Online Imbolc – A Meditation

Anyone interested in taking part in Walk The Wheel’s online celebration of Imbolc can find a seasonal meditation here:

Visiting Brigid’s Burrow – a meditation for Imbolc

And an invitation to join other Wheel Walkers in a group meditation:

Burrowing Together – a group meditation

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At Walk The Wheel our group meditations take place at the end of the evening, after the sharing, whilst we all sit in circle together. Participants share the words they hear and the physical space that they inhabit together.
For our Imbolc meditation this year we will be working with the same premise: all who take part will be connected in following the same meditative journey. The only difference is that the circle we create and the space we inhabit to do so will not be physical but ephermeral. Instead of sharing air and physical matter we will share intention and it is this itention that will connect us across time and space.

Many people use meditation to deepen the connection between themselves and the World around them. We will be aiming to deepen our experience of the energy if Imbolc.

As “Burrowing Together” is a group meditation held in a non-physical space we will also be aiming to all deepen our connection to the other Wheel Walkers joining us on this journey in order to create a sense of shared celebration and community.

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Pic credits:
1) iamachild.wordpress.com
2) by Wendy Andrew @ owlsdaughter.com
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Rewoven

I met with a lovely group of women this week, whom I have been meeting with on a regular basis for the past year. We use the time and space to share our thoughts, feelings and happenings; sometimes offering advice but more often than that simply holding space and a listening ear to all that needs to be aired in those moments. This Women’s Circle has been a real life-saver for all of us at one time or another and I wouldn’t be without it. The act of listening to someone else’s struggle has a strengthening effect not just on the one being heard but those who are able to hear it and be present to it. By meeting the difficulties of life head on we gain perspective and conviction; we know that we will make it through. We know that we are held and supported in our weakness and that leaves space for the idea that next week there may be joy to tell instead.

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We don’t keep count or take scores. There’s no league table of who’s sharing the most drama each month. The whole thing is incredibly fluid and spacious – in a way that only groups of trusting women can be – and I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t remember a lot of what has been mentioned over the year. Athough some of us have been through life-changing events as part of that group there is little solid memory that I could cling to and evaluate; I often don’t remember the things I’ve said or have been said to me. And that is one of the gifts of the group: it provides no ammunition for self-doubt or self-flagelation outside of that space. When you leave you are changed, transformed but you can’t always pin-point why. This seems to make the effects stronger, last longer; you can’t question where these new ideas/feelings are coming from you can only accept and integrate them day to day.

It feels like life is taking on that quality somewhat at the moment. There is a strong sense of flow in everything that seems to be happening personally, locally, even globally. A number of happenings in various lives that surround mine are being strengthened and empowered for happening now, in this season. There is a lot of releasing going on, a lot of letting go, a lot of transformation which sits firmly at the heart of Samhain time. And there is power humming beneath actions and words as if the Otherworld drew closer on Samhain night and simply decided not to return to its side of the veil. I have an undeniable sense of trust in each day that dawns; something I have never experienced so strongly, over such an extended period of time. I wish I could explain it more clearly but all I can think of is the magical line from CLAMP manga Cardcaptor Sakura “I just know everything will be alright!”

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Perhaps it is my own transition into the third trimester of pregnancy that might be insitgating this sense of awe and acceptance; likely there is some truth in that. I am also blessed enough to have taken part in a Mothering and Blessing Way Ceremony, conducted for me and the bump by my very dear women friends last week and I can not deny that taking part in this was incredibly powerful in its own right and I am doubtless still living the effects. And then at our most recent WtW gatherings in Hadfield and New Mills we wove webs together, embodying the Samhain energies, the connections between all that live and die, the great cycles that govern us and the great strength and wisdom within them.

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But I was surprised to learn at our latest Women’s Circle that I am not the only one feeling this sense of rightness and finding themselves in places of transformation and personal power. It was the first time for a long time that we all seemed to be telling the same story; as if we were holding a space for the power of this absolute trust in flow to be acknowledged and thus enhanced even more. I left this week feeling more connected not just to myself and my women friends but to the whole World, the whole Wheel; as if we had woven our own physical Web there.

