Oct 312016
 

Around the time of the new moon, I post these readings as a prompt for contemplative practice and noticing the more cosmic patterns of life as you attend to the lunar energy in a solar world.

October New Moon – Sunday, October 30, 2016 at 1:38pm ET in the USA

Releasing the last air moon & Welcoming the new water moon – Amidst the first days of the Celtic season of Samhain which marks the start of the new year and a time to honor the ancestors

flaming-tree-heartHere in New England, we have arrived in late fall, which straddles the beauty of the leaves’ last fire and the stark revelations of tree’s essential form.  Observing the drama of the shape shifting, we can be inspired, too, to tune into our essential selves. Perhaps we will follow the guidance of Rumi (from Mafi and Kolin’ Rumi’s Little Book of the Heart):

The time has come to turn your heart

into a temple of fire.

Your essence is gold hidden in dust

To reveal its splendor

you need to burn in the fire of love.

And as the growing world’s green recedes, the usually unseen invites us to connect. Secretive birds show themselves. The ancestors and beloved dead beckon. With distractions stripped away, we answer the call to remember and connect in communal and private ways through the spiritual (Samhain, All Saints  & Souls Days, Day of the Dead) and secular (Veterans Day) holidays with a heart open to messages from nature or loved ones gone.

This time of growing dark can be a challenge but reflection and ritual can support us to find the gifts in this season and cultivate our essential selves. I hope this moonth’s reading supports you in this time

ESSENTIAL SELF EMERGING: What of your essential self is emerging in this season?

UNSEEN REALM OFFERING: What of the usually unseen world wants to offer support to this essential self emerging?

UNITING:  How can I best respond to the essential and unseen to weave their gifts into my life?

***

News on Art of Change Tarot Shape Shifting: I am in the process of shape shifting my practice from Art of Change Tarot to Soul Path Sanctuary. Really this has been going on for a number of years as my work evolved to be a weaving of Tarot wisdom, nature awareness, ritual observations of the seasons, and inspirations of the mystic word. I am finally just changing the name under which I do the work. In November, we will be a shift in the website to soulpathsanctuary.com and spreading the news about the sanctuary’s first offering of an e-retreat for the Solstice-hinged seasonal ritual of Descent and Return of the Light. More details to come soon.

Note on this Moonth’s E-readings: I hope you will enjoy doing this e-reading on your. My slots to do these readings during this busy moonth are all filled by those who signed up for the annual package.

Sep 192016
 

dark love faceEach season offers different gifts and challenges, flows with its own rhythm and mystery.  When we tune our awareness to the offerings and energy of the season, we can better receive its wisdom and be supported in our spiritual exploring, divinatory seeking, and/or creative vocations.

The turning from October to November is a threshold time in many traditions. In the Celtic tradition, both from its earth-honoring origins and later Celtic Christianity, these days were a time to prepare for the coming dark, gather in circle to share stories, and remember the ancestors.

This year’s theme of Dark Flow invites us to release that which would inhibit our crossing the threshold of darkness and receiving its gifts of ancestral wisdom, healing, gestational creativity, and the love that flows even between the worlds.  

During this mini-retreat, we follow in the footsteps of tradition and do our own listening to the land at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, MA to find the wisdom that speaks to our hearts and souls at this time.

In our time together, we will:

  • Greet each other and the season.
  • Take a Wisdom Wander. No matter the weather, there will be an invitation to connect with the land and creatures at Arcadia in some way.
  • Through a ritual of stones, we will release heaviness we carry that might inhibit us from connecting with dark nurture or our Beloved Dead.
  • Create an altar for the Beloved Dead and Ancestors.
  • Leave with “rainbow in the dark” sticks that represent what light the dark will nurture in us and that you can unwrap in spring. (Thanks to Mellissae Lucia for this concept.)
  • Eat a simple lunch highlighting local vegetables and fruits (vegan and gluten-free friendly).

