Sabbats

Your Spiritual Evolution: Four Transformative Teachings for the Spring Season

Spring is a time of rebirth and new beginnings. Nature buds and blossoms as the seasons of light and life return, and the Goddess offers up Her mysteries of spiritual evolution to guide your journey of soul.

With a Goddess-based conception of spiritual evolution, your whole life — everything you are and everything you’ve experienced — is part of a greater journey that drives your personal growth and spiritual evolution. Your intention on this journey is to become a more whole, mature, powerful version of your Self.

Everything you are and you’ve experienced are part of a greater journey that drives your spiritual evolution of becoming a more whole, powerful version of your Self.

This season’s offering in the Path of She Guided Journey Series, Spring Journey: Your Spiritual Evolution, is grounded in the Mother-Daughter tale of Persephone and Demeter that speaks to this Goddess-based conception of spiritual evolution.

In the Fall, Persephone begins Her journey as a maiden who leaves behind the sunlit realm of Her Mother Demeter. She descends into the Underworld, and spends the Winter months traveling its mysteries of darkness and death, and suffering its trials.

In Spring, Persephone returns to Her Mother Demeter’s realm of light and life as a Goddess reborn into a more mature, evolved version of Her Self. She is the Queen of the Underworld and Goddess of Spring Growth, with a wholeness and bigness of being that is wise, loving and powerful enough to bridge and balance the immense, opposing energies of the death-centered Underworld and the life-centered sunlit realm. Where Persephone walks the Earth, She leaves a trail of spring flowers in Her wake.

Through this mythic Goddess tale, you can embrace a new understanding of your Self, your life story, and your journey of spiritual evolution. Here are four transformative teachings offered by these Mother-Daughter Goddesses, Demeter and Persephone, in the spring season.

1. New growth and beginnings arise from darkness, death, suffering and wounding.

In many spiritual traditions, spiritual evolution is associated with a rarefied, higher state of consciousness: one becomes enlightened, ascends to a higher frequency, and transcends the human, material condition.

The problem with this conception of spiritual evolution is that it’s elitist, granting spiritual superiority to the very few who can achieve this state of purity. It favors the path of the monk or ascetic who chooses to separate themselves from the complexities and messiness of everyday life. It negates the very substance of our human existence, that we are flesh and blood creatures, living in a material world. And, most importantly, it leaves out the vast majority of us traveling a sincere spiritual path of personal healing and growth in accordance with the dictates of our own soul and life story.

Nature and the Goddess illuminate a very different conception of spiritual evolution.

In Nature, green-growing things arise out of the dark belly of the Earth, nourished by the decay and death of composting soil. The Goddess Persephone comes into Her full maturity and power through her trials and suffering in the Underworld. Persephone’s experiences in the realm of darkness and death are the very makings of Her personal growth and spiritual evolution.

You don’t need to think of spiritual evolution as a rarefied state of enlightenment.  Instead, you can understand and engage your spiritual evolution as a journey of new beginnings and growth that arise out of the darkness, trials, suffering and wounding of your life story. Rather than transcending these inescapable parts of your human experience, you can honor and embrace them as the very things that inform and nourish your journey of evolving into your full maturity and power.

2. Your life story is the vehicle of your spiritual evolution.

Persephone sets out on a journey of discovery and self-determination outside of the circle of Her Mother Demeter’s love and guiding presence. She has Her own, unique, personal experiences in the Underworld, separate from the ways of Her Mother and the sunlit realm She left behind.

This is Persephone’s story, not Her Mother’s, nor the story of any of the other Goddesses in the Greek pantheon.  And it’s the full range of Her life story — with its beginning in the sunlit realm of Her maidenhood and innocence, travels into the depths of the mysteries and trials of the Underworld, and return to the sunlit realm, stepping into a new level of maturity, power and wholeness — that drives Persephone’s personal growth and spiritual evolution.

Your life story, from the moment you are born to your very last breath, is the vehicle of your spiritual evolution. You aren’t here on this Earth to live by the dictates of anyone else’s story, or to become anything other than your true, deep, beautiful Self.

