April Emerging: make plans and act on them

King of Swords TarotAlong with the Chariot, the second Tarot card I associate with the month of April is the King of Swords. This King is in complete control of his mind – he harnesses his intellect, plans effectively, and communicates his thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively. He is the perfect counterpart to the somewhat volatile energy of the Chariot.

The almost frantic energy of late March and early April is wonderful as a kick-start to the month – it can get you moving, gets us excited, get us pumped up and ready for action. But if you don’t harness that extra energy, shape it and direct it, it can get too wild and overwhelming.

I find that if I don’t give myself the time and space to adopt the calm, focused energy of the King of Swords, I can become subject to wild mood swings and a feeling of discontentment. The new-found energy we have as the light increases needs to be directed into something, and the emotional changes that inevitably come about as we circle the wheel of the year can turn to neurosis if we don’t acknowledge them and work with them.

At the beginning of the month, I urged you to get started: make a goal, simplify it, and take action. Now that the first steps have been taken, and the momentum is underway, you can start to hone and detail those goals. After you’ve taken consistent action – either towards a career goal, or creating a creative habit, or whatever else – once that action has formed a habit you can then start getting fancy with it. This is the time to buy the fancy brushes or paints. This is the time to start getting really specific about where you want to your blog or career or novel or hobby to go in the coming months.

First of all, start assessing what your initial burst of action has made you feel. This might give you new insights into the emotional motivation behind making this goal or resolution in the first place. Are you achieving your emotional goal? If not, have you projected or transferred a desired feeling onto the wrong project or path? Your desire to paint, for example, may be 100% authentic and important to you. But beware sublimating desires for greater freedom, imagination, or career satisfaction onto what is only ever going to be a hobby for you. Be honest with yourself, above all.

Breaking a goal down into actionable items is a much-touted strategy in the business world, but it works in many contexts. If an unfocused or simplified action plan does not work for you, or hasn’t stirred you into action – if just do it causes too much performance anxiety or perfectionist panic – try giving yourself a list of very small, simple tasks to get yourself there instead.

You could start with a pencil drawing, for example: or just decide to set up an easel and paper without actually painting. You could brainstorm and write blog posts in a word document first before you even think about what blogging platform you want to use. You could commit to writing 100 words of fiction a day, rather than writing a novel in a month.

Whatever it is that is stirred within you this month, make sure it’s nurtured. How this nurturing will best take place is completely up to you. But finding a balance between planning and spontaneity can make all the difference in your productivity and satisfaction.

Health and Spirituality

A lot of people come to things like meditation and yoga not so much from a spiritual point of view, but as a means to feel better physically and emotionally.  For some time, these practices have been touted as stress-relievers and energisers – giving the practitioner more physical and emotional energy and greater well-being.  Much of the New Age movement, too, is driven by a desire for better health.

In many if not most cases, those who continue seriously with these practices grow increasingly spiritually centred, and it moves away from being a pragmatic means to an end to being a way of life or expression of a philosophy.  Perhaps this is a psychological and emotional response to the practices themselves – the changes that happen in the pathways of the brain clearly favour a spiritual leaning.  Or maybe what these people were really searching for all along was spirituality, and the health problem was merely a catalyst or an excuse.

So what is the relationship between spirituality and health, really?

Spirituality differs from religion primarily by its focus on the individual rather than the community.  Spirituality generally denotes a personal experience of or response to the divine.  It may or may not involve a set practice, or any practice at all.  And it is often used as a catch-all phrase for people who are not affiliated with a religion, or are somewhat agnostic, but do have some sort of theology or philosophy of life.

The crossing point between spirituality and health, then, is in its relevance to the individual.  Spirituality is often Self-centric – focusing on the experience of the individual rather than set actions to connect to or appease a god.  Both spirituality and religion attempt to address some of the greatest questions of humanity – why are we here, how did we get here, what is beyond us and greater than us?

Spirituality, then, is an innate part of the human condition – and many people who consider themselves to be spiritual rather than religious are using the paradigm of spirituality to ask some very broad question about our human experience.  For spiritual people, the questions above are usually not answered, or even answerable.   The very act of asking them is spirituality.  Religion, on the other hand, offers answers to those questions, and therefore is only useful to people who resonate completely with the answers provided.