You are invited to bring any, all, or none of these things:

  • Clothing appropriate to the weather and shoes for walking around on well-laid out trails. (OK, clothing is a requirement at this time of year. Not really optional!)
  • A journal, drawing pad, piece of paper, pen, and/or colored pencils.
  • A Tarot or oracle deck.  If you don’t have one, there will be decks for sharing for use at the retreat.
  • A picture of or object that represents one of your Beloved Dead or Ancestors. Additional pictures or objects are welcome though they might not be talked about.
  • A camera for contemplative photo receiving.

Registration is now closed for this gathering. 

 

Sep 192016
 

In March, before the Equinox, and as the moon opened to fullness, I had an experience that is basically inexpressible because of its power and because of its commonness. I sensed the moment the seasons shifted as the moon rose over a river filling with spring’s ice floes.

To convey a glimpse into the mystery of that moment, I’ll say I encountered Persephone, the Goddess of Greek myth who is kidnapped by Hades to serve as the Queen of the Underworld, welcoming the dead, and mourned by her mother Demeter, whose grief brings winter. Persephone’s seasonal visit to her mother awakens Demeter’s joy and brings the bounty of spring and summer. Most often Persephone is depicted as a beautiful maiden either being kidnapped by her husband or returning to her mother.

But the Persephone I encountered was a weathered woman climbing and clawing her way out of the Underworld through the dirt of earth. She used her Underworld crown as a plough and carried in her pockets letters from the Dead to their beloveds still living. (You can read more in my March newsletter.)

Persephone’s secret story is the story of her as Traveler and Messenger, the one who twice yearly, millennia after millennia, makes a journey between the worlds when the night and day stand in balance.

persephone-mandala

Fall Mandala with Persephone from the Dark Goddess Tarot

In each world, she has loves and responsibilities. She must prepare for both departure and arrival at this time of year. She sadly says goodbye to some while anticipating reunion with others.

What calls Persephone from one world to the next? How does she know when to begin her preparations? Last Friday as I stood under the September harvest moon in an orchard watching Goddesses Descending, it came to me. Of course. The moon is Persephone’s signal and guide.

In spring, the days of the growing moon from new to full closest to the Equinox set her on her journey back to earth. The days of harvest moon’s descent invite her to depart.

We are in the days of Persephone Descending. As the moon moves from full, through the Equinox, and into the dark moon days at September’s end, Persephone prepares, Persephone descends.

Perhaps you feel the weight of this time as she grows heavy. And if you feel it, too,you might consider your heaviness in another light, a lunar light. This heavy time brings a dark gift of attuning to the Divine, to the eternal cycles. The trees know this as they let down their leaves in fluttering surrender. Perhaps you may take the tree as your spiritual director.  

And as our perspective on this descent time shifts, we can open to opportunity, have a more expansive view. Recognize that our loss of Persephone brings a boon for the Dead. She is their Queen and comfort who loves them. She is the Traveler who has been away but now returns with new stories and gifts.

You can help Persephone make her reunion with the Dead. You can send gifts and stories along with Her. You can write letters to the Dead.

It may seem strange. You may doubt your letter can travel such a long distance. But just the act of writing and sending the letter might heal your heart.

I am writing letters in these days and offer these ideas to spark your own letter writing rituals. You might consider:

  • Who do you want to write to? Joining in conversation with the boundaryless there is no limited to the possibility. You can write to those you knew in life and those you didn’t. Your beloved dead. The ancestors. A long-dead writer who inspired you. Your departed pets. Make a list.
  • How will you send the message? An aerogram. A drug-store card. Leaves of petals to send without words but infused with love. You might match your form to speak most deeply to the one with which you want to communicate.
  • When will you send it? You can send your letters along as you write them or wait for the dark moon days of September 28 and 29. Any of these days as the moon moves from full to dark are the times of Persephone Descending.
  • How will you send your letters? Burying your messages in the earth is appropriate. Persephone can gather them up as she makes to the Underworld. But follow your inspiration. Maybe there is another story of life’s cycles that inspires you so you use a method that aligns with that wisdom. If water beckons you, send your notes on streams down to the sea. Light your letter on fire and watch the spark rise to heaven. Let leaves lift it into the all surrounding air. You can’t do this incorrectly.
  • How will you thank your messenger? Don’t forget to express your gratitude to Persephone or the One who helps you deliver your letter. You might say a prayer of praise, make an offering, or dedicate a positive action to their name.  