Like Persephone, you must consciously choose to set off on a journey of discovery and self-determination by stepping beyond the people and parts of your life that define and limit you, and descending into the mysteries and trials of your inner darkness. Here you’ll find everything you need — amongst the lost and repressed parts of your Self and life story that hold your beauty, wounding and dormant potential — to guide your new, spring-like beginnings of personal growth and transformation.

This isn’t the work of one season, but of a lifetime of descent into your inner darkness and personal trials, and return to the sunlit world of new beginnings and personal growth.  The journey itself, drawing on the wellspring of your life story, is your spiritual evolution.

3. Equanimity is an essential skill on your journey of spiritual evolution.

Your spiritual evolution is driven by a special kind of transformative magic. Whenever diverse, opposing energies come together, and are held in a state of equanimity, something miraculous happens. Life is reborn in new, fresh ways that are only possible through the potent meeting and mixing of opposites.

Equanimity is your capacity to remain present and open, in a balance and neutral frame of mind and emotional state, no matter what life brings your way. With equanimity, you can face your life’s trials and challenges, and hold the tension of the complex, opposing parts of your Self and life story, with wisdom, love, acceptance and trust.

Nature and the Goddess Persephone illustrate this transformative magic, and the essential role played by equanimity in the miracle of springtime rebirth.

In Spring, Nature reveals a living equanimity where the wild world is reborn through the balanced, harmonious interweaving of the primal, opposing forces of life and light, and darkness and death. When Persephone returns to Her Mother Demeter in Spring, She is reborn into a mature, evolved version of Her Self, whole and holy as the Queen of the Underworld and Goddess of Spring Growth. Persephone demonstrates Her equanimity through a bigness of being that is wise, powerful and loving enough to bridge and balance the divergent worlds of the death-centered Underworld and the life-centered sunlit realm.

This transformative magic equally applies to your spiritual pathwork. Whenever you consciously embrace and engage diverse, opposing parts of your Self and life story with equanimity, the miraculous happens. You heal, grow and evolve in powerful, new directions that can only arise out of the complexities and polarities of the wholeness that is your life.

4. Spiritual evolution is a journey toward wholeness.

In Her Underworld travels, Persephone reclaims the missing half of Her nature. Her maiden side lived in the realm of light and life, but She was incomplete without the part of Her that held the mysteries of the Underworld and Her experiences of death and suffering. Persephone isn’t one thing or another, but a wholeness that contains it all. In Spring, it’s Persephone’s wholeness, as the Queen of the Underworld and Goddess of Spring Growth, that reveal Her as a Goddess evolved into Her full maturity and powers.

Nature is this wholeness. It’s an ever-shifting balance and harmony of darkness and death with light and life. With the change of season, one state naturally steps into the foreground as the other recedes, but neither ever totally replaces the other, and both are absolutely essential and interdependent. It’s Nature’s wholeness that gives rise to springtime’s new, green growth.

You are this wholeness. Yet, like Persephone, you have lost connection with parts of your true nature. By seeking out these lost parts of your Self and life story in your inner darkness, and bringing them back to the light of your conscious engagement, you reclaim your innate wholeness woven of the fullness of your Self and life experiences of light and shadow, beauty and wounding, and love and suffering.

This spiritual pathwork of seeking and reclaiming will naturally change and evolve you, deepening your spiritual maturity and power, and granting you a sense of peace and rightness as you live in accordance with the rich, complex wholeness that is your innate, true, beautiful nature.

Further explore these transformative teachings through the Spring Journey: Your Spiritual Evolution. The Spring Journey guides you through seven, integrated lessons that take you into the depths of your springtime personal growth and spiritual evolution. Each lesson is complimented with an awareness practice and journaling task to help you experience the teaching for yourself, and apply it to your journey of soul and everyday life.

Your Spring Journey includes: two pdf ebooks: the Spring Journey Guidebook and Spring Journey Journal, and the Spring Journey Guided Meditation (mp3 audio).  The cost of this integrated Spring Journey package is $16.99.

