Welcome!

I would like to take this opportunity to extend a very warm welcome to the influx of new followers that I’ve had on this site in the last week or so – hello!

Today’s post I would like to hand it over to you, readers old and new, to hear some of your stories.  So, what brought you here, what is your passion and inspiration, what is the story of your path? Please comment below!

Blessings to you all, and may we walk together for however long a time down the forest path.

J.x

Reblog: The Love of the Darkness

This a reblog from my channel, DruidHeart at Witches and Pagans, on SageWoman’s channel:

 

The still centre.

Outside, in the dark, the air is finally still. Like rich swathes of fabric, the darkness hangs around me, enfolding me, wrapping me in its exquisite embrace. I sit, breathing in the night air, the smell of cedar and dew wet grass filling me with pure awen. The last of the crickets are singing in the remnant of summer’s growth, owls hooting softly in the distance and underneath the beech tree near Caia’s grave I let the songs of the night wash over me in waves of indigo and black.

The quiet is shattered by the call of a stag just on the other side of the hedge. Calling to the does, he is in full rut, looking for the ladies in the shelter of the night. He is maybe four feet away, and his bark and rumbles excite me with the power that he is emanating in following his soul’s truth. I can hear the slight shuffle of leaves and grass beneath his hooves as he paces up the track and then back down towards the nature reserve and farmer’s fields.

Overhead, a few stars are shining between the cloud cover, and the moon has not yet risen. My muscles have become fluid, my sense of self sliding into the darkness until there is no separation. There is no I am to compare with: I cannot even say “I am one with this land”, for there is no I. No me. Just life and death, a cycle and spiral mirrored in the galaxy that we perch upon the edge of, in the vastness of space and time.

But eventually I come back; there is an “I” once again. An “I” to speak from this still centre, to make sense of the experience. Sometimes I loathe that “I”, wanting to remain forever in the embrace of the darkness, boundless and floating, no edges and completely open, sharing with everything on this planet in the beautiful, soundless dance in the round of existence. The “I” always returns however, a little smaller, a little less sure of itself, and for this I am glad.

Deep within the depths of the stillness, the songs of the universe can be heard. Beyond the sense of self is all existence.

The love of the darkness, where there is nothing but potential.

 

To see the original post, click HERE.

 

 

Daily Meditation

Meditation (source unknown)Meditation is a very important part of my spiritual path. I remember when I was a student with Bobcat (Emma Restall Orr) back in 2007, and the amount of meditation that she suggested was the minimum we do each day – it had seemed like a lot at the time (I had only begun to delve in Zen meditation at this point). She said that we should spend more time at our altars, at least with two twenty minute sessions per day. At first it was hard to get into, but then became easier at it became part of my life, part of my daily routine.

I took the sessions to longer periods of time, two thirty minute sessions. It meant getting up earlier and finding time when I came home from work before cooking dinner, or if that wasn’t possible finding time in the evening whenever it could fit in. There was great value in spending time before my altar, sitting in silence and communing with the gods, the ancestors and the spirits of place. It is often said that prayer is talking, and meditation is listening.

Learning more and more about meditation in its various forms, I realised that it could be done anytime, anywhere really – it didn’t have to be in front of the altar in a seated position. Seated meditation is still, for me, the best form, as quieting our bodies and our minds allows us a chance to get beyond our talking selves and into a space of pure being, where in stillness we settle even as the dusk falls upon the land. Like mud being churned in a pond, if we allow it to settle things become clear.

However, meditation could be taken out of that space and into the wider world. If I was away from home, and had no altar, I could take a walk and do some walking meditation. Lying in a bath, I could meditate there, fully aware of the water against my skin, the sounds and scents. In essence, meditation is simply giving your full attention to something, whether it is a stillness of the mind, the working through of a problem, walking down the street or paying attention to your breath. Work can become meditation – washing the dishes is meditation for me, as are other house chores. They are much more pleasant that way.

Riding my bike, driving my car, paddling my canoe – all these can be meditation. With meditation, if you are doing mindfulness meditation, you are not “zoning out” so to speak – you are fully aware of everything, allowing the illusion of the self to fade away in order to hear the wider world around you. Stopping the incessant internal dialogue, we step beyond our selves, allowing us a break from our egos. The more we do this, the more we are not ruled by our egos, living a life that is not reactive but completely and fully active: lived with intention.