If spirituality is a quest of question-asking, then its connection with the humanistic movement and even the self-help and self-development movement becomes clear.  In order to understand the Cosmos and our place in it, we must understand human nature, the human mind, and our agency as an individual.  An outward questioning about all of existence becomes an inward questioning about the nature of our consciousness and what it means to be us.

The blurred lines between spirituality and self-development show us how spirituality and physical and emotional health are intertwined.  Some people approach spirituality as a means of bettering themselves, or becoming happier.  This kind of resolution is likely to be paired with changes of lifestyle to promote physical health.  But even those who approach spirituality primarily as an alternative to religion or because of a calling or urge to connect with the divine will often become inspired to improve their physical and emotional health, too.

Spiritual connection can promote greater happiness: and with greater happiness comes a greater spiritual connectedness.  A quest for a personal spirituality can become a quest for happiness, and vice versa.  And while perfect physical health is of course not a prerequisite to having a fulfilling spirituality or feeling happy, health improvements are still a cornerstone of happiness and fulfillment.

Spirituality & Sleep: anxieties, patterns, and new habits

Too busy to sleep?

Despite the significance I place on dreams, and my increasing desire to experience the dreamstate as part of my spiritual practice, I have a somewhat antagonistic relationship with sleep.  Is this true for everyone in our modern Western culture?  Sleep is hugely denigrated by our society as an inconvenience and an unfortunately necessary waste of time.  This is evidenced by many high-profile bloggers attempting polyphasic sleep – taking short naps through the day for a total of 2-3 hours sleep in 24 hours.

I’m afraid to say I’m not much different.  Particularly as I have always considered myself to be someone who needs a huge amount of sleep to function, the busier and more productive I am in life, the more I resent the huge chunk of time I need to spend in bed.

Insomnia and sleep anxiety

Ironically, I spend most of my adolescence and adult life so far trying in vain to get enough sleep.  In adolescence the problem was an early wake-up time to get to school, an inability to get to sleep at a time that would give me the nine solid hours of sleep I needed at the time, and a subsequent constant state of sleep deprivation.

In university, in my second year, I first experienced insomnia.  I was in my first serious relationship, and I was already struggling with sleep whenever we were able to spend the night together – having some difficulty getting to sleep with someone else in the bed, and waking up early in the morning when he started tossing and turning.  But then there came the night when despite being alone in my own bed, I just didn’t get to sleep; and suddenly, sleeping took on a whole different persona.

Suddenly, sleep became a thing that was not only coveted and precious, but shrouded in the worry that it wouldn’t happen.  For the last five years I have cultivated an anxiety about sleep that I am still struggling to shrug off.

Taking back my power: making sleep work for me

I have finally started to take back my power when it comes to sleeping.  In December I spent a month getting up at exactly the same time every day, seven days a week, and this had a good effect on my sleep hygiene.  I still pretty much do this now.

But in the last few days I’ve started a new regime: taking a 20-40 minute nap in the late afternoon (about 5:30pm), and sleeping less (7-7.5 hours currently) at night.

Essentially, this is because I want to be an early riser, but I can’t or don’t want to sacrifice my evenings.  My boyfriend goes to bed late and gets up late, and I want to be able to stay up with him, and stay up for social events at the weekend without completely throwing off my sleeping pattern.

I’m also trying to let myself wake up naturally, i.e. without an alarm, to see if that decreases drowsiness during the day.

My main reason for wanting to get up earlier is that I am discovering as I get older that I am a “morning person”, i.e. feel better when I get up earlier and am more productive in the morning hours.  The late afternoon is a generally useless time for me to get things done, and then I pick up energy again in the evening.  Slotting in some sleeping time into that late afternoon seems like a handy way to be able to have my cake and eat it – be an early riser without going to bed early.

Spirituality and my relationship with sleep

So what has this to do with spirituality?  Firstly, my spirituality and my self-development are inextricably intertwined – it can be hard to see where one ends and the other begins.  And getting enough sleep, feeling energetic, and having a healthy attitude towards sleep is vital to being at my best.  Not only that – it is vital to my happiness.

My decision to start developing my spirituality was primarily driven by a desire to happier – to be the happiest I could be.  So many seemingly unrelated aspects of my life have come into question at the same time.  And physiological health, I have realised, is one of the key components to happiness.

