Wonderful episode about the ways trees and fungus cooperate in the forest.
Picture Courtesy of druidlife.wordpress.com
This lovely blogpost by Talis Kimberly published on Druid Life (link below) elicited many thoughts for me to share. I came to Druidry very late in my life, after a circu-ambulatory lifetime of exploration and experience within the Christianity that predominates in the United States. Starting at a point of extreme left-brained and law-focused evangelicalism, I slowly wound my way through increasingly liturgical expressions until what spoke most to me was metaphor and symbol.
As I have faced death due to my cancer, I have been drawn to understand the ¨Other Side.¨ Familiarity with the Christian mystics embraced by the highly liturgical factions within Christianity led me to explore their writings; surely they had experience with the Other Side which had set up a longing within each of their hearts to remain in the presence of the Holy. Working with Evelyn Underhill´s Practical Mysticism, I began to develop that underdeveloped portion of my own soul.
Developing this led me to appreciate other expressions of mysticism and to find, to my surprise, that at heart, no matter their starting positons, all mystics beleve the same things – we are all connected, we are loved extravagantly, we are all accepted including the parts we ourselves find embarrassing and problematic, and that the Holy is enigmatic even when in the midst of us.
I came to adopt this earth-based religion/philosophy as I had experience of being stalked through my life by the deer-goddess Elen, a very ancient Celtic goddess who I had no reason to have ever come in contact with, and yet who had been present in my life for as long as I can remember. Coming to Druidry alone, in the middle of nowhere northwestern Montana, has been beneficial – I have no one to share with, no one to influence my experience, no grove to conform to.
I have been forced to take responsibility for my beliefs, my knowledge, and my action in a distinct way. I have searched out those who have written about their beliefs and been blessed to have discovered some mighty souls. To my surprise, my path has led to my coming to know some of these very people, though thousands of miles may separate us. I have come to discover shared experiences as the Goddess called to each of us and shared healings of identical wounds.
What can be overwhelming is that to be a true follower of druidry requires acquiring information on a wide variety of topics so as to inform action, living intentionally in all areas of ones life, understanding that there is a cost to be paid when we run afoul of the common culture and yet living out of core beliefs and precepts anyway, and doing this 24/7 while also celebrating the wheel of the year and applying the seasonal insights to a deepending practice and awareness of the sacred.
My first real intentional decision involved choosing woods for a bespoke cane that I was having made; the woods had to be from sustainable sources and I felt like the decision took forever by the time I had done my research. I think a topic for another day is the need for us to be gentle with ourselves as well. Since part of our experience is that we are human, there are limits and we fail or at least fall short. Decisions often have unintended consequences. We must love and accept what the full experience of being human entails.
I am fortunate to no longer live in a large metropolitan area. I find that being in touch with the land is so difficult in an area where one is separated from agriculture and surrounded by buildings and asphalt that are paeans to man´s superiority. Those who manage to do this have my greatest respect. Brendan Howlin´s book, The Handbook of Urban Druidry: Modern Druidry for All, was a wonderful find in providing support for those who face this situation.
My need to be in a smaller settlement and close to the mountains was honored after retirement. I did not feel I had the ability, or really what amounted to the courage, to make the change earlier. Being in an area where every day I can watch the cycle of planting, growth, and harvest, being in an area where I know my farmers and their challenges with the land, these have brought a richness to my spiritual practice. I am slowly aligning more and more with the native American understanding of medicine. Medicine is not what you take when you are ill, but what infuses and aligns your entire life.
Perhaps Talis says it better:
A guest blog from Talis Kimberley I was fortunate enough t o spend my childhood in a house with a large garden. I have often said that the garden, not the house, are really where I lived; certainly my memories of it are stronger. Until I was 17 I knew a kindly green landscape where […]
Last night my husband and I watched the PBS rebroadcast of Ken Burns´ wonderful series on the National Parks. We are very invested in the idea of the parks and very aware of some interests in this country that only value them in terms of extractable commodities. Frequently we hear of oil interests wanting to drill or, worse yet, frack in or near the parks and threaten the water supply. The Two Medicine area of Glacier/Waterton National Parks is one place that, thank the goddess, has finally been spared.
