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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Rituals for unbalance

We’ve not long passed the equinox, that twice yearly point in the wheel where normal Paganism stops to talk about balance, and usually alongside this, peace. World Peace Day falls close to the autumn equinox and Earth day, and Earth Hour are around the spring one. Peace and balance are, without a doubt, good things to work for.

Some days my life has little of either. On the whole, I have a quiet, easy, privileged sort of life, free from many of the things that torment many of the world’s inhabitants. Even so, I find celebrating balance really difficult. Not least because I do not see much of the balance of nature as a comfortable harmony – all too often, balance is created by things in tension, pulling in opposite directions. Conflicting needs counterbalancing each other can create harmony very easily when you look at the whole effect. The experience of any part of the whole, is not of the harmony, but of the conflict.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Peace and Sovereignty

At the moment I’m reading a biography of Tori Amos that she wrote with journalist Ann Powers, entitled Piece by Piece.  Within the first few pages Tori mentions inner sovereignty, something that cannot be taken from her by anyone. They can do what they like, say what they like but she knows who she is, and is queen of her own self. I’ve been thinking about sovereignty, how we can come to an understanding of it and really see it manifest in our own lives.

I see sovereignty and peace as being inextricably entwined. We cannot have one without the other.  When we know ourselves, when we understand why we do the things that we do, when we can control out thoughts and feelings, living lives of intention instead of reaction, then we are truly sovereign of our life. This comes from a deep well of peace, wherein we find that inner core of our selves that is silent and still, that sings our soulsong in its purest form. It is our personal truth. Neither sovereignty nor peace can be conferred from without – both must begin from within.

Peace is related to truth.  We have to be willing to be open and honest with our selves, to see through our many layers of delusion, in order to understand our very being.  We have to see the good and the bad, acknowledge all these within our selves and through this acknowledgment, gain some control, some sovereignty over our behaviour.  Too often we run from the truth, whether it is the truth about ourselves or the truth about climate change. To face these truths requires us to change, to possibly suffer in order to bring about that change. We don’t like change. We don’t like suffering. Yet we cannot escape either of these things. To live means to live a life that has good and bad within it; let’s transcend those notions of good and bad and just live. When we do that, we move beyond suffering. We face our truth, and in facing our truth we find peace.

Peace is achieved when we manage to step beyond our selves, to switch off that inner chatter, that constant thinking instead of being. This does not mean that we become robots, with no thoughts, feelings or emotions. Rather, we do not attach to them, we do not spend so much time with them, entertaining them as they go round and round in our minds. We step outside of that, moving beyond our own story in order to see the story of the world around us as it unfolds in every moment. This peace can be achieved with discipline, with daily meditation, with time spent out in nature. There is no limit to our ability to learn each and every day what this means. Little by little, we come closer to joy. When we realise the world is more than just us, we find peace.

We cannot control how others behave. We only have control over how we behave in the world, how we act and react to others.  We can lessen our reaction to others to a more intentional way of being, through mindfulness of our thoughts, our bodies, the world around us. When things like pride or anger are not getting in the way, we can see things for what they really are.  We have no need to threaten others, to undermine others, to make them suffer. We realise that in doing so we are only doing that to ourselves, through the inter-relatedness of nature.  Letting go of the ego’s need for validation, for constant chatter, for endless self-centred thinking we can dive into the still, calm pools of reflection where peace is found. We find that we can contemplate the self without recrimination or judgement. When we can do that with our selves, we are able to do that with others. In that doing is compassion and understanding.

It can be difficult when others deliberately try to shatter our peace, who try to shake our foundation and inner sovereignty. But we cannot control them, and can only have compassion for them as they are so caught up in their suffering that they feel it necessary to spread it out into the wider world. We can instead find our true sense of self worth, our inner sovereignty, and let that light shine out in the world. We are our actions as well as our words. Our deeds are what is lasting in an impermanent world.

We can be at peace even in world that seems to going to hell in a handbasket. We can be at peace when others are trying to cut us down. We can be at peace in a world that is so materialistic and consumer driven that it is making itself extinct. That peace is the core of our being. That peace is within each and every one of us, if we are willing to see it. Through the opening of the eyes and the soul, we find that still, deep pool of being and of knowing, and there we reign supreme.

 

To find out more about mindfulness, meditation and peace, see my first book, Zen Druidry: Living a Life of Natural Awareness.  This book combines Easter and Western philosophies, techniques and spirituality to create a path that is focused on the here and now, awake to the beauty of the world and its rhythms of nature that flow through and around us each with each and every breath.

Blog image:
Still Pool Print by Jennifer Oakley-Delaplante 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    Thank you, Gwion, for your kind words and support. x
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    A lovely piece on Sovereignty. Thank you for the reminder. Gwion
Changes Surrounding the Vernal Equinox

As we entered into March, a strange energy overtook me.  Perhaps it was that, while the rest of the country remained captive of the snow and ice, the West coast has had a warm, early spring.  Perhaps it was, as some astrologers suggest, the Pegasus energy surrounding the eclipse on Ostara. 