Will you receive a reply?  Well, the universe is full of echoes and all kinds of communication. I have received messages from the Dead and I’m not the only one. Your letter is unlikely to be returned as a letter so you might tend your openness to different kinds of communication in ways such as these:

  • Take time away from the demands of the living. It’s noisy here in the living world so just as you would step with your cell phone out of a crowded room to better hear the person on the other end, step out of the daily. Dedicate some time to ritual, communing with the dark, walking in nature. Sometimes go alone This gives you a better chance of hearing. But remember to walk in balance along this path; you do still belong in the land of the living.
  • Honor the communal celebrations of the Dead. The first half of November brings sacred and secular remembrances of the dead: Samhain, All Souls and Saints Day, the Day of the Dead, Veterans Day. The shortest days of the year as the Solstice approaches invite us to Wait with the Dark and in the quiet hear the numinous. Or perhaps you have to wait until Persephone Rises again in spring, bringing letters from the dead in her pockets.
  • Remove this waiting for a response from the work of the rational. What you are going to do is not rational and is outside the bounds of all we can assert with certainty here in the earthly world. Don’t try to make your listening fit inside these walls. You don’t have to give up the rational as you live your daily life- we need it – but you don’t apply it to your waiting for a response to your letter.
  • Listen slant. The poet Emily Dickinson said “tell it slant,” counseled that messages of Truth if too bright can blinds us. The Dead no longer speak as we do, perhaps are even forgetting the way of language with all its limits. They will reach out to you in unusual ways, in slant ways. Through a song that plays on the radio when you are thinking of them. Through the things they left behind found just at a moment that gives meaning. Through a revelation of hawk or cat or rainbow. From a rational world perspective you can never be sure from where the message comes, but when inspiration moves your heart, always take the gift it brings.  

 

If you are looking for support for your listening, my Winter Solstice-hinged seasonal ritual begins with Waiting with the Dark at the end of November. Be sure to sign up for my list to receive the latest news about how this ritual can support your seeking.  

Aug 312016
 

As the last new moon reached the end of its cycle, I post these readings as a prompt for contemplative practice and noticing the more cosmic patterns of life as you attend to the lunar energy in a solar world.

1st September New Moon – Thursday, September 1, 2016 at 5:03am ET in the USA

Releasing the last fire moon & Welcoming the new earth moon – Looking forward to the Equinox

Ground Your Fire Reading 

sunflowers some fadedAs we move from the extreme of summer’s light to Equinox’s time of balance here in the Northern Hemisphere, fire and fiery achievements must shift to move into deeper development.

Sunflower sees the dark soil and lets wilted petals and seeds find their rest. Milkweed explodes its flower and pod into silken seeds swept up in the wind. Root vegetables reach deeper now and wait for frost’s kiss to sweeten their flesh.

There is ample green and still growth, but the frenzy of summer’s height is falling, and we are invited to do the same. It’s time to ground our fire. 

If summer has brought us progress, growth, or an achievement, we can deepen the gifts by varying our pace, shifting our perspective, taking the work into the dark where something not yet imaged can gestate to add richness and texture to what already exists.

I’m sad to see the sunflowers go. I gaze at them all summer and feel this gaze returned. Their loving looks feed my soul. I will miss them, maybe even mourn them for a little while. And at the same time, I sense the pull of dark love’s dawning in sunflowers surrender to earth. They are going where they must go and even invite me to find a way to follow that, too, feeds my soul.

