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.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Journalling the Zodiac: Aquarius and Pisces

Working on my journalling prompts for Aquarius showed me the different ways that we move towards our Sun sign energy throughout our lives, and of course that it's all a work in progress. When I wrote about what I need to feel free, I found myself reflecting on both inner and outer freedom. For me, freedom is being able to decide how I spend my days, working to my own schedule instead of someone else's, but I didn't realise that consciously until my first period of maternity leave (five years ago now, eek!). And it doesn't matter how free your life is outwardly, if you are still a prisoner of your own fears and expectations, you are not truly free.

Journalling the signs of the zodiac is showing me the layers of these archetypes, and helping me to peel back how they are manifesting for me right now and how I would like them to manifest. I wrote about rebellion, about my quiet rebellion of choosing to give up an income and stay at home with my children, focusing on family and nest instead of conforming to society's expectations that working outside the home is the only way for a woman to feel fulfilled. Strange how that has changed in just a generation or so. My rebellion is simply to follow my bliss, and I do appreciate that I am very lucky to be able to do this. But following our bliss shouldn't be a luxury - if everyone just followed their dream and ignored the demands of conventional society, how soon would conventional society be forced to change? It's easy to hide behind consensus reality, to use "that's just the way it is" as an excuse - but not for an Aquarian.

And now the Sun moves into Pisces, where I have my Mercury, so I hope that my journalling will help me to understand how my mind works a little better. Here are the journal prompts for Pisces:
  • What does my soul yearn for?
  • How can I show compassion to myself and others?
  • Where and how do I need to heal?
  • How do I connect to spirit?
  • Where and how do I lose myself?

Monday, 2 February 2015

Hopping blogs and anomalous animals

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I'm taking part in the Tarot Blog Hop for the first time, in which many wonderful tarot bloggers post their take on a set topic. Karen from Pure and Blessed Tarot has set the topic this time, that of oracular anomalies. Apart from being a fabulous phrase which is fun to say, oracular anomalies are cards that twist your brain, that challenge your expectations, that pull you up short and make you wonder....unusual card designs, out of place cards.

As soon as I read the topic I knew what I wanted to write about, because there's a set of anomalous cards I've been wanting to investigate a little more deeply for a long time. They are the court cards of the Wildwood tarot. Like the Greenwood tarot from which the Wildwood takes its inspiration, the court cards are all animals, and for me some of the animals in the Wildwood courts just don't fit. I'm not sure if its because I have had the Greenwood tarot for a good few years now - I use it regularly, and its one of the decks I resonate with most deeply. I was lucky to score a Greenwood deck on ebay before they got really expensive, and I was pleased when the Wildwood came out, thinking it would have similar energies without being so rare and difficult to obtain. And there is much that I love about the Wildwood, I have several decks drawn by Will Worthington and his artwork is always beautiful. But maybe I've always seen it as a kind of second best, and there are certain cards which just don't fit for me, especially among the courts.

Part of the problem is that animals familiar from the Greenwood court are present in the Wildwood court, but as a different card. The Wolf is King of Stones in the Wildwood, but Knight of Stones in the Greenwood. The Heron is King of Vessels in the Wildwood, and Queen of Cups in the Greenwood. In both cases the Greenwood attributions make the most sense to me, intuitively speaking - but is this simply familiarity or something deeper? The one that sticks out the most though, is the Lynx - King of Arrows in the Greenwood, but Page of Stones in the Wildwood. Which seems like an awfully big shift for me, one that I couldn't get my head around at all. So for this post I've delved a little deeper, meditated on the Wildwood Lynx, to see if I can finally make a connection with this card.

