Shift Happens


Happy Imbolc!

Greetings from AHA,

We hope the New Year has begun on a positive note. By now the hectic pace of the holidays has settled and life has returned to some semblance of normalcy. Here we are in February and life is beginning to stir again though it may not always feel that way!  The Celtic festival of Imbolc or Imbolg marks the rebirth of nature and fertility. Bulbs are beginning to shoot up through the cold hard ground and new lambs are born – the cycle of new life returns to the earth.

Imbolc celebrates the gradual increasing of warmth and light, bringing nature to life again. Nature is re-awakening from her winter rest.  We may spot crocus or snowdrops in walks outside or notice small buds beginning to appear on the trees – a simple sign that sparks hope within us and reminds us the world is full of fresh opportunities.

It is a time of initiation, purification and inspiration. For making new plans and planting the seeds of your projects, hopes and dreams that you wish to manifest during the year. Now is a good time to renew and review any New Year resolutions.  Imbolc is a good time to begin Spring cleaning. By getting rid of unwanted clutter we are preparing for the new season physically and mentally making space for a fresh start.

It is a favorite time of the year for me for many reasons but the main one is that this particular time is dedicated to the energy of the Goddess Brigit or Bride as she in known in Scotland.  She is a goddess of poetry, smithcraft and healing. She is a keeper of the sacred flame, that divine spark and creative spirit that resides within each of us.  One of the meanings of Imbolc is “fire in the belly”  That fire is the spark of life, of inspiration, of plans and projects all the things that we would bring forth into the world.

“in the belly” makes me think about women and our close connection to our own bellies.  It’s often a complicated relationship.  We love the round pregnant bellies, but with a little extra padding around the middle and the pressure to have a flat stomach we often don’t appreciate that part of us. Our stomachs digest our food, but also our emotions – so the belly becomes the source of our life energy and our well being.  We need to take care of it and make peace with it so we make peace with our whole bodies.

 

 

Here is an idea to work with the energy of seed potential and sending loving energy to our bodies.  Making a massage oil for our belly.

Using some essential oils made from seeds – particular suggestions would be Coriander (which promotes creativity, optimism and motivation) and some Cardamom (warming, stimulating) and then some Fennel (helps to remove emotional & mental blocks)

  • Take a pure carrier oil – jojoba, almond oil or coconut oil and begin to experiment:
  • 2 oz. of the carrier oil
  • add: 6 drops of Coriander
  • add: 6 drops of Cardamom
  • add: 4 drops of Fennel
  • Depending on your personal preference you can add a drop or two more of one or each.  
  • Mix the oils together and put in a small glass container.

Use it with mindfulness. Take a few minutes to sit down and focus on your breath. If you have a usual meditation or Reiki routine, you can include the belly rub in your ritual.

Slowly massage the belly oil on your stomach, while focusing on the aroma. Send loving thoughts to your belly for all it does.  And consider what fire or inspiration in your belly you are grateful for and wish to bring forth in the year to come.

Some other ideas for Imbolc:

  • Take a small quartz crystal or crystal chip in your hand. Choose a goal ou wish to accomplish this year, think about it, see yourself with that goal completed and how you feel.  Then place the crystal with the seed or bulb and plant it in the earth. 
  • Immerse yourself in a salt bath or scrub your body with a salt scrub – and with intention chat “all that outworn is washed away and I am renewed as of today”
  • Write a poem! Don’t make it stressful or feel it has to be fantastic and perfect – just indulge your creativity and imagination.

Energetically, the timing couldn’t be better for initiating projects, exploring new paths, and planting those seeds of your hopes and dreams.  Astrologically all the planets are moving in a forward direction until March. Momentum is the word for this month.  Use the energy to start to put those wheels in motion.  It is no wonder that the the February Full Moon is called the “Quickening” moon. What projects would you like to see quicken this month?

I would be remiss to end this newsletter without a word about Valentines Day. February has long been associated with love and sexuality.  The Romans dedicated this time to the Goddess Juno Februata and the festival of Lupercalia a time of erotic games. A polar opposite, the Christians made it a a feast day of St; Valentine, who was martyred/executed the minute he received a declaration of love from his sweetheart! Two extremes to the same day.

My point being – make this day whatever you wish it to be. It’s about love.  So spend it with someone you love, or doing something you love, honoring someone you love, sharing the love with animals, the earth, its peoples.  Galantine’s Day is one of my favorites – spend it with your gal pals. Whatever you do – spread a little more love in the world.