Spring Journey – Your Spiritual Evolution: Embracing Your Life Story

Seek Out New Beginnings ~ Embrace Your Wholeness

~ Evolve Into Your Deep, Beautiful Self

Your Spring Journey awaits you!

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

An Imbolc Meditation: Light and Shadow of Soul Work

Imbolc Guided Meditation Excerpt from The Path of She Book of Sabbats.

On the eve of Imbolc, light a candle in a private corner of your home. Bring your face close and let its flame dance its teasing warmth across your skin. Track your breath, slow, slow in and slow, slow out, relaxing ever deeper into the physical movements of your body with breath.

Between the worlds at Imbolc, the Goddess Brigid waits for us, stoking Her sacred flame and tending Her holy forge, where the old is re-cast into the new.

Imagine your inner light and heat becoming stronger with every breath, just as the sun is becoming stronger with every day. Let this inner heat thaw the frozen-over places inside of you that hold your stagnation and resistance to change and new growth.

When you feel present and centered in your body, focus on the candle’s golden light; use its shimmering energies to shift your awareness to the place between the worlds where Brigid’s sacred flame burns brilliant and strong. Put your hands on your belly and sense the heat of Her fire infusing the seeds of your beauty and wounding that are stirring at this turning time, calling you to new growth and possibilities. Let these potent forces draw you to Her doorstep.

Now close your eyes and imagine yourself at the threshold of Brigid’s realm. There is a thick door in front of you, with a smooth-worn handle and a key poised within its lock. Place one hand on the handle and the other on the key. Take a few breaths to anchor once more in your center and to bring your complete attention to this moment.

Feel your hunger to shift your life in new, positive directions. Feel any pain or resistance that this hunger may trigger. Know that when you open this door and cross its threshold to stand before Brigid, you are choosing to heal and grow, bringing these light and shadow energies with you.

Make your next movements deliberate and conscious, a shifting from the winter-like stagnation of what you know into the spring-filled possibilities of what can be. Then turn the key, step through the door and find yourself fully present in Brigid’s sacred realm.

Imagine Brigid welcoming you with open arms. Take in the details of Her radiant beauty and the powerful energies of Her holy well and sacred flame. Orient yourself within Her realm and its potent magic that can make your life anew.

Ask Brigid to share with you Her gifts of inspiration and wisdom, and to help you better understand the seeds of your beauty and wounding that are driving your pathwork at this time.

Brigid leads you to Her scrying bowl, filled with the waters of Her holy well and lit by Her sacred flame. Merge with the flickering dance of flames across the flat, still surface of the water. Open your inner landscape to these heady powers, knowing that they can reveal the hidden knowledge within you and share healing visions of where your journey of soul will lead you next.

As Brigid’s holy waters divulge these secrets and visions, enter deeply into the stories woven into the seeds of your beauty and wounding. Information and insights can come to you in many ways: through visual imagery, a voice that speaks to you, or body sensations and energies. Fully engage whatever shows up, in whatever form. Take your time, ask questions, dive deep.

Decipher how these seeds manifest in your everyday life and the wide world around you, and how they inform your journey of soul. Seek out the parts of your Deep Self and life story that are calling for healing and reclaiming. Gather what insights you can on how to best tend these seeds and follow their lead in your emerging pathwork of new beginnings.

Notice on the wall behind you that your shadow shimmies and shifts in sync with the flames of Brigid’s forge. Light and shadow are partners in your soul work. What you have lost, your shadow remembers; what is most precious within you, your shadow protects; what you need to tend and heal, your shadow will bring to your attention. You cannot reclaim your beauty without your wounding, nor your joy without your pain.

Widen your heart to your shadow-side, accepting that everything you are and everything you have experienced, the good and the bad, the joyful and the painful, have brought you to this moment and serve as the raw materials of your greater becoming. Then turn your awareness back to Brigid’s scrying bowl. Ask it to reveal anything else you need to know at this time, including your imperfections, limitations and resistance that are the shadow reflections of your hunger for new beginnings.

