The Adjectives We Use

The Adjectives We Use

As a practicing witch, feminist, energy worker and a student of life, I am often puzzled as to why, in this day and age, we continue using the terms “masculine” and “feminine” as descriptive modifiers. What exactly does it mean when we call an energy masculine or feminine, anyway?  While I understand that these are descriptors that generally address what are typical characteristics – why do we insist on being so vague, misunderstood and perhaps even, insulting, depending on who we are speaking to?

WORDS COMMONLY USED TO DESCRIBE FEMININITY

Dependent, emotional, passive, sensitive, quiet, graceful, innocent, weak, flirtatious, nurturing, self-critical, soft, sexually submissive, accepting

WORDS COMMONLY USED TO DESCRIBE MASCULINITY

Independent, non-emotional, aggressive, tough-skinned, competitive, clumsy, experienced, strong, active, self-confident, hard, sexually aggressive, rebellious.

In today’s world we are already discussing and understanding that we humans have more than two genders and certainly have more than two gender identities. Are we so brainwashed by the teachings of Carl Jung that we cannot think outside the box or even simplify how we describe people, things and energies but by two gender assumptions?

Why is it so hard to use descriptors that are accurate rather than general assumptions that may be inaccurate?

If someone is sensitive, why is it so hard to say that he is sensitive – is it accurate to say he is feminine?  If I am self-confident, does that make me masculine?

Or if we are describing an energy of a thing that is hot and forceful – why would we call it (the energy) masculine when we can say hot and forceful? And really, how does an energy claim gender identity anyway?

I did a Google search on the merging of masculine and feminine energies and was blown away at how many websites there are that are devoted to that one thing. Do people spend their lives attempting to identify what is masculine and what is feminine within themselves and then finding a way to merge them to become whole? Are we so confused by who we are that we feel we need to identify our strengths and weaknesses, our talents, our personality traits by gender identity?

Many practitioners of Wicca deal in such dualities.  In their magic, they insist on a balance of masculine and feminine – sometimes by the number of each sex in a Circle – other times but the type of energy applied to the magic.  When I first started my studies in magic I was required to learn how to project the energies of masculine and feminine, each by itself, into something else.  I found this very confusing.  I wasn’t sure how to project them without first feeling them.  So I looked for things representative of them to “feel” them and then learn how to project them.  Well, those things did not always feel the way I expected them to feel.  Nor did what I project, always feel like what I thought it should. This led me to a study of my own energies and personality characteristics – who was I, after all?  I have never had a single issue with my own gender identity. I am a woman. I love being a woman.  Truth be told, most to the words used to describe feminine, do not apply to me and yet I have never believed myself to be anything else but fully woman. I am direct, assertive and not so much a nurturer. But I loved being a mother, birthing and raising my children. I am passionate in all ways. I am passionate about what I believe in and I am one who will stand up to speak for those less-abled to speak for themselves. Because I am not a “girly” girl, does that make me less “woman?”

When I first came to the Craft – I identified as Dianic.  Now, there are two different kinds of Dianics floating around out there. Some say Dianic means woman only. I will qualify that however, and say that women need their woman only space and to be honest, my work is dedicated to working with women. But I believe that who comes into a group needs to be determined by the person leading it.  For me, it does not define Dianic. What does define Dianic is that we are all of Goddess – all sexes and all identities. Not a pair who birthed us, but of Goddess – She is Whole – One and we are of Her. Is She Nurturing?  Loving? Fierce? Dark? Light? Bold? As Above So Below – All Things – As am I, All Things.  Not feminine, not masculine, not animus, not anima – but Whole, containing All. Woman.

Personally, I think the terms masculine and feminine are part and parcel born of the patriarchy. Yet another way to separate and divide. How many of us can read that list of feminine descriptors and not see that those words feel “less than?” And the opposite with those defined as masculine.  Not all but most.  The weaker sex – yes?  Not!  Science has already proven that women are built to be stronger – to endure more (again as a general rule!). Those of you who are of my generation know how difficult it was to not grow up feeling “less than.” And if that is what happened – how difficult it has been to claim power for yourself.  I was lucky because I had very progressive parents who saw that things would be different when I grew up.  I was taught to be strong – to make decisions for myself and to believe that I could do anything I chose to do once I “set my mind to it!”

I encourage everyone to really consider the words we use.  How do we define ourselves?  How do we define each other?  What words do we use to describe a thing? An energy? And are we totally a mess inside with two beings, a masculine and a feminine that shall never meet? When something is hot – let’s call it hot.  When something is nurturing – let’s call it that and not say it is feminine.  It really isn’t difficult.  Let’s be clear and use words that really describe something or someone. Let’s step out of the patriarchal terminology and become clear in what we mean. We must start with our words.  The word is sacred.

To Every Season

We are closing in on the last of the season of abundance. Wherever we look we see Her harvest around us. Purple grapes hang from their vines. Branches hang heavy from the weight of fruit and sweet nuts. All the forces of life have done their work ~ the sun ~ the rain ~ the earth ~ the wind ~ all have added and blessed everything with fruitful abundance.

