Saturday, 26 September 2015

Autumn Equinox

As seems to be my way these days, I have been celebrating the Autumn Equinox all week. We have been out enjoying all the changeable autumn weather, playing in the sand pit in the rain and splashing in muddy puddles reflecting vivid blue sky and bright sunlight. Out in the woods with my ritual group last night, the moon was bright, making the trees monochrome and dappling the woods with silver.

 On Wednesday, the actual day of the Equinox, we celebrated by making an autumn leaf mandala. We'd been collecting leaves all week, from various parks and our local nature reserve, and I pressed them between some boxes to make them nice and flat. As we gathered them together, I talked to H and A about what the Equinox means, about the balance of light and dark, about how harvest is more than food and material goods. Then we decorated the leaves, writing and drawing the things we have harvested this year. I loved seeing how H, at five years old, interpreted what I had said. She drew tiny detailed butterflies and flowers and wrote on one leaf "I love singing". We made a mandala by sticking them on the wall, and they will stay there as we move deeper into autumn, reminding us of the gifts of the season.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Journalling the Zodiac: Virgo new moon / eclipse

 Early this morning (ok, yesterday now, it's just after midnight as I'm typing this) there was a partial solar eclipse in Virgo. A solar eclipse is like a supercharged new moon, as the earth where we live our lives and manifest our dreams comes into alignment with the heavenly energies of the Sun and Moon. We can shake up habits, refine goals, set an intention for the coming months. A solar eclipse in Virgo is a good time for starting new habits of well-being, self care, healthy eating and exercise. Virgo teaches us to listen to the wisdom of the body, to cleanse and refine what we put into it. The day before the eclipse, I was at a yoga workshop, which included a vegan lunch, bringing the body into balance as summer moves into autumn. Virgo is the sign of out everyday temples, the body, our home, the environment we live in. And Virgo rules our sacred work, those things that we spend our time on, day to day, and the meaning these sacred duties have for us.

The Sun and Moon at the eclipse are in the twelth house, where we serve something greater than ourselves. This eclipse asks us to look at the work we do, whether for a paid job or otherwise, and consider why we do it, what it means to us, and what ideal or higher power we are serving. As we transition from the creative, outward flowing energy of summer to the more reflective energy of autumn, we deepen and refine our goals and our visions.

When I looked at my journalling questions for Virgo, I focussed on what I am in the process of perfecting. But as I wrote, it occurred to me that perfecting is maybe the wrong word. It implies that an end point is possible, that perfection can be reached. But perfection is surely a kind of death, an ultimate achievement - where do you go from there? Even death is simply a change in manifestation. Virgo is the sign of the harvest, and the harvest is part of the cycle, life and death and rebirth. The fruit contains the seed of the next cycle. We don't harvest when something is perfect, we harvest when it is ripe. 

As usual, I spent much of August peeling and cooking apples, as we have an apple tree in our garden. If we hadn't harvested them, they would rot and fall to the ground, and all the hard work of the tree in manifesting apples would be lost. Or at least, not optimised. Instead I change their manifestation, transforming them into endless jars of chutney and a freezer full of stewed apple. So it seems to me that ripening is a much better word for Virgo than perfecting. Virgo is also the sign of discrimination, which the incomparable Dane Rudhyar tells us is the meeting of analysis and intuition. We need to work hard on our chosen projects, our sacred duties, to bring them into manifestation. But we also need to use our intuition, to understand which of our plans and ideas are ripening. We can know this by sensing pieces falling into place, by noticing the synchonicities around us.

More and more, I think that Virgo is the sign of practice. We practice yoga, or writing, or gentle parenting, or mindfulness. Whatever it is, Virgo asks us to show up, every day, to put in the time and the work. Through this discipline, we learn to discriminate. We learn when something is working, and how to refine it when it isn't. And so we ripen, growing ourselves and our work into our full manifestation. And when it is ripe, we harvest, and plough the seeds into the next project, and begin the whole process again. This solar eclipse, in the twelfth house, is the dark point of this cycle - our energies have gone out into the world, in the tenth and eleventh houses, and we can no longer control the fruits of our labours. Instead we wait in the dark, to see what new seeds will germinate in the coming months.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Journalling the Zodiac: Taurus

Well the Sun is in Virgo, and back I go to the last earth sign of Taurus to review the journalling I did. Here are my journal prompts for Taurus:
  • What do I need to feel stable, rooted and secure?
  • What do I most value?
  • What is my most treasured possession and why?
  • Where am I reluctant to change?
  • How well do I connect with body wisdom and physical sensations?