These too are essential pieces of your journey of soul. When your scrying magic feels complete, step back from its potent energies and turn to face Brigid. You have a choice to make before you leave Her presence; you must decide, given all that you have been shown this Imbolc eve, whether you are ready to tend these stirring seeds within you, with your shadow-side as partner and ally.

Know that your yes is a vow that goes both ways; your pledge is to do the hard work of reclaiming a life of soul, and Brigid’s promise is to love and support you at every step on your way.

Speak your vow to Brigid; name the pathwork and new beginnings that you are ready to commit to in the coming Spring season. Feel the power of your vow amplified by the magic of Brigid’s forge, where the old is made anew. And sense the greater powers and mysteries, beyond the walls of Brigid’s realm, that heed your vow and align themselves in service of your greater becoming.

For a few more minutes, gaze into Brigid’s eyes; drink in the details of Her exquisite features and fill yourself up with the love that permeates every ounce of Her being. Then bring your time with Brigid to a close. Listen to Her final words of guidance and wisdom. Share your gratitude and love, and bid Her farewell. Then use your breath to bring yourself back into your physical body and waking reality.

Open your eyes and take in the dance of shadow and candlelight in the room. Feel this mirror dance inside of you, and in the world around you. There is no light without shadow, good without bad, nor joy without pain. In the coming months, as you nurture and grow the new beginnings you have committed yourself to this Imbolc eve, remember this essential, inescapable truth: you are woven of all these things, and of mysteries unknown still sleeping in the shadow realm, waiting for their quickening moment to return to the light.

Celebrate Imbolc

with the Path of She Book of Sabbats

Buy now at the Path Store

Artist: Sulamith Wulfing

A New Year’s Message from the Mysteries: Be Here Now

 

In late December, I decided to do a major house clean to have a fresh start to the new year. When moving a cabinet, I found a tiny fridge magnet amidst the dust and debris, with the single word —  “Here”.

Be here now is about process, not outcomes; it requires surrender and patience, not pushing and striving; it finds its roots in the will of the Mysteries.

I laughed out loud and immediately pinned this word up on my bulletin board as a reminder for the new year. The Mysteries, with their quirky, in-your-face communication style, were hammering home a message they’d been giving me over and over during the holiday season. In our community Yule and Winter Solstice celebrations, we have a tradition of pulling divination cards for the new year.  Every card I pulled was a version of a common theme: surrender to the process; have patience and await the will of the Mysteries; don’t lust after outcomes; something must die for something new to be reborn.

Be here now, the Mysteries are telling me. This “here and now” is about process, not outcomes; it requires surrender and patience, not pushing and striving; it finds its roots in the will of the Mysteries, within and without, not the personal will of ego and mind.

Here and now in the Northern Hemisphere, January is in the throes of the winter season. This is the time of the Dark Goddess and Her rebirth magic, where new beginnings arise from the vast unknown of the sacred dark, and death, endings and wounding are essential for the birth of new possibilities and growth.

Like so many people, I find January a trying month. I’ve already had enough of the dark, cold, dreary days, and crave the return of bright sunshine and warm weather. Though I’ve done my deep magic at the Winter Solstice, come January 1st, my New Year’s resolution mindset kicks in, shifting me into the outcome focus of goal setting and action taking.

Yet something else in me, more primal and wise, resists these outer-directed activities in favor of rest, simplicity and a slower, inside-out focus and pace. Every January, I struggle with these counter impulses: one arising from my cultural conditioning and the other from my soul-based knowing. I get the Mysteries’ message, loud and clear: this culture-soul split within me is my transformative edge and pathwork for the coming year (and beyond), as is the imperative to be here now, in presence and surrender to this journey that is my life.

Though this is most certainly a personal directive for me, it’s also a collective message for our spiritual pathwork in these edgy, world-changing times. When I open myself to this collective message from the Mysteries, this is what comes through.

1. The here and now encompasses the totality of our life experiences.

The here and now includes both the everyday reality of what we know and directly engage, and the vast expanse of the unseen and unknown.  It’s a whole, round, complex thing woven of the many strands of our life story and shared society: the light and the shadow; the beautiful and the wounding; the parts of us that we honor and cling to, and those that we repress and run from.

