Blessings of the Returning Light!

I hope everyone had a beautiful Winter Solstice day! Here, the day dawned with sunshine and clear blue skies, something we haven’t seen for quite a while. I went out to collect fallen evergreen branches to decorate my altar and refresh my solstice sunwheel advent wreath. The day was so beautiful, I ended up standing in the sunshine with my eyes closed as I did my elemental centering meditation, soaking in the warmth and light of the sun. It was such a blessing!

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We don’t often see days like this in the winter!

The rest of the day was busy, but by evening I was able to take time to turn out the lights (except for my Yule tree lights) and light the candles on my altar and the final candle on the solstice sunwheel wreath. I sat in the candlelight and sang Yule songs, lit a candle in my cauldron to welcome the spark of light as it emerges out of the darkness, and did my Winter Solstice tarot reading. It was a quiet, peaceful evening.

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Welcoming the spark of light as it emerges from the dark.

My tarot reading for this turn of the wheel seems to be continuing the themes of getting to work making my dreams a reality—look at all those earth cards, plus The Builder! I even got the Three of Earth as my overall theme card again, which is the same as my Hallowmas reading.

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My Winter Solstice reading. Cards from the Gaian Tarot.

Overall Theme—Three of Earth: The theme of this turn of the wheel will be to continue bringing ideas into manifestation, taking practical actions to bring healing into my life, and seeking a community who shares my values. During the last turn of the wheel I did get out into the world by joining a women’s drumming circle, and I want to keep that up, as well as find other opportunities to find or create community.

Key Opportunity—4, The Builder: This is a great time to start building foundations and to create something real and tangible in the world. It is time to focus, set boundaries, and do the work to build what I want in my life. It is time to be the chief architect and leader in my own life!

Key Challenge—Three of Fire: The challenge of this time period will be to claim my personal power, to be confident and self-assured enough to take action, to express myself, and to go after what I want. I need to make sure self-doubt doesn’t keep me from creating what I want in my life.

What promise does Goddess offer me as the light returns?—Five of Earth: That the storms of health challenges and financial worries will come to an end. That I have exactly the resources I need to create the life that I want, that I can trust in the abundance of earth and Goddess, and don’t need to hold onto scarcity consciousness and fear of loss.

What dream or vision am I nurturing in the dark?—Eight of Earth: My interpretation of this card is a bit tender for me, and not something I’m ready to share publicly, but it is right on point!

What do I need to let go of to make time and space to rest and dream?—2, The Priestess: Since The Priestess is all about taking time to listen to our inner voices, our intuition and our dreams, I believe what I need to let go of is to stop looking outside myself for answers and direction. Instead I need to trust that I have the answers inside, if only I will take time to listen. This corresponds with the message of The Builder, to be the designer and leader in my own life.

May we keep light and hope in our hearts as we move into the new year!

A Tarot Spread for Winter Solstice

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Cards from Earth Magic Oracle Cards, The Victorian Fairy Tarot, and The Druidcraft Tarot

Winter Solstice is almost here! Wednesday the 21st will be the shortest day and longest night of the year, when we celebrate the rebirth of the sun and the return of the light. However, while Yule offers us the promise of the return of the light, January can be the deepest, darkest, coldest part of winter in many places. We must move through these dark days, trusting that the light is returning, until Candlemas/Imbolc on February 1 or 2 (depending on which date you prefer), when we can finally begin to see that the days are lengthening.

The dark days between Winter Solstice and Candlemas are an excellent time for nurturing our dreams in the dark, just as the earth is nurturing seeds in her dark soil, readying them for their emergence in spring. These are days when we need to trust that life and light will return, while all may seem cold and dark. We may find ourselves craving rest and quiet, wanting to sleep more, and not feeling quite ready to jump headfirst into taking action on all the goals and plans we have made for 2017. Go gently into this time, nurture your dreams, allow your goals to unfold slowly, and trust that as the sun’s light returns, so will your own energy and desire for action.

This tarot spread covers the time between Winter Solstice and Candlemas, and was designed to help us find hope, to take time to listen to our dreams, and to find time for rest as we move through this turn of the wheel.

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Question: What do I need to know during this next turn of the wheel?

