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Pagan Dreamer: The Foxglove and Your Healing Heart

Posted on:  May 28, 2022 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Pagan Dreamer

The Dream 

I wake, still immersed in that liquid, open state between dreaming and waking, while last night’s dream replays in my mind. It’s a complicated dream about white candle magic and negative energy. One image stands out and demands my attention — a black vase with a single, long stem covered with small, hot pink flowers. I don’t recognize what kind of a flower it is, but I sense that it’s dangerous and really shouldn’t be in my house.

Open to the dream teaching of the foxglove, with its stunning beauty and potent powers: love heals, but only with a strong heart that honors light and shadow.

Photo by Slawek K

I don’t know why the flower is important or how it fits with the rest of my dream, and that’s okay. My mind has learned to be quiet in the presence of mystery, knowing that if it can reign in its compulsion to order and understand things, great jewels of learning will come.

Later in the day, I set out on my afternoon walk. As I step off the trail and onto the road, a single foxglove, with its long stem of small, hot pink flowers is waiting for me. This is unquestionably the flower from my dream — a thing of both beauty and danger, with stunning bell-shaped flowers that entice humans and wild things alike, and with an extreme poison that can be transformed into the potent heart medicine, digitalis.

I stop in my tracks and smile. This is pagan dreaming at its finest and I see that the foxglove has shown up to teach me something important.

As a pagan dreamer, I call this a between-the-worlds moment where the edges have blurred between physical and dreaming realities. The foxglove has crossed over the energetic realm of the dreaming and taken form on the physical plane. How this happened doesn’t matter. It may have arrived by synchronicity or appeared out of thin air. Regardless, the mystery of dream reality is at work and has my full attention.

Dream Teaching

As a seasoned student of the mysteries, I do what I always do when a powerful teacher reaches out from the dreaming and shows up on my path: I open my journal book, take a few deep, grounding breaths, and write an open question on the top of my blank page, in this case: what is the gift of your appearance in my life? Then I empty my mind and let my foxglove teacher speak.

This is what the foxglove has to say:

“I’m a powerful, dangerous medicine that can strengthen your heart. Your dream is about the limitations of the idea so prevalent today that love and beauty heal all.

Beauty does heal. Love does heal.  But only when you honor that the heart can differentiate healing from poison. There are negative forces in this world. Everything has a dual nature that can heal or harm. A strong heart has a love that recognizes shadow. This is what can heal the world.

Summer is a season of light and life, and a time to share your beauty and love with the world. Be a thing of beauty, but acknowledge shadow and toxicity. To walk the path of beauty and love, your strong heart must be big and wise enough to hold it all.

This is the gift and teaching of my presence in your dream.”

Lesson in Pagan Dreaming: Dream Etiquette 

As I share this dream with you, it comes to me that the foxglove is a perfect teacher in dream etiquette.

Where I live, foxgloves grow wild. They’re tall, imposing beauties, reaching heights of over six feet. Given their potent medicinal properties, the wise don’t touch them or cut stems for flower arrangements. These are power plants that can either harm or heal, not pretty, whimsical flowers. Long associated with the faerie realm and magic, the foxglove demands respect, whether encountered in physical reality or the realm of dreaming.

Your dreams are like foxgloves: beautiful, powerful gifts from the wild, undomesticated places in your psyche and the vast mysteries of this world. Dreams aren’t meant to be trivialized and ignored. They’re not the whimsical, nonsensical creations of your sleeping mind. They’re full of powerful medicine that can mend your heart and soul, if you consciously engage them with respect.

Dreams are your teachers on your journey of healing and personal growth. When an honored teacher shows up in your dreams, dream etiquette calls you to become the respectful student: humble, empty, curious and grateful.

But you don’t have to give your power away to your dreams, nor surrender your ability to discern positive versus negative energies that may come to you in the dreamtime. Remember the foxglove’s teaching about the strong heart, and meet your dreamwork with a love that recognizes shadow and is big and wise enough to hold it all.

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Wake-Up Calls: Taking Your Life In Soulful, New Directions

Posted on:  Apr 8, 2022 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Path Basics, Pathwork

Our shared culture is like a sleeping spell that disconnects us from our Deep Self that holds our true beauty, unique essence and authentic humanity. As children, we’re not asleep; we naturally, innocently express our true beauty and inclinations. And then slowly, relentlessly, the forces of culture — through our families, school, the media and countless other aspects of our shared outer reality  —  domesticate our free spirits and lull us to sleep by telling us, over and over,  how we’re meant to believe, think and live our life. By the time we reach adulthood, most of us have lost our roots in our Deep Self and are fast asleep within cultural-defined reality.

A wake-up call is an unexpected, often startling event and profound gift that prods us to remember who we truly are and take our life in soulful, new directions.

Artist: Igor Morski

Yet our soul longs for an authentic life, where our outer existence is a natural expression of our Deep Self. Though our waking mind may be asleep to these things, our soul remembers who we are and the life we long for. It speaks to us through our most secret, cherished desires, the things that give us joy and satisfaction, and in a restless hunger for something missing from our life that we can sense but often not name.

From the midst of these opposing energies, wake-up calls emerge.