We have reached the time of the harvest. The shadows of the day are lengthening and our growing season is drawing to a close. We reach out claiming our rich rewards ~ our bountiful harvest.

If we are lucky we will see a show of beautiful color, the trees bursting forth in dazzling color of ~ reds and golds ~ yellows and oranges ~ in final preparation for plants to move into their resting season. The minerals of the Earth fed these living things, giving life in the spring followed by summer, with flowers blooming into fullness. Finally, heaviness swelling, they return the body to the earth in this deepening autumn. We begin a season of quiet rest.

We are not unlike our kin of the plant kingdom. We plant our feet on this firm Earth as well. We live in similar cycles, first with fresh adventures, new ways to grow, new plans all bursting within us. We move into the summer of our work ~ the blossoming forth of our dreams into reality, each promising a fruitful harvest following our hard work. The visible signs of what is yet to come hold promise, a thread of light that runs through everything in the Universe, a promise without which we could not ever begin again with hope for new endeavors, just as the trees, without it, would not bloom in the spring.

As we move deeply into our own experience, we feed on what nourishes the soul, we expand to embrace new ideas, concepts, visions, pleasures, and sorrows. Much like the trees reaching higher and wider, we expand our view. Just as the plants, we struggle in the summer of the cycle for growth and expansion.

In our cycles of growth, inevitably there comes a time when no matter what our involvement or dedication, a change comes. Somehow no matter how much we try to resist, some important process within us stops and we cannot move forward.

This is not an indication that all is lost or even that the growth is over. It is simply a sign of change. The trees know the change is upon them when the day grows shorter and the temperature begins to drop; and if these signs do not speak loudly enough, the first frost brings home the message. We know the summer of expansion is at an end when we can take in no more, when no fresh understanding unfolds, or when the heart has gone out of the experience.

It is time to pause in our growth, to rest from our steady seeking. We must put aside our books, come home from our adventures and just sit by the fire. In the closing of this cycle we, too, must let the quiet enfold us while the fruit of our searching ripens. We must take the time to gently search within ourselves for the full harvest of our experiences.

As I am writing, I am singing this in my head …

Turn! Turn! Turn! by the Byrds

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

To know the cycle of nature is to know our own cycle. Every season has its purpose. When a cycle of life becomes autumn for us, we are not delaying new growth by taking time to rest in the sweet wonders of our experience. Before we look ahead to the promised spring, before we hurry on to our next project, let us take counsel with ourselves, and take part in the rich reward that is the true fruit of our seeking; let us celebrate the harvest and rest awhile in these the lengthening shadows of autumn.

Many Blessings,
Bendis

She Changes Everything She Touches

She Changes Everything She Touches and …
Everything She Touches Changes….
As a way of entry to this post, I wish to let readers know that this is written as a critical part of the work shown below. It is the work of an accomplished priestess and how she has been reminded as to what she knows about manifesting wants and needs in her life. It is personal and it is real. In my professional life I was big on accountability and know that it applies to my magical life as well. This post therefore witnesses my intentions!

I have been feeling horribly scattered lately, almost as though I have acquired ADHD in my old age. Each day is incredibly busy and yet at the end of the day, when I reflect on how busy, I realize I have not gotten anything productive done! I have a lot of irons in the fire and recently have added even more. I added them because they seem important, as they might prove helpful to me for accomplishing some of my goals.

So, I was talking to a friend on the phone the other day, lamenting about this as well as other things that I wish to develop in my life that have to do with family and friend connections and spending more time with in-person relationships.

At the end of our conversation, in which my friend used her skills at listening, she remarked, “Bendis, you are a remarkable woman and have accomplished so much in your life. You have shared marvelous things with your students, but in listening to you, I can clearly see that you have not used what you teach in your own life.”

She Changes Everything She Touches and …
Everything She Touches Changes….

I stopped and took in what she had just said and realized that she spoke the truth. When I have used my own skills at manifesting, magic happens. I am a very good at manifestation. How could I not apply what I know to my own life? Of course, it is all part of the apparent ADHD that I really don’t have. What I have is a lack of goal setting, a lack of organization. I knew I had to create an action plan and include in it, a heavy dose of manifestation magic that has been lacking.

A synchronistic event followed on the very next day when I attended an all-day training that is part of my part time job with local digital inclusion efforts. The topic for the day was Goal Setting and Goal Achieving. Step-by-step I was taken through a process that is identical to what I teach my students when they first come on board in my mentoring program. Duh! Did I need a two by four?

I was encouraged to pick one goal. That immediately put a road block in front of me because I had at least five goals that sat at the top of my list, not one of them any less important that the others.

She Changes Everything She Touches and …
Everything She Touches Changes….

So here is what I am working on:

Goal Setting and Achievement

Part One – Self-Analysis

Where are you right now in terms of your goals and satisfaction level?

I am not where I want to be. I am feeling scattered. I feel completely disorganized. At the end of the day I feel as though I have not accomplished anything.

What do you feel needs to be done?

I want to improve my writing skills. I am a published author but I want to find more venues to publish my articles. I am exploring art as a therapeutic process and want to make time for it. As a teacher/facilitator of personal growth I want to add audio and visual medium to my classes I teach. I want to finish my new school, Dancing with Goddess. I love to learn and need to complete the classes I have started. I need to make sure to allow time for spontaneity in case social opportunities arise because I need to strengthen my support system here where I live.

