Jan
18
2021

Tending the Returning Light Week 4: Follow the Heart’s Light

For Seekers – From Art of Change Tarot – Sanctuary – Seasonal Observances

Welcome to Tending the Returning Light the second half of our Solstice-hinged ritual and retreat-in-everyday life. To join in the ritual, you may want to find a Solstice Seed of the New (don’t worry selecting this Seed any time after the Solstice). This is the final week of the ritual, but it opens the doorway to a whole year ahead of meeting and tending the Solstice Seed so it is not too late to join in.

And now the Seed begins its journey of growth in the outer world, where the longer days kindle our anticipation of spring’s return. From the underworld of winter, the Seed emerged and now the greater light of the sun and the inner light of your heart will nurture its growth. We celebrate what has been birthed. We prepare to tend the next unfolding.

The greater light of the sun and the seasons have their own rhythm, but you are the keeper of the heart’s light, shaper of its direction, cultivator of its flow. 

Flow, card XIV of the Minoan Tarot, shows a priestess at her sacred task of pouring libations. Ellen Lorenzi-Prince’s companion book describes this rite:

The ritual is an offering to the great ones, expressing gratitude for the gift of life in a magical world. … The pouring of libations is both offering and petition, both giving and receiving. It is life and power flowing from divinity to humanity, with love and respect flowing from human hearts in return.

detail minoan-14-flow

Ellen offers this message from the image: Your heart is the crossroads of the power of the flow.

Your double-chambered heart flows both with giving and receiving, beats both because of earth taking form in muscle and because of a mysterious spirit animating the life force. Where these opposites touch is the center of your heart, is the crossroads of your interior being. It is an imaginal space – a soul place – rather than a physical spot you can find, but you are called to visit here when you want to grow.

Your Seed will want to grow as it moves from winter to spring and onward through each season. The Seed will return time and again to the crossroads and you with it. This will sometimes be a place of challenge where old patterns of shame, self-criticism, or fear may tug at you again. This will sometimes be a place of failure because not all seeds grow. This will sometimes be a place of success where the unfolding of the seed aligns with the rhythms of the wider world and your own longings and visions.

And because we are in the place of the heart, all can be received with Love. For Love, protected by and flowing from the center of your heart, receives all things, pours out its endless light, is generous with its hospitality.

At the crossroads, you are invited to offer this loving hospitality of the heart to all that enters. When fear enters, offer it comfort and send it down the path of release. When failure enters, sit with your own disappointment; don’t try to change the feeling, just hold it close to your heart until the Love’s light there shines on the path that leads to healing. When success comes, celebrate its delights and send it down the path of humility or greater challenge.

In this final week of Tending the Returning Light, we have come to a crossroads in our ritual time together. The Seed birthed at Solstice calls to be celebrated. The next phase of life calls for new growth. This ritual of winter calls to be concluded so we can prepare for springtime’s path.

During this week, you are invited to light four candles and array around them cards that respond to these questions balancing celebration and preparation:

  • What have I achieved in birthing the Seed?
  • How to celebrate this achievement?
  • What waits for me at the crossroads of winter and spring, of birth and growth?
  • How to move forward held in the flow of the heart’s light and Love?

Conclusion of the Series and the Season

After your final Descent and Return week, you may want to pause to reflect on the ritual as a whole over the course of January’s last days. And now that we have attuned ourselves to the returning light, we can find the first signs of spring in the lengthening days. It may feel far, but the sun is moving inexorably to show itself. May you travel well as spring pours its light deeper and deeper into the night. I look forward to the next crossing of our paths here in world of bone and flesh or in the deep heart place that is both at our centers and everywhere – and from which flows an always embracing Love.

 

Jan
17
2021

Tending Week 3: Emergence

For Seekers – Sanctuary – Seasonal Observances

Welcome to Tending the Returning Light, the second half of our Solstice-hinged ritual and retreat-in-everyday life. To join in the ritual, you may want to find a Solstice Seed of the New (don’t worry selecting this Seed any time after the Solstice). You can join the ritual in progress this week or catch up on previous week’s theme of What Can Be Born from Our Broken Parts and Root and Reach

 The Solstice Seed emerges. After root and reach, the Seed takes form and moves out into the world. Now this Seed is both of you and beyond you, being born of your release and renewal, but responding with its own unfolding to take its place in the Whole of All Things.

