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!

Craving Silence as Winter Arrives

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Bare branches and a bit of blue sky.

I have definitely been feeling the shift into winter over the past week or so. Most of the leaves have fallen from our trees now, and bare branches are silhouetted against gray clouds—lots of gray clouds. We have entered the rainy season here, where every glimpse of sunshine is something to celebrate. The energy feels quiet, still, slow.

As winter has arrived, I have been drawing into myself more and more, and I have been craving silence. During the election, I got addicted, truly addicted, to checking Facebook and my various news sources throughout the day, over and over again. It was a compulsion I just couldn’t seem to stop. I have managed to cut back since the election, mainly because most of the things I read either make me feel depressed or angry, but I’m still craving more silence, more blank space, and much less input from the outside world.

So I have decided to challenge myself to give up news, podcasts, and Facebook starting with tomorrow’s new moon until the next new moon on December 28. I will also limit my TV watching and cut back on blog reading, but I’m still deciding on the parameters for those. I will continue using Instagram, but will limit it to checking in twice a day, no more than 10 minutes at a time.

Okay, whew, I feel a little anxious just writing all that! Can I do it??? This is how I know I have a problem, because it is frightening to think of letting it go!

Part of me feels guilty about tuning out the news, like I’m being a bad citizen or sticking my head in the sand. But I feel like I need to do this for the sake of my own mental health. I have an anxiety disorder, and am prone to depression, especially this time of year, and nothing in the news right now is helping with either of those conditions. I feel like I’m constantly buzzing with other people’s stories, thoughts, and opinions and I can’t find the quiet space I need to hear my voice or the voice of Goddess. I’m sure if something dramatic happens, I will hear about it one way or another.

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Someone will let me know, right?

But, what will I do with all this news and social media-free time I will have on my hands? I have been working my way through the book Mysteries of the Dark Moon: The Healing Power of the Dark Goddess by Demetra George, and my goal is to finish that by the Winter Solstice. I made a  commitment to myself to really work through the book, not just read it quickly  like I often do, but to dig deep, answer all the journal questions, and really absorb the material.  I also created a Dark Goddess rosary that I have been working with as I read the book.

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My Dark Goddess rosary.

The book deals with shadow issues and shadow work, and last week I pulled out my SoulCollage™ book and materials and started working with them again. SoulCollage™ is very helpful for getting to know some of the shadowy aspects of our personalities, so I plan to keep making cards and working with them.

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A few of my SoulCollage™ cards.

I also set up my Solstice Advent Wreath yesterday and lit my first candle for the Solstice Sun Wheel Prayer Circle that Beth Owl’s Daughter leads every year. It was beautiful to turn off the lights at dusk last night and light my candle and join my prayers with all the others who are lighting candles for hope and peace this season. I’m looking forward to doing that each Sunday evening until the Winter Solstice.

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Solstice advent wreath, first Sunday.

I will also be spending time making plans for 2017 using my Biz & Life Planners from Leonie Dawson. I really enjoy using these workbooks and am excited to start setting some goals for 2017.

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Yay for planners!

So that should keep me busy enough, while still leaving plenty of time for the quiet and stillness I crave at this time of year. I love curling up on the couch in the dark evenings with a cup of tea, a book and my journal. This year I’m really trying to flow with the quiet, introspective energy of winter instead of fighting it. Maybe we’ll even get lucky and have a day or two of snow!

May you be blessed by the quiet and stillness of winter!

(Buffy the Vampire screen cap original image source unknown.)

Hallowmas Blessings, Ancestor Cards & My Tarot Reading

I hope everyone had a blessed Hallowmas/Samhain yesterday! I spent quite a bit of time over the weekend working on my ancestor prayer cards for the class I’m taking with Joanna Powell Colbert so they would be ready to put on my altar for Hallowmas. It was moving to work on cards for my great-grandmothers who I never knew, but have always felt drawn to.

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My two paternal great-grandmothers, AnnaBelle and Margaret, and my maternal grandmother Alice.

Last night during my ritual I spoke to and blessed all the ancestors whose images I had on my altar (including my cat Priscilla who you can see in the picture of my altar). It was really lovely to spend time thinking about their lives and thanking them for gifts they’ve given me, and asking for their help to do the healing work in our family line that still needs to be done.