FIRE:
 What fiery (i.e. passionate, creative, inspirational, or authoritative) part of me matured this summer?

SHIFT:  What do I let go of from this successful maturation so it can shift into new form?

GROUND:  What do I ground and let deepen out of this successful maturation?

You can order this as an e-reading for $22. Here is a sample of how I do these readings in a collaborative intuitive format. I have slots open after the new moon / Labor Day weekend

Aug 302016
 

It is no surprise that a collaboration between Rachel Pollack and Robert Place creates a powerful deck for divination and they are working together again to create the Raziel Tarot. This spring,  I had the good fortune of exploring the deck and doing a wisdom reading with Rachel using the Raziel. It follows as an example of what the Raziel wants to teach us. Be sure to pre-order the deck so you can do your own wisdom readings. 

A note: Wisdom Readings are one of Rachel’s many innovations with the Tarot in which we use the cards to ask not just personal questions, but also to explore collective, philosophical, and spiritual questions. We pulled cards from the Raziel as a response to what is fate, destiny, and fortune. We also pulled support cards for each area. Rachel calls them Teacher cards. I tend to think of them as the deeper foundation that influences the meaning of the primary card.  

A Wisdom Reading for Fate, Destiny, and Fortune

Our fate is Death.

Our Destiny is to stand before something greater than ourselves.

And our Fortune is not ours at all, but the interaction, collision, and alignment of forces and events beyond our control.

Our Fate is Death

death razielLike Moses who stands on the mountain top seeing the Promised Land he will not enter, we are all fated to die.

We don’t have a choice about Death’s place in our life, but we do have a choice in the relationship that we make with Death. So much of the language of Death is filled with the metaphor of battle, but when we make Death our enemy we will fail. We will never conquer Death.

Making Death our enemy closes us off to the generativity that we might learn from its dark transitions. Each card in this reading had a deeper teacher card below, and The Empress in the form of Miriam of the Waters flowed below this Death card.

Miriam is Moses’ sister who saves him from Death by hiding him at the water’s edge when the Pharaoh orders all infant boys of the enslaved Hebrews be killed. When the grown Moses succeeds in leading the Israelites out of enslavement in Egypt, she raises her timbrel to lead a victory song that may be some of the oldest text in the Bible: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; Horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.” Here Miriam’s waters are not always gentle; sometimes they bring Death. Miriam herself dies as the Hebrews wander in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land, but from the place where she is buried a spring of life-sustaining water opens.

empress razielLife and Death are intertwined in Miriam’s story. She saves the infant Moses from Death but celebrates the deaths of the Egyptian forces that would have re-enslaved her people. When her death comes it gives rise to water in the dessert. She flows with cycles of Life-Death-Life, and her example invites us to these forces are linked together. Death can feed Life. Life serves Death.

Unlike his sister, the place of Moses burial is a mystery according to the Bible. The rabbinical literature fills in this gap with the story that inspires the Raziel’s image of Death. Here as he approaches his death, Moses stands in the embrace of the Shekhinah, the Divine Feminine. He faces the unknown and takes a step toward it held and supported by the Shekninah’s wings. In one version of the story, Moses is kissed by the Shekinah and his body lifts away. There was no burial; Moses ascended on the wings of the Divine as a reward his faithful service to God and his people.

Moses’ face is serious. He is looking into the unknown with a certain watchfulness. He doesn’t know what to do next, but he is paying attention to what is coming so he can meet it. While we are unwise to make Death our enemy, we don’t know Death well enough to make It our friend. We know our friends so can be familiar with them. We won’t know Death until we cross Its threshold. Moses attitude in this image shows a way to make that crossing: by paying attention to the unknown coming so that It can be give a proper greeting.

Our Destiny is to stand before something greater than ourselves.

high priest razielIn this card to of Destiny, Aaron as the first High Priest is shown with the Ark of the Covenant, which was created from instructions given by God to hold the 10 Commandments, the Divine law. The Ark becomes a physical representation of God’s presence and the High Priests play a special role in to tending this treasure.