To live, the Seed must change. For you to gain the gift of the Seed, you must be open to this change. A dynamic relationship between you and the Seed is required. You must tend it with the energy fed by your original longings, but also allow the Seed to grow where the light is shining. The light may call you both to surprising places if you would follow its path of fullness and shadow, if you would listen with the ears of your heart, if you would close your eyes like Justice to take a lesson from the wisdom within.

The Minoan Tarot’s Chariot is a beautiful teacher about how to flow in a cooperative movement of Self and Seed.  Ellen Lorenzi-Prince describes the image:

On a painted stone sarcophagus from the New Palace Period, the Goddess drives a chariot drawn by griffins. With the body of a lion and head and wings of an eagle, the sovereign of beasts and the sovereign of birds together, griffins are especially powerful and majestic creatures, as they harness the powers of both Earth and Heaven. Yet the Goddess does not strain to hold the reins on the magical beasts. Her control is effortless.

minoan-7-chariot

The griffins of Earth and Heaven show last week’s work of the Seed’s root and reach. The single rein the Goddess holds is the focused connection of Her longing; this will help to set a direction.

But I see only one rein of conscious control in this image.

There is, however, another connection suggested. The Goddess extends her chest toward Her creatures. The heart lives in the chest. I believe Her heart is the second rein. This heart rein does not control so much as align. Her heart rein is curious about where their griffins might want to go. The heart rein is open to the journey as it unfolds. A heart rein invites new revelations.

So in this third week of Tending the Light, we ponder a trinity of questions. We might want to do this exploring as we light three candles in an evening ritual or as we spend a few minutes in observations of the sun’s movement at dusk or dawn throughout the week. The questions to ponder might be these (or modifications you make out of your own seeking):

  • Where to be active in the shaping of the Seed’s emergence?
  • How to stay open to surprising revelations of the Seed?
  • What is the message coming from my heart in this time of emergence?

Yes, take some time to tend to your heart this week. Perhaps you might find or create a poem or prayer that directs attention, support, or guidance to your heart. I’d love to hear yours. I’ll close with mine:

In the lengthening of day,

in the light of moon and shift of seasons,

in the imperishable stars that burn behind clouds,

may we meet the immensity of our hearts,

open to the rivers that flow through its chambers –

of happiness and sorrow,

of anger and compassion

of grief and joy –

and rest then wiser

in the heart’s source

that is Abundant Love,

Renewing Love,

Simply Love.

Blessed Be.

 

We conclude the seasonal ritual next week with the theme of Follow the Heart’s Light. Look for that post next Monday. 

Jan
11
2021

The Devil’s New Moon Path: To protect what is most important

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

The cards of the moonth compel me to speak the truth that I see. We are in a time of emergency brought on around the world by the pandemic and here in the United States by political violence challenging democracy itself.

Holding the enormity of that truth, I still find guidance and support to share with you for moving through by looking at the cards of the moonth. I end with suggested prompts for Body, Mind, Spirit, Community practice for these times.

The new moon arrives overnight the 12th into the 13th (exact at 12midnight ET on the 13th) moving us through the passage of the 4 of Pentacles. 

Passage: The 4 of Pentacles

In the iconic Rider Waiter Smith image, a nobleman—the king? —sits on his throne with each foot tamping down a pentacle, the crown topped with one, and arms wrapped around the fourth. Both the flow with the Greater Than Above and the Heart’s Love is blocked by this grasping after wealth and power. Remind you of anyone you know? This is not an image to emulate.

But each Tarot card holds a whole range of meaning. And Dust II Onyx invites us into another more connective possibility for the Four of Pentacles—called Coins in this deck. In the image, we see a figure standing in front of adobo structures: the dwellings and grain storehouses of the Dogon people of southwest Mali and Burkina Faso. The figure is a guard protecting the village.

The grain storehouses deserve protection not just because they contain food as necessity and wealth, but because the Dogon honored this smallest element of earth as reflective of the whole of the universe. In the Dust II Onyx guide, Courtney Alexander shares with us the richness of the symbolism (I’m just sharing a taste of it here):

The granaries are artistically constructed as a metaphor for the structure of the Universe, the human body, and the generative power of women. The circular base represents the Sun and the square top is the sky. … The exterior parts of the granaries symbolize the species of the world, the offspring of the eight great ancestors. 

By guarding the granaries and homes, the Four of Pentacles figure is protecting what is most important not just for themselves but the community and even for the preservation of a universe in balance. The Four of Pentacles passage calls us to do the same. 

What are the structures important to protect of your personal and communal life that carry a significance beyond their everyday use?

Certainly, the US Capital is one such structure for the United States. Its function is to serve as the workplace of lawmakers while the iconic dome, collection of historical statues, and paintings of historical and allegorical figures imbue it with its symbolism as a beacon of democracy.

On Wednesday, the 6th, the Capital was not sufficiently guarded. A violent mob battered doors, broke windows, and overran the police they encountered to gain control of the building with the intent of stopping the certification of the election, violently disrupting the democratic process. As accounts of the day emerge, we are learning just how violent the attack was (examples of accounts from reporters and about lawmakers and aids calling for help).

Path: The Devil

Given these events, it may not be surprising to hear that we are already on the path of the Devil and will be there for the coming new moon.

In the Tarot, the Devil’s meanings are illusion, addiction, bondage, compulsion.In the oldest Tarots the Devil is made up of strange parts cobbled together presiding over figures that are tied at the Devil’s feet. As their bonds don’t look that tight, we might wonder why they do not break free. So, although this Devil is a bit of a buffoon, it is clearly dangerous, not just for what it might do on its own but for what it might incite others in thrall to its power to do.


From The Tarot of Marseille

This Devil is a warning to us when we are acting as Four of Pentacles guardians. There is real danger. We must prepare to meet it. 

Like the Four of Pentacles, there is a range of the meaning for the Devil as well. The Devil can also be a guide for our soul tending when we follow the inner work of this path by meeting our Shadow. 

The Shadow is made up of parts of ourselves that we have difficulty accepting.Most often we are not even aware of these parts as existing within us. Of course, these are challenging parts (fears, addictions, blind spots), but they can also be positive parts (power, courage, the ability to change). We can get clues about what our shadows are by our strong reactions to others. When we judge “he is so controlling” or “she is so eloquent” we are invited to consider these as parts of ourselves that you are projecting onto others. Not always but searching your thoughts for a clue to shadow can be fertile work.

I attended a seminar on Jungian principles for advancing spiritual growth where the presenter said, “The only way to truly grow is to integrate the shadow.”When we own all the parts of ourselves, we become more fully who we are. We no longer have to expend energy hiding who we fully are.

We have both personal and collective Shadow. As a country, our personal and collective shadows of white supremacy and racism within intuitions are swirling and pushing against efforts to tamp them down. Finally we are speaking the truth that the Capital we talk of as a symbol of democracy was built with the labor of enslaved people(the wages paid to their enslavers). This week we are reminded how there is a clear and continuous thread of our history in which white supremacists are tolerated and amplified when useful while Black, Ingenious, and People of Color who nonviolently reach for their rights—which would improve democracy benefiting us all—are met with violent force (read Cori Bush’s powerful words from her first week as a legislator). If we accept this as our Shadow, we can redirect our energy from suppressing the truth to being effective guardians of what matters most.

Posture: The King of Swords

This moonth we are invited to emulate the clear mind and focused purpose of the King of Swords.


From Tarot Roots of Asia

We can’t ignore the feelings that will surge through us during this time, but we can let them pass through and then be guided by a mind that seeks out facts, examines, possibilities, and speaks out. 
 
We will not use literal swords. Instead our voices speaking out about the need to protect what is most important—to our legislators, our family, our neighbors, our community—will be our best tools. With the King of Swords as our guide, we cannot be silent. 
 