What are your professional liabilities and weakness that you want to minimize and/ or eliminate?

I am currently not at all organized. I have great organizational skill that I am not using. I have not created a schedule for myself in order to complete things. I am spending way too much time on things that are not productive. I am not practicing what I teach!!! I am not using my magic!

She Changes Everything She Touches and …
Everything She Touches Changes….

Goals and Action Steps

Goal # 1 My Own Learning Path

1. Create time slot on schedule
2. Start the classes
a. Do 2 – 3 units per week on #1 priority classes
b. Fill in, if time is available, with fun ones
3. Stay on track

Goal # 2 My Online Schools for Others

1. Create time slot on schedule
2. Figure out how to get classes to front page
3. Figure out payment set up
4. Networking

Goal #3 Personal Support System

Friends

1. Pay attention to what opportunities are right for me
2. Make sure to go
3. Show appreciation – follow up with “thank you” and express the desire to be included again.

Family

1. Express needs to family
2. Be supportive of theirs as well
3. Communicate often

Goal #4 Writing – Improve & Publish

1. Create time slot in schedule
2. Write every day
3. Network to find places to publish blogs and anthologies
a. look for anthologies (books) to write for.
4. Use books on hand for writing improvement

Goal #5 Get Healthy – Lose Weight & Workout

1. Begin a different eating schedule – breakfast early
2. Stop eating by 7:00 pm
3. Eat small portions – use small plate
4. Plan menus ahead
5. Schedule 1 trip to 24-Hour fitness weekly
6. Walk 2 days weekly

She Changes Everything She Touches and …
Everything She Touches Changes….

Magical Goals and Action Steps

Goal # 1

Create an altar in my home where I can sit at the beginning of each day to plan and review resources and again at the end of each day to review what has been achieved.

Goal #2

Create a Vision Journal to set intentions and record achievements. The Vision Journal will live on the altar.

Goal #3

Include art each week at least on one day for 2 hours. Include magical intent built within art pieces.

I am currently creating my calendar, with a plan to make each day look as if I am going to work. My job is to accomplish the goals I have set out for myself. I will go to work at a certain time, accomplish my listed tasks for the day and then close my business day. I will allow for flexibility and spontaneity should I have an opportunity for social engagements that will build my support system.

I will be posting this on my own personal blog Her Breath along with follow up as I accomplish these goals. I will make every effort to include any changes I make as well as fun magical things I will be doing to make these goals manifest in my life!

She Changes Everything She Touches and …
Everything She Touches Changes….

Spring

Redbud Flowers We celebrate the Spring Equinox as a reflection of the birthing time of the year. We have made it through the winter’s cold and ice, experienced the warming of the Earth and the flood waters that prepared for the birth of all that is new. Seeds are germinating and beginning to sprout. We see that around us, depending on where we live. Here in Texas the red buds are in bloom and some of the trees have their fresh green leaves opening up at the tips. Just seeing these indicators, brings an internal feeling of birth. My heart expands in joy when I see my first red bud tree in bloom – the first buttercup opening to the sun!
Four-rocks-balance
This is the time that the Goddess makes herself known by birthing all into existence. She first creates day and night and on this day they are equal, only to rise and fall as the year changes. Then She creates the stars, the heavens, the green things upon the earth, the animals and us – all Her children. All of us glistening in Her birth waters, ready to dance in Her rhythms.
I see the creation of day and night in equal portions coming first, as a lesson for all that follows; balance, a moment of equilibrium, manifesting everything else. We attempt to have that place of balance in our lives, but know from experience it never stays exactly in the center. All we can do is hope to bring it back as we move between states. It is like the pendulum, swinging back and forth from one side to the center then to the other side, but always seeking center.

We do this in our lives. We move from emotional times of happiness and joy, to anger, to sadness and in between, we find center. It is this place where we connect with ourselves – become still for a moment, one with all. It is from this place that we spring forward, renewed and rested. We seek center when we pray. We seek center when we work our magic. We seek center when we begin our rites. This is the place of balance in ourselves, for it is from here we that we manifest.

Another aspect of spring is celebrating the child within. So often we get caught up in the heavy aspects of life and forget to have silly fun. Laughter and light are all part of the Season of Spring. In the rituals I offer to women for the Spring Equinox, we all become children again –love, laughter, carefree hearts – these are what spring is all about. We get out the hula hoops, the jump ropes, the jacks – you remember playing jacks? We dance the hokey pokey and frolic together as we did when life was easier, when life was play.
persephone kelly
Spring is the time of the Kore, the Maiden. Persephone returns from the Underworld, where she spends the dark half of the year caring for the departed, while her mother, Demeter, mourns her loss. In Her sadness, Demeter calls a halt to the growth of all new life. The trees become barren, reflecting her sadness. At the emergence of spring, Kore returns and brings with her all the aspects of the young maiden in flower. The Maiden Goddess of Spring is reborn from the Earth. She emerges from the confines of winter, bursting with flower and budding greenery.

