The Poppy: Strength and Sacrifice for Lammas

Red poppy flowers in grass

I wasn’t intending on writing this evening.

But as I sat and watched the poppies that I planted in the spring, daintily dancing in the evening breeze, I gained some insights. The sort of insight that pull together random experiences and snippets of conversation into something that gives meaning.I am watching them now, dressed in bright scarlet petals, redder than red, teasingly bending and swaying on wafts of air. There is something supremely innocent and fluttery about them, something intangible, fairy-like.

In contrast there is also something slightly sinister about them. They remind me of blood. Under their dainty skirts, there is deep blackness. Their long slender stems and silken petals look oh-so-fragile and yet even the characteristically strong local winds can’t beat them. They speak to me of Sex. Og Strength and Success. Of War and Warriorship. Of Sacrifice and Renewal.

All of which are themes closely related to the Witch’s celebration of Lammas or Lughnasadh.As they are often associated with this Sabbat I also have them on my altar.

As I look in my Book of Mirrors from last year, I see that at Lammas 2013 I was all about the sacrifice; the moving forward; the leadership and the warriorship. I couldn’t wait for the autumnal season to begin.  This year I felt resistance. I wasn’t ready to address sacrifice, not just yet, wanting rather to put it offi for the next Sabbat of Mabon.

Why? Because I didn’t feel ready. I haven’t accomplished nearly enough of all the things I set out to do this year. I felt cheated… by not having enough time, not enough resources, not having done enough… here we are at Lammas and what has happened to the hope and dreams and seeds set in early spring?

Well. They are the types of seeds that need more than half a year to take root and form. They are not poppy seeds, but perhaps they are fruit trees…. trees that need long incubation, slow growth, tender loving care and temperate patience before they bear fruit. And that fruit… that which feeds us gives us sustenance, and help us grow, is perhaps the most rewarding and delicious of all. But it doesn’t come without a price.

For me the price is impatience. For me the price is that knowing that I just don’t have the time to do all that I want to do. For me the price is in the waiting. And the knowledge that some dreams will have to be sacrificed… to be reborn again…. because there are more prominent things that need my time, attention and space right now. Like my young family. Like my home. Like my relationships. All things that I hold dearest to my heart, that represent love and sustainence and abundance in my life.

This year, Lammas has felt more like Lament! Lamenting feelings of frustration. A feeling of lack of time and progress and energy available to us to focus on my career… my spirituality… to go deeper, perhaps be more authentic and true to certain parts of my soul. I appreciated the beauty of what I have, but I mourned things that I felt were missing in my life.  Actually, my poverty/lack of abundance mentality was off the charts… given that this is the time to be celebrating abundance more than ever!

Some seeds need slow growth, and can be left to develop for a while. Some plants need constant attention and care, or they will go to seed or be over-ripe before we have had a chance to even recognise and enjoy the real fruits of our labour.

Just as I am enjoying the beauty of the poppy that I have nurtured into being. Without my efforts, minor as they might have been, she would not have existed as a bright red flower today. The poppy bends and dances with the winds instead of resisting them and being uprooted. She stands tall and playfully impertinent, shining in  riot of colour; for a short season only, but oh! how brightly she shines. Her life is short, she finds time to set hundreds of seeds, never knowing if her efforts will be rewarded or not. As I write, she is still frivolously dancing, still teasing me.  She knows that really, there is plenty of time. She knows that she will be back.

As will I.

I wish you, dear reader, a wonderous abundance for the season. Don’t forget to acknowledge it!:)

 

And do feel free to write reflections on Lammas in the comments below.

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6 ways to get unstuck – (Ostara)

You dream. You want. You find your inner flame and you drip with desire. Your true self is presented in the mirror and you stand at the magickal crossroads. The moon, full and voluptuous and luminescent shines brightly, showing the way. You are on the verge of finding the treasure, holding the Holy Grail, your cup filled. The path that calls you is just a step away.

You see it and you hear it and you can almost taste it poignancy, it’s ripeness now. You place your hand on your heart and you say to yourself; this is it. It’s my turn now.

That thought pulses through your veins and you know that you are on the brink of finding your core….

And then, right before you reach the cusp…. you get stuck.

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The feeling sinks on you without warning, sucking you dry. Inertia. It happens to many of us. And the results can be devastating. It knocks you for six, you think too much, the fear sets in; you start telling yourself to be realistic; that there is no way, nooooo waaay, that you can do what your heart is telling you to do.