Whatever the muse we attribute with providing motivation, I have felt an invigorating sense of determined purpose.  After years of plodding through a collaborative project, my co-author and I are nearly finished with the revised manuscript.  After years of a loss of mobility from a degenerative knee issue, I finally started taking my health seriously and used my new insurance to get physical therapy. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Mundane Mysticism

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

From The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    This is a thought-provoking article. I share your interest in Esoteric Mysticism and I believe the seeking of mystical experience

b2ap3_thumbnail_Tree_Of_Life0-1.jpgWhat and where is the Sacred Feminine?

How do we connect with Her?

Why is it important that we connect with Her?

These and other questions are the subject of my recent conversation with Barbara Hanneloré, author of The Moon and You - A Woman's Guide to an Easier Monthly Cycle. You can listen in to our conversation, part of the Womb Wisdom telesummit Barbara is organizing, beginning April 22.

The free Womb Wisdom telesummit brings together 12 women, sharing their expertise on subjects ranging from Fertility Awareness and Pelvic Floor Health to Mandala Meditations and Creativity.

Once you register for this free event, you're on your way to receiving gifts from each of the presenters. I’m offering two gifts, each complementing The Woman's Belly Book: a $5 discount on the Honoring Your Belly instructional DVD and a 20% discount on the full-color illustrated paperback, Rite for Invoking the Sacred Feminine.

b2ap3_thumbnail_womb_wisdom.pngHere's the theme of my conversation with Barbara regarding the what, where, how, and why of connecting with the Sacred Feminine: She is in our midst.

 

The Goddess In Our Midst

The Great Goddess —
      call her as you will:
      Mary, Isis, Kali, Tara,
      Demeter, Eve, Asherah — 
is here among us.

She is tangible, personal, present, earthy, real.

While some gods may be abstract, remote, out of reach,
She is here among us, in substance.

She is in our midst, embodied.
In the matter of our bodies, she is in our midst:

She lives within the center of our bodies
in that place we call the belly.

Our culture shuns the Sacred Feminine
and likewise shames woman's belly.

The devastating consequences of
denying the Sacred Feminine play out

communally —
       in violence, injustice,
       poverty, disease,
       environmental despoilation

and personally —
       in addiction, illness,
       lack of purpose,
       dissatisfaction, discontent.

Whatever we think will save us or heal us
from this devastation,
in essence
what we're seeking is
    reconnection with the Sacred Feminine.

We're craving a way
to reclaim the Sacred Feminine in our lives,

a way to move into
    intimate experience
    and personal knowledge of Her
            as our center of being.

We can reclaim the Sacred Feminine in our lives
by honoring the place where She dwells within us:

our bellies.

We can reconnect with Her
by making pilgrimage
to the temple wherein She dwells,

deepening our awareness
into our bellies with movement, breath, kind regard.

Honoring and energizing our bellies,
we come to know, to be with,

the goddess in our midst.

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Walking in another man's privilege

When we talk about walking in another man’s shoes are we not asking to experience their privilege or lack thereof? What would it be like to walk in the shoes of a woman or a person of another gender? Recently I traded my privilege with someone. And I don’t mean that we traded stories about our experiences with privilege. We inadvertently took on one another’s privilege and we both walked in it.

I am one of the most outgoing people I know and I meet a lot of people. In light of this it is no surprise that I have met people across a wide spectrum of intersecting privilege. I have shared dinner with homeless crack prostitutes and hot tubbed with silicon valley venture capitalists. But no matter how carefully I listen, I can never fully understand how different their lives are. By walking in another person’s privilege, however, I was able to gain a better understanding.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Kalends at Three

Tomorrow marks the Kalends of April, the first day of the month. In Ancient Rome, this was the day that state-sanctioned sacrifices were made to Juno, Janus, and the Lares. The date of the Nones, the day all other monthly festivals were publicly announced, was given. While a few syncretic Roman Revivalists follow the lunar cycle of marking the Kalends, which would be when the first sliver of a new moon could be seen in the sky or (not quite as accurately) the new moon, most of us observe the first of the month as the Kalends. That was how it was marked for the majority of Rome's history.

Most months, I work extra hard to make sure that I cook a modest but well-balanced meal for my family from scratch on this day. We offer at the lararium, or shrine to the Lares and household Gods, that sits in the middle of our dining room table. In my home, we bring the Gods to the table with us when we eat. We offer the first bites of food from our plate to the Lares, giving Them what They are due, along with all food that might happen to fall onto the floor. With a toddler in our house, the Lares get fed well with all the food that falls.

The rest of the religious duties of the day fall on me, though, and that's because I'm technically the only person in the house of this religion.

Except this is going to change this month. It was agreed upon many years ago that any child I had would be raised within my religion, since my husband is an agnostic humanist who loves Christmas. Now at 3-years-old, I feel like my daughter has hit that magical age where she's ready to start really learning about the Gods (though she continues to insist there are only 2 Gods) and participate in her mother's religion.

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