Jul 182016
 

This is the fourth and final post on pilgrimage as part of the seasonal ritual Walking the Ways of the Summer Light. The pilgrimage posts began with Departure from the Threshold , continued with Journey, and reached The Center last week. 

The final practice of pilgrimage calls you to wait for a while in the place where you are no longer at Center but not yet home. You are still returning. Here you reflect on what has happened and start to name how you have been changed. You consciously accept the gifts and the challenges of pilgrimage. You invite transformation to take hold; you plant the change in a place where it can continue to grow. Then you return home.

In the Tarot, each of the elemental suits progresses through the single numbers. The ninth card is most often recognized as the culmination or achievement of the elemental journey while the tenth card is considered to be one of transition. The Tarot’s 10s guide you in your returning.  Any deck can serve, but the images of Rachel Pollack’s Shining Tribe Tarot struck me as telling a particularly relevant story about the pilgrimage return.


10 of stonesTen of Stones – Memory and Meaning:
What always captivates me about this image is that human footprints go into the stones laid on the path while the bird prints come out. The journey changed us. Remembering what happened on the journey is the first step in meeting and integrating that change. As we recount and order the pieces, a whole picture emerges that helps you find the greater meaning – and sometimes remaining mystery – of the pilgrimage time.

To tend memory and meaning, you might answer through journaling, working with Tarot cards, or creating of art questions such as:

  • What are the moments that shine in your memory? How did they open your eyes? How did they blind you?
  • What the moments that are dark in your memory? How did they make you stumble What gestated there?
  • What are the encounters with others you will never forget? What did they teach you about humanity and community? What did they teach you about yourself?
  • What were the surprises? What amazed you? When did you touch mystery?
  • How did you come to know the Greater Than that journeyed with you? What Face were you shown? What invitations did you receive?
  • What insight did you gain into your focus question? What remains to be discovered?
  • How were you changed? How did you become more yourself?

10 of birdsTen of Birds – Final Challenge: Change, even when we seek it, is scary. We wanted to emerge as the bird, transcendent, but now that we are in flight, the view is not what we imagined.  In the Ten of Birds, a woman stands with back to us and ominous birds in the sky above her. We can’t tell if she is looking at the birds or shielding her eyes. (If she is not looking, might we be seeing her imagination creating scarier creatures than are even there?)

One of the bird figures is actually a winged snake that Rachel identifies as the Aztec God Quetzalcoatl  and describes as “an instinctive energy, a force we cannot name or rationally identify has taken wing, has risen into consciousness, or a kind of pseudo-consciousness, where we sense a fear or mystery we cannot really explain.”

We are standing before something greater than we could have imaged when we began our journey. We can’t explain it or control it, and this is perhaps what we fear the most. And our final test is to accept this force as now existing in our lives. When we realize that we don’t have to overcome it or even be friendly with it, we move out from the final testing of pilgrimage and on to the path that leads us home.

The woman’s dress is green and the door of the house in the distance is green. Green is the color of the heart and of new life. Through this color, the woman and the home are linked. And the birds do not actually block her path. She can walk below them. She can make her return.

To complete your final challenge of pilgrimage, reflection on your fears and final challenges is helpful. Then you might want to step from the logical and intellectual to the magical. You may want to do something like create a fith-fath, the Gaelic practice of creating a shape shifting spell for times of danger or vulnerability. I heard about this practice from Celtic teacher and songstress Caitlín Matthews, and was inspired to write one of my own:

I ask to resound with the life thrum of cicadas,

their surface-sound sureness of life.

I ask to move with the elegance of egret,

who slides over pond’s murky silk undarkened.

I ask to feel what the mushroom feels,

the deep down of dirt holding me steady,

reminding me always

I belong to the earth.

10 of treesTen of Trees – Echo of the Call: This card shows a most unusual Tree of Life.  The branches are green joyful figures. In the Ten of Birds, you chose to wear the green dress and go through the green door despite the unknown and feared forces. By these actions both the challenges and the gifts of pilgrimage are accepted and integrated into who you re now. A whole new world opens up both within you and in your view of the wider world. You are not only enlarged but your understanding of and connection to the Whole is now more expansive and inclusive.