2. The here and now is a state of being.

To be here now requires that we be fully present — open, empty and curious — to this whole, round, complex thing that is our existence, and to the specifics of what is happening in and around us in real time. There’s no past, other than how it’s currently revealing itself, and there’s no future. All we ever truly have is this moment, then the next, and the next.  Like breath, the moments and specific times in our unfolding life are here and then gone, here and then gone, one naturally following the next, over and over and over.

3. Life-changing healing and transformation happen in the here and now.

In any given moment, exactly what we need to heal and grow stirs in our inner landscape and shows up on our doorstep. The kind of truth that can mend our soul and set us free is already here, poking and prodding us to pay attention and do our spiritual pathwork. This is here and now pathwork, requiring our full presence and commitment to: follow where this healing moment leads us; seek out the missing parts of our Self and life story that are ripe for our conscious engagement; and do the hard, wondrous work of transforming our life. One healing moment naturally leads to the next in this unfolding journey of soul.

4. To be in the here and now, we need to step past our cultural conditioning.

Our Western-world culture is the antithesis of the here and now. We fixate on a physical, intellectual version of reality that represses and fears the unseen and unknown, and the shadowy, wounded aspects of our personal life and shared humanity. We cling to the past, obsess about the future, and rarely find ourselves in the present moment. Our conception of change is all about ego, willpower and concrete outcomes, skimming the surface rather than engaging the depths and mysteries of true, transformative, here-and-now change. To be in the here and now, we need to shed our cultural conditioning, and learn new ways of understanding and engaging ourselves and our world.

5. The here and now is this present time and moment.

The Mysteries have impeccable timing. They’re delivering this collective message in this present time of the winter season, with its Dark Goddess mysteries of the sacred dark and rebirth magic that can help us step past our cultural conditioning, and step into a greater reality and way of being that are in alignment with the here and now.

The Dark Goddess takes us into the depths of the sacred dark, within and without, where we can reclaim what our culture has taught us to deny and reject: the mysteries of the unseen and unknown; the shadow and wounding of our life story and collective humanity; and the lost treasures of our secret desires, sleeping beauty and dormant potential. This spiritual pathwork is truly of the here and now, requiring a loving presence of emptiness and curiosity, and an unwavering commitment to seek out the greater truths that are the lost strands of the here and now of our life, and the deep roots of our transformative change at this time.

The Mysteries offer us this message in this now moment as this year of world-changing turbulence and disruption, comes to a close, and the new year begins with an edge that promises more of the same. Change is coming, deep, fast and bumpy, and the stakes have never been higher, personally and collectively.

Be here now, the Mysteries urge. Show up to your personal version of the culture-soul split that is your transformative edge and pathwork for the coming year (and beyond). Embrace the Dark Goddess mysteries of the sacred dark and rebirth magic. Let Her guide you in the ways and skills of the here and now, and help you to discover the very things that can mend your soul, and birth a better, more positive, loving and sustainable human society at this time.

Whatever you need to heal what is broken, inside and outside, awaits you in the vast unknown of the sacred dark. Whatever is coming next will be reborn from this whole, round, complex weaving of the here and now of your life and our world. This is the transformative, rebirth magic of these here and now times.


If you’d like to further explore this winter season pathwork with the Dark Goddess, check out the latest offering in the Path of She Guided Journey Series:

Winter Journey – Your Rebirth Magic: Braving Your Inner Darkness

Turn Inwards ~ Discover Your Rebirth Magic ~ Make Your Life Anew

Let the Dark Goddess be your guide in this season of the sacred dark and magic of rebirth.

Your Winter Journey includes seven lessons with integrated teachings, exercises and journal tasks in:  the Winter Journey Guidebook (pdf ebook), Winter Journey Journal (pdf ebook), and Winter Journey Guided Meditation (mp3 audio).

