Soul Path Sanctuary

A place of pause, renewal, and connection for seekers

Oct
20
2017

Threshold of the Dark Mini-Retreat

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

yellow leaves dark branchesEach season offers different gifts and challenges, flows with its own 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 in our spiritual devotions, divinatory seeking, and/or creative vocations.

The turning from October to November is a threshold time in many traditions. In the Celtic tradition, both from its earth-honoring origins and later Celtic Christianity, these days were a time to prepare for the coming dark, gather in circle to share stories, and remember the ancestors.

In this mini-retreat day on Saturday, October 28th, we follow in the footsteps of tradition and do our own listening to the land at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, MA to find the wisdom that speaks to our hearts and souls at this time.

In our time together, we will:

  • Greet each other and the season.
  • Find focus and inspiration for the day’s exploring. Yes, we’ll use Tarot and oracle cards for inspiration!
  • Talk a Wisdom Wander. No matter the weather, there will be an invitation to connect with the land and creatures at Arcadia in some way.
  • Have time for journaling, drawing, doodling or just sitting.
  • Eat a simple lunch highlighting local vegetables and fruits (vegan and gluten-free friendly).
  • Create a Threshold of the Dark Altar and remember our beloved dead.
  • Conclude with a Wisdom of the Season Sharing Circle.

This will be an intimate gathering. Only 13 slots available.

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. (OK, clothing is a requirement at this time of year. Not really optional!)
  • 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.
  • A picture of a loved one who has died to place on the Threshold of the Dark Altar.
  • An object that represents the Threshold of the Dark time to you to place on the altar.
  • A camera for contemplative photo receiving.

Details:

  • To be held 10am to 4:30pm at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, MA on Saturday, October 28th.
  • Fee is $85. Pre-registration required by Tuesday, October 24th so we can plan how much 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.

Oct
11
2017

Faces and Spaces of Justice: Gaian Tarot

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Justice – Tarot

 

In Joanna Powell Colbert’s Gaian Tarot the scales of Justice transform from object and symbol into a living being. We can gaze upon this face of Justice and imagine he is holding in balance the passions of his heart with the elevated consciousness of his mind (as represented by the feather). Heart and mind working together allow him to see both the beauty and the destruction of the world in which we live. He feels a connection to, and joy in, the animals and land surrounding him. He also knows that their lives are in peril.  Joanna has selected for this image plants and animals that are endangered or threatened species:

Spotted Owl, American Ginseng, Canada Lynx, Echinacea, Vancouver Island Marmot, Fender’s Blue Butterfly, Hawksbill Sea Turtle, Black Necked Stilt, Northern Sea Otter, Trillium, Red Wolf, Whooping Crane. We also see, in the distance, a forest of stumps left over from a clearcut. Each of these species has its own story of why it is threatened, and how it might survive. The beauty, mystery and diversity of our extraordinary planet is diminished every time another species becomes extinct.

And as our planet floods and storms and burns, we, too, are called to live in this mix of beauty and destruction.  Through the Gaian Tarot we are called to make our own bodies the scales of Justice as we raise hands, hearts, and mind to contribute to the healing of the Whole.

If you would like to continue exploring Gaian Justice and have your own encounter with this numinous wisdom figure join me – and Joanna Powell Colbert, too! – for the Serving Justice Moonthly Chat & Meditation on Tuesday, October 17th at 8:30pm ET in the USA. It will be recorded for later listening. Sign up to come onto the live call or receive the follow up link.

Oct
3
2017

Persephone Descending: Letters to the Dead

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

I am re-posting this from last year to support you in connecting with the energy of Persephone Descending from the 2017 Fall Equinox to the next dark moon days of October 17th and 18th. I also did a tele-sessions with added prompts for writing letters to your beloved dead. You can find that on my Soul Path Sanctuary Facebook page

In March 2016, before the Equinox, and as the moon opened to fullness, I had an experience that is basically inexpressible because of its power and because of its commonness. I sensed the moment the seasons shifted as the moon rose over a river filling with spring’s ice floes.

To convey a glimpse into the mystery of that moment, I’ll say I encountered Persephone, the Goddess of Greek myth who is kidnapped by Hades to serve as the Queen of the Underworld, welcoming the dead, and mourned by her mother Demeter, whose grief brings winter. Persephone’s seasonal visit to her mother awakens Demeter’s joy and brings the bounty of spring and summer. Most often Persephone is depicted as a beautiful maiden either being kidnapped by her husband or returning to her mother.

But the Persephone I encountered was a weathered woman climbing and clawing her way out of the Underworld through the dirt of earth. She used her Underworld crown as a plough and carried in her pockets letters from the Dead to their beloveds still living. (You can read more in my March newsletter.)

Persephone’s secret story is the story of her as Traveler and Messenger, the one who twice yearly, millennia after millennia, makes a journey between the worlds when the night and day stand in balance.

persephone-mandala

Fall Mandala with Persephone from the Dark Goddess Tarot

In each world, she has loves and responsibilities. She must prepare for both departure and arrival at this time of year. She sadly says goodbye to some while anticipating reunion with others.

