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Celebrating the Summer Solstice

Posted on:  Jun 20, 2018 @ 13:25 Posted in:  Sabbats

Excerpt from Path of She Book of Sabbats.

At the Summer Solstice, your journey of soul invites you to blossom, shining forth the true essence and beauty of your Deep Self into the sunlit world of your everyday life. Emulate Nature in this summer season of generosity and abundance by cultivating your soul-sourced authenticity and sharing your best gifts and qualities with others.

At the Summer Solstice, the Divine power that awaits you is your own Goddess Self who holds your remembrance of the ways and mysteries of the sacred feminine.

The Solstice marks the first day of Summer and a peak in the powers of light before the scales tip once more toward the dark. Nature grants us a heady display of its fully unfurled beauty and overflowing munificence. From the mighty oak tree with its vast, green canopy to the fledgling robin casting itself from the nest, what is inside, the unique, luminescent spark of Creation within each living being, seeks its destined place in the sunlit world.

Midsummer festivities are part of our ancestral heritage and are still celebrated around the world. Bonfires are lit, honoring the brilliance and fertility of the summer sun. Merriment, music, dancing and feasting abound, reminding us to take pleasure in the good things in life while the days are long and hot, and the natural realm shares its plentitude.

The life-centered ways of the Goddess and the sacred feminine are revealed in this plentitude. The Mother Earth holds us in Her loving, generous embrace, showering us with beauty and nourishment for our hungry bellies and souls.

The Goddess is everywhere and in everything, calling forth the innate instinct within every living thing to blossom into the full expression of its true essence and purpose in accordance with its unique place in the great weaving of life.

The robin cannot help but embrace its powers of flight, navigating the air space on its outstretched wings. The oak cannot help but burst forth from the acorn, sending its brown roots earthward and its green arms skyward. We cannot help but reach for our place in the greater world, drawing on the essence and gifts of our Deep Self.  We may repress and truncate this primal soul imperative, yet our innate, unquenchable desire to flourish in our own unique way remains, ready to bloom outward, in all its brilliance, into a waiting world.

At the Summer Solstice, the Divine power that waits for you is your own Goddess Self who holds your remembrance of the ways and mysteries of the sacred feminine. She resides within the core of your being, connecting you with your inherent, indisputable beauty, worthiness and sacred purpose. She will show you the parts of your beauty and purpose that are ready to blossom, and will guide your journey of soul as you cultivate this blossoming in your everyday life.

In reuniting with your Goddess Self, you are realigning your inner and outer landscapes with the ethos of abundance that arises from the Mother Earth and permeates the natural realm.

When you offer your very best to the communal table of humanity, in a spirit of grace, goodness and generosity, you are making abundance a real, substantive part of your life and the greater environment of your family, workplace and community, and encouraging others to do the same. From these small and big changes, an ethos of abundance can take root and flourish in our human society where there is enough love and nourishment to feed, mend and transform our lives and our world.

Celebrate the Summer Solstice with the Path of She Book of Sabbats. 

Buy now at the Path Store.

A Father and Daughter Story: Greeting Death When It Arrives On My Doorstep

Posted on:  Jun 14, 2018 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Path Basics

On May 5, just over one month ago as the sun reached its peak in the skies of Eastern Canada, my father, Brian Clifford Clark, left this world. He died in peace in his hospital bed, his last breath so gentle that my brother Barry, his sole witness, almost missed it. I woke on this morning, before I knew what had happened, and sensed that all was well and my dad was going home.  And he has gone home, to rest, to peace, to love, to goodness.

When the death of my beloved father arrives on my doorstep, there’s relief, gratitude, grief, disorientation, love, transformation, remembering and saying goodbye.

As a pagan who travels the path of the Goddess, death is something that I embrace as a natural, essential part of the cycle of life. I honor death in the turning of the seasons, in the great and small endings and beginnings that mark my journey through life, and as the catalyst for profound transformation.

The death of my beloved father makes these things raw and real for me. I’m awake and aching in the midst of the disorienting mysteries of death, and finding my Self and footing in a world without my dad in it, where his immense presence and loving support are no longer a phone call, plane ride or hug away.

