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.  

Jun 272016
 

This is the first of four weeks of posts on pilgrimage as part of the seasonal ritual Walking the Ways of the Summer Light. The ritual began with four weeks of elemental Wisdom Wanders before the Solstice. You don’t have to have done the Wisdom Wanders to join in on the sacred travel at the center of this ritual time. 

Three pilgrimage principles guide the sacred travel that leads us out from the Solstice and walking the ways of the summer light:

seeker spread full verticleThe Pilgrim is a Stranger. The pilgrim leaves behind not only the place that she knows, but the place where she is known. Her usual status, roles, responsibilities, and most relationships are left behind. This removal from the every day allows her to walk in the eternal flow. Since we are temporal beings, the eternal is strange to us, and it is this strangeness that demands we break our heart, soul, senses, and awareness out of their usual patterns and dip them into something unusual. To be strange is to be renewed.

The Pilgrim seeks a Center.  Pilgrimages are journeys made with intention. The symbol of the intention is the destination that we seek. We make a shrine, well, stone, or house the center of our travels, but these are the outer manifestations of Center sought to find perhaps wisdom, healing, clarity, or soul purpose. Unlike the Wisdom Wanders before the Solstice where we journeyed without a specific aim gathering questions rather than answers, the pilgrim walks with a question or concern to bring to the Center for enlightenment.

The Pilgrim walks for herself, but also for the Greater Whole. The journey may begin out of personal need, but ultimately serves the Greater beyond the individual. This Greater might have one of the names of the Divine (Aphrodite, Jesus, Spider Woman), serve a value or cause (Peace, Justice, Reconciliation), or even honor the Earth on which the journey is made. The pilgrimage is the encounter with the Greater Than that enters into the one who travels. Then the pilgrim becomes the hands, the voice, the heart of this Whole held in physical form.

Departing for Pilgrimage – The Work of Week One

What to Leave Behind?

You probably know about the physical realities and every day work that you’ll leave behind, but consulting cards to identify deeper issues and strategy support helps the process of departure.  You might ask questions like:

  • What responsibilities of my outer life do I most need to pay attention to as I prepare to leave the every day behind? How do I do this leaving behind?
  • What patterns of my inner life can I leave behind? How do I do this leaving behind?

What to Bring?

A Focus Question

If you have done Wisdom Wanders with their collecting of questions, you probably have quite a few. Here is a suggested process for finding the one to take on pilgrimage:

  • Gather all the questions in one place. You might write them all on a piece of paper or write individual questions on note cards.
  • Look for questions that are similar or connected. You can draw lines between questions on one sheet of paper or cluster note cards. You might see words that keep coming up or variations on what is really one question. Get a fresh piece of paper or note card and tinker with the words/common questions to craft that into one question that speaks to your soul.
  • A question might jump off the page or cards and demand your attention.  Did you give one question more space or write it in larger letters? If so, that is the one to take.
  • If you have more than one compelling questions, pull a Tarot card and see if it reflects more one question than another. If you truly can’t decide, take more than one question on pilgrimage.

If you have not done any Wisdom Wanders, you can use cards to support the question development process.

  • Longer version: Sort your deck into suits and pull a card from each suit. Brainstorm questions that each of these cards inspire. Let yourself generate lots of questions and don’t judge the ideas that arise. Then do the process above to find the one question to take on pilgrimage.
  •  Shorter version: Pull one card from a deck and let it suggest the question to take. You might even imagine the figure on the card asking a question of you.

Gifts to Offer

You will be a stranger dependant on the hospitality of the seen and unseen beings you meet on your journey. Before you leave, you might want to prepare to offer gifts of gratitude. These could be items that would help you to do a gratitude or honoring ritual, small natural gifts such as pebbles and ribbons, or a gift representative of the place where you live to give to people hosting you.

Inspirations

A ritual object, devotional book, a piece of jewelry, or a poem can be a touchstone to tune you into your deepest purpose for making this journey.

Who Accompanies You on the Way?

We do not travel alone (even if there are no other people traveling with us). You may know your Guide and just need to make an invitation to travel with you. Or you may need a process to connect with the Guide for the pilgrimage time. Pulling a card(s) from any Major Arcana or a deck like the Dark Goddess or Oracle of Initiation can connect you with a Divine Wisdom Guide. (I looked at all the Guides who had traveled with me on Wisdom Wanders and three of them stepped forward to continue traveling with me through the Pilgrimage time.)

