Saturday, 28 January 2012

Small Ripples......

"The bottom line is......I believe I can make a difference. Not necessarily a big one, but a difference none the less. And if enough people like me make our little differences, one day we're going to wake up and find we really did manage to change the world!"

- a slightly re-worded passage, from a book of short stories by Charles de Lint.

We can all create small ripples of change! We are the difference!!! 

Friday, 27 January 2012

B is for Belly Blessing

After last weeks post on Blood Mysteries, I've been drawn to write about another magical journey along a Woman's Path. That which is the beautiful ceremony of a Belly Blessing.

Within Pagan, Goddess, Wild Woman's spirituality we often hear the terms Maiden, Mother, Crone, the Triple Goddess. Sometimes a fourth aspect, Lover, is added. Carolyn Hillyer has written about the eight phases of womanhood Girl Seed, Blood Flower, Fruit Mother, Spin Mother, Mid Woman, Earths Crone, Stone Crone, Bone. All very valid journey points through a girls/womans life and ones which I use a lot for chanting and honouring ceremonies.

Girl Seed - Our Pre Moontime Maiden Years
Blood Flower - Our Bleeding Maiden Years
Fruit Mother - Our Years of Creation (not always meaning a physical birth of child)
Spin Mother - Ours years of child/project rearing, 'the juggling' years lol
Mid Woman - Pre Menapouse
Earths Crone - Menapouse
Stone Crone - Elder/Wise Woman
Bone - The final journey of Death back to the earth.

So we bleed, then the wheel turns towards ovulation. The promise of fertility, that bright spark of life which stirs within us. The journey towards motherhood is a massive Path of change...changes in your emotions, your body, relationships, outlook, priorities you name it, it changes! But a great blessing and joy it is too!

For the first trimester, the first three months, a tiny seed has been brought into life. But from that small seed great trees grow, as the saying goes! To the on-lookers eye changes are small, subtle. You may feel the best you've ever felt, completely elated, but on the other hand you may feel as sick as a dog and constantly tired. I personally have been very lucky with both my pregnancies and wasnt too sick, I suffered with nauseau yes but wasnt puking all the time which was nice ;o) Come the second trimester around 12-15 weeks for me I would feel fairly normal and start to bloom. This is when I would start to think about my Belly Blessing.

If you've not experienced a Belly Blessing or have never heard of such a thing I can promise you after reading this you'll be wanting to convince the next pregnant friend you know to have one! In some ways it can be seen as a Spiritual Baby Shower.....but really its not. Its more about the coming together of your girls, and that can be friends, sisters, mothers, grandma's etc etc. A ritual celebration of your journey into Motherhood and the safe travel of you and your child during this enormous rite of passage. My first Belly Blessing was done at Summer Solstice 2003 and I was about 35 weeks pregnant. We camped in my friend Pam's family orchard (yes I camped that late in my pregnancy lol), we'd planned to see in the Solstice Sunrise and then do my Belly Blessing later in the day. I was throned in a lovely seat and crowned with a circlet of flowers. Stories were shared, prayers offered, spells of protection cast and I received wonderful gifts too.

My second Belly Blessing was preformed in 2007. Since my inital Belly Blessing we'd had a few other pregnancies within my circle and so had come up with a few new ideas to incorporate. As part of the celebration we now incorporated Belly Painting. Using safe Face Paints or Henna. Such good fun and all the girls present got involved and added a bit of their creative selves to the piece of art created on my Baby Belly. As you can see in this pic of the gorgeous Natalie, we painted her belly to match that of the Gaia statue she's holding. The other picture is from Lucy's Belly Blessing, we used Henna that time.  

As well as gathering together our sisters and girlfriends to show the circle of support you have through this transition. We normal share birth stories and aspirations on the kinda birth we hope to have. Old stories from different tribes and cultures about their creation tales are shared. On some occasions we've created birthing bracelets or necklaces. These are a beautiful way of drawing on the power and energy during labour. Each sister is asked to donate a specially chosen bead to make into the choice of jewellery. This bead has to have been picked out especially for its birthing journey. When everyone has gifted their bead the mum-to-be can then wear it during labour and know she can draw on her collective sisters energy to help her through the birth. Another lovely idea that Lucy did through her first pregnancy was give everyone who came to her Belly Blessing a small white candle to which she had painted a spiral bellied Goddess onto. Attached was a little label which said 'please light when I'm in labour'. A simple and powerful energy projection. As a group we tend to all pool our money and buy the mum to be some special gifts. For Pam and Nat we made some cute baskets, Pam was having a little girl and Nat was having a little boy. So we created gorgeous colour co-ordinated baskets full of muslin cloths, nappies, bottles, creams, teddies etc Plus  we gifted them some extra pampering goodies for mummy, bath oils, massage oils and the such like. I remember for my first birth Emma created a lovely birthing pouch for me. A small felt bag filled with crystals, herbs and charms for me to hold during the birth of my daughter.