The Hebrews gave God a name that could not be spoken to recognize God’s greatness beyond measure. Other traditions have given the Divine evocative names: Ra, Shining Ones, Qian Yin, Aphrodite, Green Man, Jesus, Spider Woman. Each culture reaches toward its own naming of what is unnamable. And as we humans strive to find that name to call out to, we also connect with practices, places, or objects that help us meet and stand in relationship with something of the Greater Than in our individual lives.  Not everyone believes in a Deity, but the forces of that natural world are awesome, too, and in the end we all stand before Death. Like Aaron before the Ark, our Destiny is to stand before something greater than ourselves.

When we talk about Destiny, we are often referencing a specific role that we believe we are called to play. Aaron in the image stands solidly in his role as High Priest. When stepping into a role we have sought, we may feel our destiny is achieved. But what about what about those areas in which we do not realize our visions? What about the inevitable failures that come along with any life?

sun razielThe deeper teacher for Destiny is The Sun. Here youthful innocents arise from a broken jar, which represents the inherent brokenness of the world. But each child – each one of us – brings a unique light into the world and can play a part in its repair.  This repair is known as tikkun olam, which in its earliest meaning called for religious practices (repair of the soul) and now is equated popularly  with contributing to social justice (repair of the physical world and its institutions).  In neither meaning is a specific role required to participate in tikkun olam. In fact, the nakedness of the Raziel’s children is a symbol of their freedom from roles that so often comes with prescriptions on what to wear and how to appear.

As we move through our lives standing before the Greater Than, we will step into certain roles that can be a container for the expression of the important work we are called to do, our destiny. But The Sun as the deeper teacher reminds us that even when those roles fall away, we still have that light of being to be offered to the world as a contribution toward its repair.

And our Fortune is not ours at all.

tower razielWell, the Tower is an alarming response to the question: What is Fortune? The bursting flames of this image show us Fortune as chaos.

With chaos as a central feature of Fortune, this card is a wake up call for our ego-protecting selves with the reminder: we are not in control. The writer Annie Dillard says it this way: “We are most deeply asleep at the switch when we fancy we control any of the switches at all.” When we fall into such a sleep Fortune wakes us.

The Raziel Tarot shows us the wakeup calls that came to the Israelites when their temple was destroyed not just once but twice (586 BCE and 70 CE) . And each destruction was connected to a period of exile for the Israelites. The human and physical destruction was enormous. Descriptors such as chaos and tragedy are not exaggerations for these historical events.

A people do not emerge from such an experience unchanged. In religious life, the rabbis, who were the religious teachers, became the spiritual leaders replacing the High Priests after the second destruction. This shift led to an emphasis on study of the Torah and Jewish law rather than Temple practices and political governance.  Midrash, which are stories told by rabbis to fill in the gaps of the Torah, became a lively practice and gifted the world with a rich wisdom tradition.

The pain of the destruction Fortune brings is often enormous, at times seems unbearable. But once the structures destroyed by Fortune have fallen, we are invited to work with what has changed, to find the new gestating in what remains.

hanged man razielThe deeper teacher of Fortune is the Hanged Man. Here the fallen angel Sheimhazai continues an ongoing process of descent. First, Sheimhazai surrendered being an angel to become a man, then he surrendered his place on earth as an act of repentance to save humanity from the great flood. But the flood came any way. He is falling still, but if you look at the image, you will see that, at last, the ropes that tie him are loosening. He is surrendering to the falling and failing, and it seems as if this is what will set him free.

The Hanged Man invites us to surrender to the losses of Fortune, and when we do, we shift our perspective to see what new light that can liberated from destruction. In the image, the menorah remains in front of the Temple. Although the nine-branched menorah is better known because of its modern use at Chanukah, the original menorah was seven-branched. Seven is number of alchemical transformation that turns the base and most difficult realities of destruction into powerful new creations that liberate us from what limits us.

