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.

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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!

Want It All

I’m trying really hard to come up with something meaningful and interesting for you to read.

The Wheel is turning wonderfully, the Land is greening all around us and the days are longer, sunnier and offering up more opportunities for both adventure and repose. Things are growing, gaining momentum and as the energy builds so does the excitement; as demonstrated by the almost endless birdsong that now wakes me in the morning.

I have any number of beauties I could describe to you here; to marvel at and count as blessings to be grateful for. In this bright Spring season I simply can not deny my good fortune… no matter how hard I try.

 

It is hard sometimes to be happy. To always see the beauty and the blessings in things. It seems to take an enormous amount of energy and attention and vulnerability. For the acknowledgement of one wonder leads irrevocably to another and another until suddenly you realise that you can never, will never, be able to know or appreciate or achieve all the wonders that are possible in this wonder-full World.

And there is a sadness in that.

A sadness we don’t talk about and are often encouraged to ignore. To bury deep and hide away or to gloss over with fake smiles and empty words.

Is it a sadness born of greed perhaps; a consumerist inability to settle, to always want more. I am living proof that it doesn’t have to be flash cars or fashionable clothes that you covet, in order to swim in that strange sea of desperation and endless desire. I long for sunsets and sea breezes, vast moorland vistas and the Spring breeze on my skin at all times. I constantly crave the deep connection to earth, sky and sea that I feel when I am in the midst of a long walk, a quiet meditation or a vibrant woodland. I want to feel that full, that aware, that whole all the time.

But I don’t. And there are times when I wonder whether it might not have been easier to never see the World through well-jaded eyes. To have avoided the Wheel and the wonders altogether and found my buzz in television or chocolate or meaningless sex instead; all things I can access with (relative) ease and at a moment’s notice.

Sepration-

For it strikes without warning this unusual apathy, this longing for less and more simultaneously, and I’ll be honest I’ve yet to discover a reliable cure. It often feels a bit like a systems crash; too many programs loaded in at once (joy, love, gratitude, hope, dreaming) overwhelming the hardware and leaving me with a strange blankness in my head.

Because anything I do or say or think in those moments simply isn’t enough. Can’t be enough. Because it can’t be everything.

So here I am, trying to think of something to say to you.

 

Perhaps…

 

Perhaps the sadness isn’t really sadness at all: perhaps it is actually peace. A peace born of the acceptance of one’s place in the Web of all things. One tiny spark of life amongst so many others, that shines brightly in the light but is a truly cosmic beauty when viewed as part of the greater, grander whole. To be a part of it one can never step out of it, not even to see and marvel at the wonder of it all; so I will never truly experience it fully. Instead I remain steadfast and explore the beauties that are unique to me and try not to mourn those which are not. Perhaps I can appreciate those and trust that they are – in their own way – microcosms of the awesomeness that is everything.

space116-cosmic-pinwheel_27721_600x450

This awesomeness.

And though everything can not be mine to possess I can claim it as my heritage, my lineage, my reality. Things which will last far longer than the biggest chocolate bar and will bring more comfort than the most mind-blowing sex. And when I recall this, remember this and truly believe it then I perhaps I won’t need anything more than what I already have. For even in my blankest moments I’ll know I am whole, connected, part of It All.

And I can be at peace.

 

 

I tried really hard to think of something meaningful and important for you to read. Apparently I’ve ended up with something meaningful and important for me to read.

 

Thanks for sharing it.

 

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Photo credits:
1) spiritualjounreyguide.com
2) nationalgeographic.com
3) http://peoplesadvocacycouncil.wordpress.com

In The Air

The weather has been all over the place today, dashing from one type to the next, reminding itself of all the variations it can (and will have to) manage in the months ahead. There was warm sunshine brushing my skin in butter-yellow, followed by a sharp winter breeze dragging storm clouds in its wake. Their raindrop cargo fell in fast fits and sudden starts making the asphalt glisten in the returning sunshine. The glare was blinding and the grey sky smudged with the remnants of an almost rainbow.