Her mother is overjoyed. It is this spirit of reunion and renewal that we feel when we ourselves discover spring! The leap of our hearts, the urges to make new everything around us, garden planning, a magnificent breath of fresh air to our souls!

Hail Kore, Child of Spring!

Persephone by Mary B. Kelly

See post on  Feminism & Religion as well.

Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of The Goddess. She is the author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch and Beyond the Ninth Wave where she teaches courses in Feminist Dianic Witchcraft, European Witchcraft and Druidic Shamanism. She mentors those who wish to serve others in their communities. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine.

Becoming

The Year 2015 is coming to a close. It is a time of endings and a time of beginnings. That is the wonderful thing about our cycles. We all have the opportunity to end and begin – over and over. Each day, each month and each year. We all scurry about making resolutions for the new year only to see them fail almost immediately.

This is where a good basic magical practice can lend a hand with our resolutions. In every magical act we must first know what it is we wish to manifest. I am not talking some empty wish here but a real look at what we want – really want – for the new year to bring.

If there were one thing I would say needs to be given the most attention in one’s magical practice is the Art of Becoming.

When we cast our Circle and invite the Elements, in truth, they are already there. It is within ourselves that we must become those Elements in order to feel their presence in our Circle. This is why we need to spend so much time studying them for when the studies are finished, we then must learn to feel them, embody them and finally, to project them out to others.

It is the same when aspecting a Goddess – we must become Her. The only way to do that is to first know Her, not just from books and other references, but from our own personal experience as we embody Her.

In my healing method which I call Annym Billagh (the spirit of trees), one learns the healing energies of trees by becoming those trees, by feeling them within and projecting their healing energies onto someone else.

When a member of a Native American tribe dances an animal, he is not just imitating that animal he is becoming the animal in the dance.

When a dancer wishes to portray an image in her dance, she must become that image. When an artist paints, he first learns what it is he wishes to paint. He learns so well that what he wants to paint becomes a part of him and then it is moved onto the paper.  When an actor portrays a character on the stage or on film, she must first become that character.

So it is in a magical practice. When we have a desire, when we wish something to be in our lives, we have to feel and be in that state in order to manifest it in the world of form. We must become our desire.

So, if we wish to bring in something real with the New Year, becoming takes on vital importance. This year is coming to a close. As with all endings, it is a beginning.

This year, my Circle is honoring Frigga. The Goddess Frigga sits within Her hall and spins thread for the Norns to weave into the great tapestry of all life. She never reveals what is in the thread She spins, but we can tell Her of our dreams and ask Her to spin them into the thread of our life, if She will.

Frigga’s thread is the substance of becoming. We can ask for Her thread and once we have it, we can take it and shape it, and manifest what is to come in our lives. What will you do with the thread Frigga gives you?

What do you need to know to become your desire in the coming year? Do you have a clear image of what it is you wish to become? Do you have a plan for becoming your desires? Will you be able to take the thread that Frigga has given you, and with your own full embodiment of that desire, manifest your dreams in the New Year?

May it be so! May all Blessings be yours in 2016 and may it be a year of “becoming” all that you can be.

Our Loss of Od

Freyja is an Old Icelandic goddess of the Earth, fertility, and beauty. Her name means “Lady.” Freyja is known to be very beautiful and sexual. It is thought that Freyja was first in union with Od. This union represented what is known in Old Icelandic as sam-vit, a state of united consciousness. In other words, consciousness that reflects a state of being united, integrated, or whole. Od had vanished from Her life causing her to weep for his loss. Where her tears fell on the land, they turned to amber and where they fell in the Sea they became gold. Amber and gold are both sacred to Freyja. From the time he left, she continued to travel and search for him.

We come into this world as infants, and in that state only experience the present moment. We know our mothers from the heart beat felt in the womb and perhaps through other senses as yet undefined. We know at any given moment that we are hungry or content, wet or dry, sleepy or wakeful. Our ability to see is not fully developed and at first we see only hazy images around us. We are born knowing how to cry. It is our only way to communicate as infants. Our interests focus only on “self” and our own needs. We are, except for this ability to cry, basically helpless, unable to do anything except be where we are placed and are totally dependent on those who care for us.

As we mature, however, we begin to hear and identify sounds, see colors and shapes and taste foods we like or dislike. We learn to smile when something pleases us and we learn to laugh when feeling happiness. We learn to recognize other people, sounds and gestures and eventually the many words spoken to us. We learn to scoot, crawl and finally walk. With that we learn to mimic and then, with understanding, communicate with speech. We still however, live very much in the “now.”

As children, if not damaged by the care given us, we are fully sensing beings. We may not always understand our sensory perceptions because our experience is limited but we use our senses easily. We are creatures of exploration and discovery. Using an Old Icelandic term once more, you might say finna is fully active at this time. Finna is a critical and innate element of being that is critical to our spiritual and physical health and well-being. It means to discover, find, perceive, notice, feel, learn, to come across, and to meet.