  1. Overall Theme
  2. Key Opportunity
  3. Key Challenge
  4. What promise does Goddess (God, Spirit, Universe—your choice!) offer me as the light returns?***
  5. What dream or vision am I nurturing in the dark?
  6. What do I need to let go of to make time and space in my life to rest and dream?

***This should be a positive promise, something that will give you hope as you move through winter’s challenges. If you draw a card that is generally considered “negative,” interpret it in the best possibly light. For example, if you draw the Three of Swords, the promise could be that you will find healing for your heart as the light returns. If you draw The Devil, the promise could be that you will find freedom from an addiction that has been troubling you, or that you will find a way to create more balance in your life. Think hope and healing as you interpret the card in this position.

I will use this spread during my Winter Solstice ritual and will post my own reading then.

This is also a great time to review your Hallowmas/Samhain reading if you did one. How did your interpretations play out in your life between Hallowmas and Winter Solstice? Looking back at what has happened during that time, do you now see alternative or deeper meanings in any of the cards? As I look back at my reading, I can see that my card for the gift the darkness offers me, Six of Earth, ended up coming to pass very literally as I offered my first professional healing and tarot sessions during this time. I had not planned on that happening so soon, but an opportunity opened up for me, and it was exciting to have someone value my work and actually want to pay me for it—the exact meaning of the Six of Earth!

May you all have a blessed holiday season, whatever and however you celebrate! Oh, and if anyone could send some snow my way, I’d appreciate it. I have major snow envy after seeing everyone’s lovely pictures on Instagram!

A Little Melodrama and a Lot of Love

So I made some art last week. I have been wondering whether to share it or not, because it is…well, kind of weird. However, it led to some interesting insights, so I decided to share.

As often happens during the gray winter days, I have been feeling a bit down, a bit blah. I also haven’t been keeping to my news and Facebook fasts quite as well as I had planned to. I have cut back a lot, but I still can’t seem to stop checking in once a day or so to see what is happening. Mostly, it just makes me angry and/or depressed. So my heart was feeling gray and heavy, weighed down with fears and worries. An idea to draw a heart, a real heart, in my art journal, and paint it all gray and dreary came to me. I ignored it for a couple of days, but the idea kept pestering me, so I finally sat down with my art journal to sketch a heart.

I have a bit of a medical phobia. I can get freaked out by injuries and blood and pain. It is even hard for me to listen to someone describe a health issue they are having, because I will start to feel it in my own body. I am working on this, trying to come into a better relationship with the inevitable messiness of having a human body, but sitting down to draw an anatomically correct heart was a real leap for me. I used a drawing as a reference, not a photo of an actual heart, but even that had me feeling a bit panicky at first. After a few minutes, though, I was focused on the drawing and I calmed down.

And an amazing thing happened. After drawing the heart and painting it, I kind of fell in love with my own heart, beating away inside, a miraculous little organ keeping me alive and well. I focus a lot on my heart center energetically, but I don’t always consider the organ itself, and it is beautiful! Hmmm, maybe I need to draw the rest of my organs? Don’t worry, if I do, I’ll keep them to myself (probably).

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Heavy Heart

The act of sitting down and drawing out my heavy-hearted feelings made me feel better, as creating art often does. Plus, once I was finished and I stepped back from it, I started chuckling at the pure melodrama of it. Not that it wasn’t from the heart (ha!), but putting it out on paper like that made me smile, and helped lift the emotional fog. Sometimes it feels good to wallow, right?

The next day, T. Thorn Coyle posted an essay, Metal Fatigue: The Use of Love in Times of Stress, on her blog. The artwork she used is, I’m pretty sure, the exact same drawing of a heart that I had used as my model the day before! This seemed like synchronicity that I needed to pay attention to. Her words were exactly what I needed to hear, and I highly recommend reading her post. She writes: “So what do you do? How do you interrupt a stress cycle? And how do you build in resilience before the stress cycles begin? One way is to consistently invoke love.”

Now, when my heart starts to feel heavy and overburdened, I think back to my heart drawing, and then I think of T. Thorn Coyle’s wise words, and I turn my heart, as best I can, back towards love. Because our precious little hearts aren’t meant to be hard and gray and weighed down with sadness, they are meant to be filled with love.

