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An Ancestral Teaching: My Body of the Ancestors

Posted on:  Oct 22, 2020 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Goddess

A Spiritual Journey to the Land of the Ancestors

As the season shifts toward Winter, and the mysteries of death settle upon the land, my mind turns to the Ancestors, and the insights that came to me during a week-long spiritual retreat in the wilds of British Columbia.

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

Five Things You Can Learn From a Pagan

Posted on:  Sep 11, 2020 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Featured, Path Basics, Podcasts

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 invites you to the realm of what else is true and possible. Take a little journey beyond the everyday and bring back whatever sings to your 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.

Take a walk on the wild side with your unruly, untamable pagan nature. Turn up your favorite music and dance from the inside-out. Eat a bowl of the ripest, sweetest fruit you can find. Make love to your partner as if you were made of one skin. Breathe the blue of the sky deep into your lungs. Spin yourself dizzy under the moonlight. Be radically, delectably, unapologetically alive!

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.

Hang out in your favorite green space with your senses on high. Attune to your exchange of breath with the trees: their green breath of oxygen with your red breath of carbon dioxide. Open your flat palms toward whatever wild thing catches your fancy and sense the tingling meeting of your energies. Peer into the microcosm of a rotting log, with its teeming collective of interdependent inhabitants.

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.

She is the burning ember of light interwoven with matter that shines forth in all living things. She is the unending, outrageous beauty of the wild world. She is the driving force that calls us to strive and struggle, and to grow and blossom. Her cupped hands hold us in the shifting seasons of our joys and sorrows, and life and death moments.

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.

Ponder the seasons of your own life: the death-like times when darkness, sorrow and loss swallowed you whole, and other times when the sun was shining bright and life was rich and full. Dig deep and notice that the good things in life hold you in your darkest moments, and that your sorrows and challenges can make your high points all the more poignant and precious.

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.

Be brave: turn that dial, step between the worlds and the Mysteries will show up, in all their wonder. Brave experience by brave experience, you can come to truly know that magic is real and a natural part of our humanity.

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

Pagan Dreamer: The Bombs of Deep Dreams

Posted on:  Aug 3, 2020 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Featured, Pagan Dreamer

The Dream

I’m in my house: a special, personal space, and my inner sanctum where I choose the rules of engagement. Messages come to me in this house, delivered by a loud, disembodied voice, and later accompanied by bombs, like the kind dropped from a World War II plane.

Be a badass Dreamer that welcomes challenge and change, understanding that big, deep dreams bring core, powerful healing and transformation.

I understand that these messages are from the Mysteries that are directing and influencing my spiritual journey. They’re pushing me, sending bombs my way in the form of life challenges, waiting for me to answer them.  I refuse to answer, and with every refusal, I enter deeper and deeper into my inner house, to rooms that are secret and special to me.

But still the messages and bombs come. The Mysteries can penetrate this secret, private space within me. And the bombs are getting bigger as I go deeper inward.

After a huge bomb lands on the floor in front of me, I wake up with a jolt and my initial reaction is fear and frustration. Aren’t I listening and responding to the Mysteries constantly?  I work my dreams. I pay attention to what’s happening in my life always. I’m willing to heal, change, grow in whatever ways are necessary. Deep spiritual work is as natural and necessary to me as breathing.  Am I missing something?  And do I really need to just keep getting bombs to do my personal work?  Bigger and bigger bombs… egads!

Then it comes to me — I’m not afraid in the dream at all.  I’m calm, fully present, even slightly amused. The messages and bombs show up.  I observe them, curious, engaged, but choose not to answer the Mysteries’ questions. Then I go to the next level, deeper inside of me, and do the same thing over again with the next message and bomb.

Dream Teaching

The message of this dream is pretty direct: big change is here, and that change is driven by challenges that work the deepest layers of the psyche. Bombs are being dropped in my inner sanctum, going deeper and deeper, and getting bigger and bigger.  Profound, core healing and transformation are required.

…read more

Summer Journey: Your Inner Goddess

Posted on:  Jul 10, 2020 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Featured, Sabbats

Excerpt from Summer Journey: Thou Art Goddess

The Goddess, in simple terms, is the feminine of Divinity, the sacred feminine. Pagan teachings tell us that She is immanent: She exists everywhere and can be found in all things. She is Mother Nature, the living body of the Earth, and the seasons and cycles that govern the physical world and our human lives through birth, life, death and rebirth. Her deepest presence is a golden love from which life emerges, is nurtured, and returns to at the end of its days.

Claim your Inner Goddess wisdom. Align with Nature’s powers of light and life. Blossom as your true, beautiful Self. Your Summer Guided Journey awaits you!

You come to know the Goddess not through words or ideas, but through direct experience of Her presence and ways. Each turning of the seasons offers an opportunity to engage an aspect of the Goddess or God that is reflected in the mysteries and energies of the season. The Goddess who comes to greet you in the summer season is your own Inner Goddess.