How to Step Over the Threshold?

The preparation ends and the journey begins. For a moment, you’ll stand at the threshold between the worlds of the every day known and the beckoning strange. Here you are invited to mark the moment with a simple ritual or perhaps a prayer.

Crafting a prayer that is unique to your journey is a rich practice. You can say it for the first time at the Threshold and also as you start each day or phase of your journey. You might weave together a prayer by completing these prompts:

I thank/praise …..- name your Guide(s) and their beautiful powers – … for gifts already given and accompanying me on this sacred journey.

As I walk forward into this pilgrimage / day, I watch for / I seek ….

Release in me / Open my heart to / Free me from ….

Please protect me from ….

May I be / May all beings be ….

Blessed Be / Amen / Ho

Yes, blessings on you as the journey begins.

Next week’s post on the theme of Journey will be up by Tuesday. 

 

 

 

 

Jan 012016
 

dgt-crd-19-fullJoin a small group of fellow seekers (no more than 6) to share your stories of what you are experiencing as you tend the returning light and deepen your exploration with meditation and special Tarot spreads. (If you would like an overview of the themes explored, check out the full Descent and Return of the Light booklet.)

Sessions will be held Mondays, January 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th at 6:15pm ET.

The content of each call will be lightly guided by one of the four weekly themes of the series:

  • Discovering what can be born of our broken parts;
  • Listening for messages from the depths;
  • Bringing the extraordinary into the ordinary;
  • Listening to the calling from the light from within.

These sharing circles are a container for pondering, musing, and exploring aloud what surfaces as you tend the returning light. As you share and listen to others, your connection to the season, the light, Divinity, and the weekly themes can deepen or shift into new and necessary places.

I have these basic guidelines I like to follow for my tele-Circles:

LISTENING:  Listening will be the greatest gift we can offer to each other.

SHARING:  We will share our stories with each other.  We will offer each other insights from our own experience – and each one of us gets to choose which of the offerings will be useful to use, follow, or discard.  Each one of us owns our own experience.

BEING PRESENT:  Is your schedule currently clear to make the 4 sessions?  If not, this might not be the time to the series. (You can follow along with my weekly blog posts.)

SEEKING:  We recognizing that we are each on a path and doing the best that we can.  Sometimes making mistakes and sometimes tapping into deep wisdom.  Our perfectly imperfect selves are welcomed into the group.

CONFIDENTIALITY:  We’ll be discussing practice and Tarot insights that can be shared, but individual stories will not be shared beyond the call.

Session will have elements of:

  • Check ins
  • Grounding and focusing / Meditation
  • Talking circles (where each person has a chance to speak uninterrupted) related to the themes being explored
  • Discussion and sharing
  • Tarot spread/process/play

In all the contexts of my life (activism, fundraising, and Tarot work), people say I run the best telephone sessions they have ever experienced and report feeling like they are sitting in circle together.  Tele-hospitality is one of my gifts.

[Yes, the powerful Sun image is from the Dark Goddess Tarot by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince.]

 

 

Dec 312015
 

From October 31st to February 1st, I will be marking the Descent and Return of the Light here in the Northern Hemisphere with ritual, writings, and special offerings from my Tarot practice.  There will be in-person activities here in Western Massachusetts as well as on-line events and special blog posts to take advantage of from everywhere.  I hope all receive support for making just the right journey through the dark time to receive its gifts and meet its challenges.

An overview booklet with full descriptions of weekly themes, reflection prompts, Tarot activities, and ritual suggestions is available for purchase to prepare for the season and follow along in its progression.

Why This Focus?

Dark_Goddess_Wreath49fd27I bought the Dark Goddess Tarot for my December 2nd birthday in 2013, thinking those Goddesses could support me to travel through the holiday season. I experimented with connecting cards to a kind of Advent Wreath, but as I lit the candles wondered, “Why are we fighting the dark?  What if we waited with the dark?”

The idea of ritual support for opening to the dark in the weeks before Solstice took hold.  Then to keep the balance – and our hopes up in January where nights are still pretty long! – the returning light needs to be welcomed over a period of time.  February 1as a celebration of the fire Goddess Brigid and February 2 where Christians bless candles offers a culminating celebration focused on light.

Themes

As the year enters its darkest phase in the 4 weeks before Solstice, we will wait with the dark and see what gifts it has to offer for: celebrating what the passing year has given us; connecting with our beloved dead: finding our dark power; and releasing what is no longer needed.