May Brigit’s mantle protect you

And bring spring to your heart

Bright Blessings,

AHA

 


December Greetings

And boom just like that we’re in December and an entire year has gone by!  December can be a magical time of the year with reunions, rituals and celebrations, but also melancholy for others as we reflect on what and who may have passed. Many cultures during this time of the year have rituals and celebrations that involve the return of the light, giving thanks for the strengthening of the sunlight. Our ancestors built enormous and carefully planned megalithic monuments that align to the winter solstice sun. Stonehenge aligns with the winter solstice sunset while Newgrange in Ireland aligns with the winter solstice sunrise as a shaft of sunlight reaches back into the darkness of the mound. The spark of life is renewed.

Celtic Yuletide celebrations pre-date the more Christian Christmas traditions and it is where the basis for many of those traditions come from. It’s interesting to look at things like the Christmas tree which is based on offerings left on sacred trees in gratitude and hope and how it has evolved into the modern version with lights and decorations. The star or fairy that adorns the top of many trees alludes to the Goddess herself.

Between Halloween/Samhain and Christmas/Yule the energy calls us to withdraw as we prepare for the rebirth of nature and the growing strength of the sun. The energy now starts to turn toward new possibilities and what we wish to bring forth in the year ahead.
We are responsible for our own happiness and so rather than looking outside, we need to become reflective and ask how we can keep our inner light kindled to warm ourselves and others both emotionally and physically. The Winter Solstice is a balance point, a pause, an inflection point where we can regroup and rebalance ourselves.

You can consciously choose to make this season a frantic, frazzled, chaotic time or happy, peaceful, fun and festive. We have the power to choose, to discern what harms or hinders. Where do you give your power and energy away? Can you reclaim sovereignty and put that power, time and energy to better use?

Maybe create self-healing rituals that nurture your mind, body and spirit. Dig into your personal tool kit and care for yourself with nourishing foods, meditation, journaling, reiki, massage and the like. Using essential oils and flower essences can be incredibly helpful and they are easily transported on-the-go.

Some of the most powerful essential oils to keep us grounded, harmonized, and centered include Ginger, Frankincense, Patchouli, Sweet Orange and Cedarwood. One easy way to use these oils is to apply 3-5 drops of your favorites directly onto the soles of your feet, feeling yourself grounded and connected to the earth and let that expand to feelings of being rooted and empowered. You can also add the oils with a little Epsom salt to a bath or even a large bowl and soak your feet. Just typing that made me relax! Ahhhhh. 

Surrender suffering and expectations.  Simplify, put down your phone, don’t over schedule yourself, take a break from the news, TV, social media sites, look in the eyes of the people you speak to, be present. The best thing you can do for yourself is to perform a selfless act of kindness. Find a way to be of service to others. If you can find a way to do that and do something you love – like working with children, or animals – that’s a win-win! It is a gift that will keep on giving. It’s putting your light out into the world and helping someone else to kindle their own light.

The Winter Solstice, when the light dies and is reborn, brings the birth of new light and hope. This is a year when light can come out of the darkness in a specific manner…within people’s hearts. The new light grows and the tide begins to turn, one act of kindness at a time.

Let your light shine. 

Remember the soul’s purpose is joy.  Be joyful, Be merry, Be of service.

There are two ways of spreading light – be the candle or the mirror that reflects in – Edith Warton

Bright Blessings to all, with much gratitude,
AHA


November Newsletter

November has arrived and with it, the beauty of the changing leaves and soon the trees will be bereft of their colors, leaving us with a vivid and bare starkness. As we move into the dark time of the year, I have been seeing many articles, blogs and Instagram posts about our “Shadow Self;”   – working with your shadow, identifying the shadow and doing shadow work to name a few. Not surprising, because this is definitely the time of year to do this type of sometimes difficult work.  We are, more often than not, physically inside far more than during the spring and summer months (where we find ourselves branching out and reaching for the sun).  And not unlike the trees whose sap is returning deep into the earth, we are finding ourselves more reflective and looking inward. 

We all have a vague notion of our shadows, right?  It’s those thoughts, memories and motivations that are hidden in the back of our minds so we don’t have to look at them. They can also be what tug at our heartstrings when we are not living our true, authentic self. Some feel that when the shadow self is not being tended to, depression can be at bay. But it’s not what is already within our conscious awareness – it is the buried motivations behind some of our behaviors.

The shadow, a concept brought to light by famed Swiss psychologist Carl Jung — is the part of ourselves we don’t want to look at — qualities we deem unattractive, try to push away, overlook, sugarcoat or hide under the surface.

