A walk through ragged beauty….

I am delighted to say that the blog “Anima Monday” has published my story: A walk through ragged beauty. If you would like to read it please follow this link: https://animamonday.wordpress.com/2019/03/18/a-walk-through-ragged-beauty/

“Slowly, the drum began to loosen. The voice of the drum deepened until I knew I had only a couple of more beats before it would become too slack to play. So I finished the drumming and allowed the silence to return. Curlews called as they wheeled about. The oystercatchers twittered, a couple of geese honked as they winged overhead. Dog and I sat and watched sheets of rain pass us by. Perhaps we had found a little foothold of the valley gods, for in here we felt detached, voyeuristic, apart from the elemental dance wheeling about the land.”

On Death, gifts and Guides

They died last year and

Some just now, in the

cold and the snow of darkness

or the ending of the year when the leaves fell golden and discarded

 

My dreams are now of dead people

When once they were of shining living cells,

now all is Medicine

and Spirit and messages of

hope, magic, poetry,

A life cut short, or a life wrapped up in fear

 

They are the worst because

being tightly swaddled by a smothering blanket

impotent

They could never get free and

They lived as if they were already dead

Although you wouldn’t know that from the

prattling priest’s irrelevance

 

Then, time passes and

A task is ahead, undertaken and loved,

share our gifts, gifts bestowed to all

Build a longer table! Share, the message.

 

The car wouldn’t start.

Going nowhere and the cold frost is serious now

She rescues me,

all warm and alive and smiling

part of me knows I should have walked home

felt the night and the frost seep into my living bones

heard Owl, maybe startled a hungry fox.

Maybe.

 

Death clings

Grief needs moonlight and frost

to freeze the tears onto my cheeks

And I should have walked home

 

 

 

Now is the time for us to be our true selves

Now is the time for us to be our true selves.

This phrase might come as a bit of a shock to some; those of us who have no idea that we’re not being our true selves in the first place, as well as those who are coming to realise that all they thought was them has been handed to them from outside. The notion that we have our opinions given to us by outside forces, our tastes, fashion sense, morals, all of it, is a disturbing one.

The moment of seeing through that what we once thought was me, you, us is a deeply significant moment, one which can literally pull a person and communities apart. For what are we really, when we realise we’re not what we once were convinced we were, as we realise that our job is making us sick, our faith is based on fear and manipulation, or the relationship we thought we should have is in fact toxic and damaged. What about our shame? And our sense of right and wrong? Our self-awareness, even our very sense of self is untrue. What if even the truths we thought were true turn out not to be? What if we are not the ‘victim’, or the ‘boss’, nor are we the ‘party animal’ or ‘cynic’, perhaps we’re not even the ‘hard bastard’, ‘earth mother’, ‘teacher’….. Whatever category we put ourselves in can apply here. When our assumptions that once kept us safe and so secure disintegrate, then where do we turn for solid ground?

And all the friends that you once knew are left behind

They kept you safe and so secure

Amongst the books and all the records of your lifetime Ÿ

For this shedding of the self with a small ‘s’ is the beginning of the Quest. People who have begun the questing have my deep respect and compassion, for I went through it myself. Old friends will tell me how opinionated I was, how sure I was of so much. I was well content in the walls, hangings, and furniture in the home I had made that I called Me.

 

Yet one day, long ago, when I had begun to sober up from the years-long party of my youth, a voice within began to clear its throat, ready to speak. When it did begin to speak it was so low and quiet I mistook it for a dull pulse of sound in my gut, like a hum of a large, distant bell. It said know thyself.

