Candlemas Musings and a Tarot Spread

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My Candlemas altar. The image of Brigid is from Joanna Powell Colbert, which she graciously gave to us to color and use on our altars in a Candlemas class I took from her several years ago. My parents brought me the silver Brigid’s cross pendant from Ireland last year.

I have to admit, life has been challenging lately. I imagine many of you are feeling the same way. I feel like I’m being bombarded by horrible news on a daily basis, but I can’t seem to look away. I’m trying to balance staying informed with staying sane, but it isn’t easy. Things feel heavy and overwhelming, but there are also hopeful moments like the Women’s March, and the way people are being activated to get involved.

I’ve been doing what I can to cope with it all. I’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors, walking or just sitting in the sun (when we are lucky enough to have some!).

I’ve been starting most of my mornings at my altar, followed by half an hour or so of yoga (I have been enjoying the Revolution series by Yoga with Adriene). That gets my day off to a good start, as long as I manage NOT to check Facebook or the news afterwards while I eat breakfast.

I’ve been reading a lot of women’s spirituality books. I just finished When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone, which I found at a used bookstore a couple of weeks ago. Why had I not read this book before? It is so good.

I’ve been watching Parks and Recreation on Netflix when I need a mindless break from it all. I’m not usually much of a sitcom/comedy person, but I like the characters and it always makes me laugh.

I have been struggling to get myself to make art, although I know it would help.

And so it goes, one day at a time.

Now, Candlemas is almost upon us, and it is one of my favorite holy days. The days are noticeably longer now. Here bulbs are sprouting, buds are ever-so-slightly swelling, and hazelnut catkins are opening, releasing their pollen to fertilize their tiny magenta flowers, the first flowers of the year. There is a sense of hope in the air. Spring is on its way, life and growth are returning to the world. Even for those of you who are still deep in winter, the increasing light promises that the snow will melt and spring will arrive.

I love the themes of Candlemas: cleansing and purification, illumination and inspiration, rebirth, initiation and dedication, creativity.

This is the time of year to asks ourselves what needs cleansed in our lives. Do we want to do a thorough spring cleaning between now and the Spring Equinox? Or maybe just clean out a certain part of our homes—a closet that really needs attention, our kitchen cupboards, our clothes, or our bookcases. Do we want to cleanse an activity like checking the news or Facebook (I’m looking at myself here!), cut sugar out of our diet, or commit to drinking a detox tea each day?

It is also a time for initiations and dedications. Are we ready to commit ourselves to a course of spiritual study, to working with a particular Goddess for the year, to reading a certain number of spiritual books, or to practicing regular prayer or devotions? What part of our spiritual path or practice is calling us to deeper commitment and devotion?

As the light grows, as new life begins to emerge all around us, what do we feel inspired to do? Is it time to get to work on an idea for a project or creative practice that has been simmering deep inside during the winter months? I know it is definitely time for me to get myself back to my art table, if only to play in my art journal and enjoy myself. Because this time of year is also the time of the Maiden, who is young, light, free, playful and full of life. Let’s shake off some of the winter darkness and have some fun!

Here is a tarot spread you can use on Candlemas to answer some of these questions and find your own inspiration for the next 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 seed is beginning to send out roots within me? (This could be an idea for a project, a dream, a new beginning.)
  5. Where in my life can I be more playful and creative?
  6. How can I more fully devote myself to my spiritual path?

Candlemas blessings to you! May you find a spark of light to guide you when things seem dark. May we all be blessed with hope and love as life returns to the earth. Blessed be.

Book Review: The Complete Dream Book

If you’ve read many spirituality books, at some point you’ve probably run across the suggestion that you should keep a dream journal and work to understand the messages of your dreams. I have seen that advice many times since I started on this spiritual path, and from time to time I would give it a try. Each morning I would dutifully record my dreams and then give up after a few days, completely baffled by trying to make any sense of the craziness that emerged from my subconscious. Looking up the images from my dreams in dream dictionaries or online never seemed to help, and I just decided I wasn’t meant to work with my dreams.

This past year I took a class that again recommended recording my dreams for a month and working to understand them. I wanted to participate fully in the class, so I created a dream journal from an old notebook I had, and decided to give dream work one more try. I also went searching for a dream book that might actually help me make sense of my dreams and I found The Complete Dream Book: Discover What Your Dreams Reveal About You and Your Life by Gillian Holloway, PhD.

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My well-thumbed copy of the book.

The author has based her interpretations of dreams on a database she created to collect real dreams as well as information about the life situations of the people who had the dreams. From her research, she was able to find common dream themes that seem to occur for people during different periods in their lives, and her book expands on this research. She believes that dreams “…are the voices of wisdom, healing, and power that each of us possess and are meant to benefit from on a daily basis.”

The Complete Dream Book covers common dream themes, recurring dreams, sex dreams, dream characters and symbols, dream locations, travel and water dreams, animal imagery in dreams, as well as nightmares and psychic dreams. Throughout the book she includes real-life dreams and their interpretations, which I found helpful as I tried to interpret my own dreams. She stresses that her interpretations of various symbols are not hard-and-fast rules, but are jumping off points as you try to make sense of your own dreams.