At Solsticetide, we’ll celebrate the return of the light and the time-out-of-time that comes with the end of the year holidays. We will find a Solstice seed of the new to gestate as the light returns.

In January, we’ll tend the returning light by discovering what can be born of our broken parts, how to root and reach from what is emerging from the Solstice seed of the new; and following our heart’s light.

The Ritual and its Elements

To paraphrase Rachel Pollack, ritual builds a bridge between the physical and the spiritual. Actions undertaken with intention – and often, repeated in daily, seasonally, or annual intervals – and the objects used are the piers and cables, roadway and deck of ritual. You can have a very simple bridge (a log over water) or a masterwork (the Brooklyn Bridge). This seasonal ritual offers a plan developed from my own Waiting with the Dark to be used or modified to meet your own needs and inspirations.

Objects and Tools:

  • A wreath / altar / reliquary / focal point with 4 candles. For the Waiting with the Dark phase, the 4 candles should surround something like holly or evergreen branches to represent the everlasting light in the dark. For the Tending the Returning Light phase, the centerpiece should include something like a dark bowl of water to represent the dark in the light.
  • An oracle for connecting with the Greater Than / Divine and the Dark Goddess Tarot Deck by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince is especially appropriate for Descent; available at darkgoddesstarot.com. You should feel free to work with one Goddess or many. You may want to select Goddesses by a random/sight unseen draw or consciously select a Goddess whose energies you would like to cultivate.

Schedule:

Descent days are Monday because that is the moon’s day.

  • On November 23rd (and the follow nights), you would light all 4 of your candles. There could be 4 Dark Goddesses who correspond to the 4 elements or people could pick one for the week.
  • On November 30th (and that week), you’d light 3 of your candles. There could be 3 Dark Goddesses to show you the faces of the Triple Goddess that you need to see, or just one for the week.
  • On December 7th (and that week), you’d light 2 candles. There could be 2 Dark Goddesses to represent a gate that you/society/the planet need to pass through into the dark, or one for the week.
  • From December 14th-18th, you light 1 candle and work with 1 Dark Goddess who will be with you to lead you through the Dark. December 19th – 21st, you light no candles and wait in the dark accompanied by this Goddess.
  • On the 22nd, you light lots of candles and celebrate the Solstice.

Return days are Sunday’s because it is the Sun’s day:

  • On Sunday, January 3rd (and that week), you light 1 candle and bring the Goddess from the Dark into the light with you and explore authenticity, self-compassion, and joy.
  • On Sunday, January 1oth (and that week), you light 2 candles. There could be lights to show you how to root and reach as the light returns.
  • On Sunday, January 1th (and that week), you light 3 candles. There could be lights to guide you in being active, open, and listening to your heart.
  • On Saturday, January 24th (and that week), you light 4 candles. There could be 4 guides for recognizing the growth of your Solstice seed.
  • On On January 31st and February 1, we celebrate the even and day of Imbolc, Brigit’s Day, with lots of candles.

Happenings (Follow the links to get full details on the events and, where needed, register.)

Saturday, October 31:  Wisdom of the Seasons: Dark Love’s Dawning Mini-Retreat in Easthampton, MA.  Join us for a day of traveling with the oracles and listening for the wisdom of the season at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. Pre-registration required by October 26th.

Monday, November 23rd:

  • Weekly themed blog posts start to support your Waiting with the Dark Rituals.
  •  Tele-Sharing Circles Start.  In these intimate tele-circles of 75 – 90 minutes, we will gather to share our stories of what Waiting with the Dark is opening up for us. Brief meditations and special Tarot prompts/play will part of the circles.  Includes booklet. No more than 6 people in each group.  Cost is $100
  • Sessions will be held Mondays, 11/24, 12/1, 8, and 15 at 6:15pm ET.
  • I also have three slots for individual sessions of 45 minutes to explore the weekly Waiting with the Dark themes. Cost for the 4 sessions is $160

Tuesday, December 22: Solstice Bonfire at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, MA

The first or second Saturday in January  Mass Tarot Session at Lily Library in Florence where I’ll facilitate our annual Wheel of the Year Spread and Process Work

Sunday, January 3rd: Weekly themed blog posts start to support your Return of the Light Rituals.