A wake-up call is an unexpected, often startling event that prods us to remember who we truly are and to take our life in soulful, new directions.

It can take on many forms: from something as dramatic as an accident or illness, to something more subtle, like a gnawing, brewing discontent that just won’t go away. Big or small, direct or subtle, drawn from the familiar or the wildly unexpected, wake-up calls are profound gifts that offer healing and transformative change.

Recognizing Wake-Up Calls

The intention of this exercise is to heighten your awareness of the presence and impact of wake-up calls in your life transitions. With this awareness, you can become more attuned to the small and large ways your Deep Self and the powers of life work together to shake you awake and steer you in a more positive, soulful direction.

Wake-ups calls are typically best understood in retrospect. With this in mind, this exercise will focus on a life-changing event from your past.

1. Consider a time when your life made a significant change in direction, positive or negative.

How did your life change direction at this time? What did this change look like?

Think back to the circumstances surrounding this change in direction. What was happening at this time that was shaking up your life?  Identify a specific event, positive or negative, that initiated this change process.

What was this event? How did it impact you? What did you learn? How did this specific event initiate a change in direction for you?

2. If this first approach doesn’t work for you, consider a time when you were experiencing a dramatic event in your life, either positive or negative.

Name and remember the details of this event. What happened? How did it impact your life circumstances?

What did you learn from this event?

What happened after the event? What changes did you initiate? How did you take your life in a new direction?

3. Compare your life before and after the change in direction or dramatic event that you discovered in Step 1 or Step 2.

What key parts of your life changed? What new insights and experiences came to you? How did these things shift your self-awareness, beliefs, values and life choices? What did you discover about the things that matter most to you, and that give you joy and satisfaction?

As you answer these questions, dig beneath the surface, seeking out the voice and longings of your soul within these life changes.

You may have to work harder to root out your soul’s voice if your life made a negative change in direction, but it’s there. Where there’s a big life shift, you’ll find the presence and longings of soul.

4. Embrace the notion that the event you’ve named and explored in these life transitions is indeed a wake-up call.

When you embrace the notion of wake-up calls, you acknowledge that the events of your life have deeper meaning and purpose.  Life isn’t something that happens to you; instead it’s a purposeful journey with events and situations to further your healing and personal growth.

For this exercise, witness and honor the gift of your wake-up call as the impetus for learning, growth and taking your life in a new, soulful direction.

The self-awareness focus in this exercise can be used not only for big, life-changing events but also for the whispers of your soul in the smaller, more subtle impetuses to take your life in new directions.

The more you can heed these whispers and increase the fluidity of your responses, the less you’ll need big dramas and consequences to drive your healing and pathwork process —  because every moment is really a wake-up call to rub the sleep from your eyes that blurs your vision and blocks you from a full, beautiful life of soul.

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Your Rebirth Magic: Four Transformational Lessons for the Winter Season

Posted on:  Dec 5, 2021 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Sabbats

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).

 

 

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An Ancestral Teaching: My Body of the Ancestors

Posted on:  Oct 7, 2021 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Goddess

A Spiritual Journey to the Land of the Ancestors

It’s day one of my spiritual retreat, and time for our morning learning circle.  I’m part of the Ancestors Path that meets in the shade of a mighty willow tree, with a pristine mountain lake and craggy peaks to one side, and untamed West Coast rainforest to the other.

Our teacher leads us on a guided trance. We’re going to meet our psychopomp: our personal spiritual guide in the land of the dead, and then journey with this ally to connect with the Ancestors.

My body is the body of the Ancestors: the Ancestors are alive in my body, and through my body and lived experiences, I can heal and transform my ancestral line.

In the trance, I come to an ancient wooden door. There’s a key in a lock, the key of conscious choice, that I turn and then enter the space beyond.  I find myself on silver, shining path suspended in a black void — a vast, fertile emptiness of infinite possibilities.

My psychopomp meets me on this silver path. She takes the form of a sleek black panther who greets me by placing a paw on each shoulder. Even though I’ve never worked with a psychopomp before, my soul immediately recognizes my spiritual guide as an old ally and friend.

The teacher continues the guided trance, and tells us to seek out the land of our Ancestors with our psychopomp.

So I climb onto my panther companion’s back, and as we begin to walk, she says me: “the land of the Ancestors that calls to you is your own physical body. Your body is the body of the Ancestors, and each part is connected to a different piece of your ancestral story.”

Although there’s more to this guided-trance experience, this one, crystal-clear insight stayed with me: my body is the body of the Ancestors.

My Body is the Body of the Ancestors

On a surface level, this may seem like an obvious statement. My physical form is the result of the coming together of the DNA of my parents, and this DNA holds the material characteristics of the generations that went before me.

But below the obvious is something far more profound and life changing: the Ancestors are still alive in my body, and through my body and lived experiences, I can heal and transform my ancestral line.

In simple terms, this means who I am, how I live, what I give my attention to, how much I let the past and my family patterns determine my now thoughts and actions, and the myriad of other big and small life choices and experiences that make up my everyday existence matter deeply.