Here we might return to reflect on the original call that brought us to the pilgrims’ trail. What was its personal dimension? What did you hope for yourself? You can take a look at that call an hear now how echoes in the expanded universe within. How has the call changed? How will you share it with the wider world? How do you answer the call to serve the Whole?

10 of riversTen of Rivers – Home: Then you go home. You return to the house in which you dwell and greet those you left behind.  But there is a trick to this image. As much as they could be waving in greeting, the figures could also be waving good-bye. Once home you say good-bye to the pilgrimage journey even as you say hello to the home that awaits you.

As we once stood on the threshold of departure, now we stand at the threshold of return. This is the place for gratitude. Offers your praises and prayers to all who made the pilgrimage possible and guided you along the way. This gratitude will remind you that these helpers and guides have now become part of who you are and will not leave you. Offer your praises and prayers for all that has remained for you to return to. Speak your gratitude for this steady support.

The figures stand in a river and as Starkhawk reminded us in the week of the Water Wisdom Wander: “All water is one – one whole, one awareness. All water is continuously aware of all the other waters in the world.” So all our journeys are one. The pilgrimage and the homecoming. The seeking and the discovery. It is all part of the vast ocean of our being where we meet the glimmer of the surface and are surprised some times by the pull of the depths. And we flow on. The pilgrimage ends. It has just begun.

This concludes the seasonal ritual of Walking the Ways of the Summer Sun. In November I will begin the Winter Solstice focused ritual of Descent and Return of the Light. Subscribe to my e-newsletter to be notified of those happenings and receiving nature- and Tarot-inspired offerings to tend your soul all year long. 

 

 

 

Jan 252015
 

This is the final week of Tending the Returning Light as part of the Descent and Return of the Light Winter series. Join this seasonal ritual in progress this week or catch up on past  themes of What Can Be Born of Our Broken PartsRoot and Reach, and Emergence

And now the seed begins its journey of growth in the outer world, where the longer days kindle our anticipation of spring’s return. From the underworld of winter, the seed emerged and now the greater light of the sun and the inner light of your heart will nurture its growth. We celebrate what has been birthed. We prepare to tend the next unfolding.

The greater light of the sun and the seasons have their own rhythm, but you are the keeper of the heart’s light, shaper of its direction, cultivator of its flow. 

Flow, card XIV of the Minoan Tarot, shows a priestess at her sacred task of pouring libations. Ellen Lorenzi-Prince’s companion book describes this rite:

 The ritual is an offering to the great ones, expressing gratitude for the gift of life in a magical world. … The pouring of libations is both offering and petition, both giving and receiving. It is life and power flowing from divinity to humanity, with love and respect flowing from human hearts in return.

minoan-14-flow

Ellen offers this message from the image: Your heart is the crossroads of the power of the flow. 

Your double-chambered heart flows both with giving and receiving, beats both because of earth taking form in muscle and because of a mysterious spirit animating the life force. Where these opposites touch is the center of your heart, is the crossroads of your interior being. It is an imaginal space – a soul place – rather than a physical spot you can find, but you are called to visit here when you want to grow.

Your seed will want to grow as it moves from winter to spring and onward through each season. The seed will return time and again to the crossroads and you with it. This will sometimes be a place of challenge where old patterns of shame, self-criticism, or fear may tug at you again. This will sometimes be a place of failure because not all seeds grow. This will sometimes be a place of success where the unfolding of the seed aligns with the rhythms of the wider world and your own longings and visions.

And because we are in the place of the heart, all can be received with Love. For Love, protected by and flowing from the center of your heart, receives all things, pours out its endless light, is generous with its hospitality. 

At the crossroads, you are invited to offer this loving hospitality of the heart to all that enters. When fear enters, offer it comfort and send it down the path of release. When failure enters, sit with your own disappointment; don’t try to change the feeling, just hold it close to your heart until the Love’s light there shines on the path that leads to healing. When success comes, celebrate its delights and send it down the path of humility or greater challenge.

