Path of She: Walking with the Goddess

The Path of She invites you on a journey of transformation with the Goddess. Heed the call of the Goddess and your soul’s longings. Step beyond the world that you know. Reclaim the life-centered ways of the Goddess. Let your own life, with its beauty and wounding, lead your journey of healing and personal growth. The Path of She can guide your way home to your true, beautiful Self, and the powers and mysteries of the Goddess.

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Karen Clark

Karen Clark

 Karen Clark is the author of Tale of the Lost Daughter, The Path of She Book of Sabbats: A Journey of Soul Across the Seasons, and the Path of She Guided Journey Series. As a writer, teacher and waking woman, Karen’s passion is to return the Goddess and our sacred feminine nature back to their rightful place in our everyday lives. Her Path of She work translates Goddess mysteries to our modern search for meaning, healing, personal growth, and collective transformation.
Karen has been walking the Path of She, with the Goddess as her constant companion and guide, for thirty years. Her writings bridge everyday and magical realities, drawing upon her: in-the-world feminist studies and gender-equity consulting work; between-the-worlds magic and dreaming with the Goddess; and her personal, life-transforming pathwork of reclaiming her inner Goddess, feminine soul and womanhood.  

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Your Undimmed Lightness of Being

One Reality:

I’m in magical circle, celebrating Samhain. We’re in a group trance, traveling to the isle of the dead to commune with our beloved Ancestors. I’ve done this meditation many times before, yet this time is different.  As we reach the shore of this blessed isle, we unzip our flesh coats and step forth as beings of pure shining light, tethered to our living, breathing bodies by a silver cord.

There will never be enough words to capture such a lightness of being. For this blessed time, I’m free of my human body, and my mindscape of fears and tangled habits that make me less than I am.  I’m pure light, untainted love, unbounded beauty, in the company of other bright shining beings, both my living companions and our blessed dead. 

I understand, in the deepest parts of my being, the truth of this moment: that I am this being of light, always. This is my naked, true Self, and our naked, true humanity. We are, always, pure light, untainted love, unbounded beauty. When I follow my silver tether back to my human body, and zip myself back into my flesh coat, my skin seems to loosen its fibers, letting more of that inner light shine outward.

Another Reality:

A few weeks later, I’m on the treadmill at the gym, working to make my body strong.  There’s a screen in my face, blasting out the daily news: a gang rape by teenage boys from a Catholic high school; a high profile, high drama murder of an international journalist; the latest Trump cringe-fest fiasco.  My heart squeezes tight and my adrenals spike. Barely halfway through my cardio routine, I’m already drenched in the toxicity of status quo reality.

Damn! It’s caught me again, off guard, that constant, outer noise pushing its way past my defenses, triggering my fears and negative mindset, trying to spellbind me into believing in the worst of my humanity. I forget, in these short moments, my Samhain experience of the light being in my core. Loathing rises up in me, and horror, grief and rage. I feel dirty and ashamed of my flesh coat and our collective humanity.

Big breathe in. Big breathe out. I tune out the screen, and focus instead on the reassuring rhythm of my striding legs, my hard-working muscles and sweating skin. I love my wondrous flesh coat; I clear my mindset of fear and loathing; I remember the shining light of who I am, and the true, untainted nature of my humanity — the spell of our shadow humanity is broken.

Two realities.  Two versions of our human nature. 

Which do we choose to believe in? Which do we give our attention and juice to? Which do we allow to steer our choices and actions? Which will help us build the world we want to live in?

The shadow side of our humanity is true. We are doing terrible things to each other and our planet home.  Rape, murder and political fiascos are daily occurrences. Our flesh coats and mindsets are burdened down by fears and tangled habits born out of our personal and collective histories of trauma and wounding.   Yes, these things happen; they are real and seemingly omnipresent. 

The pure, shining brilliance of our humanity is true. We are blessed with the glorious gift of living in a light and beauty infused world. We ourselves are light and beauty infused beings. Love, kindness, justice, compassion, creativity, courage, humor, sensuality, and so much more: these are the shining of our inner light outward.  These things are real and truly omnipresent.

We talked about this dual nature of our humanity at the end of our Samhain ritual, and the overwhelming challenges and atrocities that have come to dominate our shared society and non-stop news cycles.  How can we be a force of positive change, we asked ourselves? How can we make a difference?

One of my brilliant companions answered simply, “we have to bring a little of our light into today, and then tomorrow after that.”

