At Imbolc, Winter is waning and the season turns toward Spring. The groundhog is said to be a predictor of the arrival of Spring. If the groundhog sees its shadow, off it goes back into its hole, informing us that Winter won’t be letting go soon. If it doesn’t see its shadow, Spring is on its way.
This shadow dance is familiar to us humans. As the shifting light and warming days coax the groundhog from its den in search of the quickening signs of Spring, so does our hunger for the spring of new beginnings coax us to leave behind the refuge of what we know and sniff the air for signs of shifting possibilities. What we seek draws us into the light of greater consciousness, and where there is light there is shadow.
Shadow in our human psyche is the depository of the repressed, denied and vilified parts of our personal lives and human society: our pain, dysfunction and unpalatable, uncontrollable instincts and emotions. When we encounter our personal or collective shadow, our first impulse, like the groundhog, is to retreat into the blinders and comforts of our old ways and their winter-like grip of stagnation and stasis.
We forget, in our fear and projections, that the shadow realm also holds the raw materials of our deeper potential. And that the things we repress, deny and vilify just might be exactly what we need — secret truths, hidden gifts and latent powers — to heal, grow and flourish.
In our forgetting, we act out from our repressed and denied places, and doom ourselves and our world to be ruled by that which we refuse to face and claim as a part of our human experience.
In our forgetting, we become half-human, shut off from essential parts of our nature and selfhood, and truncated in our self-knowing, expression and evolution.
Imbolc is a between time, of Winter thawing into Spring, and of the dark giving way to the light. We are not separate from these natural energies and their life-seeking drives. Nor can we leave our shadow behind as we reach out to the springtime call of new possibilities, personal growth and societal change. Rather than giving into our instinct to retreat from our shadow, transformative change comes when we have the courage and compassion to reach out our hand and heart to our shadow, and to step together into the returning powers of light and life.
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At the edge of the known world, where the everyday gives way to the deeper Mysteries that underlie human reality, She waits for you. Her hand is extended, reaching to you with an open invitation to join Her at this edge place where the ancient hera path of the Goddess begins.
We best know Her as the Goddess Persephone through Greek mythology, yet Her hera tale is much, much older, rising out of the Sumerian stories of the Goddess Inanna. For millennia, Persephone has carved the hera path deep into the dream of the living world, making Her journey into the Underworld in the Fall, and returning to the sunlit realm in the Spring.
The Goddess’s hera path is foundational to my Path of She offerings. In this free ebook, Four Seasons of the Hera Path, I’ll share this Goddess wisdom teaching with you, both on a conceptual, inspirational level, and as a Guided Journey Series that can direct your transformational travels on the hera path in service of your journey of soul.
In section 1 of the Four Seasons of the Hera Path, you’ll discover the powerful ways the hera path speaks to your spiritual pathwork: as Goddess mysteries, preserved in ancient mythic tales; an empowering, alternative framework for spiritual growth and evolution; an inspirational tale for these modern times; and a four-season framework that can guide your spiritual pathwork in alignment with the mysteries of the Goddess, and the primal lessons of Nature.
In section 2, you’ll be introduced to the Path of She Guided Journey Series which facilitates your four-season journey through the hera path. Each season is a step along the hera path, guided by the Goddess, illuminated by Nature’s seasonal teachings, and translated into a key focus for your personal explorations and spiritual pathwork. The four seasons take you through a complete cycle of the hera path that you can return to again and again.
If you feel a yes arise within you, the Four Seasons of the Hera Path and the Path of She Guided Journey Series can guide your hera journey of becoming ever more deeply, beautifully, powerfully your Self, one season and one cycle at a time.
We gather in a heritage hall on my island home for our Samhain ritual. Warm bodies squeeze close together to form a circle of pagan and non-pagan folks, grownups and children, and even a couple of dogs, with the room filled to capacity.
It’s been a hard, heartbreaking year for our community. The Ancestors altar is covered with photographs and mementos of those that have passed. There have been many deaths, and the tragic loss of two precious youth in one September weekend that shook this island to its core. I feel this collective grief in my own heart, and in this gathering. Samhain is the time when we honor and name those we’ve lost this year, and commune with our Beloved Dead.
