Spring Equinox; an indoor celebration

Our Outdoor Imbolc gathering was just over a week ago and though the weather was rather grey, wet and chilly there were signs of growth and the stirrings of life to be found. We explored silver birches (the tree of new beginnings) and pondered the cleansing properties of water (which was in abundance!) and how it might help us prepare for the growing season to come.

Since then we have enjoyed crisp blue skies, frosty air and even some warming sunshine (typical British weather, contrary as always!) and I hope everyone continues to enjoy the lengthening of days as we approach the Equinox.

Our next event will be an indoor gathering and details are below.

It would be lovely to see familiar faces as well as new at our Spring Equinox gathering so feel free to share this information with anyone you think might be interested.

Walk the Wheel presents…

SPRING EQUINOX
A Seasonal Celebration

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Lady Spring is drawing near
The days are getting longer
Life is growing everywhere
The Sun is getting stronger

DATE: Saturday 19th March

TIME: 7:15pm – 9pm

WHERE: Springbank Arts Centre, New Mills, SK22 4BH

Full details to follow.
Information can also be found on our Facebook group and by joining the mailing list.

**If anyone is interested in car sharing from Hadfield/Glossop area please get in touch and I will connect you with others.**

photo credit: Spring via photopin (license)

Marking Imbolc

This article is part of our Online Imbolc Celebration!

Its companion piece ‘Imbolc Musings’ can be found here and gives more information about the history and themes of the festival.

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New Life Stirring

At Imbolc we begin to see the first signs of new life stirring in the Land around us. Buds on trees begin to swell, perhaps change colour and the tender Snowdrop makes its first appearances (to be quickly followed by bright crocuses and other early Spring blooms). Even if the weather remains cold and somewhat frozen we can start to appreciate the increased amounts of daylight; perhaps beginning to notice the Sun’s glow feeling that little bit warmer against our skin. Not only is this stirring the Land to life, it stirs us into wakefulness too, encouraging us to shake off the dark, dreamy state of Winter and start looking towards the possibilities of Spring.

* Snowdrops

These tiny flowers are a popular symbol of Imbolc and their bright green stems and delicate petals are a great reminder that though the Land is still chilly life has not abandoned it and is in fact beginning to return. Finding a local patch of snowdrops to admire can be a great excuse to go for a bracing walk on Imbolc day and offer the chance to explore new or familiar territory. Many woodlands will have a good crop to offer, but you can just as easily admire them in many people’s gardens and along roadsides and hedges.

Remember; if you want to take some snowdrops into your home as an Imbolc decoration be sure you have permission and take them carefully and with respect. If you are unsure, perhaps leave them where they are, take a photograph or draw a picture instead!

Alternatively you could create your own using crepe paper, as in this craft project here.

* Imbolc Intentions

As a time of new beginnings Imbolc can be a great opportunity to set yourself some intentions for the year ahead.These can be as specific or as open-ended as you prefer but it is always advisable to make them realistic and to set yourself a reasonable amount. Above all make them inspiring and exciting to you; there is no sense in setting yourself up for boredom or failure in the year ahead!

The stirring landscape is a great inspiration when it comes to setting intentions. Look to the trees and their gradually growing buds; remember that they are beginning to feed these buds in the same way and for the same reason that they did last year, their intentions for growth, flower and fruit the same as it has always been. There is nothing wrong with using your Imbolc intent to revisit old ideas or to reaffirm a seed you are already nurturing. At the same time the appearance of a new idea – just like the appearance of a fresh plant or flower – can provide a great surge of energy and inspiration.

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Honouring Brighid / St Brigid

At the centre of Imbolc stands the figure of Brigid – a celtic Goddess often known as a triple Goddess for her patronage of three crafts: poetry, healing and smithcraft (metalwork). She is associated with fire and water both as well as being considered a Goddess of the home and of inspiration. Over time she has aquired a variety of names/spellings of her name as well as being merged with/transformed into a Christian Saint. Sacred flames are lit and guarded in her honour and in folk tradition she was thought to visit homes on Imbolc Eve to offer good luck and good health for the year ahead. She is recognised as bringing the promise of Spring and awakening the Land from its slumber.

* Make a Brideog

In honour of the Imbolc patron you might like to create a figure in her likeness. Often crafted from corn/wheat/wood and then dressed using scraps of cloth, ribbons etc – often white/yellow/green – the Brideog can be carried out and about or simply through the rooms of your home; in quiet reflection or with great ceremony and celebration to welcome her coming.

The figure may then be placed at the head of the table for a celebratory meal or simply kept a place of honour throughout the evening. When it is time for bed she may be dismantled or laid to bed herself (see below).

* Make Brigid’s Bed

For those looking to welcome Brigid and the promise of Spring into their homes at Imbolc there is the old custom of making a bed for the Goddess to rest in during her visit. This can be made in a basket/box or any other suitable container, dressed with cloths, blankets and any other symbols of the season. Once complete, it should be left by the fireplace of the home where it might stay warm. Offerings of food or drink might also be left beside it to encourage the Goddess to stay and bring favour to the household. In the morning if the bed has been used/disturbed one knows that Brigid was present and that her blessing has been given.