There is also a circularity in the relationship between my happiness and my spirituality.  My spiritual practice is designed to give me greater happiness – but in turn, when I am happier, calmer, more energetic, and more at peace, my spirituality comes into greater clarity.  I become clearer on what I believe, and how I want to practice, and I make more leaps forward.

So not only am I hoping that my new sleep schedule will help me be more rested, more energetic, and more productive – I am also hoping it will help me meditate, help me enter the ritual state of consciousness, improve my relationship with Goddess and the Morrígan.

Is it working?

So far, I’m feeling pretty exhausted, particularly in the afternoons.  But I’m loving how it feels to be at my desk working by half-eight in the morning.  I’m loving the feeling of peace when I do my morning devotionals an hour earlier than usual.  And apart from the hours when I’m feeling very tired, I have been happier and more positive, too.

I will write about my progress after I’ve settled into the pattern, and I will probably write more about spirituality and physical health, too.  I feel that too many people ignore this aspect of happiness and wellness, and do not realise how much a feeling of spiritual connectedness relies on a feeling of general wellbeing.

Sleep & Spirituality: my dreamworld

Dreaming has always been important to me.  As long as I can remember, I’ve been a vivid and prolific dreamer.  There have been times when I find it hard to believe that all of my dreams have taken place in the space of one short night, never mind in the even more limited periods during which I’m experiencing REM.  I have had the experience on a few occasions of going somewhere or doing something and realising I had previously dreamed about it, and although I do not really my dreams to be prophetic and don’t really have a theory about this phenomenon, there is no denying the profound effect that these experiences have had on me.

My dreams often run in fairly linear, story-like sequences; I will have whole relationships with friends and family and people I know that are completely different in the dreamworld than they are in reality, and they play out in a usually quite logical sequence.  I often reenter my dreams and take up where I left off.  Of course, only a minority of my dreams follow these sequences, but it is sometimes more prevalent.

I have also gone through periods of prolific lucid dreaming.  What is most remarkable about these dreams is not so much that I’m aware that I’m dreaming – this is a secondary phenomenon that varies in intensity – but that the dream becomes intensely realistic and meaningful.  These are experiences that other people might consider to be astral travel, and when I often feel as though I have attained some great but undefinable truth.  I always wake up from dreams like this with a great sense of awe.

Despite all this, I have not until recently considered the spiritual possibilities of my dreams, or thought of them as a spiritual practice.  It is quite rare for me to dream about anything that inspires true awe or reverence, or indeed a setting that is unearthly or completely strange.  I do vary between social “small dreams” and more epic sagas, but even the sagas are very Earth-bound.

I do not, in other words, enter the Otherworld in my dreamstate; they are not really the same place for me, despite the importance and realness of my dreamworld.

Instead, I have for some months now been working on my ability to enter trance states and engage in active imagination – i.e., enter the Otherworld in my waking state.  I have yet to be able to conjure up the incredible clarity and realness of my dreams, but I hope that in time I will develop a better ability to switch into different states of conscious and thus experience the Otherworld more vividly.

So far, all of my acts of active imagination have been as pure spiritual acts and communion with deity; not strictly as an exercise in self-learning or self-counselling.  I think my experience is quite similar to those who approach this exercise from a more pragmatic perspective, and I am thoroughly convinced of the validity of active imagination as a tool for growth and self-development, but I find that don’t make the time for it as a “mundane” activity.  I probably arrive at similar transformations through using it as a spiritual tool, anyway.

My relationship with sleep has been more rocky in the past few years, and I will discuss that further in a later post.  But I find that linking my dreamworld more explicitly with my spirituality makes me feel more positive about sleep.  I have never embarked on any serious dream analysis; but perhaps the best way forward for me might be finding a way to do so that is explicitly spiritual.

If you have trouble remembering your dreams, or lucid dreaming, I suggest that you try keeping a dream journal, or even just think more about dreaming in general – I find this makes a huge difference for me.  It seems the unconscious enjoys the attention, and the more I make an effort to remember dreams and think about them, the more interesting and vivid they seem to become.

Hopefully this will be an area of my life that will become more developed over time.

April Emerging: on the wheels of the Chariot

Shadowscapes Tarot Chariot

The Chariot from Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

For many years now, April has been one of the most transformational months for me.  It comes with an incredible energy of change, possibility, and excitement.  The clocks go forward an hour in Ireland on the last Saturday of March, and something about the extra hour of light in the evenings and the fresh, early feel of the mornings makes for the most invigorating time of the year.

