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Five Things You Can Learn From a Pagan

Posted on:  May 1, 2022 @ 10:00 Posted in:  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 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.

Artwork by:Stephanie Law

Check out Path of She book offerings in the Path Store.

Pagan Dreamer: Storytellers and Stewards of Her Beauty

Posted on:  Apr 16, 2022 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Pagan Dreamer, Pathwork

Our primal, natural place in the great weaving of life on this planet is not dominion, but sacred communion and protection. Of all of the Earth’s life forms, we have been given the gift of creative expression to give voice to the beauty and wonders of this world.

Open to Nature. See what speaks to your wonder. Give this communion your complete attention. You’re the storyteller and steward of Her beauty, the Earth, our home.

Artist: Lucy Campbell

This is what my deep dreaming tells me.

I wake up in the early hours of the morning, still half in my dreamscape. In my dream, I am writing about the country walk I had taken with my partner the night before.

I record the sensual minutia of the natural world: the slow track of a jet-black snail, with a thin band of shiny, silver slime marking its passage; the nuanced scents of the surrounding forest and farmland with hints of resin, flowers, and sun-warmed earth; the gun-smoke gray of the twilight sky juxtaposed against the rich chestnut of a horse’s coat; and a weighty silence that marks the fading of day into night.

As I slowly emerge from this dreaming, I bring with me a fierce, full-body love and awe that speak to my primal communion with the living landscape, and inspire the writing flowing from my heart onto the blank page.

And I see, with the soulful clarity that sometimes slips through from the dreaming to the waking world, that we humans are the storytellers and stewards of the beauty and wonder of this place, the Earth, we call home.

I invite you into my dream world to experience this fierce, full-body truth for yourself.

Go for a walk or spend a quiet hour in a favorite natural setting close to your home. This can be a park, trail, or green space in an urban setting — anywhere you feel a strong heart connection to Nature.

Bring a journal or sketchbook with you, whichever is your preferred form of creative expression.

Anchor yourself in your body with a few deep, full breathes. Quiet your mind and be fully present to the landscape around you. Take in the sensual details of the wild world: the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations of Nature. See what draws your attention and speaks to your wonder. Give this communion your complete attention.

You are sacred witness and storyteller to this moment. The wild world is gifting you with its beauty. Show your gratitude for this gift by expressing and recording what is before you.

Widen your awareness, open your heart and your body, and then write, draw, or record, in whatever way is free-flowing for you, the beauty before you.

Keep your mind and interpretations out of this. This moment is not about you, but about your capacity to storytell, in words or images, the beauty and wonders of this living, breathing Earth.

When this communion feels complete, put down your journal or sketchbook. Let go of words and images. Sink into your energetic connection to the natural world, your living body to its living body. Take in the sensations and emotions that arise in you, the raw love, joy, and awe that infuse your primal communion with the beauty and wonders of this world.

Breathe this connection into your body; imprint it in your memories; let it change you.

You are the storyteller and steward of Her beauty, the Earth, our home.

Check out Path of She book offerings in the Path Store.

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.

Check out Path of She book offerings in the Path Store.

Riding the Edge of Transformative Change: Making an Ally of Your Fears

Posted on:  Feb 26, 2022 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Featured, Path Basics, Pathwork

An edge marks a jumping off point, a cliff’s edge, or a moment of irreversible change.  It’s also a border place, where one thing ends and another begins.

Transformative change is an edge where your soul’s desires intersect with your fears; it’s a place of power, if you know how to navigate its conflicting directives.

Transformative change is an edge. When you heed your soul’s desire to heal and grow in alignment with your deep, beautiful Self, you awaken powerful forces that will take your life in new, empowering directions.

It’s like jumping off a cliff, leaving behind the things that you know and opening yourself to what else is true and possible. And once you wake up to your soul’s desire and make this jump, you can never go back to sleep.

This edge of transformative change can be messy and confusing. The jump you make is really a leap of faith into a border place where the new has yet to take form and the old still has a hold on you. The very desires that push you to change also activate potent fears that want to freeze you in your tracks.