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My Hallowmas Altar

I also used my Samhain tarot spread during my ritual to do a reading for the next turn of the wheel. Thankfully, it looks a lot less intense than the reading I did on Autumn Equinox, but it still offers a nice kick in the pants to get going with things I’ve been putting off for too long.

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My Samhain reading. Cards from the Gaian Tarot, Goddess figure from Brigid’s Grove.

Overall Theme—Three of Earth: The theme of this turn of the wheel will be bringing ideas into manifestation, taking practical actions to bring healing into my life, and seeking a community who shares my values. Basically getting to work and getting out into the world.

Key Opportunity—Ten of Fire: This is a call towards true transformation and renewal, to calling in the cleansing fire and letting it do its purifying work. I have the opportunity to really and truly let go of what no longer serves me. Burn it down, clear the decks, and find renewal as new growth begins to emerge from the ashes.

Key Challenge—Guardian of Air: The challenge of this time period will be to find clarity and the perspective I need to see the big picture. I will need to make sure to take time for meditation and prayer, to take time to listen to my inner voice so I can find clarity within. Without this inner clarity, it will be challenging to communicate my truth to others.

What can I do to ease my descent into the dark time of the year?—12, The Tree: This card made me laugh! What do I need to do? Surrender! Stop fighting it, just let go. Accept the darkness and make peace with it. This card also indicates finding a new perspective and finding my center in order to maintain peace in the midst of change, echoing the themes of the Guardian of Air.

What gifts does the darkness offer me?—Six of Earth: The gifts of getting to work, putting my work out into the world and creating an exchange of energy with others as we mutually support each other. Basically, it continues the theme of the Three of Earth—get to work and start manifesting all the ideas floating around in my head into practical, earthy action.

What message does the Wise Crone have for me?—Seven of Water: This one made me laugh, too—I could almost hear a Crone-ish voice saying, “Make a choice and commit to it, damn it!” It is time to listen to my heart, taken action, and do the work. No more messing around!

So, take a deep breath, here we go! Welcome the darkness, welcome the Crone! What gifts are waiting for you in this dark time of the year?

A Tarot Spread for Samhain

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Cards from the Spiral Tarot, The Halloween Tarot, and The Green Witch Tarot

Monday is Samhain, or Hallowmas, the beginning of the deepest and darkest part of the year. Some people love the long, dark days of winter, and others dread them. I feel a little bit of both. Winter can be a challenging time for me, especially if we have a particularly gray winter. I can find myself sinking into depression and despair as the fog settles into they valley.

This is a time when our natural energy cycles can slow down, when we desire to rest, to find silence, peace, and stillness. Yet our culture doesn’t recognize the need to slow down, we are supposed to go, go, go all the time. We must be productive at all costs! We must be ready for the seasonal round of parties, shopping, and celebration. I love the seasonal festivities, but it is important for me to also honor my need to rest, be silent, and to go within. I often think that depression, colds, and flu come to force a slowdown when we choose not to give ourselves the rest we need during this dark time of the year.

I created this spread to help us find ways to make friends with the dark and to honor the gifts it brings us as the natural world around us settles down for its own winter slumber.

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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 can I do to help ease my descent into the dark time of the year?
  5. What gifts does the darkness offer me?
  6. What message does the Wise Crone have for me during this season? (You can see this as a wise guide, a Goddess, or your own wise voice within, whatever works best for you.)

I will use this spread during my Hallowmas ritual, and will post my reading then.

I’d love to hear about your reading, and would enjoy discussing it with you if you have any questions.

May your journey into the dark season be filled with rest and peace!

A Blessed Autumn Equinox!

I hope everyone enjoyed the Autumn Equinox yesterday! I usually try to take the day off for each holiday and spend time outdoors enjoying the seasonal changes.

Yesterday, however, I woke up in a bit of a funk and it took me a while to get going. But I finally got dressed and headed out to one of the county parks along the Rogue River. I found a place to perch on a rocky outcropping next to the river and just sat there soaking in the beauty. I was mesmerized watching minnows swimming in the shallows near me. I find watching fish incredibly soothing, and it seemed like a nice reminder to flow with the changes as we enter this watery Autumn season.