Meditation is not all about sitting on a cushion chanting Om. It is living with full awareness, using techniques such as seated meditation to help you begin your journey. I would always advise seated meditation first, and then take that into other aspects of your life. Pretty soon you will find that you are living with much more awareness, much more mindfully. It’s not difficult to do.

Often people say that with the raising of a family they do not have the time to meditate. What I would suggest is that raising your family becomes a meditation. Pay attention to cooking the meals, when your children are speaking, when you are reading them a bedtime story. Be fully present with them and you are meditating. Be aware of your actions and reactions and you are meditating. Be aware of your breathing and you are meditating. You can do it.

Explore the many ways you can meditate. From finding that still centre, explore journeying, guided meditation, trancework and so on, keeping coming back to the simpler forms and the still centre. It will be well worth it.

The challenge of the ancestors…

I’ve had some hard teachers in my life. Teachers who challenged me on every level, whose words inspired me to look deep into my soul, my habits and behaviour, my relationship with the world. Accepting a challenge is a very difficult thing to do. We have to be willing to take on that challenge, otherwise when it seems that the challenge is thrown upon us we can react defensively, our barriers instantly put up, walls to surround ourselves with.
I give my utmost thanks to my teachers who have inspired and challenged me in every part of my life. Even when I did not agree with their words, I saw the intention behind them, to wake myself up and be in the world, aware of my story and the stories of others. To these ancestors of tradition, know that you are honoured.

The Part-time Pagan

I have come across many people in my life who are part-time Pagans. Like a Christian who only considers God when in church on Sunday, I cannot relate at all to this form of religion or spirituality. For me, my religion is utter dedication, a full-time affair that seeps into every decision I make. I am not überPagan, I know. I make mistakes. I do fail. I am always questioning, however, looking for ways to improve my life for future generations, for the ancestors yet to come and in honour of the ancestors of blood, tradition and place.

This is going to be a critical blog. If it upsets people, I apologise for upsetting you.

The part-time Pagan doesn’t consider the food that they eat. They’ll happily munch away on fast food while piling on the pounds, regardless of the effect that it is having on the planet and on their health. They do not say a prayer or words, or even think before they shove it into their mouth.

The part-time Pagan doesn’t meditate. On anything. At any time. They live a reactionary life, filled with excuses for not meditating. They allow their emotions to rule their actions, their behaviour often less than appealing. They often act out of fear and insecurity.

The part-time Pagan performs ritual at the seasonal celebrations, and may gather at pagan moots or events, but for them it pretty much ends there. They fill their free time with crap television shows and computer games.

The part-time Pagan does not consider the ethical implications of the life that they lead. They buy the cheapest factory sweat-shop clothing, enscribed with the emblem of their faith, and proudly wear it to display their religion. Oblivious to the fact that the religion they are promoting is simply capitalism and selfishness, corporate bodies and entities, they support dubious industry with the money that they spend. Crystals raped from the earth, animal skins hunted for sport, cigarettes and alcohol. They do not look into the banks that they use, the companies that they work for.

The part-time Pagan does not take care of their body. They do not exercise or eat well.

The part-time Pagan does not consider the ancestors, most importantly the ancestors of the future. They care not a jot for the generations to come, not wanting to sacrifice any of their comfort in the present moment. They are afraid of changing their habits, even for the benefit of all, for it would require willpower and sacrifice.

The part-time Pagan may have rooms full of ritual gear and regalia, but has yet to actually commune on any level with the world at large. They often seek the “easiest” path – to deity, to power, to wealth and fame. They hate hard work.

Small changes can turn the part-time Pagan into the full-time Pagan. It requires a willingness to step out of the comfort zone, of perhaps giving up some of the things you “love” – meat, television, cigarettes, time on social media. Becoming more present in the here and now, giving your full attention to another and respecting them is another step forwards. Stop buying cheaply produced things that will fall apart. Grow vegetables. Meditate. Look at how you relate to the world, and where you can improve upon those relationships.

This is but a start. Sometimes I just want to scream, to shake people by the shoulders and cry out: “This is not Paganism!” I do know that my Paganism will differ from others, however, it is my belief that all Paganism is rooted in a love for the land. Changing any of the above would be a step towards strengthening that relationship and that love.

May we all walk our paths fully awake and aware to the gods, the ancestors, the land and to the cycles of life and death all around us.