Soul Path Sanctuary

A place of pause, renewal, and connection for seekers

Dec
3
2018

Waiting with the Dark Week 2: Opening to the Ancestors

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For Seekers – From Art of Change Tarot – Seasonal Observances

This is the second week of the season-long ritual, Descent and Return of the Light, that takes the Winter Solstice as its hinge. You are invited to join the e-retreat in progress for support in tending the season with daily emails and weekly virtual circles.

The cry of the geese as they migrate leaves a melancholy echo. Then silence. Most other birds have gone before and many creatures of the land are in their dens. Leaves have fallen from trees; the bare and quiet branches stand against sky.

The emptiness can seem bleak, but opportunity flows into its openness. A view to distant mountains opens up without leaves. And while nature withdraws at this time of year, the presence of the ancestors grows stronger. We tell stories of the recent dead at our holiday gatherings, passing on their memory and gifts to a new generation. We enact small rituals, cook holiday foods, and gather in ways that ancestors from generations in the past began. We celebrate traditions and wisdom inherited from spiritual and religious paths nurtured by the ancestors of ancient times.

The ancestors are our biological family, of course, but also those connected to us through choice, place, ideas, and traditions. Like the living, they are a mix of wise ones and trouble makers; sometimes all mixed in the same person. [Daily prompts for inspiration for thinking about these different types of ancestors are part of the e-rereat.]

These ancestors come with gifts to offer and as the days grow darker the way opens for rituals, meditations, and reflections that connect us to their wisdom. Celtic teacher Caitlín Matthews offers this counsel for connecting with the ancestors in her book The Celtic Spirit:

“[The ancestors] who were the wisdom-bearers and way-showers in their lives have not ceased from these roles. By asking our spiritual allies in meditation to take us to meet one or more of our wise ancestors, the living ancestors, we can travel to the timeless otherworld and visit them. We can discover spiritual allies in our living ancestors, consulting them about matters to do with our family, our way of live, and ways of respecting the spiritual core of all things.”

This Week’s Ritual

In this third week in our movement toward the Solstice, we light four candles, but then blow one out to create a doorway through which the loving ancestors can pass to join us in the circle of light. We sit with them, receptive to the gifts they have to share.

As you sit in the open circle of light, you could pull three cards, perhaps court/people cards would be the most appropriate if using a Tarot deck, that represent messages the ancestors are sending to you. Place each card by a candle and spend time contemplating its possible message(s). Finally contemplate them as a group.

After sitting a while and receiving your ancestor message, you may want to draw a Major Arcana card to connect with the Divinity that can guide you in following the guidance of your ancestors.

 

Nov
26
2018

Waiting with the Dark Week 1: Gratitude

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For Seekers – From Art of Change Tarot – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Seasonal Observances

This is the first week of the season-long ritual, Descent and Return of the Light, that takes the Winter Solstice as its hinge. This week we prepare to spend time in the dark of the year and gather materials for our candle wheels; one less candle will be lit each week as we move toward embracing the gifts of long nights. Coming out of Solstice we circle back through the candle wheel, lighting one more candle each week. You are invite to join the e-retreat for support in making this circle with daily emails and weekly virtual circles.

This week we prepare to journey into the dark. All journeys require preparation, even the inner journey. But we need a different kind of gear to travel on these paths. What we carry can not weigh us down; it must be light but powerful. Must fit into a bag no larger than a Seeker’s bundle and provide what we need to move through any challenge.

Our gratitude is the gear to help us travel in the dark. In this first week of the Descent and Return of the Light, we pause to gather in our gratitude by reflecting on gifts given during the passing season of harvest and the whole of the year.

Gratitude is a powerful gift that can be sparked from the smallest things. Jean Shinoda Bolen in her book Crones Don’t Whine writes of its nature:

Gratitude is something we have inside us that rises to the surface when something in particular invites it out. Gratitude is a wonderful spiritual practice, actually. Every time you breathe an “ahhhh” or savor a moment, a thank-you for being alive is rising from your soul to fill your heart. Yes, it’s about the beauty of seeing the geese flying overhead, but it’s more: it’s a thank-you to the geese, to nature…And even more than this, it’s a thank-you that I am here, and that I have a place in the universe (pp. 60-61).

Gratitude wells up spontaneously in us at times, and we can also invite gratitude to come meet us. We can create rituals that deepen our connection to gratitude.

The structure of ritual supports us even when our seeking is difficult. We need this support now; the times we live in are troubling. Today my heart hurts for the children and parents looking for a better life tear gassed at the US border, for cancer’s cruel tearing apart of the body, for the families of those killed in the California wildfires. And as fires and floods keep come one after another, I worry about us humans and our ability to live on a warming planet with generosity and compassion for each other.

