Soul Path Sanctuary

A place of pause, renewal, and connection for seekers


Wisdom Wanders


For Seekers – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Seasonal Observances – Tarot

The freedom in walking lies not in being anyone; for the walking body has no history;  it is just an eddy in the stream of immemorial time. Frederic Gros

seeker spread full verticle

Wisdom Wanders support you to attune to elemental wisdom and within the context  of the Walking the Ways of the Summer Light seasonal retreat support you to gather the questions that matter most deeply to you now.

There are no rules for a Wisdom Wander, but this flow is offered as a jumping off point for your own designs. But remember to follow your feet, your heart, and where ever your senses lead you.

Selecting Your Place: You don’t have to go anywhere special for a Wisdom Wander. Your backyard might provide all the wonder you need.  But to vary your views, you might seek out places that put you in touch the weekly elemental focus. A place where you can touch bare ground or stone for Earth. A hill or mountain top to feel the Air and be close to birds, and a windy urban avenue could do the same. If you can, traveling to a large body of water or the ocean for a Water Wisdom Wander would be appropriate, or just wander on a rainy day. The Fire week of the Walking the Ways e-treat comes during the period of longest days so anywhere on a sunny day will do, or build a bonfire to contemplate its flame.

Separating From the Everyday: You may want to enact a small ritual of leaving behind all your responsibilities, worries, and cares. You could visualize putting them into a box. If any critical voices start to speak, just assure them you’ll be back; you are only going for a walk.  Can you leave your cell behind? Or at least put it into airplane mode.

Travel Light But Bring What You Need: Remember to take care of you body: water? sun screen? good shoes?. Remember any ritual or creativity needs: tiny notebook and pen? drawing materials? camera? And, of course, cards from your Tarot or oracle deck.  Bring it all on one Wander. Bring nothing on another.

Set an Intention: An overall intention of the Walking the Ways Wisdom Wanders is to seek out and be open to the questions that speak to our souls. One of those questions collected will focus the more directed pilgrimage journey that is part of the final week of Walking the Ways.

Invite / Select / Welcome your Way Showers / Inquisitors / Guides for the Day’s Wandering:  Because the language of nature and the elements is not immediately apparent to us humans, we can ask for help from the Tarot or oracles – or if you know more about natural processes, those observations can you learn more about Tarot.  You may have a relationship with a wisdom figure(s) represented on a Tarot or oracle card and want to select it.  You may let who ever needs to come emerge from a face-down draw. Spend some time meeting the one(s) who emerge to travel with you. I often work with 4 or so guides / cards in a wander.


  • Be open to whatever draws your attention and spend time there. Pause. Look. Listen.
  • If you would like to engage with an area or a plant, greet it, ask its permission to approach and receive its response. If allowed to approach, do so respectfully; engage your sense to receive the messages and questions offered.
  • You might select one of your guides – by chance or choice – to come and be with you in the places of pause and contemplation. Consider how the place and the guide fit together.
  • When you have finished, don’t forget to offer gratitude before you move on.  You might leave a strand of your hair as a gift. Or perhaps you have planned ahead and brought a small natural object to leave as a sign of gratitude.

Be Open to Creative Urges: The earth is busy creating in cooperation with the summer sun.  How might you mimic this creativity to learn its magic? Bring out your notebook or artists tools. Gather loose elements of the earth (rocks, fallen petals, twigs, feathers) and arrange them purposefully. Your guides might like to be placed within your creation. You might want to document with a photo that becomes your memento… and then let all the elements return to lie on the earth as they were.

Return:  Notice when and where you are passing from your place of wandering into the more human world. You might pause, offer some gratitude, or say a prayer at this point.

Reflect: You may want to just sit or to journal or draw.  Let the experience seep into you.  Let some insights emerge.  Connect with your guide; have a chat about what you experienced together.

Gathering Questions: While on the Wander or just afterward, you might just blurt out or free writing all the questions that surface.  Spend some time with your guides listening with your imagination to the questions they would ask you if they could speak aloud. Contemplate your memento as if it were a Tarot card and let it offering you questions. Sometime later in the week, you might want to hone and shift through your questions.  This can be like the process of creating questions to take to a Tarot reading. Here are the prompts I send to people ahead of my Tarot consultations to get their questions percolating:

  • Questions that yield the most freedom and possibility most often include HOW and WHAT. For example:  How can I ….?  How have I ….?  In what ways ….?  What do I most need to pay attention to now?  What will support me to …?
  • Questions that can be fruitful in specific circumstances often include WHY, WHERE, and WHO. For example:  Where in my life have I ….?  Who can best support me in doing …?  Who is challenging me ….? [Be open to the answer not being a human that you know!]  Why am I really doing this (i.e. what is underneath the surface)?
  • WHICH limits you to particular options already determined. If you are still in an early stage of decision making, it is probably too early for a WHICH question.  If you have been working seeking an answer for a long time and feel clear that a decision rests between a set number of options, then WHICH may be fruitful.
  • YES / NO questions are not generative. But if you are burnt out on generating ideas and are ready to trust the message that comes through the cards, this just might be the kind of question that you need.