In many spiritual paths, the emphasis is often on positivity and that everything should be love and light, but we are dismissing the other part of ourselves – that other part of life.  And like Yin/Yang, you can’t have one without the other.  Last month we mentioned the myth of Isis and Osiris – how she re-membered him after his brother killed him, dismembered him and then scattered his body parts.  This is our journey – remembering all the sides of the self – to “own” those cut-off pieces of ourselves that we’d rather tuck away in a back closet.  To proudly integrate all the good, bad and ugly parts of whom we are for this is where our strength and power resides. And acknowledging it makes us whole again.

The shadow self or subconscious does not know if it’s sabotaging us. It’s not something to be feared or wary of.  It’s not a villain yet it is truly a teacher.  If we don’t engage with it, we will find it can seep into our life, our beliefs, and everyday behavior in unexpected and often explosive ways.  Bringing our shadows to the surface is the only way to heal them, understand how they came to be, and ultimately replace them with healthier beliefs. 

 

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” — Carl Jung

 

This quote of Jung’s is a good place to start our exploration.  Start with this question – What irritates you most about others behaviors?  In there lies a kernel of your shadow.  Here’s an example for me – lack of consideration.  When a neighbor hammers away at 6am on the wall to hang something, or a person stops on the subway stairs to text – this behavior drives me crazy!  Why?  Because of their lack of consideration for others; myself included! And despite that I would never do these things, others do, and in return, this triggers me. So what is that all about?  It sends a message that despite that I would treat most with consideration, my shadow self is telling me that when people do these things, it’s because I don’t matter.  This reminds me of where I sometimes need to explore when working with the shadow self. 

Also, anything that we resist or repress will be compelled to show up in our lives and it will not always be pretty.

It is in our vulnerability; those sensitive, tender places where we have the most opportunity to crack open, and in so, find our greatest strengths, which in return,  free us from negative thought patterns, depression and a feeling of disconnect. Consider how shadow traits were necessary in the past as a coping or defensive mechanism. 

Speaking for myself, fear of abandonment is a big shadow and I’ve done a lot of work to get to this understanding.  On the outside I was gregarious, outgoing and happy, as I informed everyone I was content being single.  I truly started to believe this but this is because my shadow energy kept me from serious long term relationships. I would find myself either demanding too much from friendships or giving too much and this condition definitely had me master the art of the “artificial” romance.  I would find myself falling in love with someone on another continent or someone who was married, which tricked me into believing in the illusion of a “relationship without the risk.”  I felt I had control over any risk and could make people stay with me and see my value.   These self-imposed walls may have kept me safe and helped me cope with being single, but it also kept me away and apart from a real relationship, from spontaneity, and from a true understanding of my self-worth.  Once I really looked at what was behind the fear of abandonment – a significant amount of loss started with the early death of my mother and then a longtime boyfriend’s death by overdose – and saw what behaviors and thought patterns were hiding behind that, I was able to begin to heal it.  And truthfully, it is very much an ongoing situation because shadow work goes within the depth of our sub-conscious. I’m still aware there is sensitivity in relationships of any kind for me.  But through acknowledging this particular shadow and accepting it as part of what makes me me, I have found a much stronger sense of self-worth. I am working on happy, healthier relationships and am allowing for spontaneity and letting go of my need to control things.  This has allowed for some pretty amazing surprises!

Many of us carry around the “not good enough” shadow.  Addressing self-sabotaging beliefs could mean pouring through years of childhood conditioning, society and media expectations, as well as any harmful things said or done to you during your lifetime.  This may seem like a tall mountain to climb, but it is totally do-able and well worth any effort because all you have to do is start with just one question.

There are so many modalities available to support you in your excavations! For example, counseling, self-hypnosis, meditation, affirmations, journaling , healing bodywork and Reiki or a combination of any or all of these, would yield some results.

The Scorpio New Moon on November 7 will drive us to seek for the truth in things that make us uncomfortable. It will create an energy that allows us to focus upon what it is that we may have pushed down in secrecy, whether it is experiences or behaviors we are ashamed of, or feelings connected with our passion and sexuality. It will support us with diving deep to unearth the hidden, while connecting to our buried feelings and desires. It will also inspire us to live more passionately and freely.

This is an excellent time to grab a journal and start to delve into the questions that might begin to unearth some of the ‘lead’ in your subconscious. Through time and understanding you will alchemically turn that ‘lead’ into the gold of your stronger integrated self!

Here are some questions to get your started on your exploration: 

 

  • What parts of myself or areas of my life do I instinctively avoid or reject?

 

  • What triggers me to anger, jealousy, envy or any strong emotional state?

 

  • Where am I most resistant to change?

 

  • What makes me defensive?

 

  • Is this behavior or reaction related to a self-image I’m trying to avoid, a way I would not want others to see me?

 

  • How did I develop this shadow behavior or thought? Does it have roots in any of my past experiences or things people have told me?