The Tarot card that I most identify with this time is the Chariot.  It is a card of change, movement, and epic journeying; and it also speaks of our ability to stand strong and ride the wave by standing in our personal power and fully opening ourselves up to our inner self.  It reminds me that when I tap into that inner self, I tap into an infinite wealth of creativity and manifestation.

This is often the time when projects come into being, and ideas start to become clear in my mind, and this year has been no different.  I feel inspired, excited, and ready to launch into a whole new level of creativity and productivity.  My health habits have been gradually improving over the last six months too, and I’m feeling hugely motivated by my success so far to keep pushing and trying new things, in order to really push my health, fitness, happiness, and productivity to the next level.

Unfurling of the Earth

Although I consider the period from the beginning of February to the Spring Equinox to be early spring, it is not until after the Equinox, in late spring, that the growing and the unfurling of the Earth happens.  Flowers have already pushed their way out of the earth and bloomed on the cherry trees, but by April, the new leaves are starting to burst out on the trees and everything starts to grow.  The temperature on Earth has caught up with the growing light, and although we can get snow in April, it is usually much milder.

The activity of birds and other animals has been increasing steadily, and now in April the trees are filled with constant birdsong and chatter.  This year, I am noticing crows everywhere, and their throaty cawing has become a soundtrack to my life.

The Earth is now not only stirring, but bursting into life.  And it’s so infectious, it’s no wonder we gain so much more energy at this time.

Birth of Stars

This time of year makes me think of one of the most productive stages of the development of our universe; the forming of galaxies and stars.  Although the initial inflation had taken place, and the matter of the universe had cooled, there were still incredible, violent, energetic changes taking place, as the matter started to be drawn together into the shapes that eventually formed us.  Stars were born of the matter that clumped together in spirals, and when they died and exploded, they created more new elements, making life as we know it possible.  This creative cycle of birth and destruction continues across our universe today.

Anything is possible for us creatively if we allow ourselves to be wild and free, if we open ourselves up to endless possibility and are not afraid to combine different ideas and see what comes of that alchemical process.  April is a time for embracing change and pushing our ideas out into the light.

Take the torch and run

April is the month that reaches out and offers you a creative flame – so take that flame, and run with it.  It’s your turn in the relay race, and the time for standing on the sidelines is over.  This is the month to stop making excuses and just act.  It’s too easy to complicate matters and convince yourself that you just don’t have the time you need to get a project or a change of habit underway.  But the solution is straightforward: simplify the process, and do it.

You don’t need fancy paints and canvases to get painting; you just need a brush, the cheapest paints you can find, and some paper.  You don’t need to practice your drawing before can make a “real” picture.  You don’t need to plan out an entire novel before you can start writing.  You don’t need to have a perfect brand, graphics, or layout to start blogging.

And if financial or practical restrictions are holding you back from reaching a goal, move the goalposts.  Your desired feeling is always attainable on some level – even if the way you expected to achieve it isn’t available for you right now.  You don’t need anything except your determination and commitment to change anything in your life for the better.

March Nurturing: Feeling my emotions

daffodilsI have always experienced mixed feelings when I complete a project or start out on a new venture.  There is excitement, and gratitude, and the dizzying sensation of endless possibility; but there is also all of this emotional, psychological resistance that sweeps over me at the same time.  Because deep down – and I think most people feel this, too – I fear that it will never make me happy enough.

It’s a strange fear to have.  Because surely if something isn’t making you as happy as you feel it could, you can change what you’re doing, take a different angle, try something new, or stop altogether if it’s totally out of alignment with what you want to feel.  But really getting in touch with this certainty that I can just change what I’m doing if it’s not quite right has only started happening for me in the last month.

Learning empowerment

The Morrígan is teaching me so much; the more I deepen my connection with Her, the more I learn about myself.  And as I prepared to launch Heart Story, as I shed the skin of the dark half of the year and stepped into the light of the Spring Equinox, I started to unearth some deep truths about myself.

I have so much more power over myself, my emotions, and my life than I ever acknowledged or admitted.  But I’ve realised that this power is not about overtly controlling my emotions, or even finding the one true calling or job that would make me my happiest.  Or most importantly, it’s not about avoiding certain jobs or experiences in order to avoid stress and negative emotions.