This image is from the National Parks Service website and shows Two Medicine Lake and Mt. Sinopah: https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/twomedicine.htm
Recently, mostly with the active involvement of our wonderful senator Jon Tester, the U.S. government canceled the oil and gas leases in the Badger/Two Medicine. This land is holy land. The Blackfeet call Two Medicine the place where Wind was born. I can attest to the likelihood of that as the wind is a major feature! But Two Medicine is holy as well to anyone who is sensitive and attuned to beckoning Spirit. The first time I went to Two Medicine, after I had passed the turn off to Trick Falls, turned the corner to face the lake, and saw the mountains rising up ahead of me like guardian spirits of place I burst into tears. I was so overwhelmed with the power of the place that there was nothing for it but to cry in its presence. Two Medicine Webcam.
Frequently Ken Burns uses quotes from John Muir in his National Parks documentary and one really caught my ear and framed my experience. I could not find it exactly when I scanned John Muir´s writings on the Sierra Club website. But, I offer the following from the first chapter of Muir´s book Our National Parks:
The tendency nowadays to wander in wildernesses is delightful to see. Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life. Awakening from the stupefying effects of the vice of over-industry and the deadly apathy of luxury, they are trying as best they can to mix and enrich their own little ongoings with those of Nature, and to get rid of rust and disease. Briskly venturing and roaming, some are washing off sins and cobweb cares of the devil’s spinning in all-day storms on mountains; sauntering in rosiny pinewoods or in gentian meadows, brushing through chaparral, bending down and parting sweet, flowery sprays; tracing rivers to their sources, getting in touch with the nerves of Mother Earth; jumping from rock to rock, feeling the life of them, learning the songs of them, panting in whole-souled exercise, and rejoicing in deep, long-drawn breaths of pure wildness. This is fine and natural and full of promise. So also is the growing interest in the care and preservation of forests and wild places in general, and in the half wild parks and gardens of towns. Even the scenery habit in its most artificial forms, mixed with spectacles, silliness, and kodaks; its devotees arrayed more gorgeously than scarlet tanagers, frightening the wild game with red umbrellas,–even this is encouraging, and may well be regarded as a hopeful sign of the times.
Get thee to the mountains, for you will surely be coming home!
Imbolc is my most favorite of the pagan holidays. It comes after the winter solstice and before the spring equinox and assures us that the sun has indeed come back, which is a very good thing, a cause for celebration as warmth and light suffuse and drive away the icy cold of the winter.
From the times of my earliest pagan ancestors, Imbolc represented much more. In those days the ability of people to survive the winter was completely due to the steps taken earlier in the year to store adequate foods, herbs, and medicines to anticipate any needs that might arise. There was no country store, there were no state-run utilities, there was no urgent care. You put up the supplies that you needed and hoped that you had not miscalculated.
By the time Imbolc rolled around those stores would have been depleted. Would there be enough food to sustain people until the weather warmed and the crops began to develop and provide? The days were longer but there were still weeks of cold weather ahead and the danger was not over yet.
The gift of Imbolc is that the sheep and cattle began to give milk again. Cheese could be made and that cheese could suffice as a protein source bridging the winter into the spring. What a life saver; because of the possibility of cheese and milk people had a chance of adequate nutrition and the promise of being able to live into the next year. This was never promised, never a sure thing, but what hope it must have brought in the icy blues and grays of a midwinter landscape. So one makes the cheese with the milk that had been given and then one eats that cheese in hopes of surviving until life became a bit easier.
The timing of Imbolc and my life circumstance makes for good reflection. I am in the winter of my life. I have advanced cancer and have run out of treatments to try and keep it at bay. Will Imbolic bridge this time until a time when more treatments may be available? Whatever it is I am all in – I will eat all the metaphorical cheese I can find if the spirits provide.