When I meditate on a card I use it as a doorway, stepping into the image as a kind of pathworking. Stepping into the Wildwood Page of Stones, I found myself high in the branches of a tree, in fact I had to leap across a gap to get to them. It took a few minutes to find my footing, and only then did I become aware of the whole of the tree, of the ground far below. The tree was the World Tree of the Wildwood, and as I became aware of the lynx moving around, behind, above and below me the phrase "I am a prowler in the World Tree" came into my mind. This was a confident energy, sure of itself, and as I finally came face to face with the lynx it leapt over me, drawing blood as it went - definitely more King of Arrows than Page of Stones (while I was meeting lynx in meditation, my ever demanding tabby was clawing at my lap in the mundane world, reminding me of the sharp claws of the feline). I shifted my perspective to focus on the lynx as the Page of Stones, and met a female lynx, curled with her family in a spiral around the trunk of the tree. The female lynx used her extra acute senses both for hunting and for protecting her family, and I think those keen senses are truly Page of Stones energy.

And so this card does seem less anomalous for me now, I have a way into interpreting it and understanding why the lynx is the Page of Stones, with her extra acute hearing, sight and sense of smell. But this still feels like too confident an energy to be a Page, which I have tended to consider as having young, childlike energies. Perhaps I am being too limited in my interpretation of the Pages this way - these animal court cards are messengers between matter and spirit, having a kind of liminal awareness. The lynx makes more sense to me in this context, with those acute senses picking up all kinds of detail from the spiritual realm as well as the material.

Ultimately, oracular anomalies are perhaps cards which don't fit, at least initially, with our intuitive sense of the cards meaning. Tarot meanings are not fixed and can be strongly subjective - when giving readings, I often find myself interpreting a card in a way which doesn't necessarily fit with the "book" meaning, and these are often the interpretations that the querent resonates with most strongly. In looking more deeply into the Wildwood Page of Stones, I've come to a new understanding of the Page of Pentacles, and explored an animal energy which is also new to me. Perhaps for this deck especially, I needed a few cards which just didn't "feel" right, so that I could move my connection to the Wildwood out of the shadow of my connection to the Greenwood. When I get a chance I'm going to do similar meditations for the other Wildwood cards which feel anomalous to me, because as with most things in life, when something pushes your buttons, it usually has something important to teach you.

Big thanks to fellow blog hoppers and readers, I've really enjoyed my first hop and hope there will be lots more in the future. Onwards you go to;

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Monday, 19 January 2015

Journalling the Zodiac: Aquarius

Along with astrology and tarot, one of my most meaningful practices for self development and understanding is journalling. I work out, and through, my ideas and feelings as I write, using words as the bait to hook them out of my watery Mercury in Pisces mind. It works with conversation too, but a journal gives privacy for the working through of deep emotion as well as a lasting record, something to look back on and see how far you've come. It follows, therefore, that mixing astrology and journalling (and indeed tarot and journalling) can bring even deeper insight and personal understanding than either of those alone. So I'm going to do a series of posts, working my way through the zodiac, putting together some basic journalling prompts for the Sun in each sign of the zodiac. I'll be journalling them for myself and also posting them here. Feel free to follow along with me - we all have each of the signs of the zodiac in our natal chart, so even if we don't have any planets or angles in a sign, that sign has something to teach us. And since we'll be journalling each sign as the Sun travels through that sign, we'll be tuning in to the energies around us as well as the energies of our personal chart. You can choose one or two of the prompts which resonate with you most, or work a little on each of them through the month.

So without further ado, here are the journal prompts for Aquarius:
  • What kinds of community am I part of? How do I serve those communities and what do I gain from them?
  • What do I need to feel free?
  • In what areas of life could I experiment or innovate more?
  • How do I personally define truth?
  • What am I rebelling against and why?
I'll post again in a couple of weeks with some of my own responses and insights.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Solstice Ponderings

It's that time again, when the wisdom of the earth tells us to retreat, to withdraw, to draw back to our roots. But even if we try to honour that calling, the world we live in - at least the western post-Christian economy-worshipping world that I live in - pulls us out, tells us to buy and to socialise and to celebrate. And I'm all for celebrating, we need lights in the darkness at this time of year, and there are many beautiful manifestations of those lights around us, like the local Lantern Parade my family and I attended last week. But it's relentless, especially now that my daughter is in school and there are parties and the school play and carol singing and and and.....