Artwork by Kathleen Farago

Your Rebirth Magic: Four Transformational Lessons for the Winter Season

Winter can be an edgy time.  Nature strips itself bare in the face of harsh conditions of darkness, cold, death and scarcity.  These natural occurrences can trigger our primal fears of darkness, death, and the loss and suffering that come with our mortality. Our winter-season spiritual work can also be edgy as we turn inward to the dark, hidden places in our inner landscape, and come up against the painful, vulnerable parts of our life story.

It’s this very edginess that makes Winter one of the most powerful times of the year for transformational pathwork. Winter is the season of the Dark Goddess and Her rebirth magic. From darkness and death, new light and life are reborn. From the dark night of our personal wounding, we reclaim and rebirth our true, beautiful Self.

Here are four transformational lessons for your personal rebirth magic in the winter season.

1. Your personal rebirth magic arises from the depths of your inner darkness.   

Rebirth is a potent magic. It offers profound transformational change that can make your life anew. This magic doesn’t come from an outside source, nor from the things you already know and understand about yourself and your life. Rebirth is a special kind of transformative magic that emerges from the lost, forgotten and denied parts of your life story, secreted away in the dark folds of your inner landscape.

In Winter, Nature reveals the powerful workings of the Dark Goddess’s rebirth magic.  Beneath the outer dormancy and death of the natural realm, the seeds of Spring’s new growth gestate in the dark belly of the Earth. On the Winter Solstice, the darkest night births forth the light of the new solar year. Life and light are reborn from death and darkness.

So too the seeds of your personal rebirth magic gestate in the depths of your inner darkness.  Here you can discover the lost parts of your life story that hold the seeds of your beauty and wounding that are stirring at this time, waiting for the awakening touch of your conscious awareness and love.

Together these seeds can illuminate and guide your healing and personal growth in the months to come. When you find and reclaim your wounding, you awaken and reclaim your beauty. Just as life and light are reborn from death and darkness, so too your true beauty is reborn from your deep wounding — this is the personal rebirth magic that can make your life anew.

2. Your wounded self is your ally, not your enemy, on your journey of soul.

When you turn to your inner darkness in search of the deep roots of your healing and personal growth, you’re going to encounter your wounded self.  This is the part of you that carries your experiences and stories of loss, pain and sorrow, as well as your personal dysfunctions and tangled emotions related to your wounding experiences.

Our culture teaches us to fear and repress our wounding, and to run as fast as we can in the other direction. Yet none of this works, and will only block and delay your healing and personal growth.

Your wounded self isn’t your enemy. It’s the part of you that is the guardian and protector of your beauty, and the tender, vulnerable places inside of you. It learned how to cope, and sometimes even thrive, in the face of adversity. It remembers the truth of what happened to you, and the lost stories that can heal and set you free.

To embrace your rebirth magic is to make an ally of your wounded self. This part of you has suffered on your behalf, and deserves your love and tender attention. As your cherished partner on your journey of soul, your wounded self can guide your way through a painful, limiting past and into a new, more positive and empowering future.

3. To transform your life, you need to cultivate inner emptiness: a silent, fertile space of what else is true and possible.

If you truly want to transform your life, you need to learn to cultivate inner silence and emptiness. Profound change, the kind the can make your life anew, happens when you step past the stuff-filled space of what you know, and your busy, noisy mind, into the open, empty space of greater truth and possibilities.

The rebirth magic of the Dark Goddess requires you to show up to the raw, naked truth of your life story, beyond illusion, mind, ego and judgments. Nature in Winter is a living example of this inward-focused state of deep silence and stillness, with its outer manifestations stripped bare and dormant.

When you achieve this inner emptiness, you also become your own sacred witness — a silent, loving presence that watches whatever shows up in your inner emptiness, with curiosity, compassion, respect and gratitude. The silent witness doesn’t judge, take action or seek resolution.

Though these skills aren’t easy to master, they’re invaluable to your spiritual pathwork, and the ongoing challenges of your everyday life. What happens in this convergence of inner emptiness and sacred witness is transformational magic: whatever you need to focus on in your life, right now, shows up to guide your healing and personal evolution.