Nothing or no one can ever dim our lightness of being.  We’re meant to shine bright, gifting the world with the brilliance of our pure, naked Self, unbounded beauty and untainted love.  But we’ve been convinced to do the dimming ourselves. 

Individually and collectively, we’ve been bullied, shamed and abused. We’ve been indoctrinated into the shadow reality of humanity, fed to us constantly, unrelentingly through the one-sided messaging of mass culture. We’ve been spellbound through lies and illusions about our unworthiness and tainted nature. We’ve become lost and fear tangled, our flesh coat and mindset made into prisons, and our shining inner core forgotten.

But this doesn’t have to be your truth. You don’t have to give your attention and juice to the shadow reality of humanity.  You can choose to believe in the shining brilliance of your Self and human nature.  You can begin to undim your life light, loosen the fibers of your flesh coat, and let more and more of that glorious beauty that you are shine through.

Big breathe in. Big breathe out. Tune out the outer noise. Focus instead on the reassuring rhythm of your beating heart, the wondrous motions of your hard-working body, and the caress of air on your sensing skin. Reach inward to that shining light at the core of your being. Unzip your flesh coat, just a little bit, as much as feels good and safe. Take a little bit of your light into today, and tomorrow after that. Little by little, breathe by breathe, moment by moment, shine your lightness of being outward, and brighten the world around you.

In each of these undimmed moments, the shadow spell of humanity is broken, and you are set free. You may forget, be caught off guard, or choose to hide again. Don’t worry, these are natural parts of your journey of reclaiming your full-shining Self. Once you unzip your flesh coat, and taste your own innate brilliance and beauty, even a little, you’re no longer lost. You’ve woken from your spellbound sleep, and set your feet on a path that will guide you home to your true Self, undimmed moment by undimmed moment.

Trust that this journey takes time and practice. It’s done in small steps and big leaps, where, again and again, you choose to wake up, disconnect from the negative, shadow-reality messaging and experiences outside and inside of you, and re-align yourself with your shining core and a positive, love-filled vision of our humanity.

With every bit of your light you reclaim, you’re gifting yourself and everyone who crosses your path with bright new possibilities.
 
In these small steps and big leaps, we build the world we want to live in, each of us bringing a little of our unzipped light into today, and tomorrow after that. Together we can break the spell of our shadow humanity, forever, and bask in our collective, undimmed lightness of being.  From this vast, untapped resource of love, beauty and power, anything and everything are possible.  

Photo Credit: Seraphina Capranos & Ben Skorguson

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  • Karen Clark
    Karen Clark says #
    Thanks so much for the lovely comment Tasha.
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Nicely said and beautifully put. Thanks you for shining your light, Warmest joyful greetings ato your light that shines so brightl
Samhain Teaching: Born Into Life, Born Into Death

The natural world and our human psyches turn toward the mysteries of death at Samhain. Cold and darkness descend upon the land, and the wild world shifts into decay and a death-like sleep. In many cultures, this time of year is marked by offerings and rituals to honor the dead, our beloved ancestors.

Usually we don’t like to think about death. Most of us run as fast as we can from the frightening specter that decline and death conjure in us. It is the ultimate irony that the moment we are born into life, with our very first breath, we are also born into death. And we must live every moment, every breath, knowing that we will die, and that everything around us, all that we love and cherish, will eventually come to decay, to death, to dust.

Samhain teaches us that there is no hiding from death. It comes in the falling of leaves, the lengthening darkness and the cold grip of Winter. It comes in our remembrances of our beloved ancestors that have passed on. It comes in the wrenching of our heart as we witness a dear one slip from this world into the next. It comes with the graying at our temples, the sagging of our flesh and the unstoppable march toward our last breath.

And death comes with gifts in hand if we have the courage to show up raw and naked to our pain, losses and fears.

Death strips us to the basics:
that every breath is a miracle not to be wasted;
that each person, each creature and life form, is worthy, precious, sacred;
that life is oh so hard and oh so exquisite;
that pain and loss help us remember what we cherish most;
and that love, at the end of all things, is what remains.

Love is death’s most precious gift to us. Love, not money, possessions, career, social esteem and the many other alluring outer trappings of life, is the balm that soothes us in the face of death. Love is what connects us to those who have passed on. Love calls us to reach out and hold each other in our grief. Love is what joins us heart to heart and soul to soul to another. Love is our best offering from our Deep Self to the world.

Samhain is a time to contemplate the mysteries of death, not from a place of fear and resistance, but from an acceptance of death as a teacher and guide for the living. Yes we are born into life and born into death, and it is this very, inescapable fact that makes every moment so precious, fragile and bittersweet beautiful.

