Musings from the Liminal: "Healing The Self is Healing Earth"
Above: Taken in the dawn forest beneath Pendle Hill, 2015, a place of Witch-Wounding memory and healing (the Pendle Witches - 12 individuals of all ages - were famously held in Lancaster Castle, condemned in 1612 to hanging on Pendle Hill, near their home lands - where they walked from the castle to meet their deaths). A sculpture trail through the forest eerily captures this journey. Deep parts of me that feel very, very, old came with me on that trail, held with a tribe of Sisters and our refusal to be silent.
This entry has had some suspense around it, with my personal healing journey taking a rapid and deeper shift (all good, rich stuff!), accompanied by some outer-world incidents that have led me to disconnect a while. I have been retreating from the online world lately - not a conscious choice at first - which began when I dropped my mobile phone to it's screen-cracked doom nearly 2 weeks ago. The cliche "everything happens for a reason" has been fitting here I think! The less linear time / space existence, the flowing into my body's needs more, the spaciousness of only doing online essentials and less social media flicking (though I miss Instagram!) has led me to pick up books more, listen to music and podcasts with more focus, take naps and to overall feel less tense (serious vibes from even an inactive phone create an edginess that I now fully realise : boundaries).
Tech and life-pace detox has been one of the themes of Samahin (The Celtic New Year, more famously known as the more commericalised version: Halloween) for me this year, leading me into a more present state of liminality: personal, collective, global. Allowing the grief, rage, sadness, fears and distractions that lurk at the edges of the dark forest of the mind and senses to become real and present. In shared hearth-fires of feasting on final harvest vegetables - honouring the Celtic Ancestral themes of this gorgeous Festival of Final Harvest, combined with honouring the Ancestors, the recently departed, the human & non-human in us all. To then drum wildly in the birch and oak grove with my lover before midnight (white and black face paint, hoods and long black clothes), honouring our friend no longer with us who joined us at this very spot a year ago - sharing her stories of ancestors - our tears and love at knowing she is now one herself. Honouring in the cold air and silver-white birch bark illuminated; the small flames we lit in jars to acknowledge species-death, the DNA we hold and all the gifts and wounds that make us who and what we are - from those who came before us.
The Westerly Otherworld felt close in the ring of the drum, revered by the Celtic peoples as the place of the Ancestors, Faerie and Spirit beings. The darkness to them is the beginning of a new day, and from the 1st November - a new year. The old pre-Roman Calendar New Year acknowledges Samahin: Summer's End. The setting sun was their dawn. The darkness can be our womb / tomb place: of birthing visions, dreams and wishes, gestating, resting - even in this technology-heavy modern world, a candle flame can bring us into this primal centre. The root (chakra) connected to the Earth and animal parts of ourselves: wherein lies our mortality, our hunger, our needs, our precious gift of sensuality and tangible connection. For those on an earth-based path, denying the physical, the embodied, the sensual and many expressions of this is perceived as not possible or healthy (as queer and non-binary womxn, as walker-between-the-worlds and Seer, this is very much a vital necessity for me to stay centered in my power: to un-do the chains of withholding and wearing ill-fitting masks of other people's expectations - painful but important work - and not work to do in isolation!).
What masks are you still holding up? What was forbidden that you now hold as a gift (your rosy red orchard apple - the forbidden fruit of Christian myth - the golden apple of truth to the Pagans of Europe)? What is being awakened in you that promises truth and healing? How connected to the Earth, to this life, do you feel: do you choose to be present (or vacate / escape / medicate / numb it all away)? Yeah, so, big questions just now. I hope they resonate. Here's some simple ways to explore these kinds of questions safely and in warmth...
A walk in twilight woods or a favourite tree sitting-place (even in the city - some cemeteries can be beautiful natural places and very appropriate now, or parks and gardens), perhaps a fallen crow feather at your feet as you walk on your usual pathway...Slow down (the Earth invites you to do so now - to join them in slowing your internal rhythm) and look for the signs to help you build your version of an altar, or to meditate on what they may be telling you. In your heart / mind's eye, perhaps in your home in a safe warm corner, collecting the symbolic or literal deadwood of the past year for purification in a ceremonial fire. A simple ritual: candle, bowl and natural place to bury the ashes of paper notes; whereupon you mindfully write the parts ready to let go. Make space to feel, to release, to shout into the flame or to celebrate the new space for fresh dreaming now opened up.