Nurture yourself as you begin to uncover your shadow and give yourself permission to process emotions freely and without judgement with each journal entry. Make it part of your nightly ritual and before bedtime.

You may notice that it gets harder before it gets easier.  While meditating or journaling you can grab crystal allies like obsidian (black or mahogany work best),nummite or black moonstone, or some essential oils like Frankincense, Helichrysum or Palo Santo – all protective and supportive and of course teas with mugwort or motherwort.  Be kind and generous to yourself during this process and always remember that by integrating your shadow energy you now have access to your full range of power and energy flow. 

 As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. – Gandhi


October Newsletter

October has always been a favorite time of the year.

What I love is the true autumnal feeling to October.  Usually there is crispness to the air, the humidity of the summer has passed and the arrays of colors of autumn are on display. The scents and jewel tones of the leaves beguile and bewitch us. There is a poignancy about the month.   In the Celtic tradition, this month would hold the New Year celebration as it is the time that they honored the final Harvest of the year giving October the theme of “endings.”

Samhain (pronounced sow-en) is a magical time when the veil between what we call “the worlds” blurs.  This creates opportunity to drift, to dream, to vision and to connect to the world of spirit. It is the master time to do anything related to divination.   This time is also dedicated to the Dark Goddess.  She rules the Underworld, the Unconscious – She also represents our deaths, rebirths and regenerations.  She has many names – Kali, the Morrigan, Ceridwen, Hel, Cailleach, Scatha or Sythia, Skadi and Hecate to name a few. The stories about these archetype Goddesses always center around the teachings of life from death.  Rituals were performed in caves and underground places with an emergence back to the world above to symbolize the renewal of life.

The Festival of Osiris is celebrated in the month of October.  This is a classic tale where Osiris is killed and dismembered by his brother and the goddess Isis re-members him and restores him to life.  It takes Isis some time to do this because Set, Osiris’ brother, not only dismembers Osiris, but he scatters his body all over and not in one place. Isis spent her days searching for every piece until she realized one last piece was missing – Osiris’ man part! But instead of being defeated, Isis crafted one out of clay and completed his body. Isis then succeeded in giving birth from it!

What do we learn from this?

We come to realize that we carry many different aspects of ourselves; some dictate louder than others how we should act and be within our everyday lives. But by remembering and honoring the pieces that make up ourselves, we become whole – renewed.  Remember who you are, what you really want, what have you forgotten? What dream have you put off? Where are you giving away pieces of yourself? What circumstances or situations are chipping away pieces of your worth, confidence, self- esteem?  What habits and behaviors need to “die” in order to make room for new growth?  This cycle is completing – it is ending and yet, in that ending resides a new beginning. 

The Yew tree symbolizes this wonderfully.  The Yew can regenerate from old wood.  It is often found in church yards and sacred places as a symbol of mortality and resurrection. Yew trees can withstand harsh pruning and live for many years. One of the oldest is over 3,000 years old and is found in Fortingall, Scotland.  The trees pictured here are an avenue of Yew trees leading from the Madron Well in Cornwall.  It is a very powerful and magical place. We did a meditative walk through this avenue and it was transformative.  We hope to bring together a small group to join us next year.

  Yew Walk - Madron, Cornwall

This time of year allows us a chance to withdraw a bit and reflect. This year has been challenging, between the astrological energies, eclipses, retrogrades, followed by the barrage of negativity that is thrown at us on a daily basis from everywhere. So a time of quiet withdrawal by the end of October would be of great benefit. 

For me, many old wounds have begun to re-surface that I thought were long put to rest.  Even with all the tools I have to use to balance the negatives – Reiki, crystals, meditation, journaling, exercise – I still have to check and remind myself to use them.  I also have to re-member with honor that my individual life mirrors the Wheel of the Year with its endings and new beginnings as well.

Take the time to check in with yourself.  Ask some tough questions. Be an explorer. Keep breaking it down until you find the core that you can work with and through.  And always remember – you hold the clay.

Samhain/Halloween is also a festival of the Ancestors as our Spanish brothers and sisters celebrate Dia del Muerte.  We too, honor those that came before us and ask for their guidance and blessings.  As women, we can and should honor and remember the revolutionaries – the midwives, herbalists, wise women and hedge witches and the many courageous women of history. 

This month, take the time to reflect on your life. Put down the phone, turn off the TV, be still…and know.  You don’t need candles, bath salts, a tarot reading or Reiki. You just need to listen for, and trust your own inner voice when it does start to speak during the dark time of Samhain. Then you will be joining a long line of courageous women embarking on the sacred Celtic New Year.

The darkness is not the absence of light – it is the womb of light.  -Fred LaMotte