What calls Persephone from one world to the next? How does she know when to begin her preparations? In 2016 as I stood under the September harvest moon in an orchard watching Goddesses Descending, it came to me. Of course. The moon is Persephone’s signal and guide.

In spring, the days of the growing moon from new to full closest to the Equinox set her on her journey back to earth. The days of harvest moon’s descent invite her to depart.

We are in the days of Persephone Descending. As the moon moves from full, through the Equinox, and into the next dark moon days, Persephone prepares, Persephone descends.

Perhaps you feel the weight of this time as she grows heavy. And if you feel it, too,you might consider your heaviness in another light, a lunar light. This heavy time brings a dark gift of attuning to the Divine, to the eternal cycles. The trees know this as they let down their leaves in fluttering surrender. Perhaps you may take the tree as your spiritual director.  

And as our perspective on this descent time shifts, we can open to opportunity, have a more expansive view. Recognize that our loss of Persephone brings a boon for the Dead. She is their Queen and comfort who loves them. She is the Traveler who has been away but now returns with new stories and gifts.

You can help Persephone make her reunion with the Dead. You can send gifts and stories along with Her. You can write letters to the Dead.

It may seem strange. You may doubt your letter can travel such a long distance. But just the act of writing and sending the letter might heal your heart.

I am writing letters in these days and offer these ideas to spark your own letter writing rituals. You might consider:

  • Who do you want to write to? Joining in conversation with the boundaryless there is no limited to the possibility. You can write to those you knew in life and those you didn’t. Your beloved dead. The ancestors. A long-dead writer who inspired you. Your departed pets. Make a list.
  • How will you send the message? An aerogram. A drug-store card. Leaves of petals to send without words but infused with love. You might match your form to speak most deeply to the one with which you want to communicate.
  • When will you send it? You can send your letters along as you write them or wait for the dark moon days after the Equinox. Any of these days as the moon moves from full to dark are the times of Persephone Descending.
  • How will you send your letters? Burying your messages in the earth is appropriate. Persephone can gather them up as she makes to the Underworld. But follow your inspiration. Maybe there is another story of life’s cycles that inspires you so you use a method that aligns with that wisdom. If water beckons you, send your notes on streams down to the sea. Light your letter on fire and watch the spark rise to heaven. Let leaves lift it into the all surrounding air. You can’t do this incorrectly.
  • How will you thank your messenger? Don’t forget to express your gratitude to Persephone or the One who helps you deliver your letter. You might say a prayer of praise, make an offering, or dedicate a positive action to their name.  

Will you receive a reply?  Well, the universe is full of echoes and all kinds of communication. I have received messages from the Dead and I’m not the only one. Your letter is unlikely to be returned as a letter so you might tend your openness to different kinds of communication in ways such as these:

  • Take time away from the demands of the living. It’s noisy here in the living world so just as you would step with your cell phone out of a crowded room to better hear the person on the other end, step out of the daily. Dedicate some time to ritual, communing with the dark, walking in nature. Sometimes go alone This gives you a better chance of hearing. But remember to walk in balance along this path; you do still belong in the land of the living.
  • Honor the communal celebrations of the Dead. The first half of November brings sacred and secular remembrances of the dead: Samhain, All Souls and Saints Day, the Day of the Dead, Veterans Day. The shortest days of the year as the Solstice approaches invite us to Wait with the Dark and in the quiet hear the numinous. Or perhaps you have to wait until Persephone Rises again in spring, bringing letters from the dead in her pockets.
  • Remove this waiting for a response from the work of the rational. What you are going to do is not rational and is outside the bounds of all we can assert with certainty here in the earthly world. Don’t try to make your listening fit inside these walls. You don’t have to give up the rational as you live your daily life- we need it – but you don’t apply it to your waiting for a response to your letter.
  • Listen slant. The poet Emily Dickinson said “tell it slant,” counseled that messages of Truth if too bright can blinds us. The Dead no longer speak as we do, perhaps are even forgetting the way of language with all its limits. They will reach out to you in unusual ways, in slant ways. Through a song that plays on the radio when you are thinking of them. Through the things they left behind found just at a moment that gives meaning. Through a revelation of hawk or cat or rainbow. From a rational world perspective you can never be sure from where the message comes, but when inspiration moves your heart, always take the gift it brings.  

If you are looking for support for your listening or attuning to the wisdom of the season, I have: 1.) an upcoming in-person mini-retreat, Threshold of the Dark, in Western Mass on October 28th; and 2.) the Winter Solstice-hinged seasonal ritual begins with Waiting with the Dark on November 27th. Be sure to sign up for my list to receive the latest news about offerings and events.  

Aug
23
2017

Faces and Spaces of Justice; Raziel Tarot

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Justice – Tarot

Rachel Pollack and Robert Place’s Raziel Tarot, the Divine Feminine, the Shekinah, lights candles just as Jewish women do each Friday night to begin the Sabbath. Through this simple practice performed at the kitchen table, the world is renewed. In using this image for Justice, the Raziel Tarot teaches us that justice, too, can be renewed.

