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A Beltane Teaching: The Lover’s Embrace of Life

Posted on:  Apr 26, 2020 @ 12:00 Posted in:  Sabbats

Right now, in the heat of Beltane, the wild realm is expressing itself so loudly and so boldly that we just need to step beyond our doorstep to receive its direct, powerful truth-speak: life is our ardent lover.

Life isn’t monogamous; we share life’s ardour with all growing things. At Beltane, life comes courting, gathering every one of us into its lover’s embrace.

How can we doubt this in the light of life’s wondrous love offerings: the hot kiss of sunshine on bare skin; dawn’s glorious chorus of birdsong; a meadow blanket of wildflowers; the soft, sweet bite of a fresh-picked strawberry; the bubbling laughter of a toddling child; and the electric stroke of a lover’s touch?

Our relationship with life is not monogamous; we share life’s ardour with all growing things of this Earth. At Beltane, life comes courting, gathering every one of us into its lover’s embrace.

Sex and birth are everywhere — delicious, unstoppable, untameable — as plants, flowers, birds, bees and creatures, great and small, mingle, mate and burst forth new life in a stunning, overflowing brilliance.

These wild impulses run hot in our blood, no matter our attempts to block or deny them. We soften and open with the sensual tease of the strengthening sun. We delight in the enticing scents of unfurling buds of plant and flower. The primal juice of the creature realm sings to our creature flesh, awakening our feral instincts to make love and make life. And deeper still, life’s lover powers stir the mysteries in the core of our being, igniting our hunger to birth and nurture our soul’s latent desires.

Yet so much toxic debris blocks our lover’s dance with life. The shadow-side of our humanity represses, denies and distorts these powerful energies. Nowhere is our humanity more profoundly wounded than in our sensual, sexual, soulful life-creating-life drives.

Nature guides us always, even in the face of this terrible, damaging aspect of our personal stories and collective humanity. For everything there is a season: a time to seek our truth and healing in the winter-like grasp of our sorrow and pain, and a time to cast off the cold, deadening grip of our shadow-side and bask in the light and beauty of new growth and possibilities.

Of all of life’s magnificent love offerings, the most miraculous is the gift of our Self. Every breath is a gift, as are the wonders of our spirit, mind and body. And with these precious gifts, we get to choose what we make with what we’ve been given.

Life is not a doting, ever-benevolent lover. Everything in the growing world has its seasons through death and darkness, and life and light. We are no different.

New life emerges from stagnation and death. What is deep and best in us arise out of our wounding and loss. Sometimes we have to hold on to these truths in the thick of our pain and sorrow. Sometimes we have to trust that the new that we long for is the true and best balm to what ails us. Sometimes, if only for a sun-bright season, we have to leave our hurt behind and give all we’ve got to tend and grow into the life we most dearly want to live. We can choose to dig deep, shine bright and make the most with what we’ve been given.

In these ways, we become the lover that returns life’s embrace.

Excerpt from: Path of She Book of Sabbats.  Available on Amazon.

Make your own journey with the Green Man

into the wild, delicious, life-making powers of Beltane

with the Path of She’s Beltane Guided Meditation.

Available at the Path Store for $9.99.

 

Photo Credit: Tyler Dozier on Unsplash

 

An Imbolc Teaching: The Shadow Dance

Posted on:  Jan 31, 2020 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Sabbats

Imbolc Excerpt from The Path of She Book of Sabbats.

At Imbolc, Winter is waning and the season turns toward Spring. The groundhog is said to be a predictor of the arrival of Spring. If the groundhog sees its shadow, off it goes back into its hole, informing us that Winter won’t be letting go soon. If it doesn’t see its shadow, Spring is on its way.

Leave behind the dark of Winter, and step into Spring’s light of new beginnings. Where there’s light, there’s shadow. Together they can transform your life.

This shadow dance is familiar to us humans. As the shifting light and warming days coax the groundhog from its den in search of the quickening signs of Spring, so does our hunger for the spring of new beginnings coax us to leave behind the refuge of what we know and sniff the air for signs of shifting possibilities. What we seek draws us into the light of greater consciousness, and where there is light there is shadow.

Shadow in our human psyche is the depository of the repressed, denied and vilified parts of our personal lives and human society: our pain, dysfunction and unpalatable, uncontrollable instincts and emotions. When we encounter our personal or collective shadow, our first impulse, like the groundhog, is to retreat into the blinders and comforts of our old ways and their winter-like grip of stagnation and stasis.

What we forget in this retreat impulse is that light and shadow dance together. There cannot be one without the other. We humans are woven of light and shadow, of good and bad qualities and instincts, and of things known and mysteries yet to be discovered.