The strange thing is that this is happening for me right now. My last scan showed that my cancer was growing once again. While I thought that meant that I would be handed over to hospice forthwith, I was not! Imbolc announced itself through my oncologist opting to continue my treatment on existing medication knowing that the cancer would continue to grow but at a slow pace. Through my personal Imbolc I will ride that medicine through the growth of my cancer until it is so threatening that changes must be made. Then I will transition to the only remaining available treatment in hopes that this too will buy time until another treatment becomes available through the FDA. If it does not then it is on to hospice. If it does become available then Imbolc will have indeed bridged the two seasons for me.
The blessing and grace of Imbolc have given me the hope that even in my diminished state I am providing healing and service to the goddess, yet I am also aware that there is an element of gift in this as well. For this I am grateful.
A book review by Spirit Mountain Wilds:
Recently I was given the opportunity by Moon Books to review Vivenne Moss´ latest book, written under the Pagan Portals imprint, for and about her goddess Hekate. As someone who has come to goddess worship late in my life, this assignment was an opportunity for me to learn more about this goddess as well as providing some visibility for the book and author.
In 2012 Moon Books (http://moon-books.net) began publishing a line of books under the heading Pagan Portals. These books are designed to be short affordable introductions to very specific topics of pagan thought. It is an inspired idea as it enables those of us who are searchers to explore a particular topic more deeply, without committing a lot of money or time. But for newbies, it should be noted that the Pagan Portal books, in addressing the topic in some depth, presume the reader will have a certain familiarity with the subject. This is where matching the neophyte me with this book to review may not have had the desired result, but more on this toward the end.
Vivienne Moss is a Cottage Witch who is dedicated to the goddess Hekate. This book is titled as a devotional and, in truth, the first half of it reads like a love letter. These chapters follow a formula in which each chapter begins with a poetic recitation of the aspects of Hekate that are relied upon in order to explore the chapter´s particular topic. The topic is then explored in light of Moss´ experience and then the chapter closes with another poetic appreciation of Hekate´s presence and involvement in Moss´ life. This format is seen in devotional books across time, including a Christian form of prayer, the Collect, in which the attribute most needed to deliver the desired result for the supplication offered is ascribed to the deity .
Throughout the first part of the book Moss tells the story of her relationship with Hekate from her first encounter with the goddess in her dreams, through her various encounters over time, her experience of Hekate as psychopomp, guardian, and protector. These tales do not sugar-coat Hekate and provide instead ample evidence that those who will follow will need to be strong and resourceful in her service.
To work with Hekate means to work with the awareness of the Dark or Shadowside. Hekate´s land incorporates the crossroads between worlds and it is at the crossroads where her abode may be found. In following Hekate, one finds oneself in the proverbial “briarpatch”, and it is being lead through the briarpatch that one develops resilience and self confidence. Walking with Hekate may require sacrifice but it also rekindles one’s ability to experience enchantment.
Later Moss goes on to examine Hekate’s role with death. Hekate accompanies us, shows us the correspondence between death and life, and teaches us to live fully; that it is the faithfulness and power of Hekate that can be relied upon to aid us in the transition from life unto death.
Upon completion of the devotional section in the book, the part that follows differs in both tone and structure. It is a straight forward recitation of descriptors of the goddess and further amplification:
breath of life
mother of dragons
gardens of elysium
sun and moon
she who is all
This is followed by a bare listing of facts:parents, children, mystery cults etc. without amplification. Once this has been enumerated, the book ends with recipes for various substances to be used in casting spells and working with Hekate.
I have attempted here to show the variety of information included in this work as honestly as possible. As someone who is not a practitioner of the Craft and as one who has come to working with goddesses only recently, I have found the information difficult to follow and difficult to understand in the broader context. This clearly is a book written for those who are partakers in the Craft and familiar with the roles of the goddess in witchcraft.
I have posted on a number of occasions about my on-going work of identifying and learning about my ancestors, their DNA which I carry in my cells, and what their histories teach me about my life and my life´s purpose. So I am thrilled that Barbara Meikeljohn has agreed to share her work with the Ancestors with us.