Death isn’t a summons to fear, it is an invitation to love, deeply, wildly, joyfully. And when death seeks us out at the end of our days, let our last breath be a prayer to love.

Photo Credit: Chris B on Unsplash

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Reclaiming the Goddess Mysteries of the Hera Path

Change is in the air. For millennia, humanity has rejected the ways of the Goddess and the mysteries of the sacred dark. We’ve lived a half-life, cut off from our deep roots in the Divine Feminine, the primal powers of Nature, and the profound beauty and magic of our body, shining soul and authentic Self.
 
Yet the season of humanity is turning, and a great awakening is upon us. The Goddess reaches for us, as we reach for Her. It’s time to reclaim Her hera path, and retell this sacred, transformative tale for these modern times. Here we’ll find the very things we need to guide our spiritual journey and quest for self-discovery, personal growth and spiritual evolution that can truly mend our soul and make our life, and our world, anew. 

The Goddess and Her hera path are foreign to our contemporary sensibilities. The original Goddess hera tales have been mostly lost to us. What remains are fragments of myths, like those of Persephone and Inanna, whose deeper meanings and transformative teachings have been relegated to the fringe of our human society and psyche. 
 
Instead, our mythic storytelling and meaning making are dominated by the powers and perspective of God and men. The hero’s journey — that comes to us through the comparative-mythology writings of the late, brilliant Joseph Campbell — is the prevailing mythic storyline of our human quest for personal and spiritual growth.
 
In its basic structure, the hero’s journey is a quest where outer trials and treasures fuel our spiritual adventures and personal growth: the hero begins in the everyday world, where he is given a quest or call to adventure; he sets out on a journey where he faces greats trials, usually with the help of an ally; he fights his biggest battle, and through his victory he achieves his quest and claims his treasure; and then he returns to the ordinary world as a reborn or changed man.
 
If this storyline sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve been telling this hero-journey tale for thousands of years. Joseph Campbell found this story structure in important, surviving myths from around the world, including those of Buddha, Mohammad, Jesus and Moses. Frodo, Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter are contemporary examples of our continued reliance on the hero’s journey to tell big stories of spiritual adventure and personal growth.
 
But something is missing in these mythic stories. The hero’s journey is presumed to be a universal spiritual journey for humankind, when in reality it only speaks to the masculine, outer- and action-focused aspects of our human nature and spiritual growth. The missing mythic storyline is the hera path, with its inward-focused, Goddess-based tale of descent and return from the Underworld.
 
In its basic structure, the hera path has four phases: the Goddess descends into the Underworld realm of the sacred dark, leaving behind Her known world as She begins a new cycle on Her journey of self-discovery and spiritual evolution; She travels the ways of this realm, suffering its trials and embracing its mysteries of death and rebirth: She dies to Her old Self, and is reborn anew; She returns to the sunlit realm of light and life, transformed by Her travels into Her full maturity and powers: Queen and Goddess of the realms below and above, who bridges the primal powers of darkness, death, light and life; She walks the sunlit realm, at one with Her Goddess power and presence, leaving a trail of blossoming life in Her path.
 
When translated to your personal journey of soul, the hera path directs your spiritual quest inward to the sacred dark of your inner psyche and the mysteries that underlie waking reality. In contrast to the hero’s journey, there’s no outer enemy to battle, but more the imperative to brave the trials and challenges of your own life story, and to be present and empowered in the face of the raw truths of your experiences, both the beauty and wounding, and the light and shadow.
 
To reclaim the hera path is to embrace a Goddess-based conception of personal growth and spiritual evolution. You’re not trying to reach a rarified state of enlightenment that’s often associated with spiritual evolution, nor are you trying to emulate the qualities of someone or something outside of your Self. Instead, your journey of soul is about becoming a more evolved, whole, powerful version of your Self.  You show up to your life and spiritual pathwork with wisdom, love and self-acceptance,  knowing that darkness, death, trials and suffering are inevitable parts of human existence and your life story, and the very things that drive your spiritual growth and evolution. 
 
The hera path has always held these transformative mysteries of the Goddess on our behalf. Persephone has been making Her journey of descent and return from the Underworld over and over again in the mythic realm, waiting for the time when we would once again seek Her guidance and wisdom on our journey of self-discovery and spiritual evolution. Her story, along with the more ancient tale of Inanna, are as potent and relevant now as they were in the distant days when they were first spoken, and maybe even more so given how long we’ve strayed from the life-giving, soul-nourishing ways of the Goddess, and how lost we’ve been from the deep roots and mysteries of our own Self and soul.
 