* Hang a ribbon out

Another way to gain the Lady’s blessing – in particular her gift of inspiration – for the year to come, if to leave a ribbon hanging outside the window on Imbolc Eve. When Brigid passes by, stirring the Land to life, she will touch the ribbon and imbue it with her inspirational energy and gifts. This ribbon can then be kept as a talisman throughout the year or perhaps used as part of a further Imbolc craft.

* Weave a Brigid’s Cross or Bridie’s Eye

Both these crafts are traditionally undertake at Imbolc and linked to both the Goddess and Saint aspects of Brigid. They are simple to master, the repetition of weaving making them excellent tools for meditation as well as enjoyment. You might like to use pale colours such as white, yellow, green and blue in keeping with the season. Alternatively you could add some firey oranges and reds to inspire the energy of new life in your creation.

You can hang you cross or eye in the home or garden to bring luck, health and protection for the season or for the year ahead.

Making a Brigid’s Cross – this method uses pipe cleaners, for simplicity, but you could use reed/grasses if you prefer.

Making a Bridie’s Eye – called a ‘God’s Eye’ here, the process is explained simply, for children, using lollipop sticks. You can of course substitute these for sticks found in nature. I’d advise not worrying too much about the accuracy of knots etc, the yarn will hold itself quite well and can be overlapped when changing colours is prefered, as long as the weaving is done tightly enough.

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Fire and Spark

Imbolc is one of the four Celtic Fire Festivals that celebrate the journey of the Sun throughout the year; it is therefore no surprise that the lighting of candles and fires is a common act of seasonal celebration at this time. Not only do we honour the growing strength of the Sun by lighting flames in its honour, we are also embodying the spark of life that is returning to our quiet, decaying landscape. This spark can be found at the core of gestating seeds, in the deep roots of trees and in the hearts of hibernating animals who all begin to stir and waken as it grows a warmer and brighter. We carry our own spark, that may have felt diminished or reduced during the long, dark nights and cold, grey days of Winter. Now is the time to remember it is merely waiting for us to rekindle it and we can use the energy and celebration of imbolc to do just that!

* Light a candle to your Spark

Find a time and place to sit in quiet contemplation for a while. Turn off lights and electronic devices, submerging yourself in the darkness. Have a small candle, a safe holder and matches/lighter close to hand.

Bring yourself to your centre in whatever way you find most effective. Take some time to sit in that dark, quiet place, allowing the dreams and wonderings of the Wintertime to cross your mind. Rather than thinking about how you might achieve these things, focus instead on the feelings they engender within you: Excitement? Nerves? Uncertainty? Creativity? Allow these feelings to fill you and when you feel ready use the matches/lighter to light your candle. Fill that flame with your expectation and inspriation and allow its glow to light up your determination. Sit and meditate on that flame for a while; taking its light and warmth into you and allowing it to feed your heart and taking notice of any new ideas or possibilities that may present themselves.

You might like to say a few words as you light/look at the flame; such as:

“Carry the spark,
Kindle that flame,
Let new life come,
To the World again.”

or

“As this flame burns, so my spark will glow.
May it feed my dreams and help me grow.”

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* Burn for Brigid

Light a fire on Imbolc Eve; gathering friends or family around it to celebrate.

If you have the space to build a fire – in your hearth or in a firebowl/fire pit outside – then you can dedicate it to Brigid, using words or simply knowing in your heart. If you aren’t able to build a fire, candles can be just as effective; consider lighting them around the house or gathering a few in a central location and lighting them. A simple dedication would be:

“Brighid is come, Brighid is welcome!” (repeat 3 times)

You might then choose to write your Imbolc intentions on scraps of paper to be offered to/blessed by Brigid through burning them on the fire or using the candle flame. (Be sure to have a fireproof bowl on hand to hold them and be aware of fire safety at all times!)

Alternatively you can speak your wishes for the new year into the flames.

* The Eternal Flame

It is said that in centuries past a flame was kept burning at all times for St Brigid in certain locations across the World. Allowing your fire or candles to burn all through Imbolc Eve is a way of mimicing this tradition. It invites us to stand vigil through the dark hours, appreciating the light and warmth of the flames and – by association – the returning Sun. It could also be seen as a guide or encouragment to Brigid and the promise of Spring, guiding that Goddess and energy back into our lives and homes.

Other Traditions

* Cleansing

Imbolc is also a time to honour wells and water, thanks to Brigid’s patronage of the healing arts, which makes cleansing and renewal another popular idea at this time. It is also interesting to note that in Christian churches the of Candlemas (usually on the same day or day after Imbolc) marks the purification of Mary after childbirth. Bringing an air of freshness, cleanliness and health to ourselves and our surroundings is a great way to encourage that sense of the season turning and Spring being on its way. It can also help us feel more open and avaliable to the new inspirations and energies of the new year.