It's interesting how I always start writing based on one of the prompts, but end up covering at least one or two others. Writing about my treasured possessions, I started writing determined that I didn't have one. No one thing that I would save, in a fire, once everyone living was safe. And that's true, there isn't any one particular thing I would be anxious to save. But then I thought about my books, and my tarot cards, and even my tablet computer, all of which give me access to so many different worlds. And then my sewing machine, and my lovely overlocker, and all my sewing and crafting supplies, which allow me to make things and that makes me happy. All of these possessions, they don't make me feel secure because they exist or even because they are mine, but because they are resources. And aren't all the earth signs about resources, and how we use them, in the end? My most valued resources, physical or otherwise, are the ones that help me to connect to spirit, to create, because connecting to spirit and creativity are two of the things I value most highly. The possessions, or resources, that I value most, are the ones that enable (another good earthy word!) me to feed my soul, that teach me and help me to grow.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Journalling the Zodiac: Leo shining

I've missed several signs I know, and I'll write them up soon, but with just a few hours to go before the Sun moves from Leo to Virgo, I'm feeling the need to seize the last of that shining summer energy. So here are my journalling prompts for Leo:
  • How do I express my creative energy?
  • Where do I create drama?
  • How do I play, and how do I connect to my inner child?
  • Where do I shine, and how do I help others to shine?
  • Where do I demand recognition?
 One of the things that has been bothering me about my journalling lately is how self-focussed it can make me - always analysing and working on myself, rather than putting what I've learned into action or looking at the wider picture. Leo is the sign of individual self expression, of our unique self, but has its opposite in the collective self of Aquarius. With Moon in Leo and Sun in Aquarius, this is a dynamic I am constantly working with. But we always slip into our lunar comfort zone, so for my Leo journalling, I tried to get out of my own way, and got this...

Leo is the sun, shining. Leo is you, shining, so bright you make others shine too. Each shining is unique. we are all creators - we are creating ourselves and our lives, anew and afresh, moment by moment. What happens when you let yourself play? What magic unfolds? We are all a process of becoming, creating our deepest, most authentic self. We are all radiant, vital, alive. Leo is life as drama, as theatre, as myth. Leo is us, larger than life, shining so brightly that while planets are set in motion around us, Our Leo self can give and give and give, our fires burning so bright that we light the spark of the divine in anyone who comes close. and they will come close, our Leo self demands it, not ashamed of our pride or our urge to be noticed. Leo self is all heart, standing strong and shining bright in the spotlight of our own personal theatre.

My Leo Moon is opposite the personal gateway of the Ascendant, so I have a habit, aka another lunar comfort zone, of giving that energy away. Writing the above reminds me to take ownership of it, Leo as a part of myself as well as something I see in others.

And in just an hour or two, the Sun will move into Virgo, and we begin the process of refining what Leo has helped us to create. So here are my journalling prompts for Virgo:
  • Where and how do I give service? 
  • How can I best us my powers of discrimination?
  • Where can I be of practical help?
  • How can I use my ideas to make a tangible difference?
  • What am I in the process of perfecting?

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Letting our spirits shine

Jupiter, transiting through bright shining Leo, has been opposing my natal Sun, and then my natal Jupiter. So my spiritual practice, and the things that give my self and my life meaning, have been illuminated, and, I hope, expanding. I have Sun conjunct Jupiter in Aquarius in the first house, ruled by Uranus in the ninth house, so finding my own path to meaning and a philosophy of life are central to who I am. I see meaning in everything, which is likely why I an astrologer and tarot reader. And a pagan - realising how my Sun / Jupiter/ Uranus placement translated into "unusual spiritual beliefs central to my identity" was a big lightbulb moment for me in my early days studying astrology.

So. We had a fabulous day at the Pagan Federation London conference a couple of Saturdays ago, crafting up a storm under a beautiful birch tree. Birch is the tree of new beginnings, very appropriate for re-launching my pagan family events. We caught up with old friends and made some new ones, and, with a little help from big old Jupiter, I found myself trying to get a handle on how my paganism influences my family, and the way my partner and I bring up our children.

