Spirit

When I first came to Paganism in 2004, an important part of my life was dance. I danced to release tension, to find myself and once finding this spirituality; to take time for the divine.
Though I’ve never had lessons, not in gymnastics, nor ballet or Irish dance; I was a dancer.

Over the years, singing became a larger part of my life than dance and even then, health problems with my throat [and thus my voice] and my knees have all come to bring me down. I’ve not been steady at anything in my life; getting bored/giving up/forgetting all lead to failure at anything for which I had enthusiasm for. There’s no routine I’ve kept too – I don’t perform ritual every month nor pray every day; I don’t meditate each week nor do I always eat my 5-a-day.

Speaking of my 5-a-day challenge, today is the final day and I’ve three more fruit/vegetables to fit in today to complete it. I had only one slip-up, and that was due to being out of the house for so long; I only managed 4 of my 5. but instead of starting from scratch today, I’ve called it a learning curve and vowed to reach six today [Edit: achieved].

 However, a few key themes really do seem to come back to me, especially when I’m stressed and the most common/noticeable for me is:

* Dance – this is something I had a real routine with a few years back; using staff and just letting the spirit take over my body. It’s my only free time; from my ever-chattering mind and myself. Dance is my escape; my truth where I find my insight.  For me, it’s a breath of life I struggle to find. I believe we often reach for our power but in times of stress; it’s difficult to connect. This is my connection.

Dianne Sylvan really captures it using Maslow’s definition of peak experience in her blog post on NIA:

“uplifting and ego-transcending; it releases creative energies; it affirms the meaning and value of existence; it gives a sense of purpose to the individual; it gives a feeling of integration; it leaves a permanent mark on the individual, evidently changing them for the better.” ~ From her post, quoting Wikipedia.

On a separate note,  I attended a talk on careers today’s and as with the rest of this week, it’s been reflective [appropriate for the end of the Pagan year, no?]. Questions were asked: Could I be a teacher? A psychiatrist? A psycholinguist? A policewoman? Enroll in the army?

I wasn’t thinking much about these questions when I arrived but I need no more encouragement to be true to myself than a house where I can turn my music up and dance without knowing people are below my feet trying to watch a movie. And I reached that transcendent space.

By the final song; The Night [Disturbed], which I’ve never danced to before and only listened to once or twice, I’d fully embraced the swing of it, whirling and swaying, leaning and twirling.

[I’ve a small room comprised of about 2×4 metres space… lots of turning avoids tripping over the bed and dancing into my wardrobe [which has no door, so I could even fall in].

The space I found opened like a flower and suddenly I could breathe on my own.

I think with such profound experiences over the last year I’ve become accustomed to the high of life:
my first gig, first wiccan ritual, first druid meet and ritual, first Handfasting, first pagan pub moot; the first chance to be myself and let go- my first opportunities to be open and free and not watch my every move; knowing I’m accepted with them- these have all allowed me to become an energy junkie and mixing with ‘normal’ people just doesn’t cut it.
I’ve always had just a few friends, very carefully picked out; whose energy lifts me and who passed many unconscious tests of mine before I let them in.
The experience of dance brings to light the energy I have; the potential within me, just as those few people can bring out the best in me.

 

Dianne also posted about her experiences with dance. As always, her words are much more eloquent and have a much softer flow. [i.e they include cohesion] 

“I wanted to dance because, even at fifteen, I knew there was something there. Something between the rhythm and the motion…something underneath the cheesy techno remixes and the horrid Spandex unitards…something there, something elemental and visceral, something that itched beneath my skin, a knowledge, a hunger to move.“

Today I think I just came home needing to ‘scratch that itch’. My early blog names included Gaelic for “waterfall dancer” and “dance enchantress”, so it’s been with me throughout my journey.