Something happens to us when we are old enough to enter school. We are placed in an environment where sensory exploration is no longer the focus but rather we begin to develop left brain perception, through reading and writing. We are taught to be more analytic, oriented toward mental processes rather than sensory awareness. Because of the rigid conformity required of us, we lose the ability to be open and much of the inherent wonder and deep curiosity of our own body’s desire to be open to our environment is lost.

For those of us on a spiritual path, awareness of this loss comes to us as we seek answers to our own spiritual questions. Our yearning is much like that of Freyja for her Od. We have body memories of our connections to the sacred in those simple ways of childhood. We may not consciously remember what it is like to be open to all that is around us, but there is an inner yearning to seek and find, no matter how elusive it might be.

Once we recognize that we are sacred beings and one with our Source, as well as everything else around us, the connections begin to grow. We take ourselves back out into nature. We learn to really “see” what is around us. We learn that everything can speak to us, tell us what we need to know, if we listen. We study our past, digging deeply into our ancestors spiritual past wanting to know how they honored the divine in their lives and how to connect with them in the present.

We learn that our bodies truly are our temple because they house our sacred spirit. From this we begin to see the advisability of caring for our bodies and begin eating in healthy ways. We learn to take care of this “temple” we have been given or have chosen for ourselves.

If we allow it, music can enter our souls and speak to us, recalling far distant longings, awakening emotions hidden deeply within. Our food can give us new pleasure, with taste sensations unnoticed before.

We learn about our deep inner nature, our lightness and our shadow. We acknowledge and love both. We see who we are though our learning about ourselves, perhaps through the many self-development avenues available to us. We learn to love who we are no matter if flawed or not, because we know that all are flawed in one way or another and we see that even “flawed” is a faulty perception.

As we explore the five senses given to us at birth, opening in our perceptions, somehow another sense is developed and it is a returning of our own intuitive awareness. We have the ability to know of things seen by the inner eye and heard by inner ears. We delight in the sense of touch, both in the touching and in the being touched.

And so this ongoing search for Od that we have leads us into a return to a natural state of openness and from there to an inner consciousness that reflects the state of being united, integrated, and whole. When we are in that state we are able to access all that we need to manifest “possibilities” in life. Our Freyja will have found her Od.

Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of The Goddess, and author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch and Beyond the Ninth Wave where she teaches courses in Druidism, Celtic Shamanism, Goddess Spirituality and mentors those who wish to serve others in their communities.. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine.

Fire, Her Bright Spirit

dd croppedIn Celtic Tradition our world is composed of Three Realms, those of Land, Sea and Sky. In the midst of these Realms we find the Sacred Grove, the place of flowing together. There the Sacred Fire burns, by the Well of Wisdom, beneath the World Tree. Sacred Fire is that which weaves itself throughout the Three Realms.  It connects us and all of life to the Realms as well as to our gods and goddesses.  Fire is Sacred Spirit, Sacred Inspiration, without which life would have no meaning. (image by Marilyn Masden)

Fire is the spark, the flame, the heat of passion.  It is what ignites our creativity, fuels our passion and fires our hearts to love.  It is the Dance of Life, the joy found in movement, sexual energy and the warmth that germinates new life in seeds. It is the warmth of sunlight on our skin and the ecstatic pleasure of orgasm.

Fire is that which transforms fuel to light and heat as it can transform anything we feed it to pure energy.  We associate Fire with the Sun which provides all living beings on Earth with warmth and light. Without it, life as we know it would be impossible.  The Sun burns above us…and its energy supports life.

In magical traditions, we associate Fire with noon, when the sun is at its peak in the sky. We also associate it with summer, that time when the Sun is with us for longest days in the year.  It is associated with the active phase of our adult lives, the time we expend the most energy.  It is the time of creating families and careers. Clearly, sex and passion are all about Fire.

Fire also heals by stirring things up and getting them moving. It overcomes the stagnation of apathy, the heaviness of depression, or the distant coldness of always living in one’s head. Fire corresponds to our will.  It is our power to choose, to make and keep goals and to take care of any obstacles that prevent forward movement.  We use fire to remove anything in our way. Fire is what gives us courage. Fire is our independent spirit. We can use the magic of fire to face fears and overcome them.

We must also look at the destructive side of Fire.  The consuming hunger of fire is what strikes fear in our hearts. Magically, then, fire is about transformation.  Changing what no longer serves us and fueling what does.  And as with any burning fire, we must carefully contain and direct it lest it burn out of control. We see Fire within us, when it is out of control, as destructive tendencies, aggressiveness, jealousy, hatred, resentment and vindictiveness.

CenterFire is at Center of the World. If asked the question, “where is the center of the world,” I have three answers. When speaking for myself, my answer is “where I stand.” To someone else in my family, it would be wherever we gather at the center of the home. In ancient cultures, that would have been the hearth or the center pole.  Today, it may be at the kitchen table.  And if you were to ask a Druid of her clan, it would be the sacred Bíle or sacred tree of the Gods. As one who practices, Celtic based spirituality, the Goddess Brighid connects all of these “centers” for She is the Goddess of Fire. She is Fire in the head and the heart, the Fire in the home and hearth and the Fire of smiths and poets. She is the magic that connects the Three Realms of Land, Sea and Sky. She is the Fire that transforms. She is the Fire that opens the way into the Otherworld, into Inspiration.  For, it is Fire that gives inspiration to all creativity.