The Goddess is a part of you, and you are a part of the Goddess. Your miraculous body is woven of Her sacred matter, your shining soul is a fragment of Her shining presence, and Her golden love flows through your best qualities of goodness and generosity, and your courage and compassion in the face life’s challenges.

You are Divine. You are beautiful. You are precious and worthy beyond your wildest imagination. Your deepest presence is love. You have special gifts and a sacred purpose that are yours alone to share with this world. You are an essential part of the great weaving of life that calls you to blossom and flourish in the summer season, and offer up your very best gifts and qualities for the well-being of the whole.

These are not just pretty words. They’re the lost truths of your Divine origins and Goddess heritage. They apply not just to you, but to every single living being of this Earth: from the tiny plankton to the majestic blue whale; a single blade of grass to the Amazon rainforest; the red-breasted robin to the fearsome condor. The earth, the air, the water, and the life-light within, these too are sacred, precious and essential for our shared existence.

Your Inner Goddess knows these things. She remembers the ways and mysteries of Nature and the sacred feminine, and can help you discover and claim the parts of your true beauty and sacred purpose that are ready to blossom at this time.

See the summertime magnificence of Nature through your Inner Goddess knowing. Wild creatures and green-growing things cannot help but blossom into their true beauty and sacred purpose in the life-giving powers of Summer. Each is doing exactly what it is meant to be doing in the prime of its life; their physical forms and outward behaviors are natural, seamless expressions of their inner essence and primal drive to flourish.

From the bees busy gathering nectar and pollinating plants in their travels, to the raspberry bush offering up its delicious fruits for hungry bellies, to the birds who feast on this fruit and spread it seeds, to the swaying canopy of the giant maple tree that is home and habitat to these birds and many other wild creatures — this is the way life is meant to be, a living, breathing world of interconnected beings doing their destined part to ensure the health and well-being of the whole.

Our human world doesn’t work in these ways. Most people don’t live connected to their inner essence; they don’t bloom into a beautiful, full expression of themselves and their sacred purpose in life; and they don’t offer up their best gifts to ensure the health and well-being of the whole. Much of the unhappiness and destructive impulses of humankind find their source in this core wounding.

Consider these cold, hard truths in relation to your own life. Think about the masks that you wear and the roles that you play in your everyday existence that disconnect you from your true, beautiful Self. Open to your inner longings and unmet needs to live an authentic life, sourced from your inner essence and sacred purpose. Let yourself feel the unhappiness, pain and loss that arise from this disconnect.

This is one way of living. There is another, surrounding you at this very moment, in the beauty and blossoming of Mother Earth. This is the life-centered ways of the sacred feminine, revealed in the abundance of Nature and the goodness in the world, with your Inner Goddess as your guide.

You’ve never lost your Inner Goddess, nor your connection to the ways of the sacred feminine and the living truth of Nature. There’s no separation between you and your true beauty and sacred purpose. These things have always been waiting for you to show up and reclaim them as your own.

In Summer, with the powers of light and life at their peak, it is these very things that call you to take your destined place in the sun-bright world, alongside the wild creatures, green-growing things and your fellow humans. It is time for you to live from your very best gifts and qualities, and to play your part in ensuring the health and well-being of our shared human society and Earth home. This is how you can transform your life, and help build a better, more beautiful, kinder and joyful world. You need to simply show up as your true, beautiful Self.

You are ripe. You are ready to blossom and flourish. Your Inner Goddess can show you the way.

Claim your Inner Goddess with the Path of She’s Guided Summer Journey.

The Summer Journey: Thou Art Goddess  immerses you in the mysteries and magic of your Inner Goddess and Nature, inviting you to claim and blossom into your best, most beautiful Self.

The Summer Journey includes: a Guidebook (pdf ebook), Journal (pdf ebook), and Guided Meditation (mp3 audio)  that offer an integrated, seven lesson program with wisdom teachings, awareness practice and journaling exercises, and a guided meditation.

During these COVID-19 times, when many of us are struggling and in need of spiritual inspiration, I’m offering my Summer Journey at sliding scale prices.

The full price is $16.99.  Use this coupon: summerdiscount to pay 50% of the purchase price. Use this coupon: summergift to download the Summer Journey package for free.

I ask you to pay what you can and to take what you need in support of your spiritual pathwork at this time.

Click here to go to the Path Store.  Add the Summer Journey to your cart, then enter the coupon on the checkout page.

 

A Father and Daughter Story: Greeting Death When It Arrives On My Doorstep

Posted on:  May 5, 2020 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Featured, Path Basics

On May 5, just over one month ago as the sun reached its peak in the skies of Eastern Canada, my father, Brian Clifford Clark, left this world. He died in peace in his hospital bed, his last breath so gentle that my brother Barry, his sole witness, almost missed it. I woke on this morning, before I knew what had happened, and sensed that all was well and my dad was going home.  And he has gone home, to rest, to peace, to love, to goodness.

