Soul Path Sanctuary

Supporting seekers in creating personal practice & tending to their unique needs


Patterns and Pointers: Owl, Ancestor Visiting, and Rosaries


For Seekers

There are patterns and pointers that open my eyes up to the mystery and the sacred below the mundane and everyday. It is actually quite clear when I slow down just a little – or maybe I need more reassurance than others and the universe conspires to give them to them. My doubt is strong and constantly regenerating itself. But how can I ignore the power in this string of events?  

Walking the bike path on Saturday, 11/9, a big bird swooped down low in front of me. My first thought was “that’s an owl!” But my second thought was “no that couldn’t be, must be a hawk.” Still I step off the path to search for the bird. I was about to give up when I looked over my shoulder to see a barred owl staring at me. We looked at each other for a long time.

The next day, Sunday, the 10th,  I went to visit my Irish Catholic grandparents’ graves. I gave them offerings of tea, herbs, and flowers. I pull cards from the Santos and Signs oracle deck. I gave them an update on what was happening in the family. Most of the time I just sat there, being and listening. I didn’t hear anything in particular. 

On Tuesday, the 12th, an Instagram friend was showing off the lovely altar she had created to hold her new book The Way of the Rose by Clark Strand (of Waking with the Dark) and his wife about the power of the Divine Feminine hidden in the Rosary. It was very pretty. I Liked it.

A half hour later on that Tuesday I was cleaning out a “junk” drawer which had the oddest assortment of stuff. I reached into the back to pull a broken Rosary made in Ireland. I do believe that this is the rosary my grandfather was carrying in his pocket the day he died. I can’t remember how it ended up in this drawer. 

A string of random occurrences? OK, but how on point! 

And I don’t think that these signs and points are strange rare occurrences. They are happening all the time. I don’t think that I have some special power to conjure them. But because of my work with Tarot, oracles, spiritual practices, and paying attention to nature, I’ve learned how to direct my attention. And when I direct my attention and drop my doubt, I see what is already there, just waiting to be acknowledged and offer support, nurture, meaning. 

What practices do you have to support such attuning? I hope you have time and space for them in this season of moving toward the Solstice and celebrating the holidays. As I’ve done for the last 6 years, I’ll be Waiting with the Dark for the Solstice moment. If you want to join in on the formal offering I making you can check out the details. Or do your own simple ritual, just spend some time in the dark, be with what the dark holds: release, renewal, acceptance, our beloved dead, the ancestors, stars.


2019 Winter Solstice Retreat Time: We Begin in Darkness


For Seekers – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Seasonal Observances

As we do each year, we begin the first half of the Solstice e-retreat Descent and Return of the Light by Waiting with the Dark. Weekly themes stay the same – cultivating gratitude, connecting with the ancestors, opening to dark nurture, release and renewal – because the Sun is consistent in its movements. But the Moon travels a different path each year, shifting through dark and light on its own 28 day cycle. As constant Sun and shifting Moon dance together, each season flows with a unique energy. And for those who tend the sacred at this time, a special gift awaits in the unique mix of dark and light each year. 

For the 2019 season, we begin in deep dark. 

The first day of this retreat-in-everyday life is the last day of the lunar cycle stamped with the initiating energy of the Tarot’s archetype of Death 

Death’s appearance is a call to transform that which can no longer exist in its current state. Even when we desire such a change – and certainly when we haven’t asked for it – bringing forth the new is a birthing process filled with messy struggle and an effort that tears us apart. And much of true transformation is beyond our control, requiring us to surrender to that which is Greater Than ourselves.

From Tarot Roots of Asia

The first night of the e-retreat when the moon is dark in the house of Death offers us a place to make that surrender. Death can receive anything we pass into its being. Death receives our internal blocks to making desired change, the wounds we carry from change thrust upon us, our fears. Death composts all we surrender and turns it into the soil of the next becoming. 

Beginning the season with such surrender opens us wide to receive the gifts of the waiting, helps us adjust our eyes to see in the dark. 

