So(u)l Invictus

Last year, around this time, I set an intention of marking nature holidays – solstices, equinoxes, and the pagan holy days halfway in between.  I did pretty well with the 2015 Spring Equinox, writing up a lovely little ritual based on the elements after reading about historical ceremonies and goddesses connected with the day.  I haven’t quite reached that level of ceremony for the holidays since, but hope to begin next year’s round by putting together a weekend retreat to celebrate Imbolc, the early February holiday of fertility, cleansing, and the first signs of early spring.

sad_1But I’m getting ahead of myself.  The Winter Solstice just passed, and with it the darkest day of the year.  I always want to do a mini dance to celebrate having made it through this super challenging time, the several months where all so many of us can do is take Vitamin D, hang out at conservatories, and binge on Netflix in hopes of distracting ourselves from the incredible lack of Sol Invictus, the invincible sun.  We somehow make it through every year though, and learning more about the roots of the holiday somehow make it easier.  Astrology is a particular focus of mine, and the social justice and positivity-focused postings of Chani Nicholas are a particular favorite of mine.

“You can become a source of revolutionary self-love. You can become an unending source of appreciation and acceptance for yourself.”

I’m still working on setting intentions for the new year, but I am certain they will include continued learnings and focus on herbalism, astrology, and magic.  What do you want to manifest in this next wheel of the year?

Right now I’m listening to: Fleetwood Mac, all the albums, always.

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Called back.

Called back.

It has been an EXCEEDINGLY long time since I’ve blogged.  I’ve gone through several iterations of ‘I really just hate how much time is taken up by silly technology, so I should eschew it in order to live up to some ridiculous moral standard I have arbitrarily set for myself’.  But I’m getting over it.  Because I really do write more when I use a computer, and have an audience, however meager and elusive it might be, holds me accountable.

So here I am.  Back again.  ::cue some ridiculous 80s soundtrack::

2015 has been a crazy year of becoming someone I would actually venture to say is an adult.  Part of this has been by choice (setting boundaries in my committed relationships, starting a farm and business with my partner, leaving a job that was meaningful but drained me), and part of it has been completely out of my control (the sudden death of my previous partner).  It’s all given me a pretty solid shake up as to what is important though, in this short life we have on this marvelous blue planet.  So here’s the wisdom I’ll start my new blogging era with, things I have to remind myself of pretty much every day in order to stay reasonably happy and sane:

  1. Do what you love.  Every day.  Gently but firmly leave behind the things that don’t feed your soul.
  2. Practice radical self love first and foremost, so that you have the energy to be a rock for those who need it.  When friends, family, and acquaintances are brave enough to reach out to you, make time for them.  Very few things are as important as this.

“Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”
-Mary Oliver

Things that inspire me right now: Felicia Day’s memoir.  Baking bread.  Herbalism rooted in social justice.  Local businesses standing up against bigotry.

Words to Live By: Nelson Mandela

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.” -Nelson Mandela

This is not a new quote.  It has spread through the internet on countless blogs, and likely used by teachers, therapists, and commencement speakers to the point of exhaustion.  But like many deeply insightful but overused statements of wisdom from world leaders, the significance of Nelson’s words did not strike me until reading them in this particular moment in this particular essay, in this particular place and time in my life, an era of personal rediscovery and personal re-empowerment.  As I ground myself in my own strength and self respect, these words are perfect for contemplation and meditation.  I want them to sink into my skeleton, to infiltrate my metacognition, to infuse my realigned priorities.

Let us hold our darkness but embrace and live from our light.

What a feeling.

I’ve written about weltschmerz before, but I’ve always been aware that English does a particularly poor job describing interesting and complex emotions.  This infograph from Fast Company is case in point.

Image

Tocka (Russian, great spiritual anguish without any cause), and pretty much all of the words related to but more specific than ‘togetherness’ are my favorites.  And I could probably use some of the Chinese word for ‘relaxed’ and ‘nothingness’, ie less worrying.

Words to Live By: Pema Chodron

Following is a quote from Pema Chodron that I found in the first entry in the ‘Favorites’ list on my long forgotten Google Reader feed; too many stories, too little time!  It’s just…perfect.  I’ve spent many hours talking with my housemates about my need for control, for knowing exactly how what I’m doing is meaningful.  And Pema Chodron’s words just break all of that down beautifully, because truly we can never know, and need to find peace and freedom and life in that truth.

“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all this to happen; room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. When we think something is going to bring us pleasure, we don’t know what’s really going to happen. When we think something is going to give us misery, we don’t know. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. We try to do what we think is going to help. But we don’t know. We never know if we’re going to fall flat or sit up tall. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure.”

In other news, I’m getting into zines again.  Maybe I’ll even create one at long last!  I’m ordering this, and would love any recommendations.

A new mantra.

“Today I commit to living with humility, detachment, acceptance and, most of all, joy.”

It’s been an internally tumultuous, overly busy couple of weeks and months, and I’ve felt incredibly heavy with the weight of the world as well as my own personal decisions.  So yesterday, while staying home for some R&R to get over a cold, I did the I Ching, at long last.  ‘How do I create a clearing in the dense forest that is my life?’, I asked.  The answer was clear: The Joyous (58).  It was one of those answers that instantly illuminated a truth I already had inside me but was too dense and too self pitying to see.  Out of this answer came the above mantra, that is now taped to the inside of my bedroom door.

Namaste.

Words to Live By: John O’Donohue

I’m surprised that I haven’t yet shared any poems or quotes from John O’Donohue because he is one of those poets that literally seems to see the souls and longings of humanity and translate them into language, a remarkable gift that I hope to cultivate over time.  It’s uncanny how his poems surface just when I need them, from books or friends or, for the poem below, from wonderful blogs like The Beauty We Love.
 
On a farm you learn to respect nature, 
particularly for the wisdom of its dark underworld.  
When you sow things in the spring, 
you commit them to the darkness of the soil.  
The soil does its own work.  
 
It is destructive to interfere with the rhythm and wisdom of its darkness.  
You sow drills of potatoes on Tuesday and you are delighted with them.  
You meet someone on a Wednesday who says 
that you spread the potatoes too thickly, you will have no crop.  
 
You dig up the potatoes again and spread them more thinly.  
 
On the following Monday, you meet an agricultural advisor who says 
this particular variety of seed potatoes needs to be spread close together.
  
You dig them up again and set them closer to each other.  
 
If you keep scraping at the garden, you will never allow anything to grow.  
People in our hungry modern world are always scraping at the clay of their hearts.  
They have a new thought, a new plan, a new syndrome, that now explains why 
they are the way they are.  They have found an old memory that opens a new wound.  
They keep on relentlessly, again and again, scraping the clay away from their own hearts.  
In nature we do not see the trees, for instance, getting seriously involved in therapeutic analysis 
of their root systems or the whole stony world that they had to avoid on their way to the light.  
Each tree grows in two directions at once, into the darkness and out to the light 
with as many branches and roots as it needs to embody its wild desires…
 
It is wise to allow the soul to carry on its secret work in the night side of your life.  
You might not see anything stirring for a long time.  
You might have only the slightest intimations 
of the secret growth that is happening within you, 
but these intimations are sufficient.

~ John O’Donohue
from Anam Cara