In Week Four of Tending the Returning Light, we have come to a crossroads in our ritual time together. The seed birthed at Solstice calls to be celebrated. The next phase of life calls for new growth. This ritual of winter calls to be concluded so we can step on to springtime’s path.

During this week, you are invited to light 4 candles and contemplated these questions that balance celebration and preparation:

  • What have I achieved in birthing the seed?
  • How to celebrate this achievement?
  • What waits for me at the crossroads of winter and spring, of birth and growth?
  • How to move forward held in the flow of the heart’s light and Love?

At week’s end, you may want to pause to reflect on the ritual as a whole and offer your gratitude to winter for gestating the seed. Celtic teacher and writer Caitlín Matthews suggests the practice of saying a prayer or poem of gratitude to winter at your back door or window on January 31st. You might want to write your own or use her Farwell to the Season of Samhain from The Celtic Devotional:

Go with thanks and go with blessing

Season of deep memory.

Souls with joy are deeply freighted.

Hearts are charged with heritage.

As ancestors you have traveled,

You have come to Winter’s home.

Father Counsel you have cheered us.

Mother wisdom who has smiled.

Touch the hidden seed with us.

May we grow as Spring’s own child.

It has been a joy and an honor to travel with you through this season of winter and the bringing forth of the Solstice seed. May you travel well as spring pours its light deeper and deeper into the night. I look forward to the next crossing of our paths here in world of bone and flesh or in the deep heart place that is both at our centers and everywhere – and from which flows an always embracing Love.

[Note: Don’t forget that you can move into the celebration of springs with Joanna Powell Colbert’s beautiful 30 Days of Brigid offering. I am so looking forward to Joanna’s daily inspirations and spending time with Brigid, the Celtic Goddess of fire and water, who is patroness of poets, smiths, and healers.  Looking further into the year, I will be doing a similar seasonal ritual on the other side of the sun’s travels. Walking the Ways of the Summer Light will have the Summer Solstice as its hinge and be offered in similar ways as this series. Being on my e-newsletter list is the best way to keep up with these offerings.]

 

Dec 292014
 

Each week I pull Tarot cards to inspire practice that cultivates soul wisdom for readers of the blog as a group using the Gaian Tarot.  (If you want to read more about the process, check out Sacred Practices of the Gaian Tarot: The 3 P’s).You are invited to use the cards below to inspire your practice, and, if you like, share your reflections in the comments.  You are also free to draw your own cards and share them in the comments.

gaian 17-starPATH:  Use Pile 1 / Majors and Aces to pull a card for the question:  What path would it best serve us to walk this week? THE STAR  invites us to walk this week on pathways of  …

  • Hope
  • Renewal – and in this post-Solstice time for us here in the Northern Hemisphere, connecting to the energy of the slowly returning but, yes, renewing light.
  • Grounding yourself in the beautiful place on Earth where you live and from there reaching out to touch the light of the stars.
  • Healing for us as individuals and for the planet as a whole.

gaian five-earthPRACTICE:  Use Pile 2 / numbered cards for this question:  What practice(s) will best serve us to move along this path this week?  FIVE OF EARTH  invites us to practices such as …

  • Doing nothing, just being in your body and connecting with how it feels.
  • Dream incubation, in which you set an intention in a pre-sleep ritual, are open to dreams, and record the dreams that are received. Some resources for this are: Celtic teacher and writer Caitlin Matthews has a guided visualization for dream incubation. Robert Moss offers support for dream work in his books and on his site. If you are unclear about the meaning of a dream, you could pull a Gaian Tarot card to the question: What healing is this dream offering to me now?
  • Making a list of the skills you have that help you through times of difficulty, then offer a prayer of thanks for having gained these skills (Keep the list handy and pull it out in times of challenge when you need to remind yourself.) This could be part of your 2014 year review as preparation for 2015 planning.

Gaian guardian-waterPOSTURE:  Use Pile 3 / People cards for a question such as:  What attitudes and behaviors will be most helpful to undertake this practice and walk with path?  GUARDIAN OF WATER  invites you to follow your path and practices with attitudes of …

  • Allowing healing to flow into your life
  • Being in the flow of life; “no forcing, no holding back” (Rilke)
  • Being open to your emotions and intuition
  • Offering compassion to others and yourself.