On Day 2 of the retreat we begin a new lunation stamped with the initiating energy of the Tarot’s Temperance. The great work of this archetype is taking two different elements and combining them in a way to create a third something that is entirely new, nurturing, necessary. 

The whole of the 8 weeks of the Solstice-hinged Descent and Return of the Light tempers Dark and Light. During the weeks of Waiting with the Dark we focus on coming into a better relationship with the Dark because repair is needed here. Our modern lives leave little space for darkness. The writer Clark Strand in his beautiful Waking Up to the Dark reminds us of a better balance: 

The daylight realm is the place of fulfillment, destiny, the desire to grow, discovery and progress, to be useful. But the dark is the place of surrender, mystery, depth, the dead, the place to be part of eternity without need of judgement of your place in the sun-kissed realms. 

The December full moon that comes overnight on the 11th – 12th (and is exact at 12:12am ET on the 12th – that’s a lot of 12s!) offers us a special guide for our tempering work: the Virgin of Guadalupe. Like other Divine Feminine figures that come to us through Catholicism (I’m thinking especially of the Celt’s Brigid who was both Goddess and Saint), her image and attributes are a synthesis of Christian and earlier indigenous traditions. With her dark skin illuminated by a mandoral of light, she mirrors both the Aztec Mother Goddess Tonantzin and European images of the Virgin Mary. While the Virgin of Guadalupe’s origins include cultural appropriation, Her true and loving Presence is inextinguishable. She emanates a power that is beyond control of human religious traditions. We can call on Her to aid us in our seeking during this season. 

Perhaps you will feel inspired to call on Her for guidance as we move into the deepest dark of the year. This year the Solstice on December 21 comes during the last days of the lunation. The nights will be very dark indeed, and here we will be able to surrender what we no longer need and do not want to carry into the coming year. 

All year long with each dark moon, we can add more to the compost with our surrender. With this work we are preparing inviting and fertile ground in which to plant our Solstice Seed of the New, that dream, image, mystery, or project we will tend until the Solstice return with the Sun next year. 

Please join us for this season’s journey to and out from the Winter Solstice! 


Reading of the Moonth: Gifts of Death’s Season


For Seekers – Moonthly Renewal – Practices for Soul & Spirit

The arrival of the new moon stamps the moonth with an initiating energy that shifts and develops through a cycle of growth, fullness, and descent.  Each moonth I look to the Tarot’s astrological correspondences for the new moon to find 3 cards (a Major, a numbered Minor, and a court/people card) to guide musings on soul tending as well as creation of a moonthly reading. The reading can be done any time, but ideally between the new and full moons. Revisit the cards you pull periodically up until the next lunation to gain new insight as the light changes. This new moon arrived over the night of October 27th to 28th  (exact at 11:38pm ET on the 27th) . The full moon arrives November 12th.


This moonth we are invited to walk the path of Death and gain its wisdom lessons

Death may be the most infamous and unwelcome card in the Tarot pack. To keep clients from jumping to the most dire conclusions, Modern Tarot readers quickly say the card doesn’t mean physical death and highlight positive aspects of transformation. But there are times when Death does bring physical death and significant physical losses, and we have to cope with its consequences. Especially in this week that brings Halloween, Samhain, All Saints and Souls Days, and Día de los Muertos, sitting with the great transitions of Death in our lives can be fertile for tending our souls. 

From The Dark Goddess Tarot

From my own pathwalking with Death, I offer some insights into how to meet its presence:

We don’t have a choice about Death’s place in our life, but we do have a choice in the relationship that we make with Death. So much of the language of Death is filled with the metaphor of battle, but when we make Death our enemy, we will fail. We will never conquer Death. But we can learn from its dark transitions. 

The forest can show us how to learn from these dark transitions. Even at the height of summer’s growth, the forest floor is filled with fallen trees feeding insects with their rot, growing fungus and fern, supporting a profusion of the next generation of beings. And in fall everything comes down. The leaves surrender to earth and become the next layer of soil. The seeds are down, too, seeking a place to plant themselves in the dark and prepare for next season’s emergence. An old forest is so alive with Death. And old forest teaches us that Life and Death are intertwined. A walk in the forest then can give us a glimpse of Death’s mystery because we can sense its existence within the Life we know. 

