own community of nuns.) in prayer, meditation, studying. She did not come into her own until middle age, as prolific writer, composer, orator, healer and more. Perhaps this restrictive existence contributed to the deepening of her gifts, or at the very least the removal of distraction to face them and surrender to bringing out into the greater world as she did eventually.
Enamored and fascinated by her and others: St. Joan of Arc, St. Francis of Assisi, Julian of Norwich, Bernadette of Lourdes, Gobnait, of course, Brigid, Mother Mary and others, I found a deep resonance with the mystic life; challenging no matter the century we find ourselves in. Like Hildegard who is quoted as writing:
“Although I heard and saw wondrous and mysterious things, I refused to write them down because of self-doubt and my fear of the opinion of others,” she wrote. Weary and frightened, she gathered the strength to begin recording her visions. Once she started to write, her health greatly improved. “Cynthia Overweg, Hildegard of Bingen: The Nun Who Loved the Earth
I’ve resisted opening up about some of the mystical experiences I’ve had. I, too, have found that as I have given up the struggle, surrendered to the life that wants to come through me, that I feel stronger and more alive. My sense is that we as a species are becoming more aware of our spiritual senses and find our days are richer, more authentic and real as we embrace our divine nature and essence, grounding heaven in these earthy bodies. And for me, that expresses itself through a drive to seek out and write about the mystical, mythical, miraculous and mysterious we encounter on our journeys. I believe we are awakening our inner mystics and miracle makers now like never before, an en-mass quickening, shaking ourselves out of a bad dream in order to dream a new one of our conscious making, one that can re-enchant our existence, restore a wild love, holy inter- connectedness, and natural order to this tender world.
Today Wild Wandering takes us to a shrine I first discovered in 2004: St. Anne in Sturbridge, Ma.
The Parish website retells:
“In 1879, Monsignor Elzear Brochu, a Southbridge pastor in failing health, pledged to St. Anne that if he were to regain his strength, he would propagate her devotion by building a shrine in her honor. He did recover his health, so he purchased the land and had the present St. Anne Church constructed in 1883. He predicted that great wonders would be worked there. St. Anne Church as built in 1883 as a mission of Notre Dame Parish in Southbridge, MA. Simultaneously, another mission was established under the patronage of St. Patrick. Both missions were united in 1887 to form St. Anne and St. Patrick Parish. “
Other healings have taken place over the years and the shrine has expanded to include an outdoor service pavilion, Hall of Saints, Russian Icon Exhibit, Angel of Hope, Generations Statue, a number of outdoor tributes such as a Way of the Cross, large Crucifixion, labyrinth, and a number of assorted outdoor statuary.
I spent time in prayer in front of St. Anne and can tell you there is certainly an energy field held in this space. Even with a few fellow pilgrims coming and going, it was not difficult to stay in the quiet ambiance of the sanctuary.
The Shrine is open daily and masses are held throughout the week. Plan on spending some time, lots to take in.
Peace on you