I preformed a ritual some years ago for a lady and her husband. To mark her transition from Maiden to Mother. A very simple ceremony in their lounge with a small altar. We cast a circle and called in the elements and Lord & Lady. We used a dark sheet to represent the birth canal and I guided her through a meditation with the finale being her uncovered and re birthed as 'Mother'.

A Belly Blessing can be as great or small as you desire. Its also something which you can honour on your own or with your partner. Hopefully I've given you a few ideas on how you can honour another part of your or another Wild Woman's journey! Then once the lovely baby is born you can look to planning the baby Naming!!! Tee~Hee!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Walking the Antlered Road

Walking the Antlered Road

By Mother Earth
And Father Sky.
By Raging Waters
And Mountain High.
By Ancient Landscape
And Ancestral Birth.
By Blood and Bones
And Clan Fire Hearth.
By Wolf Packs Song
And Owls' Silent Wing.
By Deer Trodden path
And Crows' Raucous Ding.
I Walk The Antlered Road, 
Strong and True.
With Respect For Me and Respect for All of You.

Today I have purchased my new website name and domain. A further commitment to My Path and Journey along The Antlered Road. Its all very exciting!!! Nothing there at the mo...but there will be soon. Its a Road for my artwork, my workshops and retreats, my word weaving and my Elen Priestess-ing. Watch the Journey unfold! 

Friday, 20 January 2012

B is for Blood Mysteries

                                                    Transformation Mysteries by Judith Barr

Blood Mysteries, I feel as a woman, is a very personal, powerful and magical journey, that not enough magical women embrace! Some will definitely see this as a very yukky subject but actually one that I feel should be covered more and tried at least once in some way shape or form! The very basic form of this is starting to be more positive about your 'moontime' (periods). We are fed SO many negative adverts and expressions about our Moontime, that its not surprising its a unwanted and painful time. 'The Curse', 'Bloody Axe Wound', 'On the Rag' are all terms I've heard it referred too, how can it been seen as a blessing when people deem it in those terms? Our Moontime shows us to be fertile and the creatrix of our world! Its should be embraced and seen only as a positive!

I understand that for some women its isn't a positive time, but I don't believe it can be when we're constantly being told to "Have a happy period" or make our lives better by using chemical laced products internally. Which can sometimes contain chemicals that dry you out and draw on you, actually making you bleed heavier. Therefore making you have a more painful period than you should.

 Within tribal communities women are revered, and feared, men think their power and magic is most potent at this time. Women within tribes and close communities often bleed together, synchronised and also follow the cycle of the moon bleeding at Full or Dark moons. Having their own spaces or 'Red Tents' where they can take themselves away, nourish and support each other during their 3 or 4 day cycles. Emerging energised and refreshed ready to take on whatever the rest of the month will bring them. Ideal as this all is, within our very busy western society its not so easy. But more and more wild women are reclaiming their 'Moontime' and seeing it in a much more positive light. 'Red Tent' is becoming a more recognised term within magical circles with groups forming in communities, to gather once a month and offer nourishment and support for one another. 

So whats an easy way, a small way, that you could start honouring your 'Moontime'? Maybe you could start by using a Mooncup or other such natural, reusable menstrual cup (something on this years 'to do' list for myself). Research has shown that by switching to one of these, your Moontime becomes shorter, lighter and less painful. Ladies I know, that already use one of these, swear by them and I've heard wonderful stories of their sacred blood being used in magical workings. Women using their sacred blood in their art, painted onto their drums or given back to the earth in a ritualistic way. I'm sure there are many out there that find this a very touchy subject or are even repulsed by it. But I must admit, its VERY, VERY empowering, once you start to honour yourself and see your Moontime as a positive and empowering time you'll be amazed at how you view those days within a month. You could start by just taking some YOU time on the first day. Drawing a large bubble bath, pampering yourself in some way, having an indulgent treat or wearing red knickers for those days. Just some small way to acknowledge this powerful time, having a special candle and lighting it over the course of your bleeding time or even find out if you have a local Red Tent Group in your area.

                                     First Bleeding Moon by Suzi Goose  

Another form of blood magic, to me, is ritual tattooing. I'm not going to go into this subject massively because its something I will go into in more detail in another blog. But as a wild, witchy, tattoo'd woman, it cannot be mentioned! The act of ritual, sacred tattooing, the choosing of a design to be carved onto your skin, chant, drumming, sometimes with sisters, sometimes alone, always in reverence...a very deep spiritual experience. I'm lucky enough to know the amazing Suzi Goose, a ritual tattooist (and Elen Sister) here in the UK. I have my needles,and blood art (the first clean of my tattoo's absorbed onto paper) to work whatever powerful magic I wish with them. I know of a lovely lady who has weaved her needle into the strings on the back of her drum, mine are hidden with my Journal. As far as I'm concerned there isn't a more powerful way to acknowledge significant moments along your Path, than by getting a tattoo to represent that. All but one of my Tattoo's have a story behind them and a reason for getting them done....and I have 6 in all. Like I say though I will do a more in-depth blog on Sacred Tattoo's in the future.