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The view from my rocks

A couple of guys asked me if I would keep an eye on their boat while they went to pick up their second car. I must look trustworthy! I didn’t mind doing it, although I amused myself by trying to figure out exactly what I would do if someone did try messing with their boat. Throw river rocks at them?

A man came down with his son and went for a swim in the river while the little boy splashed along the edge. Whew—that water is COLD, and it was only in the 60s (our first cool day, really). Oregonians are a hearty group!

Another couple wandered down to the rocks I was sitting on and we talked about fish and they told me about their koi pond at home. It always amazes me how friendly people are around here! I thought people in Portland were friendly, but people down here are much more likely to strike up a conversation (or ask you to watch their boat!).

As always, time outside and time by the river worked their magic and I was in a much better mood when I left the park.

I spent the rest of the afternoon making an Apple Molasses Snack Cake, then held my personal Autumn Equinox ritual during which I did my tarot reading. All in all, it was a really nice day and a great way to welcome Autumn. I’m looking forward to cooler weather, wearing scarves, drinking hot chocolate, buying pumpkins, and most of all—rain! The valley is dry and dusty and desperately in need of a good soaking.

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My Autumn Equinox altar

May your autumn season be blessed!

A Tarot Spread for Autumn Equinox

For several years I did a tarot reading on each of the eight holidays of the Wheel of the Year asking what I needed to know during the next turn of the wheel. I got out of the habit of doing that this past year, but decided it was time get back into the habit again, and pulled out this Autumn Equinox spread that I created a couple of years ago. Much of the inspiration for the spread comes from Joanna Powell Colbert, creator of the Gaian Tarot, which I used below for my own reading. She often uses the “overall theme,” “key opportunity,” and “key challenge” elements in her spreads, and I find they work really well in my seasonal spreads. In addition to those, I add three cards regarding topics or issues related to the current seasonal theme.

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

  1. Overall Theme
  2. Key Opportunity
  3. Key Challenge
  4. What I most need to let go of
  5. My most important harvest so far, something to be grateful for/proud of
  6. The internal work that most needs to be done as the light wanes

My reading was a bit intense!

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My reading, using the Gaian Tarot

  1. Overall Theme: Bindweed — The Gaian Tarot book calls this card “life out of balance.” During this turn of the wheel I may be challenged to maintain balance in the midst of many demands for my time and attention. It will be important not to give into despair or slip into escapism through my favorite addictions (like eating too much junk food or bingeing on too much Netflix!). It will be important to consciously seek to respond in healthy ways to the challenges I may face during this time.
  2. Key Opportunity: Five of Fire — The opportunity of this time is to practice courage and face my fears and challenges head on.
  3. Key Challenge: Four of Air — It will be a challenge for me to create boundaries, to take the time I need for meditation, reflection,  and journaling to help me stay calm when things get difficult. This card has also been showing up a lot for me as reminder not to hide away, safe in my nest, and refuse to face things. So I will be challenged to put into practice the courage of facing problems (as indicated by the Five of Fire), instead of hiding, which is the more comfortable response for me.
  4. What I most need to let go of: Seven of Earth — I most need to let go of impatience and trying to force things to happen. Growth is a slow and steady process, and it is time to trust that the work I am doing now, the seeds I am planting, will sprout and grow in their own best time. I can let go of trying to control everything.
  5. My most important harvest so far: Five of Air — I have taken steps to move past the conflicting inner voices that have kept me stuck and confused for far too long, and have moved forward to claim my own space and speak my truth in the world. (But it is still really scary!)
  6. The internal work that most needs to be done as the light wanes: Ten of Earth — I wasn’t quite sure how to interpret this card at first, but my eyes kept being drawn to the nurse stumps in the foreground. I think this means that the internal work I need to do is to cultivate trust that, as Julian of Norwich wrote, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” I need to learn to trust that new growth can spring forth even from places that seem dead and barren. To trust that even as things pass away in my life, there are always fresh, new experiences to take their place and bring life and hope to me again.

I hope your own reading with this spread is just as juicy. I’d love to hear about it! I’m kind of bracing for impact after my reading!

Bright harvest blessings to you all!