Rachel writes: “Our lives, our very existence, are an ongoing gift, one that is renewed at every moment, with every breath and this depends mystically, emotionally, even physically on our commitment to Justice.”

That commitment to Justice is shown in acting in diverse ways. As Rachel writes, in mystical, emotional, and physical ways. Mystically, rituals such as the lighting of the candles to enact the remaking of the world is an act of justice, Emotionally, opening your heart to the pain of injustice experienced by others and yourself is an act of justice. Physically, showing up in public (at a large rally or in a conversation with a neighbor) to say no to injustice and yes to your visions of future where all are respected is an act of justice

Rachel opens her meditations on Justice with a line from Deuteronomy: “Justice, justice shall you pursue,” and notes that words are rarely repeated in the Torah. The repetition of Justice could be for emphasis or, as Rachel posits, could be a call for Justice in both the spiritual and earthly world. I hear it as a call for we humans to recognize our responsibility for bring Justice into being. We must be active in its pursuit.

While we must be active in bringing Justice into being in our world, it is also naturally occurring in the cosmic balance. I saw this in the stars above the Shekinah’s head. They show us as existing within an eternity beyond time where the patterns are clearer from a distance.

So the Raziel Tarot tells me: Work for Justice. Trust in Justice. Dedicate each small practice to the renewal of Life and Justice.

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I was so pleased to welcome Rachel Pollack to the August moonthly Faces and Spaces of Justice chat and meditation. You can listen to her wisdom and stories on the recording followed by a guided meditation. To find out about future calls, subscribe to my moonthly e-news in the sidebar.

Aug
3
2017

Soul Shaping Path of Strength Reading

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For Seekers – Moonthly Renewal – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Tarot

I’ve cleared my schedule on the full moon (August 7th) so I can offer my e-reading of the moonth on that day. I have time to do 4 readings and send them to you by e-mail. See button at end of post to purchase.To see how I offer my collaborative-intuitive readings in an e-format, you can check out this sample.

The focus of the reading is on our wildness – and we are having a wild time, aren’t we? Governments across the globe are in crisis, the climate is changing, and here in the United States, the drama coming from Washington, DC, is head spinning.

It might be time to meet wildness with wildness, particularly if we can harness our feminine power and passion to steer us toward our highest values. (And you don’t have to be a woman to tap into and move from this power, orient to this perspective.)

To develop my e-readings this year, I’ve been looking to the Tarot’s astrological correspondences and connecting them to my Soul Path Reading format. At first, I was worried that this was actually a bit too intellectual and lacking the spark of my nature inspired reading, but lately I have been grateful to these readings for proving a larger perspective on the dizzing daily news.

For example, when we traveled the path of the Star in February through a full moon aligned with Strength, the 7 of Wands (with its courageous lone figure against a crowd), and Knight of Pentacles (who slowly but surely moves in service to his cause) was when we first heard “Nevertheless, she persisted.” Though this was directed at Senator Elizabeth Warren as an admonishment, it soon became a call to remember and be inspired by all the women – our foremothers – who persisted in their work for Justice.

We have two new moons in Leo/Strength this year, and the August 21st new moon is going to take us once again through that same path of Strength – 7 of Wands – Knight of Pentacles. If we gather in the lessons and learnings between then and now, we can be even more powerful during the second emergence of this pattern. We can be prepared to persist.  

I offer the Soul Shaping Path of Strength reading as a way for you to do that learning and preparing.

 

Path: Strength

Joanna Powell Colbert speaks to the essence of Strength in her companion book to the Gaian Tarot“A strong and beautiful woman holds a cougar in her arms. Both wear crowns of flowers. The mountain lion symbolizes her passion, her instincts, her sexuality, and her wildness. Instead of believing that her animal nature needs to be subdued, she embraces it and makes it a friend.”

WILD INSIDE: What is the wild inside of me that wants to be befriended?

 

 

Posture: Elder of Fire 

To walk this moonth’s path of Strength, we are invited to be like the Elder of Fire. Joanna writes that this Elder “doesn’t sit back and accept things as they are. She embodies the power of transformation.” She is able to be bold in her imagining and her working because she is attuned to powerful allies. Through ritual and trance she tunes into the Greater Than and receives the guidance that comes through this connection. In the image, the Elder is sitting before an altar for the Mexican holiday of Day of the Dead, inviting us to especially listen for the help the ancestors want to offer us.

GUIDANCE: What guidance do your ancestors offer you for befriending the wild inside?

 

Action: Five of Fire 

Joanna created this image to show rage and fear being expressed. And it well might be a time to express your rage at places in your personal life where you feel trapped or about injustice in the wider world. A powerful expression can lead to breakthrough or renewed balance. But this image also shows light being brought into smoky darkness. The expression of your wild inside – perhaps along with others working together – could be what is needed to clear the air and bring forth a needed transformation.

EXPRESSION: What will you be able to express when you come into relationship with the wild inside?

 

Do this reading on your own or sign up to get an e-reading from me for $22.

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Not on my list? Be sure to sign up to the right get the next monthly e-news and reading ahead of the August 21st new moon.  

 

 

 

 

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