Yet there’s more than grief and loss in the room. At the opposite end of the cycle of life are the youth, our children, and the souls waiting to be born. These beings we honor on the Descendants altar, and through the naming of the newborns this year.
I stand beside the Ancestors altar with another priestess. Across the circle from us, two priestesses stay by the Descendants altar. The four us will be calling in the Ancestors and Descendants, and then shifting into paired partners of Deep Witness and Tender.
The Deep Witnesses don’t actively participate in the ritual. They sit — veiled, empty and silent — acting as anchors and observers of the deep dream of our magic. I’m one of the Tenders. Our priestess role is to support and protect our Deep Witness, and to stay by her side for the duration of the ritual.
As the ritual begins, I notice that I feel different than my usual, high-intensity magical engagement. I’m somber, watchful and empty present — a guardian and observer of the Deep Witness and our community as we enter the powerful, mysterious and mournful experience of Samhain.
Together we create sacred space. The circle is cast. We ground. The Elements are called in through song. Goddesses and other Mysteries are invoked. Our priestess group calls in the Ancestors and Descendants.
I listen from the edge of the circle, attuned to the movements of bodies, weaving of energy, and quality of presence, more than the individual words and actions. I step forward to do my calling in task, and then settle into my role as Tender.
I notice the seamless sharing of leadership, power and space — the many priestesses working together to co-create this magical experience for our community. The talent and expertise in this room are immense, diverse, breathtaking, yet I don’t sense inflated egos, jealousy or competition.
We move on to the reading of the names of the dead who have passed this year — what is remembered lives. And the dead come, slipping past the veil that separates us, to drink of our grief, our love, and our honoring.
I notice how natural this is, how right for us to be with our honored dead in these ways. They move among us, touching the faces of their beloved kin with their hands of light, soothing the broken hearts of those left behind, letting us know that they are still with us, just a thought, a name, a song away.
Two priestesses begin to trace a path in the center of the circle, one drumming and together weaving a hauntingly beautiful guided trance to the Isle of Apples, the Pagan Land of the Dead. Everyone settles into a comfortable position, and makes their way to the blessed Isle to commune with their Beloved Dead.
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Ritual Credit: This Samhain ritual practice arises out of the Reclaiming Tradition of Witchcraft.
Photo Credit: Janko Ferlič on Unsplash
The natural world and our human psyches turn toward the mysteries of death at Samhain. Cold and darkness descend upon the land, and the wild world shifts into decay and a death-like sleep. In many cultures, this time of year is marked by offerings and rituals to honor the dead, our beloved ancestors.
Usually we don’t like to think about death. Most of us run as fast as we can from the frightening specter that decline and death conjure in us. It is the ultimate irony that the moment we are born into life, with our very first breath, we are also born into death. And we must live every moment, every breath, knowing that we will die, and that everything around us, all that we love and cherish, will eventually come to decay, to death, to dust.
Samhain teaches us that there is no hiding from death. It comes in the falling of leaves, the lengthening darkness and the cold grip of Winter. It comes in our remembrances of our beloved ancestors that have passed on. It comes in the wrenching of our heart as we witness a dear one slip from this world into the next. It comes with the graying at our temples, the sagging of our flesh and the unstoppable march toward our last breath.
And death comes with gifts in hand if we have the courage to show up raw and naked to our pain, losses and fears.
that every breath is a miracle not to be wasted;
that each person, each creature and life form, is worthy, precious, sacred;
that life is oh so hard and oh so exquisite;
that pain and loss help us remember what we cherish most;
and that love, at the end of all things, is what remains.
Love is death’s most precious gift to us. Love, not money, possessions, career, social esteem and the many other alluring outer trappings of life, is the balm that soothes us in the face of death. Love is what connects us to those who have passed on. Love calls us to reach out and hold each other in our grief. Love is what joins us heart to heart and soul to soul to another. Love is our best offering from our Deep Self to the world.
Samhain is a time to contemplate the mysteries of death, not from a place of fear and resistance, but from an acceptance of death as a teacher and guide for the living. Yes we are born into life and born into death, and it is this very, inescapable fact that makes every moment so precious, fragile and bittersweet beautiful.