Cultivate Patience: Each Wisdom Wander is an invitation to step out of the demands of time, and the whole flow toward the Solstice extends an invitation to be free of knowing the answers but instead opening to the questions. The words of the poet Rilke cheer us in this work:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved

in your heart and try to love the questions themselves

like locked rooms and like books that are written

in a very foreign tongue.

Acknowledgements:  This process is most directly influenced by my work with Joanna Powell Colbert and her Gaian Tarot and Mellissae Lucia and her Oracle of Initiation. James Wells’ wisdom on question generation inspired the question asking prompts.

Registration is open for the 2018 e-retreat of Walking the Ways of the Summer Light where you can receive daily inspiration and support for cultivating the essential energies of the summer sun: growth, movement, sensuality, creativity, delight.


Walking the Ways Mini-Retreat: Pilgrimage Illumination


For Seekers – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Seasonal Observances

Each season flows with its own gifts and challenges, rhythm and mystery.  When we tune our awareness to the offerings and energy of the season, we can better receive its wisdom and be supported to tend our souls.

Around the Summer Solstice, we are invited to meet the sun and respond to its exuberant invitations of growth, movement, sensuality, creativity, delight. The fiery sun also invites us to rise up against injustice and reach for our visions of a positive future.

In this mini-retreat day on Saturday, June 30th we will connect with the energy of the sun, the stirring of the wind, and the land and waters of Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, MA to find the wisdom that speaks to our souls at this of light’s abundance.

This mini-retreat complements and concludes 2018 Walking the Ways of the Summer Light e-retreat in everyday life. Taking the e-retreat is good preparation for the day, but not a requirement.

In our time together, we will …

  • Commune with the sun. If good weather, we will be outside and active much of the time. If rain, our experiences will be more imaginal and meditative.
  • Identify a question which you will seek to find an answer to through Tarot/oracle card connecting, nature observing, and creative ritual.
  • Have a mini-pilgrimage experience, including Standing at the Threshold, Making a Journey, Seeking the Center, and Returning,
  • Create a Sun Mandala and share your experiences in an Illumination Circle.
  • Leave with a commitment to an action step around your question/vision.
  • Eat a delicious lunch of local foods (vegan, gluten-free friendly)

You are invited to bring any, all, or none of these things:

  • Clothing appropriate to the weather and shoes for walking around on well-laid out trails. Even if it rains, we will attempt to be outside at least a bit.
  • A journal, drawing pad, piece of paper, pen, and/or colored pencils.
  • A Tarot or oracle deck.  If you don’t have one, there will be decks for sharing for use at the retreat.
  • An image or object that connects you to your positive vision for the world. This could also be collected during the day.
  • A camera for contemplative photo receiving.


To be held 10am to 4:30pm at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, MA on Saturday, June 30th

Fee is $85. Pre-registration required by Tuesday, June 26th so we can plan how much delicious food to make.

Payment options:

Pay with credit card/use PayPal.

Or send a check to Carolyn Cushing, 1 Cottage St., Box 33, Easthampton, MA 01027. Good idea to send me an e-mail if sending a check so I can hold a slot for you.

Fees are refundable minus $5 up to 3 weeks ahead / June 9th. After that they are not refundable, but are transferable to another Soul Path Sanctuary offering.


Oracular Write-A-Torium: An Open Space Retreat


For Writers

gaian 9-hermitA container to support writing, shaping, or editing of a project with Tarot-inspired processes to tune into your intuition and learn more about your own process as a writer. Group sessions at the end of each day provide structure to the weekend while most of the days are open for participants to work on their own projects.

WHO is it for: Writers who are working on a project and want to move it to the next level. Participants will come with a body of work that would benefit from some concentrated time and attention. We won’t be doing craft work so the genre doesn’t matter. No Tarot experienced needed; we’ll be working with our intuitive responses to images and special meaning keys I’ve developed from writers. The group is always small with no more than 8 people.