Barbara Meiklejohn-Free was born and reared in the Highlands of Scotland where the old ways are still practiced. Widely known as the Highland Seer, she has studied and worked with many indigenous cultures. After forty years of practice, Barbara has integrated the ancient ways of Seership, Shamanism and Earth Wise traditions. The following is an excerpt from her new book which is to be published by Moon Books later this year.
"Ancient ancestors I call to thee, To help me connect so I might see, My linage line of blood and bones, Buried under your ancient stones." We are the ambassadors of our blood lines, our ancient ancestors. What we do in the here and now is due to the heredity influences of those who have gone before us. Our ancestral memories flow though our blood and bones. Let us be mindful that one day we will be the ancestors of thos yet to come, those still to be born. "It's time lass!" I heard Swein saying to me as we arrived at Clava Cairns near Culloden battlefield. Arms full of offerings, a group of us proceeded to the centre of the cairns to place on the ritual stone our gifts for the ancestors and deities of the land. It was the eve of Samhain and we had come to this ancient site to celebrate and connect with the ancestors who once lived upon this fertile land. The moon was floating gracefully on the horizon with wisps of clouds painting a collage of dancing moonbeams shining down on the burial mounds. Arms outstretched we invoked the "ancient ones" calling on them to come forth to once again walk on the homelands. One by one we were led from the circle and placed at various gateways around the cairns. I was at northern burial cairn and instructed to sit with my back against the stones in the centre of the cairn and draw my legs up tightly to assist in the transition to the other worlds. "It's time to cross the threshold to the world of spirit." Swein said to me, "to discover and connect with the ancient ones. " With those words ringing in my ears, he left me to face the unknown. The dusk drew in sweeping in a damp mist that clawed at my bones, trying to remove my doubts and fears. I wrapped my jacket tightly around me and closed my eyes. Instantl images of painted warriors running towards me with sword raised caused me to take a sharp intake of breath. I was thrown backwards into a tunnel, grasping at the edges trying to hold on for dear life. I cried out for help as I descended into the deep void that was swallowing me up.Then I heard a deep voice saying "Do not be afraid, we will not harm you, for your sit upon ancient ground that is sacred to us. Here beneath you lies the bones of your kith and kin. We have heard your invocations to us." Suddenly in front of me appeared a dark cave. "This is the cave of the ancient ancestors." I heard them saying as a kaleidoscope of animals, human figures, spirals and handprints danced in front of my eyes. Transfixed I watched as I saw the scene unfold in front of me of the journey they had taken to reach this place. I saw people of many races and colours living together in harmony. I was drawn to a distinctive drawing of a hand print with a spiral in the centre of the palm. Then I heard them say to me "You will travel around the world visiting the sacred sites that have been placed as gateways to the other worlds. Here you will find what you are looking for." I was about to ask more questions when I was thrustbackwards through the wall of symbols and sucked upwards back to my reality. I opened my eyes slowly to see Swein stroking his beard whilst leaning on his staff. "Well lass did you meet the ancestors, did you get the answers you were looking for?" It was not until many years later when I was visiting on of the Anasazi Indians' cave dwellings in New Mexico tha I was to see that symbol of the handprint once again on the wall of one of the buildings. I asked our native guide about the symbol signification. His answer was that it was a symbol of healing, peace, power and protection. Later that day driving through Flagstaff, I was drawn to stop at the local Native American store and in the window was the symbol in silver in the shape of a necklace. The owner told me that the symbol was a sign of the ancient ones who came to Earth, shared their wisdom and then mysteriously disappeared. They were the sky people who came and shared with us the knowledge of the stars. The handprint is for friendship between the people of the Earth and the stars. The spiral represents how they travelled to reach us. As I walked out of the shop with the necklace around my neck I felt a deep feeling of connection with the ancient ones who had spread the seeds of life on Mother Earth. THE PENTAGRAM OF THE ANCESTORS The metaphysical connection to the ancestors, the Pentagram and the five elements, is embedded throughout the annals of history. Discovered in ancient Mesopotamia the symbol of the Pentagram combined with our ancient ancestors foresight, empowers us to reclaim what is rightfully ours. Our birthright is to once again connect, remember and