* Creativity

Brigid is also known as a poet and a patron Goddess of poets and other creative types. Her spark of new life is likened to the spark of inspiration that might generate new ideas and artisit creations. If you are a writer/artist or maker of some kind, you might like to leave the tools of your trade (pens/brushes/needles) out on Imbolc Eve for Brigid’s blessing. Alternatively you could cleanse and refresh them using water or the flame of a fire/candle.

* Youth

Brigid is known as a Maiden Goddess and the year is very much in its youngest phase at the moment. Imbolc can be a good time to nurture and embrace the Maiden/Youth in us all; perhaps give yourself permission to take up a new hobby/activity, celebrate the playful aspects of your personality with games and socialising or challenge yourself to see things with new, fresh eyes. Practiscing mindfulness can be a good way to start; a good, simple practise is the creation of Small Stones.

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Photo Credits:
1) telegraph.co.uk
2) angelfire.com
3) incultureparent.com
4) Flickr by bellydraft
5) treadwells-london.com

Online Imbolc – a new Walk The Wheel adventure

For anyone who hasn’t had a chance to check out the updated Homepage, Walk The Wheel will be hosting an Online Celebration to mark the next turn of the seasonal Wheel.

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Imbolc is the time when new life and new opportunities begin to stir. The Land – which is likely still cold and damp – begins to revive after its Winter slimber. Tiny shoots and buds appear, the days grow gradually longer and snowdrops bring their delicate beauty to our gardens and hedgerows.

As I won’t be leading any of the usual community events this Wheel turn (due to my own little Wheel Walker being due around Imbolc itself!) I am offering opportunities to celebrate with an even wider community of Wheel Walkers here online; via the website and Facebook page.

ALL information can be found by hovering over the menu tab ‘Imbolc 2015’ at the top of this page and then choosing what you need. There is currently an Introduction and Itinerary of events; tnew additions will arrive at the start of the main celebrations on Friday 30th January.

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Until then, keep your eyes open, your senses wide and take notice as the World around you begins to shift towards its next season.


Pic credits:
1) iheartit.com
2) celestialspiral.blogspot.com

Personal Transformation

I had a conversation recently with a fellow celebrant about why people celebrate the seasons. She felt that as well as honouring the cycles and seasons of the World it was vital to include personal work/transformation within the ceremonies she undertook. To utilise ceremony without the intention to grow and change oneself or the World was – for her – somewhat meaningless. To raise such power and connection and not make use of it in a transformative way was a waste.

I understood where she was coming from and have to admit that most of the seasonal ceremonies I hold include some aspect of personal development work within them; often in the form of a meditation, pathworking or a simple act such as setting goals or intentions. And as readers will know from my Musings, I often expound on how each season can be interpretted as part of our mental/emotional landscape and how we might use the seasonal energies to help ourselves in some way.

I include these aspects because I know they are often expected and because they are a good way of reaching out to the individual in a group setting. Allowing a person the time and space to consider how the season is living within them is an important part of all Walk The Wheel circles and I don’t see myself backing away from these acts of personal transformation anytime soon.

 

That being said, when I work individually – connecting and celebrating the seasons with just myself and the World – I find this self-help aspect a little uncomfortable. In fact, sometimes, it feels downright wrong. This has a lot to do with my relationship with Flow and my desire to trust more. I have never considered myself fatalistic and yet in recent years I have come to honestly believe that the World knows and offers what is best for me and that I am better off working on trusting that and following my intuition than trying to mould and shape myself into a specific shape or way as I see fit.

This trusting is very difficult and can be interpretted as ignorance, laziness or a refusal to accept responsibility for oneself. And perhaps for some people a ritual or ceremony conducted without a transformational intent is just that. I’m not sure I agree.

 

I firmly believe that celebrating for the sheer joy and pleasure of celebrating is enough! More than enough in fact it is vital; as a way of reconnecting to the Land and the Web of Life that we are all of us on this planet a part of. Through celebration we acknowledge our place in the cycles that balance and control all Life which in turn encourages us to be more aware and live more mindfully.

My favourite part of a Walk The Wheel circle is often near the very start, when people share aspects of the season that they have noticed over the previous week. These insights are always so personal and yet so totally universal that they create connection and unity without any real effortbeing undertaken. And perhaps that is where why I don’t relish as much the transformational work that comes towards the end; because in order for it to be truly effective we must draw into ourselves and away from the others in the group. This is not what I’m looking for when taking part in group celebration or ceremony.

 

But why then do I avoid transformational work when I celebrate alone and don’t have to worry about drawing away from other people? Well for starters I don’t like the idea of drawing away from the World in order to find or fix something inside myself. When I am celebrating I am always trying to be with Life, as it is in each exact moment. This, for me, is the easiest way to celebrate and far more important than changing myself or even trying to change the World.