WHEN: Held periodically, we start with a session on Friday night from 5:30pm to 8pm and conclude with a session & optional reading on Sunday at 3pm. The next Write-A-Torium is May 11 – 13.

WHERE: Easthampton, MA in our meeting room for sessions but at other times you can write where it will be most productive for you. The coffee shops, shops, and natural beauty spots around the Valley might be the places to inspire you.

HOW does it work?:

#1: You write RETREAT on your calendar for that weekend, and when people ask you to do something then, you reply, “Oh, drats, I can’t I’m on retreat that weekend.” And you smile.

#2: You prepare to arrive with a one sentence statement of what your work is about, and also some reflections on these questions:

  • Why am I compelled to write this work?
  • Why I am I the one who is right to write this work?
  • Who might this work best serve / inspire?
  • What stage of work am I in?
  • What do you know (if anything) about what works well for you when you at this stage of writing?

#3: Gather on Friday at 5:30pm with snacks to meet each other, share an overview of our work, do a Tarot Mandala to get advice for focus for weekend (I have decks for everyone), and leave with an intention set for what to accomplish over the weekend and on Saturday.

#4: Write wherever you want. My studio in Easthampton will be open selected hours for those who want to write here in companionable silence with others.

#5: Gather in from 5pm to 7pm on Saturday (more snacks) to share our progress and receive tarot support for working with the demons and angels who help and hinder us in our writing.

#6: Return on Sunday from 3pm to 5pm for a reading (7 minutes max per person), structured/brief feedback, assessment of progress, and next steps. All with Tarot support.

What will it COST: $120 plus a snack assignment. 

Secure your spot with a deposit of half the fee / $60. (Deposits are not refundable, but are transferable to another service if an emergency gets in the way of attending.) 

Pay the full fee/$120. 

Checks also accepted; send to to Carolyn Cushing, Box 33, 1 Cottage St., Easthampton, MA are also accepted. Just send me an e-mail when you pop it in the mail so I can hold your spot.



Persephone Rising at Equinoxtide


For Grievers – For Seekers – Poetry – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Seasonal Observances

In mid February of 2016, I stood on the dike along a bend in the Connecticut River watching the ice floes come down from the north. First, there were just the sludgy, half-submerged chunks with their edges clicking together in the surface water. Then whole islands of white snow took their place and set a new pace for floating toward the sea. Finally, and faster now, continent after continent came round river bend with a deep slicing of ice in water, sounding that kind of roar that is both huge and nearly silent.

The sun had done its work on mountains and ice pack; winter was loosing its hold. The sun set salmon with the ice flowing toward sky’s streaks and a nearly full moon rose opposite in a still light blue sky.

I felt the seasonal shift in my cells. An image rose in my mind’s eye of the Greek Goddess Persephone climbing out of the Underworld to take her place on one of the ice floes and lead the parade toward spring time.

When Persephone’s story is told, we hear how the innocent girl Kore was picking flowers when the earth opened and out rode Hades to kidnap this beautiful maiden and make her his consort in the Underworld. The details of how brutal the abduction and Kore’s role in what happens vary depending on who tells the tale, but once in the Underworld stories align to show that the young girl transforms into the woman Persephone – meaning She Who Shines in the Dark – and she tends to the dead who dwell there with compassion. She steps into her role as Queen of the Dead.

On earth, the grief of Persephone’s mother the Goddess Demeter is so great that its ripples cause the plants and the crops of the earth to die. Worried that humanity soon would be wiped out, the other Gods convince Hades to let Persephone return to her mother. But before she goes Persephone eats some pomegranate seeds.

Demeter waits for Persephone at the edge of the Underworld and their reunion is ecstatic. Now ripples of joy bring life back to the earth. But because she has eaten the food of the Underworld, Persephone must return there for a period of time each year and while she is gone Demeter mourns again and life recedes.

Images of Persephone emerging from the Underworld show her as a beautiful young woman because, of course, she was – the first time -when she emerged. But on the day I stood on the banks of the Connecticut River, Persephone must have been making her multi-billionth trip out of the Underworld. The passage of time must have marked her. These reflections inspired my poem about Persephone emerging.

Fresh from Death

Necklaced still in
lais of the dead.
Dressed in dark mold
skirting with hair tangled:
her worms. Seeds
in her belly – unseen –
the only slip of color: red.
No longer young.
not now beautiful,
Persephone climbs
from the Underworld.