Prompts for Holistic Practice in This Time of Emergency
 
Body 
 
It is the most basic element for us to protect: our body and the bodies of those around us. In a pandemic, protecting our bodies means eluding the virus with distance, masking, and staying in place as much as possible. I bet you know this. You are hearing the message from at least some authorities and the message should get clearer with a change in administration.
 
But we get less external guidance for protecting ourselves from the also invisible tension that builds up in our bodies in times of emergency. Do check in with your body, and daily—maybe hourly on some days! —find ways to discharge the tension. Some days it may need to be a little dramatic like shaking your whole body and giving a yell to release what is inside. Other days, it could be quieter. You might close your eyes. Imagine you can see the tension inside your body, then reach your hands to the ground. With your imaginal eyes see the tension draining out of your hands and feet and going into the earth. Knowing the earth receives all things and can shape shift them into new forms. 
 
Mind
 
You need to provide your mind with the just right amount of good information. Because we are alerted by the Four of Pentacles to our need to guard what is most important, we can’t just turn off the media, but instead choose our sources with care, perhaps a mix that includes a national newspaper, a group you belong to, a source of local information, and educational event (for example, this event on Wednesday about building power to confront white supremacists attacks on elections). It is wise to expand beyond your usual bubble to include a source that you watch to know what others with different opinions than your own. 
 
Even though this is not a time to ignore the news, you can create boundaries around when you consume it. You might limit it to a certain time of day or examining one source at a time. Your consumption of media could be bounded just like a daily spiritual practice is bounded with an open with intention setting and a closing with petition or prayer.
 
I have been starting each day with the reading of a poem from a book before I do anything else. Poetry’s language provides a balance to the political and journalistic language that I read throughout the day. Reading a page of history or signing a song could provide a similar balance for your mind.
 
Spirit
 
We can pray or offer words of petition during times of emergency as an element of protecting what is most important. What prayers of protection could you offer? 
 
You may have heard the story of how I found the rosary that was in my grandfather’s pocket the day he died. I have been using it with modified words. Here is what I have been praying in these days:
 
Hail the Great Mother, full of power, full of compassion.
I ask you to heal me,
to heal the country
to heal the whole
in a way that serves our souls.
Please spread your cobalt blue cloak of calm
across the country and especially DC in this time of emergency.

 
Community 
 
This is a time to join with others to protect what is most important. This is hard in a pandemic, but still we can reach out through the ethers! 
 
— Call your legislators. You might start by asking how the person on the other end of the phone is doing. They may well have been caught up in last week’s violence. Let them know you are watching, you are concerned, share your ideas of what you believe should happen.
 
— Connect with others. This might be a Zoom circle just to check in with friends and family. Talk together about what is happening. Help each other process. Talk about how you might protect what is most important. 
 
— Act with a group. This could be a national or local group. You might spark a conversation with a local group about how you might respond. I follow, do events with, and take up the actions of The Frontline, a multiracial coalition of groups. I work with them because I think they are effective. Also, they are fun! There is often music, or a practice and speakers tell the truth while connecting us to possibility. I leave calls and sessions inspired. Finding a group that inspires you is vital! 

And as always, you can turn to the Tarot for guidance and inspiration. Here is a reading for this moonth that starts on 3th, brings us through the US Presidential Inauguration, and ends with the dark moon on January 27th:
 
PROTECTION: What is most important to protect?
 
CONTRIBUTION: What contribution can I make to protecting this?
 
GROWTH: What can grow out of this work of protection that I do? 
 
I do offer this as an e-reading in my collaborative initiative format for $23.  Sign up with Pay Pal or email me about sending a check. When I receive notification, I’ll be in touch to let you know about when to expect to receive your reading by email. I generally have openings to do these readings on Mondays and Saturdays.

Jan
4
2021

Tending Week 2: Root and Reach

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

Welcome to Tending the Returning Light, the second half of our Solstice-hinged ritual and retreat-in-everyday life. To join in the ritual, you may want to find a Solstice Seed of the New (don’t worry selecting this Seed any time after the Solstice). You can join the ritual in progress this week or catch up on last week’s theme of What Can Be Born from Our Broken Parts. Next Monday you can look for a post on the theme of Emergence.