We don't do ritual as a family, we don't always even explicitly celebrate the pagan festivals. My children are still young (two and five), and my partner is not pagan, so when we do celebrate, we keep it simple. A special meal, lighting a new candle in the relevant colour, some seasonal crafts, a walk in the woods looking for signs of the changing season.

For me, paganism doesn't just happen at festivals, it's not just for high days and holidays. It's a way of life, and my spirituality informs everything that I do. When  it comes to my children, that means minimising screen time and maximising the time we spend out of doors. It means that even my two year old is aware of the moon and her changing cycles, the shifts in the seasons. It means that with my five year old, I'm beginning to discuss the underlying symbolism - summer as the time when we let ourselves shine and our creative projects reach their fullness, winter as a time when we withdraw and reflect. If my daughter sees me pulling a tarot card, she always asks to pull one too. So far she mostly sees it as a game, but the seeds are being sowed. When she struggles to sleep, I do basic relaxation and meditation exercises with her, asking her to watch her breath,to visualise warm golden energy surrounding her. One of my favourite things at the recent PFL Conference was taking her to the Goddess Temple, beautifully set up by Goddess in London. It was her first taste of temple space, and she loved making a wish and looking at all the fairies. Once again, sowing seeds.

Sometimes I think that my religion is just this - sunlight on water
All these seemingly random things add up, very simply, to me bringing up my children by my own values, just as every parent does. I don't want to impose my beliefs on my children, but I want them to have a language for the numinous, a sense of a world beyond the material, of the unseen as well as the seen. Precisely because mainstream society dismisses such things, I want them to believe in magic, whatever that ends up meaning to them.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Solstice family fun

 The sun is shining, we practically live in the park, there are fox cubs visiting my garden. My two year old is even more obsessed with sticks than usual and my five year old is obsessed with her half birthday. Must be nearly Summer Solstice.

The Pagan Federation London Conference is the week after Solstice, I will be there running the family corner with Solstice crafts and fun - tickets are available now. Hoping to meet lots of pagans, little and big, and friends old and new.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Journalling the Zodiac: retrograde edition

Oh, this poor neglected blog. I have several posts half written, and lots of astro journalling in my notebook but nothing written up on here. But yesterday Mercury went retrograde, in his native sign of Gemini, so this is the perfect time to review my writings and re-visit the work I've done in the last few months.

I had only got as far as Pisces, a whole new zodiac cycle has started since then. Completing the last cycle, ths Sun in Pisces had me writing about soul yearnings, and about healing. I wrote about needing to surrender - always a challenge for my strong Saturn - and about how my soul is most often set free not through the abstract thought and ideals of my Aquarius Sun, but through the physical stimulation and connection to nature of my Mars in Taurus. Running through the woods, wild swimming, these are the ways my soul finds that ecstatic connection to spirit, to the oneness of the universe. As ever, the energies of our charts ebb and flow, Pisces to Mars, Taurus to Aquarius, planets and signs dancing their unique energies within us and without.

So then I moved on to Aries - here are my journalling prompts for Aries:
  • Where can I be a leader? A pioneer?
  • How do I assert myself?
  • Where and how do I take direct action?
  • What is my identity, as an individual?
  • Where and how do I seek new experiences?
I struggled with these - in common with the rest of my generation, I have Chiron in Aries. Chiron is well known as the wounded healer of the planets, showing us where we carry deep hurt. On some level, many of my generation carry deep wounds to our individuality, feeling alienated from ourselves. Not everyone experiences these transpersonal energies consciously, but in my chart Chiron is exactly sextile my Sun, making that wound very personal. Thankfully a sextile is a helpful and constructive connection between planets, so with a little work I can access the shamanic healing of Chiron. And thats exactly what I've been doing in my journalling, realising first just how much I struggle with, or am totally alienated from, those Aries concerns. Its only now as I get older that I am learning to assert myself better, for example, and to grow in self confidence. Chiron's presence there in my natal chart has made journalling the sign of Aries especially healing for me - in that typical blunt no hiding from the truth here Aries manner. It's all good, got to work through the painful stuff to grow.

But let's hope Taurus is a little calmer for me! I'm still working on my Taurus journalling, and toddler nap time is over, so that one will have to wait for another day.