A crown of dirtied light
and each prong a plough
driven an eternity of times
through frozen earth to find
the roots where sap is siren
signing, “Come.” Bruised
arms and legs shake,
wake the ten thousand cells
to pull her through tree’s scar
shaped like an owl’s eye.

She emerges. A river
below her. Ice murmurs
the surface before sinking.
Banks weedy with last season’s
death: goldenrod stripped,
pods emptied, stalks broken
all along the tongueless way
of water flowing south.
She’ll make it her chariot,
find an island of white to ride.

Blackbird comes to rest
in the nest her crown has become,
Water laps her toes, her clothes
are dissolving. Where she is dirt
all of winter’s dark, the sounds
shook from the dead’s good-byes
surrender here in the bend
to river’s blueing blush, a rising
takes the banks, spreads itself
to slake the thirst of fields folded
now into her watery embrace.

Persephone from the Oracle of Initiation on a Wisdom Wander

The Persephone I encountered loves Life and fights her way back to its realm each year. But she also is touched by and opens her heart to the Dead and the dark mystery of the Underworld.

I imagine that she takes her annual leave with care, promising to come back in the Fall, and in return is given gifts to take into Life: seeds gestated in the dark to catalyze spring’s return; messages from the dead to bring Love into the lives of their beloveds above; and the ability to shape shift, releasing the muck and rot of the Underworld that clings to her so that it becomes the fertile soil of the new.

Persephone’s great power comes from her ability to live in and honor both Death and Life. She captures our attention once she has put on her springtime dress, but it is her ability to wear many garments – some bright, others decayed – that show her fullness of being.

She offers her power to us; invites us to meet our Persephone Self who is able to flow with both Life and Death. The Equinoxes, where seasons of extreme touch, are the prefect place to practice walking in and honoring both worlds. In fall Death seeps into the fullness of Life while in spring Life springs from the Death of winter and the dry stalks of the last harvest.

In these early days of spring here in the Northern hemisphere, we are invited to walk between the worlds. Religious celebrations such as Ostara, Passover, and Easter offer communal connections and ancient traditions to follow or adapt. And/or you may want to create some personal rituals to tune yourself to the wisdom of the season. Perhaps you will take a Wisdom Wander to observe how Life and Death are interconnected at this time of year. Or you might journal or draw Tarot/oracle cards to cultivate and draw forth your own insight on Persephone-inspired questions such as:

Taking Leave of Death:

  • What is ready to be left in the Underworld?
  • How do I take my leave of my beloved dead?
  • What gifts does Death give me to bring into Life?


  • What obstacles might I encounter in moving toward Life?
  • How do I move through them?
  • Who/what supports me as I climb?


  • What awaits me in Life?
  • How can I embrace it?
  • What can I make real?

This was originally published in my new moon e-news in 2016 and I am just now getting it on to the blog. Sign up for my enews to the right to be sure to get my latest offerings.


Solstice Seed at Equinox Reflection & Spread


For Seekers – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Seasonal Observances

The Equinox arrives March 20th. At this time of year, day and night stand equal inviting us to contemplate and connect with balances of light and dark, life and death, grief and joy. As we tend these opposites we may come to know how they each contain the other, and how they work together to bring forth the next cycle of our becoming.

The days around the Equinox are good times to check in with seeds you planted at the Solsticetide when light and dark reunited.

You can meet the seed’s unfolding with the assistance of the cool stillness of the night as well as the fiery passion of the day. The Moon Mother is passing responsibility off to the Sun Father, but not before she offers some advice of where not to rush yet. The Sun Father receives the emerging seed ready to impart his renewed vigor for forward movement. It’s a potent combination for emergence.

Your seed might be a dream, a project, a plan. Those of us who followed this year’s seasonal ritual of Descent and Return of the Light, drew a Tarot card(s) to represent a seed we would nurture all year. (If you didn’t draw a card at Solsticetide, it’s not too late. You could pick a card consciously to represent something you are moving toward or draw one by chance and start working with it now.)

Today I offer you a spread of questions to support your meeting of the seed. The questions can be used just for reflection or connected to pull of Tarot or oracle cards.

To begin, take out (or select) your Seed card(s) and place it at center.

To receive the wisdom of the Moon ask/draw cards for:

  • What have I completed around the tending of the Seed?
  • Where should I remain still around the tending of the Seed?

To receive the wisdom of the Sun, ask draw cards for:

  • What is ready to emerge from my Seed?
  • What action to take to support the Seed’s emergence?

Image Notes: You are looking at the beautiful backs of the Gaian Tarot and the Sun and Moon from the Burning Serpent Oracle. 

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