We forget, in our fear and projections, that the shadow realm also holds the raw materials of our deeper potential. And that the things we repress, deny and vilify just might be exactly what we need — secret truths, hidden gifts and latent powers — to heal, grow and flourish.

In our forgetting, we act out from our repressed and denied places, and doom ourselves and our world to be ruled by that which we refuse to face and claim as a part of our human experience.

In our forgetting, we become half-human, shut off from essential parts of our nature and selfhood, and truncated in our self-knowing, expression and evolution.

Imbolc is a between time, of Winter thawing into Spring, and of the dark giving way to the light. We are not separate from these natural energies and their life-seeking drives. Nor can we leave our shadow behind as we reach out to the springtime call of new possibilities, personal growth and societal change. Rather than giving into our instinct to retreat from our shadow, transformative change comes when we have the courage and compassion to reach out our hand and heart to our shadow, and to step together into the returning powers of light and life.

Celebrate Imbolc

With the Path of She Book of Sabbats

Buy now at the Path Store

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Pagan Dreamer: A Dream of the Good Man

Posted on:  Jul 5, 2019 @ 12:00 Posted in:  Featured, Pagan Dreamer, Pathwork

I dream of being with a woman elder who teaches me about a clan of good men with special spiritual energy that have been with humanity throughout our history. Then the dream shifts. I’m waiting on a street corner on my island home for a man to pick me up and give me a ride. I intuitively know that he’s part of this clan: a good man, and a teacher and holder of this special energy. The car pulls up. He smiles and greets me. I get in the car and then the dream ends.

There are good men among us — the poets, teachers, leaders, wise men and healers who give over their hearts and hands in service of the miracle that is life.

In my waking-world life, I know this man, and he is indeed of this special clan of good men whose presence and deeds can open hearts, heal souls and change our world. He’s a poet, teacher and Zen practitioner — a brilliant yet humble man, with gentle, penetrating eyes that seem to take in our world of beauty and sorrow with a deep love, wisdom and crinkle of humor.

There are such good men among us. They are the poets, writers, teachers, leaders, wise men and healers in our midst who kneel in reverence before the miracle that is life, and give over their hearts and hands in service of the very best of our human society: love, compassion, justice and beauty.

Oddly, the good man isn’t our cultural ideal of the masculine. Instead this ideal venerates “real men” who emulate a rugged self-determinism founded on domination and personal gain. In the battle for supremacy in our shared social order, real men fight their way to the top of the pile, reaping the rewards of wealth, power and adulation, indifferent to the price others pay for their success. Our modern political, social and economic systems are founded on this masculine ideal of dominion, will to power, and unfettered self-interest and greed.

It can be hard to recognize the good men among us given the long shadow of our cultural, real-men ethos. Many of us have experienced harm at the hands of an abusive man, or because of the misogynist roots and toxic male and female stereotypes that permeate our social order. Others may have a strong political or intellectual viewpoint that understands the role that men and patriarchal institutions have played in the worst of our human history and current malaise.

Yet there are good men in our midst, with big hearts and spirits, gifting their best in service of others and our world.  And these men, with their positive masculine traits, are desperately needed as partners, allies and role models in the mending and renewing of our human society.

When I shared my good-man dream with my poet neighbor who appeared as the good man in my dream, he replied, “Yes, there are such men without a doubt. I’m glad you know, Karen. That, in itself, is worth all the dreams.”

To know the good men among us — to open our hearts and minds to their presence and offerings — is a powerful counterbalance and antidote to the clamor of the crazy, crazy of real-men masculinity, played out in the constant bad newsfeed of political mayhem, environmental devastation, economic crisis, income disparity and war.

Here is a simple exercise for claiming this powerful, healing good-man medicine in your own life.

1. Start by turning your attention to the good men in the public sphere, living and historic.

Who are your heroes: men you admire for their good nature and good deeds? What gifts do they give to the world through their beliefs, writings, teachings and actions? What kind of positive change do they bring about? What impact do they have on the hearts and souls of others? How do they make the world a better place? Consider the common qualities that you admire in these men.

2. Carry these good men with you in your heart and thoughts for a day.

Imagine them as your companions as you go about your day-to-day life. Try to see the world through their goodness and best qualities. Notice these qualities in yourself and in others. Let your experiences widen your heart and change you.

3. Bring your awareness closer to home, to the good men in your family, community and workplace that more directly impact and influence your life.

With these more intimate connections, remember that no person can be all good, and that you may have a hard time seeing those near to you as fitting the good-man ideal because of some imperfection or inconsistency in their personality. Don’t look for perfection. Instead, consider the men in your life who have a good heart, give of themselves to others, and have a positive impact on the world around them.