Your soul’s desire knows the parts of your beauty and wounding that are the keys to your deepest healing and evolution. They hold your secret longings that push you to claim a life in alignment with your deep, beautiful Self, and your best gifts and qualities.

Your fears are experts on your trigger buttons, and the inner and outer voices that order and control your life. From this mastery, they can deliver well-targeted, ‘what if’ poison darts that can paralyze your impulses to take your life in new directions: what if I lose my job?; my partner?; my sanity?; what if my mother never talks to me again?.

The push and pull of these competing forces may make you feel crazy, and cast doubts on your commitment and ability to heal and change your life. But the opposite is actually true. Strong fears indicate that you are truly riding your edge of transformative change, and getting somewhere new. This is a place of immense power if you know how to navigate its conflicting directives.

The trick is to listen to both of these forces, desire and fear, and to make an ally of your fear. Your desires show you how to change your life. Your fears tell you why this is a bad idea, inadvertently sharing essential information that can help you wisely and successfully bring positive transformation to your life.

These ideas are best understood by trying them out for yourself. Here is what that process can look like.

Making an Ally of Your Fears

For this exercise, work with something from your own transformative edge: what do you want to change in your life right now?

Choose something that is substantive and important to you, rather than a more surface level change.  Then follow these steps:

1. Turn your awareness to your soul’s desire.

What is it your soul desires? What changes are being asked of you? What would this change look like in your life? What would be your first steps?

2. Turn your awareness to your fears.

What fears and resistance do these changes trigger? Get specific: what exactly in your life is threatened by these changes?; what ominous consequences is your fear suggesting; and, what issues and sensitivities are coming up for you?.

Engage your fears as if they are a valuable source of information, without necessarily believing in what they are saying. Think of them as focusing your attention on key aspects of your life related to the changes, rather than revealing absolute truths.

Your fears can show you: sensitive, challenge situations and personal hurts that need loving attention as part of your change process; outer roadblocks that need to be resolved; and practical consideration to help you make wise, balanced choices.

3. Consider both your desires and fears in relation to what you want to change in your life right now.

What would a wise, balanced version of this change look like? What actions will help facilitate this change? What resources do you need in place? What personal healing and development do you need to address? What roadblocks and issues do you need to proactively deal with?

What are your next steps? How do these steps offer a balance between your desires and fears? How have your fears positively contributed to this balanced approach to change?

Remember that whenever you choose to change your life in substantive, transformative ways, you are riding a powerful edge where your soul’s desire will naturally call up your fears.

Know that this is a border place, where the new and old, and your desires and fears collide. And it is this very collision of such potent, opposing forces that can give rise to brand-new, never-imagined options for healing and transforming your life.

Expect this process to be messy and uncomfortable, that’s why it’s called an edge. Open to your soul’s desire and make your fear your ally. Let both of these powerful forces guide your way to the life you are longing for.

Check out Path of She book offerings in the Path Store

Enlightenment as a Verb: The Process of Becoming Lighter

Posted on:  Feb 5, 2022 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Featured, Path Basics, Pathwork

I know enlightenment as a verb is grammatically incorrect. Enlightenment is a noun that, in a spiritual context, indicates an egoless, awakened end state. It is an ideal attained by the very few, the masters, mystics and gurus in our midst. Therein lies its problem.

Re-vision your spiritual work as a process of lighten your soul’s load, becoming enlightened, through little steps of clearing the inner debris that weighs you down.

Enlightenment as a noun is beyond the reach of most of us who travel a sincere path of spiritual healing and evolution. If we think we have reached a state of enlightenment, the very act of naming and claiming it indicates the presence of ego, and ego is the antithesis of enlightenment. If we want to reach this state but can’t get there, we are probably short changing our spiritual accomplishments.

Either way enlightenment can inflate or deflate your spiritual process.

Though this may sound like blasphemy, I think enlightenment is a red herring that can distract us from the very important business of healing our own soul. Each of us comes into this life with soul work to do. For the vast majority, this work is to heal and to grow. For the very, very few, it is to achieve the rarified state of enlightenment. All of this spiritual work is essential to the greater healing of our humanity, and the only piece we can claim is our own.

This brings us back to enlightenment as a verb. My suggestion is that you think of enlightenment, or its verb form of enlighten, as the process of becoming lighter.