After a period of disconnection it seems the threads are finding their way back together; certainly in my own life. Who knows what could happen if this reweaving is in fact spreading across the World…

Pic credits:
1) omshalayoga.com
2) kitsunetuneko.wordpress.com
3) Walk The Wheel

(Dis)Connected

As Autumn asserts itself fully – with blustery days and chilly nights, rain on the panes and (every now and then) a wash of golden sunlight – I am feeling both more and less connected to the Wheel and this turning season than I ever have before.

The leaves are drooping and falling on almost every branch in town. The berries on the bushes are whithering now; the chilly Derbyshire air making it easier for them to succumb to slumber. Signs of life seem to be giving way to death at every turn, in a way that feels right and necessary; a welcome return to rest after so much energy has been expended on living and life.

But my body is turning in the other direction – away, away from death of any kind. instead it is sucking and slurping and seeking all the energy it can to feed the Life that is growing inside me. And as it feeds and grows that Life is becoming more active, not less. No softening, no gentling, no letting go here. This creature inside is all movement and angles, rolling and punching, working hard to remind me each moment that it is living. My belly is a swollen fruit, heavy and tight and ripe. My muscles are tired but rally each day, building and sustaining themselves to support the eventual harvest. And my roots are strong; my determination to be solid and settled in house and family and home bordering on manic; I’m cleaning and arranging and doing more than I have for months (as much as my ponderous belly allows).

The World is slowing down, but I am speeding up; wired in opposition to what the season is trying to tell me. Time is racing along beside me, urging me, encouraging me but it can’t quell the disquiet that comes from being so out of sync…

And yet…

My mind on the other hand seems to have sequestered itself beneath autumn’s leafy mantle and is happy to reside there for the days ahead. Despite all the practicalities that need attending to and all the unquenchable urges jittering through my nesting limbs, my thoughts are slowing steadily; sinking deeper into the Earth along with those same leaves thata re gradually turning to mulch.

I’m not confused or stupid (most of the time), just less inclined to define and deliniate anymore. My instincts are rising to the surface and settling atop my worries and fears, my words and definitions, like a well worn blanket. They are urging me to trust, to let go, to float loose on the breeze that blusters outside my window and allow time and nature to take its course. To succumb to what is happening to my body and to the World around me. To stop trying to make sense of it all and simply live it.

It feels like my words are dying, dropping away one by one like dead leaves. They no longer hold the power to preserve and nourish me; their season is past, their time (for now) is done. Something else is taking their place. A quiet, deep knowing that is blurred and soft around the edges, that sits within me, surrounds me and the Life inside me and offers us sanctuary. Offers us both growth that is free from expectation and judgement.

I am evergreen in body, but deciduous in mind and the juxtaposition is often unsettling. I am both with the Wheel and without it and at the same time unsure how one person can embody both.

Perhaps it can’t.

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Perhaps I am the deciduous tree, asserting my connection to the Wheel through my thoughts and feelings, trusting them to release and decline with the Land. But this new Life inside me is as strong as evergreen and is asserting its right to life and thrive and shine and grow all through the darker, colder months ahead.

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We are simply inhabiting the same space, for now; and it is magical.

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Photo credits:
1) kidactivities.net
2) finkegardens.com
3) financialsense.com

Why supporting the “Ice Bucket Challenge” doesn’t make me a corporate sheep

Like many others, I have recently become innundated with videos of the infamous Ice Bucket Challenge. Most are very similar, a lot are somewhat funny and quite a few are quite poignant. Yesterday I came across a video that was very different to all those I’d seen prior, but demonstrated one of the more critical responses of the Challenge itself.