I struggle with it. I have always avoided the commercialism, and even the big gatherings, and even now that I have young children I prefer to keep it low key. Especially as my daughter's birthday is Boxing Day, its the days after Christmas that I find myself looking forward to, when the pressure is off, the deadline is passed, and we can just relax. In the spiritually aware, alternative thinking corners of the interwebs that I tend to haunt, there is much talk of keeping the holiday season harmonious and calm, of avoiding expensive gifts and unwelcome social expectations, of keeping Christmas, and the Winter Solstice for those of us who prefer to celebrate the longest night, handmade and wholesome, magical and simple. Which is all good, except that the self imposed to do lists and deadlines are still there, and worse than ever. Not only do I want to find everyone I love the perfect present, I want to make it myself, not just to save resources but because I can put more of my energy into it, make something truly meaningful. I don't just want to provide a feast for my family, I want to provide a home-cooked, seasonal, healthy feast. However much or little I take on, that deadline, that one day that is supposed to be perfect, slays me (which is why I am writing this instead of wrapping presents, naturally).

The Greenwood Tarot, which maps the cards onto the pagan wheel of the year, puts the Hermit, Judgement, and the Eights at Winter Solstice. Cards which all express an inner calling, a deepening, and a transformation. The Eight of Wands reminds me that fire is not always an extrovert energy, but a gentle warming, a sustaining energy. The Hermit is the inner wisdom which we all have, but often struggle to find at this overwhelming time of year. We do not take the time just to sit, to listen to the gentle breathing of the earth, to feel our heartbeat slow to match Hers.
Of course I want to make this season magical for my children, to teach them the power of lights in the darkness, to celebrate family and community and love and creativity. But I want to do that every season, and I am uncomfortable with the way we are supposed to focus all those desires into that one day, even that one week. Its meaningless to me if we only celebrate those things for a few weeks every year. The whole of life needs to be magical, filled with spirit and wonder, with creativity and love. As a mother and as a priestess, I work to create the traditions which express that, but not just on high days and holidays. We need to celebrate love and spirit in our daily lives, all year round, just as strongly as we do at Winter Solstice (whichever of the season's special days you choose to celebrate). Yule is one festival of eight, to a pagan, not the great climax - or anti-climax - which Christmas seems to have become.

So the Hermit and the Eight of Wands are on my altar, to remind me of the cycle, the flow, the movement of time even as the sun stands still. To remind me to hold up the light in the darkness, to keep that awareness of spirit, and to trust that everything else will happen in its due time.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Manifesting transformation, with lavender playdough

Well the day of the eclipse was certainly dramatic here, in a domestic sort of way. A teething one year old, an overtired just started school four year old and an ill mama does not a happy combination make. All of fire's shadow side was here - frustration, anger, crying, pent up energy with no safe way to express itself. Sometimes, you just need the planets to move on, give you a chance to breathe.

Blurry crystals like to play...
Thankfully, they do. A (mostly) good nights sleep all round, some healthier food choices, and a new day brings clarity. My crystals have been coming back out to play - I focused with my amethyst wand before I went to sleep last night, asked for clarity around some issues that were bothering me. I didn't bring anything conscious back from my dreams, but thoughts and intuitions have been slipping into place all day. I've been wearing my sodalite (see that lovely pendant - received in part payment for an astrology reading - I always love a good barter!), which helps to eliminate mental confusion, and calms the mind so that something new can rise to perception. Balancing all those mental inputs articles read, conversations had, random intuitions - into a coherent whole, where synchronicities come together and it all begins to make sense. And we made lavender play dough, calming sensory play with a plant ally.

One of the things which I think might transform is this blog. It feels ponderous, not as authentically me as I'd like. I still want to write about tarot and astrology and how I live - I originally typed that as love! - these symbols. But I want to focus more on family, how I use my spiritual tools with and for them. Astrology and parenting, tarot games with the children, I'm still exploring all the possibilities and I want to record those explorations here. There might be more general things too, about pagan events for families, which I'm just starting to run, maybe some of my tarot related crafts. Opening up possibilities, opening up more of myself. Because fire goes out when its too contained.