Friday, 13 January 2012

A - Art is part of my Spiritual Journey

                                      Hare of the Moon                                                      Luna Fox
                                       Luna Stag

This is my second post for the pagan blog project and I'm realising that they're going to be quite personal and I hope that's ok?

So for my second focus on the letter 'A' I've chosen Art. As a Pagan and an Artist, art is a very important part of my spirituality. My inspiration and influences generally come from my Faith and the Land around me. Be it our moonlit skies, dawn horizons and mostly our Sacred Animals. I use a very unusual medium though, as well as paint, which the backgrounds of my canvases are painted with. I use Mother of Pearl, Pewter and other gemstones. The Moon's that feature within my work are all created from Mother of Pearl and the Animals Pewter. They're then married together upon canvas.

My first solo exhibition was titled 'By The Light of The Moon' the Moon is a very important part of my spiritual practise and a fantastic inspiration. From the breathtaking way, on a Full Moon, She hangs in the sky lighting the land and creating moon shadows. To the dark limitless sky when She's hidden away, till the evening you catch that first tiny sliver in the sky and I generally exclaim "look, the first crescent!!!" She's a fantastic muse indeed! My other big draws, no pun intended, are our Sacred Animals and Gods and Goddess....although I have tended to focus more on the beasties. Within my titles you'll find Hares, Stags, Crows/Ravens, Wolves, Horses, Bee's....a real menagerie! Mainly British beasts so far....but this years focus will be looking at more far off lands, the snowy places to be more precise and the haunting, dream filled sky that the Aurora Borealis creates. Very much looking forward to what that adventure in art brings!

                                                  Luna Hare

My images come to me within my dream states and meditations (but sometimes also doing the most mundane jobs too). I then tend to sit and draw, working out the proportions and placements of Spirals. Spirals...another big influence for me...but that's another story ;o) Spirals are, in my opinion, Life Force, the very essence of our beings and every piece of my work contains them, because its the depth of our very being...The Spiral of Life. I then start to work the animal into pewter. I use a very special, soft sheet pewter that has taken me many years to source. No presses or moulds are used to produce the pewter beasties, just tiny wooden tools and many hours of work. Sometimes eyes of haematite are added depending on the profile. The pewter process is the most fluid and relaxing part of the process, the painting the most joyful and passionate. In the end its a work of balance as well as a work of art. 

                                       Luna Corvid

This is just a small taster of what my art and spirituality combined mean to me. Pagan artwork, like the Pagan pathway is such a personal journey for each and every artist and art lover a like. Its a very exciting field to work within, with so many wonderful and inspiring people creating within it. Its always wonderful seeing through each artists eyes how they see the moon, stars and sun. How a Sacred Hare may come to them or how Brighid may present herself. Beauty and Spirituality all rolled into one creative piece!

You can find more of my work available in Etsy The Antlered Road Shop

Friday, 6 January 2012

A is for Altar and About Myself

I have many Altars/Shrines in my house. I love them and find them a brilliant focus for living your spiritual path daily. Whenever I catch a glimpse of one of mine it makes me smile, think about my chosen deity, give thanks or repeat an affirmation or mantra to myself. I think these small daily connections are really important. The pictures above are of my main house Altar. Its dedicated to 'Elen of the Ways' the Goddess with whom I'm Priestess too.

I have been walking my Path for nearly 20 years (scary!) I first started to explore other spiritualities in my late teens being drawn to Native American philosophies and alternative healing. I eventually took my Reiki 1 & 2, which opened up a whole bunch of doorways much clearer than when I'd previously looked through their cracks. I began walking my Pagan Path much stronger, working closely with the Green Man and a Lady who used to come with him but never gave me a name. Her vision was always so clear, an autumnal woodland full of ancient oaks, a carpet of browns, gold’s and coppers. Her dress of autumn oak leaves an amber acorn at Her throat, cascading flame red hair and a pair of antlers crowned Her head. Now the Green Man use to appear to me a lot....and sometimes he was antlered and sometimes he wasn't. But my Lady always had antlers! When I tried to find out any details in books or on the internet I would always draw a blank and still She never gave me Her name. I knew my Lady wasn't Cerridwen, Brighid or Rhiannon (to name but a few) so I carried on my practices just refering to Her as My Lady. Two or Three years down the Path of working with Her I attended a Pagan Federation Conference in London  Whilst there I stumbled across an art card depicting an antlered female wearing a dress of green leaves and a greyhound at her side. Although I knew this wasn't ‘my’ Lady it was the first piece of art I’d ever seen with a horned Goddess and I bought it immediately! That was ‘Elen – by Judith Page’ this was my first encounter with Elen that day, what I didn’t realise was that it wouldn't be my last! I continued wandering around and ended up in an exhibition by the British Visionary Artists. As I came towards the end of the wonderful displays, I came face to face with the most amazing vision. There in the corner was a portrait of my Lady!!! I couldn't believe it! How someone could paint that which I had ‘seen’ for so many years. I asked the artist who it was? His simple reply was “May I introduce you to Elen?” I burst into tears!!! That artist was Iain Lowe and his painting and teaching helped me deepen my Path with Elen, My Lady.