Monday, January 4th: Tending the Returning Light Tele-Sharing Circles Start.  In these intimate tele-circles of 75 – 90 minutes, we will gather to share our stories of what the Return of the Light is opening up for us. Brief meditations and special Tarot prompts/play will part of the circles.  No more than 6 people in each group.  Cost is $100.

Beginning of February: Celebrate Imbolc – TBD

Dec 142015
 

This is the fourth week of a the season-long ritual, Descent and Return of the Light, that takes the Winter Solstice as its hinge. You can join in at any time by just working with the theme of the week. A wreath / altar / reliquary / focal point with 4 candles is suggested as a centering support. 

Why fear ye the Dark Queen, oh men?

She is your renewer.

Dion Fortune 

We arrive at the darkest time of the year. In Demetra George’s Mysteries of the Dark Moon, these short days of the solar year mirrors the dark moon time of the lunar cycle. We can follow the moon literally in its moon-thly permutations and also adapt its lessons and rituals to other times when the same energy is needed.  These days just before the Solstice are a good time to cultivate the dark moon’s gifts of release and re-birth. This work then invites the seed of something new to emerge in your life just like the Light returns anew.

I see the work of release and re-birth in the moon-thly cycle as flowing in four (not cleanly linear) phases:

DeathRELEASE – Recognize Death: Loss is a presence in our lives.  We make plans and they are not realized. We lose jobs and favorite jewelry. Our bodies change as we age. Physical death claims our loved ones. To ignore loss requires a barricade of psychic energy be built between us and reality. Maintaining the barricades drains energy away from the movement toward new life. The first phase of renewal is to dare to acknowledge what is dead in your life, what is unrealized, what you want to or must release.

 

water05RENEW – Honor Grief, Practice Purification: The feelings and changed realities that flow from the encounter with Death call to be honored. Let your tears flow. Scream out into the dark night. Burn what no longer serves. Bury broken bits in the earth. No need to think too much about what to do. Rather be led by your emotions and instincts. The dark of the night helps you follow your wild nature to truly encounter death. (Of course, do this safely. We’ll ask a Goddess to travel with us in our ritual. If you think you also need physical support, ask a friend to be with you or do your ritual with a group.)

 

Nut DGTREST – Let the New Gestate: You have worked hard and now rest is your reward. It is easy to ignore this phase in our busy world, but it holds the purpose of the whole process as well as its greatest gift. This is where new life emerges. The Death experience and your grief rituals are compost for a new seed to be planted in the womb of the new moon dark.

 

Lady of the LakeWISH – Communion with the Seed: Sit with your seed to come to know it. Yes, it comes from you, but it is born of a mysterious process that opens up new potential. The seed may want to reveal new gifts, dreams, desires, or directions to you. Delight in finding them. Let yourself wish for how you would like to see this seed grow.

 

 

Tarot Preparation 

You can use the Tarot to connect with that which is Greater than you to be guided through this dark moon time. There are no limits to what this Greater than might be. The Dark Goddess Tarot is, of course, a wonderful source for connecting with the Divine Feminine (and the source of the images above).You can pull by chance or choice a Goddess to be with you in the Dark. If you are not using the Dark Goddess Tarot (or one with Divine figures on all 78 cards), then I suggest that you pull a card from the Major Arcana.  [You can use the elemental approaches on pages 7-9 of the overview guide to connect your Tarot wisdom figure.].

You may also want to receive specific guidance on your release work, and the cards can help as you pull them in response to questions such as:

  • What to release into the embrace of Death?
  • How to honor its passing?
  • How to keep connected to the support of my Guide?

Ritual   

This ritual time brings us from the last days of Waiting with the Dark into the celebration of the Solstice.

Start of the Week:  Light one candle and invite one Guide / Dark Goddess to lead you through this week.  Spend some time making your requests for help and support from your Guide.

The Two to Three Days Before the Solstice: You light no candles but let the Dark and your Guide help you through release and renewal (as described above).  Depending on your schedule you may want to give a theme such as Release or Renewal to each day.

On the Solstice: Let yourself rest. Go out and play with others. Light as many candles as you wish. Attend a bonfire. Quiet yourself and pull a Tarot or oracle card to show you an image of your Solstice seed of the new. You don’t need to do too much meaning making around the seed on this day, just admire it and let it enter your heart.