I trust that the World has the power and knowledge it needs to grow and develop as necessary and I dare to believe that my Spirit and my Self can and will do the same thing if I give them the chance. I feed them and encourage them to do so by deepening my connection to Life and its power and its knowledge and I do this through honouring and celebration; anything else feels a little too close to ego and a little too much like trying to control the Flow.

 

That said I know that we all have our own needs and wants and ways and I am in no way trying to claim that my way is right and that my fellow celebrant was wrong. We are doubtless all right and all working towards the same end, just using slightly different lexicons and slightly different maps. In fact I am grateful to her for sharing her needs and opinions because they have helped me to clarify my own.

 

Personal Transformation

There is magic in every moment, in every being, in every thing.
By choosing to celebrate this magic I hope to draw some of its power and potency into my life.

What Life then does with that power I do not try to control.
I trust that by loving and celebrating and honouring I will change and grow.

Silently, inevitably;
Like rivers and mountains and tall trees.

Transformation is not something that happens because of me, but in spite of me.

My role is to allow it, accept it and explore it with curiosity and trust.

Lammas at Arbor Low

On a bright evening at the end of July I travelled with two newfound friends – and fellow celebrants – to work some celebratory magic up at Arbor Low Stone Circle, in Derbyshire.

We had done some rudimentary planning in advance but the three of us were keen to hold fast to our intuition and the spirit of the place and not have things too rigidly set in stone (no pun intended!). We knew that being outdoors and being in such a beautiful space would spark our hearts and creativity and evoke words of truth and power from us when the time was right…

… we were not wrong.

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After travelling along winding country roads we approached Arbor Low under the shadow of some rather energetic storm clouds, that were casting thunder and rain of quite epic proprtions all around us. The car windows had turned to liquid glass and the roads were slick and (at some points) lake-like. As we pulled into the car park I felt the tiniest tug of uncertainty… what would we do if the rain continued? How would we mark this special time – of Lammas and our first collaboration together – if we had to leave, thwarted by the elements? What would we do if no-one turned up?

Once again the World was asking me to trust and thankfully Jason (driver and fellow celebrant) was able to articulate its wishes wonderfully well. He showed no sign of doubt, certain as he was that the skies would clear for us.

And they did! As we reached a half hour before start time the sky began to lighten ahead and then suddenly, as if someone had flipped a switch, the rain stopped. Instantaneously. I have rarely seen rain behave like this before, particularly in England where it loves to fade in and fade out slowly, but it simply ceased to be, between one breath and the next. It really strenghtened Jason’s previous assertations; that the Land was being cleansed and that once it was ready the rain would stop and we could move out.

So we did; me having gained a needed boost of trust and confidence not in myself but in the Land, in the time and the space and most of all in our intention. We were there to celebate Lammas and celebrate it we would; not just because we wanted to, but because the World wanted us to.

 

As if I needed even more proof of the rightness of the situation, the ground underfoot once we reached the circle was mostly dry and certainly warm. The Sun had reappeared and stayed with us throughout the evening till it was replaced by a beautifully clear waxing crescent moon. We were able to set up our central shrine and gather people together in comfort and ease until finally the drums started and we all (20-30 of us) gathered together in circle.

The variety of participants was inspiring and a blessing; families, solo attendees, couples and groups of friends. Everyone brought with them their own path, their own beliefs, their own experiences and shared them with open hearts; also allowing the ideas and inspirations of we three celebrants to reach in and inspire them with grace and acceptance. There was no sign of resistance or discomfort, everyone seemed to find something they could enjoy, appreciate and connect to. The unified energy was a testament both to the collaborative techniques we employed (inspired by our training with Glennie Kindred and Annie Keeling) and to the Spirit of Arbor Low itself.

 

Arbor Low is one of my favourite stone circles although I have visited only twice. On my first fleeting visit I sensed a landscape that was still very much alive, very much in use and attuned to sacred and spiritual practise. There is a solidity and strength to the stones – which lay flat on the ground, not standing upright – and the earthworks, but also a fluidity and flow that seems to emenate from the pockmarked limestone and pools of water that are ever present.

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On this my second visit, I was able to expeirence all this more fully and directly, by taking part in sacred celebration myself. The Land of Arbor Low definitely knew what was happening and held the space safe and strong for all of us and the energies we raised. I would go so far as to say the Land itself took pleasure in what we were doing. I felt welcomed, accepted and connected in a very simple but honest sense; something which can be difficult at some sacred sites where the mass of people/energies can leave you feeling baffled or overwhelmed.

It was a beautiful place to celebrate and an active part of our celebration, especailly as we honoured and gave thanks for the gifts and the sacrifice of the Land at this Harvest time.

 

Together we blessed and laid a stone on the Earth, as marker and memorial for all the fruits and grains that will be taken and consumed by we humans in the months ahead. We then offered back some of the Land’s gifts with offerings of beer, along with our own gratitude, to the Earth at our feet. And finally we chanted, drummed and sang to honour Lammas, the Land and our own Harvests; raising energy and offering it back to the Land itself in gratitude and with love. Finally we were blessed with Lammas loaves, butter and honey so that we might carry with us the blessings and abundance of this time as we departed from the space.