Author Tom Cowan introduced many to the term, “Fire in the Head”  which he described as meaning to be called to another world, that which carries one who can travel to realms unseen by others and return with special knowledge.

Words, written a certain way, in their finest expression can set us fire. The Celtic expression “Fire in the Head” also makes reference to the passionate inspiration that leads us to our finest work, our most beautiful creations, our poetry, songs and written words.

Amergin, a great Druid whose name means “Birth of Song” said as he stepped ashore in Ireland, “I am a god who sets the head afire with smoke.” It was this “Fire in the Head” that fueled Amergin’s ability to “be” all he claimed to be and thus use that power to claim the land for his people, the Gaels.

We are at the time of Midsummer – the height of the Season of the Sun; the longest day of the year.  Fire is an important aspect to Midsummer celebrations with bonfires on hilltops, at crossroads, or any place where folks could gather. The Midsummer Fire is traditionally kindled from the friction of two sacred woods, fir and oak. Nine different types of herbs are thrown upon the Midsummer fire. These consist of mistletoe, vervain, St. John’s Wort, heartsease, lavender, and a choice of four others chosen from herbs typical of this season such as yarrow. In Celtic traditions, it was nine sacred woods, thought to be the first nine trees of the Celtic Tree Calendar.  Folks would feast, dance and jump the fire for luck and fertility. The herds were driven through the smoke to purge disease and illness from them. In the Isle of Man, fires were lit so that the smoke could pass over the corn fields.  In Germany, Fire wheels hurtled down the hills representing the Sun’s movement.   If the wheel flamed, all the way down the hill, farmers expected a plentiful harvest.  If not, lean times lay ahead.

This is the time when the fullness of the Mother is evident in the lushness of growth around us.  It is when the crops are ripening in the sun; the time the honey bee gathers in sweetness.  We celebrate this season with dance, bonfires, and yes, sexual pleasure. This is the revelry of Midsummer and the Dance of Fire…

midsummer brings a craziness of spirit,
a wild urging to break loose and soar.
the drones impregnate the queen
and fall to death’s door.

my longing and lustful heart
seeks this ecstatic trance.
is it the horned Sun King
drawing me into the dance?

seeking the company of wild youth
to dance at revel fires,
drumming out nature’s rhythms
triggers my inner desire.

heat caught from the Solstice fire
and the sun on its longest day
arose this sleeping woman
now ready for sacred play.

I dance bare breasted in the sun
seeking the fire and the flame
my heart opens to all that is
my spirit wild and untamed.

Blessings in the Summer Solstice Season

The Breath of Goddess (Spring 2013)

cropped-breath_sm11.jpgI am a child of the Earth.
I live and breathe, walk and dance upon Her face.
She is my source and I learn from Her each day. This I know…

Life begins in the dark as Desire.
Deep in that dark place life begins to form, taking root and becoming…..

As life stirs…… deep in the Mother’s Belly,
there is a gentle quickening, movement
that alerts us to a “knowing”
of the presence of something yet to come.

As the Earth prepares Herself with warmth,
the rains and waters come to flood the land,
nourishing the soil in which She is creating new life.

Earth and Water and Fire
come together and Form continues to take shape.

One last thing is needed.
Just as new form emerges,
She breathes Air upon it.
Her Breath, giving Life to all.

In previous posts I have focused on the Earth as the Body of Goddess and well as Her Sacred Waters. Now I would love to play with Air. We cannot live without air. Without air, our breath, we can die in as little as four minutes. We take air into our lungs and it replenishes our body with the oxygen it brings to us. When we exhale, we release what oxygen we did not use, as well as carbon dioxide. The beautiful symbiosis with this is that our plant kindred produce oxygen for us as we release carbon dioxide for them. Air is our “shared breath.”

In our speech, we use many idioms such as:  you take my breath away, like a breath of fresh air, with bated breath, don’t hold your breath and I don’t have time to breathe.

For air itself, some well-known ones are: a breath of fresh air, have your nose in the air, build castles in the air, air your dirty linen in public, put on airs, clear the air, vanish into thin air, float on air and full of hot air. Of course there are many more.

As an element, air has many magical associations. Some are imagination, clearing, dawn, and birds of prey. In the tarot, we associate air with both the sword and the wand, depending on which traditions we follow. Some of the colors connected to air are yellow, purple, white and lilac. These are all colors that help us to feel “light as air.”

And the hopeless romantic that I am – I am swept away when I hear the words in the song, “Hero” by Enrique Iglesias:

“And I will stand by you, forever
You can take my breath away
You can take my breath away … “

When we think of air we also think of wind. Wind comes to us from all directions.  It can be warm, cold, wet and gusty. It carries pollen from plant to plant. We might have the pleasure (or dismay) of a gusty wind lifting a skirt. Our feathered friends fly on the drafts and currents of the wind. How many have played as children, running with a kite until the wind catches it and lifts it into the sky?

Some well-known idioms for wind are written on the wind, three sheets in the wind, scattered to the four winds, throw caution to the wind, spitting in the wind or pissing in the wind.