 OVERALL MUSINGS: At first, I thought this an odd set of cards. The lightness of The Star contrasting with the heavy dark of the Five of Earth. But then I realized that it is a reflection of this time of year here in the Northern Hemisphere. We have passed the Solstice; the light is returning but the nights are long and the cold weighs upon us. The season tests us, invites us to cultivate hope, to tend the returning light in our lives. We might take the stance of the Guardian who floats in dark waters but lifts her heart and hard-working shoulders to the light, pours her gifts symbolized by the clear water streaming from her shell into what needs the illumination of her gifts, needs her particular form of healing.

The seasonal world around me inspires these reflections, but they could be applied to the internal state of anyone in the world emerging from personal difficulty into the light of healing barely yet perceived or the planet as a whole this year so plagued by war, conflict, and climate upheaval. But there is within each one of us a gift to bring that invites the light, invites healing, invites change. As we turn into the new year and the possibility of beginning again is offered, you can tune into that gift, imagine how to grow it, and the Whole shall be made better by it.

Peace in the New Year to you and to all!

[Note: Tending the Returning Light is the theme of January’s tele-circles that start next Monday, the 5th. I do have some slots open so feel free to check out the details and ask me any questions.]

Dec 232014
 

Each week I pull Tarot cards to inspire practice that cultivates soul wisdom for readers of the blog as a group using the Gaian Tarot.  (If you want to read more about the process, check out Sacred Practices of the Gaian Tarot: The 3 P’s).You are invited to use the cards below to inspire your practice, and, if you like, share your reflections in the comments.  You are also free to draw your own cards and share them in the comments.

Gaian 4-builderPATH:  Use Pile 1 / Majors and Aces to pull a card for the question:  What path would it best serve us to walk this week? THE BUILDER  invites us to walk this week on pathways of  …

  • Bringing shape to the bounty and creativity of earth.
  • Creating solid, orderly, and beautiful structures to support harmony between people as well as between the human and other-than-human world.
  • The Green Man (shown at the base of the pillar), a male aspect of Divinity seen wearing a mask of leaves in indigenous European traditions and also connected to Osiris, the Egyptian God of the underworld and regeneration, who is portrayed with green skin.

gaian five-waterPRACTICE:  Use Pile 2 / numbered cards for this question:  What practice(s) will best serve us to move along this path this week?  FIVE OF WATER  invites us to practices such as …

  • Be still.
  • Tune into what you are feeling, even if it is difficult. Acknowledge the difficult feeling and let it flow, perhaps with actual tears or the symbolic pouring of water.
  • Anniversarial grieving and setting out the Chalice of Remembrance. This is a beautiful ritual described by Caitlín Matthews in The Celtic Spirit. At a holiday meal or special time in this season, all present drink from a liquid-filled glass and than place it with some liquid left before a picture of the one who has died. All then speak to the beloved departed. The remaining liquid is left overnight with a candle burning and then poured on the earth the next morning. “In this way, the anniversary is marked, the mourning shared, and the circle of love reunited,” writes Caitlín.

Gaian explorer-earthPOSTURE:  Use Pile 3 / People cards for a question such as:  What attitudes and behaviors will be most helpful to undertake this practice and walk with path?  EXPLORER OF EARTH  invites you to follow your path and practices with attitudes of …

  • Practicing reverence for the Earth by living close to the heart of nature.
  • Grounding yourself fully in the earth so you can listen for what is below the surface or coming from Spirit realm.
  • Pausing to pay attention to quieter and smaller messages that may offer great gifts.
  • Recognizing and using your awareness of the Earth around you and your own body as a source of wisdom and guidance.

OVERALL MUSINGS: And this week, too, the cards offer wisdom wonderfully aligned with this week’s holidays and astrological happenings. The Explorer of Earth is at home in the earthy, determined sign of Capricorn that we just entered; plenty of support here for planning for a great new year and cultivating hope with legs. The Green Man represented in the Builder invites us to celebrate masculine deity, perhaps in the form of the baby boy Jesus or the Holly King who is sometimes seen in a woodsy version of Santa Clause.  Merriment abounds!  But the Five of Water reminds us that this is also a season of loss and a time for remembrance; those we once celebrated with have left us. Instead of covering up this pain with false happiness, we can listen to our grief, seek the departed, and see again the light of connection. Then we will know a joy that is strong and true because it is woven from the  three threads of merriment, sorrow, and ever renewing love. Merry Everything to you in this season!