What is lost can be refound and reclaimed. As the seasons turn to Fall, Persephone waits for you at the edge of the known world, where the everyday gives way to the deeper Mysteries that underlie human reality. Her hand is extended, reaching to you with an open invitation to join Her at this edge place where the ancient hera path of the Goddess begins.

Photo by luizclas from Pexels

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  • Karen Clark
    Karen Clark says #
    I checked out your website and oracle deck. Very cool. Yes, we share the same passion. I write about the transformative mysterie
  • Dver
    Dver says #
    Wow, you've hit on something very close to what I've described as the Girls Underground archetype - something that begins with Per
  • Karen Clark
    Karen Clark says #
    Thanks for the positive feedback Tasha. I'm so glad the article speaks to your Truth. Blessings.
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    This is an interesting piece of writing, and I experienced it as very true, or should I say a veritable Truth. Thank you for your
The Goddess and the #Metoo Movement: Mythic Tales for these Modern Times

Something essential is shifting in the foundations of our world as we witness others tell their long-hidden, #metoo stories, and tell our own stories in turn. We’re speaking truth, and being heard. We’re saying: you’re time is up, and holding male perpetrators accountable. We’ve woken up, en masse, and we’re not going back to sleep. And we’re not alone.

The Rape of Persephone

From the long ago of Greek civilization, comes the #metoo tale of The Rape of Persephone.

Demeter's trim-ankled daughter whom Hades rapt away, given to him by all-seeing Zeus. Apart from Demeter, lady of the golden sword and glorious fruits, she was gathering flowers over a soft meadow, roses and crocuses and beautiful violets, irises also and hyacinths and the narcissus, which Gaia made to grow at the will of Zeus and to be a snare for the bloom-like girl--a marvelous, radiant flower. And the girl was amazed and reached out with both hands to take the lovely toy: but the wide-pathed earth yawned there in the plain of Nysa, and the lord, Hades, with his immortal horses sprang out upon her. He caught her up reluctant on his golden car and bore her away lamenting.
(Source: Homeric Hymn 2 to Demeter (abridged) (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th or 6th B.C.)

Let this piece of Persephone’s story sink in. Persephone is a Goddess. Her Mother Demeter is a Goddess. These are big, powerful, feminine beings that bring life, abundance and beauty to the Earth. Yet the God Hades, with the help of the almighty Zeus, can do want He wants to Persephone.

Hades desires Persephone so He abducts and rapes Her, and makes Her his bride.  Persephone is taken against Her will, and Demeter can’t protect Her beloved daughter.  Later in the tale, Persephone is returned to Demeter, but the damage has been done. She’s eaten the fruit of the Underworld, and is forced to be with Hades, Her abductor and abuser, part of every year.  

Here we are, some 2500-plus years later, and Persephone’s tale still speaks truth to women’s experiences of male power and sexual violence. Rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and the pervasive sexism of everyday life find their deep roots in this ancestral, mythic negation of our feminine divinity and sovereignty. As the Gods do to the Goddesses, so men do to women.

Our #metoo stories are this old, and older still.  We modern women are the latest manifestation of the suffering of our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and the long, long female line that went before us. And the Goddess stands with us in our suffering, and our awakening. 

Persephone’s story is our story. We didn’t write or choose this story. It was written by men in power with the intention of usurping and subduing the sovereignty and powers of the Goddess, and we, Her earth-bound daughters. The purpose of this story was, and still is, to make us forget and fear our vast, mysterious feminine nature, and to make divine and normal our powerlessness in a male-defined reality.    

As ancient as Persephone’s story may be, and as entrenched as sexism and misogyny may appear in our current, status-quo reality — this is just one story and one version of reality. It’s not truth, not inevitable, and not even original.  The Rape of Persephone is an abomination that debases and distorts a much older tale of the Goddess and Her descent to the Underworld.

The Descent of Inanna

Dial back another 3000 years to ancient Sumeria and the tale of The Descent of Inanna:

From the Great Above She opened Her ear to the Great Below.
From the Great Above the Goddess opened Her ear to the Great Below.
From the Great Above Inanna opened Her ear to the Great Below. 
Inanna abandoned Heaven and Earth to descend to the Underworld.

When Inanna arrived at the outer gates of the Underworld, She knocked loudly.
She cried out in a fierce voice: 'Open the door, gatekeeper! Open the door, Neti!
I alone would enter!'

