Tag Archive | sadhana

One Hearth

Fireplace

What does it mean to be aligned with Hestia? To be a hearthkeeper? What is it like to designate oneself in the accepted ~ though often denigrated ~ role of “homemaker” when asked “what do you do”?

I tend to structure my days, creating a schedule so that I feel a sense of accomplishment. I’ve done this ever since retiring in 2003 from the 9-to-5 grind of office work. But I find myself more often this past year allowing a day or two mid-week, when Ron is working, to just go with the flow. My sadhana may extend itself into nearly three hours, and that is often the sign that the day needs to be open and permeable to intuitive flow and contemplative practices.

I realize upon reflection that I often allowed this non-structured flow in my single years as well. The years before I met Ron, but while I was still working in an office where a clock and structure dictated the day’s tasks. In those years, however, the flowing days were on the weekends…the solitary times.

What I find, from past and present both, is that truly necessary tasks still get done, maybe in a different order or in a unique way, but done. From cleaning and cooking to animal care and grocery shopping, and all the other mundane tasks, whether scheduled or not everything important eventually is taken care of.

Or sometimes the day is a slumber of presence flowing into each moment that encompasses subtle contemplation; I look around at the end of the day to see that nothing was accomplished, there are no outward signs of productivity. Yet this is fine, too.

I am blessed by the touch of Hestia, though I don’t always dwell in the traditional “homemaker” role. Especially these past several years. Jean Shinoda Bolen, in her book Goddesses in Everywoman, describes the introverted Hestia also as a “temple hearthkeeper” and I now resonate more strongly in this sub-archetypal direction. Familial caregiver energy, and the attention to keeping a tidy and properly-run home, is being shifted toward sacred sharing and extended periods of focus upon the Divine Feminine.

Yet my husband and I remain solid in our connection. Ron and I both refer to our home as our sanctuary. He enjoys our quiet, easy lifestyle, and appreciates the simple, loving energy that I bring into our home. I treasure his kindness and generosity that provide me with the opportunity to enjoy my innate nature.

I believe that the strong partnership I share with Ron, and the reason that our relationship is sweet and easy, is a direct result of Gaia’s presence and support. Gaia’s guidance ~ my own Divine essence ~ allowed me to be completely open and honest with Ron, from the moment we met, about my nature and what was important to me. And yet, I also know that Gaia would have continued leading me into deeper resonance with Her even if I had not met Ron. I was already on the Gaia Path prior to meeting my husband. We are blessed that we both honor one of my roles as hearth-keeper.

What is my current path?

One Hearth for Home and Temple

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Survival

During Sadhana, as I began inadvertently reflecting (my “monkey mind” was jumping around during my spiritual practice) on how I had read “three tales of pilgrimage – Maiden, Mother, Crone,” my occasional scattered thoughts morphed into my own three phases of life which finally resulted in a tremendous cathartic release of my inner ‘bound Maiden’ as to …

I WAS NOT A FAILURE.

I SURVIVED.

Clearly, the abreaction shared below followed partially from the awareness raised during the Dark Moon ritual of last night.

* * *

Crying, sobbing, I realized that I still thought of myself during my Maiden phase of life as a failure, as someone who ‘couldn’t make it,’ who couldn’t meet the mark or live up to the expectations of myself, my ex-husband, my father, or society. That nothing I did was ‘successful’ (the details of my story are not unusual, encompassing everything from spousal abuse to attempted suicide to bankruptcy to falling down untold times). I never made anyone ‘proud’ of me, and I never received acknowledgement of my survival by those in positions of patriarchal authority. Namely … Dad. But this isn’t about him, not really — it’s about me. What do I feel and what did I feel back then? What happened and why? Sobs wracked my body as I lay in ‘bound angle pose’ with my heart open, my lower body open and vulnerable.

I began to express aloud what I was feeling by saying of the Maiden-that-was: “She was not a failure” repeating it over and over. Eventually, I could look inward and say to the Maiden-that-was: “you were not a failure” in mantra. Then, after many repetitions, able to say and feel the reverberations within and without: “I am not a failure.”  Barely getting the words out sometimes through a throat that kept closing, choking, sobbing. Old diaries from my 20s are filled with self-negation and anger, and, yes, at times, self-hatred for failing at so many things in so many people’s eyes, or so I thought. What I didn’t see through my own heart-led vision was that I survived — and that means I am successful. I had courage. I pushed through and found ways to survive, to begin the healing process, and it doesn’t matter how long it takes. It doesn’t matter if others saw my struggle as a struggle. All they could see is what I revealed and what their own eyes were willing to look at. I was vulnerable. And I survived. I made it.