Our ability to taste our food is primarily a function of our sense of smell. Air carries smells to us.

In his Book of Secrets, Rajneesh/Osho writes, ”If you can do something with breath, you will attain the source of life. If you can do something with breath, you can transcend time and space. If you can do something with breath, you will be in the world and also beyond it.”

Many spiritual traditions include spiritual breathing into their practices. It is a great way to clear your head and calm yourself when stressed. You can become centered, clear and uplifted.

Working with the breath helps open us to a more spirit centered life. It opens us to sacred play. We can transform our breath into prayers. Breathing is the language of the soul.

I like to associate voice with air.  Voice when lifted in song expresses deep emotions through the words of the song as well as in the tune.  These tones arise from deep in the belly.  They are formed through the vocal cords and finally shaped by the tongue, lips and teeth.  These tones release both joy and anguish.

Our spoken voice is the vehicle through which we communicate intelligent sound with others.  They tell our thoughts, express our needs and help us make connections as we travel through life. The voice is used to defend our position, to stand up for what is right and for what we perceive of as wrong.  Our voice, as women, is often suppressed and lost to “power over” control of others. Let us call upon Air to heal this and to open us to reclaiming the power of voice.

We have many arguments today as to when life begins. The Ancients believed that without breath there was no life. There were times when a woman would become pregnant and the delivery of her child would occur when food was scarce. Rather than deprive any already living soul, those assisting in the delivery, or the mother herself, would not allow the infant to breathe and therefore, was never alive.

It is the same with our own creations. We first think them into being. Then we give them form and finally we must breathe into them, infuse them with life so they are manifested into reality.

In Celtic mythology we read:

Nine Maidens, laughing and singing;
Then veiled in the mist, silent as stone.
Changers and Life Makers, Breath of change, Life Breathing all.

In the shifting realm between the worlds, these nine maidens revealed the beckoning cauldron of unknown potential through which life is taken and out of which life is born.

The wind blows away dead leaves that cover the earth, exposing the soil to the new light. We link our concept of Spirit as a metaphor with the breath, breath hovers over the waters.

The wind is seen as a great power behind the natural world and becomes that power’s creative spirit. A strong gust of wind suggests an infusion of creative potential.

The Tuatha De Danann, the Old Gods of the Celtic people, suddenly appeared in Ireland out of the air, on wind-borne clouds.

What this all means to us, is that we must open ourselves to this gift of the life giving breath.  Let us breathe in creative potential.  Let us breathe in sacred inspiration. Let us breathe in the breath that we all share. The breath that we have shared since the beginning of time is the sacred life giving source of life – Air.

The Sacred Boar and the Dark of the Year (Samhain 2012)

The Sacred Boar and the Dark of the Year (Samhain 2012)

Boar

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For the last few weeks I have been feeling the presence of the Boar.  This would not be completely out of the blue as the Boar is the sacred animal for the last lunar cycle of Gort – representing tenacity and ruthless strength. In my spiritual practice, I travel into the Otherworld and typically discover allies with animals.  My first step in getting to know an animal that has become present, I do the research.

“The Boar is the beast of death,” (Graves, 210), and much of what we read about Boars and pigs is in general connected with death.  Death is a concern in most religions and contemplation of death takes on a special vividness and immediacy.  The Boar is, among other things, a devourer; it is a menace to crops and to people, it is voracious and it is omnivorous.

In his famous song, “The Mystery” Amergin sang, “I am a ruthless Boar.” The Boar is the last of Four Sacred Animals to be mentioned by him.   Stories about the Boar deal with the “hinge” of the year, the passage across the boundary between Light and Dark. The Boar is the creature that represents the never ending continuity of divine energy and is seen as chased from one realm of energy-manifestation to the other.  The Boar’s expression changes, becoming either a dark creature of destruction or a solar teacher.  This is similar to the Stag, who changes from the antlered apparition to the earth-bound power at the heart of the greenwood.  So here at the time of Samhain in the Northern Hemisphere, as we move into darkness, the Boar becomes the harbinger of death, riding on the active energy of growth into darkness.

But the Boar’s descent into the Underworld is not just a journey of destruction.  In spite of any other roles it may play, the Boar is a creature of fertility.  It plants the seeds of renewal. It is as if the many fragments of life retain that life within themselves and, buried like seeds in winter soil, they will be nurtured by the darkness of the dark until the next bright season.

In addition to representing fertility and wealth, Boars symbolize courage and strong warriors (MacCulloch, 356) for they are strong, dangerous, and very hard to kill. Their appearance in dreams and visions also indicates warriors. Isolt’s forewarning of the death of Tristan, a great warrior, came in a dream about the death of a great Boar (Spector, 85-86). Statues of Boars are occasionally found in the company of statues of armed warriors, (Powell, 176) further indicating an association between Boars and warriors.