It wasn’t until a decade later that I left my lower-case self behind and began searching for the Self; that eternal part of the being that was me, which would be manifested in the outer world by actions that were authentic to this Me, the inner Self. I went, or rather, I was sent unceremoniously on, a Quest. The quest took me on a long journey. Through motherhood and a mismatched relationship I went, through the heffalump traps that Education lay down for my ego to fall headlong into. I fell in and crawled back out, wounded and humbled. Through deep grief at the shattering understanding of environmental crises; I am better at managing the grief I feel for Mother as she cries in her own grief at our species’ stupidity. I bow my head and I shoulder my share of the work in the Great Undoing. Of the loss of friends, the great visitation of Death of friends and companions. Of learning how to write, words that come out of me from somewhere deep in my gut. The same distant low bell that was struck, that called me from the lost world that I was in, now chimes its sound. I have learned to listen to its message, not with my ears, but with the sense of intuition that I have honed over these long, growing years and put it on the page in words.

Now I am over 40. I have become a writer, mother, lover, communicator and healer. I have learned how to teach yoga and heal; people know they can come to me for those things in their lives that are unfathomable, unseen, mysterious and deeply, deeply significant. My Self calls out to the world and those who have ears to listen know that I have done the work and this Self is a safe haven. I cast Runes and Oracle cards. Even my cynical husband has been quietly impressed by the simple messages that ring like their own bells, which only his Intuition can hear. And my stone circle is always there for your sanctuary in turbulent times.

(The next time you see me, talk to my Self, bypass all the nonsense of both of our undoing and let’s have soul-to-soul connection.)

More recently I have become a Board member for the charity Radical Joy for Hard Times. It means that I am able to dedicate more time to creating workshops and facilitating real support for those who are experiencing their own loss of self and an awakening to the deep crises of our times, both within themselves and in the world. Through RadJoy we can look straight and true at this new world, and at our new selves as they have been birthed in their new realities. To hold the grief and to still love this world, this is what I can help us see.

I am becoming my true self, small ‘s’. Through learning to shed all that which I thought I was, in order to connect to the Self, my self is much more authentic and I’m happier with inhabiting this being. Not that the work ever ends, of course it doesn’t. I have recently got a new paid job, so this is throwing up all kinds of new tasks on the Quest. I still get giddy, I swear way too much, I feel my ego bubbling over like an unwatched pot on a stove, and I don’t listen nearly enough. I am still highly opinionated and I occasionally sway like an aspen in a hurricane as my cycle dictates.

We’re in this together and I don’t suppose many people think they’re the finished article. And by the way, if they do, then tell them to go on a Quest. Politely, of course.

Ÿ Words of the quote from Nick Drake Hazy Jane II https://youtu.be/512dfE03-DI

For more information about Radical Joy for Hard Times visit http://www.radicaljoyforhardtimes.org

On portals and radical reawakening

I’ve always had a thing for gateways. There aren’t any stone circles very close to where I live, without needing to drive a little way. I’m never more than about ten miles from one, I have to say, they litter this northern land. But I digress. Instead of stone circles, I have taken to finding the old stone uprights that demarcate an old footpath, too narrow for corralled sheep to squeeze through but perfect for a foot-traveller. They are a sure sign that travelling on foot was not only normal, but so ordinary as to be an integrated part of fencing when land became enclosed.

What came first, the tracks or the fields? It’s a combination of both; footpaths are ancient ways, yet many were officially rerouted, or turned into larger carriageways, big enough to carry carts and carriages or became drovers’ lanes. The Enclosures Acts were a series of Acts passed between 1604 and 1914, which slowly or drastically, in their turn, made it legal for landowners to put up hedges, walls and fences, although the act of enclosing land really began with the Bronze Age stone clearing. In order to make fields more workable and productive, they moved the rocks lying scattered in the land and built stone walls with them. In fact, some of the still used dry stone walls are over 4,000 years old. In the Middle Ages it became a norm to have open fields, stripped into tilled areas, communally worked by labourers and local families. These open fields were subsequently removed by the Enclosures Acts and many of the field systems we see today are the outcome of this aggressive succession of Acts, and many of the land workers and their families left to find work in the larger towns and cities. 

