You are viewing the "pagan" Archives
Posted on:  Oct 7, 2021 @ 10:00 Posted in:  GoddessA 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Photo Credit: Benji Aird on Unsplash
Posted on:  Aug 25, 2021 @ 12:00 Posted in:  Pagan DreamerThe Dream
Bono from U2 is my lover. He brings me on stage at a concert and delights in my beauty which reaches outward from my luminescent center and shines through my skin. He kisses me, deeply, passionately, activating his own inner, shining beauty. Then he performs a song called: Being With My Soul’s Deepest Love. I lay my hands on his back and send our joined energies out into the audience. As the last note slips into silence, Bono shuts off all of the lights, blanketing the stadium in an inky backdrop for the dazzling brilliance of the combined shining of each and every member of the audience.
This is a dream I had many years ago that I loved so much, it was the basis of my first Path of She blog post. It’s teaching is simple: you are infinitely beautiful and infinitely worthy, beyond your wildest imagination.
I return to this dream teaching over and over again in my writing and my personal journey of soul. The dream came back to me recently in my efforts to come to grips with the deluge of fear and negativity that has become the norm of the daily news cycle. I ask myself constantly: how can I and others become a positive force in the face of the destructive and reprehensible aspects of our human nature that seem to dominant our shared society.
And I return always to the same themes of our innate beauty, love and goodness as powers that can change the world for the better.
In this dream, the shining beauty of one person is infectious. I light up Bono and Bono lights up the whole stadium. This isn’t because we are the stars of this show, shining brighter than everyone else, but because we offer an invitation, by shining our beauty outward, that draws forth the shining beauty of everyone else.
Right now human society needs all of us to be this invitation to others. To do this, we must fall in love with ourselves, embrace our star-bright beauty and shine it outward into a hungry and waiting world. When you shine, you invite others to shine, and they invite others in turn. In this way, we can light up the whole world.
This doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need a stage or a voice like Bono’s. You can start with the simple and the everyday. Choose the things that give you joy. Give time and effort to the things you’re good at. Share these good things with others. Make gratitude your first response to whatever life brings your way. Shower others with kindness. Appreciate and receive the beauty of others.
When faced with the worst side of our humanity, offer up your best in response. Love to combat hate. Inclusion to resist discrimination. Peace to soothe conflict. Beauty as an offering to horror. Generosity as a remedy to greed. Compassion to embrace suffering. Dispel fear with hope, with laughter, with creativity, with love, with every beauty tool you can imagine and lay your hands on.
Most of all, believe in the best of yourself and our humanity. Believe that each us has a shining fragment of the Cosmos in our core that’s our special gift to share with the world. Believe that we can choose and live from the very best of our human nature. Believe that you matter, that you can make a difference in the small and big ways you live your life and engage your greater community. Believe that your shining is infectious and can send a ripple outward that will draw out the shining of others. Believe that when we shine together, we’re an unbeatable counterforce to the fear, destruction and negativity that plague our human society and Earth home. Believe these things and then act on them.
Every act you do, every choice you make, every thought and vibe that goes outward into the listening Universe can be your offering of beauty to this world and your invitation to others to shine by your side.Lesson in Pagan Dreaming
Dreams can change our life and this world. The Mysteries and our soul offer us powerful teachings through dream stories and images that can cut straight through our mental barriers, and plant seeds that continue to grow and blossom in us for years.
We feel the power of these dreams upon waking. We return to them again and again, or they show up years later, seemingly out of the blue, once more inspiring us with their perfect, powerful message.
In recent months, big dreams that I had many years ago are coming back to me. And I’m seeing how the seeds they planted long ago have directed and shaped my life’s journey. Some were a foreshadowing of this time of great turmoil and change. Each is a treasure — an affirmation and guiding force that show me that the Mysteries and our souls have a strong hand in our destiny and that their deep intention is to help us heal and grow into our very best, beautiful selves.