No.  This is the power of accepting every emotion that washes over me and being empowered by it, whether it’s positive or negative.  This is the power of shaping my conscious response to those emotions and to my daily life.  This is the power of creating a positive cycle of emotion and acceptance, action and change, feeding back into the depths of my emotional inner self in order to bring forth the emotions that are the most inspiring to me.

If I feel called on a deep level to do something or to create something, then that is right for me.  The details of how that manifests physically in my outer life is changeable.  Just because I feel called to write doesn’t mean I will feel completely happy or satisfied if I sit down every day for a month and write the bones of a novel.  But equally, the lack of complete satisfaction with that process does not mean that writing a novel is not part of my soul journey.  It just means I haven’t hit on the best way for me to do it.  Or it could mean that there is some inner work I need to do to clear away some emotional resistance.

So when I launched Heart Story and didn’t quite feel the way I had hoped or expected to, I didn’t despair or fear that the whole thing had been a mistake.  I just smiled to myself and knew that I had some work to do.

Re-embracing my emotions

Although the specifics of this revelation are only starting to come to me now, it was nearly two months ago that I first realised that I had been stifling my emotions in the hopes of controlling them into happiness.  I wrote on my Facebook page:

For a long time I thought emotions were things that had to be in control – that I would not be fully happy unless I could harness them, pick out the pleasant ones and push away the dark. I strove for the energy of the chariot – the ability to keep my head above the swirling sea of feelings, the terrifying depths of fear and love and despair.

But now I realise that my emotions are what define me as a person, and exerting the control of my ego over the painful shards of shadow that make me anxious and make me weep is not healthy. It is not making me more happy, really, than I was when I would wallow on the sea floor and let my emotions drown me again and again.

So now I want to be the fool. I want to open myself up to every feeling of love, hope, fear, loss, worry, bliss, joy, sorrow. Because my emotions can be the seat of my power if I face them with the right attitude – if I stand strong in my core and let them wash over me and direct me without losing myself. And no artist can truly live without embracing that dark joy.

This month, I have started to feel the effects of letting my emotions back in.  Most evenings, I do either a short or long yoga session, and then sit in meditation for twenty minutes.  A few evenings, I have noticed while doing more difficult stretches that I feel like crying – as though some deep emotion is welling up inside me through the discomfort.  After this happened a few times, I decided to start listening to that part of me in the subsequent meditation.  And after a few goes, I started to speak back to myself.  I had dialogues with my inner child and returned to painful memories that I had forgotten or not realised the significance of.  I have started to heal that inner child, to turn to her and show her that when she felt alone, I was always there.

When I do this, I feel the Morrígan in me.  Sometimes I think that the “me” that is comforting or strengthening the child me is actually the part of me that is the Morrígan.  Because I am starting to see that I have carried her with me my whole life – and now she is offering her strength and wisdom to me across space and time.

Big Announcement: the launching of Heart Story

Today I am absolutely delighted to announce the launch of my new business – Heart Story.  Spinning of the Wheel is now a subsidiary of the main Heart Story website, so change your bookmarks to http://spinningwheel.heartstory.org.  If you are not already subscribed to the blog by email, please do so now to make sure you continue to receive my updates!

The objective of Heart Story is simple: it aims to help people on their spiritual and life path, as I already do here on the blog and on my YouTube channel. Your Heart Story is simply your inner terrain, but more specifically the methods and stories and mythologies and rituals that help you connect to that core, authentic self.

Heartstory.org is currently acting as a main portal to the rest of my online output, but the most exciting addition is the new Heart Story Etsy shop, where I am now offering a range of Tarot readings.  In celebration of its opening, I am offering a 20% discount for the rest o the month to my followers here, and on Facebook and Youtube – use the coupon code OPENING20 at check out to avail of this offer.

You won’t be seeing too many changes here on Spinning of the Wheel itself – I will be continuing with my monthly themes, and my musings on the Wheel of the Year and my ever-evolving theology and spiritual practice.  There may be changes down the line, and I may start blogging over at heartstory.org too, but for the moment this blog is my primary written output.

For those of you who have no interest in Tarot, stay tuned – I will be adding to shop over time, and hope to be offering prayer beads, eBooks, and spiritual courses by the end of the year.  And maybe even some paintings if I get really organised!