4. Whatever shows up is your work of soul at this time.

You are master of your own journey of soul, working at the level of depth and pace that are right for you. Self-care and self-responsibility are essential to your spiritual pathwork. And you always have a choice whether or not to do the soul work that shows up in your inner emptiness and explorations of your inner darkness. But you don’t control what shows up.

Spiritual pathwork isn’t always pretty or easy. Death, endings, loss, wounding, shadow — these are part of our human experiences, and the reality that governs all things of the living Earth. Try as we might, we can’t escape them. Instead, we need to embrace these aspects of our soul work as our teachers and guides in the hard, wondrous pathwork of healing and transformation.

Life is meant to be a tricky, bumpy business. Great beauty, wisdom, complexity and resilience can emerge from the depths of our struggles. And sometimes things have to end, to die, for something new to be born. This is just how things are, inevitable, inescapable and essential for our healing and personal growth.

In your rebirth pathwork, honor that whatever shows up is your soul work at this time. Let your wounding and your beauty inform and guide your spiritual journey in the months to come. Expect things to be messy, challenging and confusing, as well as inspiring, breathtaking and life changing. Your life story, everything you’ve experienced, the beautiful and the wounding, matter; it’s the very stuff of your rebirth magic that can mend your soul and make your life anew.

Winter Journey – Your Rebirth Magic: Braving Your Inner Darkness

Turn Inwards ~ Discover Your Rebirth Magic ~ Make Your Life Anew

Let the Dark Goddess and Nature guide you in this season of darkness, death and rebirth magic.

Your Winter Journey includes: two pdf ebooks the Winter Journey Guidebook and Winter Journey Journal, and the Winter Journey Guided Meditation (mp3 audio).

 

 

[/winter]

Making Magic: A Tender’s View of a Samhain Ritual

We gather in a heritage hall on my island home for our Samhain ritual.  Warm bodies squeeze close together to form a circle of pagan and non-pagan folks, grownups and children, and even a couple of dogs, with the room filled to capacity.

It’s been a hard, heartbreaking year for our community. There have been many deaths. The Ancestors altar is covered with photographs and mementos of those that have passed. I feel this collective grief in my own heart and in this gathering. Samhain is the time when we honor and name those we’ve lost this year and commune with our Beloved Dead.

As a Tender for our community ritual, my role is to be a guardian and observer as we enter the mysterious, powerful, sorrowful experience of Samhain.

Photo Credit: Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

Yet there’s more than grief and loss in the room. At the opposite end of the cycle of life are the youth, our children, and the souls waiting to be born. These beings we honor on the Descendants altar and through the naming of the newborns this year.

I stand beside the Ancestors altar with another priestess. Across the circle from us, two priestesses stay by the Descendants altar. The four us will be calling in the Ancestors and Descendants, and then shifting into paired partners of Deep Witness and Tender.

The Deep Witnesses don’t actively participate in the ritual. They sit — veiled, empty and silent — acting as anchors and observers of the deep dream of our magic. I’m one of the Tenders. Our priestess role is to support and protect our Deep Witness, and to stay by her side for the duration of the ritual.

As the ritual begins, I notice that I feel different than my usual, high-intensity magical engagement. I’m somber, watchful and empty present — a guardian and observer of the Deep Witness and our community as we enter the powerful, mysterious and mournful experience of Samhain.

Together we create sacred space. The circle is cast. We ground.  The Elements are called in through song.  Goddesses and other Mysteries are invoked.  Our priestess group calls in the Ancestors and Descendants.

I listen from the edge of the action, attuned to the movements of bodies, weaving of energy, and quality of presence, more than the individual words and actions.  I step forward to do my calling in task and then settle into my role as Tender.

We move on to the reading of the names of the dead who have passed this year — what is remembered lives. And the dead come, slipping past the veil that separates us, to drink of our grief, our love, and our honoring.

I notice how natural this is, how right for us to be with our honored dead in these ways. They move among us, touching the faces of their beloved kin with their hands of light, soothing the broken hearts of those left behind, letting us know that they are still with us, just a thought, a name, a song away.