4. Again, carry these good men with you in your heart and thoughts for a day.

See the world through their goodness and best qualities. Notice that the good-man ideal applies to everyday men in everyday circumstances, and that the men in your life have positive, life-affirming traits outside of our cultural, masculine stereotypes.

5. Choose a simple way to honor the good men in your personal life and the greater world.

You could tell one of these good men how much you appreciate them, share a positive article about men on social media, or better still, decide to change something about yourself in alignment with the good-man ideal, knowing that a positive masculinity is part of our human nature, available to all of us regardless of our biological gender or gender identity.

Our world desperately needs to remember the good men in our midst. Each of us can do this crucial work in our own lives, families and communities. We can witness, name and honor these men. We can let others know of their presence and deeds, and emulate the best of their qualities in our own life.

In doing these things, we can step outside of the culturally imposed masculine, and begin to dismantle and replace its restrictive, toxic parameters with the bigness of being, heart and soul that is the true, best essence of men and masculinity.

These things shake us awake from our disquieted acquiescence to the real-man cultural ideal. We widen our gaze to the good men and their positive masculinity. We remember: that our hands and our hearts are made for service to ourselves, each other and our Earth home; that good deeds, founded in love, compassion, justice and beauty, are the true markers of the best of our humanity; and that these life-affirming choices and actions are not just the responsibility of the good men of our world, but of each and every one of us.

Together we can claim the dream of the good man as our new cultural ideal of masculinity.

Photo Credit: Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Beltane: Making Love and Life with the Wild World

Posted on:  Apr 20, 2019 @ 15:16 Posted in:  Sabbats

At Beltane, your journey of soul is all about embracing the delicious, transformative energies of the wild world. Now is the time to surrender to your innate, powerful desire to make love and make life, and to bud and flourish in the sunlit realm from the essence and beauty of your true, deep Self.

In the heated passion that is Beltane, offer up your essence and beauty to the wild, fertile juices of Creation. Be a lover of life, within and without.

You need only look to Nature to awaken and fuel this sacred longing inside of you. The cold, death state of Winter has been long forgotten and the powers of life and light are turned on high.

The green world is in the midst of a love-fest, displaying its erotic, fertile impulses with brazen exuberance: the brilliant green of new foliage, the mating rituals of birds and beasts, and the profusion of airborne pollen.

May Day is the secular celebration of Beltane, with its traditional maypole dance. A tall pole is planted in the earth and decorated with flowers and long ribbons. Dancers, each holding a ribbon, circle the pole in opposite directions while interweaving their ribbons. This lovely and seemingly innocent custom has its roots in Beltane’s sexual, fecund energies. The maypole is a giant phallic symbol arising from the fertile earth, and the two weaving ribbons represent sexual union and the creation of new life.

The Green Man is the God that beckons us at Beltane. He is the guardian of the wild world, and the master of the mysteries of life and creation.

With the veil between the worlds thin, the Green Man walks the land, leaving a trail of burgeoning life in His wake. His touch is a quickening magic that spreads like wildfire, igniting the hungry impulses of life to create new life. All living things, including humankind, are beholden to the Green Man’s powers.

When you step into the Green Man’s magic, you enter His dream of light, love and life-making. He embraces you as lover in the gorgeous, ever-unfolding dance of co-creation, with your outer existence arising from the well-spring of your unique essence.

The Green Man’s dream runs counter to the repressive, life-fearing ethos of our modern society that strives to domesticate your primal, wild instincts and entrap you in a limited, self-negating worldview.

Beltane, like Samhain, is an edgy Sabbat, stirring up primal forces that have long been denied and suppressed in our human psyche. As Samhain calls us to be wide open and raw in the face of death and endings, Beltane calls us to be naked and uninhibited in our lover’s embrace of life. Of the two Sabbats, Beltane can be the most challenging because it takes us up against our personal wounding and societal prohibitions that negate and distort our desires, sensuality and sexuality.

Though honoring and healing your wounding are essential to your spiritual pathwork, for everything there is a season. At Beltane, you step away from your wounding, embrace your soul’s desire for beauty and new growth, and give yourself over to the life-creating-life drives that permeate this Sabbat.

Let the Green Man and wild realm teach you about transformative change, where immense beauty and new growth naturally emerge from the old and stagnant to heal and renew your life and our world.

Excerpt from: Path of She Book of Sabbats.  Available on Amazon.

Make your own journey with the Green Man

into the wild, delicious, life-making powers of Beltane

with the Path of She’s Beltane Guided Meditation.

Available at the Path Store for $9.99.

 

 

Photo Credit: Chris Greenhow on Unsplash

A Samhain Tale: Hecate & the Crossroads of Choice

Posted on:  Oct 27, 2018 @ 12:04 Posted in:  Sabbats

Excerpt from The Path of She Book of Sabbats.