I'd almost forgotten what a rainbow looked like.


fire-rainbow-close-up
(credit)

As small as it was, that rainbow looked how the world smells right now: like life, like action, like…

Wet woodland and shivering green grass after a sudden sunshine-y shower.

My feet treading bare and brave on the green earth, hands pressed against 
bark that is mossy and damp as it crumbles beneath my fingers.

Days lounging on the hard ground, head pillowed on blankets or a human knee, discussing ritual and magic and why we're all here in the first place.

Standing in circle, seeing friends and fellows and fairy magic gathered all 
around us in certain celebration.

It smells of the tent and the sun-hot shadows it cast over us as we slept,
exhausted and exulted and Summer under our belts.

Of walking, of movement, of taking steps along a path that might
not be visible on the map but that stretches strong and sure on the map of my 
soul.

scent_of_spring_by_lord_hellbunny-d4ijddk
Image by lord-hellbunny @ deviantart.com

When I first began walking the Wheel I would never have guessed that my nose would be the thing to tell me when the season had truly turned, but gradually I have come to trust my olfactory sense more than any other.

I tend not to expect any true changes in energy or experience until my nose tickles with the scent of the new season. Only then do I allow myself to start feeling the excitement and pleasure that comes from feeling the turn of this timeless cycle. And only then will I start to take steps into that new season; moving myself forward instead of just dreaming and planning for what might be.

4336_Live-the-moment-fresh-scent-of-spring
(credit)


Right now, the world smells of Spring and so many wonderful days and wonderful things I’ve experienced and found that I am bursting with anticipation for more.

But I won’t let its succulent scent weave a spell of forgetfulness over me. I want to live the Spring of here and now, appreciating it and enjoying it in this moment, not losing myself in scents of the future or snifters of the past.

Outside four walls
I walk swift and sure and scent Spring on a Winter breeze.
It reminds me that life is so much more than all this.
That work is hard but that life, 
life is free.


keep-calm-spring-is-coming-8

(credit)

Wonder of Woman

Over the past few weeks I have been working a lot with the energy of Woman.

Woman in myself, in other women, in words and art and Woman in spirit. It is a topic that you find quite readily in pagan/New Age circles (particularly those with a Goddess leaning) but I have never felt drawn or impelled to explore it with any great vigor until recently. Now I have, it is – like a fresh Spring bulb awakening from its Winter slumber – bursting out all over the place!

What I find most pleasing is that the work I’m doing, the things I’m reading, the ideas I’m chewing over don’t come with the tang of sour grapes. I haven’t yet been slapped in the face by any angry-female slogans or any unbalanced, man-hating edicts. In fact all that I have come across has been suffused with an open and encompassing love for women and for all living things; the kind of love that represents the creative, protective and emotive spirit of Woman most effectively.

sacred-circle

This is making my preparations for WtW’s upcoming Women’s Events a real joy to undertake. I don’t just feel like I’m researching for the people who will attend, I am exploring my self in the process. I am hopeful that this will make the events themselves richer and more powerful… that of course remains to be seen!

Woman isn’t just infiltrating my reading list either. I am currently half way through the ‘Red Tent In Every Neighbourhood’ World Summit, which gifts me (and all those taking part) with a free video every day from an inspiring woman, sharing her insights and ideas about Woman and the Red Tent Vision (more on that in a later post). This has already set a some new idea seeds to germinate in my mind, as well as leading me to a wealth of inspiring women who offer a variety of insights and services.

http-critiqueen5-files-wordpress-com201211the_red_tent

Then on Saturday evening I took part in Miranda Gray’s Worldwide Womb Blessing. This was a new experience for me and I can honestly say I didn’t know what to expect; I’d never taken part in worldwide meditation before or a long-distance attunement. I hoped for an enjoyable meditative experience and little more; what I got far surpassed that!