 

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I was buzzing afterwards, buzzing in a way that only working on the Land can leave you. The thrill of feeling the wind and the ground responding to your words and your heart’s intentions is something that can’t easily be described but is never forgotten once it has been felt. It’s been some time since I’ve celebrated out on the Land, in a wild place, with others present and I had forgotten (until that night) how powerful it can be. The community feeling was strong and everyone was able to laugh and share and smile afterwards. Lots of kind words and kind thoughts were passed around as we slowly packed ourselves away and followed the sinking Sun towards the horizon and home.

 

I am so grateful to Nicola and Jason of Way Of The Buzzard for asking me to co-create this celebration with them. I am also thankful to the Land and Spirit of Arbor Low for being so welcoming and so active a participant in our activities.

Most of all I am grateful to the Flow; for leading me to this time, this place and this happening that truly opened my heart to the Spirit of Lammas and gave me inspiration and energy to feed into the season ahead.

 

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If you want to read Nicola’s account of the celebration you can find it here.

Arbour Low

Photo Credits:
1) English Heritage
2) badwitch.co.uk
3) Nicola @ Way Of The Buzzard
4) great-place.co.uk

Growth

It’s been a long time since my life has so closely matched the energetic pulse and turn of the seasons, as it has so far this year. right now I’m consciously channelling all that bright, busy been energy into my work and into Walk The Wheel as a whole.

In the early months of the year, around Imbolc, I had itchings and stirrings to do something more with what I’d already established in the previous cycle.  The Hadfield events have gone from strength to strength since their conception over 18 months ago and it was time to start letting the community and energy at its heart, grow.

Fast forward to Beltane when, surrounded by the fires of creativity and fertility, I set down intentions to run a second Walk The Wheel event in New Mills – a lovely Derbyshire town about 20 minutes drive from where I live. This would be a chance to see whether the success of these seasonal celebrations was determined by the people I’d already met or whether it was something I could carry inside me and share further afield, with others.

As well as the New Mills venture I had just started a new job at a local cafe, which immediately opened doors to work right at the heart of my town and community. I trialled a few Mindful Mornings* in April and am offering a third (yep, third!) Midsummer event at the case this weekend; one specifically aimed at families, hoping to share seasonal celebration and wonder with a range of age groups and peer groups.

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Alongside all these things I have been aiming to blog regularly, keep my hand in the social medias and somewhere in amongst all that find time to raise a kitten, go on a brief holiday, support the hubby in his new job (which he’s loving by the way) and have a first wedding anniversary.

Needless to say that now, at Midsummer, life feels a little hectic!

Some things have gotten lost along the way… but I’m glad to say those are mostly things like dishes, the hoovering and any real sense of space in our already tiny house; all things that – while important – can be lived with, and don’t directly impact too heavily on my creativity and well being. Although I will admit that going for long walks in the uncluttered countryside has become more and more necessary and not just because of the glorious Summer weather we’ve been having.

All the important things still seem to be here and somehow I’m keeping on top of them. I have another weekend of celebrant training coming up in a couple of weeks which I am ecstatic about. I have been able to visit my family, see some friends and enjoy a few joyful days in the park and out on the hills. Midsummer in New Mills went really well and seems ready to continue rolling, growing as people start to mention it to friends and co-workers. And this weekend (if the weather holds) I feel confident that there will be two more joyful and inspiring Midsummer celebrations in my home town.

And I’m here, now, blogging for you. Still writing, still thinking and still growing…

And I have no doubt that at the root of it all is the same powerful energetic buzz that is making the rest of the World so bright, so busy and so vibrant too.

Who knows what the dark half of the year will bring?

 

With you in Midsummer energy…. buzz… buzz… buzz…

 

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Photo credits:
1) Facebook
2) Shutterstock

In The Green

I can hear her singing from at least twenty paces away. 

Her voice is shrill and shivery, the pitch impossibly high; not difficult to hear, just difficult to hold in my body and in my head.

The sound has a tugging quality. It wants to lift me off my feet and up into the sky and there’s a part of me that wants to do just that; to float up there and dance inside her quivering canopy. But I am very much aware of how grounded my feet are beneath me and this makes the tugging even more obvious, even more insistent and for a brief moment I wonder whether I will grow a few inches just from standing in this presence.

I watch her leaves dance, like all beech leaves do, with the same shivering intensity that is carried in her voice. She is joyful, of that there is no doubt, but there is an edge to that joy. Within all that pleasure there is a something more, something sharp and inescapable. As I stand at her foot and gaze upward, spellbound, I wonder if perhaps this song I am hearing is birthing pains.

With new leaves on each branch and twig,  forcing themselves out into the wide world, she is opening and stretching and creating non-stop; and on this day – this Beltane day – that growing energy must be at a peak and she has no choice but to release some of it.

So she sings.

