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Solstices Before Us   Leave a comment

ignition

May we find what kindles …

With just a few changes, you can readily adapt my recent Beltane Solitary rite for the Solstices tomorrow, winter or summer.

Earth below me and in my bones,
Sky above me and in my breath,
Seas around me and in my blood,
by the Power of these holy Three,
I proclaim this to be sacred time and space …

A Solitary has the advantage of spontaneity. With the skeleton framework of a ritual as a guide, you’re free to improvise, to slow or quicken your pacing, to substitute words, drop or expand a section to fit the moment’s need. Just like with poetry and song-writing, you need just enough structure as a form to create with, and enough freedom not to feel boxed in. You find wings of a definite shape and size — they’re real, after all — and with them you can fly.

As with ritual, so with ritual politics: unlike the blood-curdling threats accompanying initiations in days not so long ago, the wiser rituals (and their ritual-writers) remind the initiate that no bindings are laid upon you, and should ever you, your guides or spirit wisdom counsel you to depart (or change the ritual, or strike out on your own path), do so with blessings. Anything else smacks of power-over.

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The June Solstice here in central New England means our local snakes are finally active both day and night. Although we’ve seen the more aggressive cottonmouth in the area, it’s the common and docile garter snakes (thamnophis sirtalis) that usually hunt our lawns for bugs and frogs and the occasional mole, which have come to sun themselves on our driveway each morning. This supple fellow from yesterday was about 18 in/46 cm.

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The Carr-Gomms write in their Druid Animal Oracle:

Although some legendary dragons are strongly linked with only one of the four elements, many of them happily partake of the characteristics of all the elements: sleeping in water holes, curling their bodies around hills by day, and flying through the air or breathing flames whenever they wish. Quintessentially alchemical, they speak of the energies and powers that exist both within our own selves and within the landscape around us (pg. 135).

A good reminder for the Solstices — the alchemy for transformation is always on hand, in encounters possible everywhere. After all, earth, sea and sky are all in me, too. We be of one kindred, o serpent.

And so when Jesus says wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I also, can you feel it? Spirit with us, around and inside us. May we gather in that awareness, wherever we are, by twos and threes, bird and beast, ancestor and neighbor.

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Greetings to visitors from Brazil, whose numbers are up today! Muito obrigado!

Thirty Days of Druidry 15: Dragon Wisdom 2

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[Here’s the second half of a topic begun in the previous post.]

In the way the universe moves, as soon as I focus on health and healing, results come back from blood-work a few weeks past. The naturopath I consult phones me to share the data, and the numbers aren’t altogether positive. We agree to some diet, exercise and supplement changes, and a follow-up blood-draw in three months to see whether some of the more worrisome numbers are a blip or part of a concerning trend.

I mention this not to garner any sort of sympathy — I’ve been vague enough here I hope that’s clear — but to consider for a moment a couple of things. I use my life as material because I’m in it. I trust it’s part of our common experience, and countless experiences of feedback prove to me that, mostly, it is. (I reserve just a few quirks as my own indulgences.) From my perspective, we’re all in this life-lab together, here to try things out. I understand my own experience better than anyone else’s, and every writer can’t help but mine autobiography for material, however coy or deflective they may be about that fact when you ask.

So here goes. First, you may call it the merest coincidence that in post 14 in this series I examine health, and the next day medical tests come through, and I take it as part of a divination. The pending results were on my mind, you say, and naturally enough they emerged in a post. Nothing mysterious about it. Well, I don’t know about mystery. (That’s why they call it mystery.) But I’ve found that strikingly few things are “mere coincidence.” The dangers of over-reading such circumstances as “signs” or “spirit communications” or “meaningful data” pale in comparison to missing the opportunities for discovery, growth and change that such events offer. As an unreconstructed animist, I know that everything’s alive (especially rocks, and even more especially Vermont rocks!), everything’s affected and influenced by everything else, and everything talks constantly about it all. I like to join that conversation.

Second, I get to try out my spiritual toolkit, as soon as I remember I have one. (You shouldn’t be surprised at our capacity for ignoring resources already in our hands. We love sympathy, until it gets boring or annoying, and then we often swat it away. I loathe self-pity, and have been known to turn away well-intentioned compassion at every turn.)

I take hawk-guise and soar over the problem or challenge. Below, on the field of my life, personalities and forces and energies can stand out more clearly. As the seer of my own life, I can regroup quite literally. Who and what shall I pair or separate? What lies off the horizon that touches on this moment? What offers itself to me? Where I can I offer myself to others? If I want this clue, this cure, this healing, where I can be a part of such a cure and healing and solution for others? How can I take without giving? Yes, of course. But how I can give without taking? What circles and cycles wait for me to complete them, ones that only I can? Not because I am “special” or “gifted” or “unique,” but simply because I am. I exist, in this place, in this time. The stubbornness of the particular is a clue to meaning, as well as much else of value.