Neti, the chief gate keeper of the kur, asked: 'Who are you?'
She answered: 'I am Inanna, Queen of Heaven, on my way to the East.'
Neti said: 'If you are truly Inanna, Queen of Heaven, on your way to the East,
why has your heart led you on the road from which no traveler returns?'
Inanna answered: 'Because of my older sister Ereshkigal, Her husband,
Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven, has died. I have come to witness the funeral rites.’
(Source: Wolkstein, Diane; Kramer, Samuel Noah (1983), Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer)

Let this fragment of Inanna’s story sink in. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven and Earth.  Ereshkigal is the Goddess of the Underworld. This is a story and reality where Goddesses, not Gods, reign in the Great Above and Great Below, and hold between them the primal mysteries of life, death and rebirth.

Later in the tale, we discover that Inanna, like Persephone, suffers the trials of the Underworld. But She does so by Her own choice and great courage. Through Her descent, She submits to the transformative mysteries of the Dark Goddess Ereshkigal. She is stripped bare, and dies to Her old self in order to be reborn into Her full powers and beauty. When She emerges from Her journey in the Great Below, Inanna is whole, holy in the full spectrum of Her Goddess powers and wisdom – Queen of Heaven, Earth and the Great Below.

Inanna’s story is also our story in these #metoo times. By our own choice and great courage, we are turning our ear to the Great Below, and embarking on a journey into the Underworld that underlies our everyday reality. Here, in the dark, shadowy places in our inner psyche and shared society, we are seeking out the lost and repressed stories of sexual violation and gender discrimination that have scarred our lives.

The Great Below isn’t the realm of Hades and male power. The dark isn’t a place of rape, violence and domination. These are lies and distortions that block us from the wild, raw depths of our women’s power and mysteries, and from the very things that can mend our lives and world: our pain, grief and rage, and our truth, beauty and sovereignty. And, like Inanna before us, when we emerge from this journey, we can become whole, holy in the full spectrum of our feminine powers and wisdom, transforming not only our personal lives but also our shared society.

Our Modern #MeToo Tales

Feel the power of Persephone’s and Inanna’s legacy. Your #metoo story is a part of these ancient Goddess tales, and the lived experiences of the long line of women ancestors that have gone before you. Your voice is part of a world-changing movement of women speaking truth that can unravel the past, and reweave a collective reality that returns women to their rightful place in our shared society.

We’re in this together — Persephone, Inanna, you, me and the countless others braving their #metoo tales. Our lives, truth and stories matter. Safety, respect and honoring our feminine nature are our birthrights. It’s time for a new myth and collective reality, guided by the tales of Persephone and Inanna, and yet fresh and inspired by our personal stories and lived experiences.

Hades, Zeus, the male ancestors who wrote these mythic tales, and the men who continue to abuse and dominate women: their time is up. Whatever comes next will be of our writing and choosing, in service of our greater womanhood and sovereignty, and beauty, love and justice for all.

PHOTO CREDIT: Rupert Bunny, Rape of Persephone, via Wikimedia Commons

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  • Judith Shaw
    Judith Shaw says #
    Great look at these two stories and the differences they reflect. I've often thought of Inanna as the original Whole Goddess of t
  • Karen Clark
    Karen Clark says #
    You are welcome Judith. And thanks for the great comment. I too love Inanna in Her wholeness and sovereignty, and find the parall

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The Yes Magic of New Year’s Resolutions

With the Winter Solstice, the new solar year has begun, followed closely by the turning into a new calendar year. Now is a time of endings that mark new beginnings, and the tradition of New Year’s resolutions.

New Year’s resolutions can be a catalyst for profound, soul-sourced change, drawing on the Path of She practice of yes magic. Yes is the most powerful magical word in our vocabulary. It’s a word that the Universe pays close attention to. Say ‘yes’ and doors of possibilities open. Say ‘yes’ from the depths of soul, and you can transform your life.

Right now, at this very moment, the power of yes magic is at work in your life. Every choice you make and action you take, consciously or unconsciously, is a yes spoken in the language of the material world that weaves the fabric of your everyday existence. This is powerful magic: you are, in effect, spellcrafting your life.

Yes magic is a form of spellcrafting that aligns the potent, twin powers of desire and will through a specific, consciously chosen intention. Desire is what you want, will is your ability to make things happen, and intention is the spark that ignites the magic between them, and sends this magic outward into the listening Universe.