A Day or Two After the Solstice: Keep lighting candles and basking in their light. Spend time with your seed and meet its invitations, challenges, and gifts. Make your wishes for the coming season of the Light’s return or for the year. Write them down for later review and reflection. Keep your seed card out where you can see it through the end of the year, and be open to new messages emerging

Things you might like to know ….

  • Yes, the images are from the Dark Goddess Tarot: Death-La Santa Muerte; Renewal – La Llorona; Rest – Nut; and Wish – Lady of the Lake.
  • The opening quote is from Demetra George’s Mysteries of the Dark Moon.
  • This is the final week of four weeks of Waiting in the Dark as part of the Descent and Return of the Light series. You can catch up with the themes of the week past (Elemental Gratitude, Opening to the Ancestors, and Dark Power) or just take up the release and re-birth part of this seasonal ritual to work your way toward the Solstice over the next week.

Enjoy your winter celebrations! The Descent and Return of the Light seasonal ritual will continue in January with Tending the Returning Light. We’ll be adding more candles each week in our ritual to call back the light. Get a preview of what is coming in the overview booklet

Dec 072015
 

This is the third week of a the season-long ritual, Descent and Return of the Light, that takes the Winter Solstice as its hinge. You can join in at any time by just working with the theme of the week. A wreath / altar / reliquary / focal point with 4 candles is suggested as a centering support.The ritual continues next week with a post on Monday on the theme of Renewal and Release.

Dark comes to us faithfully each night when the day retires. It is a daily presence, though one more often ignored than noted in our electric age. When we dare to surrender to the dark, however, we can touch its power and reclaim our relationship with its nurture.

Celtic poet and philosopher John O’Donohue writes of the dark in his Eternal Echoes:

Though you live and work in the light, you were conceived and shaped in darkness. Darkness is one of our closest companions. It can never really surprise us; something within us knows the darkness more deeply that it knows the light. The dark is older than the light. In the beginning was the darkness. The first light was born out of the dark.

Yes, the dark is the tomb that receives us at the end of life, but equally true is that the dark is the womb from which we are born and re-born.

gaian 20-awakening

When we fully enter this season of long nights, we are surrounded by this dark’s paradoxical powers of both life and death. As we come into this embrace, we remember on some deep level that the dark is the place of our beginnings. Then we can flow forward reminded of our own practice with and power to:

  • trust in the renewal of the dark;
  • be part of the mysterious cycle of Life-Death-Life;
  • accept the invitation to travel another circuit of our life’s spiral in its surprising unfolding,

Ritual

In this third week of our Waiting with the Dark, we stand grounded in the joy ignited by our elemental gratitudes, supported by our ancestors, and entwined with the dark power that springs from within and without. We are prepared to pass through a gateway that will lead us into deepest dark in the time before Solstice. This week we light four candles and blow two out, creating that gateway.

Tarot Inspiration

Tarot helps to meet the guardians at the gateway, to learn their lessons, to receive their support. As you sit with your two candles lit, you may pull or select two cards from the Dark Goddess Tarot (or another deck) to receive messages from these guardians.

The first guardian has a message for you of a lesson to learn necessary for your re-birth. The second has a message of support being sent to you as you enter deep dark.

Weave their messages together and cross under the archway of their wisdom. (The Dark Goddess Tarot does have special gifts to offer in this regard. In the little booklet that comes with the deck, Ellen Lorenzi-Prince gives voice to the Goddesses with messages that I call koans, brief sayings that contain deep wisdom and invite further meditation.)

Closing

The 2014 Guardians drawn for sharing with the group were Ixchel who presides over waters of re-birth and Tiamat who presides over waters of surrender. They are essential guides for this time of year.

There is no end to death.
There is no end to birth.
And what has been lost, lives still in the dark,
waiting for its moment
waiting for its form
into which to be re-born.

Ixchel and Tiamat on green


An overview booklet with full descriptions of the weekly themes, reflection prompts, Tarot activities, and ritual suggestions is available for purchase to prepare for the season and follow along in its progression.

Nov 232015
 

This is the first week of a the season-long ritual, Descent and Return of the Light, that takes the Winter Solstice as its hinge. This week’s theme and practices around Gratitude also lend themselves well to marking the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving. The ritual continues next week with the theme of Opening to the Ancestors. 

gaian-0-seeker1This week we prepare to journey into the dark. All journeys require preparation, even the inner journey. But we need a different kind of gear to travel on these paths. What we carry can not weigh us down; it must be light but powerful. Must fit into a bag no larger than a Seeker’s bundle and provide what we need to move through any challenge.