These are some of the many ways I’m greeting death with its arrival on my doorstep.

There is relief. The passing of my dad was best for him. He had been ill and suffering for a long time, not with a specific ailment, but more from the stripping away of his independence, strength and physical capacities. He was burnt out and exhausted, hanging on only by sheer will and his desire to stay with my mother, his wife, beloved and best friend of sixty-three years. I’m glad and at peace that he has been set free.

There is gratitude. My father was a beautiful, loving, complex soul. He was grumpy, edgy, willful and a handful at times, with big energy, big will, a strong sense of himself, and a deep integrity, generosity, kindness and thoughtfulness. He loved each of us in my family for who we were, with no strings attached. He loved me, deeply, fully, openly, and I him. It was, and always will be, my great honor and blessing to be his daughter.

There is returning to roots. I traveled to my hometown to be with my mother, collect my father’s ashes, and honor his memory with my family. The setting, the stories, these beautiful, quirky people: this is where I come from, and what I’m made of. My dad’s legacy is us, his children and grandchildren, and I know myself better in their company.

There is grief. I have no words for the immensity of my loss and heartbreak. It’s like an ocean, deep and vast, that can be a gentle wave or a tsunami. Mostly, I’ve chosen the gentle wave, dipping my toe in, and then retreating. But the tsunami comes, sudden and overwhelming, and I surrender to its cleansing work. I expect that I’ll have this grief until my last breath, something that I’ll get used to rather than get over.

There is peace between us. It’s the rare person who escapes from childhood and family dynamics unscathed. Death is a time of raw honesty, where the truths of unsaid and unfinished business make their way back to the surface. These too are part of the transformative mysteries of death, guiding our journey of healing.  Blessedly, my father and I did our healing work and cleaned up our unfinished business many years ago. We found a place of truth that could hold both the hardships and the beauty of our journey together, and that gifted us with pleasure and peace in each other’s company.

There is disorientation. There’s never been a moment in my life without my dad.  His DNA, energetic patterns, love, approval and presence are built into my very foundation.  I learned about men, parenthood, marriage, family and the things that matter most through his living example. I witnessed aging, dignity and suffering through his end years. Now he is gone, and some essential part of me and my life has been snatched away, changing my world forever. I feel this, but don’t get it yet. And I don’t need to get it. It’s enough to accept this disorientation, and the change it brings, as natural parts of life’s journey.

There is quiet. I’m tired and emotionally raw. I’m not good at small talk, and seek only the company of those that I already know well. And I’m not interested in my own internal angst and noise. I need rest. Solitude.  Simplicity. Routine. Walks. Nature. Dance. Good food. Joy. Kindness.Thoughtful regard. Space to just be. Emptiness to become something new.

There is compassion. Our culture runs from the reality of death, but our hearts do not. We all live on the cusp of losing those dearest to us.  When the inevitable but devastating happens, our hearts invite us to greater compassion for ourselves and others. I hold my mother in a gentle tenderness as she navigates this great loss with courage and dignity, and my siblings do the same. My heart aches as others share their stories of grief and loss. And I’m touched in turn by the tenderness and compassion offered to me by my family, friends and people in my community.

Mostly, there is love. Grief is the flip side of love. When we love fiercely, so too we mourn deeply.  This is death’s greatest teaching: that we are here to love, deeply, freely, fiercely. I will miss my dad, forever, with every breath.  And I will love him fiercely, forever, with every breath.  So too I love my mother, my partner, my son, my siblings, my nieces and nephews, my dear friends, my Self, and my precious life, fiercely, forever, with every breath.

There is transformation. Death is changing me. My outer world may look the same, but I’m undergoing a metamorphosis. The only words that come to me are that I must become big — to span and contain these many ways I’m greeting death, all at the same time — to open my heart wide to my fierce love and deep grief, and to risk this same love and grief for everyone in my life — to show up fully in my own skin and dare the wild ride that is my life — and to honor my father by cherishing myself as he cherished me, and by living by his ethos of personal strength, integrity, kindness, and care for others.