In the video a young man performs his own, icey feat before reading from a prepared piece about the falisy and flimsiness of the Challenge as he sees it.  He declares that the money we might donate as a result of taking part would do little to support the search for cures. He ‘exposes’ the business structure of the ALS charity organisation, giving figures that apparently reflect a rather low percentage of funds going towards actual research and a much larger amount being spent on things like staff wages and CEO bonuses. He finishes with a call to action, encouraging others not to donate or nominate but to take to the streets in ‘revolution’ instead.

 

Ironically I watched this video just minutes after being nominated myself. For days I’d been watching the circle of challengers spiral closer and closer to me and  had already entertained tiny daydreams of how I might take part, so was quite excited to finallybe called out by my brother-in-law. Then along comes this anti-Challenge-video, shared and liked by people I know and respect, telling me not to take part or donate or nominate or anything for fear of becoming one of the thousands and thousands already duped by these global coroporations into wasting our money on corporate bonuses and in effect not really giving a damn.

The anti-C-video seemed to be arguing that to take part an the easy way out, a ploy to divert our attention from the ‘Real Issues’. For the young man in the video and the people who share his cynicism, I imagine the ‘Real Issues’ are Commercialism, Capitalism or one of many other huge C words that I don’t really want to start a huge debate on here, now.

The simple fact is that his video – whilst somewhat sensationalist – did make me think. I was torn. Should I take part or not?

It might sound like quite a small thing to get in a quandry over, but I never like to show my support for anything unless I am sure I can respond to the questions and criticisms against it; particularly on the internet as it is already a place where so many nuances of speech and belief become lost in translation. Having seen both my nomination and this anti-C-video in quick succession I was forced to consider whether I actually did agree with the Challenge or whether I was simply being swept along with the social wave. For I am no huge fan of Commercialism or Capitalism and would hate to be considered a blind follower of fashion. That said I’m not quite a Revolutionary either (though that is another blog post entirely). I don’t like stagnation but I hold some respect for status quo. How then could I reconcile these two conflicting ideals and without ending up a very cold, very wet, corporate sheep?

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The anti-C-video’s argument sounded solid enough to me. Though I couldn’t verify its ‘facts’, the logic of it was sound: why should we take part in something as paltry as this when Real Issues need our attention? Surely our energy would be better saved or spent fighting against those? And the popularity of the challenge, the way it has been splashed across headlines and gossip pages and social media, through celebrities and mundanes alike, gives it a feeling of all flash and no substance which is really not my thing.

Yet despite all this, in my heart I wanted to take part. No matter how strongly my logical mind tried to curry favour with my ethics for an all out boycott I simply couldn’t do it. Being a part of the Ice Bucket Challenge felt like the right thing to do.

I have learned over recent years to trust that inner heart voice; that urge that feels like uncertainty at first but when you see it for what it truly is you realise it is intuition. So once I realised this is what I was hearing I was able to accept my heart’s decision and begin planning my video.

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Which freed my mind up to consider why taking part felt so right and why I knew I wasn’t selling out to the commercial masses by doing so. At the end of the day it all came down to the thing that is most important to me, in this life, in this World. The thing that I think will truly bring us all closer to peace and happiness (if not the cure for diseases) if we could simply have more of it: connection.

 

* The Ice Bucket Challenge has not only raised awareness and money for ASL and the many other charities that people have chosen to dedicate their participation to, it has created CONNECTION the World over. Through the ‘nominations’ we are forced to think outside our Self and to connect to and encourage kindness and generosity in those around us. Most of us will have been nominated by people we know quite well, but even a reminder of those relationships (close enough that they have relished the thought of dumping ice all over you!) will lift our heart and spirit and make us feel good about our place in the World. The Challenge is sending out a message to us all on a very individual level: You are not alone.

* It has given a number of people the chance to connect not just with those living but those past. Many videos have been dedicated (often with their donation) to a friend or family member who has been touched/killed by illness, not always Motor Neurone Disease. Through taking part the individuals are able to honour the memory of their loved one and to speak their name out to the wide World, making them present and real in that moment, if only in memory. Once again the Challenge is strengthening connnections, this time between the living and the dead, allowing us to say: You are not forgotten.