For the first time, I am actually understanding the messages in some of my dreams! I tend to dream rather vividly and remember my dreams pretty easily, so I don’t analyze every single one of my dreams. However, I have found that recording my dreams regularly has allowed me to see recurring themes and patterns, as well as to notice when a dream seems truly significant so that I can analyze it more deeply. In The Complete Dream Book, Gillian Holloway provides a list of seven factors that can help you determine which of your dreams are most valuable and significant and that merit further exploration.

I have found that my dreams are particularly helpful at showing me when I am worrying about something that is going on in my life, or feeling uncomfortable with something that is happening, without being consciously aware of it. They help me bring some of these worries and fears to the surface of my consciousness so I can deal with them. For example, when I was starting this blog, I kept having dreams where I had to hide or become invisible in order to be “safe.” This helped me see just how frightened I was of putting myself out there publicly, but also allowed me to say to that frightened part of myself, “Yes, being public on my blog does feel scary and unsafe, but this is a choice I am making because I no longer want to hide or stay invisible. It is going to be okay.” Once I consciously dealt with that, the dreams stopped.

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My dream journal. I made a cover and attached it with clear contact paper to an old spiral notebook I had around. The image is The Moon card from the The Victorian Fairy Tarot.

So now I am one of those people who recommends recording and working with your dreams. Yes, some of my dreams still seem like an incomprehensible mess, but I feel like by paying more attention to my dreams and being open to their messages they are gradually beginning to make more sense. I’m finding that dreams are another important way to connect to our inner wisdom, as well as with the wisdom of the Divine. The Complete Dream Book is great resource for this journey of dream exploration.

Happy dreaming!

More Snow and Some Recommended Reading

Lady Winter has been putting on quite the show for us the past few days! Yesterday most of the snow had melted, and the forecast predicted snow showers turning to rain during the night. The Snow Goddess had other ideas, though, and the snow started again during the early evening but it never turned to rain. Instead, we woke up to a glorious, snow-covered dawn.

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We don’t get a lot of snow around here, so it is always exciting. I was really hoping for a snow day or two and I have certainly gotten my wish!

I also wanted to share these two posts by Beth Owl’s Daughter regarding 2017 and its associated tarot card, The Wheel of Fortune. First, Beth discusses what we might expect during a Wheel of Fortune year, then she created a brilliant spread using The Wheel of Fortune as her theme to do a reading for 2017. She writes such beautiful, wise, and insightful posts, I love reading her blog. Her tarot reading for 2017 is full of wisdom and hope, and I hope you’ll find her posts as helpful as I did.

Bright blessings!

Happy New Year!

I hope 2017 is going well for everyone so far! It has been a slow start to the year here. We have had snow for the past couple of days (yay!!!), which has meant that most of my time has been spent inside working on various projects or just sitting and watching the snow fall. I could honestly watch the snow for hours, it is so beautiful and serene.

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A snowy fence

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Snow-covered berries

On New Year’s Day I did my tarot reading for 2017 using Joanna Powell Colbert’s Tarot Spread for the New Year. I have been using this spread for several years, and I really love it. I was especially excited to get two of my favorite tarot cards, The Priestess and Nine of Earth, in my reading for 2017. It is interesting that this reading echos the themes I have gotten from both my Hallowmas and Winter Solstice readings: getting to work and taking practical action. The High Priestess and Four of Fire also remind me to maintain my spiritual practices and connection to Goddess, listen to my intuition, and make sure the action I am taking is grounded in what is most important to me.

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My 2017 New Year reading

On New Year’s Day I also finished a little Great Blue Heron watercolor that I created for my altar. I really like the heron, I’m not quite sure how I feel about the background—it feels too busy and I wish I had made it more plain. I may try again at some point, but for now it is on my altar and it does make me smile to see it.

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Great Blue Heron watercolor

When I was in the Portland area I lived along a wetlands where herons nested every year, and they became an important sign for me. I often see herons when I need encouragement and a reminder that Goddess is with me. Last week I was down by the river feeling out-of-sorts and I saw two herons lift off from among a group of egrets and fly down the river. I rarely ever see more than one at a time—they lifted my heart and spirits as they lifted their massive wings to take flight.

I often find January to be a challenging month. I have made all these goals and plans for the New Year, but my energy and mood can take a deep dive during the dark days of January and I find it hard to get started on everything I have planned. Then I start beating myself up and worrying that I’m running out of time and that just makes things worse.

Last year in January I ended up re-reading all the Harry Potter books for the eighth (ninth? tenth?) time. I basically spent the entire month reading and not doing much else! I’m trying to find a bit more balance this year, understanding that this is a low-energy time of year for me and accepting that, while not completely giving up on doing anything productive. We’ll see how it goes! At least after years of observing The Wheel of the Year I know that come Candlemas, I will start to feel more energetic and ready to get to work.

I also wanted to share a couple of resources that might help get your year off to a good start:

  • I started this Writing the Goddess class a couple of days ago and am really enjoying it. This might be a good resource if one of your goals for 2017 is to get to know a particular goddess better. I am working with Our Lady of Guadalupe/Tonantzin as I work through this class.
  • The Hidden Brain podcast from NPR is one of my favorite podcasts, and this week’s episode, “Getting Unstuck,” was especially helpful for me today. I recommend it if you are trying to figure out what to do with your life in 2017!

I’m not sure what this year will hold as our government makes a dramatic shift this month, but I pray for peace and justice in our country, and for all of us to find the courage to create lives of meaning for ourselves. Blessed be!