The Solstice Seed of the New bursts the constraints of its casing. The potential of the elemental seed breaks apart, leaves the protective cocoon in response to the promise of growing light. In the natural world here in the Northern Hemisphere, the twilight lingers a bit longer and glimpsing even this small increase lifts our spirits when we pause to note this subtle change. Demetra George in Mysteries of the Dark Moon calls this period Light Ascending when “the symbolic seed establishes its root and stem structure.”

Our seeds must root and reach.

The work of the seed to establish itself is two-fold and divergent. The seed – and our vision of it grown and mature – must reach toward the heights and our soul’s greater aspirations, but to do that the seed must be rooted in a soil that gives it support from which to grow.  The Visionary (Major Arcana IX) of Ellen Lorenzi-Prince’s newest deck, The Minoan Tarot, expresses this balance beautifully in words and image:

The Visionary watches for souls. She sees where they live and where they go. She can send her sight to travel with them. Souls have a brightness that draws her to them. She seeks to discover their origins and destinations, their meaning and purpose, in this world and beyond. The Visionary does not lose herself, but remains grounded through her affinity with the stone. She brings profound knowledge and inspiration down to Earth.

Visionary

Soul tending working is, at its essence, about the acceptance and balancing of elements that may seem to be in opposition but exist as necessary complements to each other. Our dance with the tension between them is how we meet and move into our soul, that fullness of self that includes root and reach, body and spirit, and, as Celtic scholar and poet John O’Donohue points us to, belonging and longing.

In Eternal Echoes, O’Donohue writes, “The hunger to belong is at the heart of our nature,” and it is the natural world that is one of our greatest teachers about how to belong. The rhythm of the natural world with its stable stones, planted trees, and returning tides instruct us in what it means to belong. “The art of belonging is the recovery of the wisdom of rhythm.”

And within this belonging is the beginning of longing; to hunger is to long. O’Donohue talks about the small voice that calls you to quest: “It is the voice of the eternal longing within you, and it confirms you as a relentless pilgrim on the earth. There is something within you that no one or nothing else in the world is able to meet or satisfy. … This eternal longing will always insist on some door remaining open. … When you befriend this longing, it will keep you awake and alert to why you are here on earth.”

So in this second week of Tending the Returning Light, you are invited to light two candles in the moments when day and night meet. See if you can sense the extra minute of daylight each day. What does it take to tune your awareness to this subtle shift? Now bring your heightened awareness to the Seed you’ve been tending since Solstice. What is happening in the life of this seed in the lengthening light?

You might think of one candle as the Candle of Root, of the Body, of Belonging. You could meditate upon its light and draw Tarot/oracle cards as prompts for insight into questions such as:

  • What grounding roots does this Seed need to grow?
  • How does this Seed root me more deeply in my values … my body … my landscape … the earth?
  • What is the earth dreaming in me through this Seed?
  • What does this Seed need to belong in my life?
  • What does this Seed teach me about the necessity of belonging?

You might think of the other candle as the Candle of Reach, of Spirit, of Longing. You could meditate upon its light and draw Tarot/oracle cards as prompts for insights into questions such as:

  • What is the Seed inviting me to reach for?
  • What is the message of Spirit coming to me through this Seed?
  • What is the Eternal dreaming in me through this Seed?
  • What longing does this Seed awaken in me?
  • How does this Seed keep me awake and alert to why I am here on the earth?

May your exploring be fruitful with both insight and mystery!

 

 

Dec
28
2020

Tending the Returning Light Week One: What Can Be Born of Our Broken Parts

For Seekers – From Art of Change Tarot – Sanctuary – Seasonal Observances

Welcome to Tending the Returning Light, the second half of our Solstice-hinged ritual and retreat-in-everyday life. To join in the ritual, you may want to find a Solstice Seed of the New (don’t worry selecting this Seed any time after the Solstice is just fine and New Year’s Day is a great time for doing so). In the weeks to come, we will will be meeting the Seed and gaining guidance for manifesting its gifts throughout the coming year. I’ll be doing weekly posts, but if you’d like more support your can join the e-retreat which is delivered via daily e-mails that break the weeks’ themes into daily reflections, a weekly virtual sharing circle, and an Overview Booklet.