Our gratitude is the gear to help us travel in the dark. In this first week of the Descent and Return of the Light, we pause to gather in our gratitude by reflecting on gifts given during the passing season of harvest and the whole of the year.

Gratitude is a powerful gift that can be sparked from the smallest things and support us in even the most challenging times. Jean Shinoda Bolen in her book Crones Don’t Whine writes of its nature:

Gratitude is something we have inside us that rises to the surface when something in particular invites it out. Gratitude is a wonderful spiritual practice, actually. Every time you breathe an “ahhhh” or savor a moment, a thank-you for being alive is rising from your soul to fill your heart. Yes, it’s about the beauty of seeing the geese flying overhead, but it’s more: it’s a thank-you to the geese, to nature…And even more than this, it’s a thank-you that I am here, and that I have a place in the universe (pp. 60-61).

Gratitude wells up spontaneously in us at times, and we can also invite gratitude to come meet us. We can create rituals that deepen our connection to gratitude.

Tarot Preparation

In this week’s ritual we will be invited to light four candles in our ritual. These candles can be related to the elements of fire, water, air, and earth and prompt gratitude in different areas of your life. Reflection guided by the images on your Tarot or oracle cards can help you prepare for the ritual. You may want to have the Aces from the Dark Goddess Tarot or your favorite deck out to inspire you as you move through these reflection questions. If you are inclined toward writing, you could take notes, and these notes might inspire prayers of gratitude that you speak aloud during the ritual. But spontaneous prayers are lovely as well.

  • Fire: Where did you shine most brightly this year?
  • Water: What emotions flowed through you this year?
  • Air: Where did you grow in wisdom this year?
  • Earth: How did the earth nurture you this season, this year?

Ritual

If you have not yet done so, gather your wreath / altar / reliquary / focal point with four candles centered around something like holly or evergreen branches to represent the everlasting light in the dark. This week you may also wish to place your Tarot Aces by each of the four candles.

Dark_Goddess_Wreath49fd27

You may wish to begin the ritual with the suggestions on pages 6 – 7 in the Descent and Return of the Light overview booklet. Turn down or off your lights. Then light each candle offering an elemental reflection or prayer for each candle, such as:

  • Fire: Offer gratitude for all the assistance the flowed to you from your community, the ancestors, the natural world, the realm of Spirit.
  • Water: Offer words of thanks for the gifts that came from the deep well of your emotions.
  • Air: Offer gratitude for all your teachers.
  • Earth: Offer gratitude to all your fellow humans involved in the work of bringing food to your table.

Take time to bask in the candle light before concluding.

If you would like to explore more about these theme or see extended prompts for the practices, you may want to purchase the Descent and Return of the Light overview booklet

Oct 122015
 

dgt-crd-18-fullJoin a small group of fellow seekers (no more than 6) to share your stories of what you are experiencing as you wait with the dark and deepen your exploration with meditation and special Tarot spreads. This circle follows the first half of the Descent and Return of the Light seasonal ritual.

Sessions will be held Mondays, 11/23, 11/30, 12/7, and 12/14 at 6:15pm ET in the USA. There will also be a group check in scheduled following the Solstice.

The content of each call will be lightly guided by one of the four weekly themes of the series:

  • Celebrating what the passing year has given us;
  • Connecting with our beloved dead;
  • Releasing what is no longer needed;
  • Finding our dark power.

These sharing circles are a container for pondering, musing, and exploring aloud what surfaces as you wait with the dark. As you share and listen to others, your connection to the season, the dark, Divinity, and the weekly themes can deepen or shift into new and necessary places.

I have these basic guidelines I like to follow for my tele-Circles:

LISTENING:  Listening will be the greatest gift we can offer to each other.

SHARING:  We will share our stories with each other.  We will offer each other insights from our own experience – and each one of us gets to choose which of the offerings will be useful to use, follow, or discard.  Each one of us owns our own experience.

BEING PRESENT:  Is your schedule currently clear to make the 4 sessions?  If not, this might not be the time to the series. (You can follow along with my weekly blog posts.)

SEEKING:  We recognizing that we are each on a path and doing the best that we can.  Sometimes making mistakes and sometimes tapping into deep wisdom.  Our perfectly imperfect selves are welcomed into the group.

CONFIDENTIALITY:  We’ll be discussing practice and Tarot insights that can be shared, but individual stories will not be shared beyond the call.

Session will have elements of:

  • Check ins
  • Grounding and focusing / Meditation
  • Talking circles (where each person has a chance to speak uninterrupted) related to the themes being explored
  • Discussion and sharing
  • Tarot spread/process/play

In all the contexts of my life (activism, fundraising, and Tarot work), people say I run the best telephone sessions they have ever experienced and report feeling like they are sitting in circle together.  Tele-hospitality is one of my gifts.

Register Now

If these fill, be in touch with me as I will have a waiting list.

[Yes, the lovely Moon image is from the Dark Goddess Tarot by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince.]

 

Jan 052015
 

This is the first week of Tending the Returning Light as part of the Descent and Return of the Light Winter Season series. 

In December we embraced the darkness, released the no-longer-needed into its dark nurture, and imagined the seed of the new planted deep in the compost of what we’d released. Then we gathered in holidays celebrations filled with sparkle and fire. Lit candles at tables of feasting. Circled bonfires sending a river of sparks up to find the sun. We exuberantly invited new light into our lives.

But January’s nights are still long. The light is as slim as the crescent moon, as small as the pin prick shine of distant stars. To tend this light is an act of hope and faithfulness. We might take the Spider Woman who spins her web on the Dark Goddess Tarot’s Star card as a guide.  Ellen Lorenzi Prince-Prince writes of the power and wisdom of this Hopi Goddess of Thought and Creation:

In the darkness in the beginning of time, Spider Woman is told she is too small and weak to help, yet through intelligence, persistence, and belief, she travels to and returns safely from the Lake of Fire. She succeeds in brining light and warmth into the world where more imposing animals try and fail. In another tale, she keeps the rising sky from leaving the world entirely by spinning web lines day and night to tie heaven to earth and preserve her creation.

Spider Woman

Heaven sends its light to earth, and the seed we planted at Solstice, so small itself, feels the quiet invitation: “Come, Emerge. Begin.”

What is your Solstice seed at the threshold of emerging? If you followed the Waiting with the Dark process in December, perhaps you have pulled a Tarot card to represent your Solstice seed and will continue work with this. If you haven’t pull a card to show you a picture of your seed, no worries; you can pull one now. If you don’t have a deck, no worries; write a sentence that describes your seed or draw your own image.

Your seed is responding to what Demetra George calls Light Quickening, which is the Crescent phase of the moon’s cycle and corresponds to January and the post-holiday season in the solar cycle. In Mysteries of the Dark Moon, she writes, “The symbolic seed breaks out of its seed casing and pushes it first shoots above ground.”

How we break is how we grow.

The urge to present ourselves as images of perfection, achievement, and control are reinforced by deep roots (the Puritan belief that being bound for heaven could be seen in success while living, for example) and surface reflections (commercials around the holidays, for example, or pretty much any time), but the truth is we are imperfect and constantly breaking. We lose jobs, love, and money. Forces beyond our control buffet us. Things don’t turn out as planed and we are disappointed.

When this breaking happens, the forces of perfection tempt us to turn on ourselves and others with criticism, doubt, shame, or just trying to escape. But in this place of Light Quickening guided by Spider Woman, we are invited to a more gentle approach, one that cultivates qualities such authenticity, self-compassion, and joy. These are some of the qualities that researcher and writer Brene Brown explores in The Gifts of Imperfection. She defines them drawing from her research on shame, vulnerability, and wholehearted living:

  • Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.
  • Self-compassion includes being kind to oneself; recognizing that suffering and feeling inadequate are shared by all humanity; and mindfully paying attention to all our emotions but not over-identifying with them either.
  • Joy, which comes from the Greek word chairo meaning “culmination of being,” flows to us when our hearts open to connect to Spirit and gratitude, both when we are happy and when we are challenged.

When our lives – and our seeds – break and are met with authenticity rather than shame, with self-compassion rather than self-criticism, and with joy rather a closed-down heart, then we grow. We are still broken, but we grow.

So in this first week of Tending the Returning Light, you are invited to gather the elements of a wreath / ritual focal point, including 4 candles to represent the light and something like a bowl of dark water to represent the light in the dark. As many nights as you are inspired or able to this week, you light the first candle that can be see as representing light growing in the season as well as your emerging seed. Invite Spider Woman or another face of Divinity to support you to break open your seed. Surround the seed coming forth from within you with authenticity, self-compassion, and joy with ritual or representational Tarot cards. Tend the returning light, wait for its emergence. Know we are all held in a web of connection. When one of us grows, the whole web expands. May it be so!