reawaken this ancient mastery that was once denied to us. Through ancestor veneration, you will discover that thosewho have gone before you have a vested interest in ensuring their descendants line is continued and healed. By circumnavigating the pentagram with our predecessors, you will gain insight, of who you are, where you have come from and were you are going. The ritual you will undertake in your journey to discover your past, present and future destiny, will forge and create a deep bond of honor, respect and mutual understanding for the ancestors. In effect, you will have healed the time lines of your ancestral past, thereby fostering new beginnings for future generations to come. BLOOD ANCESTORS Our blood ancestors are our loved ones who we knew in this lifetime. We may have memories of them as young children. We will remember their voices, the smell of baking in the kitchen, stories told around the hearth on cold winter nights, someone sitting in a corner smoking apipe or watching them in their garden or greenhouse. Our blood ancestors pass on to us great teachings. These can be in the form of lessons learned. Some can be hard. Most of our ancestors faced two world wars. This left scars both physical, mental and emotional. Most of our fears, pains and self worth issues stem from our forefathers and mothers who carried the burdens and stress of these hard times. By calling out their names in ritual they can help and assist us towards healing our past hurts. Forgiveness is the key in moving forward so our ancestral lines are cleared. UNKNOWN ANCESTORS Our Unknown Ancestors are those who we did not meet in this lifetime but are of our blood line. They are also the ones that the historical records did not record or were conveniently destroyed or deleted. They were the pioneer who overcame hardships, famines, plagues, travelled over land and sea to new frontiers totally foreign to them, i a search for a better way of life for themselves and their descendants. They gave up land that had been in the family for hundreds of years, clans and traditions left behind as they walked away from all they knew and loved. They were the ones who endured torture, loss of freedom and surrendered their personal beliefs systems on pain of death. Many surnames were changed to disguise our unknown ancestors for fear of persecution by religious fanatics or ridicule by family members. They were cast out from their homes because they were the black sheep of the family. Woman were taken away because they had sinned by either becoming pregnant out of wed lock or marrying without the family's consent. The children were given to other families or put into workhouses or up for adoption.Many of us have unknown relatives in our family tree, shunned and forgotten, waiting to be discovered and reunited with their blood family. TEACHER ANCESTORS Our Teacher Ancestors come from all walks of life. From the first time humans walked on this earth, there have been ancient ones who have imparted their wisdom and knowledge to those who would listen. Students have sat at the feet of wise men and woman listening to their philosophy,dreams and visions and recorded in written form, their muses. As children we sat excitingly listening to the stories of heroes and heroines from days of old read to us from books spanning the centuries. These are the teachers who have inspired and influenced us in our day to day living, in our quest to search for the mystical and magical meanings of life itself. From poets, musicians, scientists, herbalist, doctors - the list is endless. These way showers have guided us, supported us in our passion and goals.They have spent endless days and nights preparing you for your rites of passage in the many forms they take throughout your life. Our teacher ancestors can either be known to us personally on the Earth plain, or can be our spirit guides and helpers in the spirit world. PAST LIFE ANCESTORS Our Past Lives Ancestors are here to help us to tap into our ancestral memories. Within our memory genes and DNA are electromagnetic frequencies that connect with both yourself in this moment of reality and in your past lives. This web of energy holds memories of all our past lives and are also contained within the sacred sites and power sites across the globe. From life-time to life-time we sub-consciously revisit and remember where we have walked before. When we travel to distant shores or visit places that call to us we are tapping into lost records and recollections of previous life-times. You have worked with and been a part of another family, your past life family. Within this family you have deep connections, that reache over time and space, from life-time to life-time. How many times have you met someone and "known them"? How many times have you felt that one of your teachers in this life-time has been your teacher before? How many times have you felt the work you are doing now, you have done before? When we connect with our past life ancestors we are connecting with ourselves. We are our