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. 

 

 

 

Jun 292015
 

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


Gaian Tarot 19 the SunPATH:
  Use Pile 1 / Majors and Aces to pull a card for the question:  What path would it best serve us to walk this week? THE SUN  invites us to walk this week on pathways of  …

  • Earned joy.
  • Being in the flow.
  • Being open to the beauty of earth and the passionate embrace of Love while still holding in your heart the pain, the grief, and the problems of the world. You are unafraid of this paradox.

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

  • Create a fith-fath, the Gaelic practice of creating a shape shifting spell for times of danger or vulnerability.
  • Observe how you react to conflict with and between others without judgment. Then consider how you want to be with conflict in the future. Gather tools to help you with this new relationship with conflict.
  • To find a practice that best fits for you, you could pick out the bird in the image that you most identify with first and then…

         Defend or Protect: If you are relating to the birds at the bottom, on the branches, near the nest, you may need to defend or protect something important. Perhaps there is a value or cause that is under attack and you are called to defend it. You may need to active by attending a rally or vigil, writing a letter to the editor, or lobbying a politician. Or you might need to protect space and time for dreaming, devotion to art and writing, or for spiritual practice These can easily be eaten up by everyday demands to take action to guard this time: write it in your calendar, close a door for privacy, silence the cell phone.  Perhaps these callings are combined: you are called to create art or write about an injustice.

         Engage: Is someone in your life acting in an aggressive or unhelpful way? What would it be like to ask them what they need? What would be like to identify what you need? Then perhaps you can dance with that together like the two birds flying around at the center of the card.

         Rise Above: If you are drawn to the bird soaring above at the top of the image, just sitting and observing your thoughts while you shut your eyes and breathe, can help you to see them, be more objective, and let the unnecessary ones go. Than an open space the wider perspective can emerge.


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

  • Wonder
  • Total focus.
  • Fascination.
  • Giving yourself fully to what is happening in the natural world.
  • Learning from the physical reality before you (the peeking bulbs, the food on your plate, the animals in your life).

OVERALL MUSINGS:  This week you are called to defend joy. Defending joy does not mean that you ignore the difficulty or pain in the world, but rather that you embrace both the pain and the delight. And dance anyway, forgive anyway, hold up Love anyway. Last week, we were shown so many mentors for living in joy.  As their slain loved ones were laid to rest, the community of the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston showed the power of forgiveness, truth telling, and celebration even as they grieved. Same sex couples denied marriage equality for decades finally got to make their love legal and there was so much embracing. Even the White House put on rainbows. So how will you defend joy this week? How will you let joy into your heart to emerge renewed? How will you let joy connect you back to the wisdom wonder of when you were a child?

Jun 232015
 

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

gaian 18-moonPATH:  Use Pile 1 / Majors and Aces to pull a card for the question:  What path would it best serve us to walk this week? THE MOON  invites us to walk this week on pathways of  …

  • Honoring natural cycles, particularly those which the moon shows us of dark to new, from waxing to full, from waning to back again to dark.  (MoonCircles is a favorite site of mine for moon cycle information).
  • Remembering “that one stage of life always succeeds another, and that a time of darkness is always followed by renewal” (quoted from Joanna Powell Colbert’s Gaian Tarot companion book).
  • Tuning into the realms beyond through dreams, connecting with the ancestors, letting the natural world be your guide, or recognizing psychic messages.

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

  • Create a fith-fath, the Gaelic practice of creating a shape shifting spell for times of danger or vulnerability.
  • Observe how you react to conflict with and between others without judgment. Then consider how you want to be with conflict in the future. Gather tools to help you with this new relationship with conflict.
  • To find a practice that best fits for you, you could pick out the bird in the image that you most identify with first and then…

         Defend or Protect: If you are relating to the birds at the bottom, on the branches, near the nest, you may need to defend or protect something important. Perhaps there is a value or cause that is under attack and you are called to defend it. You may need to active by attending a rally or vigil, writing a letter to the editor, or lobbying a politician. Or you might need to protect space and time for dreaming, devotion to art and writing, or for spiritual practice These can easily be eaten up by everyday demands to take action to guard this time: write it in your calendar, close a door for privacy, silence the cell phone.  Perhaps these callings are combined: you are called to create art or write about an injustice.

         Engage: Is someone in your life acting in an aggressive or unhelpful way? What would it be like to ask them what they need? What would be like to identify what you need? Then perhaps you can dance with that together like the two birds flying around at the center of the card.

         Rise Above: If you are drawn to the bird soaring above at the top of the image, just sitting and observing your thoughts while you shut your eyes and breathe, can help you to see them, be more objective, and let the unnecessary ones go. Than an open space the wider perspective can emerge.

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

  • Being active in our questing
  • Commitment and intensity
  • Knowing that there are gifts in the wild places waiting for you
  • Grounding yourself fully in the earth so you can listen for what is below the surface or coming from Spirit realm.

OVERALL MUSINGS:  This is the second week in a row that the Moon has appeared. (The Fire Wisdom Walk took the place of last week’s post, but I still drew and worked with the cards.) Last week’s Moon appeared during a week that held both the Summer Solstice and the attack on Charleston’s Emmanuel AME Church in which nine people were murdered because of they were African American. On the Summer Solstice at noon we cast the least shadow of any time of the year, but that doesn’t mean we are absolved of shadow elements. There is just no where left for them to hide. This act of terror exposes many of our national shadows: racism, white supremacy, violence. We can’t ignore the darkness any more than we can ignore the dark moon. But we can dare to look into the dark, acknowledge its source, and respond to that reality in order to move toward change. This week’s practice card suggests that fierce work is an appropriate response, and the Explorer of Earth, too, demonstrates an intense commitment to what calls here. What calls you this week? How can you play a role in healing and renewing your community and the wider world?