I hope you will check out the website and the new shop, and I want to thank you all for your support.  The comments and messages I have received over the years have spurred me to keep branching out, and helped me see that I have something to offer to the world.

Much love <3

~ Áine Órga

Spring Equinox: arriving at the starting line

march flowersTomorrow is the Spring Equinox, and I will be announcing the opening of my online business, Heart Story.  Perhaps this week should feel glorious, triumphant like the six of wands – but to be honest, it has mostly felt more like stepping into the blinding light and struggling to find my bearings.  That feeling of stumbling into the light that I had at Imbolc is still with me.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the truth is, I’m exhausted.  Birthing is not easy, no matter what creative outpouring you’re labouring over.

There has been a lot of stumbling and fumbling as I go through this process of starting my life’s journey – starting to really write my heart story.  Before I started the hard work of actually manifesting some of the desires I had, things felt much clearer, much calmer.  The process of manifestation has been messy and the way forward has not always been clear.

We generally associate releasing and letting go with the darkening part of the year, with the Autumn Equinox and Samhain.  But this year I’m really feeling a need to release again at the Spring Equinox.  I think my previous ideas about accepting the new, about being fresh and empty and ready to receive in the Spring after the dark of the Winter were a little simplistic.  The truth is, every birth requires a death.  Every time we accept something new and struggle to step into a new Self, we must first squeeze our way out of our old skin and really be wholeheartedly ready to leave behind the old Self that did not include this newness.

As the week progresses, I am feeling more and more excited, and more plugged into my core being.  I have taken a week off work to get my business up and running, and as I settle into that empty space I am finally able to start feeling clear about my direction and my actions again.  But I am still longing for ritual space.  I have already started on the clearing and cleansing work necessary, but the real transformation will happen in the ritual space.

So in my ritual tonight, I will be shedding a skin.  I will be thinking about what shackles need to be laid down in order to fully nurture this new dawn.  And as always, I will be taking the time to sit in stillness and silence and let the emotions rise to the surface.

March Nurturing: Call of the Morrígan

The Nurture of the Great Mother

old church windowThere is a short, narrow pathway overhung with eucalyptus trees near my parents’ house where I grew up, and I have always been particularly fond of it.  It winds its way around the back of several gardens, and it’s not particularly private – I usually pass someone else out for a walk when I go there.  But it exudes this still, secret air.  It is a place slightly outside time.  And although there are walled gardens to one side of it, the stretch of land on the other side where the eucalyptus trees grow is wild and untamed, and seems to belong to nobody.

I walk out to this path in the morning whenever I am staying at my parents’ house.  Last week, I had an amazing transpersonal experience while gazing up at those huge, sunlit, ghostly pale eucalyptus branches.  It was a moment of pure pantheism – where I felt the immense divinity of everything, and at the same time realised it’s all me.  “I” am just a tiny part of it, my tiny brain just one cell in the whole, one small conscious outlet for this vast Cosmos.

It was a moment of pure communion, in which I felt the Great Mother move inside me.  This is a feeling that comes over me very often at this time of year – this time of nurture and growth, when the evidence of the creativity of Cosmos is at its most poignant.  I feel it every time I see another patch of flowers coming to bloom, another bud forming on a tree, another spray of blossoms erupting on a cherry tree.

The Call of the Morrígan

Today I visited that path again, though this time I was not in such a deep, connected state or expecting anything extraordinary.  As I walked along, I noticed a path – not much more than an animal track – leading up onto the hill between the eucalyptus trees, brambles and hawthorn bushes.  Something drew me to start up the path.  I reached a point where it became quite steep and overgrown, and I stopped, planning to turn back, as I was unsure why I had taken the path in the first place.  But then I heard a crow calling just a little way along the trail ahead of me – and, wanting to see it, I continued.

I couldn’t see or hear the crow, and again I stopped after coming up against more and more brambles and branches blocking the path.  But every time I stopped, the crow called again, still tantalisingly close but further up the path.

Eventually I reached a denser path of trees, in the centre of which was a small clearing, dark and secret and completely overhung with branches.  There was the inevitable rubbish of cans and bottles and plastic wrappers strewn around the ground, but it still felt indescribably sacred – a temple, a cathedral even, hidden away in the undergrowth.