My workings with Elen have come along way since then and She has guided me to some wonderful adventures. I have been running wonderful workshops and weekend retreats devoted to Her for the last three years and Her community is growing! I was lucky enough to walk a part of Her sacred track-way 'Sarn Elen' in Wales last year and I have some amazing adventures planned for this year!!! But I digress.....

My next little Altar is in my Kitchen. I was so blessed a couple of years ago to receive one of the gorgeous 'Source' Goddess statues from my Goddess Girlfriends :o) I was so chuffed!!! I couldn't believe it I'd wanted one for SO long! I don't know why but She has always lived in my kitchen since. I bought Her the beautiful slate bowl to sit in and filled it with Rose Petals, to represent love, and whenever I'm in my kitchen or cooking a meal I light a candle inside Her and let Her energies fill my workings. A small but very powerful gesture, I promise!

This is my little Altar/Shrine in my Hallway. I was drawn to the Buddha head and there's a guy that knows a few things about Spirituality and Life Style huh ;o) Next to him sits my beautiful, bountiful annointing oil Goddess. Her dish has been especially glazed for me so I can use it to hold my Elen Annointing Oil. Whenever I walk passed Her I can just dip my finger in then dab my third eye or rub it through my hands and  brush it energetically over my aura. 

My final little Altar is in my bedroom. I've always had a little eclectic altar, normally devoted to Love, in there. But I've just recently decided to change it over to a Peace/Gratitude Altar. One of my lovely Goddess Girls bought me this gorgeous Peace Candle and the white silver bowl on the right (actually she has bought me all three of the bowls, at different points) as a Yule gift. The bowls each contain water from the Red and White Springs in Glastonbury and I've placed the Peace candle in the other. I wanted to use the candle for something really special and decided to use it as a gratitude candle. Lighting it each evening as I write in my Journal my gratitudes for the day. I feel that by giving thanks daily I show my appreciation for all the wonderful things that come into my life.

Altars are such a wonderful tool for honouring your Spiritual Path and Journey and mine often change depending on where I am on the Path or what is influencing me at that specific time. Mine also change and reflect during the Wheel of the Year and the changing of the seasons. At the moment they're quite minimal (except the main house one) but that's more because I'm in a place where I need to de-clutter, procrastinate less and focus more right now.

In case you might be interested my Goddesses (except the Elen one that was handmade for me) and Peace Candle came from this fab shop in Glastonbury.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Winter Solstice 22/12/2011

The days leading up to the Winter Solstice had been so clear and bright here in Essex. This always leaves you wondering, if the day itself will be like that, or whether sods law will deal its hand.

Luckily, upon waking at 6am, there was no rain and very little cloud. Once two of our five had arrived we made our way to the Sea Wall. The Pre Dawn was spectacular! The silver, crescent lady hanging in the midnight blue sky and lower on the horizon we could see the bright twinkle of Mercury. Two more of our group arrived and our number was complete. One of our girls could only make a brief appearance so we sat on the wall together holding hands, taking in the glory of our view. Enjoying the peace and tranquillity.

When our number returned to four we headed on further round the Sea Wall until we came to the causeway that leads to Osea Island. We didn’t have to wait very long for the Sun to rise. Directly on the Sea, Sky horizon the flame orange orb made its rebirth onto the skyline. Marsh birds alike sang and chattered as the sphere grew. It had to be one of the most stunning sunrises I’ve seen in a long while! Although (I have to admit) when I make the effort to watch it rise, it never cesses to take my breath away.

I lit some Yule Incense….Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh and Mistletoe and smudged us all, clearing ourselves for the new period ahead. We sat discussing all that we wanted to release. Those that no longer serve us a purpose and made our way down to the causeway to release our little paper boats. As they sailed away, so did that which holds us back.

We had then planned to release a lantern of wishes….unfortunately the lantern had other ideas! The lantern was damaged and try as we might, it had no intention of lifting…no matter how much laughter we filled it with either!!! So we gave up and headed back to my house for a yummy Yuletide brekkie and gift exchange.  Its mornings like these that make me truly blessed for wonderful times and great friendships!