[If this post offers you soul nurture, you might want to be on my e-news list to receive seasonal-inspired Tarot content around the time of the new moon and often a gift on the full moon.  Just click the Sign Up button to the right.]

 

Dec 012014
 

This is the second week of Waiting with the Dark until the Solstice comes as part of the Descent and Return of the Light Series. You can join in this waiting at any time. You may want to start your circling with a night of Elemental Gratitude and then continue on to the focus and process outlined below.  

Bench and Trees Christmas 2012The cry of the geese as they migrate leaves a melancholy echo. Then silence. Most other birds have gone before and many creatures of the land are in their dens. Leaves have fallen from trees; the bare and quiet branches stand against sky.

The emptiness can seem bleak, but into that space an opportunity moves. A view to distant mountains opens up without the leaves.  And while nature withdraws at this time of year, the presence of the ancestors grows stronger.  We tell stories of the recent dead at our holiday gatherings, passing on their memory and gifts to a new generation. We enact small rituals, cook holiday foods, and gather in ways that ancestors from generations in the past began. We celebrate traditions and wisdom inherited from spiritual and religious paths nurtured by the ancestors of ancient times.

The ancestors are our biological family, of course, but also those connected to us through choice, place, ideas, and traditions. Like the living, they were a mix of wise ones and mistake makers; sometimes all mixed in the same person. Teacher and writer Christopher Penczack, drawing from the Wiccan and shamanistic teachings, gives poetic names to each of these types of ancestors.

Ancestors of Flesh and Blood – Our Genetic Kin: We all come from a mother and father and the lines that flow from them back into the past. As we go back in time, the number of ancestors increases – and becomes more shared with everyone else on earth. We follow the lines until we reach the few common ancestors that came out of African and from which all humanity originated. The world’s deep traditions of ancestor veneration flow from the honoring of the genetic kin.

Ancestors of Milk and Honey – Adopted Kin: We choose partners and spouses and become connected to their families. Particularly if we have difficult relationships with our biological family, we often move toward others who can nourish us; we make family of our friends. And if you were literally adopted, the family that chooses you offers you their ancestral lines as well.

Ancestors of Bone -Land Kin: The place where you live is the place where ancestors walked and worked and died to leave their bones in the earth. Before indigenous societies were disrupted, the genetic and land kin were the same, but in the Americas and other places that were colonies and places of immigration, the land holds ancestors from different places. In New England where I live, the bones of recent immigrants, generations of those who have farmed and grown connected to the land, and native peoples who cared for the land for millennia mix. Tending to ancestors here could be a place of great richness, pain, and the potential for healing.

Ancestors of Breath and Bread – Story Kin: These are the ancestors with a common passion and vocation.  Writers and artists have those who’ve left their works to inspire us. Engineers could look the ancient Egyptians who created the pyramids. Computer geeks would seem to have few ancestors, but the 19th century’s Ada Lovelace, mother of the computer, and the 20th century Alan Turing, father of the computer, are recently receiving attention. And Steve Jobs probably still has ideas to share from the other side!

Ancestors of Spirit and Soul – Path Kin: These are the wise ones from our spiritual and religious traditions.  They stand between us and the greater figures of the Gods and Goddesses, Jesus and the Buddha, for example, sharing what they learned about how to walk the soul- shaping path you share.

These ancestors come with gifts to offer and as the days grow darker the way opens for rituals, meditations, and reflections that connect us to what they have to offer.  Celtic teacher Caitlín Matthews offers this counsel for connecting with the ancestors in The Celtic Spirit:

[The ancestors] who were the wisdom-bearers and way-showers in their lives have not ceased from these roles. By asking our spiritual allies in meditation to take us to meet one or more of our wise ancestors, the living ancestors, we can travel to the timeless otherworld and visit them. We can discover spiritual allies in our living ancestors, consulting them about matters to do with our family, our way of live, and ways of respecting the spiritual core of all things.

