Friday, 28 June 2013

On reflection

Being away from home, even for just three days, was a bit of a mind-blower. Stunning scenery and encounters with wildlife aside, it was odd. Bear in mind that I don't have holidays away from home. The last time I was on a plane was when we flew to China in 2006. So I found myself disconnected from much that constantly helps me identify myself.

I live on the land where I spent my childhood and merge with it effortlessly. I am reflected by those around me as mother, partner and whatever the dogs see me as. My close friends are experienced mostly online with occasional inspiring meetings with some, but not all. I had no freaking idea how much I rely on these reflections to define myself but without them I felt totally adrift. So much for the independent introvert.

I was left only with what my work colleagues know of me. We've worked together 10, 7 and 3 years and our office is a small room in an old building. We have our own little world away from the rest of the building and, being women, we talk about our lives a lot. Except we don't. Not all of our lives. My colleagues know all about Evie and her adoption and her school career and her every funny line. I am the only mother. We are all dog freaks so our dogs are discussed at great length. We complain about our partners but also brag when it seems appropriate. They know where I live. They know a fair amount about my history, my politics and my opinions on (un)popular culture. I know the same things about them.

But that's not all of me. They know I used to 'do reiki'. I never talk about it. They have no clue about anything else in my life that I consider 'magical'. They certainly have no idea that I'm training to be a shamanic practitioner. In their presence, with a part of me - a definitive part of me - hidden, I felt depressed.

Have you seen X-Men: the last stand? (We're big on Marvel in our house) At the end, the mighty Magneto (Sir Ian McKellen) has been stripped of his powers and is sitting, scruffy and forlorn, like a homeless old man, alone at a chess table in the park. For a moment, he's a sad pathetic creature and that's how I felt. For the record, I have no superpowers to lose and no plans to take over the world. But the person I saw in the mirror of a Scottish hotel was a sad, pathetic old woman and she was me, even if she wasn't all of me. I guess I have chosen not to see her.

I sat facing a window where the light was harsh and took a self-portrait on my camera phone. No duckface, no filters, nothing but my face in relaxation and no make-up. I looked at the picture with my glasses on (hyperopia is Nature's botox and I love her for it) and tried to really see what I looked like from the outside. Must've been the influence of Rabbie Burns.

I saw heavily-lined, fair skin on a middle-aged woman who carries too much weight and doesn't eat well. She has bad hair that her 71 year old mother has exactly copied and that freaks her the f*ck out because they already look alike and suddenly she feels very, very old. She's tired and thinks too much about all the things that could go wrong with all the things. She has a lot of stuff to worry about. She is one of the oldest members of staff in her work place and people are beginning to react to her in that way we do with middle-aged, over 50 women. As if they're probably very nice but really a bit pointless and certainly no longer interesting. She is sad. However, her work colleagues seem to expect her to be the one who'll stay up late in the hotel bar, telling hiLARious stories when in fact she's the one who finishes her dinner and heads back to her room, exhaling for the first time that day, exhausted from the effort of not being her whole self. To them she is funny, scattered, opinionated, stubborn, changeable but possessed of a tendency to melodrama when things change suddenly around her. She is a mother, a partner, a daughter and someone who watches Dr Who and loves her dogs. She is a bit rubbish with databases and forgets deadlines. She's not that interesting. She's alright. They quite like her.

They are correct about all of that. But not all of me. They didn't see me doing cleansing rituals in my room. They didn't know I packed crystals and sage. They do not know I'm a fire tender. They do not know how powerful I am. I doubt they know how powerful they are although I'm certain they each have their hidden stories, equally as magical.

For a couple of days I struggled. I wondered if the truth might be that I am actually just that woman. The way someone once described a 'barman who is an actor waiting for his break' slowly, but surely, becoming 'just a barman'. That possibility hurt my heart. Is that my legacy beyond my family and friends? And when the hell did I start wanting to leave a legacy? I realised that I have shapeshifted again and my outside no longer matches my inside and that this is a common state of affairs for women my age.The years leading to menopause are 'the flip side of puberty' and we do that weird caterpillar soup thing again. A caterpillar is cute, a butterfly is beautiful, a chrysalis is neither. A chrysalis is, from one perspective at least, stuck. Trapped. Waiting.

But here's the wonder...the magic...the butterfly becomes the butterfly because of intention. Somewhere, even before the cells physically take new shape, there is the idea of the butterfly. I know this concept has been held up as a metaphor for personal transformation many times but hell if it isn't a good one. A magnificent one. The imago, the imaginal stage, is the mature stage. I am becoming mature. From here I can fully imagine who and what I want to be for the next stage, what form my unique expression of Life will take and it will happen. I will weave in all those things above so that I am real and solid and grounded. I will understand that I see myself in others not just because they reflect me, but because I am them and they are me. It's connection. It's a good thing. Connect all of yourself to see all of yourself.

For that handful of you who have followed my blogs for years, news that I am undergoing change will not actually be news. You will probably expect a name change here, a new banner, some other new stuff. You might be right. I don't know yet. This is about life, not just blogging. I have chosen the colour of my wings but not yet much else.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Seeing what is

It occurs to me that if there were such things as blogging archetypes I might well identify as The Malcontent. I only seem to blog when I a) have a perceived obstacle to overcome or b) have overcome an obstacle and want to talk about it. Ha.

At times such as now, when I'm happy and fulfilled and looking at a clear, sunny path in front of me...tumbleweed rules. There's nothing new here for weeks on end.