The meditation was simple and effective, grounding me firmly in the energy of the Earth Mother; but what surprised me most was the power and energy that fizzed and fluttered and filled my womb area. I have always been confident with visualisation but this really took me on a visceral level. By the end I felt a deeper connection between my womb and heart and with my own Woman self. Perhaps being immersed in women’s wisdom for some weeks helped me experience it more fully? Who knows! Suffice to say I would heartily recommend my women friends sign up for the future blessings and to work with their own Womb/Woman energy in whatever way suits them. I feel stronger, more creative and somehow more loved for it.

art_art-gall-a-place-to-rest-in-the-earth-mothers-womb

The final piece to the Woman puzzle that my life has become this month is one of luck and loveliness. After taking part in Grow Your Blog 2014 I won a giveaway over at Her Grace; a beautiful blog on the Divine Feminine by Hettienne. The gift is a selection of Mother Mary Blessing Seeds, designed to “Bless the earth…each of these seeds are imprinted with the divine image of Divine Mary and thus contains Her sacred energy.” I am so looking forward to receiving them; they really feel like the perfect accompaniment to this month of working with Woman.

 

What does Woman mean to you?
Do you have a personal way of connecting with the energy of Woman?

 

Picture Credits:
1) Janie Rose at beeswaxandbroomsticks.com
2) themoonandthewomb.wordpress.com
3) ravenessences.com

 

January’s Small Stones #4

If you’re looking for my Grow Your Blog 2014 post, go here

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

This is the final installment of January’s Small Stones, covering the last two weeks. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them 🙂 Look out for more in 2014!

 

20th Jan
This smoke doesn’t hang in the air.
It is off the hook, out of the wardrobe and dressing the air around it,
In a white shift of sweet smelling scent;
The ghostly shadow of burnt incense.

 

21st Jan
Dead roots cast aside in a desiccated clump.
Clinging together in a final embrace.
Their passion so fierce and determined,
So strong it must be warm at their centre;
Where new lives can sleep and grow and fester.

 

22nd Jan
No small stone today.

 

23rd Jan
It is as if each pip of hail that lands, realises on impact that is has managed to miss the designated landing spot.
And so, before it melts into nothingness, it must make a mad dash – skitter, skatter – towards its intended resting place.

 

24th Jan
Black lacquered pavement glows in disco orange light,
Dance floor for the rain drops that bounce and bop and shine.

 

25th Jan
It is tired of hanging there, in defiance of the natural order,
Hiding the wounds and battle scars of a fight with apathy.
Perhaps because a net curtain belongs beside a window,
Maybe it misses the fresh air, the morning sunshine, the view?

 

26th Jan
Funny how the wind through bare trees seems to wave the branches in a form of greeting,
And how each tree’s wave is distinctive, as each person’s is also.
The delicate, regal birch,
The eager, energetic oak;
All stir from their Winter slumber to say ‘Hello’.

 

28th Jan
Inhale the scent of bark and crumbly soil,
The citrus rush of wind fallen fruits,
A comforting wreath of steam rises;
This cup of tea is just what I needed.

 

29th Jan
You flutter, air-full and fast-on that silent tree branch,
Embodying the energy of a forgotten empire.
Empty plastic bag;
Flag of the fallen,
and the wild, forgotten places.

 

30th Jan
Wood pigeon sits on bare branch,
Aged Councillor surveying his constituency,
Fluffed up fat in his Winter feathers while below him the world is still grey and cold.
But his breast tinged with the pink of approaching daylight – Hope.
Soft, silent, sentimental.

 

31st Jan

Snowdrops stand in a line
A choir of school children, hunched and weaving
Making their way through their new, spring song.

 

Hands

My hands have always been a good indicator of my general well being. When I’m tired or low on energy they tend to dry out, the cuticles fray and even the bones start to ache a little. This could be genetic (arthritis is rife in my family) or it could simply be because my hands also act as a barometer for my mood.

When I am tense, my hands curl into fists, becoming solid lumps that hang from the end of my arms, weighing me down, unnoticed for hours with the joints often creaking in protest.