While we are unwise to make Death our enemy, we can’t make Death our friend. We can be informal with our friends. They are known to us. But while we live, Death will always exist beyond the boundaries of our bodies and the limits of our words. We meet the fullness of Death until we cross the threshold between Life and Death. But knowing that we will make that crossing, we can practice how we might meet Death. We can prepare a proper greeting to the Mighty One. We can imagine a relationship where Death’s response to our greeting is a welcome into eternity. 

Passage and Practice

The passage of this moonth through the Five of Cups/Water acknowledges the pain of Death in our lives and the reality of grief. The iconic Rider Waite Smith image shows a despairing figure facing 3 spilled cups. The weight of emotions are palpable in the dark cloak and bent necks. The figure has lost a beloved to death, is facing their own mortality, or has experienced a major loss. When this happens, grief’s sorrow has its own momentum that can not be denied. If not allowed to flow, pent up grief can damage body and soul. 

A 1909 version of the Rider Waiter Smith deck (RWS currently produced by US Games)

Behind the figure, two full cups remain unseen. Many interpretations of this card set up a dichotomous choice: the figure must grieve or the figure find a way to turn to the full cups behind. But there is an integrative way to look at the image. Even as we honor the fullness of pain, we can cultivate an awareness of what supports us. We can remember who has our back: friends, family, the ancestors, the Divine, the Beloved Dead themselves. 

Practice can support us through this time and to find the integrative way, including these (that could be done individually or combined):

  • Create time and space for being with your grief and out of the daily demands. This could be a designated time (from 15 minutes to a retreat of days or a week) where you are responsibility free and unplugged from devices where you let yourself be with your feelings. Knowing that there is an endpoint can be supportive of entering into the difficulty of the emotions. Remember that in times of acute or new grief, feelings will not always stay within their boundaries. So be gentle with yourself when there is a grief irruption beyond your control. 
  • When you are spending time with your grief, have supportive images behind you (a Tarot or oracle card depicting a Divine figure, a picture of your spiritual teacher, photos of the ancestors and beloved dead are some examples). Know that they have your back. 
  • Fill a bowl with water to represent your grief feelings. You could cry into the bowl. You could imagine all the difficult emotions pouring out of you and into the bowl’s water. When you are done filling the bowl with your grief, take it outside and pour it on to the Earth. As you do, remember how the Earth is a great transformer and acceptor of all things. Trust the Earth will transform your grief into new life. 
  • Commune with your ancestors through meditation, creating an altar, or learning about the  traditions they might have practiced. 
  • Set out a Chalice of Remembrance. This is a beautiful ritual described by Caitlín Matthews in The Celtic Spirit. At a holiday meal or special time personally, all present drink from a liquid-filled glass and than place it with some liquid left before a picture of the one who has died. All then speak to the beloved departed. The remaining liquid is left overnight with a candle burning and then poured on the earth the next morning. “ In this way, the anniversary is marked, the mourning shared, and the circle of love reunited,” writes Caitlín.


An encounter with Death changes us.  When we truly walk this path, we will be broken open and then learn how to give of ourselves from this broken open place. Here we become Elders and serve like Kings in the realm of Water.

In the Haindl Tarot, the King of Cups/Water shows the Norse God Odin hanging from a tree  after sacrificing an eye to bring back the Runes, an alphabet for practical and spiritual messages.

Writing about the Haindl’s Odin, Tarot teacher Rachel Pollack describes how Odin’s upside down position signifies a returning to and honoring of the Earth. She continues:

In returning to the Earth, he shows humanity finding its way back to harmony with the natural world. … The World Tree, in Scandanavian Yggdrasil, does not only hold the physical planet, called Middle Earth in Scandanavian cosmology. It holds the nine worlds, reaching from Asgard, home of the Gods, to Helheim, the world of the dead. The “ecology” of [the Odin image] recognizes that as spiritual beings we live in all these worlds, not just the middle, but also Above and Below. 