And yet… being Stuck is part of the process. It’s part of the cycle. being stuck allows for important down-time. Time to hone in. Time to know. Time to be silent.

I am very much a fire person. My sun sign is Fire, my moon is in Water.

I have a bit of a natural tendency to ignite quickly, burn hotly and brightly with enthusiasm, get very emotive and passionate and then burn out all my resources all in a short space of time. My exterior can appear calm as a still pool, guarded even. I have learnt to set up strong boundaries. But what is happening internally might be something else completely.

What happens when I burn too quickly? I get stuck. Inertia sets in. I burn up my fuel and my fire goes out. Washed ut by too much emotion. Blown out by too many airy ideas. And then all that is left is Earth. Immoveablilty. Oh how I i dislike that phase!

But the point is…. it really is just a phase. It is a useful phase. An absolutely necessary phase. I am learning to fall in love with it. Being stuck means essential down time. The ability to see what is right in front of my eyes. Grace. It is time to hone it. Time to collect resources. Time to know, Time to be silent, Time to see what is most important.

As Witches, wise folk, priests and priestesses, druids, shamans and magical workers, many of you will be familiar with what is often referred to the Witches Pyramid, or the Four Powers.

To know

To Will

To Dare

To be Silent.

These are the powers that help us germinate, grow, flower and bear fruit. They are the powers of air, water, fire and earth. When they are in balance, when they are all present, we are in touch with our spirit. We are in the flow. Everything just works out beautifully.

But before we get there, we need to move through the spiral of each.

For me,  being Stuck is earth. Being Stuck is rooting. Inertia is the power of silence, the stopping up, the deep dark succulent soil. The part where the other three…. will, daring, knowing…..are given space to emerge and grow. To percolate. To move forward you need to Will enough. You need to Know enough. You need to Dare enough. And there needs to be a space for that growth to happen. In is in the Silent phase that this can occur. The stuck phase. The inertia phase.

This is the hardest and most frustrating phase for my impatient, action-orientated ego. I am sure you often experience this frustration too. In order to master something, to manifest something, just as in the Charriot card in the tarot, you need all the horses to be going in the same direction. We need balance. And this is really a central teaching on the spirtual path that calls us. Balance of the elements. Balance of the turning wheel. The balance of the spiral… we’ve been here before but we are constantly evolving.

Here are  6 ways to move through the process of Inertia and get to the point where we can move forward:

1. Stop and Surrender

Stop. Yes. Just stop. Stop all the actions you are doing everyday. Allow yourself to Stop working towards your goals. (It’s just for a little while, it’s ok!). Stop wasting energy on berating thoughts of everything you haven’t yet achieved. Stop everything for a while. Surrender your ego, surrender your energy. Surrendering is a great teacher. it teaches us Wisdom. Compassion. Humility. all essential qualities of the Wise. Allow yourself to be in Inertia. Allow yourself to be in Stuck.

What happens if you don’t? Burnout. Depression. More inertia. The type of inertia that is out of balance and becomes less of a phase and more of a way of life.

2. Decide

Make the decision to Stop in an active and conscious way. You are not beaten. You are by no means giving up! It’s not that you cannot take action or are afraid to make a move. You are is this position because you need to be. Inertia has a purpose. Stop and offer your stuck-i-ness to the gods. Be grateful. Give thanks.

3. Rest

It may seem paradoxical but without this inertia you cannot move forward. Give yourself, your Soul, permission to Rest. To hibernate. Sleep. Do things that you like but do not demand too much reflection or energy.None useful, none productive activities. Allow yourself that, without guilt, without worry. Try to have a focus on the mundane world for a while.

4. Earthing

The power of silence is associated with the power of earth. The power of grounding. True grounding comes not from energy work, but from a connection with the every day. Find out what is going on outside you and outside your inertia. Have lunch with a none-magickal friend. I am so grateful for my none-magickal friends, they keep me balanced.Make a nurturing soup. Play with your children. Make love. Cook, shop, exercise, dance, garden, see what is happening around you outside of your soul work. Reconnect with the magick that is in the mundane, 

5. Silence

Turn everything off for a day. Or a weekend. No internet. No Tv. Phone calls only with dearest friends and family permitted. Sometimes our inertia has come about from bombardment. Everything fighting to get our attention and our energy. Often there it is too much air…to much knowledge… too much communication…..too many ideas and inspirations that is at the root cause of our inertia. We can’t move for winds blowing against us from all directions. Find sources of air that do not serve you right now. Turn them off, on by one. (It’s ok. It’s just for a little while.)