When the death of my beloved father arrives on my doorstep, there’s relief, gratitude, grief, disorientation, love, transformation, remembering and saying goodbye.

As a pagan who travels the path of the Goddess, death is something that I embrace as a natural, essential part of the cycle of life. I honor death in the turning of the seasons, in the great and small endings and beginnings that mark my journey through life, and as the catalyst for profound transformation.

The death of my beloved father makes these things raw and real for me. I’m awake and aching in the midst of the disorienting mysteries of death, and finding my Self and footing in a world without my dad in it, where his immense presence and loving support are no longer a phone call, plane ride or hug away.

These are some of the many ways I’m greeting death with its arrival on my doorstep.

There is relief. The passing of my dad was best for him. He had been ill and suffering for a long time, not with a specific ailment, but more from the stripping away of his independence, strength and physical capacities. He was burnt out and exhausted, hanging on only by sheer will and his desire to stay with my mother, his wife, beloved and best friend of sixty-three years. I’m glad and at peace that he has been set free.

There is gratitude. My father was a beautiful, loving, complex soul. He was grumpy, edgy, willful and a handful at times, with big energy, big will, a strong sense of himself, and a deep integrity, generosity, kindness and thoughtfulness. He loved each of us in my family for who we were, with no strings attached. He loved me, deeply, fully, openly, and I him. It was, and always will be, my great honor and blessing to be his daughter.

There is returning to roots. I traveled to my hometown to be with my mother, collect my father’s ashes, and honor his memory with my family. The setting, the stories, these beautiful, quirky people: this is where I come from, and what I’m made of. My dad’s legacy is us, his children and grandchildren, and I know myself better in their company.

There is grief. I have no words for the immensity of my loss and heartbreak. It’s like an ocean, deep and vast, that can be a gentle wave or a tsunami. Mostly, I’ve chosen the gentle wave, dipping my toe in, and then retreating. But the tsunami comes, sudden and overwhelming, and I surrender to its cleansing work. I expect that I’ll have this grief until my last breath, something that I’ll get used to rather than get over.

There is peace between us. It’s the rare person who escapes from childhood and family dynamics unscathed. Death is a time of raw honesty, where the truths of unsaid and unfinished business make their way back to the surface. These too are part of the transformative mysteries of death, guiding our journey of healing.  Blessedly, my father and I did our healing work and cleaned up our unfinished business many years ago. We found a place of truth that could hold both the hardships and the beauty of our journey together, and that gifted us with pleasure and peace in each other’s company.

There is disorientation. There’s never been a moment in my life without my dad.  His DNA, energetic patterns, love, approval and presence are built into my very foundation.  I learned about men, parenthood, marriage, family and the things that matter most through his living example. I witnessed aging, dignity and suffering through his end years. Now he is gone, and some essential part of me and my life has been snatched away, changing my world forever. I feel this, but don’t get it yet. And I don’t need to get it. It’s enough to accept this disorientation, and the change it brings, as natural parts of life’s journey.

There is quiet. I’m tired and emotionally raw. I’m not good at small talk, and seek only the company of those that I already know well. And I’m not interested in my own internal angst and noise. I need rest. Solitude.  Simplicity. Routine. Walks. Nature. Dance. Good food. Joy. Kindness.Thoughtful regard. Space to just be. Emptiness to become something new.

There is compassion. Our culture runs from the reality of death, but our hearts do not. We all live on the cusp of losing those dearest to us.  When the inevitable but devastating happens, our hearts invite us to greater compassion for ourselves and others. I hold my mother in a gentle tenderness as she navigates this great loss with courage and dignity, and my siblings do the same. My heart aches as others share their stories of grief and loss. And I’m touched in turn by the tenderness and compassion offered to me by my family, friends and people in my community.

Mostly, there is love. Grief is the flip side of love. When we love fiercely, so too we mourn deeply.  This is death’s greatest teaching: that we are here to love, deeply, freely, fiercely. I will miss my dad, forever, with every breath.  And I will love him fiercely, forever, with every breath.  So too I love my mother, my partner, my son, my siblings, my nieces and nephews, my dear friends, my Self, and my precious life, fiercely, forever, with every breath.

There is transformation. Death is changing me. My outer world may look the same, but I’m undergoing a metamorphosis. The only words that come to me are that I must become big — to span and contain these many ways I’m greeting death, all at the same time — to open my heart wide to my fierce love and deep grief, and to risk this same love and grief for everyone in my life — to show up fully in my own skin and dare the wild ride that is my life — and to honor my father by cherishing myself as he cherished me, and by living by his ethos of personal strength, integrity, kindness, and care for others.

There is remembering. I wear my dad’s watch so he is with me, close to my skin, marking the moments of my life. What is remembered lives.  I will remember my dad, with every moment, every breath, every thought, and every act of kindness that comes my way.  He lives with me, in me, in my family, and all around me in the beauty of this wild and wonderful world he has now left behind.

There is saying goodbye. Peace be with you dad.  I love you. Forever.