Each of us inherits not only the physical DNA of our family lines, but also the energetic DNA of generational stories and experiences, especially those of trauma. For many of us, it’s the unacknowledged trauma, passed on generation after generation, that’s our shadow partner in life. These things live on in our body and life choices.  And they can also end, be healed and transformed, through our body and life choices.

Beyond the trauma, how I care for my body speaks to how I treat the body of my Ancestors. Giving my body the food, sleep, relaxation, exercise and pleasure it needs to be happy and healthy are the ways I honor myself and my Ancestors, and how I show respect and gratitude for the precious gift of life and physical form that my Ancestors have given me.

This body of mine, the body of my Ancestors, is a great responsibility.  It’s a miracle — a living, unfolding story  — an opportunity for healing, growth and transformation  — an invitation to joy, pleasure and love. Our Ancestors in the land of the dead no longer have access to this gift and miracle. There are things that they can’t undo, can’t experience, can’t touch and care for.  Yet I can do these things on behalf of my Ancestors and family line.

My Body Is an Ancestor in the Making

Life is short, and there will come a time when I’ll leave this world and join the ranks of the Ancestors.  My physical body will be gone, but what I did with my body in this lifetime will continue on in the energetic DNA I leave behind.  I can pass on the energetic lineage I inherited, or I can make this DNA anew, and gift the Descendants in my family line with something more healed and whole.

Perhaps more importantly, my son and the younger generation in my family witness and absorb how I’m living my life now.  All the things I do, or don’t do, to respect and honor my body, and the gift of my life are on full display to the Descendants of my family line.

My body is an Ancestor in the making, and this too is a great responsibility.

No one can live a perfect life. These insights from the Ancestors aren’t coming to me as a burden, or to increase my self-judgment and guilt.  Instead the Ancestors are calling me to claim and rejoice in this precious body and life of mine, and to know that I have a great responsibility to them, to my Descendants, and to myself.

As always, the lessons from the dead remind us how to live.

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Photo Credit: Benji Aird on Unsplash

Be Love: A Meditation Exercise

Posted on:  Feb 14, 2021 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Goddess, Pathwork

The Goddess tells me one thing over and over again: to heal and evolve this world, we need to become something different. We need to be love.

Though these words sound simple, what do they really mean? What is this love? And how do we go about being love?

Love is woven into the fabric of existence, inside and all around us. We are this love. Our very being is made of its golden strands, and our sacred purpose is to be love.

What Is this Love?

To answer the question: what is this love, I have to tell you a story.

I was attending a workshop on the Buddha’s doctrines on love. As the teacher delivered his dharma talk on this topic, I shifted into a meditative state and opened to this love he spoke about.

What I experienced wasn’t an idea or an emotion, but more a place or part of my being where I was love. My whole being was infused with an absolute peace and acceptance of everything and everyone. There was no separation between me and this love; it was in me and outside of me at the same time, everywhere and in all things.

Later, in my connection with the Goddess, I came to understand this place or part of me as the golden love of the Goddess that had little to do with my pre-conceived notions of love, and everything to do with my direct experience in the Buddhist workshop.

This isn’t the romantic love of Hallmark Valentine’s Day cards, nor a warm, enveloping, motherly love, but something woven into the very fabric of existence — sometimes fierce, tugging and unrelenting, like the ocean calling us back to its life-sustaining waters — sometimes hot, sensual, igniting, like the skin-on-skin of a lover’s touch — other times gentle, accepting, peaceful, like the hands of the Goddess cupping us in their infinite interior — always as close and intimate as our breath, yet also way beyond our limited human conception of things — something of soul, of body, of experience, not mind.

What I know, beyond all doubt, is that we are this love. Our very beings are woven of its golden strands, and our most sacred purpose is to be love.

How Do You Go About Being Love?

To answer the question: how do you go about being love, I offer you a meditation exercise.

1. Start with a simple breath meditation.

Take several full, deep breaths, following the sounds and movements of your inhalations and exhalations. Feel your body soften.  Empty your mind of thoughts and worries.  Relax.

2. Turn your awareness inward.

Imagine stepping away from your mind’s way of understanding the world, and into the vast wisdom and knowing of your body and soul.  Ask to be shown the love that you are. Keep your focus on your breath, with your body soft and your mind quiet and curious, and see what comes to you.

The challenge in this exercise is to get completely out of your own way, letting go of all preconceived notions and expectations, including the story I have just told you.

Be profoundly still and open, and let the love pour into this emptiness.

3. Bring this exercise to a close.

Before you complete your meditation, imagine lighting up your whole being — mind, body and soul — with the golden energy of this love. Totally immerse yourself in the love that you are, and the love that is everywhere and in all things.

Let this connection change you, in whatever way is good and right for you at this moment.

When you are done, use your breath to fully return to your physical form and waking consciousness. Pat your body and say your name out loud. Then slowly, softly get up and continue on with your day.

In the days that follow, and every time you do this meditation, pay attention to any shifts in how you conceive and engage yourself and your outer existence. Set the intention to embody and experience this golden love of the Goddess in your everyday life.

Trust that these things will change you in profound ways. You’re healing and evolving yourself and our world. You are being love.

Artist Unknown