When I sat up from asana … I hugged myself, hugged my inner Maiden who was bound and gagged and left in a dark corner  as unworthy, as a failure. I untied the stiff knots with strong, gentle fingers, and loved her for coming through and surviving. I had embraced the Mother in my 30s without integrating the Maiden — she was abandoned, slowly bound over time until she could barely move. Didn’t want her input — after all, I had thought she was a failure. Except that she wasn’t! She came through for me. She was strong and brave and continuously on the watch for healing grace through Nature. She not only survived — I survived, too.

For the three — Maiden, Mother/Queen, Crone — are intimately connected, constantly shifting. Even when one aspect is prominent, the other two are there, supporting even when unseen, un-felt, unacknowledged (as I had been). They witness, experience and lend their strengths. They are the Goddess Within, the Divine spark that continues to flicker, the powerful feminine energy of Shakti. There have been other steps I have taken toward integration — along the Gaia Path before I even realized what it was — yet I find each one is more profound and, while leading me into the light, also show the way into the caves of renewal to discover more bones and shadows for excavation.

The Dark Moon ritual undertaken last night en-couraged my psyche to go here once more — to uncover a few more stones upon the grave of the Maiden until she was visible once more. The power of ritual can never be underestimated. Outward journeys can reflect and reveal the inward path, helping us along the trail whether it lies in the cave or the ocean or the desert or on the mountain cliffs.

We are all successful. If we are still here, we are not failures. We have survived., are surviving, and even thriving at times when our path is one we can truly see and embrace with love … loving all the parts of ourselves along its edge … bring them into the core and embrace, integrate, heal. Look around at my sister and brother travelers — how many are struggling? Some on the outside, some on the inside — many both. Compassion wells up in me knowing that someone else has bound and gagged an angry part of herself, a part that deserves honor and recognition for surviving life.

I know now where much of my discomfort comes from when seeing an angry person ‘acting out’ … part of me is envious because I didn’t, couldn’t … but that doesn’t make me weak or a coward. I survived. I am not and was not a failure. I’m here and I’m living life full and present, and growing in every moment. So if the person I see is angry .. I feel their pain and hurt, and seek to bring more love, more compassion into our interaction, our community. How can I help? This is what I see through this anger … the anger I bound and gagged in myself, disguising it outwardly as a ‘chipper’ attitude.

And this also doesn’t mean I’ve been living a lie – I haven’t. For much of the past sixteen years, I have felt peace and love and contentment flowing through my life and I have welcomed these graces. I have been living within a safe space of healing and renewal; in a space of the Mother, a home of nurture and nature all around me.

We are a diverse and intricate design, we that are self-named homo sapiens … ‘self-aware’ … self-knowing … supposedly. Maybe after a while? It’s a journey. We are a work-in-progress here in the world of form. I attached myself to a need for recognition from Dad (and thus from other men, as in a partner, my ‘other half’ and all those patriarchal archetypes I was raised to believe in), who was unable to provide any softness or support in that way. I have always known, though, that he loved me and that’s what I need to open to now … the love, just the love. Because maybe he had an angry persona inside him, too. And maybe my freed Maiden can reach across the perceived limitations of death and time and space to hold his hand and just say … I love you. Without reservation or resentment or anger or hurt. Just … I love you.

And I love myself — all parts of me, for I do the best I can in any given moment. Don’t we all? How can we possibly know what someone else needs in their hurt or anger or even joy if we are living with a part of ourselves bound and gagged in the dungeon for being a ‘failure’?

Strong winds, cool air, blue sky, no clouds — dry and uplifting, I could soar with Raven without tiring. The Ravens are huge here in the Southwest, bigger than I’ve ever seen before, bigger than most hawks. Yes, I could fly with Raven right now, navigating the air currents, reflecting the sunlight off of blue-black feathers that shimmer like polished obsidian.

Sitting outside in the dawn of a new day, holding hands with the Maiden, I feel free as she squints into the bright light unseen for so long. That’s okay. I’ll give her my shades, and plop a straw sunhat upon her head. We’ll be fine in the bright sun. We’re survivors.

* * *

I KNEW SOMETHING big was coming out of my inner desire for pilgrimage, I just didn’t know how it was to manifest. And still don’t. This morning’s experience is just the beginning, a glimmer. But to return to how this recent catharsis emerged, I primarily go back to: (1) the Dark Moon ritual, and (2) the reflections upon the three visages of the Divine Feminine.

What I have realized is that if I hadn’t already been renewed in my connection to the Goddess Trinity, through coming full circle on the Gaia Path, I might not have recognized the tragic abandonment I experienced of my inner Maiden. Without my rediscovered resonance of Goddess within and without, and of Her three beautiful faces, I might have overlooked the hidden aspect of my Self that needs healing even though I was looking to the Dark Moon for release and guidance.

Gayatri Mantra – Aum Bhur

 Dwelling in sound, we are One, 

becoming the Earth Dance of the Divine Feminine.