 

Dec 152014
 

Why fear ye the Dark Queen, oh men?

She is your renewer.

-Dion Fortune 

This year brings an alignment of the new moon and the Winter Solstice on Sunday, the 21st in the Northern Hemisphere; day and night echo the dark, whisper its song back and forth to each other. And in that mysterious song, we are invited to the release that leads to re-birth.

In the nights leading up to the new moon, the moon’s crescent grows smaller and smaller as it rises at 3am and sets in the mid-afternoon. The new moon then is invisible to us for about 24 hours. The dwindling light and new moon dark can guide us toward transformation in our own lives. We may choose to follow the moon literally in its moon-thly permutations or adapt it to other times when we need the same energy and flow.

I see the work of release and re-birth in the moon-thly cycle as flowing in four (not cleanly linear) phases:

DeathRELEASE – Recognize Death: Loss is a presence in our lives.  We make plans and they are not realized. We lose jobs and favorite jewelry. Our bodies change as we age. Physical death claims our loved ones. To ignore loss requires a barricade of psychic energy be built between us and reality. Maintaining the barricades drains energy away from the movement toward new life. The first phase of renewal is to dare to acknowledge what is dead in your life, what is unrealized, what you want to or must release.

water05RENEW – Honor Grief, Practice Purification: The feelings and changed realities that flow from the encounter with death call to be honored. Let your tears flow. Scream out into the dark night. Burn what no longer serves. Bury broken bits in the earth. Celebrate with chocolate bliss. No need to think too much about what to do. Rather be lead by your emotions and instincts. The dark of the night helps you follow your wild nature to truly encounter death. (Of course, do this safely. Below we’ll ask a Goddess to travel with us. If you think you also need physical support, ask a friend to be with you or do your ritual with a group.)

Nut DGTREST – Let the New Gestate: You have worked hard and now rest is your reward. It is easy to ignore this phase in our busy world, but it holds the purpose of the whole process as well as its greatest gift. This is where new life emerges. The death experience and your grief rituals are compost for a new seed planted in the womb of the new moon dark.
Lady of the Lake

WISH – Communion with the Seed: Sit with your seed to come to know it. Yes, it comes from you, but it is born of a mysterious process that opens up new potential. The seed may want to reveal new gifts, dreams, desires, or directions to you. Delight in finding them. Let yourself wish for how you would like to see this seed grow.

In this fourth week of Waiting with Dark as we approach the Solstice, we are invited to flow with an evolving ritual throughout the week that incorporates our candle work and the phases above.

START OF THE WEEK (15th – 17th):  You light one candle and invite one Guide / Dark Goddess to lead you through the dark of this week.  Spend some time getting to meet your Guide and make your requests for guidance and help.

END OF THE WEEK (18th – 20th): You light no candles at night but let the Dark and your Guide help you through the process above.  Depending on your schedule you may want to give themes to each day, such as Friday is for release and Saturday for renewal. (You may want to light one candle in the mornings to invite the day to return.)

SOLSTICE / NEW MOON (the 21st): Let yourself rest. Go out and play with others. Light as many candles as you wish. Attend a bonfire. Be open to seeing the new seed you’ve planted.

NEXT MONDAY: This is the day that is actually a little bit longer so light all your candles and make some wishes or plan for growing the seed.

… Black-winged night

Into the bosom of Erebus dark and deep

Laid a wind-born egg, and as the seasons rolled

Forth sprang Love, the longed for shining, with

wings of gold.

– Aristophanes

Notes:

  • Yes, the images are from the Dark Goddess Tarot: Death-La Santa Muerte; Renewal – La Llorona; Rest – Nut; and Wish – Lady of the Lake.
  • The quotes are taken from Demetra George’s Mysteries of the Dark Moon.
  • This is the final week of four weeks of Waiting in the Dark as part of the Descent and Return of the Light series. You can catch up with the themes of the week past (Elemental Gratitude, Opening to the Ancestors, and Dark Power) or just take up the release and re-birth part of this seasonal ritual to prepare for the Winter Solstice.
  • Want to make sure that you don’t miss out on future seasonal rituals and offerings? (And, oh, I have something cooking for the time around the Summer Solstice) Be sure to sign up for my newsletter.