In such times as these, gratitude lifts us by reminding of us the good in our lives. Gratitude lifts us not so we ignore the hard truth, but so we have the energy to meet the challenges, to try to make things a little better.  And no matter our difficulties, we receive elemental support. Each morning comes to us as gift from the Sun’s fire. Each moment are held by the earth and enliven by the air. Water enters our bodies so our inward flow continues.

The elements bless us each day and this week as we begin our time of tending to the dark, gratitude for the elemental good in our lives is the focus.  

To Begin: Create the Waiting with the Dark Candle Wheel

Create your wheel by placing four candles surrounded by something like holly or evergreen branches to represent the everlasting light in the dark. You may wish to have a central inspiring element. I have used a fifth pillar candle, black and light rock, and small sculptures.

For this week’s ritual you are invited to light four candles representing the four elements of fire, water, air, and earth. If working with the Tarot, you can take out the aces out of your deck and place them next to each candle. As you light each candle pause to offer a gratitude for a different areas of your life inspired by the elemental association and images on your Tarot cards.  Take time to bask in the candle light before concluding.

Engage in this ritual practice as much as you have time and space for in your life. Perhaps you set aside an hour on one night or do just five minutes of candle lighting each night this week. Find your own rhythm and lead by the guidance of gratitude.

In the e-retreat, daily e-mails provide reflection prompts for each element as you move through the week as well as inspiring quotes and images. You are invited to join us. Next week’s theme is Opening to the Ancestors.

 

Nov
23
2018

2018 Solstice Season’s Invitation to Love

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

Soul Path Sanctuary’s annual Winter Solstice-hinged e-retreat, Descent and Return of the Light, begins on Monday, November 26th. Here is the introduction to this season’s unique energy from the first of the daily e-mails that guide participants through a candle wreath ritual going toward and then traveling out of the Solstice.

Welcome to the first half of the 2018 Winter Solstice-hinged e-retreat and ritual: Waiting with the Dark.

Weekly themes stay the same each year as we do this waiting – cultivating gratitude, connecting with the ancestors, opening to dark nurture, releasing what we don’t need to carry into the next year – because the Sun is consistent in its movements. But the Moon travels shifting paths through fullness and newness as it makes its way through different positions in astrological signs. As constant Sun and shifting Moon move together each season flows with a unique energy. And for those who tend the sacred at this time, a special gift awaits in the dance of dark and light.

During the 2018 season we begin our descent as the Moon, too, descends from its fullness on November 22/23 in the astrological position associated with the the Tarot’s Lovers walking the challenging way of the Eight of Swords/Air. In this position – shown as a bound woman below – Love seems blocked, even impossible. Perhaps we no longer perceive Love in our lives, or are bound to a vision of Love no longer visible. Maybe our Love spilled onto the ground when the container that held it broke.

As we descend through this season, we are invited to shed our challenges to Love. The dark can receive what we need to let go of. The dark can hold our hurting hearts. The dark can foster the seed of a new vision. Then at the Solstice the returning light opens a doorway to the new and the next supported by Sun and Moon dancing in light together.

The day after the Solstice – the day that lengthens just a bit – the next full moon traveling the path of The Chariot through the Two of Cups/Water arrives. As seen above, cups being offered by one to another are the central symbol for this card. This Solstice full moon coming in the Two of Cups position shines on each of us the offer of a new container for our Love.

Our time in the dark and dissolution have opened our eyes and freed our hands to receive this Love. It’s new form may be surprising or expected, human or more-than-human, personal or political – or a combination of all. Emerging from a tending of the depths, this Love will be vibrant in a way that the writer James Baldwin describes “as a state of being, or a state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.”

Renewed Love in our lives is the secret gift awaiting us in this year’s Solstice season.

You are invited to join us to tend Love’s renewal. More details and registration are available here. 

Note on the images: Central cards from the iconic Rider Waiter Smith deck. Other images from Dark Goddess Tarot, Lovers supplement to The Elora Tarot and Tarot of the Moors.

Nov
19
2018

Soul Path Practices Week of November 19: Tree – Four of Cups – Child of Water

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For Seekers – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Tarot – Weekly Practice

When not observing the Solstice seasons or lunar happenings, I pull Tarot cards weekly to inspire practice that cultivates soul wisdom for readers of this blog as a group using the Gaian Tarot. You are invited to use the cards below to inspire your practice, and, if you like, share your reflections in the comments. You are also free to draw your own cards using these positions.

PATH: Use Pile 1 / Majors and Aces to pull a card for the question: What path would it best serve us to walk this week? THE TREE invites us to walk this week on pathways of …

  • Inaction on the external level but deep movement on the inner level.
  • Sacrifice that opens us to our deep soul purpose.
  • Surrendering to what is.
  • Holding on to what offers essential support.
  • Seeing with new eyes.