I facilitated my first Fire Circle event in my home valley last weekend where such ritual was explored, as Roots & Resonance. The Circle was a true gift to hold with ten familiar and new faces, to witness and create, in our yurt on the dawn of a sudden cold spell that is still with us, bringing the first frosts and beautiful spears of sunlight through morning mists. Summer's End came fast and sharp, but with so much colour and warmth and vigour! The fire held us well as we drummed, moved, released, reflected and meditated into the Earth's roots and the sky above.
I feel grateful to now feel safe enough to bring this work to life, to share, to hold community and bring Spirit and Earth-connection into shared space. I've been flowing more with my training and my personal dreamwork. Now I am in a place of letting go of attachments and tight, body-held rigidity in myself, which connects I believe to the frequent spells of fatigue and depletion I've been struggling with increasingly over the past year or so. The bones and cells being re-made, as healing process and awakening clears away the conditioning, the fears and the trauma-fuelled anger that prevents free-flow. I have been working with two incredible new healers - the support is freeing me from deep stagnancy and resistance. I am literally (re) learning how to be in my body more of the time! Being grounded is pretty important when you're a liminal being and growing into more healing work, I guess most of me is somewhere else - most of the time - and perhaps has always been so. It has not gone unnoticed by those close to me - my tendency to disconnect when overwhelmed (known as disassociating in psychology, accompanied often by anxiety or addictive behaviour cycles), which has been in ever-more conscious waves. I've never known how to anchor myself when this happens. But now, I am learning, with support. Perhaps I can find some peace with recurring material world problems (and health / vitality). I am working with some beautiful meditations, herbal medicine and affirmations. I may devote a podcast or video to this journey, or to some of my related musings on this when I am feeling more visible "out there."
In these intense times, where overwhelm seems not far away, healing and ceremony and held solidarity spaces feel vital to create. As the world heats up and global leaders close their eyes, put their fingers in their ears to the truth and continue to feed the dirty industries that threaten our demise. As the statistics showing the shocking decline of our wildlife (60% of all species on the planet extinct since 1970 - recent science released this week) come alongside the news of scientists shocked at the speed of "run-away climate change" with arctic sea ice melting at an exponential rate, and Brazil's elected official setting his sights on destroying more of the Amazon (which holds a quarter of all land-derived carbon in the world and 20% of our forest / oxygen sourcing / carbon storage). And of course ecocide and social injustice go hand-in-hand. And these macrocosmic issues connect all of us as a species; the energy more than ripples - it ricochets - through us and shows itself in a myriad of social and emotional responses, that may at first seem unrelated to the bigger global shifts. And many of us are moving closer together, seeing our vulnerabilities pan out in sudden microcosmic changes, or in seeking each other for warmth, voice and grief-tending. Here is the Active Hope Joanna Macy refers to.
I am heartwarmed to see new movements appearing, where survival and solidarity include these aspects. Mainly, as this news and it's shocking data is fresh, I am in a state of disbelief, shock and grief - how do we process this? How do we feel this? There is at least some awareness now in the activism that is emerging e.g. #extinctionrebellion, that these feelings are important to voice and express and that diversity of human voice is vital covering all lands, creeds, cultures, beliefs, sexuality and gender expressions and where possible species...That our feelings are channeled through us from the Earth - as we behold the Earth: "circling the Earth...am I falcon, a storm, or a great song?":
I leave this post with her inspirational talk Joanna Macy: Choosing Life. Healing the Self is healing the Earth. Medicine for this pivotal time. A poem Joanna reads an excerpt from in this talk is very loud for these times and I hope another medicine-thread for you, Seeker:
Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower Quiet friend who has come so far, feel how your breathing makes more space around you. Let this darkness be a bell tower and you the bell. As you ring, what batters you becomes your strength. Move back and forth into the change. What is it like, such intensity of pain? If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine. In this uncontainable night, be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses, the meaning discovered there. And if the world has ceased to hear you, say to the silent earth: I flow. To the rushing water, speak: I am.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus
#samhain #liminal #queerspirit #earthspirituality #naturewriting #witchwound #pagan #rainermariarilke #visionarypoetry #healingthroughart #ceremony #ecocide #grieftending #joannamacy #activehope #celticancestors #ancestralmemory #shamanichealing #seer