And for a time I sing with her; standing beside her glorious trunk, letting my heart vibrate with the quivering high notes of her soprano. I can not hope to match it but I can swoop along beside it, sharing my own joy and fragility. She drops her register a few times, joining me at a lower octave and then we smile and sway our hips and roll together our earthiness, our creativity and our pleasure.

When I can take it no more, when I am full of her green and silver laughter and her glorious bluegrey light, I take a step away and slip out of the song. For a moment then I appreciate her beauty and say thank you. As I walk away I can hear her song continuing and have to fight to contain my laughter… but I do nothing about my broad Beltane smile.

 

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Today is Beltane and although Walk The Wheel won’t celebrate until Saturday I have found ways to celebrate for myself over the past few days. Yesterday I took myself out into the hills for a simple ceremony of my own. It was a wonderful experience with very little by way of tools; but when you’re surrounded by moorland and fresh air and reservoirs you want for very little anyway. There was ribbon to bind my wishes and rose petals to give thanks. It was a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a few hours engaging with the Land and acknowledging the turning season.

Since then I’ve found myself very receptive to a seasonal shift in energy over the last 24 hours. Now, whether this shift is actually in me or in the Land itself I honestly don’t know but I don’t think that’s too important. What is important is that, having performed a ceremony in honour of that seasonal change, I now feel awakened to its effects and can attest to some rather wonderful experiences as a result.

Beltane has always been my favourite festival on the Wheel for a variety of reasons. One is the Green Man, a folk figure;who is welcomed and honoured at this time. I’ll speak more about him in my upcoming Beltane Musings but it is his cheerful and playful energy that draw me to him the most. I find it terribly infectious and it seems to ooze out from everything around this time. All the green growing plants and trees, grasses and leaves, the blue sky, the bright sun, even the rainy grey skies seem to shed drops of rain that sparkle and stir with a spark of excitement, a vibrant energy.

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Walking home today, surrounded by the green, I was overcome with the need to smile and laugh and celebrate. Admittedly singing with trees can do that to you. But there’s something else too: I have this feeling that I’m in on some great secret, a secret I am sharing with the natural world. It’s not a secret that is hidden from anyone. It’s the kind of secret that is out there, in the open, accessible to everyone… if they want to see it. Thanks to my working yesterday and my awareness of the Wheel I’ve demonstrated I want to see it, so I do and it is glorious!

My wish is that more people might open their eyes and hearts to these secrets of the seasons; secrets that we speak of all the time in folk tales and folk traditions but that are often not connected to or taken seriously in modern life. Yet they are still as valid and still as vibrant as they have ever been.

The whole world is alive with bright, Beltane energy today! And so am I! I hope you are too.

 

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Photo credits
1) gardenposts.co.uk
2) nayleon.com
3) by Joe Wright, found at onlandscape.co.uk

All Mother’s Day

Here in the UK is it Mothering Sunday or Mother’s Day as it is more commonly known.

As the energy and impact of Woman has been on my mind and in my flow a lot recently I find myself feeling strongly connected to it this year; despite the fact that in most communities I know and certainly for most of my life it has always been one of the more commercialised ‘cards and flowers’ holidays as opposed to the more meaningful ‘heart and soul’ ones.

I think it comes from having a rough few days recently. Days where I’ve felt frustrated and overwhelmed and down right stubborn; every bit the teenage daughter I once was. In those moment I have wanted nothing more than to be taken care of, without question or judgement, to simply be held and petted and given things* without question of reason or return.

And who is known for giving in such an unconditional, all encompassing way?

Mothers.

Yearning for some mothering and opening my heart to the power and strength of Woman and the Divine Feminine has laid the perfect foundation for this day: a day to celebrate Woman’s (arguably) greatest achievement: being Mother.

 

Now before anyone starts feeling marginalised or left out, I don’t simply mean women who bear children. Heck, I don’t just mean women. We ALL have the energy of Woman within us, by which logic we also have the instincts of the Mother. For some people these instincts may be quite low down in their emotional hierarchy and there may be other qualities and abilities that take precedence. But many of us will have opportunities or outlets in life that require a mothering touch; I believe part of being a balanced human being demands this.

So perhaps you are a lady with lots of cats (crazy or otherwise).

Or perhaps you are a gentleman who loves nothing more than tending the garden, watching your seeds blossom and grow with great pride and also sadness, knowing they will leave you come Wintertime.

Perhaps you do have a brood of children running around your house, raising hell and loving you for letting them… but perhaps they were birthed into this World by another.

Or perhaps you have no desire to corral children at all, preferring to corral ideas and letting them chase around your brain before settling them onto paper in words that bring you joy.

Whatever form our offspring take, we are all Mothers.

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As a participant at our Honouring Woman event so eloquently put it, the World needs mothers and a mothering instinct to allow things to grow. That nurturing, nourishing energy is vital to the growth and survival of all things: plants, livestock, ideas. Without it the creative process would not exist and by default neither would anything else, neither would we. But we do exist and not just as the behest of women-kind; their are men out there nurturing and encouraging growth in everything from people to possibilities. We are all creative beings, we are all Mothers.