Death isn’t a summons to fear, it is an invitation to love, deeply, wildly, joyfully. And when death seeks us out at the end of our days, let our last breath be a prayer to love.
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With the arrival of Fall, change is in the air as the seasons of light and life turn once more to those of darkness and death. One cycle through these elemental forces comes to an end and another begins. The Fall Equinox is the tipping point, a brief time of balance between light and darkness, before the living world surrenders itself to the waxing powers of the sacred dark.
Light and dark modulate Nature’s primal cycle and responses. The weakening rays of the sun, nip of frost in the air, and ever-increasing erosion of daylight hours speak in the language of physical matter, and plants and creatures listen, adapting their appearance and habits in preparation for the coming Winter — trees shed their autumn foliage; plants give up their harvest, and then wither away; birds and animals shift into to their fall patterns of migration, hibernation, and stockpiling foodstuff for the barren days ahead.
These are the natural rhythms and ways of Mother Earth and Her wild inhabitants, dialed into a seasonal cycle that honors darkness equally to light, and balances times of outward activity and growth with inward focus and repose. In Fall, life instinctively returns to the rich, potent mysteries of the sacred dark where every new cycle and new beginning finds its deep roots and origins.
On a physical level, this may mean wearing warmer clothes, eating different foods, spending more time indoors, or turning the heat up on your thermostat. Deeper still, on the level of soul, you can follow Nature’s lead by slowing down, making room for repose, and reflection, and turning inward to the realm of the sacred dark to seek out the deep, spiritual roots of your new cycle on your journey of soul.
Here, in the rich, potent mysteries of the sacred dark, you can source these deep roots of your spiritual growth in the secret desires, hidden treasures, lost stories, sleeping potential, and other gifts that can inspire and guide your spiritual pathwork of transformative change in the weeks, months and seasons to come.
Every Fall, a new cycle of transformative change begins in the potent depths and great unknown of the sacred dark. Yet we don’t heed this primal truth in our busy, modern lives. We’ve been trained to look outside of ourselves for meaning and direction, limiting our awareness to the material, well-lit world of the things we already know and understand. We’ve forgotten and fear the transformative mysteries of the sacred dark, of Nature, of soul, and of the Goddess.
Every Fall, the Goddess Persephone reaches out with Her ancient story to help you remember and reclaim these transformative mysteries. Persephone’s tale comes from Greek mythology, and is founded in much older Goddess tales of the hera’s journey of descent and return from the Underworld.
Persephone’s tale can inspire you to gather the courage and commitment to embark on your own hera journey. As you travel this ancient path, following in Persephone’s footsteps by your own choice and freewill, much will be asked of you. You begin this journey when you step beyond the border of your comfortable, known world, and open yourself to the vast, unknown realm of the sacred dark. This isn’t a journey you can control or predict. Trials may arise to test and grow you. Your fears of the dark, the unknown, and the shadow places within you may be triggered.
These things are to be expected and honored, because the Underworld, like life, is meant to test and hone you through challenges and trials. Yet great gifts and treasures also await your discovery, because what you seek is nothing less than the deep roots and wholeness of your true, beautiful Self.
Your Fall Journey, through integrated writings, activities and a guided meditation, helps you explore and embrace these powerful teachings, and make them your own as you set off on your hera journey in search of the new cycle of spiritual growth that‘s stirring for you in the depths of the sacred dark at this time.
Open to Nature’s invitation to heed the strengthening, elemental powers of darkness. Embrace the sacred dark in your spiritual pathwork of transformative change. Follow Persephone’s lead, and begin your own hera journey of self-discovery, spiritual growth and wholeness. Call up your fierce courage. Step past your fears. Leave behind the things that bind and block you from your deep roots and wholeness. Then descend into the mysteries of the sacred dark, within and without, and let them guide your Fall Journey in search of the deep, spiritual roots of your new cycle in the fall season.
Fall Journey – You Hera Path: Seeking Your Spiritual Roots
Step beyond the world you know.
Discover the transformative mysteries of the sacred dark.
Claim the deep roots and hidden gifts of the next cycle on your journey of soul.
Your Fall Journey awaits you!
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