Anyway, back to my point: This week’s transition has included reflection on my career. When I attended this talk about teaching today, a lot of the questions were along the lines of “could you do this? Does this click for you?”. I smiled at the questions, musing slightly but paying no major heed. I came home and as no-one was in, I danced. I put on Disturbed a bit too loud and danced. By the third time round of hearing ‘Indestructible’ I was exhausted. And I was grinning.
All the stress and annoyance and incomprehensible feeling [I couldn’t comprehend why it was here] of the last week and a half vanished. This is what I do. I danced a further four songs, so today’s dance count is at thirty-two minutes, and I’ll likely do another song before bed.

 

This is who I am; it’s my truth.
No matter what job, what country or how bad my health; no matter my religion, my labels or mood:
I’m a dancer and I always will be.

~ Rose,
Celestial Dancer.

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Pagan Values: SILENCE

”PaganAt the moment, I’ve a couple of blog entries started, including one for International Pagan Values Blogging Month, but I’ve given myself the challenge to write a post at least once a week, and preferably twice until July.  Of course, I have exams until the 26th and then go home on the 27th and then have to unpack things before packing others to go to Ireland a few days later; so it’s going to be a bit of a mission.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been working on the Buddhist side of my practice. I’m attending my weekly hour-long session with Karasu and the other group members. We start with Do’ing, and then talk a little bit, before meditating and then talking about our experiences with the meditation. I ask any questions I wish to and answer any he asks us, without having to worry about whether or not my idea will be seen as stupid or ridiculous. The two regulars who attend with me are both members of the Western Buddhist Order, and know Karasu from the Buddhist Centre. Thus, I feel that I’m the ‘youngest’ student on this path. This, for some reason, means I feel fine asking questions; because younger are allowed to ‘not know’.

 Yesterday, I found some videos online of Buddhists talking about their daily practises. It got me thinking and realising what I lack in my own practise. Instead of taking my old approach, and trying to change my entire routine, I’m just trying to be more aware of things.

I’ve got Enya playing at the moment, the sunlight’s just about coming in through my window (east-facing, and it’s now 10:30am) and if it warms up, I’ll likely open the window and breathe in some of that semi-clean air.

On Thursday, I mentioned a meditation where I became myself in ten years time, and spoke to myself as I am now. I’ve been incorporating this into my day a few times; especially with revision. I’m starting to lack focus and just panic, and hearing that voice, even knowing I’m kind of saying it myself; helps.

 After this week, I have exams on Thursday afternoons- the time of the meditation class; so I’ll miss the last two sessions for this academic year. However, on Saturday the 20th, I have an exam at 2pm and intend to go to the open Wiccan circle for Litha straight after. Then, on the 21st, I hope to attend the Anderida Gorsedd open Druid ritual. After those, I’ll likely shift my focus from Buddhism to Druidry; but that’s how my path winds, and I’m happy with that.

 Before the open circles, I was still racing around trying to find an “answer”. A tangible label for my path, a practical “routine” of my practise.  I think this next stage is, yes, to keep reading; even read more than I am; but not with intent of finding “the one answer”. Just to absorb knowledge. Perhaps the pagan value I most need to work on at the moment,

Is silence.

Stars Above,
~Rose.

[Five]

Today I’m celebrating the 5 years anniversary of my Pagan Path. It’s been 5 years to this day since my dedication to the God and Goddess in pursuit of the Earth Traditions. So far I’ve eaten junk for breakfast, meditated, danced, voted and bought a pint of milk. =P

Before meditation, I went to a University event hosted by a couple of my housemates called a Swish-Swap. The idea is to bring clothes you don’t want or need, place them on the table for others to take, and then take anything you like from the tables. I took a skirt that no longer fit me, and came out with a nice multi-coloured, tie dye, zip-up hoody with suns and snowflake symbols on it, a headband with stars and a new belt.

Today in meditation, we did the exercise, like most weeks, to get into our body; Do’ing (pronounced ‘doe-ing’) indoors and then moved outside to under a few trees. I leant my zip-up hoody to Karasu, and we just sat on the earth. That was the loose focus. It was so amazing to just feel the earth; the grass and even the insects crawling over my bare feet. I’ve spent a lot of time in the last week discovering bare feet in fields. I think it’s wonderful.

