A new perspective

P1070241 (2)What gets you through the hardest times in life?

The last two weeks have not been easy. The death of a beloved member of the family, combined with a breast cancer scare has led me to a new perspective on life, one that is filled with content and gratitude, even in the deepest moments of grief and fear.

I’ve always been grateful for my many blessings. But it’s really only upon reviewing each and every one, in a quiet and dark space, that you realise just how much you have, and how wonderful life is, even if you should die tomorrow. As I sat before my altar, the candles flickering and the incense curling around flames, I spent over twenty minutes going over all the amazing things that had happened in my life, all the experiences and people, the wonderful moments that make life worthwhile. Not knowing what the hospital appointment in two days’ time would bring, and stricken with grief over the death of a loved one the day before, still all these beautiful revelations filled my soul as the rain pattered against the windows in the darkness outside.

Some of these were:

I have walked with the reindeer herds in the Scottish Cairngorms.

I have watched the sun rise over the North Sea in ritual with friends.

I have watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean while the wind sighed amongst the pines.

I have skied in -29 degree weather, with icicles on my eyelashes.

I have been canoeing in Sweden with my husband, with only our provisions for the week, a tent, the canoe and an arranged rendezvous point and time a week in advance.  I have seen the burial mounds and carved stones and watched Freya’s falcon soar over the water and mountains.

I have felt the burning fire of Brighid in my heart, in my head and in my belly.

I have faced a blizzard in Trollheim, Norway, and been forced by the wights and jotun to turn back to safety.

I have known the comfort of a safe home, loving parents, patient husband and a good family.

I have loved and been loved by many cats, and given them good homes.

I have climbed the mountains of the Lake District, and watched the crows dive and dance on the thermals as the water glimmered below.

I have walked back in time in the stone circle of Avebury.

I have walked the woods of my childhood home, and know the paths and where they go, the eyes of the seen and unseen upon me.

I have swum in lakes that are filled-up volcanoes, and in rivers that tumble between the ancient granite mountains of the Laurentians.

For all these things and more, I am utterly grateful, amazed, filled with awe and wonder. If I should die tomorrow, at least I have done and known these things, and I am content.

My perspective has not changed, even with the all-clear from my hospital appointment on Monday (it was a cyst). In this time of deepest darkness, I can review what I have experienced, what I have known, and be glad for it. It makes all the small things pale in comparison, all the niggles and troubles that I may have had, with people and life in general. All these things really don’t matter at all. What matters are the things that bring on the contentment, the sense of fulfilment.  All else is just the dross which can cloud judgement and perspective. No longer will I sweat the small stuff.

As we head into the darkest depths of the Winter Solstice, I wish you all very many blessings. Thank you so much for your support over the years, and I look forward to sharing, discussing and reviewing more of life’s wonderful moments with you. Please feel free to comment below, on what helps you get through the darkest times, and peace be with you all.

Reblog: Lammas, Don’t Fear the Reaper

This is a reblog from my channel at SageWoman for Witches and Pagans at PaganSquare. To read the full article, click HERE.

The grain harvest is being collected in the fields around my home. The usually still and silent evening air is filled with the sound of combine harvesters, accentuated every now and then with the hoot of a tawny owl. Lammas is upon us.

Standing on a footpath that divides two large fields, one side filled with barley just reaped, the other with wheat standing pale golden in the sun, I raise my hands to the blue sky and give my thanks for all that nourishes us. I walk a ways into the cut field, the harsh stubs of barley amid the dry, sandy earth and place my hands upon the soil. Thank you for your blessing, may the land be nourished even as it nourishes us. Hail and thanks be to the goddess. I then move to stand on the edge of the wheat field, allowing its song of potential to flow through me. I brush the bent heads filled with seed and say another prayer of thanks.