And regardless of our relationship with our own birth Mother we are also surrounded by Mothers whom we can celebrate on this day. Those who fill our lives with nourishment, protection and care.

That someone who was mother to a dream of yours, facilitating and allowing it to be birthed into the World, through their kindness and generosity.

That someone who birthed an event/idea/invention/book  into life that you simply can’t live without.

That someone who has held you in safe space – over a pint of beer or a cup of tea – to unpick and understand your darker times or your conflicting emotions.

That someone who has supported you from afar, always fighting your corner, always there to encourage and inspire.

All these someones – and so many more – bring the energy of Mother into our lives.

And lets not forget the greatest Mother of them all: Mother Earth herself. The Land that grows and nourishes all Life upon it, that watches us grow and thrive, then fade and die, without judgement or question. That offers us beauty and inspiration and encouragement at every turn, if we are only able to put aside the stubborn teenager and see it. On this day of honoring Mother’s it seems foolish not to take a moment to appreciate the ground you stand on, the sky above and all the intricacies in between and give thanks for that in whatever way you see fit.

 

mother-earth-karen-koski

So today I will go to my own birth Mother’s house and spend time with her and my Grandmother and the photographs of the Mother’s in my family line. And I will also see my Father who encouraged me to grow so much in my younger years and my Hubby who always cares and protects even when he’s not aware of it. And I will remember friends and old acquaintances and teachers and colleagues and celebrate all of them.

 

Let’s subvert ‘card and flower’ extravaganza into an opportunity to remember the Mother’s in our lives with fondness and gratitude and to connect with them any way we can. Perhaps it is with cards and flowers, or it could be over a phone call, in a letter or over a cup of tea.

However you do it, honouring that energy in your life is vital, so that you too might reflect and cherish it in yourself.

 

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* By which I mean a cup of tea or a good meal, as opposed to flowers and cards and yotz.

 

Photo Credit:
1) doitchoco.wordpress.com
2) Karen Koski
3) Wentworth Garden Centre

Happy Women’s Day!

A very Happy Women’s Day to all!

In honour of this International event I would like to share with you the thoughts that formed the basis of my introduction to last week’s Honouring Woman event.

Taking place almost directly after Being Woman, Honouring Woman was quite a dramatic shift in energy; going from holding a space for women to quietly and intimately explore and experience their core self, to creating a shared space where ideas, inspirations and thoughts of Woman could meet and interact and in the open. I like to think we pulled it off and that everyone who attended left with some deeper sense of the importance and beauty of Woman.

Both men and women attended the evening event which was a real blessing, ensuring the space remained balanced and grounded. No room to spiral off into conjecture, prejudice or politics, just a safe place to encounter the energy of Woman and consider how it might manifest in all our lives; the question at the heart of it all:

What is Woman?

It is, in its most practical sense, an energy; or rather how the life energy of over half the human population chooses to manifest itself in the World. It is the ishness, the very nature of all women and influences certain traits and states of being that are shared by them all to one degree or another. Woman is cyclical, emotional, nurturing and protective. Woman is half of human history, of human experience…

But Woman is not restricted to women alone.

Woman is a gift we all inherit for we are all of woman born. Whether we have a relationship with our birth mother or not we still receive the gifts of Woman through her. For we all carry within us a set of DNA – mitochondrial DNA – that passes exclusively down the maternal line and this DNA has allowed scientists to trace the lineage of every person in Europe back to just a handful of ancient women. These women are our Ancestral Mothers and we all – male or female – carry a part of them within us. So we are all entitled to know, experience and benifit from the gifts they created, cultivated and gave: the gifts of Woman.

Most obviously these manifest – in both men and women – as aspects or traits of personality or Self. The ability to nurture and rear, the need to create and sustain, the joy of emotion and expression; all are essential elements of Woman and all can be cultivated by anyone who wishes to live them more fully.

Woman is not all sweetness and light. She is often the parts of us that are unpredictable and unreserved; that encourage us to experience life to its fullest.  She can be destructive in her drive to maintain balance and she is the root of all life itself. Woman dives deep into feeling and emotion and is not afraid to express it. Woman trusts instinct and internal wisdom as much as (if not more than) rational logic. Woman works in circles and waves avoiding straight, logical lines; flowing through life, dancing with the ebb and flow of time and mood. Woman is changeable, adaptable and always evolving.

All of us will recognise aspects of Woman within us. But for many it can be difficult to trust or even access them as Woman’s ways are often discouraged in ‘modern’ society; seen as too fractious, too hysterical, too unpredictable. But by holding and cherishing these aspects alongside the masculine energy within us we might discover benefits not just for ourselves but for the World we live in too.

Because Woman is an energy that inspires and empowers us to preserve and protect life.

Many people will be familiar with one of the most poignant manifestations of Woman: Mother Earth. The idea of our Land being inherently female and imbued with Woman energy feels right because it is the Land that holds, grows and supports all the life upon it. From keeping seeds warm in her Winter womb, to the birthing of shoots and grains on her surface, the Earth is Mother to it all. And (as someone rightly pointed out to be at ‘Honouring Woman’) she is not adverse to a little aggression and destruction to maintain the balance and success of all her progeny (who stretch far beyond we humans).