 

PRACTICE: Use Pile 2 / numbered cards for this question: What practice(s) will best serve us to move along this path this week? FOUR OF CUPS invites us to practices such as …

  • Meditating / engaging in visio divina on this card’s well cover symbol, called the Vesica Pisces, with its overlapping circles that represent the physical world and the spirit world and their connection. Contemplate how these circle overlap in your own life. Open up to the emotions that arise from your meditation.
  • Sitting in silence and imagining your mind is like a still, deep blue pool. Let your thoughts come but float away as you redirect your attention to the blue depths of the pool. Be open to whatever—or the nothing—that comes.
  • Making a pilgrimage to a place of sacred waters. You can spend time with a stream near your house or dream about a trip to Chalice Well in Glastonbury, England (the place depicted in the card). Recognize all water is sacred.

 

POSTURE: Use Pile 3 / People cards for a question such as: What attitudes and behaviors will be most helpful to undertake this practice and walk with path? CHILD OF WATER invites you to follow your path and practices with attitudes of ….

  • Grace and ease
  • Daring to stand at the edge of vast mystery – because you don’t know you should fear such places – because you know you are always protected.
  • Moving from a place of open-heartedness to encounter the world.

 

OVERALL MUSINGS: The quiet call of surrender to the depths is sounding now in this late fall season. To tune into its presence below the revving up of the holiday season, requires intentional action – so you can be less outwardly active and more inwardly flowing! Set a circle of protection around some time and/or space to meet the wisdom of dark descending in anticipation of the light’s return at Solstice.

We will be tending the call to surrender in Descent and Return of the Light, a Solstice-hinged e-retreat and ritual, which beings next week on Monday, November 26th. Daily emails, weekly calls, and prompts for a season-long candle ritual provide that container of support for seeking the deep wisdom of the season.  

Nov
13
2018

Soul Path Practices Week of November 12: Temperance – 2 of Fire – Guardian of Fire

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For Seekers – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Tarot – Weekly Practice

When not observing the Solstice seasons or lunar happenings, I pull Tarot cards weekly to inspire practice that cultivates soul wisdom for readers of this blog as a group using the Gaian Tarot. You are invited to use the cards below to inspire your practice, and, if you like, share your reflections in the comments. You are also free to draw your own cards using these positions.

PATH: Use Pile 1 / Majors and Aces to pull a card for the question: What path would it best serve us to walk this week?  TEMPERANCE invites us to walk this week on pathways of …

  • Combining things that appear to be opposites (fire and water, light and darkness, life and death) into a beautiful new Whole
  • Knowing you flow through deep-earth fire mystery even as you walk through your everyday life of going to the  the supermarket or cleaning your bathroom.
  • Re-balancing after a period of change to integrate that experience while at the same time preparing for the new emerging.
  • Seeing and blending all the parts of yourself into a perfectly imperfect vessel for holding your authentic life.

 

PRACTICE: Use Pile 2 / numbered cards for this question: What practice(s) will best serve us to move along this path this week? TWO OF FIRE invites us to practices such as …

  • Candle gazing. It’s as easy as it sounds—just gaze at the flame of a candle. You might do this practice with a particular intention such as expanding or clarifying your vision around work, service, or love, for example.
  • Dedicate cultivation of your individual joy to creating more collective joy in the world.
  • Spend some times looking your deep desires in the eyes. What are they really? Do you really want to dance with them?
  • Work with a “buddy” to ensure you do your spiritual/soul practice: walk together in nature, silently; write out gratitudes daily or weekly and mail them to each other; find the deity or ancestor who would best guide you through current challenges and develop a relationship with them.

 

POSTURE: Use Pile 3 / People cards for a question such as: What attitudes and behaviors will be most helpful to undertake this practice and walk with path? GUARDIAN OF FIRE invites you to follow your path and practices with attitudes of ….

  • Persistence.
  • Taking time to nurture your own inner fire.
  • Being of service.
  • Coaxing the gifts that might be hidden more deeply to emerge
  • Courage to stand in the dark and call forth the light.

 

OVERALL MUSINGS: The moonth began last week in the sign of Scorpio, dipping us into the initiating energy of Death, card 13. This week we progress from card 13 to card 14 and begin to remake our lives after the changes made by Death in our lives. The practice and posture cards suggest a reflective process for this work. We are called to tune into our desires and visions for ourselves and for the collective. Desire and vision can be the flames that move us forward, that help us to persist even when results are not dramatic. Focused on the vision, determined in our work, and assisted by the Greater Than, we can bring what is needed to re-balance in our lives into being.

I am also noting all the fire in these cards – and it is making me thinking of the dangerous and deadly wildfires in California. In many esoteric systems, Temperance is identified as a fire card, but water is an important element in meaning and image across Tarot decks. I send my prayers for the people of California that their fires will be tempered by waters and that our hearts may open in a flow of compassion toward those who have lost loved ones.

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