Two priestesses begin to trace a path in the center of the circle, one drumming and together weaving a hauntingly beautiful guided trance to the Isle of Apples, the Pagan Land of the Dead.  Everyone settles into a comfortable position and makes their way to the blessed Isle to commune with their Beloved Dead.

The Sacred Witnesses don’t make this journey, nor do we, their Tenders. Together we anchor this magical circle, while the Sacred Witnesses hold vigil and observe all with their dream eyes. My only job is to stand guard. I don’t pry into the visioning of the ritual participants, nor of the Sacred Witnesses. Whatever is happening here is intensely soul-to-soul private.

I notice a current of power that runs between the two Sacred Witnesses: one an anchor for the lineage of Ancestors that stretches into the far distant past, and the other an anchor for the lineage of Descendants that reaches into the far distant future. I sway back and forth, back and forth, my movements an involuntary response to the magnetic pulse of whole time, where the future and the past are both present in this now moment, and the yet to be born, the dead and the living share this communal, magical space.

The two priestesses speak once more, calling the ritual participants to rise up and dance the Spiral Dance with their Beloved Dead, and with the Souls of the Unborn who also reside on the Isle of Apples. Hand to hand, the dancers form a moving spiral that turns inward toward the circle center, and then back outward again. Dancers pass each other by, shining face to shining face, with voices raised in song.

I first notice how crowded the space is, not only with the living, but also with our unseen guests of the Beloved Dead and the Unborn. My guardian instincts kick in, and I expand my energy to create a protective barrier between the Sacred Witness and the dancers.

Yet the Sacred Witness is unfazed. She rocks and sways with the music and building energy of the dance. This energy is immense, intense, but also peaceful, harmonious, and so, so heart-wrenching.

Tears run down my cheeks. Love is what fills this room, overflowing from heart to heart. Love that joins us all in this raw, bittersweet dance of death, life and birth.

This is how we hold our grief and losses; with this much love, power and presence. We are one community: the living, the dead and the yet to be born. The spiral dance is life itself, a turning into and out of the mortal coil of our flesh and bones form.

As the Spiral Dance and guided journey come to a close with words of parting and gratitude for the Beloved Dead and the Unborn, it’s time to honor and name the newborns for this year, and to circle back to the celebratory beginnings of life.

Then there’s one last task before the circle is opened: the Deep Witnesses speak on behalf of the Ancestors and Descendants.

The Ancestors remind us that we are each a light in these dark times, and we must shine our brightest to make this world a better place. The Descendants tell us that special souls are being born to this world, and that we must make space for them and heed their teachings.

I notice how everyone in the room turns their rapt attention to the Deep Witnesses as they speak. When the Mysteries walk among us, our only job is to listen to the power of their voices, and the hope in their messages. The Ancestors and Descendants leave us with sacred responsibilities: to show up as our bright shining Selves, and to welcome and honor the newborns and our children as teachers and guides. This is how we can mend and remake our world for the better.

For this Samhain eve, our magic is done. We devoke, thanking and saying goodbye to all that we’ve called in. Priestesses and participants alike are called back from the Mysteries to return to the waking world. Our circle is opened, yet unbroken.

As a community, we share food and conversation afterwards, and I continue my Tender duties until my priestess companion is fully returned from her Deep Witness journey and grounded in her human form. Then it’s time to go home, nourished, healed and transformed by our evening of magic.

The next day, I notice that I’m filled with a profound sense of well-being and wholeness. Magic makes me whole. Honoring death, loss and grief makes me whole. Deep communion with the Beloved Dead, the Unborn, the Ancestors and Descendants makes me whole. Sharing these essential things with my community makes me whole. Love makes me whole.

Let this wholeness be our prayer and our practice in the year to come.

Honor the Mysteries of the Sabbats

with the Path of She Book of Sabbats. 

Buy now at the Path Store.

Ritual Credit: This Samhain ritual practice arises out of the Reclaiming Tradition of Witchcraft.