This is a wonderful time of year, when the songs of the ancestors flow through the rural heartlands of Britain. Though the way we harvest is different, still there is that cycle of growth, of planting and harvesting. After the long hot days of midsummer, the lengthening evenings are welcome, bringing cooler air. Though the dog days may still lie ahead of us, there is something different in the air at this time of year. The scents have changed, the leaves are dark green and heavy, the foliage beginning to choke out and fall back.

I love this time of year. The birds have fledged, and the muntjac deer are at the end of their mating season. The stag barks occasionally for his hind on the other side of the hedge, and this year’s badger family come to visit every night to eat the fallen birdseed from our table and the peanuts that we put out. The sidhe are active at their special spots, over by the burial mound as they are at each of the fire festivals. It is a time of celebration, though there is still much work to be done…

Continue to the full article HERE

Black Friday

black fridayBlack Friday – it’s upon us. The day after the American Thanksgiving, Black Friday is a consumerist holy-day that for many heralds the start of the shopping season. Yes, a season dedicated to shopping, sometimes called “Christmas”. It’s usually a four-day weekend for many, with stores opened all that time offering supposedly amazing deals. It’s a celebration of all things consumerist.

In today’s society, it’s more important to have things than to do things. We seem to be defined by our possessions, yet the term possession isn’t correctly used: for the most part, we are possessed by them, not the other way around. This is not to say that it’s wrong to have possessions, but when the desire to have them, to increase them, to fight for them is all-consuming, we need to have a rethink. When we’d rather have “stuff” than time spent with family and friends, when we work to accumulate more stuff, to buy bigger houses for all our stuff, to buy storage for our stuff, it’s gone too far. Our stuff owns us. The real kicker is, and we all know it: you can’t take it with you when you die.

Black Friday is supposed to be a consumerist’s dream, with bargain offers that are only available at that time of year. In actuality it is a nightmare of epic proportions, where many people don’t realise that the “bargain offers” are still far in excess of what the item is really worth. It only reiterates how much profit is being made on consumer goods by capitalist middlemen.

To make matters worse, Black Friday has resulted in 7 deaths and 98 injuries since it began around 2000. Yes, 7 people have died. Customers and employees crushed when doors are opened. People being trampled to death. An elderly man collapsing and everyone around ignoring him. Guns coming out at Toys R Us and shootings while waiting in the queue. Pepper spray being used on fellow shoppers. People being shot over parking space disputes. The list goes on.

What is so wrong with our society that this would happen?

People are starving, homeless, fleeing war-torn countries with nothing but the clothes on their back.

Join me tomorrow for a Buy Nothing Day. No purchasing; not online, not in person. Say NO to the sickness in society that drives people to hurt one another over a “bargain”.

We can extend it further, looking at how we spend our money, on what, why and when. Look at what are necessities, and what is not. Before buying an item, think about whether you need it. Spend 30 days before you buy something – by then you will certainly know whether you need it or not, or whether it was a whimsical fancy. Spend your hard-earned money wisely on things that will last. You worked hard for that money, don’t fritter it away on what the media tells you that you should have. Decide for yourself.

There are bargains to be had all the time. Charity shops are amazing places to find treasures of all kinds. And the money is going to charity, to actually do some good somewhere. Make every penny you spend count. Make every penny a vote for what you believe in, whether it’s buying local and/or organic food, investing in green energy, buying clothes for work. If you can, really consider the impacts of online shopping too – often items are wrapped in so much plastic, and shipped worldwide that the cost to the environment is enormous.

Our money can be our most powerful weapon against the serious issues of today’s society. We can use it for good, for the benefit of all, not just for one. We can make the world a better place. Really, we can.

Instead of shopping for presents, if you have the time, make something. Cakes, jams, a poem or song for a loved one. Spend time with your family instead of shopping for presents in the evening or at weekends. Devote yourself to what is most important.

Blessings of peace.

 

Reblog: Riding the Tides of Samhain (No sh*t, no flowers)

Here’s a link to my latest blog post on my channel at SageWoman on the Witches and Pagans site. Blessings of the Samhain tide!