* The Challenge has sparked the IMAGINATION of an incredible number of people around the World, resulting in an outpouring of crazy, creative ideas and acts that in turn bring joy and humour to those who see them/hear about them. This joyful connection benifits all who recieve it and is, I think, one of the main reasons why the Challenge has been so successful. We want to offer our own take on it and then sit back and enjoy everyone elses. True, this may not cure disease, but taking joy and pleasure in knowing, being with and seeing our fellow humans can only be a good thing. The Challenge reminds us that: We are all together.

* In that same vein the Challenge is an opportunity to be UNIQUE whilst still taking part in a COLLECTIVE ACT. Each video displays the uniqueness of the individual whilst silmultaneously representing them taking their place in a much greater whole. Being a part of such a vast and determined group of many, one which still celebrates each individual’s uniqueness, is the ultimate way to establish and energise one’s connection to the World and all that is in it. It is the best reminder that no matter how distant or dispirited our goverments, our media or our capitalist-cultures make us feel we are more than that: we are Human, connected and we can be joyful and generous and honoured within that.

 

By taking part in the Ice Bucket Challenge I am stepping out into the global community with my arms wide open and with love in my heart.

Which sounds less like a sheep and more like a Revolutionary to me 🙂

 

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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.

A Very Inspiring Blogger

I recieved a comment on a recent post from a lovely lady over at another blog (which I’ll come to later) that said she had nominated me for a blogging award. I quickly realised this wasn’t one of those Pokemon-eqsue “out of all other bloggers I choose YOU!” awards, it was actually something rather more lovely.

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The Very Inspiring Blogger Award is passed from blogger to blogger, some might say like a chain letter, but I like to think of it as a thread of gratitude, sharing and connection. It links bloggers with similar notions and ideas together; but by similar I don’t mean people who agree. As the title suggests it is about linking people who inspire and that is one of the things I’m most passionate about. Inspiration – and people inspiring other people – is a big part of Walk The Wheel and is at the root of the sharing process it embodies at its events.

So I was really thrilled to find out someone out there in blogging land, who I had never met nor heard of, not only reads my blog but finds it inspiring. Inspiring enough that she picked me out alongside a handful of others to share with her readers and friends. That gave me a nice warm, proud feeling but it also excited me to think I could then do the same for bloggers I find inspiring…

 

So this is me saying a HUGE HEARTFELT THANK YOU to Julie over at Becoming A Family for gifting me with such an honour. She writes beautifully about creating a life and home for her two sons, alongside her husband. I am looking forward to getting to know her better in the coming months and I hope you might go and check her out too 🙂

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In order to fulfil my part of the ‘nomination acceptance’ I need to – in the spirit of sharing! – share with you a few facts about myself (which I have done at the end of this post). I also get to nominate and share with you some Very Inspiring Bloggers of my own.

They are:

A Diary Of A Mom – who shares her family’s journey with autism in a way that is open, heartfelt and full of love.

The Ditzy Druid – who shares her Druidic path and how it flows with her family in wonderfully clear and colourful snippets.

Beeswax and Broomsticks – who shares her journey through beautiful pictures formed in photographs and words.

Scene By Minerva – who shares regular updates of beauty caputred by her very talented eye on camera and inspires me to remember the beauty in the small things.

Drops of Awen – who shares snippets of thought and present and moment with such clarity that it can inspire ponderings for the rest of the day.

I hope by sharing them they will reach even more hearts to inspire and perhaps also enjoy knowing how appreciated they are.

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To finish I give you a few random facts, in no particular order:

* I decided I was going be an actress when I was 3 years old and was allowed to play the ‘Star’ in the school Nativity play because the original girl cast for the part was stuck at home with measles.

* I grew up surrounded by pets. One of my closest companions as a child/teenagers was my dwarf albino rabbit Mittons. I told that rabbit everything and he was the best listener I’ve ever known.

* I drink my tea with milk and two sugars despite the horrified look on most people’s face when I tell them this.