Yet the tradition of keeping trackways open, like a thread puncturing the walls with a string that traverses this land, endures to this day. I walk these ghostlike trails, sometimes nothing more than a half-pipe of flattened grass, that join the punctures in the hedges. Some of the uprights are held on either side by robust walls, some stand utterly alone, where once a wall must have stood. Some are ancient posts in modern wire fences. Yet many are guarded by Hawthorn, Nettles and Brambles, which tells the traveller of very ancient roots

It was the Hawthorn that grabbed me today, as I stepped a foot onto the makeshift stile. Caught in the act of passing over, Hawthorn punctured my skin on the wrist and held me to a charge. Eat one of my berries, it said. Take my flesh beyond this portal, and only then will I let you pass. 

I took my foot off the stile and turned my attention fully to the bush. Its bright red berries are turning now to a glorious Burgundy colour, and taking one in my fingers I could feel how soft it was. Telling the Hawthorn that this is the berry I had chosen, I gently tugged and it came away into my hand. I nibbled it, around the stone in its centre. A wave of delicious, fleshy autumn filled my mouth. Hawberries taste a little like avocado, yet a wild, potent sort that is so good for the heart that I have made a remedy with it before. It is a beautiful kind of hedge medicine; hawthorns can be used in many of their forms; eaten as blossom (the delicate petals are rich with natural sugars and are really tasty), or their berries and leaves can be collected for lowering blood pressure and assisting with opening the arteries. It is potent, though so if you already take medicines do research if taking hawthorn is a good idea on top of what you already take.

I then passed through the portal. I repeated this ritual at every stile, noting how these uprights form the skeleton of human movements over the long centuries. OS maps show just how criss-crossed our land is with these footpaths and I feel that we have a duty to tread them. Not all paths lead to significant, historical places, yet all can lead us back in time, or to the now. Even if we don’t travel more than a mile radius from our home, but follow these ancient ways as they turn and cross, then we will be opening up a box of delights. What a gift our ancestors have given us!

Perhaps I am drawn to write this at this time of year, of the end of things and the beginning of things. Winter is the time of deep sleep and we can see it, feel it, in the world all around us. How vitally important it is to sleep. Yet there is another portal that I have been through. The portal of reawakening to the dread of climate chaos this is coming ever nearer. How can I sleep when I have been reawakened? I am being pulled both ways and I need to come to find the balance in this. I have a feeling that I am not alone. More than ever, we cannot go back to sleep, because very soon, if we do not pull back from the precipice, we will enter into full ecological collapse. And trust me, that won’t be pretty. Climate migration, agricultural collapse, famine, job losses and riots, economic collapse, the living world will collapse which means no fish, no crops, no fuel…. Just very desperate people in a dying world. 

That’s what is over the precipice. And, no, sorry guys, I’m not going to pull any more punches. This is how it feels to be awakened. 

Yet, we can and MUST draw back from that precipice; buy local, till your own land, work in communities to produce food and fuel, no more flights, no more fossil fuels. Keep the bloody stuff in the ground. Did you know that when fossil fuels were laid down, there were no mammals because the atmosphere wasn’t breathable and the mean temperature was simply too high? Those trees, which we are so blithely burning, made our atmosphere perfect for mammals by absorbing carbon dioxide and turning it into their own bodies, and still are doing so. The act of burning that carbon simply puts it back into the atmosphere, thus raising the temperature and eventually making our own world uninhabitable in the process. So KEEP IT IN THE GROUD! Change your energy supplier, walk, cycle, have webinars and don’t travel, buy local, organic food. Change the way we farm and divest from entirely fossil fuel-dependent agriculture. (How much farming does your local farmer do without his tractor, quad, bought in feeds, industrial fertilisers etc? Not much.)

This is a portal that I have been very unceremoniously shoved through. Yes, the turning of the year suggests that it is time to rest, but our human-made crisis is shouting the opposite. It’s time to listen, to walk our land and fall back in desperate love with it and our own survival, then to act

http://www.risingup.org.uk

http://www.activehope.info

Get involved or get educated and I’m here to support you, make small but significant changes but firstly, it’s time to acknowledge that things are moving fast.