ancestors, we are the cunning men and women, the witches and wizards who once walked on this land, come back once more to rewrite history and heal the wounds of our ancestors. We have come full circle. ANCIENT ANCESTORS Our ancient ancestors walked footstep to footstep with the dinosaurs 290 million years ago. This amazing discovery has just come to light through painstaking research. This would mean that our history would have to be rewritten For historians this is problematic. If only this fossilised footprint could speak of our ancient ancestors who shaped and created this planet along side the creator gods and goddesses. They gifted us the knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, writing, herbs, healing, cosmology, to name but a few. These wisdom keepers and wise sages prepared for us a land of incredible beauty, a garden of Eden. When we connect withthe ancient ancestors we honor our first teachers. These wise beings including the world of trees people, stone people, animals, winged ones, mammals, creepy crawlies, crystals, mythical creatures. These ancient ones are the missing link to revealing our true heritage. Whatever path you may walk on today, be it Pagan, Wiccan or Druid know that you are walking with the ancestors. When you combine their teachings, with your philosophies you do this on a soul to soul level. By calling on the ancient ones, you are calling the spirit of all made manifest in this world and in all other realities. In effect the global consciousness of all that has been created past present and future as one. ALTAR OF THE ANCESTORS Imagine a sacred space were you can create an altar for your ancestors to visit and speak with you. This altar honours your bloodline, clan, teachers and all those who have gone before you. Here you can step between the veils of the mundane and spiritual worlds. You can ask questions to find out your bloodline tracing back thousands of years. As a child I sat beside a gravestone on Culloden battlefield. I felt at home with this clan. It felt peaceful comforting. When I felt sad or alone I always went to this gravestone. Many years later I was to discover that they were my blood ancestors. No longer were they my unknown ancestors. Through adoption I had lost my connection to my blood family and yet I had intuitively known and been drawn to be with them.They had called to me and I had answered. Firstly create and clear an area in your house for your ancestral altar. It can be a shelf or a small table, even better if it is in the living room or kitchen. It's important to separate it from other altars, for this altar is for those who have passed to the summerlands. Try to ensure that it is not touched by others and that you do not place any pictures or memories of anyone still living. To clear the area to be used as an ancestral altar, use your besom if you have a small one for your altar, then herbs or incenses to smoke out and cleanse negative energy and create sacred space. In my Scottish tradition I woul ask for a blessing and protection by 'saining', using water and local herbs. Once this is done place an altar cloth on top of the table or shelf. This material can be from a blood relative. It might be a crocheted table cloth or an item of clothing like a scarf that they loved. It's important if you can, to place your altar facing the four cardinal points. This is because when working with each direction you can face the appropriate ancestor when doing your ritual and invocation. BLOOD ANCESTORS OF THE NORTH On the North of your altar place photos of your loved ones, items of jewelry, perfume or other personal items. I have my mothers hairbrush and perfume on my altar so I can still smell her. It's important to use these items to stir your senses and hold the memories when working with them. Also place a dish of earth or a container of sand or soil from your blood ancestors lands to represent the element of earth. Once you have done this place a candle in the north and say: "Ancestors dear, of blood and bone. From Earth you have to Spirit, flown. Let's cleanse past hurts of yours, now mine, That flowed from you, like ancient wine. Ancestral lines now heal at last, And break free from the chains of past." UNKNOWN ANCESTORS OF THE EAST In the East section of your altar place incense or herbs within a container or holder. Next to the incense place feather to direct the smoke from the herbs or incense in the direction of east. Also place on this area a representation of a family tree. It can be a photo, or a picture or even a small statue of a tree. This is stating your intention to discover your families' history. Once you have done this, place a yellow candle in the east and say: "Whispers carried through the Air, Reaching out to whom is there. Those of mine, I call you home. No longer to be felt unknown. Piece together missing parts, Complete and place deep in my heart." TEACHER ANCESTORS OF THE SOUTH In the South direction of your altar place books, music, letters, poetry or any music that has inspired you throughout your life. You can also place personal items from your teachers that were gifted to you when they were alive. You can also place photos of them as well. Here place a separate candle to represent the element of fire. When you have done this place a red candle in the direction of the south and say: "Through fierce flames step my guides, Protecting me through life's rough rides. Teacher spirits walk with me, I welcome you, and honour thee. The Fire is stoked, our passions blend As you assist me to transcend." PAST LIFE ANCESTORS OF THE WEST In the West direction of your altar place soil or earth from the lands you once walked upon, including any statues of deities lands you feel drawn to, ie: if you feel a connection with Egypt you would place statues of Egyptian gods and goddesses in this area. Also photos of places, sacred sites, temples that you feel a connection with through your past life Ancestors. Place a chalice filled with water in this direction to represent the element of water. Once you have done all this place a blue candle in the direct of the west and say: "From the powers of the West, Memories call, the Water blessed. Remembrance flows deeply and vast. Souls connecting from the past. Lighting up my path today To 'Know Myself' - for t'is the way." ANCIENT ANCESTORS OF SPIRIT Here in the centre of the altar place your cauldron, athene, spirit bell. Place all your petitions to the spirits in the cauldron. Your athene is to direct energy and cut ties from any unwanted ancestors. Place food and drink to feed the spirits and also flowers. In front of the cauldron light a white candle and say: "From the centre of the Star I call the spirits near and far Of Earth, of Water, Air and Fire To learn from you is my desire Ancient truths upon this hour, Consume me, as I stand in power." You can work with just one group of ancestors when anniversaries, deaths or birthdays arise. This way you have a direct focus on one group of Ancestors. If you wish to find out more about your past life ancestors then just focus in that area after first honouring the other ancestors. All you need to do is light the candle representing that area and direction. It is important to change the water, food and flowers to ensure they are fresh. Working with your ancestral altar is not just for Samhain it is a sacred gateway to the Summerlands, one that is important to maintain keeping your connection with the ancestors. The Ancestors live on forever with your prayers, thoughts, connections and focus. When we no longer honour our ancestors they fade. So too do our hopes for our future descendants to come, for we are tomorrow's ancestors and if they die so do we. To survive we must tell their stories. We shall not forget. Written by Barbara Meiklejohn-Free Invocations by Flavia Kate Peters
¨Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit. The greatest wonder is that we can see these trees and not wonder more.
¨Wilderness can shrink but it cannot grow¨ – We must understand that this creation is threatened through hubris, through approaching all things through inadequate economic models, and through lack of concern over climate change. One cannot create new wilderness – what we lose, whether due to carelessness or intricately planned public works projects, cannot be brought back unless through the passage of time exceeding hundreds of years.
¨Going into wilderness is going home.¨ Wilderness is the greatest teacher that each person has available to her/him. So on this 51st year of the Wilderness Act, please fight for your home, that we will have the funding and the will to inhabit our role as guardians of the wild to the very best of our abilities.
¨You cannot have freedom without wilderness.¨
I will die soon. I don´t know whether it will be in 6 months or 18, the factors are out of my control, but my spirit is making the adjustments that are needed for me to step between the worlds. I am noticing that the when of it is no longer important to me, which is an enormous surprise for someone who has fought for so long to beat the odds and stay around. It is a relief for me to be able to say these words out loud and I am beyond grateful that my husband and I can talk about it as a fact, secure in the fact that our love for each other has been actualized every day of our married life and so we are ok.
My dear friend Anastasia died two years ago and she was kind enough to email me with notes from the frontier as she transitioned. It was a great gift that she gave me in describing her experience as being a gentle cocooning by loving spirits. I find this to be so as well.
I have done all I can with the things of this world that must be done. Arrangements made, contracts signed, bequests made, preferences expressed. Now it is time for the soul work, the work that comes from a deep place out of sight and that can either be taken on or ignored. But I find that it isn´t work and that, standing at somewhat a remove from this world now, it is just so very interesting to watch what is coming into my life to assist me.