Woman is often more easily accessed through the abstract than through our self as it is rare for us to clearly see our own true facets and depths. Throughout history there have been recorded instances of the Divine Feminine; some cultures even venerating Her over and above any male deity figure. From Mother Mary to Mother Earth, across cultures and pantheons, Woman has been honoured throughout time as a vital, life-giving force with a myriad of lessons to teach us. And I am glad to note that through various movements (Intenrational Women’s day included!) and shifts in interest and perspective interest in Her is gradually returning.

I would encourage anyone interested in exploring Woman energy to look at images of female divinity – Mothers, Goddesses and spiritual leaders – and consider which ones speak to you? What gifts might they offer you? What traits might they encourage you to develop and explore? This can be a reflective process; the first step to recognising how we embody Woman in our own Self (male or female!).

At this time in our human existence, I believe Woman offers ideas, energies and approaches that our World desperately needs, to redress some of the imbalances that exist between all current life on the planet. If Woman’s energy and traits could take their rightful place beside the energy and traits of Man we might return balance to one another and compliment one another to ends that at the moment we can only imagine.

For now let Woman be something we all embrace, celebrate and cultivate in ourselves and in our lives. I have no doubt it will bring inspiration and growth not just to the individual, but to the World as a whole.

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To end the evening we all took part in a little folk magic to tap into the energy of Woman that had been generated through our sharing. I asked each attendee to bring a length of ribbon and a flower/leaf/natural object.

Taking the ribbon first everyone chose an aspect of Woman energy (e.g: fiercely protective or nurturing or flowing) that they felt was vital to life and concentrated on imbuing the ribbon with that trait. After a few moments we then wove the ribbons onto a red wheel I had created especially for the event. The result was a web of Woman energy and attributes woven strong in the centre of our circle.

Then everyone was invited to take their natural object and think of a woman/group of women/manifestation of Woman that is in need of support and again imbue the object with that person/persons. Finally these items were carefully laid onto the web where they were held and supported by the web we had woven.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Our shrine for Woman

In the final moments when we gave prayers and blessings to the web and all it stood for I was overtaken by the power – delicate but utterly vital – that the web exuded. It felt sorely needed and yet also strong, steady and supportive.

I hope it continues to be such a symbol – for those who attended and everyone else – on this International Women’s Day.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

The Web complete

Celebrating Woman with Walk The Wheel

International-Womens-DayTo celebrate the approach of International Women’s Day, Walk the Wheel is holding not one, but TWO events at Hadfield Community Hall.

I am pleased to say that ALL PROFITS from both events will be going to HIGH PEAK WOMEN’S AID – a local Women’s charity that provides support to victims of domestic abuse.

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So if you are local to Derbyshire/Sheffield/Manchester why not come along and support a good cause and celebrate Woman in her many guises.

 

 

EVENT 1

Being Woman

A workshop for Women only.

Join us as we come together in a safe, sacred space to share our individual and collective experience and expression of Woman.  As we sit in circle together we will explore the magic of our Womanhood, seeking insight to better know ourselves:

Who is the Woman within us?

How do we see her? How do we feel about her? How do we love her?

And who are the Women in our past? Our future?

How can Woman inspire us on our path?

Using crafts, chanting, silence and visualisation, the spoken word and simple ceremony we will aim to connect more deeply with who we are and the ephemeral, earthy energy of Woman.

sacred-circle

 

EVENT 2

Honouring  Woman

Open to EVERYONE!

As we approach International Women’s Day, Walk The Wheel invites you to share expressions of Woman and how Her energy and influence is present in your life and the World around you.

Whether there is a Woman you particularly admire, an expression of Woman in myth or history that resonates for you or it is the ephemeral energy of Woman itself that most inspires you, we would love to hear how!

We will work simple ceremony to honour Woman and raise energy for the Earth and those who would benefit from Woman’s warm and powerful embrace.

Participants are encouraged to bring something to share with the group – it should be suitable for all ages and inspire in you the idea of Woman!

 

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When and Where

Hadfield Community Hall (above the Library)
Railway Street
Hadfield, SK13 2AA

‘Being Woman’ : 5pm – 7pm
‘Honouring Woman’ : 7:30pm – 9:30pm

COST

Both Events (women only, 16+yrs) – £20 per person

Evening Event (everyone) – £5 per person (suggested donation)

 

Email walkthewheel@hotmail.com for bookings and more information.

Picture credits:
1) internationalwomensday.com
2) highpeakwomensaid.org.uk
3) Janie Rose @ beeswaxandbroomsticks.co.uk
4) awakeningwomen.com

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Copyright

All written materials and images, unless otherwise stated, are property of Kelly Tomlin 2016.
We gather together to Walk the Wheel; to share with one another and be inspired.