At Samhain, when the veil between the worlds is thin and the mysteries of the sacred dark permeate the mundane world, Hecate calls to us. Never before has Her voice been so loud, so urgent. She speaks to us not only in our dreams and ritual magic, but also in the stark language of wildly erratic weather patterns, dying oceans and barren lands, and in the cold despair and hungry hopes of our own warm, beating heart.

It`s not easy to heed Her call. She raises our own spectral fears about the fate of our human society and planet home. Environmentally, socially, politically and spiritually, we are destroying the fabric of our physical and social world. We have reached a critical tipping point, and if we continue on this trajectory, things are not going to end well.

At Samhain, when the veil between the worlds is thin, Hecate calls you to Her crossroads of choice and destiny. Never before has Her voice been so urgent.

But how do we change? How do we shift from denial, apathy and despair into a place of hope and inspiration? How do we turn this destructive momentum into an evolutionary, birthing moment? And what is our personal part in weaving a better world into being?

“Come to my crossroads,” Hecate whispers on the wind, “Come and you will find the answers you seek.”

Take a deep breath, summon up your courage and say, “Yes, Hecate, I am coming. Guide me to your crossroads.”

In the world between the worlds, where the mysteries lie in wait, you will find Hecate. She appears before you in Her Crone form, with a thick mane of moonlight silver hair and intense, amethyst eyes that shine bright with Her ageless presence. She wears a cloak of midnight black that shimmers as She moves, as if brushed with starlight. An aura of light surrounds Her, a way-showing beacon in the enveloping darkness to guide travelers to Her crossroads. Her arms open wide to welcome you, casting a circle of illumination that draws you into its center.

With a sweep of Her hands, two roads appear before you.

To the left is a neglected path, overgrown with the luscious fecundity of the wild realm.  Memories arise within you of the feral innocence of childhood with its simple pleasures of play and wonder in your dance with the outer world. And beneath this, older, ancestral memories percolate, of a time when humanity lived in loving, sensual communion with the powers and mysteries of the Mother Earth.

To the right is a paved-over surface that obscures any trace of the living land under an unforgiving, tar black sheen. This path exudes a deadness that lays bare the tear in our human psyche from the natural world and our true, beautiful essence, and echoes with the keening pain of our battered souls and broken hearts.

“Behold the crossroads of these Great Turning times, where humanity faces a critical, precarious juncture in its spiritual evolution,” Hecate says, “Before you are two ways of living and dreaming.”

“One path holds the good dream of humanity where you walk the Earth in accordance with my life-centered ways and your best nature of love, generosity and communion with others. The second path holds the bad dream where your worst instincts of dominion, fear and greed lay barren the wild realm and the heart of your human society. It is this second path, reeking devastation on the living world, that rules humankind.

“Both of these paths exist inside of you and in your greater society. Humanity is neither good nor bad, but some complex weaving that includes the best and worst of your nature.”

With another sweep of Her hands, the two paths merge into one.

“This is my middle path,” Hecate says,” it holds the opposing paths of the good and bad dream of humanity. A mirror path exists inside of you that contains the joy and sorrow, and beauty and wounding of your life story.

“To transform yourself and your world, you must walk this middle path. To travel its ways is to accept and take responsibility for all that you are and all that you have experienced, and from this greater awareness choose whether the good or bad dream of humanity will hold sway in the core of your being. You must choose whether love or fear will rule you.

“Love is the way forward for you and your human kin — love that can hold and heal the sorrow and wounding that burden your soul and the world soul — love that chooses generosity over greed, and communion over dominion  — love that can turn the destructive momentum that threatens this world into a positive new beginning.

“This love is my way, the way of the sacred feminine, that is awakening within you and leading you home to your Deep Self and a better world.”

As Hecate speaks, the light that emanates from Her being shines brighter and brighter. This wondrous luminosity is the very love that She speaks of, offering a beacon of guidance and hope in these turbulent, Great Turning times. Hecate, the sacred feminine, all life on this stunning Earth, your life, are woven of this love.

Hecate turns to you, taking your hands and squeezing them tight.

“Time is running out. Do not turn away,” She says, “By your choices, and those of your human kin, will your destiny and that of your Earth home be decided.”

She folds Her arms inward, drawing Her brilliant light back into Her body until She is gone, and you find yourself alone under a star-studded sky. Your hands still tingle from Her touch and the responsibility She has bequeathed to you shines strong and bright within you.

After the crossroads vision is done, the real magic begins. With your every thought, every word, every action, you choose which path your lives serves, and the kind of a world you want to create. Never have the stakes been higher; life as we know it hangs in the balance. To change this world, you must start with yourself.

Honor the Mysteries of Samhain

with the Path of She Book of Sabbats. 

Buy now at the Path Store.

Photo Credit: Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash