both sweet and spiky
sun-kissed and thorny
able to draw blood
and to cause you to smile
as you taste the juices of life.
I find it interesting to observe how the wheel of the year is reflected within my own mind and thought processes. In the late fall, I turn inward and feel like retreating and pulling away from commitments. In the winter, I incubate and make plans. In the spring, I emerge again and feel enthused with new ideas. In the summer, I start to make decisions about what to keep and what to prune away. I find that summer is a perfect time to see what is growing well and what needs to be yanked out by the roots.
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One Pagan's DNA Research
My ancestors are important to my shamanic path. My previous post discusses that and why taking an AncestryDNA test is part of that path for me.
Today's post discusses my feelings as I waited for the test results, my reactions to the results, and the adventure it put me on as a Pagan.
An AncestryDNA test predicts ethnicity. Waiting for test results, I wondered if I'd like them. I felt excitement and a bit of trepidation.
I was empowered thinking about the benefits my friends' experienced. One friend learned which regions in Africa her ancestors hailed from. Prior to that, she did not know where in Africa she was from. Another friend uncovered secrets her family had hidden. This freed her from decades of lies.
While I was in labor with my stillborn baby, I remember telling my midwife that I spent the first thirty years of my life depressed and I would NOT allow this tragedy to drag me back there. She smiled through her tears and told me I might not have a choice in the matter.
Reading the piece, which sports the title "Forgiveness," I wonder: What does belly wisdom have to do with that?
The Woman's Belly Book: Finding Your True Center for More Energy, Confidence, and Pleasure includes two poems, but this isn't one of them.
Searching my computer for a file that might contain the poem, thinking I could copy and paste the words here for you rather than type them out again, I find files labelled Forgiveness.0, Forgiveness.1, and Forgiveness.2.
Turns out, back in 1995 — twenty years ago — I guided people through a Ritual of Forgiveness in a workshop that was (if I remember correctly) part of a Sufi conference on healing.
The ritual involves moving through the Honoring Your Belly sequence of power-centering gestures — twice, in fact, each time with a different narration.
Apparently I wrote the two narrations for this Ritual of Forgiveness sometime after writing the ones that inform the Rite for Reconsecrating Our Womanhood and the Rite for Invoking the Sacred Feminine. The Reconsecrations voice a sequence of affirmations tracing the heroine's journey; the Invocations present a series of body prayers addressing the Feminine Divine. In each case, the words imbue the 23 gestures they accompany with personal meaning.
Likewise, in the first round of this Ritual of Forgiveness the 23 movement and breathing exercises enact "Decomposing the Old, Conceiving the New." The same gestures, in the second round, animate "Gestating and Generating the New."
Both rounds involve drawing out images emerging from the body's center: first, what we're willing to release; then, what we welcome to take its place.
Twenty years ago, I discovered that energizing the belly and activating its wisdom with movement and breath could contribute mightily to the process of forgiveness. I believe I'm ripe for exploring that connection again.
How are you with forgiveness — needing to forgive, resisting forgiveness, knowing how to forgive — in your life?
Here's the poem that sparked a twenty-year retrospective that, for me, is oh-so-timely today. I hope it's a pleasure for you.
pulls you out of the muck with a pop
sets you on your feet here
where the ground is sturdy
and the footing's firm
turns you around to face the
brushes you down, proclaims you
good as new
sends you on your way
with a scarlet smudge on your sacrum
and a turkey sandwich on rye
and a note safely pinned to your lapel:
The past two weeks have been full of movement and change, not to mention the perils (and blessings) of Mercury Retrograde. One of the major gifts of a Mercury Retrograde is the ability to finally put to rest things that have been unfinished, and this has been happening for me on a major scale. I have had the chance to really look at past patterns and lay them to rest, to pick up neglected projects and work on them, to revisit things I had laid aside. I led my first public women's Full Moon circle in over a decade, and remembered how much I love creating ritual space and sharing it with other women. I did a major cleaning of my living space, and am engaged in energetic decluttering even now, creating a space that will nurture me and my loved ones. I began teaching my first online class at Mystery School of the Goddess, and am plunging excitedly into developing more courses. And, just as Mercury came out of Retrograde, I was offered an amazing full time job -- after nearly a decade of poorly paid contingent faculty work. It's been a time of immense growth.
I am excited to have Diana, Roman Goddess of the Hunt and of the Moon, along with me during this exciting, energetic time:...
The summer solstice has been honoured around the world for millennia. In Britain and Ireland its marked by hundreds of earthworks, henges stone circles and rows, and it has a history of celebration from the Neolithic going through the Iron Age druids, through folklore and into the present day where it is honoured by pagans and heathens of many varieties. Solstice means solar standstill, and at this time the suns position from dawn to dusk does its highest arc in the sky, from its most north easterly at dawn to its most north westerly at sunset, before gradually rising further south day on day until the winter solstice. During this time when it is at its most northern arc, its position at dawn appears to 'stand still' until its journey south becomes discernible again. In many ways this can be seen as time where life force and the solar energies are at their height- a time of enthusiasm, celebration and empowerment, but also a time out of time, when the spirit world and our connection to our own souls may become more apparent.
Lighting fires has always been a popular practice at the summer solstice, and one that survived through to the modern era before being taken up with increasing enthusiasm in recent years. In Ireland there are many hills and ancient monuments sacred to or astronomically aligned to the summer solstice, but there are two especially famous hills, Knockainey, sacred to the fire goddess Aine, a faery queen, and Knoc Gréin, sacred to the solar goddess Greine. These two hills near each other in county Limerick were likely to have been beacon hills long ago, with twin fires honouring the sun at this time. Across Britain there are also many 'beacon' hills which are likely to have been used for the same purposes. An agricultural tradition across Britain and Ireland was to drive cattle in between two fires at this time to purify and bless them, and a custom among young men in particular was to leap the flames as well to be blessed and as a sign of fiery prowess....