 

Remember you can pre-order The Raziel today. Thanks to Bob for letting me use these glorious images in this post and to Rachel for all her wisdom offered in her words and works and laughter. Even before I met her, she was my Tarot teacher through her books and since then I have been able to study with her in-person. Let me tell you, it is a treat. I’ve absorbed a lot from her, and all the wisdom that flows through the word above have some source in what I’ve learned from her … though she might deny it as she rather likes to be the anti-guru.

And, FYI, in the fall there will be some shifts to the site and the work I am doing – including more explorations like this of Tarot as wisdom images. You can keep up with the shapeshifting by being one my list if you like.  

Jul 302016
 

As the last new moon reached the end of its cycle, I post these readings as a prompt for contemplative practice and noticing the more cosmic patterns of life as you attend to the lunar energy in a solar world.

August New Moon – Tuesday, August 2 at 4:44pm ET in the USA

Releasing the last water moon & Welcoming the new fire moon – Amidst the first days of the Celtic season of Lammas which brings a time of harvest and the first hints of tipping back toward the dark half of the year.

Surrender to the Depths Reading

gaian four-waterAugust days are full of beauty at height of summer season but there often also begins a strange undercurrent of emotion coming from somewhere. Perhaps it is a message from our soul selves.

The soul isn’t easily defined so metaphor is the way to discover meaning. Our souls are like the late summer pond. The murky mystery of our depths makes the beauty that we show in the sun. So in this season, it makes sense to tend both.

Before doing this reading, you may want to imagine yourself as the woman in the Gaian Four of Water and spend some time looking inwardly to see what your emotions are.  You might visualize a pond or well and imagine traveling down from surface to depth and seeing emotions at different levels. Don’t worry about understanding them all. Just open yourself to them.

SOUL MESSAGE:
 What message is coming from your soul through your deep emotions?

SURRENDER: How to surrender to this message?

REVELATION: What will be revealed when you do?
 

I am going to be tending my soul depths on vacation during the first two weeks of August! I am only doing readings for those who have signed up for the full lunar year before I leave. But if you do want this reading and can wait until after August 16th, you can order this as an e-reading for $22. Here is a sample of how I do these readings in a collaborative intuitive format.  

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. 

 

 

 

Jul 112016
 

This is the third of four weeks of posts on pilgrimage as part of the seasonal ritual Walking the Ways of the Summer Light. The pilgrimage posts began with Departure from the Threshold and continued with Journey.

snail as jpegPilgrimage is a spiral practice. Within pilgrimage’s ample container are many practices and rituals that circle together to form the whole of your experience. The work of one phase repeats but deepens or expands as you continue on your Way.

Then you reach the Center.  

The practices and rituals from the journey have been your teacher, but as you approach the Center, you must let go of the teacher and embrace the call of the moment. On your final approach to the Center, you improvise, are present to the Now, and allow yourself to sense Presence.

The Center is hard to express; it is Wholeness in a fragmented world and any words to describe it are just little slices shaved away from that completeness.

No Center is the same because no journey is the same, and the Center may show itself at any moment or perhaps hide in plain sight. .

I can not tell you about the Center because it will be yours alone to experience. I will instead share my story of a trip to a Center. Read this story not as instructions, but as an offering to your imagination as it guides you on your Way.

I prepared. I was spontaneous. Though my annual August trip to Maine is what I think of as my pilgrimage time when the inspiration to go the Wisdom Rocks on the Mill River came to me on a quiet Sunday, I set off with cards, notebook and camera.

I followed my inspirations of the moment. As I walked the path, I let myself be drawn into the water. I listened to the message I heard inside: “Approach by water.” To walk in water on a hot summer day is no penance, but there was resistance as I walked upstream and I had to be careful in my footing on the rocky river bed. The flow of the water and my extra attentiveness heightened my senses and my feeling of connection to all that surrounded me.

mill river path in water

Bring nothing into the Center. The Wisdom Rocks are in slight bend and drop of the river so the current is stronger there. There was a chance I would fall into the water so I left behind my pouch with cards and camera. It was a practical precaution, but it also felt right to take nothing with me, to have not possibility of documenting the moment other than in my memory. I moved very slowly here where the water was fastest and rocks slickest. Then I stepped into the center of what is like an open circle of rocks, and the current calmed.

Be in the Center. I had no ritual tools. I had no specific plans. I even forgot to think specifically about my question. I just spread my arms wide.  I stood there for a while. I moved in a circle.

Take nothing from the Center. As I prepared to leave, I reached down into the water for a small rock, what I thought would be a memento. But there were living things attached to this rock and a black, centipede-like creature almost crawled up my arm. I returned the rock quickly to its dark home.

Return as attentively as you entered. I had to leave with the same attention with which I entered. The current’s power returned as I stepped from the ring of rocks. I moved carefully and attentively until I returned to the river’s edge.

Take time for integration at the Center’s edge.  Between the intensity of the Center and the return to commonplace is the space between, an ecotone where Spirit and Earth mix. Linger here letting the lessons and messages sink in, come into focus, or just implant themselves for a time of later emergence.  I sat on a log feeling the cold aliveness of my legs for a long while. Then I played with thread and rock and cards. I shall leave you with that image as a rest from words.

rock thread cards by mill river

You can look for the final pilgrimage post early next week on the theme of Return.

Jul 062016
 

This is the second of four weeks of posts on pilgrimage as part of the seasonal ritual Walking the Ways of the Summer Light. The pilgrimage posts began last week with Departure from the Threshold

On a pilgrimage, we seek the Center, but it is the journey that shapes up.

Rachel Pollack’s Six of Trees from the Shining Tribe shows us a particular and rather whimsical journey. Rachel describes how the woman in the image is walking through a forest of Tree Spirits, in whose bark can be seen eyes suggestive of owls. Below the woman are symbols of the underworld. In this rather wild and mysterious landscape the woman walks forward energetically followed by her dog.  There is no cliff, but she could be The Fool who journeys with a confidence carved from a heart that remains light through both delight and difficulty.

ST 6 of treesThe Six of Trees has a special journey meaning from its association with one of Rachel’s Wisdom Reading, in which she asks the Tarot questions on not personal matters but spiritual and philosophical topics. Rachel’s first such question to the Tarot was: What is the soul? The answer came in the form of the deep-eyed owl shown on the Ace of Birds.  When Rachel asked What is the Tarot?, the Six of Trees with its owl-filled forest appeared. The Tarot describes itself as a journey through the forest of souls. This could also be a definition for pilgrimage.

Each card of the Tarot then might suggest a precept, rule, or guideline for how to journey on pilgrimage. This kind of guidance is often given to pilgrims as they begin their journey. In The Art of Pilgrimage, Phil Cousineau tells us that medieval pilgrims had 27 such articles to guide them as they traveled through foreign lands. I won’t go through all the cards (though it might be a worthwhile pilgrimage activity for someone to take on) but instead consult the cards in a Wisdom Reading on how to make our pilgrimage journeys.

To create this Wisdom Reading for Pilgrimage, I used two central oppositions that I found in pilgrimage writings:

  • As we journey, we must remain alert, but also detached.
  • The journey is made in the external world (our bodies walking the landscape), but the vital action is interior (it is our souls that make the journey).

To lay out the reading, I set the Six of Trees in the middle of four cards.  The card to the left of the Six of Trees guides us in how to stay alert while the card to the right shows us what we can detach from. The card above guides us in living the exterior reality while the card below shows us how to tend the interior. Of course, I used the Shining Tribe.

ST speaker of stonesThe Speaker of Stones guides us in to how to be alert. Rachel describes this figure as inspired by European pre-historic carvings and cave paintings that suggest conceptual symbolism despite the simple, natural forms. Rachel writes: “Through the silent voices of such paintings and carvings on rock and bone, these vastly old cultures still Speak to us, telling us of the power of the earth and the mysteries of the human intellect.” As we travel, we listen and look below the loudest sounds and most apparent images to direct our attention to the earthy and the natural. In these quieter and less obvious offerings are the symbols from nature that point us to the deeper mysteries and what we most need to know.

ST ace of riversThe Ace of Rivers shows us an image of what we would do well to detach from. A river of emotion rushes from the mouth of the cave. We can detach from the emotions that arise as we journey. Pilgrimage takes us through new terrain and out of our comfort zone. Here we are vulnerable, and emotions – both the familiar and the unusual – arise in us. I do not believe the counsel here is to block these emotions, but rather to let them flow, don’t hold on to them. Let their release be a kind of purification. We grow stronger when we let the emotions flow through us as we make the journey.

ST hermitThe Hermit shows us how to live and walk in the exterior world.  The figure here holds the pilgrim’s staff and stands before both a tree cradling the sun and the suggestion of a doorway leading to a lantern. The tree could be anywhere and the doorway is not attached to any specific place, but both are connected to sources of light. This reminds us that the source of the pilgrim’s enlightenment could be anywhere along the journey route, not just at the Center. Each moment contains the potential for enlightenment. The turtle below the figure certainly counsels, “Take your time. Don’t rush. Give yourself fully to the journey.”

ST 7 of treesThe Seven of Trees guides us in how to tend our interior experience. This image of a spine connects us to both the physical realities of our bodies and symbolic systems such as the Chakras that chart the energetics within. The circle on the spine locates the place of the heart and invites us listen to the heart as we tend our interior movements through pilgrimage. Rachel writes: The heart is the seat of love, and it is love that connects the sensory and the spiritual. And so we find on the spinal tree a radiant sun at the place of the heart. There is no head in the picture. The openness of the card takes us beyond the separateness of ego”.  Heart messages nurture us within and from this place of interior focus, we paradoxically come to know our connection to the Whole. Separateness and divisions fall away on the journey when as we follow the heart’s guidance.

From these musings emerge pilgrimage precepts for Walking the Ways of the Summer Light:

  • Open to earth’s mysteries. The smallest creature or movement might carry the wisdom that speaks to your pilgrimage seeking.
  • Let your emotions flow as you make your journey. Don’t hold on to them.
  • Be awake to each moment’s potential for enlightenment.
  • Be guided by Love. Let Love open you to your own soul and the soul of the Whole.

Your journey may be challenging or fun, signs may be abundant or scarce, your plans may be realized or not, but know you are touching into something sacred just in the making of the journey. You are entering into the great tradition of pilgrimage.  The Art of Pilgrimage includes a quote from mythologist Joseph Campbell about the hero’s journey. I’ve changed the word “hero” to “pilgrim” to offer this quote as a blessing for the journey.

We have only to follow the thread of the [pilgrim] path,

and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god[dess].

And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves.

Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own existence.

And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world. 

Look for a post early next week on The Center.

Jul 022016
 

As the last new moon reached the end of its cycle, I post these readings as a prompt for contemplative practice and noticing the more cosmic patterns of life as you attend to the lunar energy in a solar world.

July New Moon – Monday, July 4, 2016 at 7:01am ET in the USA

Releasing the last air moon & Welcoming the new water moon

“Let the Strawberry Teach” Reading 

What if we took the strawberry, this abundant fruit of the season, as our teacher over the next few weeks?  What if we dared to show our passion and fullness of being?  I invite you to commune with a strawberry (or melon or mulberry … pick your own pleasure) and see what messages arise to guide you. 

CALL: What calls to be expressed – passionately, abundantly, playfully – in the next few weeks to walk your true path?

FLOW:
 How can you express this?

FULLNESS:  What will come into fullness when you express it?

You can order this as an e-reading for $22. Here is a sample of how I do these readings in a collaborative intuitive format. I have slots open after the new moon / starting July 9th