“I can make whatever choices I want in my life, and I will live with the consequences of those choices. But if I want to live a life close to my deepest desires, I have to risk knowing who I really am and have always been. Knowing this, then I can choose.”

Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Invitation

We live in a culture and a world of avoidance.  Television, social media, alcohol and drugs are just a few escape routes we have to avoid truly knowing who we really are.  At this time of year, when Samhain is fast approaching we cannot avoid the very real fact that we will die, that death is unavoidable, though we may try.  Looking at death straight in the eye can reveal some very hard truths about ourselves, about how we live in the world, and what our responsibility and duty is to the ancestors, not only ancestors of the past but perhaps more importantly, ancestors of the future.

Continued… to read the full blog post, click HERE.

Reblog: Ancestors and Integration

© Photography by Emily Fae, www.photographybyemilyfae.com

Here is a taster from my latest blog post at SageWoman – I’ve also got an article coming up in the next print edition of SageWoman magazine, so keep an eye out!

I learned something fascinating this weekend. I learned that as women, when we are in our mother’s womb, we already have all the ovum (eggs) that we will release during our fertile years. So, to put that into context, when my mother was in my grandmother’s womb, I was also there, partly, as one of the eggs that would be fertilised by my father. This link only occurs in women, and it just blew my mind. I was in my grandmother’s womb.

Our lines of ancestry can be glorious and transformational journeys of discovery. Not only in a historical sense, exploring records and genealogy, but also connecting spiritually with our ancestors. As the darkness creeps in and the days get shorter, in the cooling air with the harvest being taken in the fields all around me, my thoughts turn to my ancestors and to the self, releasing into the approaching autumn and finding great comfort and joy in the letting go.
In order to release that sense of self, however, we must first come to know our self.

Exploring who we are, where we came from, what makes us “us” is key to this work. Understanding circumstances, experiences, lines of ancestry can enrich our lives and help us to uncover depths of our own soul that may have previously escaped our notice.

To read more/full article, click HERE.

Art of Death Row

My “day job” is working for one of the world’s leading artistic centres and concert halls – I work in the marketing and PR department. I’ve been working there since 2008, and have seen experienced a lot of art in various media. This year as part of the visual arts exhibit that complements the music festival that is currently underway, we have some paintings that I walk past every day. These paintings make me uncomfortable.

The subject of these works is the last meal of various prisoners on death row before their execution in the USA. It is an extremely intimate glimpse into the person behind the prisoner. It shows their humanity, their desires, their need for nourishment and what makes them happy in that context. The fact that it is on public display, however, and for sale, makes me uncomfortable. Why?

On the one hand, if it wasn’t on public display I would never have seen them. On the other hand, I didn’t need to see them in order to have compassion for these human beings. I am completely against capital punishment. The fact that it might make people think about what is happening in so-called First World countries regarding life and death is probably a good thing. And I realise that artists need to eat to, hence the fact that they are for sale. But for every person that doesn’t “get it”, that laughs at the absurd combinations these people have chosen without knowing why: does this trivialise, as well as capitalise the suffering and deaths of human beings? Does it de-sensitise us even further? Or does it raise an awareness of the de-sensitisation that we are experiencing in modern society?

I don’t have any answers. All I know is that every time I walk past them, I feel an ache in my heart and an unease, as well as a wellspring of compassion for all humanity who are in this together.

Interview with Emma Restall Orr, March 2014

Photo courtesy of emmarestallorr.org

Photo courtesy of emmarestallorr.org

Below is a fairly recent interview (March 2014) with Emma Restall Orr, author, founder and director of Honouring the Ancient Dead, and former Head of The Druid Network. Here, she is talks about Druidry, labels, the priesthood, anarchy, understanding the self and the importance of earth-based religions. Enjoy!

Listen HERE.