* I would rather travel in the UK than fly abroad… I hate flying.

* In my teens and early twenties I was (and still am) a Scaper. *bonus points to anyone who knows what that is… and doesn’t know me already!*

* I went to my second year Ball (/Prom) at University barefoot because I had no shoes to match the dress I was wearing.

* I got married last year to my wonderful husband on a glorious, sunny, May day. Our first dance song was a cover of ‘Feelin’ Good’ by Muse. I was wearing shoes for that one.

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The Art of Disconnection

dis·con·nec·tion

 [dis-kuhnek-shuhn]  

noun

1.

the act of disconnecting.
2.

the state of being disconnectedlack of connection

I’ve been disconnected from everything these past 10 days. The hubby and I were whisked off on holiday by the in-laws and we were thrown into a new Land, a new climate and a new routine which included no internet, no work and no decisions to make: bliss! But it also meant a lack of all my usual touchstones that connect me to the Land and to my Self: not so much fun.

I’ve spent years working with the Wheel and various ideals, notions, people and places, aiming to deepen and strengthen my connection to the World. In that time I’ve gradually developed a practise that helps me maintain that connection as much as possible (many aspects of which you’ll have read about here at the blog). A natural by-product of this process has been a deepening sense of Self awareness too. I have come to know my Self – my patterns, my drives, my feelings, my needs – in much greater detail than I once did and I have benefited from this knowledge by making better choices and finding greater opportunities in which I can thrive.

That said, the downside to this deepened sense of connection is the deepened sense of disconnection that is its mirror. Often it is triggered by external circumstances – a break in routine, a new location or a sudden turn of events – and I can become so caught up in reacting to the change that I don’t realise I’ve disconnected until after things have begun to settle. As I regain a semblance of normality I suddenly find myself filled with a strange emptiness; an itch inside that tells me something isn’t right. Over time I’ve come to know this as disconnection; the lack of a solid, stable awareness of my needs and truths. It quickly spawns sensations of panic, doubt and fear that it will never come back again; all of which combine to create a void of confidence and a great chasm of disconnection not just between me and my Self, but between me and the World as well.

In the moment I need it most, that sense of connection is lost to me on both fronts and the loneliness and helplessness it leaves can be downright debilitating.
When caught in the midst it seems impossible to break out of; no matter how hard I try to see beauty, to be mindful, to breath deep and open my awareness, all attempts feel fake and flawed (which of course only breeds more panic!). For what could be days I feel as though I’m drifting through life, locked in a perpetual video game or glued to the TV set, unable to turn away. I feel completely oblivious to the World as I once knew so well.

It feels like now is the time for me to give a smile and a wink and offer you the answer that I’ve known all along. I feel like I should offer you some sort of fix: “What I do to shuck off this slump in 5 easy steps!”.

But I can’t.
To be honest I simply don’t know.

But what I do know is this: no matter how strong the disconnection feels it always, eventually lessens, and the connections I so dearly value always come back… eventually. However, i must warn you, that they often don’t look the same.

A good friend said to me yesterday:

“Once you’ve reached a place of comfort and stability, then you’re ready for the next step, the next challenge. But in order to take it, in order to grow and develop further you have to let go of what you had; to make space for the new.” 

So perhaps I can’t tell you how to ‘get over’ disconnection. Perhaps I don’t want to.

Because maybe, just maybe disconnection is actually a space of creation. Disconnection is the place where new connections are waiting to be formed.

*
There’s lots of growth and change coming to Walk The Wheel in the coming days: watch this space for updates and announcements!

Bless you

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I want you to know that when I say “Bless you” I mean just that.

In those two words and in that precise moment I am wishing, hoping, praying and intending blessings upon you.

These might come from a deity you follow; a spirit you hold sacred or a being you hold dear.

They might be a moment in the future; of joy or pleasure or acceptance or understanding that you truly need.

They might be the gift of a smile, a hug, a kiss, an invitation; some kindness coming your way.