When I was younger I began to notice a pattern during transitional periods in my life. Before I would be able to move along to the next thing, avatars for meaningful experiences and people of the time closing would suddenly appear in my life and offer an opportunity for me to engage. The same thing is happening to me now.
My life has been characterized by hermetically sealed periods and identities. I was one of the people who experienced such trauma as a child that my personality was not able to synthesize – the who I was was not acceptable to my parents and so it was ontologically critical that I develop a second personality that would engage their care. The developed personality became fiercely protective of the raw, soft, child that I was but to the point of becoming dismissive of her in later life.
When I moved to Montana, it was to shed the fierce persona and to explore what I felt was my authentic, though neglected, self. I reconnected with friends from the old days but was surprised to realize that, in spite of myself, my entire personality had grown and changed and synthesized to some degree. I was no longer the mountain girl who was comfortable living in a canyon and not seeing people for months on end, I needed engagement, I cared about the world, and I also needed a degree of creature comforts previously seen only as symbols of my other self.
The fact of living in a place of mountains and lakes and glaciers and fierce winds takes away the conceit of urban life that you have control. You don´t have time to argue about turf when you are trying to survive a blizzard. You don´t have time to thoroughly hate your neighbor if your survival is dependent upon your common life together. And so, in this clarifying environment I was given a tremendous opportunity to see myself as I was and to learn that I was actually interesting and funny and worth knowing. It didn´t matter that my in-laws never liked me, or that my mother never saw me, it didn´t really make a dent or diminish me in any way that I didn´t allow.
What is happening is that avatars of each stage of my life are appearing in my life now and will be part of my life at the end. The first thing that marked for me the new reality of approaching transition was a letter I received two years ago from the wife of my first love to tell me he had died suddenly of a heart attack. Although I was not in touch with him, this was a man to whom I was so connected spiritually that throughout my life he would counsel me in dreams. The idea of a world without his energy was unthinkable for me, he had been such a subliminal presence for over 50 years.
Two years ago through Facebook I was able to connect with a friend from my salad days in Memphis when we were cool and fun and rocking chicks. She is French and we were able to meet at a family dinner once and immediately clicked. We had lost touch. When I first knew her my fierce persona was tenaciously becoming French as my mother´s Huguenot ancestry was a huge part of what she valued. I am so glad to be back in touch and we were able to catch up on my last trip abroad.
The part of me that has been the most resistant to an inner-rapprochement has been the person I became when my fierce persona was allowed to run unchecked. I went into banking in my younger life because I knew that power followed money. Not having power made it a no-brainer for me, except that I am hopeless with numbers and so the fierce persona had a lot of work to do to try develop some facility. It led to some really fun times once I had ascended the ladder, was running a corporate finance department, and playing with the big dogs.
What is painful to me now is looking back and seeing how easily it is to fall into the belief that you are entitled to your good fortune in some way. I did. I was pretty insufferable. A tangible sign of that is the memory of the day when I realized that I had paid more for a pair of shoes in my closet than 6 months pay for the woman who faithfully took care of our house and us. I had gone to value things more than people and almost lost my soul.
I had wanted to bury those memories, to pretend that I was never that person. As someone who engages the spiritual this was never going to be an option for me and so, right on schedule, I got two Facebook friend requests this past weekend from people that represent that time. I suspect that once they see who I have become they won´t be interested in staying friends, but that is my underestimating them and so it is with great interest that I watch what happens next. They are giving me a gift of their presence and I am extremely grateful.
This blog is going to change direction a bit. My engagement with mountains is going to have to be at a remove, through curating content and discussing mountains as symbol and metaphor. Instead, I am going to write about the spirit mountain of dying. Pretty fierce! We don´t talk about death but I think everyone really wants someone to lead the way and to share. As my friend Anastasia did for me so I offer my experiences to you.
An underground biological superhighway links up the plant kingdom and allows them to communicate.