This is such a dream. I offer it as an invitation for you to join me, and so many others, in sharing our soul’s deepest love, our best, shining beauty, with a world that is hungry and waiting for our combined, dazzling brilliance.
Artwork by Jimmy Lawlor
Excerpt from The Path of She Book of Sabbats.
On the day of Lammas, as the sun begins its descent to the horizon, find a place indoors or outdoors where you can feel the warmth of sunshine on your skin. Make yourself comfortable and ensure that the space and your time will be private and uninterrupted.
Close your eyes and begin to track the movement and energies of your breath. On your in-breath, sink deep, deep inside of yourself and anchor within the core of your being. On your out-breath, feel your inner energies reaching beyond your skin, mingling and communing with the outer world. On your return in-breath, draw these outer encounters back inside yourself, rich with the information and energies of your dance with otherness.
Continue to bring this quality of awareness to the movements and turnings of your breath, inner to outer and back to inner again. On your out-breaths, open yourself to the seasonal energies of Lammas, with Summer still hot upon the land, but with the powers of darkness waxing. On your return in-breath, draw in the smells of the sun-baked land, the changing quality of the light and however else late Summer manifests in your part of the world.
When you feel filled up with these powerful Lammas energies, let them paint for you a flat hilltop with an expansive view of the surrounding landscape. Imagine a sunset-hued sky, with the sun descending toward the horizon. Then sense Lugh appear at your side.
Turn to face Lugh; take in the color of His eyes and hair, the look of His face and form, and the feel of His warm, all-encompassing presence. Clasp Lugh’s hands in yours; feel His strong grip and the powerful currents that course through His fingertips — His are skilled, knowing hands that wisely wield the sword that brings death to ensure the wellness and renewal of the whole. Commune with Lugh, sharing words of welcome and connection.
Lugh directs your awareness to the viewscape before you. See an expanse of cultivated land ready for harvest. This is the golden field of your life story that can show you many things, from pieces of your story and soul work that span your entire lifetime or that have come to light in your recent pathwork. It can reveal the micro details of a single memory, or the wider vista of your place and part in the weaving of greater human society. This field resides within you and is reflected in the outer manifestations of your life. It is always present, a storehouse of information and remembrances, to help you make brave, wise choices on your journey of soul.
With a palm held flat against your mid-back, Lugh fills you up with His wise knowing and truth-seeing powers. A beautiful sword, shining and sharp-edged, appears in your hand. When you gaze down at the surrounding landscape, it is as if you can see into the very heart and necessity of things.
Open yourself to whatever the field shares with you in whatever form, be it words, images, sensations, emotions, memories, insights or information. Breathe these things deep into your body, ingesting their healing, transformative lessons, and letting them nourish and change you.
With your sword, carefully, lovingly cut away the old pieces of your personal story and patterns that must now die away. Offer up this sacred chaff to the Mother Earth, knowing that She will honor your sacrifices and endings by transforming what you have cut away, in Her great composting belly, in service of new life.
Tenderly gather up the seeds of new beginnings and possibilities that reveal themselves in your winnowing work. For now, let the seeds be and do not probe any further into their contents. Hold them close to your heart, infusing them with your love and commit to follow where they lead in the next cycle of your journey of soul.
Take as long as you need for these essential Lammas tasks.
Through His touch, your awareness widens and you take in the whole of Mother Earth. You are a part of Her, and She is a part of you. Let yourself fully feel the power and importance of this primal connection; the Earth’s breath is your breath; Her body is your body; Her well-being and stability are inseparable from yours, and your healing and transformation are Hers.
As your Lammas work draws to a close, visualize the last rays of sunlight melding with the contours of the landscape before you. With every passing day, the power of the sun fades and diminishes, and the seasons of darkness and death fast approach.
A parting is upon you, for it is time to say goodbye to Lugh. Gaze upon His beautiful face, His love radiant still in the encroaching darkness. Share with Him your gratitude for His guidance and wisdom, and wish Him farewell.