There is remembering. I wear my dad’s watch so he is with me, close to my skin, marking the moments of my life. What is remembered lives.  I will remember my dad, with every moment, every breath, every thought, and every act of kindness that comes my way.  He lives with me, in me, in my family, and all around me in the beauty of this wild and wonderful world he has now left behind.

There is saying goodbye. Peace be with you dad.  I love you. Forever.

A Beltane Teaching: The Lover’s Embrace of Life

Posted on:  Apr 28, 2018 @ 20:56 Posted in:  Sabbats

Right now, in the heat of Beltane, the wild realm is expressing itself so loudly and so boldly that we just need to step beyond our doorstep to receive its direct, powerful truth-speak: life is our ardent lover.

Life isn’t monogamous; we share life’s ardour with all growing things. At Beltane, life comes courting, gathering every one of us into its lover’s embrace.

How can we doubt this in the light of life’s wondrous love offerings: the hot kiss of sunshine on bare skin; dawn’s glorious chorus of birdsong; a meadow blanket of wildflowers; the soft, sweet bite of a fresh-picked strawberry; the bubbling laughter of a toddling child; and the electric stroke of a lover’s touch?

Our relationship with life is not monogamous; we share life’s ardour with all growing things of this Earth. At Beltane, life comes courting, gathering every one of us into its lover’s embrace.

Sex and birth are everywhere — delicious, unstoppable, untameable — as plants, flowers, birds, bees and creatures, great and small, mingle, mate and burst forth new life in a stunning, overflowing brilliance.

These wild impulses run hot in our blood, no matter our attempts to block or deny them. We soften and open with the sensual tease of the strengthening sun. We delight in the enticing scents of unfurling buds of plant and flower. The primal juice of the creature realm sings to our creature flesh, awakening our feral instincts to make love and make life. And deeper still, life’s lover powers stir the mysteries in the core of our being, igniting our hunger to birth and nurture our soul’s latent desires.

Yet so much toxic debris blocks our lover’s dance with life. The shadow-side of our humanity represses, denies and distorts these powerful energies. Nowhere is our humanity more profoundly wounded than in our sensual, sexual, soulful life-creating-life drives.

Nature guides us always, even in the face of this terrible, damaging aspect of our personal stories and collective humanity. For everything there is a season: a time to seek our truth and healing in the winter-like grasp of our sorrow and pain, and a time to cast off the cold, deadening grip of our shadow-side and bask in the light and beauty of new growth and possibilities.

Of all of life’s magnificent love offerings, the most miraculous is the gift of our Self. Every breath is a gift, as are the wonders of our spirit, mind and body. And with these precious gifts, we get to choose what we make with what we’ve been given.

Life is not a doting, ever-benevolent lover. Everything in the growing world has its seasons through death and darkness, and life and light. We are no different.

New life emerges from stagnation and death. What is deep and best in us arise out of our wounding and loss. Sometimes we have to hold on to these truths in the thick of our pain and sorrow. Sometimes we have to trust that the new that we long for is the true and best balm to what ails us. Sometimes, if only for a sun-bright season, we have to leave our hurt behind and give all we’ve got to tend and grow into the life we most dearly want to live. We can choose to dig deep, shine bright and make the most with what we’ve been given.

In these ways, we become the lover that returns life’s embrace.

Excerpt from: Path of She Book of Sabbats.  Available on Amazon.

If you would like to make a delicious, transformative journey yourself into the mysteries of Beltane, check out the Beltane Guided Meditation: Dancing with the Green Man.

On Sale for Beltane at the Path Store for only $5.99.

Photo Credit: Tyler Dozier on Unsplash

 

Pagan Dreamer: Breathe. Love. Listen. Change the World.

Posted on:  Apr 7, 2018 @ 20:34 Posted in:  Pagan Dreamer

The Dream

I’m at a pagan spiritual retreat, helping to lead ritual. I guide our group in a breath exercise that’s a mirror of the process of deep change. We breathe and move in the space together, turning our awareness inward on the inhale, and outward on the exhale, shifting from self focus to other focus.

Breath. Love. Listen. Offer up your best presence and support to yourself and others. This is how we can heal and transform ourselves and world together.