When you make a New Year’s resolution, you’re focusing your will by setting an intention for the coming calendar year. This is a perfect opportunity to use yes magic in service of your personal and spiritual growth for the new year.

Making Your Yes-Magic New Year’s Resolution

1. Heed Your Soul Desire

Yes magic operates in the domain of soul, not surface-level needs and wants. To use yes magic for your New Year’s resolution, you start by turning your awareness inward, and seeking out the soul desires that are reaching for expression in your outer life at this time.

Take out your journal book. With a few full, slow, grounding breaths, settle into your body and empty your mind. Then focus your attention on heeding your desire for profound, transformative change in the new year. 

Start by exploring your existing thoughts about change in the new year. What healing and personal transformation are you hungry for? What are your fears and hopes at this time? What new skills, knowledge, lifestyle enhancements and resources would you like to cultivate?  Why do you want to make these changes in your life?

Then take a few more deep, grounding breaths. Let go of everything you’ve written, and imagine yourself slipping beneath these things you know, and the wants and whys you can readily name. What is beneath these things? What soul-based longings are trying to make their way into your conscious knowing at this turning into the new year?

When your journaling feels complete, put your writing to one side, and let your insights and discoveries percolate inside of you.

2. Connect With Your Will

Yes magic is also about being grounded in your everyday life, and working with the impetus for change that’s already present in your outer environment. Desire turns your awareness inward, seeking out what you want to change. Will’s job is to focus your awareness outward, and to drive change in relation to your existing life circumstances.

Now that you’ve heeded your soul desire for change in the new year, you next turn your attention to your will, and its connection to what’s happening in your life at this moment.

Place your hands on your abdomen, and anchor yourself in your will by tracking the movements of your breath in the rounding and flattening of your belly. Then expand your awareness outward to your greater environment, and the energies and events of your outer life.

Ask yourself: what’s up for me right now, and demanding my attention, positive or negative? What opportunities and challenges am I facing?  What unusual or synchronistic events have come my way? How are these things revealing the personal change that’s ripe for me at the beginning of this new year? 

Answers may come to you immediately, or you may want to let them brew for a day. When this activity feels complete, move on to step 3.

3. Align Your Desire and Will

Yes magic sources its immense, transformative potential from the alignment of the twin powers of desire and will. When you say yes to your soul desire, and fire up your will to make this desire manifest in your outer life, you’re tapping into the deep, foundational roots of spellcrafting magic. It’s like sending up an intense, focused beacon into the listening Universe, and activating its mysteries of manifestation in service of your personal transformation.

Close your eyes, and put one hand each on your heart and belly. With several full, slow breaths, imagine yourself connecting to your heart with its inner knowing of your soul desires, and your belly with its outer knowing of your will. Open to the meeting and mingling of the insights that came to you in your step 1 and 2 activities. Feel these energies come into alignment in the core of your being, with your will primed to service your soul desire.

From this powerful place, ask yourself: what is my intention for 2018? How do I want to heal, grow and transform my life?  Be specific and concrete. Know you can choose to change in big or small ways. What matters is not so much the size of the change, but more the depth of the vision and energies that you’re tapping into when setting your intention for 2018.

Move directly from this activity into step 4.

4. Craft Your New Year’s Resolution

From the insights and information that came to you in the prior steps, craft a specific, yes-magic New Year’s resolution.

Words matter. Your soul, will and the mysteries of the Universe heed the specifics of your intention. Speak in empowering terms, naming what you want to bring into your life, rather than what you want to get rid of. Keep your resolution simple and brief, yet also use words that have power and meaning for you, and that make your soul sing. Make sure there’s an action element to your resolution, something that you’ll do to help manifest your intention. Leave lots of room for the unexpected and the unknown, so the Universe can weave its manifestation magic.

An ideal New Year’s resolution would support and nurture the new direction of your personal and spiritual growth, without being overly directive or goal-oriented. For example, you could set a resolution to develop a new skill, knowledge area or lifestyle choice that would support and enhance your soul’s desire to take your life in a new direction.

Symbolic actions matter.  Design a simple ritual that can charge your New Year’s resolution, and send its message outward into the listening Universe. You can create sacred space, light a candle, and speak your New Year’s resolution out loud three times. You can charge a symbolic object, like a piece of jewelry, an altar item, or a written affirmation that can be a touchstone to your New Year’s resolution yes magic as 2018 unfolds. Or you can come up with your own ritual that speaks to your soul and intention for change.

