What is real?

View from deck 042417Is it real, this world? It is for me, but what if this abundant magnificence that I enjoy every day were, in a few thousand years, to disappear? And all that was left were stories of vast green tangled-woods where birds sing and night creatures roam; would that make what I have known any less real simply because no one can any longer imagine that this beauty could have been possible? So what about our own myths and legends. Are their stories real? Does it matter? Or does it only matter that we embrace the tales as portals into growth, self-realization, and love on all scales, so that the wonders of what-once-was can be manifest again?

My favorite aspect of Avalon Within: a sacred journey of myth, mystery, and inner wisdom is that the author Jhenah Telyndru offers to readers her perceptions of the Arthurian legends of Avalon entwined with the myths of Celtic Goddesses and energizes them through our modern understanding of archetypes. We are invited to explore not only what Avalon means to the author but to dive into uncovering what it might mean to each of us. How do we understand “Avalon within”?

IMG_0354Telyndru presents Avalon’s history in the context of Glastonbury and, while admitting we have no proof of this physical location might have been that of the ancient Avalon, she offers a possibility that, “Fabricated or authentic, there is an energetic connection to Avalon that overlays the town of Glastonbury like an ancient mist, constructed over time and through the workings of the collective unconscious.” I certainly don’t know whether I believe that Glastonbury was once the legendary Avalon, but that doesn’t really matter to me. Because, for me, Avalon is within…within me and within our imaginations and it is there the power for transformation and self-realization lies; we can recreate Avalon.

Telyndru goes on to say: “Firmly rooted in the archetypal realm, Avalon can be accessed through focused and disciplined inner questing.” And, while she provides many “tools” for “journeying to the spiritual landscape of ancient Avalon,” Telyndru also states that “there are as many ways of knowing as there are portals.” I’m grateful for her openness and acceptance that, although she has discovered the symbols and portals that resonate most strongly for her (and created her own Avalonian Tradition around them), and which she shares with all of us, she also realizes that many other ways of access are available to each of us.

Was Avalon real? Can we re-imagine a non-patriarchal version–a place of healing and wonder–into our world?

She Weeps and Fills the Well

In perfect synchronicity, last night I began reading about “entering the cauldron” of Ceridwen (Avalon Within by J. Telyndru) to receive the gifts of wisdom and prophecy, of healing. This morning, I woke to “the blessed rain that falls like grace, without regard to wealth or race” (from the song “We Were Sleeping” by Carrie Newcomer) — this is the rain that fills the well from which we draw the water for our cauldron. In a spiral of life, a deluge of water moving from one place to another, healing and nourishing. I feel myself soften and relax, just as I imagine the newly green trees are doing, as we breathe into the moisture together.

Rainy Day in the Trees 042017I would agree with Telyndru that “true healing is a function of the soul.” This is the premise that I have adhered to for more than two decades, and is the touchstone of my own spirituality and healing journey. The cauldron is a womb, a place of transformative power where the waters of grace hold the ingredients of that which we have uncovered within ourselves. Then, through each cycle of “cooking,” we bring forth precious drops of wisdom and heal a bit more of ourselves and thus the world. Or, as Telyndru puts it in her interpretation of the myth of Ceridwen’s cauldron:

“As we embark upon this quest for wholeness we gather the scattered parts of ourselves; at different times and in different seasons, we add them to the brew. Through this alchemical process, we reveal the three drops of Awen–the illumination within the shadow. Freeing these drops causes the vessel to break–the unneeded elements of the brew are our outmoded patterns ….”

And yet, the journey is far from over for, as many wise teachers have said, enlightenment is a process, not a single event. So, once the cauldron shatters and we ingest the wisdom of that particular brew, we form a new container for our experiences and begin again.

Celtic Flame

A new morning practice encourages me to wander into the patterns of Celtic women’s spirituality, to honor my ancestors and meet them at the hearth where we all come to join hearts and minds in a covenant of belonging. Blessings well up to keep me conscious of gifts received and reminders to share my abundance.