So in this third week in our movement toward the Solstice, we light four candles, but then blow one out to create a doorway through the ancestors can pass to join us in the circle of light.  We sit with them, receptive to the gifts they have to share.

The Tarot can offer us images to help us connect to the ancestors and receive their messages more clearly.  The Court Cards can be seen as standing between the activities of daily life seen in the Minors and the archetypes and Divine figures show in the Major Arcana.  You may want to form a question as you begin this week’s cycle of candle lighting and extinguishing and draw from three court cards to invite ancestral wisdom to guide you.  After sitting a while and receiving their message, you may want to draw a Major Arcana card to connect with the Divinity that can guide you following the guidance of your ancestors.

As always, close by offering thanks to the ancestors for responding to your call.  Here is a prayer slightly modified from its third century Christian origins and taken from the prayer book, god has no religion:

With thankfulness in our hearts for the wise ancestors of all ages;

For those who in times of darkness kept

The lamp of wisdom burning;

For the great souls who saw visions of

Larger truth and dared to declare it;

For the multitude of quiet and gracious souls

Whose presence has been one with the world’s sacredness;

And for those known and loved by us,

Who have passed from this early fellowship

Into the realms beyond.

 [Note: If you like this post and process, I invite you to subscribe to my list where I offer a newsletter around the time of the new moon and a gift around the time of most full moons.  For the December 6, 2014 full moon, my gift will be a booklet guide to this very process so do subscribe to for fuller support for following the Descent and Return of the Light from November 1 to February 1.]

Feb 242014
 

Each week I pull cards to inspire contemplative practice.  In 2011, I started using the Gaian Tarot as a prompt for practice as its minor cards showed such clear images of people engaged in practices that grounded and connected them to earth, to spirit, to the Whole.  The method evolved to serve the Gaian community and to use the majors as path cards and the people as posture/attitude cards. You are invited to use the cards below to inspire your practice, and, if you like, share your reflections in the comments.  You are also free to draw your own cards.

Gaian 4-builderPATH:  Use Pile 1 / Majors and Aces to pull a card for the question:  What sacred path would best serve the group this week?  THE BUILDER invites us to walk this week on pathways of …

  • Working in harmony and alignment with earth principles.
  • Creating solid and beautiful structures to support harmony between people and between the human and other-than-human world.
  • Embracing your unique talents and skills and then using the authority they give you to act for the good of the Whole.

gaian five-earthPRACTICE:  Use Pile 2 / numbered cards for this question:  What contemplative practice will best serve us to move along this pathway this week?  FIVE OF EARTH invites us to practices such as …

  • Take, sign up for, or investigate a wilderness survival course.
  • Practice dream incubation, in which you set an intention in a pre-sleep ritual, are open to dreams, and record what is received. I first learned about dream incubation from Caitlín Matthews who offers us this Temple of Nodens Incubation meditation.
  • Make a list of the skills you have that help you through times of difficulty. Then offer a prayer of thanks for having gained these skills. Keep the list handy and pull it out in times of challenge when you need to remind yourself.

Gaian guardian-waterPOSTURE:  Use Pile 3 / People cards for a question such as:  What attitudes and behaviors will be most helpful to me in undertaking this practice?  GUARDIAN OF WATER invites you to follow your path and practices with attitudes of ….

  • Freely offering the gifts you have to share.
  • Being in the flow of life; “no forcing, no holding back” (which is a phrase from Rilke).
  • Moving with the guidance of compassion and love for all beings.
  • Trusting utterly in the abundance of life.

OVERALL MUSINGS: Life’s abundant gifts offered by the earth to us is the foundation of this week’s cards, even if that abundance remains below the surface and less apparent in places like my once again cold, cold, cold New England! And below the surface, life is dreaming its way back into being. How would you like to join in the dream? Get outside and seek the signs of spring? Incubate a dream of re-birth? Offering your skills and compassionate leadership to someone or some group in need? Earth wisdom is there to guide you in making a way forward.