On the inhale, I ask the question: how do you want/need to change; and on the exhale: how do others need you to change? We continue this breath and attention process, over and over again: inward to outward, self to other, personal change versus change in others, seeking our individual place and purpose in this time of collective transformation.

The dream ends leaving me with an insight into my relationship with my aging parents. What they need from me and my siblings is not only our well-intended support, but also more asking and listening on our part: what do you want? need? how can we best support you in this time of transition and endings?

Dream Teaching

Although this dream ends on a personal note, it’s really a big picture dream that addresses the pressing question: how do we find our place and purpose in these edgy, transformative times we live in?  Do we focus on personal change that arises from our life story and circumstances? Or do we dedicate ourselves to outer change?  What drives deep transformation: our individual narrative and journey, or societal, outward-focused action?

In this era of the #metoo and #neveragain movements, people are showing up to their personal pain and translating it into a collective force for deep-rooted, desperately needed social change.  A raw, authentic, irrepressible power is released in this fusion of inner and outer, and self and other that is challenging the very foundations of our status quo reality with its battle cry: enough is enough, and the time of change is now.

These courageous, inspiring movements teach us that there’s no separation between our inner, personal lives and the outer, greater world. Our individual wounding arises from the ills of our shared society, and the ills of society arise out of our individual wounding. Both are in need of our loving focus, and our commitment to healing and transformation.

You don’t need to be marching in the streets to participate in this epic, global movement. Instead you can keep things simple and close to home, beginning with wherever you are right now in your life. Just follow the practice offered by my dream.

Breathe, deep and slow, turning your awareness inward and then outward, from self to other, over and over again: how do you want/need to change? how do others need you to change?

Listen deeply to yourself. Listen deeply to those around you. Listen deeply to the sorrows of the world that call to you. How can you best support yourself and others in this time of transition and endings?  What is your place and purpose in the making of a saner, kinder and more loving world? Whatever you discover can guide your journey of healing and transformation, both personally and in your greater environment, at whatever depth and pace are right for you at this time.

Lesson in Pagan Dreaming

Dreams are not just about powerful ideas and insights. They’re also emotional experiences.  Often dreamwork focuses primarily on the images and content of the dream. Just as important is how the dream makes you feel, and this too is part of the dream teaching.

My dream begins with a group, collective experience, and shares a breath and awareness practice for deep inner and outer change. This is the primary content of the dream. Yet the dream isn’t done with its offerings; it finishes with an intensely tender, emotional part of my life: my love and support of my aging parents.

This is raw and real for me.  In the dream, I connect with the visceral, vital power of my love and compassion for my parents, and my desire to do my very best to listen and support them in this last part of their lives.

And I get, from this emotive, heart-wrenching part of the dream, that this same quality of love, compassion, presence and commitment is what is being asked of me, you, and every one of us as we take this bumpy, terrifying, glorious ride of healing and transforming our lives and world together.

This dream tells us to breathe, to love, and to listen from our deepest, most tender heart and best self, not just to those close and dear to us, but also to ourselves, and the many others in our lives, even those that we may see as our enemy. Death is a messy, emotional business, as is the birthing of new life, and that’s where we’re collectively at: a death-rebirth moment that’s being driven not just by our pain and wounding, but more importantly by our love and best presence.

So breathe. Love. Listen. Offer up your best presence and support to yourself and others.  Start simple, small and close to home. Trust that you’ll find your place, purpose, and kin that walk your same path. The time of change is now.  And this is how we can heal and transform ourselves and world together.

Photo Credit: Elvis Ma on Unsplash

An Imbolc Teaching: The Shadow Dance

Posted on:  Jan 29, 2018 @ 22:22 Posted in:  Sabbats

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.

Leave behind the dark of Winter, and step into Spring’s light of new beginnings. Where there’s light, there’s shadow. Together they can transform your life.

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.

What we forget in this retreat impulse is that light and shadow dance together. There cannot be one without the other. We humans are woven of light and shadow, of good and bad qualities and instincts, and of things known and mysteries yet to be discovered.

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.

Excerpt from: A Path of She Book of Sabbats: A Journey of Soul Across the Seasons. Available in ebook and paperback--visit the Path Store.

Photo Credit: Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash