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,
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.
-from Death Wish blog
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.
-from John O’Donohue’s poem on courage
First, a thanks to those of you who reached out to me to share your thoughts about the Death Wish blog. Thanks to you who show up to read, and who let me know it is worth your while. Many of us seem to find death a motivator for living fully! Hitting the send button released an arrow into the heart of the many loves I have yet to breathe life into, and for those who felt that sting too, I am so glad you let me know. To whatever place in your life it speaks, I am comforted and bolstered to know you are here, too. Talking with friend and fiber art mentor, Zwitsa over my lesson this week (embroidering my first pair of texting mitts), I once again realized how essential the act of writing is in sorting out and revealing the deeper workings of my heart. We laughed now that I’ve outed myself, there’s no turning back. I hadn’t intended the post to be a call to action in the way now just a couple days later it has become. But, as the saying goes, one thing leads to another……
My birth chart book backs up this need to go boldly forward. Seems the stars are aligned and there is nothing for it, but to strap on the climbing gear, throw on the rucksack and begin. “A new confidence will come alive
To urge you towards higher ground.” We can remember O’Donohue’s assurance as we step onto this path together.
So. Ok, Universe: We’re In. Where do we go from here?
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) :
- 5:55 AM Vigils (Monks: 5:00 AM)
- 6:30 AM Lauds
- 9:30 AM Mass and Terce
- 1:00 PM Sext
- 3:00 PM None
- 6:00 PM Vespers
- 8:00 PM Compline
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