It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as it’s symbolically connected to your New Year’s resolution, and anchors your 2018 intention in your soul, body and physical surroundings.  

5. Release Your New Year’s Resolution

With yes magic, like all spellcrafting, you don’t grip tight to your intention. Gather up your presence, commitment and power. Charge your New Year’s resolution through your ritual. Then release your intention, setting it free to work its yes magic, as it will, in your life.

Change will come, but not necessarily change that you can control or choose. The potent alignment of your soul-sourced desire, outer-anchored will, and the mysteries of the Universe will bring you whatever you deeply, truly need to heal and transform your life in keeping with your New Year’s resolution.  

For example, if your resolution is to become a more loving person, this might show up as a big fight with your mother. As counter-intuitive as this may appear, on a deeper level your heart might be blocked because of an unresolved issue with your mother. So the Universe delivers to you what you truly need: a conflict to heal your heart with your mother so you can continue on your chosen path of becoming a more loving person.

Yes magic and your soul have their own timeframes which can manifest change in an instant, or take a long time to unfold. In practice, the work of your soul is all about process, not outcomes. What matters is the depth of your engagement, not the speed of your journey or your destination.

6. Do Your Soul Work

Yes magic isn’t about words. What you do is your true yes, not what you say. Unless your actions back up your New Year’s resolution, nothing is going to happen, or more accurately, something will happen, but it’ll be in alignment with the yes communicated by your actions.

In the coming weeks and months, follow through on your New Year’s resolution by backing your yes words with yes actions. Trust that the challenges and opportunities for change that arrive on your doorstep are your work of soul.  Embrace the negative and positive, the light and shadow, and your beauty and wounding, knowing that all these things are the makings of your personal and spiritual pathwork in 2018.

And remember to look for the unexpected. With your yes-magic New Year’s resolution, you’ve activated powerful manifestation energies, and these energies will reveal themselves in the insights, dreams, issues, challenges and opportunities that come your way. Expect to be surprised, to dig into places that you’d rather avoid, and to be led by mysteries that you don’t fully understand.

Do your spiritual pathwork to the best of your ability, and trust that this is enough. With conscious awareness and commitment to your New Year’s resolution, you can change in profound, transformative ways, and become ever more masterful at the yes magic of spellcrafting the blessed gift that is your life and the living of your soul desire.

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Making Magic: A Tender’s View of a Samhain Ritual

We gather in a heritage hall on my island home for our Samhain ritual.  Warm bodies squeeze close together to form a circle of pagan and non-pagan folks, grownups and children, and even a couple of dogs, with the room filled to capacity. 

It’s been a hard, heartbreaking year for our community. The Ancestors altar is covered with photographs and mementos of those that have passed. There have been many deaths, and the tragic loss of two precious youth in one September weekend that shook this island to its core. I feel this collective grief in my own heart, and in this gathering. Samhain is the time when we honor and name those we’ve lost this year, and commune with our Beloved Dead.

Yet there’s more than grief and loss in the room. At the opposite end of the cycle of life are the youth, our children, and the souls waiting to be born. These beings we honor on the Descendants altar, and through the naming of the newborns this year.

I stand beside the Ancestors altar with another priestess. Across the circle from us, two priestesses stay by the Descendants altar. The four us will be calling in the Ancestors and Descendants, and then shifting into paired partners of Deep Witness and Tender.

The Deep Witnesses don’t actively participate in the ritual. They sit — veiled, empty and silent — acting as anchors and observers of the deep dream of our magic. I’m one of the Tenders. Our priestess role is to support and protect our Deep Witness, and to stay by her side for the duration of the ritual.

As the ritual begins, I notice that I feel different than my usual, high-intensity magical engagement. I’m somber, watchful and empty present — a guardian and observer of the Deep Witness and our community as we enter the powerful, mysterious and mournful experience of Samhain.

Together we create sacred space. The circle is cast. We ground.  The Elements are called in through song.  Goddesses and other Mysteries are invoked.  Our priestess group calls in the Ancestors and Descendants.

I listen from the edge of the circle, attuned to the movements of bodies, weaving of energy, and quality of presence, more than the individual words and actions.  I step forward to do my calling in task, and then settle into my role as Tender.

I notice the seamless sharing of leadership, power and space — the many priestesses working together to co-create this magical experience for our community. The talent and expertise in this room are immense, diverse, breathtaking, yet I don’t sense inflated egos, jealousy or competition. 

We move on to the reading of the names of the dead who have passed this year — what is remembered lives. And the dead come, slipping past the veil that separates us, to drink of our grief, our love, and our honoring.

