Other Updates

Saturn Return: Beginnings

I mentioned on the last dark moon that the Morrigna told me to take a step back so that I could more fully immerse myself in my first Saturn Return. My plate was already close to full, and I needed space.

Well. If I use the outline of one of my favorite local astrologers, Alan O’Connor, and I use +/- 3 degrees of my natal Saturn, this Saturn return started on February 10th and will continue until July 26th before finally moving out of those degrees… Only to come back as it retrogrades in November, and from then until it goes direct and passes completely beyond in mid January 2020. So, I suspect it’s going to be an interesting year.

The first Saturn Return is usually thought of as a time for growing up, for figuring out your priorities in life, for getting into alignment with your Great Work or Soul Purpose, if you believe in that type of thing. (I do, mostly. That is, I believe I’m here for a reason this go ’round, but I’m agnostic as to whether or not that’s a universal experience.)

When Scott went through his first Saturn Return a few years back, he sort of tugged us into place as a family, in our own place, and with a child. And our home life is good, balanced, stable, so I’m grateful to have a pretty decent foundation to start from as I explore further. We’re like that a lot in other things, too – he’s the Land to my Sky, and we both meet in the Sea. Which is not to say that he didn’t do any exploring – Scott was actually the first one to say that we should create Serendipities now, instead of leaving it to be a daydream or maybe a retirement project.

So we’ve both been exploring some already, and that exploration and the work I’ve been doing as I get more deeply involved with the local community (both seen and Unseen) meant that I came to this Saturn Return already pointed in the right direction, already changing and being changed as I seek better alignment. But that doesn’t mean the work ahead of me will be easy. Far from it, I expect. I have already been struggling. Instead of big, sweeping changes, I’m finding myself drawn to smaller details.

I’m finding myself needing to plan more, both because I’m having a hard time remembering things lately, and because I’m juggling too many things in my head to do my usual style of intentional manifestation. I’m cluttered, and it’s exacerbating my anxiety disorder. So, I’m trying a new planner system, and I’m trying to take better notes, and so far it seems to be working fairly well. I did some mind-map planning for where I want Serendipities to be in two, five, and ten years (and, spoilers, we have Big Plans). I have a new anxiety workbook I’m working through that’s based on some of the cognitive behavioral therapy techniques I learned as a teen, because I need to brush up on them.

Also, I’ve started a shadow work tarot prompt challenge, which is designed to be done every day for a whole month, but I’m spacing it out to twice a week or so, and I’m doing art journaling as my integration of each tarot prompt and answer. I try to do shadow work as it comes up, as I realize there are parts of myself that could use integration, but the prompts of this challenge are very broad and it feels like a good way to make sure I’m not missing anywhere. Again, I’m looking at fine details. There are a few larger things I have been working on for some time (most related to trauma processing), but I want to be sure I’m not missing smaller things, lest they cause hiccups along the way. When I started the challenge and the art journaling, my first impulse read to share it, but something made me hesitate, and I realized that if I started sharing, I’d feel compelled to continue, and the expectation of an audience would change the whole tone of my work. So I won’t be sharing it at all, with anyone, and that feels a little odd for someone who’s generally fairly open about all aspects of her practice.

Depending on how things go, I may continue blogging about my Saturn Return experiences every Dark Moon. But for now, it felt fitting to fill the space the Morrigna left for me.

Celtic Polytheism, Paganism

A New Wave of Crows

As I have on several previous Dark Moons, I have asked for and received a message from the Morrigna, and this time I was given and answer with three instructions.  It is not as completely channeled this time as it has been on previous occasions, so the next few paragraphs are more in my own voice, with Theirs in my ear.  As such, I have left it unformatted.

Crow Folks, those of you who have been fighting and doing the work, I know that many of you are close to burn-out.  I am on the edge of it, too.  So it’s time to rest, recuperate, recharge.  Enjoy this moment of relative peace, and do something that will please your soul.  Something creative, something that will make you feel relaxed and renewed.  We are not going to rest on our laurels, for the work is not yet done, but the compassion that burns fiercely within us must be tended, lest the flame die out.  So do your tending.  For my part, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo again this year, and I’ve also made plans to go to a Korean bathhouse with friends.  I’m going to get a massage, and try to do a few more chapters in an anxiety workbook.  Self care and shadow work aren’t always easy, but they are always necessary, so find the time and heal yourself.  That is your first instruction.

Your second instruction starts with something like a notification: a new wave of Crows is coming.  Some of us started on this path one, two, or even twenty years ago, but more will be joining us this winter.  Find them.  Reach out to others around you who are already traveling this path.  Create a net of branches, so that the new Crows will have somewhere to land.  Look for the lost ones, the solitary, the stragglers.  Welcome them into your groups; offer them friendship.  Some of them will prefer to learn on their own for a while, supported by the net.  That is fine; let them do as they will.  Others will have questions, and will want guidance.

This is your third instruction: guide them.  Share everything you know, everything you’ve learned, every experience.  Share the good and the bad, for they must choose this path with their eyes fully open, with deep knowing in their hearts.  Be as patient as you can: they are learning, they are transforming, they are beginning to sprout wings.  And in the spring, we will all fly together.

I know I still owe many of you cards.  I am getting to them, slowly but surely.  Anyone who has not asked for their next six cards, please email me.  Anyone new to the path is welcome to start with the nine card spread, adjusted for the change in time of year.  This is also a good time to remind you all that the other part of my work is healing.  I’m trained in distance energy healing methodologies, and am available to you free of charge as an “on-site medic”, so to speak, if your need for healing is related to the work you’re doing for the Morrigna (ie, if it could be a line-of-duty injury, or if it is preventing you from doing your best work).  If you’re not sure, I am more than happy to ask on your behalf.  I can do these over text chat media, as time and energy allows.

Also, some of you already got this in the newsletter, but here is the journey prompt from the class I taught at Hallowed Homecoming:

Breathe yourselves into stillness, children of earth.  Breathe deep. Breathe in relaxation… and breathe out the worries and cares of the world. Breathe until you reach that space between, the space that lets us walk between the worlds.  We will all go together. Feel as mists steam up from the ground and surround us here. Pay attention to notice the shift – we are leaving the campground, and coming into another place.  When you are ready, open your inner eyes and see the dirt road beneath your feet. On either side grow trees, and many have already begun to lose their autumn-bright leaves. Continue forward to the crossroads where I stand, and behind me, to one side of the dirt road, a table piled with offerings.  There are things to drink and eat, weapons of war, representations of your battles and efforts, and more. Find the gift you are meant to give, and bring it with you as we continue forward. [Count to 10.]  Walk farther along the dirt road, until you begin to smell roasting food, and woodsmoke, and begin to hear the crackling of a fire, and voices talking quietly.  A gap in the trees shows you a narrow track that runs uphill, towards the things you hear and smell. Follow it, and as you crest the hill, the trees thin to an open plain.  You can see the fire, now – it is a large cooking fire, and over the fire hangs a giant steaming cauldron, while food roasts on the coals at the edges. Three figures surround the cauldron, and they turn to you as you approach.  Give them the gift you have brought, and ask the question you carry in your heart. [WAIT for 5-10 minutes].  When you have finished, thank them for their time, and leave the way you came. [10 secs] Back across the plain… to the hill, [3] down the hill… to the road, [3] and along the road… back to the swirling mists… and into your body. [3] Welcome Home.

Take care of yourselves, everyone.

Event, Ritual, Workshop

Sacred Space 2017 – Days 3 & 4

See Days 1 & 2 Here!

 

Workshop: Glamour, by Gwendolyn Reece

Gwendolyn Reece is Hellenic Revivalist priestess of Athena and Apollon and a member of the Wiccan Assembly of the Sacred Wheel who lives in DC, where she has founded a temple to her patrons, called Theophania.  She has always been politically involved, but recent events have kicked her up a notch, and she believes that humanity, as a group and oversoul, is on the cusp of an initiatory challenge.  In order to succeed, she believes we need to clear out what is preventing our spiritual evolution, and one of the largest obstacles is what she refers to as glamour, inspired in no small part by the book Glamour, a World Problem, by Alice Bailey.  This echoes thoughts about the change from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius, and Gwendolyn emphasized that we really need to look at trends in terms of 200 years, not 20 years, in order to really see the patterns she’s talking about.  Part of the initiatory challenge, she said, comes from several different crises: crises of government are obvious (remember, modern democracy is only a little over 200 years old!), but she is especially concerned with the crisis of climate change.  She believes that most of these crises and movements toward spiritual evolution can be boiled down into a move towards the self governance of adulthood.  Previously, most forms of government revolved around the idea of sacred kingship.  Now, most world governments give at least lip service to democratic elections.  But a lot of glamour needs to be dispelled if we are going to succeed at this initiatory challenge.

Gwendolyn defines “glamour” as: a delusion that occurs at the level of consciousness in which cognition is mixed with emotion.  She adds that most humans are functioning at that level most of the time.  Academics and occultists frequently work at higher levels but tend to return there; some people may spend time below there but tend to return there when they are more clear-headed.  She spent a while explaining the different planes/vibrations and how, for the most part, humans are aware of only the center, but if we shift our perceptions (via trance, etc), we can access different parts.  It is the work of the occultist to go higher, and in doing so, we can get above the cloud of glamour in order to see it more clearly – and hopefully dispel it.  She emphasized the need to start with the glamours we are carrying, ourselves, and then working up to small groups and larger groups that we are a part of, potentially all the way up to the human oversoul (though that’s probably best done in a group effort, she says).

She gave one pretty detailed functional example that I’ll share here: Cynicism.  This one raises three very important glamour red flags: 1) it is a cognitive pattern that evokes an emotive pattern that allows them to feel superior, 2) it is a cognitive pattern that deprives them of power while giving them the illusion of power, and 3) it functions as a self-reinforcing loop.  Cynicism has become a marker for intelligence, which then allows those who are cynical to feel superior to those who are not, because they’re smarter and not hiding from “harsh truths”.  Cynicism removes swathes of intelligent people from being invested in their communities because “there’s no point”, and they feel self-righteous and correct when things then fail – but their refusal to engage is actually one of the causes of failure.  As Gwendolyn says, if she was Sauron, contemplating how to enslave Humanity with a really good spell, she couldn’t do better than that!

To dispel glamours in yourself, Gwendolyn says the best thing you can do is to strengthen your intuition and practice mindfulness.  At a higher level, she recommends rising through the planes above the cloud of glamour, and contemplating it until you truly understand it in a mystical way – what is the core of the glamour itself?  And once you know, find the light within you or ask for assistance from a being of light (like Apollon), target the center of it, and blow it away as best you can.  This will require repetition.  And the larger the group that you’re trying to remove the glamour from, the larger a group of practitioners you’re likely to need to make a dent.  She emphasizes, however, that dispelling from above is a lot more effective than dispelling from the same level, and you probably only need about 20% to hit a real tipping point where it will steadily get clearer and clearer.

 

Ritual: Tea with Your Dweller, by Holli Shan

This was a guided meditation to help with shadow work, where we were guided to have a talk with our Dweller on the Threshold, our shadow self.  We discussed the concept first, and then did two short pathworkings, which I found immensely useful.  There was actual tea provided, a warm and calming blend made by Tintalle Foxwood (but alas I failed to write down the ingredients).

The guidance was more or less as follows: Take our cup of tea, take a large sip and hold it in our mouths, really tasting it.  Then, focus on breathing for four breaths as we sink into trance.  Holli led us down a spiral staircase, and into a room in a palace deep in the ground where there was a small table, with a single candle, and a single cup of tea.  We were to sit down at the table, and then call to our Dweller, who would take the chair opposite us.  Then, we shared the tea – three sips each, back and forth and back and forth.  Once the tea was gone, we were told to ask our Dweller what they had for us, be it message or object.  Many of us were given gem-like objects (which Holli had previously said was how she often pictured the exchange) which we were then told to identify, and release, destroy, or re-integrate according to what it was that we had been given.

Some people were given childhood memories that they had to reintegrate after releasing negative emotions.  Some were given more overt messages, like “You need to make time for self care so you can love yourself again”.  I was given two objects in the first pathworking that I could not identify, but the first one I knew I needed to release, and the second one needed to be cleansed and then re-integrated.  In the second pathworking, I was given more information to better understand what the two things had been, and was given an additional two gems.  It was very healing, and reminded me somewhat of soul retrieval.  I will definitely do it again on my own.