Before the Solstice, we embraced the darkness, released the no-longer-needed into its dark nurture, and imagined the seed of the new planted in the compost of what we’d released. Then we gathered in holidays celebrations filled with sparkle and fire. Lit candles at tables of feasting. Circled bonfires sending a river of sparks up to find the sun. We exuberantly invited new light into our lives.

But January’s nights are still long. The light is as slim as the crescent moon, as small as the pin prick shine of distant stars. To tend this light is an act of hope and faithfulness. We might take the Spider Woman who spins her web on the Dark Goddess Tarot’s Star card as a guide. Ellen Lorenzi Prince-Prince writes of the power and wisdom of this Hopi Goddess of Thought and Creation in her Dark Goddess Companion book:

In the darkness in the beginning of time, Spider Woman is told she is too small and weak to help, yet through intelligence, persistence, and belief, she travels to and returns safely from the Lake of Fire. She succeeds in bringing light and warmth into the world where more imposing animals try and fail. In another tale, she keeps the rising sky from leaving the world entirely by spinning web lines day and night to tie heaven to earth and preserve her creation.

 

Spider Woman

Heaven sends its light to earth, and the Seed we planted at Solstice, so small itself, feels the quiet invitation: “Come, Emerge. Begin.”

Your seed is responding to what Demetra George, author of Mysteries of the Dark Moon, calls Light Quickening, which is the Crescent phase of the moon’s cycle and corresponds to January and the post-holiday season in the solar cycle. In Mysteries of the Dark Moon, she writes, “The symbolic seed breaks out of its seed casing and pushes it first shoots above ground.”

How we break is how we grow.

The urge to present ourselves as images of perfection, achievement, and control are reinforced by deep roots (the Puritan belief that being bound for heaven could be seen in success while living, for example) and surface reflections (commercials around the holidays, for example, or pretty much any time), but the truth is we are imperfect and constantly breaking. We lose jobs, love, and money. Forces beyond our control buffet us. Things don’t turn out as planed and we are disappointed.

When this breaking happens, the forces of perfection tempt us to turn on ourselves and others with criticism, doubt, shame, or just trying to escape. But in this place of Light Quickening guided by Spider Woman, we are invited to a more gentle approach, one that cultivates qualities such authenticity, self-compassion, and joy. These are some of the qualities that researcher and writer Brene Brown explores in The Gifts of Imperfection. She defines them drawing from her research on shame, vulnerability, and wholehearted living:

  • Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.
  • Self-compassion includes being kind to oneself; recognizing that suffering and feeling inadequate are shared by all humanity; and mindfully paying attention to all our emotions but not over-identifying with them either.
  • Joy, which comes from the Greek word chairo meaning “culmination of being,” flows to us when our hearts open to connect to Spirit and gratitude, both when we are happy and when we are challenged.

When our lives – and our seeds – break and are met with authenticity rather than shame, with self-compassion rather than self-criticism, and with joy rather a closed-down heart, then we grow. We are still broken, but we grow.

Ritual

In this first week of Tending the Returning Light, you are invited to gather the elements of a candle wreath / ritual focal point, including four candles to represent the light and something like a bowl of dark water to represent the dark in the light.

As many nights as you are inspired or able to this week, light the first candle to representing light growing in the season as well as your emerging Seed. Surround your Seed with Tarot or oracle cards pulled to show you what is most important to pay attention to to grow authenticity, self-compassion, and joy in your life.

Tend the returning light, wait for its emergence. Know we are all held in a web of connection. When one of us grows, the whole web expands.

The seasonal ritual continues next week with the theme of Root and Reach. Follow along on the blog or join the e-retreat.

Stay Connected

Offering ~ I tend the sanctuary as gift to seekers on the unmarked path. If you find this site inspiring, I welcome a gift to continue serving you sustainably.