6. Consciously moving forward

Finally, when you have tried some of the about you may feel ready to get unstuck and move on. Then, and only then, find a quiet place, get a piece of journal and let your inertia be your spirit guide. Journey with it. Meditate on it. What has it taught you? How has it fed you? How has it served you and what does it want from you. What does it need? Where did it come from? Form a relationship with Inertia and ask it how you can now move forward, little by little.

Evolution

With much love,

Bridget x

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Emerging

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She is approaching and her presence is palpable.

I can almost feel the surge of energy, enhanced by the growing moon.

Now is the time for new oaths, new bonds, new promises. Emerging, rising, growing in strength, From the hearth ashes to the flame. The breath of new life, the Ace of Swords, Bridget sings, tantalisingly, teasing at my hair and clothing her laughter echoing in the cleansing winds.

Cleansing, purificaton. Imbolc is known to be a fire festival…a festival of light. Another side to Imbolc is the purification that occurs at this time. Darkness and coldness feel like death….and the distractions and merry making of yule are long gone. There is nothing like january to send you on a tranformational but ultimately healing journey.

Many talk about spring cleaning, without realising that the concept is in our blood, our inheritance. This time has always been a time of purifying rites, of making ready for the hard work ahead that will lead to abundance and joy. The Romans celebrated Juno Februa – a cleansing, post-winter version ofte Goddess Juno. The dreaming time is over and we are called to action. I talked in my last post about january, the new year in the gregorian calender, being too early for lasting results. In the middle of winter when the days are still short. Nights are long, winter is at it’s coldest, resources (energeticaly speaking, financially speaking and perhaps even spiritually speaking) are low. But it is interesting, isn’t it, when you look at the most common resolutions people have…. they often involve some type of purification. Loosing excess weight for example. Simplifying finances, reducing spending and excess. Having more organised paperwork, or a tidier home. It facinates me as I follow the year that mainstream society is often following a simlar path to my priestess path. On the other hand this is not surprising: Nature, the turning of the seasons the tides of ebb and flow is can be felt in all of us. Its who we are and we cannot help but respond to her call.

What do you wish to respond to week?

How will you utilise the growing light?

Is change afoot?

I’d love to hear about it!

 

Love,

Bridget x

5 ways to celebrate Imbolc this week

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Often people get caught up in the idea that a festival must be celebrated on the actual Sabbat day. Which means that if they for some reason can’t celebrate a Sabbat on the actual day, they don’t celebrate it at all. And if they are not feeling the vibe that the season is supposed to be bringing, they may feel like they are not a true pagan/priest-ess/witch. So they just sort of hop over it. Then, feelings of guilt and frustration might set in. And perhaps, feeling undeserving,they walk away for the path, for a while. What a shame.

Others, myself included, consider a Sabbat to be a representation of a season or the turning of the wheel. After many years I find that I am often attuned to the energies and ebb and flow, whether I want to be or not. But sometimes it takes a little time. And that makes sense. When Imbolc comes around, should we all then be ready for initiation? Imbolc is tomorrow. Are we all feeling cleansed, purified ready? All of us the same time?

I try to prioritise the Festivals now, but when I cannot to this I will acknowledge them in some way. Then take the time to give the season proper attention when I feel ready, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually to do so. If I am just not feeling ready I might spend some time examining my life…. current events, energy movement, focus, activities, and find out that (aha) actually I have been doing little purifications all the long. If time passes and I am never ready, then I need to work wih that stagnation. I might do a ritual around self inquiry and moving forward. But I will always try to celebrate in some way, at some point during the month that the festival occurs.

Here are 5 simple ways to celebrate Imbolc this weekend…..whether you are ready or not!

1. Clean something in your home. Honour the sacredness of your hearth in some way.

It could be your kitchen, a cupboard, your bedside table. You were probably going to do this anyway and were wondering where you were going to get the time to have a tidy home and be spiritual. Combine the two. Do it mindfully.Do with with love. As a priestess: offer this as a gift…to the Goddess within, to Bridget of the Hearth.To yourself.  Imagine: An organised bedside table drawer filled with nurturing things, just for you; for when times are hard or you just can’t sleep.

Whatever you choose: feel cleansed and take that feeling into the rest of your week.

2. Go for a walk.

Engage in nature, in the spirit of the season. Where to you see cleansing? Where do you see renewal? Where do you see transformation, small surges of growth? How has the light changed?