Imagine your soul being buried under the accumulated debris of your old stories and habituations of beliefs, thoughts and life choices. What your soul fervently desires is a free-flowing alignment between your deep inner self and your outer life. But this is only possible if you lighten your soul’s load by cleaning out and healing the debris that weighs you down.

An Exercise in Re-Visioning Your Spiritual Work

For this exercise, I invite you to re-vision your spiritual work as a process of becoming lighter/enlightened through little steps and small moments of cleaning out and healing those things that weigh you down, and allowing your soul to shine forth in your everyday life.

1. Start with a small event or exchange in the recent past where you were challenged or you experienced positive change.

Look for instances where you acted with courage or shifted something inside of you. It doesn’t have to be anything momentous or even visible from an outside perspective. Maybe it was allowing yourself to feel something you usually repress, or to speak your truth, or to seek out help, or to stop doing a negative behavior, or to say yes to something new, or no to something that doesn’t serve you.

Journal the details of what happened and how you dealt with it.

2. Consider the roots of this small event or exchange.

What deeper issue or part of your personal story is present in this situation? How did your actions and choices shift this deeper issue or story piece? Did you unblock, heal or clean out anything that has gotten in the way of your personal pathwork or of living from your best, soul-based qualities?

How did you become lighter?

Even if you felt stuck or made choices that you are not happy with, leave your self-judgment behind and look for the positive. What did you learn from this situation? How did it wake you up to things that you would like to heal and change in yourself and your life? What did it teach you about the other person(s) or your external environment? How will these lessons and insights affect your future behavior?

How can you use this situation to unblock yourself, become lighter, rather than continuing to re-enforce your old stories, behaviors and choices?

3. Select a longer period of time or a bigger event or exchange from the recent past where you experienced a greater degree of challenge and change, positive or negative.

Go through the same process and questions as you did for the smaller event/exchange. Keep your attention at the micro-level of individual incidents and exchanges that are part of the bigger situation. And also look for the connection or domino effect between these individual incidents.

A Little Steps Journey of Becoming Lighter 

The importance of this exercise is to realize that small events and little shifts matter, even when considering a longer period of time or a bigger, more complex situation. We don’t go from a wounded state to an evolved, healed state in one leap. We take little steps and make little changes. These shifts and changes can happen in a negative or positive situation, and when we handle things well or badly. As long as we are paying attention and looking for our healing and unblocking lessons, change will happen.

Over time these little things can add up to big leaps. Or a big leap may seem to come out of nowhere, but if you look closely, you will be able to see all the little things that came before. You get lighter, enlightened, a bit at the time.

Perhaps in this soul work, you will have moments of crystal clear awareness, an enlightened glimpse into the most profound secrets of life and the Universe. Perhaps you will step beyond the bounds of ego and self into an awakened state that we have collectively named enlightenment. Perhaps this will be for a moment, or forever. But do not look for this, or cling to this notion. Whatever comes to you is your journey of soul, not to be compared with outside constructs or the soul work of others.

And perhaps a master, guru or mystic, an enlightened one in its traditional definition, will be a source of wondrous of information and insight along your way. But you can be equally inspired and guided by the everyday people in your life who face their hardships with humor, grace, love and presence, and who bravely choose to live bigger, more fulfilling lives — people who are becoming lighter and more soulful in the course of the ordinary events of life.

So put aside your ideas of what your spiritual journey is supposed to look like and any idealized end state you are trying to achieve.

Instead of judging yourself when you make a mess of something or seem to be resisting rather than embracing change, take a deep breath and let yourself know this is a learning moment. Your awareness and willingness to shift your perspective make this an enlightening opportunity.

Step by step, issue by issue, you clean out the debris that weighs you down, and you naturally become more present, more powerful, more aware, more beautiful and more soulful. You become lighter, or enlightened, and in this new lightness of being, your soul shines through a little bit brighter and you bring new light into this world.

Honor and celebrate every bit of yourself you heal and reclaim on your journey of becoming lighter. Enlightenment is the journey itself.

Check out Path of She book offerings in the Path Store.

Artwork by: Tatiana Plakhova