The focus then moved to breath. Usually, I find this very difficult; but today I think I was really in the spirit. We then chatted about it, before commencing a final exercise.

The three methods were to:

  • Look back on yourself at a younger age,
  • Look at yourself now through the eyes of a close friend
  • Look back from an older self to you now.

Everyone else in our circle chose the former, including Karasu; while I chose the latter. I was told by myself (about 25/30 year old) that I was doing the right thing and I would get to my goal. To trust that it will all go well and that I’m on the right path.

After talking to ourselves and feeling emotions for that younger person/you from whichever perspective we chose; we were instructed to unhook any positive emotions felt and bring them back to the us now, feeling those emotions for us now, from us now.

Others in the circle had the same troubles I did only a few months ago. And I still get days where I struggle; but today I was in tune and found it easier.

I’m going to try this a few times on my own in the next week, if I can. Wish me luck =P

Fragments

 

I wish I could take notes during my Buddhist meditation group. But I kind of feel that defeats half the object. =P If a thought leaves, I need to let it go and not worry over it.

If I could have conversations like we did in Thursday’s circle, every day. I’d get frustrated that I couldn’t remember every word, but I’d also have that purpose to strive. We talked for the full hour and the session actually over-ran.

We discussed why our emotions take over, even when in our head; we know not to act in ways, our heart can take over. Some would say this causes suffering.

Last week we discussed “What is your life aim?” and how to really focus on it. An interesting point was made about “And Then?”. Say someone says their life aim is to help people they love… Once they’ve done that, what should they do? And on and on this conversation goes, taking one deeper into knowing their own mind. To broaden and reach beyond the first few views.

Thursday, we also discussed cause and effect. I asked what was meant by “compounded”. I’m not sure if this was the one used, but Buddhists appear to use this to suggest nothing is without it’s cause or effect. Plants – give animals food and could not be without the rain.. rain helps crops grow but couldn’t be without clouds.. etc.

We’ve also discussed enlightenment and such things as compassion and patience. How we can have no self but strive to reach these things. With out limited language, we came to the conclusion that each is a verb, not a noun. You’re not a compassionate person, but act with compassion. Each act is separate of your self. (or no self, as a self may not exist).
In this manner, enlightenment is a verb, not a state your reach, but an act you can exist in consistently.

Similarly, I learned of the view of Sangha. This, according to members of my group, is a form of spiritual community. I guess that’s what I get coming to the group at all. I can question and talk through perspectives, I can explain my views and express myself.

I also noticed I actually listened more this week. I learn better when I ask questions – it helps the processing, but I find myself talking a lot more than I wish I did in times of Sangha. (I think that’s what it’s called). I only learnt of the term today. It means spiritual community, where one is free to discuss and be understood. =)

Privacy,, I’m continually trying to reshape myself, and every now and a gain I find that joy of the everyday. I’ll be cooking in the kitchen and suddenly think of a herb to add which I can… sense? Will work with the food.  I walk toward lectures and notice a particular butterfly, and as I follow it’s path in front of me and you, notice a tiny patch of blue sky peeking through the entire sky of grey cloud. Or my notice is drawn to a bright plant. Authentic “this is right” moments.

 Then, Thursday night I was feeling restless, so went to sit on the swings. The stars are so beautiful. With the three rabbits frolicking and the plough and waxing moon shining down on me as I flew, everything was okay again. I was free. And very almost myself.

In all this searching I’ve discovered that there are aspects of all these paths that feel so right. The compassion and relaxation of Buddhism, the Moon Goddess and God side of Wicca; the Sun and Earth connections of Druidry.

Weald 097

Today, Marie and I went to the Weald. It’s a famous part of the Sussex Downs about a 45 minute walk from Sussex University Campus. We took a picnic and had many butterflies travel with us on both the way and the way back. We made wreaths out of goosegrass, saw painted ladies, house martins, a greenfinch and we think a red admiral butterfly.

Weald 059

We chatted about self sufficiency, Scottish druids, Buddhism, farms and kids and it was nice to sit and do nothing for a couple of hours. With exams in less than two weeks, I’m starting to find my symptoms of panic. My throats closing a bit and I’m not sleeping well; dreams are almost painful to experience.

Wish me luck 🙂

~Rose.

The Flower Moon 2009

I’m not sure how much of this I feel comfortable sharing online, but I want to write a post about this Esbat.
Last night, I played the role of the High Priestess in a circle of more than just myself. Myself and a male Pagan went to the woods near my University and did a small ritual to honour the Lady, setting up the alter just as the evening sun had set.

Walking across the fields to get to the forest

I think it went well. We cast our circle on a path through the woods as it was the only flat space around and would enable us to get out of the woods after dark.
We were a bit worried some of the voices would come our way (there was a party or something which we could hear). We wouldn’t mind people asking, but it’s not something to be done during ritual. I doubt anyone would see our circle with our candles and hear us calling the elements or see our tarot cards or my runes and NOT ask questions.
I’d never used elementals in my casting, so it was a learning experience for me in more than one way.

I really want to practise like this more often, but I’ve a couple of blocks that may stop that. I hope I can find ways around them, but if not, I’ll accept it’s likely just not the right time. I’ve been a solitary witch for so long, and felt nothing magically special in the times with the two groups I’ve worked with. But with Emerald and myself as HP and HPS last night, I heard things. We sensed things. I think I’d do a lot to spend a couple of days in his company in a forest; To learn from him. He’s acted as HP once or twice before, but with a group and with a teaching, initiated HPS. It was wonderful to explore these two roles without any particular tradition directing us. (I don’t have a problem with that idea, it was just nice to explore the absence of this for this one ritual).
But some of those skills he has, I used to have honed myself. I know I could develop them on my own. But the idea is so much more appealing with another who senses as I did.

It was a light hearted circle. Neither of us have much experience with ritual, though I did my first almost 5 years ago, and he’s receiving training from a Wiccan High Priestess, so the pressure of judgement was completely off. It was wonderful to explore the circle together, switching roles and comparing styles. We’re also around the same age, meaning we could laugh and joke about being Witches in these modern times and in this town, about what would happen if we were discovered with our candles and incense, deep in the forest under Her faithful orange gaze.

One of the things we were both aware of, were the call/s of an owl or a couple of owls.
Birds of prey were the first symbols for me. The owl was the first symbol I came across in my path, before my other three became clear to me. Adding that presence to the things I experienced within the circle, it just seems too much of a signal for me to ignore.

I’ve got exams coming up in less than a month, and about 6,000 words to write for various essays and lab reports due in a couple of weeks. I desperately don’t want to lose this community or practise but I’ve a fear it may come to another hiatus.
If any of you have advice for simple connection or practise or spare energy, I’d be very grateful to hear about it/receive some of it.
Moon Bless.
~Rose.

Preparations

Beltain is fast approaching and I’ve not a real plan of my celebrations. Possibly just some nature and meditation time.  I’ll be reflecting on my goals from last year and making a new list. What are you all doing?

 Meditation was cancelled on Monday night, but Yana and I are hoping to join a second course/group on Thursday. I’ve found a few people I actually feel like I can almost be myself around and I’m going out with them tonight.

 I’ve been slowly doing a little bit of energy work again. I did it automatically by summer of 2004 but have gotten out of the habit. I’m planning to make it a part of my morning routine again. We’ll see how it goes.

 My basil’s not 100% happy, but my window faces East and I don’t get up with the sun, so it’s doing well considering. I used it in cooking today for the first time and will use it again with dinner.

 If anyone’s interested, I took this quiz earlier and it made me smile. The questions are.. very strange, but most of it’s true to me.

You Scored as Earth-ChildYou’re a very peaceful person who has very strong beliefs. Others see you as spiritual, and you really are. You see magic as a resource to be used wisely. The earth really is your mother, and you’ll remain close to her as long as you live. 

 

Earth-Child
 
88%
One Intelectual Individual
 
75%
New Age Hippie
 
75%
Not a Hippie
 
50%
Original Hippie
 
25%
Pothead
 
0%

 

 

I hope you’re having a blessed week and may the Gods guide you,
~Rose.

If Wishes Were Pennies…

I’ve just come across an interesting article. It’s based around the idea of living SIMPLE. I saw the first three sub-titles of eat simple, and shop simple etc and said: “I want to FEEL Simple. To Feel simply.”

I’ve read on further now, and it’s no. 8 on the list. And boy do I need to get into the habit of no. 17.

Whenever I read her blog, I find that I already know almost everything it says. But I don’t USE it. I don’t know how to implement it into my life. Integrate the quiet and complain free into a house of 12 teenagers I live with.

Not an excuse, but a reason for why I struggle.

 

 “When you adopt obsession, you require hard hits of big things to wake up the you that has become numb. It’s as if food has to be spicier, saltier, and fattier. Music has to be louder and faster. Moments need to be “events” to get you to notice them. It takes more flash to feel good. It takes more bling to be present.” ~ Christine Kane.

 


I feel as if I know that so well.

My tea is a good example I’ve just thought of. I’m now drinking a ‘green tea with mint’ infusion. It made me roll my eyes in pleasure, because I haven’t had it in over 3 weeks now, and the taste is refreshing. While reading about delight in this post by Christine, I felt the taste and the delight in that first sip of tea, and once more, remembered that this was delight in the present moment. During the next paragraph of reading, I appear to have eaten the last of the two Jaffa Cakes I brought up with me without noticing, even though I’m not hungry. Case in point, I think.

 

I’m suddenly wondering if the reason I don’t have any readers is because I’m lacking in cohesion within my posts. I write as I feel. I tell you I’m having another sip of tea or I’m about to go out, and pick up the post on a totally different topic. I started this one, for example, about Irish dreams and how I’m struggling with who I’ve become over the years. Here I am, discussing how tea beats Jaffa cakes. I’m not sure if I may even omit some of this post and then it will be lacking even more flow.

Any tips?

 

And having read up on the Whine-Free Diet again, I just COMPLAINED about my lack of cohesion? –sigh-

Send me the complaint-free contract, Quick.

 

My steps for the next 4 weeks:

* Open the window for ten minutes a day and just breathe. Watch. Listen.

* No Whine Diet

* Drink more tea and let the first 3 sips be silent. Breathe and smile as I take the first three sips (That’s about 5-6 cups of herbal tea a day)

* Do some form of expression twice a week: Bellydance, ritual, prayer, meditation, art, blog posts and poetry all included.

* Read a book for at least 30 minutes a day.

* Sing

* Leave the house at least once every other weekend.

* GRATITUDE, Rose! – I had this one sorted for a good few weeks. Get out that journal and get back to work, Rose!

* 7 items for my gratitude list per day.
 

Any form of encouragement, ideas for other steps, books to read on it, a schedule or energising words or motivation would be much appreciated. I feel inspired on days like this and by 3 days I’ve lost it. I’ve either obsessed over one part of my life, so I’m out of balance, or I take on too much, trying to keep each section of my life in balance and barely manage to finish my projects so I feel I’ve not achieved anything.

I’m thinking of writing a little mantra, but I’ve no idea what to say write now. So far I’m stuck with something like:


“I Love This” or “That’s Enough Eeyore!” or even “Is this true?”

But then there’s something I read earlier  which I might try:

I’m so grateful that  “I have a big glittery fish!”

 

What are your best mantras for self-improvement/facing fears/breaking negative patterns/doing your homework on time??

 

Stars Above,

~Celestial Rose.