The sun dips below the horizon and Lugh is gone, taking His sword with Him. Yet your hands are not empty. In their cupped interior are shining seeds that hold the dormant magic of your pathwork to come.
Let your hilltop vision fade away, and use your breath to bring you back into your physical body and waking reality. When you open your eyes, take in the quality of the light as darkness begins to descend around you. As you finish your meditation, take a few minutes to check in with your emotions.
Lammas can be a time of loss and sadness, and it also brings joy and hope. From endings and death, new life emerges. So the world and your life are forever renewed in the waning light of Lammas.
Celebrate Lammas with the Path of She Book of Sabbats.
Photo Credit: Rose Erkul at Unsplash.com
Posted on:  Jun 28, 2021 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Pagan Dreamer
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.
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.
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.
Photo Credit: Matthew Henry on Unsplash
Posted on:  Feb 2, 2021 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Featured, Path Basics
In my mid-twenties, I was living a corporate, achievement-driven existence that neither fed my soul nor gave me joy. A series of synchronistic events conspired to wake me up and set me on a spiritual journey in search of the missing half of my womanhood and humanity.
My journey led me to Vipassana meditation, feminist graduate studies and new age spirituality. These were all powerful and transformative, and yet something was still missing for me: the feral, sensual, dreaming, witching, life-affirming sacred feminine.
One day it came to me: I am a pagan. This was the spiritual path that sang to my soul.
Paganism isn’t just about beliefs, it’s about stepping outside of the strictures of everyday reality and stepping into full-bodied experiences of the wild, magical world of what else is true and possible. After twenty-plus years of pagan explorations, these are five precious lessons that I’ve learned:1. Life is delicious.
Paganism is a spiritual practice that calls us to a joyful, sensual communion with Nature and our bodies.
Even in those bumpy times when your challenges and losses bring your down, remember that life is delicious and that there is always a brush of beauty to sweeten your sorrows.2. The Earth is alive.
Paganism is defined by its earth-centered ethos. While our collective humanity has lost sight of the ways of the green world, pagans hunger to touch and be touched by the powers and splendor of Nature. And in this sensual, embodied exchange, we awaken to the living world.
The Earth is alive. One web of life connects us all, breath to breath, and essence to essence. What your mind has forgotten, your body remembers.3. The Goddess is everywhere, in everything.
I didn’t go looking for the Goddess. I set myself on the trail of my lost humanity and womanhood, and one day there She was, everywhere and in everything.
The Goddess’s deepest presence is love, not as an emotional state, but rather as the primal desire of life to seek out, create and nurture life. Through this love, all things are made holy and infinitely worthy. We are made holy and infinitely worthy.
Lift your face toward Her living light, open your heart to Her infinite love, take in Her green-drenched beauty and feel Her holy presence in your own shining soul, and know that the Goddess is indeed everywhere and in everything.4. So without, so within.
Pagans celebrate the wheel of the year: eight sabbats that mark the turning seasons of Nature and their shifting balance of darkness and death with light and life.
Our life too is a shifting balance of light and dark, joy and sorrow, and life and death moments.
So without, so within; like the natural world, our humanity is woven of darkness and death, and light and life. And in this powerful truth, we can find our balance and wholeness in the face of life’s shifting seasons.5. Magic is real.
Magic, in basic terms, is the ability to experience and work with the Mysteries (alternative states of being and knowing). Think of reality as a frequency dial that can tune into the astounding magical possibilities of the world around us: “normal”, everyday modes of consciousness fall within a specific frequency range; the Mysteries are engaged at different frequencies on the dial.
Pagan magic practices, such as ritual and spellcrafting, develop and deepen our abilities to turn the frequency dial and work in altered states of consciousness.
Don’t take my word for these things I have shared. Instead, think of paganism as an invitation into the realm of what else is true and possible. Take a little journey beyond the everyday for yourself and bring back whatever sings to your soul.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Law