I notice how natural this is, how right for us to be with our honored dead in these ways. They move among us, touching the faces of their beloved kin with their hands of light, soothing the broken hearts of those left behind, letting us know that they are still with us, just a thought, a name, a song away.

Two priestesses begin to trace a path in the center of the circle, one drumming and together weaving a hauntingly beautiful guided trance to the Isle of Apples, the Pagan Land of the Dead.  Everyone settles into a comfortable position, and makes their way to the blessed Isle to commune with their Beloved Dead. 

The Sacred Witnesses don’t make this journey, nor do we, their Tenders. Together we anchor this magical circle, while the Sacred Witnesses hold vigil and observe all with their dream eyes. My only job is to stand guard. I don’t pry into the visioning of the ritual participants, nor of the Sacred Witnesses. Whatever is happening here is intensely soul-to-soul private.

I notice a current of power that runs between the two Sacred Witnesses: one an anchor for the lineage of Ancestors that stretches into the far distant past, and the other an anchor for the lineage of Descendants that reaches into the far distant future. I sway back and forth, back and forth, my movements an involuntary response to the magnetic pulse of whole time, where the future and the past are both present in this now moment, and the yet to be born, the dead and the living share this communal, magical space.

The two priestesses speak once more, calling the ritual participants to rise up and dance the Spiral Dance with their Beloved Dead, and with the Souls of the Unborn who also reside on the Isle of Apples. Hand to hand, the dancers form a moving spiral that turns inward toward the circle center, and then back outward again. Dancers pass each other by, shining face to shining face, with voices raised in song. 

I first notice how crowded the space is, not only with the living, but also with our unseen guests of the Beloved Dead and the Unborn. My guardian instincts kick in, and I expand my energy to create a protective barrier between the Sacred Witness and the dancers.

Yet the Sacred Witness is unfazed. She rocks and sways with the music and building energy of the dance. This energy is immense, intense, but also peaceful, harmonious, and so, so heart-wrenching.

Tears run down my cheeks. Love is what fills this room, overflowing from heart to heart. Love that joins us all in this raw, bittersweet dance of death, life and birth.   

This is how we hold our grief and losses; with this much love, power and presence. We are one community: the living, the dead and the yet to be born. The spiral dance is life itself, a turning into and out of the mortal coil of our flesh and bones form.

As the Spiral Dance and guided journey come to a close with words of parting and gratitude for the Beloved Dead and the Unborn, it’s time to honor and name the newborns for this year, and to circle back to the celebratory beginnings of life.

Then there’s one last task before the circle is opened: the Deep Witnesses speak on behalf of the Ancestors and Descendants.

The Ancestors remind us that we are each a light in these dark times, and we must shine our brightest to make this world a better place. The Descendants tell us that special souls are being born to this world, and that we must make space for them and heed their teachings. 

I notice how everyone in the room turns their rapt attention to the Deep Witnesses as they speak. When the Mysteries walk among us, our only job is to listen to the power of their voices, and the hope in their messages. The Ancestors and Descendants leave us with sacred responsibilities: to show up as our bright shining Selves, and to welcome and honor the newborns and our children as teachers and guides. This is how we can mend and remake our world for the better.

For this Samhain eve, our magic is done. We devoke, thanking and saying goodbye to all that we’ve called in. Priestesses and participants alike are called back from the Mysteries to return to the waking world. Our circle is opened, yet unbroken.

As a community, we share food and conversation afterwards, and I continue my Tender duties until my priestess companion is returned from her Deep Witness journey, and fully grounding in her human form. Then it’s time to go home, nourished, healed and transformed by our evening of magic.

The next day, I notice that I’m filled with a profound sense of wellbeing and wholeness. Magic makes me whole. Honoring death, loss and grief makes me whole. Deep communion with the Beloved Dead, the Unborn, the Ancestors and the Descendants makes me whole. Sharing these essential things with my community makes me whole. Love makes me whole.

Let this wholeness be our prayer and our practice in the year to come.

Ritual Credit: This Samhain ritual arises out of the Reclaiming Tradition of Witchcraft.

Photo Credit: Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

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  • Karen Clark
    Karen Clark says #
    Thank you birch! It was an honor to be a Tender for such a powerful, loving community ritual.
  • Robert Birch
    Robert Birch says #
    Karen, What a soul moving article. I read it, quietly cried and dreamed into the pagan gift to the world through your wyrds. ~bir
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