Yes, I’ll even concede that “every problem has a spiritual solution,” if we can also agree that “spiritual” may sometimes mean a warm bath, a glass of wine or mead, time and space for reflection. Sometimes it’s a bit longer than that. I turn and see it’s a whole life-project: part of the reason I seem to be here at all, one of a small set of Big Kahunas, a major theme for this incarnation. Druidry reminds me constantly that this physical world is a vital resource and a field for discovery. With all its pain and uncertainty and possibility and simple pleasure, it’s a toolkit all its own, one of astounding quality and diversity and energy. Herbs, totems, power objects, shrines, wise trees and beasts, spirits, fatigue, rest, hot and cold, the seasons, human physical contact and presence. I could devote (I feel I have devoted) many lives just to exploring these things, never mind the array of things on other levels of reality.

Salmon, Dragon, Bee, companions on the Way, I thank you for your wisdom, and through the transmutations of identity and experience, I offer some wisdom of my own.

 

Thirty Days of Druidry 14: Dragon Wisdom

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Sometimes divination highlights what is absent. As soon as I started working with the Druid Animal Oracle, I discovered the deck lacked two cards, though two other cards had duplicates. What is the lesson of compensation here? The deck lacks the Salmon and the Water Dragon, but has two each of the Earth Dragon and the Bee. Lack and excess: an imbalance to ponder carefully.

The line that lights up for me from the reading of the missing Water Dragon is this: “It is often best for healing and wholeness to be achieved slowly.” I have been patient, I thought, since my cancer surgery and radiation, working with diet, meditation, supplements and exercise. Still more to do.

I will take the doubled Earth Dragon as a reversal, and the line I focus on here from the reading feels relevant: Somehow I am “relating in an inappropriate way to my inner reserves and potential.” The connection between this imbalance and the delay in healing feels clear.

Likewise, I will take the double Bee as an indication of reversal or imbalance, with the reading’s focus: “I am out of place, unsure of my role in the world.” Ever since leaving my old job, I’ve lacked the same degree of focus, though the move to Vermont and the more sane pace of life here have been gifts.

salmonFinally, the missing Salmon, oldest of creatures in at least one Druid tradition, reveals a message that has been seeking me out this week from other sources: reversed effort. The Salmon returns to the place of its birth; it is “able to jump upstream not by fighting against the current, but by utilizing its knowledge of the reverse current which flows beneath the surface current.”

After sleeping on this divination tonight, I will conclude the work of the reading in tomorrow’s post.

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Image: Salmon.

Thirty Days of Druidry 13: But wait — there’s more!

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“But wait! There’s more!” Whenever any cycle ends, it marks the beginning of another larger cycle that contains it. Time, it appears, curls back on itself, or rests inside its own loops and curves like an infinite series of Russian nesting dolls. If there’s indeed any end to cycles, no one’s seen it yet. Dragons may know, but they’re not telling. (Some suspect they may dip in and out of time at will. Dragon wisdom is well worth pursuing, but it can be a difficult teaching, this lore of fire and music at the heart of the world.)

The sweep of energies surrounding cyclical change can be confusing, and to anyone within the radius of a particular cycle, the opening of the next cycle may be obscured in the debris — physical, emotional, psychic, spiritual — of the closing one. Creation, including the destruction of the ends of the old cycle to clear the way for the new, is messy. Even the birth of the new in the midst of the old, not replacing but augmenting it, can be hard. The two things human dread most: change, and the same old thing.

Those of us outside the cycle may nod or smile knowingly, feeling even a little bit superior to it all, if the ends of the cycle don’t happen to lick our ankles or caress the napes of our necks. Ah, but then it’s our turn.

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The Spring-in Winter of April ’16 in VT

The field of energies at work in the physical cosmos looks to be in rough equilibrium. That doesn’t mean stasis. Change still ripples and tears through from time to time. Yes, we face our storms and floods, earthquakes and volcanoes, and occasional meteors. And yes, they can be devastating and destructive. But overall — and life itself’s the best evidence here — the planet’s remarkably stable, and has been over very long periods of time. How else can a world be a home?

I find myself in a chair set down near a soundstage. The floodlights are off, though there’s a rather dim and diffuse glow coming from some back lighting, and there’s a bustle of stagehands as a scene change gets under way. Next to me a Druid sits at his ease in the director’s chair, sunglasses perched atop his head, flipflops dangling from his outstretched feet. In this short break in the filming he looks to be sleeping, but a moment later he opens his eyes and favors me with a wink. He leans toward me and whispers, “Avoid comparing the raw footage of your own life to other people’s highlight reels.”

 

 

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