In this threshold time, I hope that you will feel the flow between the worlds, between the living and the dead, between grief and solace to gain a gift of wisdom from Life and Death all mixed together. 

Reading of the Month

These questions are offered for reflection and to spark practice throughout the moonth. Pulling Tarot and oracle cards in connection to these questions is appropriate, but not absolutely necessary. You might carry a question with you on a walk for example and observe what is happening in the natural world as a way to find insight into the answer to the question. 

DEATH: How is Death showing itself in my life?

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: What to do / how to be to acknowledge the transformative power of Death in my life?

GIFT: What gift can I bring into the world out this encounter with Death?  

I offer this as an e-reading in my collaborative intitituve format for $23. Because I am going on retreat this week to spend time with my beloved dead and ancestors, I don’t have any open slots until after November 6th. If you would like to get in line for a reading then, 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.

The work of cultivating truth isn’t completed just at the time of the new moon. When the full moon comes on November 12th, the Hierophant will have an encounter with Death. People on my list receive more timely new moon missives and often full moon inspirations for ritual as well. Sign up if you’d like to receive those.


Heart Connecting with the Ancestors Meditation


For Seekers – Practices for Soul & Spirit

You can follow these prompts to have a meditative encounter with your radiant ancestors. 

Turn your attention inward. Taking a meditative posture, closing your eyes, and tuning into the flow of your breath are common and helpful practices. 

Bring your attention to the places where your body is connected to the earth through the surface that is supporting you. Feel/imagine the energy of the earth rising up through your body. Follow its movement from feet through legs, from the base of your spine through your belly and into your solar plexus. When the earth energy reaches your heart, let it pool there and sense how the earth energy expands your heart energy. Take some time making and basking in the connection of earth and heart energy.

Bring your attention above you. Feel / imagine the energy of the Above. Perhaps you visualize or sense in some way this energy as a glowing orb above you. Then from this orb, strands or sparkles of energy are flowing down to you. They come to your crown and it is almost as if there is an opening there through which they enter. Perhaps they come in as colors of silver or gold or have a sound or special feeling. Imagine the energy flowing down through your head, through your throat, and into your heart. Let the energy pool there, mixing with your heart energy and the earth energy. Let it expand your heart even further. You sense or feel the expansion through tingling in this area of your body or through seeing green waves coming out through you.

Now the mixed energy of the Above, heart, and earth is rising up, passing through your throat, moving behind your eyes and forehead, stimulating that place known as the 3rd eye through which you can see beyond the surface of everyday things. This energy reaches the crown of you and flows out like a fountain spills out. You might imagine this energy spilling out of you as surrounding you with a spray of color. Perhaps the green and/or rose, the colors of the heart.

You take a few moments to bask in the feeling of being surrounded and protected by this loving energy.

Then you send your awareness out into the Beyond. With your imaginal senses, you are reaching out to and connecting with your Beloved Dead and your loving ancestors. You might imagine yourself traveling back through generations of ancestors to meet those far back ancestors who are radiant in the dark because of their love and wisdom. Take time to greet each one you perceive and give them “a long loving look.” Open yourself up to receive their love. You might ask them for guidance or to send healing through the generations and into our world. You might just spend time being in their presence. 

When it feels right, take your leave with words or a gesture of gratitude. With your imaginal senses, let yourself come back into your body. Bring your attention to your crown. Imagine a flower there and then perceived its petals closing like a flower closes itself up for the night. Know that you are sealing the energy into you to aid you in your waking life. Now bring your attention to the base of your spine and your feet. Imagine flowers there and then they close sealing the energy into your to aid you in walking forward on your soul path.

Bring your palms together in front of your heart. You can bow your head toward your palms and half open your eyes. Begin to move your palms over each other slowly at first and then faster. Open your eyes fully. Throw your hands up over your head and arrive back fully awake and alert. 


Dark Moon Release with Maat as our Guide


For Seekers – Moonthly Renewal – Practices for Soul & Spirit

Before the moon is made new overnight Sunday, the 27th, into Monday, the 28th (exact at 11:38pm on the 27th), it returns to the place on the astrological Wheel where it began its moonthly journey. The energy gathered through the moonth now flows away into moonless nights. What will you send with this energy to be transformed in the dark?