 

Workshop: Magick for the Good of the Polis, by Gwendolyn Reece

This was Gwendolyn’s second and more overtly political worskshop.  She said that before she does any large workings aimed at a group (because that is what a polis is – a body of which an individual human is a part), she starts with an ethical reasoning process, borrowed from academia.  This is a six-part process of ethics questions:

  • Self-Assessment: Is it really about service? What is it feeding in me?  Am I doing this for myself?
  • Self-Assessment: Do I know enough about the topic to properly identify the risks?
  • Risk/Benefit Calculation: What is the probability of harm? What is the magnitude of the possible harm?  What is the probability of benefit? Magnitude of possible benefit?
  • Comprehensive Identification of Risks: What is the risk to the individual practitioner? To the community of practitioners? To the community targeted? To any institutions? What is the risk of attracting unwanted spirit attention? Etc, etc.
  • Risk Mitigation: How can you mitigate the above risks?  How many of them can you mitigate at once?
  • Consult Others: Ask your fellow practioners for advice, and also consult your personal guides and guardians, deities, etc.

She did say that in the case of enviromental collapse, the risk/benefit calculation gives her more leeway than on most things, because the risk of not doing anything is total disaster.

Gwendolyn discussed various types of Ancient Hellenic practices, starting with the religion of the polis, then personal and household devotions, the Mysteries, and lastly the different types of magic: Magika, Goetia, and Pharmakon.  She said generally, magic on behalf of the polis was attempted after the following steps were taken: 1) recognize the miasma of the polis (miasma, in her definition, is what occurs when humans are out of right relationship with the gods and with each other, ie, when social contracts have been broken), 2) look for the causes of miasma (this was often done by consulting oracles or taking omens, etc), 3) appease or remove the causes of miasma and bind what cannot be removed (this is usually the majority of the magical workings), and then 4) strengthen the beneficial (by making sacrifices to the patron of the polis, for example).  It’s a decent pathway for modern practitioners to follow before doing workings, as well.  She then discussed various kinds of magic, including Apompe, Katadesmoi, Judicial spells, and Baityloi, before discussing a couple of workings she’s done recently.

 

Ritual: The Healing Labyrinth, by Irene Glasse

This was a labyrinth walk, on a labyrinth Irene brought with her rolled up on a huge sheet.  Irene is a yoga teacher and a trained labyrinth facilitator.  Her spiritual home is Frederick Unitarian Universalist Church, which has a large labyrinth in its courtyard.  Labyrinth walking is a somewhat unique form of mediation, because of the movement required.  She also said that everything on a labyrinth walk is an allegory, so make note of times you get lost, get distracted, or stumble.  It is also a very personal journey that sometimes must take place with others around, giving it a sense of community not unlike a meditative yoga class.

On our first walk, she wanted us to focus on what was stuck in our lives on our way in, what our blockages were, and what we must release.  On the way out, we were to focus on what needed to be received, what needed to come in to fill the space instead.  Before the second walk, she placed rattles and bells at various points around the labyrinth.
on that second walk, we were to stop at each station on the way in and pick up a rattle.  Then, through the sound of the rattle and the sound of our own voice, we were supposed to name a blockage and release it.  On the way out, our blockages cleared, we were to use the bells, and with their sound and our voice, welcome in those things we needed to receive.  As more and more people entered the labyrinth, it became a symphony of sound, and while it might sound cacophonous, it instead was a very healing sound overall, and many of us found that the things we were struggling with were also things others needed to release.

 

Closing Ritual

Like the Opening Ritual, this one is scripted almost the same every year, and yet it feels important to go, to get that closure.  The patrons are thanked and released, the egregore is put back to sleep as a chrysalis, and the wards are dropped as we return to the mundane world, with a parting gift.  The gift this year was a blessed Constitution, and since I already had one from a friend who attended one of Gwendolyn’s Theophania Temple rituals, Glasreo and I passed ours on to vendor friends who hadn’t been able to attend.

As always, after four days at Sacred Space, it was a little bit difficult to move fully back into our mundane lives!