Great importance is attached to the bristles of the Boar. Perhaps they are the distinguishing characteristic of the animal or symbolize its strength. For example, Fionn is killed by stepping on a Boar’s bristle after breaking a geasa against hunting Boars (MacCulloch, 150). Some of the extraordinary Boars that King Arthur fights in Culhwich and Olwen have bristles that are gold or silver. Conversely, when Menw tries to steal treasures from Twrch Trwyth, he is only able to take a bristle. The pig herders at the start of the Táin, Friuch and Rucht, are named after the bristle and the grunt of the Boar, respectively. It is the bristle of the Boar, Friuch that proves to have the most power; in the end, Friuch reborn as Donn Cuilnge destroys Rucht as Finnebach Ai. The bristles of the Boar are mentioned many other times implying that they are an important part of the animal.

In my researched on the Boar I discovered that the Boar is the animal that both Freyr and Freyja rode – specifically Freyja’s association.  Most of the information I obtained came from the Lay of Hyndla.  It seems that Freyja’s Boar, Hildsvini, was her lover, Ottar, who had been changed into a Boar and upon whose back Freyja rode. Certainly there are sexual overtones here; in fact Freyja was accused of being promiscuous by Hyndla for it!

So, having completed my research, I was ready.  I went into meditation and invited Freyja to join me.  I found myself in a dense forest sitting on a tree stump.  While I could not see Freyja, I spoke with her.  I told her what I was looking for and that I hoped it would be a Boar but asked her to guide me.

I explained to Freyja why I was looking. I got up and started walking into the forest feeling expectant.  After about five minutes I came around a corner and standing there was a Boar.  He was pretty darn big!  I really expected to be afraid and thought perhaps he would not be friendly but actually he was friendly toward me.  Perhaps he had been instructed by Freyja – I don’t know.  I walked over to him and ran my hands on his back and talked with him.

I explained what I needed, that I wanted him to help me ferret out information when I needed it and when it was being difficult to obtain.  I told him I admired his tenacity and that I hoped we could work together as a team.  He never answered me but when I hopped up on his back he made no protest.  I again ran my hands on him around his neck and sort of laid myself down over his neck and gave him a hug.  After that I got down and he wandered off.

It seems very right for this Boar to be entering my life.  Earlier this year after a dance of a year or so, the Stag came into my journeys and now the Boar.  The Stag represents the Light of the year and the Boar the Dark.  I don’t know yet if the Stag will stay with me in my journeys or be replaced by the Boar as a seasonal variation.  Only time will tell.  When I see the Boar again I will call him Elohx.  If he is both Stag and Boar, the name is fitting for both.  As related to the Rune Algiz – elk-sedge – he will be a strong guide and helper in stripping away “bark” to reveal the wisdom I seek.

In my next meditation, I was alone and decided to take a little journey.  It had been very quiet and frankly, I was so bored I needed to do something.  I was listening to a song on my computer that I had downloaded and was sitting back in my chair with my eyes closed.  The next thing I knew I was walking in the woods. So I decided to go looking for the Boar.  I sent out a call and asked him to come meet me.  I walked a little further and then suddenly, there he was.  I greeted him and asked him if I might call him Elohx.  He still did not speak to me but I sensed a slight nod of his head.  I reached out and ran my hands over his fur which was quite thick and I sensed that I needed to be careful not to go the wrong way as they seemed somewhat sharp.  Really beautiful – like very thick hair!  So I asked if we might go somewhere and I climbed up on his back.  I expected us to trot along much like riding on a horse, but no we left the ground and flew!  Right up over the trees.  His feet were tucked back and I held on and we went soaring over the trees – it felt rather odd but I would like to get used to it! About that time, I was brought abruptly back to this world by the ringing of my phone.

So I took the call and then sat back and closed my eyes once more.  I wasn’t on his back anymore and surprising – he didn’t seem to be too disturbed by my sudden departure – strange how things can be in the world of trance.  Anyway, I apologized and said I had better go.  I thanked him and said we would meet again. I hope to be able to journey with him when I have a question!

I have added Boar bristles to my drum and look forward to journeying with Elohx through the remaining darkness of the year.

Robert Graves, Robert, White Goddess.  The Noonday Press, 1969.
Kondratiev, Alexei, The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual, Citadel Press, New York, NY, 2003.
MacCulloch, J. A. The Religion of the Ancient Celts. T. and T. Clark, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1911.
Powell, T.G.E. The Celts. New Ed., Thames and Hudson, New York, NY, USA, 1980.
Spector, Norman B., trans. The Romance of Tristan and Isolt. Northwestern University Press: Evanston, USA, 1973

Liminal Time and Space

The word liminal comes from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold.” The word threshold has several definitions.  It can be the sill of a doorway or the entrance of a building.  Ultimately, it means any place of point of entering or beginning. In psychology the term limen means the point at which a stimulus is of sufficient intensity to begin to produce an effect.

Liminal time therefore, is that moment when something changes from one state to another.  Examples would be dawn, when the morning sun rises high enough in the sky to bring daylight.  Another is dusk, when the evening sun sinks into the horizon bringing nightfall.

Another is that moment when we move from a clearing into a deep fog which shrouds us in mist and for a moment, we stop all thinking. There is that moment when we first wake from a deep sleep, not fully awake but no longer asleep.  Plus there is that state when we move from wakeful consciousness into sleep. There are also those moments of transitions between life and death and from an unborn fetus to a living, breathing infant.Read More Here