I'm actually debating whether or not I have anything useful, entertaining or interesting to say here anymore. I think I do. I would like to blog this next stage of my life that is becoming more clearly defined. It's different to what's gone before and yet, the same. That sounds ridiculous but it's not. It's what happens when magic comes back.

Evie and I like to fossil hunt while we're out walking with the dogs. Beneath the farmland here is the edge of a mid-Jurassic era ocean bed. So, here in an inland field, hundreds of miles from the sea, we find endless fossilised molluscs, anemones and other ancient sea life. It never fails to thrill me.

While we're visually skimming the surface I'm always drawn to the stones with holes. The hag stones or holey stones.

These stones have various meanings all over the world, some use them for meditation, others believe they contain living spirits, some say they offer protective power and for others they offer a window into other worlds.

They are believed to hold the wisdom of the ages, representing the doorway between the physical and spiritual world. It is said that if one looks through the stone during the light of the full moon, the realm of faerie can be seen, along with ghosts, visions, and the 'other world'.

The most powerful attribute of a holey stone is thought to be its protective powers. Worn or carried, it would ward off evil spirits and protect the wearer from harm. Stones were hung from bedposts to prevent nightmares. If a stone broke, it was thought to have used its power to protect a life.

They are also known as Witches Amulets, Adder Stones, Fairy Stones,Seeing Stones, Seer Stones, Hag Stones and Odin Stones, from the Viking legend that  Odin transformed himself into a worm and crawled through a hole in a stone to steal the 'mead of poetry'.

Native Americans would call them Watai and believed they were inhabited by the Inyan, the Stone People. Wiccans and Pagans believe the hole in the stone is a symbol for the Sacred Womb of Earth, the triple stone being the most sacred of all. 
It is said that proper care of holey stones consists of cleansing them in the same manner as most other gems, by soaking them in salt water or recharging them through sun or moonlight.

I have a huge collection of these now and I love them. I especially love the idea that when you look through the hole you can see 'the other world'. In shamanic terms, this is 'non-ordinary reality'. This is how I see my home and my life nowadays. It exists happily and beautifully just as it is: a good life in a good place. But look at it with magic in mind, through the holey stone, and it is also my place of learning. A magical, sacred place full of spirits ready to teach me what I need to learn. I'm an eager and committed student and now that I've also found my human teacher I'll spend the next couple of years developing my knowledge and abilities. I can think of no better place to do it.

Monday, 3 June 2013

What if..?

The Dharma According to Dooley has taught me a lesson I badly needed to learn, in terms that were acceptable to my contrary mind. To sum up:

Where I was:
Experience of bad things leaving you hyper-vigilant for their recurrence
Attempting to outsmart fate by being one step ahead
= Believing that if you are clever and committed enough, you can avoid the inevitable Bad Things.

Where I am:
Practising the power of release and acceptance
Enjoying the good things happening around you
= Opening yourself to life-changing flow and potential.

It's a classic case of knowing and sort of believing something but not actually living it until the lesson is presented in the right way. Watching Dooley just be wonderful - regardless of the long, long list of potential disasters I'd got marked-up, researched and prepared for in my head - has done it for me. Everything I knew..? Not so much 'wrong' as 'totally irrelevant'. It's okay and perfectly understandable that my brain tried to protect me against the heartbreak I've experienced with other adopted dogs and unhappy (for me, not for them) endings. I was afraid. But frankly, that was them and this is him. The Hound of Lurve. He's an energy mirror of the first order. If we're chilled and relaxed and happy, then so is he. Like attracts like.

I know. But it took this dog for me to really believe it.

Over the last two or three weeks as realisation settled in (and let's not underestimate the sunshine, ever.) I've just felt better and better. My current favourite analogy for this life is the one that compares it to us being a part of the ocean, with our short, physical life being a breaking of a wave on the surface before we return to the Oneness of which we are eternally a part. I started to feel filled with appreciation for the fact that, of all the waves on all the sea, the one I'm riding is pretty damn wonderful. The world is hurting in so many ways at this point and yet, my life is all good. I am safe and surrounded by love and wonder. Y'know that thing that points out that if you earn over, say, £10k a year (just guessing) you're in the top 2% of the World's Richest People? Like that only not financial. In terms of everything that matters, I'm freakin' loaded. Truly.

And whaddyaknow, as soon as that mentality took over, things started moving. I stepped  into gentle flow and felt The Fear fall quiet. Which made me all floaty because The Fear has been on my back - whispering in my ear that it loves me and will protect me because I'm smart enough to see what could happen -

I started to think about what, with 80% of my life looking shiny and wondrous, I could do with the other part that's currently a vacant lot. I looked again at some things I've dabbled with before only to have The Fear point out the obvious pitfalls and lead me back to the safety zone. I expected to feel new enthusiasm and potential but I just felt...meh. Those things were and are quite lovely. Not scarey and dangerous... lovely. And not enough. To do those things would be to be given a beautiful grand piano and play chopsticks on it every Tuesday morning for the rest of my life.

I considered what would be the biggest, wildest, absolutelyest left field HA!!!! that I could come up with. My intuition raised an amused eyebrow, smiled a fond smile and calmly stepped to one side, revealing the door it had been leaping up and down next to for only about 25 years. What can I say, I think we've established that I've not been a fast study. Too argumentative. Too scared.

I knew it was right. I knew that my feet have been on this path forever. The ground here feels like home and solid beneath my feet. No fear, just excitement and a desire to step up and do this right. To take myself seriously and allow this to happen. I've spent some time researching and thinking on what and who I need to work with and I believe I've found them. Then I drew this. Again. That calls for one of these -->   : )

The wildwood tarot app.