First thing in the morning, light the flame, a signal of conscious awareness; last thing at night, honor the dimming of glow in the house where shadows merge and reign upon our sanctuary, a blanket of dark protection. Here are the tethers of life, the wicks of gratitude and love; where once were coals upon a central fireplace, now a candle represents the resurrection off hearth-keeping as a sacred vocation, even when only an act of diminutive devotion.

IMG_0280Some of my ancestors came from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and the English borderlands. Those who have studied their life-ways and myths or legends remind us that, “They can show us how to do ordinary things in a spirit of celebration that comes from a sense of being connected with the flow of humanity, the life energies.”

I wrote a while back about my personal and unique path to tending the hearth fire. My relationship to hearth and home is in continual transformation as I explore the mysteries of life. It is said that, “the household fire was more than a practical convenience … it was a reminder of the flame of life, of the need to rekindle basic energies every day of our lives, to keep in touch with our inner life force and avoid apathy and coldness in ourselves or towards others.” When I light my candle, this remembering is a portion of the context in which I see the flickering and feel it within myself.

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Quotes are from Power of Raven, Wisdom of Serpent: Celtic Women’s Spirituality by Norah Jones.

Unseen Healing

IMG_0456Among the unseen is the healing. This be within air, fire, water, earth, and ether. This be within plant, animal, and mineral. This be within feeling, thought, soul, and spirit. We know not the unseen that brings these into form and formless expression.

I know in my soul that before the patriarchy there was a different perception of life, though we cannot confirm definitively how that was. Our meager human minds seek the solid but pass over the subtle. We see what we want to see. Even among modern pagan paths, rarely is found the expansive vision needed to go beyond substance to subtlety for boundless healing.

Some accept energy work of the body, far fewer embrace the unseen resonance that is beyond the herbs in their physical forms. Many cling to a substantive view of wise women as herbalists, without opening to the wider and deeper vibrations within the plants, within their elementals. Some accept that magic was normal in bygone eras, yet cannot release an attachment to substance in order to embrace the unseen.

I hold to the frequencies of the unseen in healing. Yet, I too need to go deeper, open wider, allow more freedom of consciousness to touch the true essence of the unseen in healing. Our minds restrict, our souls allow us access.

Bridge remedies, I call them. New method, ancient wisdom. The energetic patterns are the unseen, yet we still feel a need for the carrier. Maybe one day, we won’t.

Thanks be to Brigid.

Sublime Sunset

Sunset February 2017

In nearly all of my spiritual studies, much emphasis is placed upon the blessings of sunrise or pre-sunrise; this is presented as the optimum time and space for connecting with Self and the Divine. However, even though I have taken up the practice of rising before dawn quite a few times these past ten years, I still feel little resonance with sunrise. Sunset though? Ah, now that is an entirely different experience.

Sunset is the liminal space in which I feel a deep connection with all aspects of life and the unseen world. The moments after sunset are exquisite … I’m filled with gratitude and serenity. I breathe a sigh that seems to come from another world, from ancestors, from the benevolence of Gaia as some of us move toward sleep while a mysterious world awakens all around us. Sunset heralds the darkness of womb and cave and cauldron where magic happens.

I’ve read that the Celts believed the new day began at dusk … perhaps it is my Celtic roots that entangle themselves in my evening  shimmer of delight.

Understanding Through Love

My spiritual journey this past year or so has been one of seeking understanding through love. Even though I was raised Christian, I rarely felt an affinity with that religion; I did admire Jesus and found fascinating many of the myths and legends of the Bible, putting them in my mind in the same category as the Greek myths I simg_0319o enjoyed. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties, after a disastrous first marriage, that I realized the harm imposed upon my female identity by the patriarchal stories of the Bible that denigrated women. For almost ten years, I abandoned all religion; my spirituality subconsciously became simply the animals in my life and Nature herself during the long hikes and walks that nourished my soul. Thankfully, nearly twenty years ago, I was introduced to a Nature path of spirituality that has been my touchstone ever since, and, though its essence shifts and changes, as do I, though we grow and die and transform into new awareness, I am content with my current path of faith, an eclectic or “barefoot” spirituality (that I’ve often written of here).