3. Carry out the most effective house cleansing ever

Imbolc is a festival of fire, but also the season of air. This can been keenly felt where I live. In february winds are typical of the shifting of tides in the Northern Hemisphere. Open all the windows in your home, just briefly. Invite in the breath of inspiration and renewal. Breath deeply. Feel the energy prickly playfully on your skin.

This is the best home cleansing I know of.

4. Light up the portals.

Traditionally women crafted more candles in the lead up to february. At Imbolc, or Candlemas, candles were burnt in each window of the home, as a welcome to Bridget as well as a celebration of returning light. Light a tealight or candle in one or several windows in your for a little while, and reflect on illumination and what this means to you. Obviously consider fire safety before you do this, keep an eye on the candles and do not take any unnecessary risks.

5. Embrace Bridget as Muse

Listen to the beautiful breathy voice of Enya. If you are not in a mood for transformation and reflection yet, this will do it! 🙂 And while you are doing this, consider one single thing that is no longer serving you. Release it from your life.

Warmest and Brightest Blessings for Imbolc,

Bridget xxx

Please feel free to share or reblog!

How do you celebrate Imbolc…please share ideas in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

Between Winter Solstice and Imbolc

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Kiss of death, Spark of hope

The battle of dark and light continues.

The time between the Winter Solstice and Imbolc is a time where I am ending the long period of examining darkness. In fact, its is probably the most intense period… a true moment of uncomfortable transformation that can send me into the depths of despair as I start cracking the seed-shell and grasping for some space to call my own. Space to root. Space to heal. Space to dream.

At this time I am perhaps not the easiest to be around, preferring to hold onto what little energy I have for myself. Spring will soon be on its way, and yet the the icy touch of Lady Winter is felt more keenly then every. She breaths sharply on any exposed skin, reminding me that, like the seedling, i am still vulnerable. Still mortal. Still deep. Her silence is palpable. I sink into her depths, whether I want to or not.

Each time I read about Imbolc and welcoming the spring; my Soul protests. The hope is there, but here in the North, spring is still a long way away.  I pull the wooly blanket tighter around my body. The eagerness and freshness of the New Year has disappeared. Like many other people, my own resolutions, all made in good faith, fall flat. I feel my resistance and I resent it.

How silly. How unfruitful.

Because when I walk outside it all becomes as clear as the frosty ice-blue morning. Understanding as sharp as the slants of light that cut through heavy grey clouds.

Now is the silence. The pregnant pause. The brink. Now is not the time for new life, for surging energy. No climax, no earth shattering change, no achieving the dreams of a lifetime. If an over-eager plant shoots out of the earth, lulled into a false sense of security by a few precious minutes of extra light, it will surely be killed by a merciless frost. No. Contemplation is needed. Awareness. Focus. Timing.

Few dreams will survive a harsh and abrupt birth into darkness and ice. Dreams, like seedlings; like babies, need to be coddled. Nurtured. Kept warm and cared for until the time is right to be gradually released onto the path of independence.

Now is the time for incubation. Now is the time to give love and care and strength to the tiny dreams that you wish to grow strong. Now is the time for ultimate self care. Meditation. Baths and Blankets. Duvet days.

We are approaching Imbolc. Then comes the time for surrupeptitiously sniffing the air.

But for now, sisters, brothers: we can allow ourselves to practice patience. Self nurturing and compassion.

Now is the time for dreaming in the dark.

Imbolc – She stirs

germ_seedling_scion_226391Unseen, below the ground, She rests.
She is seed. In summer she basked in light, a ripe, red fruit. Upon falling to the earth in the autumn, She has taken the deep dark journey, down into the earth, down into the mystery that is Herself.

She has experienced, through the darker half of the year, the icy kiss of mourning and loss, the deepness of shadow. But always within;  the spark. The spark of survival. The spark of hope; the spark of the divine; the life-force at the core of her soul that has guided her through it all.
At the winter solstice She sensed the changing of the tide, the return of the sun. The spark, not quite extinguished, grew a little. She may have appeared dormant outwardly; but her Soul was not. There was still much work to be done. At winter solstice She was required to shed away some of the darkness. To leave some of her shadow-shell behind, so that she might put down roots. Her foundation formed.

And now: A pause. Waiting, Resting. Pure as the white snow. Making ready for the breath of life to awaken her desire once more, so that she can rise, slithering and shedding through the deep earth; stretching towards the sun, knowing that She will shine in the true light that is Hers.

She is awakening.
She is becoming.
She will be reborn