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

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.

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.

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

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

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.