Perhaps because of the contentment and loving approach to all life that my own path provides (most of the time – I certainly fall into despair about our local and global situations as well, as do we all), I found myself desirous of understanding more about the Christian religious faith in which I was raised, as well as its sibling faith of Islam, both born from the Old Testament, both, along with Judaism, known as Abrahamic faiths. Our world is currently caught up in a maelstrom of blame and fear and confusion about Christianity and Islam, so I’ve been studying, reading, and reflecting upon these (and other) religions and/or spiritual paths. One thing that is readily apparent is how they are based upon men writing about their interpretations of what other men said and did; the men themselves, Jesus and Mohammed, apparently never wrote anything down. And, to further confound the teachings, the writings were done after these men had died, so they could neither confirm nor deny the messages. Then, there is placing the writings within the historic context of when they were written. Adherents are then expected to ignore their own inner light of perception to follow those after-writings. This remains a curious puzzle to me, though I understand how much simpler it is to follow dogma and laws than to turn continuously inward for divine guidance.

The fierce fundamentalism that is often part of Christianity and Islam, grounded as they are in patriarchal past and present, present a dire situation for the life of us all – not only humans, but all inter-related life with our Mother Earth and Universal Cosmos. The anger that is rioting within Christianity and Islam, and among the people who feel forgotten in an unfamiliar world culture of rampant capitalism and identity crises, is understandable – I can finally empathize with many of these people; empathy for those who are similar to us is relatively easy, it is the empathy for those who are different that is challenging – but this processing of the anger needs to be transformed by all of us.

We need to somehow learn to see into others, to make the time to go within ourselves, into our own subconscious belief systems, and recognize the implicit biases that we have. We need to understand the pain and fear of others. That’s the first step, and the one that many people I know resist, sometimes vehemently. It can seem quite frightening.

A wise woman* has said, in going beyond tolerance that,

“My favorite word is “understanding.” I know it’s somewhat colder than the word “compassion” or “empathy,” but my regular lab seminar, which is an ongoing course, is called the Understand Seminar. And it has many different meanings, of course. We’re there to understand, to understand the research, and to make our own. But we study a set of topics that I believe that when you understand, you are left with no option but to change in some way. And I like giving more complexity to the word “understand” whenever I have a chance.”

Imagine the possibilities that are inherent within truly understanding one another!

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* Mahzarin Banaji being interviewed by Krista Tippett at OnBeing.

Vulnerability

Broken roots. Healing ground. Sacred space. ONE.

I wake with a peace permeating me, solace found in healing ground as if, all of a sudden…I’m fine. As if my body isn’t to be worried about, its healing is coming along well without my constant attention. I don’t need to fear because … I’ve landed, I’m home, I’m grounding in the blessed rocks and soil and humus of Life that surrounds me. The darkness is a gift to learn from; it is part of this universal experience we participate in. I find my breath coming easier, softer. My eyes, discerning, witnessing, don’t shy away. Neither do my ears from listening. I’m grateful for my senses as we embrace the world and witness our own evolution. My broken body heals. So does the universe. Brigid guides the way, Her light peeks into my cracks and illuminates the chips I harvest with compassion as part of me.

Ground, then move…bending. Among the trees, we are rooted, deeply embedded in Life as witness and participant in Love, no matter where on the planet we are, our earth that spins in and out of darkness and light.

I’m not worried about my recovery, or the recovery of the world; we will continue to grow, ground, move, bend, heal.

twinkle-ice-forest-13-jan-2017Vulnerability. Sanctuary doesn’t mean that nothing difficult will happen or that one is always in control; it is a place where we feel more able to cope when challenges do occur. A haven isn’t isolation but a place of deep connection. We are all vulnerable to Life’s Mystery.