They might be a heart, a time, a space or a person that can hold and hear all you need to say and be… when you need to say and be it.

I want you to know, that when I say “Bless you” I am not being patronising.

I am not saying it because I can’t think of anything else to say.

I am not saying it because I secretly want you to shut up, get over it or change the subject.

I am not saying it because I feel helpless or powerless to aid you.

I am not saying it because it’s what you’re ‘supposed to’ say at a time like this.

In that moment, in those two words, I am actively offering you a gift:

the gift of my hope for you, for your life, for your situation.

I do not bless you for karma or to fulfil expectation.

I do not bless you to win points or to provoke reciprocation.

When I bless you I am doing so out of love,

Freely.

And that should not – and will not – ever be given lightly.

Keli, May 2014

*

The Mindful Mornings I ran earlier this month really got me thinking about the words I use and things I say; particularly to people who don’t know me very well. I’m confident that those closest to me are able to read the intentions beneath my words, even when I’m not at my most articulate (which is rather a lot lately!), and I trust that this unspoken understanding will sometimes (not always) be enough to sustain their faith in me and in what I say.

However when I’m interacting with work colleagues,  acquaintances or new people I meet, I become very aware that they are not tuned in to this emotional undercurrent. Sometimes this is necessary – I don’t always want my heart exposed on my sleeve – but it can also make it difficult to foster a genuine sense of connection.

 One of my biggest bug bears in my early twenties was the “How are you?”/”Alright, how are you?” duologue, that seemed to preface every conversation I ever had, ever. It felt like wasted breath; asking another person how they are – right then, in that moment, how does it feel to be you? – without offering the right space or intention to hold a real, true answer. It also felt insulting, to both parties; a lazy, poorly considered façade of a real conversation.

So as I’ve gotten older I’ve tried to be better at using my words with intention and although I am still guilty of using flippant talk more than I would like, it is less now than ever before. I benefit from it greatly: it brings me alive in the moment and offers me an opportunity to check in with my own responses as much as the other person’s. My relationships have benefited from it too; I know more about the people I meet and like to hope that people feel held and heard when I’m speaking with them.

“Bless you” is a term I struggled against when I was a teen as it inspired all sorts of religious connotations that I wasn’t ready or willing to accept at the time. Now the concept of a blessing is much broader and more encompassing in my eyes; they are unique to every individual, they are the fulfilment of something we need either in that moment or in the grander scheme of things.

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Life itself is a blessing, all its component parts are blessings and being blessed is something we can all be, if we are mindful of what is offered to us.

Giving blessing is also something we can all do, by adopting a mindful presence and offering deep, clear, compassionate intention in everything we do.

So, blessed be.

(and I hope you are)

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Picture credits:
1) google.com
2) the pioneerwoman.com
3) imgion.com

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.

 

beech-tree

 

 

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.

greenman-1

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.

 

2011-05-19_10-54-41

 


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

Words Are Enough

A large part of my lifestyle and the ethos of Walk The Wheel is devoted to encouraging and deepening soulful connections to Life and the World we live in. My first instruction will always be to get out into the Natural World; there aren’t enough words to describe the positive and inspirational effects it has on our hearts and minds but I will never stop trying. That’s why I follow the Wheel in the first place and why I choose to live somewhere as close to the wild Land as I can.

That being said there are other ways we can experience that same sense of wholeness from within the (relative) comfort of our homes; and in a World where we are often overworked, underpaid and living in the midst of a concrete jungle being able to find moments of connection within our restricted circumstances is a vital part of survival.

 

You might think I am going to start declaiming the benefits of meditation or yoga-in-your-living-room or the latest health food craze? Well, I’m not. My suggestion is much simpler and requires far less time, money and has no requirements for your living room space. While all these popular holistic practices (and others like them) can and do have enormous benefits and act as instigators towards an all-round more mindful way of life,  they also carry something of a stigma. For some they are part of a ‘New-Age’ lifestyle full of crystals and fairies in which they are (quite frankly) not interested. For others who already have elements of holistic practice in their lives (fairies notwithstanding) they can sometimes feel too much like hard work when we need their gifts the most*.