A practice that I picked up a couple years ago, during my training in Ayurveda/Yoga, was the beautiful use of mantra. I found that mantra practice returned me to the meditation practices initially begun within Wicca, and into the peace they engendered. When beginning my day with a spiritual focus — Sadhana, a spiritual practice or technique of disciplining yourself * that might include gentle Yoga, soft mantra chanting, prayers, Reiki healing, or empowerment rituals — I dwell more easily throughout the rest of the waking hours in a soft backdrop of self-realization and self-healing.

 I was subsequently led directly into both greater opening of my contemplative/stream-of-consciousness writing (usually done immediately following Sadhana) and creative writing, as well as a simple awareness in the joy of living each moment fully. With every step I take, accepting the gifts along my path, it seems Gaia is guiding me toward interconnection and inspiration.

 So with the above as back-story, for the next several posts, I will be exploring a word/phrase in the Gayatri Mantra each morning after Sadhana.

The Gayatri Mantra goes back thousands of years, and I felt the intense vibrations of its historical as well as spiritual energy the first time we chanted it in class; I continue to chant this mantra on a regular basis (well, sing it would be more accurate because I play Deva Premal’s version). Because it has a religious context, I am also reflecting it’s essence through the lens of my own Divine Feminine mirror on the Gaia Path … perhaps Gayatri becomes Gaia Tree?

 Aum Bhur Bhuvah Swah

Tat Savitur Varenyam

Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi

Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat

 Aum or OM — This is a seed (bija) mantra, also referred to as the primordial sound, and the name of God/dess. This sound has not called to me for an exploration or explanation at this time. She is self-explanatory, yes?

Bhur — definitions or understandings of the actual word/sound are:

 existence, eternal, Earth, Prana (life, breath)

 _______________

The existence of the Infinite is manifest here on earth as we live and breathe, die and are reborn.

From within the form comes our eternal existence, the spark that is Source, the flame and the shadow are One within the Infinite.

She breathes into the stars and our world is born, and She is in us and part of us and we in/of Her without separation … except perhaps through our own delusions of duality from our need to identify and know unique existence in Her grand web.

And so we have Bhur — the Divine come to exist within all creation in the earth and from the earth. 

This word-sound feels very immanent and present — very much a sense of Unity of Spirit and World — not at all transcendent or untouchable.

These definitions of the Divine through world and words — they are the sounds of Gaia speaking to us; they are the song of the world, the gift of the very essence of our lives. 

That Goddess comes to/into us through form and energy. The eternal ‘body’ of the Infinite creates form through which to grow and experience a different way of Being yet continues on — changing, evolving, disappearing. 

And the vital force of life, the life force of all form, is the breath of the Infinite that heals and loves and endures. The Divine Breath rides upon our physical breath and when we stop breathing, Prana becomes One with the Infinite without form. 

Eternal existence comes into form on earth–as Earth–and breathes. Vital to understand, to fully engage with and realize that Gaia is the Divine whether in me or earth or air or space. All are simply imagined energies from the finger-painting of Source with Her own blood, Her own essence of existence.

Bhur … existence, eternal, earth, life force … all are the same within the experiences of each other and portray Gaia in Her diversity, that She cannot be captured and labeled and put in a box. 

I love this about many of the mantras … they are words-sounds that resonate (rather than stories we listen to) and are used to remind our souls and bodies that we exist in form in which a soul travels, that our form changes, but we are eternal vibrational energies; we are always and forever also a piece of the Infinite. We are not so shallow as to have been created hollow and empty — we as women embody the Divine Feminine. 

This is why the world has been created — so that Gaia can exist in form and experience life through independent consciousness. We were given will/ego so that each of our forms could move both independent and interdependent — a beautiful illusion of separation so that we can experience as much as possible. All of our movements become a whole dance that is inspired and spontaneous, changing from instant to moment to here and over there. There is an ultimate thematic choreography but without rigid design, more like improvisational dance, always in flux and flexible with infinite variety. 

This is why we may see a potential future but may not arrive there because our own essence changes, our energies shift, with every aspect of life we are interconnected and they–the other lives, beings, entities, elementals–are also dancing. And when we dance in light and love, then we are attracted to similars and they to us. Not the outward appearance of worldly opposites led by egos — although there is a dance within them as well — but led by harmonious desire to create, sometimes through transformation (destruction and rebirth), a beautiful world one flower at a time. We can see our dance of two, and then draw back and see the threads of more dancers and their Prana flowing into us and us to them. The future is not set.

A beautiful dance of Divine form is Bhur —

existence, eternal, earth, life force.

_____________________

* (see http://www.kundalini-yoga-info.com/Sadhana-defined.html )

*** I have referred to web resources for translations as I do not know Sanskrit; my apologies for any misinterpretations as to the Indian teachings and/or word-by-word meanings, and my thanks to the various web sites that have been of assistance, including: Eaglespace.com and Gayatri.info