I stopped here for a few minutes, hoping to hear the crow and see it if I stayed still long enough, but this time there was silence.  After a while, I turned to leave.  Just as I reached the threshold something in me turned me back around.  I stood at what felt like the threshold of that clearing, and spontaneously spoke the Call to the Morrígan that I recite every morning as part of my devotions.

Just as I spoke the last line, there was a loud caw and a rush of wings, and a huge crow flew right over my head.  Seconds later, I heard what sounded like a raven calling further in amongst the trees – which, if it was indeed a raven, is very unusual in this area.

It was only as I turned and climbed carefully back down the path, pushing through brambles and scrambling under branches that I consciously realised what a precious and transformational moment this had been.  While I stood in that circle of trees, it felt completely natural, and I felt no particular surprise that the crow had appeared when it did.  It struck me on my way back down that the path itself was like a road of trials, a gateway of sorts between the worlds.  Or, perhaps, like a birthing canal, leading me back to the womb.

Making a Commitment

This month has already been nurturing, transformational – the work I have been doing on the website and shop is nearing conclusion, and my spirituality keeps hitting roadblocks and then leaping forward over those roadblocks in ways I never expected.

I feel fortified, now, by the power of the Morrígan.  Because of my Jungian take on deities, my understanding of it is that most of this power is coming from my own psyche.  But this makes it no less Other – and I am also coming to understand the ways in which, for me, the gods really do transcend even the entirety of my mind.

I have been in transition for some time now, but I feel that this month is going to be particularly significant.  This is when I will commit, when I will manifest.  It is time to sow those seeds and nurture them into abundance.  It is time to take a step and not look back.

February Birthing: growing pains

ten of swords

February has definitely been a time of sowing seeds, of growth and change in my life on many levels.  But I wasn’t expecting the growing pains.  Planning and implementing changes is always difficult on a practical level, but it has also turned out to be difficult on an emotional level, too.

Uncertainty, over-thinking, and emotional resistance

The closer I get to finishing the upcoming new website and Etsy shop, the more I question everything – not only the practicalities of what I’m working on, but the whole premise behind the business I’m working on, behind my spirituality, and other aspects of my life.  Perhaps it is a normal reaction to the changes I’m working on implementing.  Part of me doesn’t want things to change; part of me wonders if all the work is worth it.  And this has created a general uncertainty if anything in my life is really what I want or what is right for me at the deepest heart level.

Some unpleasant habits and truths have surfaced for me.  I’ve had to work through an obsessive organising and planning tendency, and a realisation that I’ve been trying too hard to control and even avoid my emotions by means of my careful forward planning and rigidity.  Letting go of this tendency is difficult, as any attempts to change one’s lifestyle inevitably necessitates planning and thinking about the consequences of one choice or another.

Much of this emotional unpleasantness has been thanks to a general emotional resistance, and the effect of my personal dweller at the threshold trying desperately to reign me in.  But some of it feels much more ingrained – deep fears and habits that will need to be worked through over time.

Spiritual shifting

The effect on my spirituality has been mostly positive.  I’ve turned to a simple practice – to quiet meditation, listening to silence.  Poetry is starting to play a much larger part, too.  Ideas continue to fall into place, to come together in new ways.  More and more, it is a coherent whole, a philosophy and practice that feels whole and satisfying.

But as much as my thoughts and feelings on deities  has continued to gradually change, I am struggling to really experience that cognitive change in my rituals and daily practice.  I feel as though I am ready for a deeper relationship with the Morrígan, but the way forward with this has remained obscure to me.

So I am trying, in this also, to learn to relinquish control – to allow things to change organically and in their own time.

Pushing through the pain

In a way, February has been about balance: finding a balance between necessary rest, and ploughing on with the plan; finding a balance between allowing my emotions to fully take hold and exerting some control over them by reframing or changing my perspective; finding a balance between the necessary planning and analysis and allowing myself to go ride the wave and go with the flow.

Underlying all of these difficulties has been a resilient hope.  A hope for what my work with manifest, for the clarity that will come when I can finally answer my own questions.  I watch the first flowers bloom outside, and I can feel the first flowers of spring ready to bloom within me.

Going through this has taught me a lot about my spiritual or mythological ideas about this time of year.  I have a tendency to idealise Imbolc or February – to celebrate it only as a time of light and newness and excitement.  But with the growth comes the inevitable pains and difficulties of making that growth happen.  The ground is still cold and unyielding.  But we push on through anyway.