When I am anxious or worried they curl and uncurl, slowly, the fingers rubbing and writhing like restless serpents or affectionate cats. If I become nervous, or skirt the border of panic then those cats grow teeth which they turn on my poor nails and cuticles.

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Sometimes my hands can tell you my mood better than I can.

Years ago, at University, I would pick and peel my fingernails and tips till they were raw and bloody. I would wear plasters for weeks to cover the damage or eventually as a precautionary measure if I knew that something stressful was coming up; those plasters were shields not against germs but against my own anxiety.

Thankfully I kicked that habit a while ago and it’s been a long time since my fingertips have been stained red. But they are still the part of me that suffers first and most when I’m feeling in any way threatened or under pressure.

My hands also reflect the good times in my life. I gesture frantically when I’m talking about things that make me passionate, so to see my hands in motion, fluid and frantic in front of me, is a sign that I am engaged and enthused by life in that moment.

hands

Hands as a symbol of commitment. Photo by Alice Roskams

My nails have never been as healthy and strong as they were in the weeks around my wedding and on the day we were married I bound my hand to my husband’s as a promise and a commitment. Now my hands are dressed with the symbols of that commitment (my wedding and engagement rings) and if you ever see me with nail polish on then I must be up to something exciting because, dammit, I’m too lazy to wear it otherwise!

For years I have hidden these hands or tried to forgot about them. They were not a part of me I particularly liked or appreciated because they have always appeared older than I actually am. The skin was never clear and smooth, the fingers not tapered or graceful. There is age in these hands, a feeling of time that I can not escape. Sometimes I think I have ‘Old Hands’ instead of (or as well as?) an ‘Old Soul’.

I inherited these hands from my mother and my maternal grandmother. I see both of them clearly in the shortness of the bones, the wrinkles in the skin and the knuckles that are freckle-covered and carry an unexpected strength within them. My hands are not delicate or graceful, never have been; they are working hands and they serve to remind me that life is often a struggle but that I have the means to survive it all here, waiting, at the end of my (conversely) thin wrists.

I am tied to history by these hands, family history, the good and the bad. I see the skin crack and dry and I fear that I will live out old patterns, suffer the same problems, fulfill unwanted fates. I worry that these hands are signs of all I cannot escape. But then I remember how soft my Grandmother’s hands felt when I was a child and how pretty my nails looked on my wedding day and I realise that these hands do not bind me to anything (except my husband, by choice and choice alone). They offer change and a means to create that is shaped by the strength and determination of my ancestors, but that reveals itself in swirling gestures and shapes as intricate and unique as I am.

 

“If you ever need a helping hand you’ll find one at the end of your arm.”
Yiddish Proverb

Tomlin-W-025

The hands in question. Photo by Jon Rouston

Which parts of yourself speak loudest to you? Do you have features that connect you to your family or ancestors?

Sometimes…

Sometimes I don’t want you to see me.

I have no need to be acknowledged or accepted. I don’t wonder what you might think and I care nothing for what your eyes might say when they scan my face, meet my gaze and react.

Sometimes I have no desire to be noticed.

I don’t need to sparkle or shine, be all smiles and personality. I just want to blend into the background, fade to grey, blur my edges and become one with the chair I’m sitting on.

Sometimes I want you to ignore me.

Bare-faced ignore me so I can feel angry and resentful without finding the reason in myself.

Perhaps you could just gloss over me.

I could be toaster instructions or the guarantee for that new piece of kit that earns a cursory glance to confirm its existence (and makes you feel better in the knowing that it is there) but isn’t actually looked at or seen at all.

Then I can sit in that stolen space, seen but unseen, and exist (for once) without an audience. And the weight of eyes and expectation might just lift a little, little enough for me to breathe, and then maybe I’ll cry or smile or sing a little tune or make a decision that will change everything. Or nothing. Or not.

Sometimes I am so tired of looking at myself that I need to be invisible for a while.

But I can’t do that while you’re looking at me.

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.