Sometimes you want to feel whole and connected without having to exert a great amount of energy. Perhaps you’re exhausted and simply don’t have the reserves or perhaps you have a scant few minutes before you will  be called back into the line of duty and you simply don’t have time for a 15 minute mega-meditation.

 

If that’s the case I have a suggestion for you…

 

Read a book.

 

I know, I know, not particularly original right?

I am well aware I’m not breaking any new ground here, but coming off the back of a busy few weeks I have found myself firmly in the midst of a classic dilemma; I want to feel better, to reconnect to my heart and to Life but I just don’t have the spoons to get out there and be proactive about it! The thought of walking to my nearest park or Peak makes my tired body quiver. My brain can’t bear the pressure of meditating or holding any sort of solid concentration. My nerves are so shot that all they want is soothing but I don’t have the money to go see a film or an exhibition or even to go see friends down the pub.

So what do I do?

 

I read.

 

Yes it is partly a distraction technique. I am lucky enough to be one of those people who can lose herself in a book at remarkable speed; hours will disappear around me, hours that feel like days or weeks or years depending on the story I’m living inside my head, and reading can be a welcome escape when you’re tired and aching and life seems a little much to bear.

I have often wondered whether this truth makes reading as bad as TV or junk food; is it merely escapism, nothing more? Does it prevent me from connecting and living fully by instead allowing me to sink into a world that is not my own?

 

I don’t think so. In fact, this very morning I decided to let myself off the hook and put that criticism to bed forever. Because it occurred to me that the beauty of books is that they are immersing you in a world that might not be exactly your own but will (in some ways) be modeled upon it. As products of a human mind and soul books are expressions of our lived experience; even the most fantastical of novels with the most outrageous of characters will echo our societies, our relationships, our truths. Books take us on journeys in our mind just as our feet take us on journeys in the great outdoors and the experiences we have within both environments offer us countless opportunities to explore and experience and expand our heart and soul.

 

I imagine everyone will find different authors and different genres that do this for them; just as some prefer to walk in a park whilst others seek windy clifftops above the beach.

At University I was briefly introduced to some French female authors, a couple of whom have stayed with me for many years. Marguerite Duras was the first and the floating lyricism of her language is enough to lull me into peaceful sleep if I am not careful. The other is Anna Gavalda who is decidedly more grounded and (for me) more inspirational.

Gavalda’s books are all about human connections, meetings, relations. What makes them so evocative and inspiring for me is the stripped back nature of her words in direct contrast to the rich and sometimes unexpected meanderings of her characters. She often writes conversations without any ‘he said’ ‘she said’,  just the words in scripts or lists, as they would come from the mouth of any real person. But she will also spend pages giving extensive commentary on the seemingly random thought processes that our hero or heroine flits through as he/she walks down the street. Her characters are often dealing with happenings that are not hugely dramatic (on the outside) but that stir a tumult of memories and feelings and healing within each unique person’s heart.

I’m currently reading Hunting and Gathering (for the second time) and I would heartily recommend it; particularly to anyone who (like me at the moment) wants desperately to feel and to be connected but just can’t summon the energy to risk it in the big wide world. Yes it serves those usual escapist joys; sending me out there to a different land, experiencing new places, new people and new adventures. But I also find that my heart has opened, that I can breathe a little easier and can feel a little more, thanks to the introspection and honesty of her characters. The beautiful way she paints the ordinary has the same healing effect as the green currently painting the landscape; it inspires new life, new energy and an encouraging desire to find one’s place in it all.

 

And that is very much what my life and what the ethos of Walk The Wheel is all about.

 

What are you reading at the moment? Do books lift your spirit? If so, which?

* I spoke about this in my last post. You can also see another wonderfully articulate explanation of a very similar feeling here at Nimue Brown’s blog, Druid Life.

 

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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.