It isn’t easy these days, but for the sake of my heart, for the sake of all our hearts, I will try to choose love.

Resources:

I have found Loving Kindness Meditation (also called Metta Meditation) to be really helpful in cultivating love and opening my heart. I really like this guided Loving Kindness Meditation on YouTube.

One thing I learned, I’m not quite sure from whom, which isn’t mentioned in the video, is to first think of someone you really love unconditionally, someone who awakens warm, loving feelings in your heart. This may even be a pet, since our relationships with them tend to be less challenging than our human relationships. Then, try to focus on maintaining that same feeling of love as you move through the meditation. It is also okay if you aren’t ready to offer loving kindness to someone you don’t like yet. You can start with just yourself, just family and friends, or neutral strangers, and let your practice grow from there.

An Elemental Centering Meditation

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Air, Fire, Water, and Earth

When I’m feeling scattered, or I just want to take a moment and connect with the world around me, I like to do a centering meditation by focusing on each of the elements and how I am experiencing them within and around me.

To do the meditation, take a few deep breaths, get comfortable, and open your senses to your environment. You can keep your eyes closed or open. I tend to do both, closing my eyes to sense the element within me, but also opening them to look around and see where I find the element around me. When you feel ready, turn your focus to each of the elements, one by one.

Air. Feel the breath moving in and out of your body, the temperature of the air upon your skin, the feel of the wind as it moves around you. Hear the sounds around you, smell the smells. Are there creatures of air around you such as butterflies or birds? Feel their presence. Imagine the trees absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, sense the animals and people around you who are also breathing the same air as you are. Feel how air flows and moves through you and through everything around you. Air.

Fire. Feel the spark that keeps your heart beating, the chemical reactions taking place in the cells of your body, producing warmth and nourishment, keeping you alive. Feel the fire around you, the warmth of the sun, the chemical reactions in the cells of the plants, trees, and animals near you, their beating hearts, the flame of life in all of us. Find the fire around you, the heat, the warmth, the energy. Fire.

Water. Sense the moisture in your body, the blood flowing in your veins, the saliva in your mouth, the liquid matrix of your cells. You are flowing with water, rivers of life within you. Feel the water around you, the water in the clouds, the dew on the grass, the humidity in the air, the moisture in the soil beneath you. Reach out to any water around you—puddles, bird baths, creeks, rivers, the ocean. Feel the water flowing through the trees and plants, the fluids carrying life in all the creatures around you. Water.

Earth. Tune into the structure of your body, your bones, your teeth, the walls of your cells, the foundations that give you substance and solidity. Feel the soil beneath you, supporting you, and the rocks. Sense the trees, the wood of their trunks, feel the structure of the plants around you, the stems, the petals, the blades of grass. Sense the bones of the creatures that surround you, the underlying structure that gives them solidity, just like you. Earth.

Spirit. Sense Spirit within and around you, giving life, soul and spirit to all things. Can you feel it in yourself? Can you feel it in the world around you? How to do you sense it, this enlivening energy that moves through all things? Tap into it, feel it. Spirit.

You are centered, you are connected. Take a few more breaths, and you are finished.

This can be a relatively quick meditation to center yourself if you don’t have a lot of time, or you can really take your time with it. You can do it indoors, too, sensing the elements in everything that surrounds you: the carpet, the walls, your furniture, your pets and family. I’ve even done it while driving (obviously, I don’t close my eyes in this case!), sensing the elements as they exist in my car, in the cars and drivers around me, as well as in the landscape I am driving through. Don’t do this, of course, if you tend to trance out, but because it is more of a centering meditation, I find it generally brings me into the present moment and helps me focus.

This is also a great way to tune into the elements as they exist in different seasons. What does Air feel like in winter? What does Water feel like in summer? I recently did this meditation to tune into the elements as we move into winter, and it was interesting to discover that Water is very active in the winter here through falling rain and full, rushing rivers. However, if you live where it is very cold, you might find that Water is very still and quiet as it falls as snow, and as creeks and rivers flow sluggishly under thick layers of ice.

May you feel blessed and centered as you connect with the world around you!