The moonth we are concluding began and now ends in Libra which corresponds to the Tarot’s Justice card. In the Dark Goddess Tarot, Justice is Maat, the Egyptian Goddess of Truth and Justice. Ellen Lorenzi-Prince, creator of the Dark Goddess Tarot, description of her includes:

[Maat] becomes the scale itself. Within the Hall of Truth, she weighs the souls of the deceased as they enter the underworld. The human heart, where the soul has its home, is balanced against her single sacred feather. A light heart, one free from wrongdoing, may continue on the journey toward paradise. The unworthy heart is devoured by the ferocious monster of the underworld, the goddess Ammut.

Before death, people prepared to stand before Maat by learning prayers and having these words of power inscribed on the walls of their burial places. Scholar and writer Normandi Ellis in her work Awakening Osiris has created a poetic translation of these prayers and inscriptions, including what are known as the Negative Confessions:

Hail hands of fire, baker of bread and men and truth, I’ve not fed myself before the hungry child. I’ve not carried off the praise intended for gods. May we live forever.

Hail white teeth, a biter of heads, devourer of men, I have not killed the cow nor uprooted the wheat, but that I know its spirit feeds mine. When the time comes, I give up life without regret to feed a spirit greater than mine. I shall die, a small thing becoming part of the larger world. May we live forever and forever. 

May the light shine through us and on us and in us. May we die each night and be born each morning that the wonder of life not escape us. May we love and laugh and enter lightly into each other’s hearts. May we live forever. May we live forever. 

Dark moon times are a chance to touch the underworld energy and prepare for our own transition from the earthly into the eternal one day. In this darkness, Maat guides us to release our hearts from any and all constriction. Here we peel off what troubles and inhibits us so that the heart can follow its natural attraction to the beauty, balance, and truth of Maat. She invites us to speak our prayers of release aloud so that the energy of the words becomes a magnet that we follow into manifestation. 

Starting with the 48 hours before the new moon’s arrival at 11:38pm ET on the 27th, the dark moon comes to support our transformation. You are invited to engage in reflection and ritual to celebrate acheivements of the moonth passing and release what you do not want to carry into the next lunation. 


Look back on the happenings of the moonth that began on September 28th. If you journal, you’ll have a handy record for your personal memories, but even just looking back at your appointment calendar or photos taken can jog your mind about what’s been going on in the past few weeks. 

As you look back, especially tune into the times and situations where your heart felt most open and light as well as the times and situations where your heart felt most constricted and heavy.  

Reflect further on the times when your heart felt most open and light. What supported this openness? What did the lightness made possible? You may want to write out some lines of gratitude to Hail and Welcome all that supported your heart in this moonth. Be sure to say them aloud.

Finally, seek to understand with more clarity the times and reasons for why your heart was constricted and heavy during the moonth. Write brief statements on slips of paper to express these heart-heavy times. Take these strips of paper into the Dark Moon Release Ritual.

Dark Moon Release Ritual

Bring your heart constrictions strips of paper with you and an equal number of blank strips of paper with you.

Create sacred space by lighting a candle, imagining that you are ringed with a circle of protection, and/or your usual actions.

You can invite Maat and/or the face of Greater Than that you have been serving this moonth to with you and aid you in this dark moon release. Spend as much time as you need connecting with Them.

When you are ready, take your first constriction strip of paper. Read it silently. Rip it up. Call or Maat and/or your face of the Greater Than to help you write out a counter balancing statement to the one you just ripped up. This statement will move you to a lighter heart. Once you have crafted your statement, read it out loud. Do this for as many statements as you have. 

After you have completed your releasing, tune into your body, feeling it lighter. Re-center yourself by connecting with earth below you and the sky above you. Feel their energy mix in your heart. Offer gratitude. Be open to a blessing coming to you from Maat and/or your face of the Greater Than.

When the new moon arrives, you may want to make wishes for your light heart will guide you in the moonth to come. Be sure to write them down to revisit at the end of the moonth.


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