Articles/Essays From Pagans
December 1st. 2013 ...
A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism
Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?
The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness
November 24th. 2013 ...
The Pagan and the Papacy
The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective
November 17th. 2013 ...
For Love of the God
Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca
A Threat to Religious Liberties?
November 10th. 2013 ...
Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?
Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return
Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs
The Celtic Tree Calendar
November 3rd. 2013 ...
The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?
October 27th. 2013 ...
Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society
On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice
Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them
Banishing, Invocation and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
October 20th. 2013 ...
Weather Magick: Who is Responsible for the Weather?
Broom Closet: In or Out?
Bottle Spells and Magick in Hoodoo Tradition
On Coven and Claws
October 13th. 2013 ...
Destroying to Create: A Lesson from the Dead
Consume the Scorpion- Scorpion Energy Revisited
October 6th. 2013 ...
UPG and U: A Breakdown and Building Up of Unverified and Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis
Answering The Call from Spirit
Coping with the Loss of a Familiar
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 2 (The South)
September 29th. 2013 ...
Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay
Priestessing and Titles: What's the Point?
Truth or Convenience? Questioning Motives for Spiritual Advancement
Speaking Up: The Conflict Between the Spiritualist and Our Human Experience
September 22nd. 2013 ...
Death of a Friendship within the Craft
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 1 (The Center)
September 15th. 2013 ...
Some Pagan Prayers
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Bramble and Cerridwen
The Holocaust Survivor (Part II)
September 8th. 2013 ...
Introduction to the Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage
The Druidic Concept of Nwyfre
The Holocaust Survivor (Part 1)
Giving and Helping
September 1st. 2013 ...
Use a Flyswatter for a Fly: More on the Dark Arts
How Spells Work
Is It Really 'Energy'?
August 25th. 2013 ...
Mother Nature’s Way: Forging a Distinctly American Path
Healing Moon Ritual
Unconditional Love: The Paradox of Perfect Love
Earth to Soul/Sole
August 18th. 2013 ...
How Not to Fall in the Bunny Trap
Why Are You Like That? Thoughts on Hoodoo and Appropriation
Finding the Right Coven
The Knowledge Found in Silence
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances, Hazelnuts and Magick Wands
August 11th. 2013 ...
“I Survived a Weekend with Galina Krasskova”
The Charges of the Goddess and God with Commentary
August 4th. 2013 ...
Fair Weather Witches
Pagan Studies II: Modern Paganism in the Americas
Pagan Abbeys - A Practical Heritage for Spiritual Lay and Professional Cloistered Communities
July 28th. 2013 ...
Crystals 101: A Helpful Guide For Beginners
The More the Merrier? It’s not Only an Inaccuracy; it’s an All Out Farce!
My Pagan Manifesto
July 21st. 2013 ...
I'm a Witch, Not a Wiccan: A Brief Summary of Broad Pagan Designations
Rethinking Community for Solitaries
13 Keys: The Beauty of Tiphareth
July 14th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés We Use (Part II)
Pagan Humanism: A Tradition of Rational Religion
Moon/Planetary Musings: The Holly King and John Barleycorn
July 7th. 2013 ...
Coping With Depression: Learning to Dance with the Sacred Twins
Shamanic Healing of Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Humility and Community Service
H is for Hubris
June 30th. 2013 ...
How To Feel The Energy Around You
Planning A Ritual
Why Pagans Might Benefit from Counseling Techniques
The Weight of Contemplation: When the Silent Self Grows Louder
June 23rd. 2013 ...
Magick and Play
Tarot Spell for Protection
Moon Musings and Planetary Preponderances: RE-fuse, RE-duce, RE-use, RE-pair and RE-cycle
June 16th. 2013 ...
How To Stay Spiritual Amidst This Chaos?
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Samhain to Yule --The Journey Inward
Article ID: 15269
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 384
Times Read: 2,363
RSS Views: 9,842
Author: Maire Durkan [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: November 18th. 2012
Times Viewed: 2,363
In my last post, “When the Crone Pays a Visit, You’d Better Pay Attention, ” I related my Samhain experience of a mandate from the Crone and a deceased family member to “wake-up” and start the new year with a difficult and necessary spiritual house cleaning. As anyone who has found himself or herself in my predicament knows, this is no easy task. Shadow work, which could also be defined as soul-searching, is really a quest to find, acknowledge, and/or root out doubt, guilt, baneful thoughts/intent, self-loathing, and old grief (just to name a few lurkers in my own dark places) .
Soul-searching N: A penetrating examination of one's motives, convictions, and attitudes.
A deep or critical examination of one's motives, actions, beliefs, etc.
Adj: displaying the characteristics of deep or painful self-analysis. -- (Collins English Dictionary; Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003)
Soul searching is fraught with danger and sacrifices, but also with self-knowledge and positive transformation. As in any quest, the goal is to grow from the chosen initiate and become a hero/heroine. We are, in a sense, on a quest to save ourselves from all that holds us back and keeps us form realizing our potential and doing the work we are called to do in this incarnation. It’s hard to make spiritual progress. It hurts to forgive and to ask forgiveness. It is hard to commit—to become the hero/heroine of your spiritual quest.
In Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the central character’s primary purpose is to separate from the ordinary world and sacrifice him/herself. To answer the challenge, complete the quest and restore balance. The balance I restore (see, I’m thinking positively here!) within myself will be reflected in my words and deeds and will (in a small way) resonate across many planes of existence. My personal shadow work will involve ritual, meditation, and journeying to speak to my totem spirits and guides. It will also involve reaching out and making changes in the way I interact with the physical world.
Quests also involve mentors, guardians, and guides. My mentor is the goddess as The Crone. From our first encounter, she has provided motivation, insights and training. The Crone is a tough coach. She tests me, and expects hard work and commitment. But she also believes that her guidance will have positive results.
Soul searching is a transformative process involving many steps. Much to my solar Leo’s chagrin, my Virgo ascendant insists on asserting itself here. Stripped down to bare process these steps are: initiation, selection, exploration, formulation, collection, and closure. Because linear time is irrelevant to beings from other planes—and a mandate from a goddess is a very big deal--I have a strong, feeling that this quest is likely to be cyclical in nature and go on for a very long time. As I continue on this journey, I will share my progress. But for now—what I share involves: initiation--my recognition that I have been selected to complete my quest; selection--my selection of an area I need to address; exploration of the sore spot in order to gain new personal knowledge; and formulation, when the seeker starts to evaluate gathered information and a focused perspective begins to form.
For me, walking in nature is a meditative process. I learn a great deal by being attentive to what I see and perceive physically and spiritually. I look for synchronicity (another Jungian term describing the alignment of universal forces with one's own life experience) . I take in what I can and, later, meditate upon "coinciding" events or alignment of forces in the universe to create an event or circumstance. Part of my quest involves becoming intuitively aware and acting in harmony with these forces.
The wrath of Hurricane Sandy and the cold fury of the nor'easter that followed have --ironically-- been followed by mild, spring like weather--much nicer weather than we will experience in March and April. But the silence of the woods, the barren limbs, and the shorn stubble, and the sun setting before five o'clock in the extreme southwest reminds me that the Brandywine Valley is locked in The Crone's embrace.
It is a Saturday in mid-November when I walk into our woods. The woods are so still! The breath of plants, birdsong, and the powerful energy of growth have stopped. On the surface, like a blanket of snow, the earth is still. A flock of black birds perches upon bare limbs--dark, silent silhouettes. Two women on horseback greet me and bemoan the overcast. I rather enjoy the muted sky and the silence. This is an excellent atmosphere for the shadow work, which The Crone has charged me to complete.
I clamber over the tree brought down by Sandy that keeps most people from taking this path; walk on past unharvested soybean fields where I stoop to pick up the blood-red and pumpkin orange berries of bittersweet. Attentive to the changes of this cycle, I ground and center before turning a sharp left and walking down the steep path into the heart of the woods. Into the now barren womb. This is the realm of The Crone. The wise woman who understands the reality of letting goes of stripping away. The leaves are all but gone. The forest floor is carpeted with their fading golden and ruddy glory.
As I walk the leaf-strewn path I speak softly of all that I lost--my mother, father sister, brother--of all the old wounds that cause me to wake and cry silently in the middle of the night. I say, “I acknowledge you. I loved you. But you are gone." or "You hurt me, " and (most difficult) "I am guilty of inflicting this wound." There is grief I must release or be forever chained to the past, hurt that I must acknowledge and release like leaves that flutter to the earth to be renewed in soil and new life.
I walk and touch old griefs. If I have done all that I can to heal a painful event—I must let it go. If there is something I can still do—some swallowing of pride—some contact that would help heal a wound—I must think about how I can accomplish that task. Are these hurts monsters to be defeated? Some are for sure. Some, like my estrangement from my only brother, are griefs that I must acknowledge and accept.
There is beauty and truth in the severity of this season, as there is beauty and truth in the severity of self-examination. Bare, smooth silver limbs of beach and the rough, scored limbs of huge tulip poplars are exposed. But there is harmony and stillness after the great storms of November passed.
Here is rest. Here is silence. Every curve, knot, and twig--seemingly dormant--yet here too is life! The silence is palpable as I leave the path and walk up the rise to the majestic tulip tree. This is my friend. Its deva calls to me. I place my offering of bittersweet on a cairn of stones that I have built up over the years as an offering to the nature spirits of this sacred land. I run my hands inches away from its surface and feel its heat --the energy it has stored deep within.
I run my hands downward toward its roots and feel the pulse and energy increase. Here is the hidden treasure--the heart and source of the tree's life. It beats deep beneath the earth and deep within the bole of the tree. I place my hands upon its rough, deeply scored bark, close my eyes and feel and visualize the pulse of life--steady and deep. I hail the presence of Tulip Tree and ask its blessing. As I open my eyes I feel the air pulse and shimmer. Rarely have I felt so at peace--so lightened. My offering has been acknowledged.
I walk up the hill, turning once to look back-- knowing that I have to move forward. I climb the rise leading out of the woods. As I reach the woods borders and look toward open meadow--I freeze. My eyes lock on the eyes of a solitary white tailed buck that stare at me as intently as I stare at him. Synchronicity.
Is the buck a new totem animal that I need to journey to for guidance? He is the Horned God--the God of joyful virility, radiating power and life force--even here in the Croning months. But he is also cautious, poised, recognizing and avoiding perceived danger. As he turns and bounds back into the woods, he reminds me that the life force is never far from us—but we must be poised and aware. I will take all of this in—meditate, journey, journal and continue my soul-searching shadow work.
Location: WILMINGTON, Delaware
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