 

 

 

 

 

When the wind rages outside

It’s early morning on a Tuesday in the middle of half term holidays. The children have already bickered about a cardboard box and decaf tea. The baby has turned off the TV that they are watching, scribbled allover my to-do list and wants more of what everyone but he is eating for breakfast. It’s chaotic in here. Even the dog is agitated. Tempers are high, we’re all being too loud. It’s barely 8am and I’ve already had enough.

Outside the sun hasn’t even risen yet. Its light has been growing for the last hour but still there is no point of light in the clear, scattered and shredded sky. The wind is high, it has been all night. Beautiful Cherry, who has been growing quietly all these years in my garden while I’ve learned to love her, clings desperately to her last reddened leaves, refusing to let the wind snatch them from her. She is a tough thing, that Cherry tree. She is one of the first to come into leaf in the Spring and one of the last to lose them in the late autumn. Her delicate little fruits are so bright red. When they turn into that deep maroon colour, if the blackbirds leave me any, I like to take a couple. They’re sharp and sour, with a hard juiciness that wilder varieties still retain. Not like the shop-bought ones, but the ancient, British ones, almost unpalatable to our modern senses. We don’t like our food to be uncomfortable. Sweet and juicy is pretty much what we demand from our fruits now. But my garden reminds me of how sour our food once was, before our tastebuds modernised.

Blackbird is watching me through the window.

When the wind is high the whole world is in movement. Our little bodies are buffeted, even from within four sturdy walls. For my part, it doesn’t take much external, wild, planetary force to dislodge me. My being becomes unravelled and rudderless at the slightest thing. Over the years I have developed practices which keep me connected to myself, this life, so that my being doesn’t get lost amongst the ragged clouds. When the wind blows my mind flies into the four directions. When the sun shines or hides my heart bursts into tiny pieces. When the new fruits burgeon in Spring time my knotted intestines release with a song of creative joy. When the bitterest snow falls I can barely breathe. For I am a child of the Earth, just as you are. My water is this Earth’s, my cells the soil. What happens to Her, happens to me, to all of us.

The practices I mentioned, these are things that have been freely given to me. Kind souls’ wisdom, that need to be shared, for us to return to ourselves. I meditate, bang a deerskin drum, sing wordless syllables, walk the Earth, move my body through Yoga, play music, listen to others who can bend sound to connect us to that which is greater and more eternal than we. And I find a community and gather those dear souls around me. For if I am a child of the Earth, then we all are and when we come together we can hold each other in a safe container, where we can open to our connectedness.

We are not here for all that long. Probably less than a century, possibly our time on the apparent plain is nearly at an end and we don’t even know it. Perhaps we do. What matters is what we are. Not what we’ve done, as achievements are half chance. But what we are. The verb ‘to be’, the latin root is ‘essence’, ‘essential’. What is my essence? It is to live humbly, simply. To love.

I love this world so much that I have faced my untold grief and I have somehow managed to retain shreds of sanity. Not all of it was blown into the scattered clouds, when the ferocity of the wind of knowledge blew through my mind. I still have that little red thread, as the late George Michael described it. What is that? He said it was like a line that he had to follow that came out from his body and led on. If he followed it then he would become successful, become the man and artist we knew him to be. My own little red thread was there all along, when I wanted to be a nun when I was a very small girl, it  was there when I lived in a spiritual community in Scotland, it pulled me through my chaotic twenties and into my thirties. It pulled me unconsciously through until I began to investigate my own subconscious through meditation and ritual. Then I came to see it for what it was. It wasn’t a thread that was leading me to a career, or lots of money, like George. No, it was a thread that connected me all my life to Truth. Not everyone else’s I’d surmise. This isn’t a sermon. Yet mine. Though one that I have a suspicion that I share with a great many of you.

This Truth is so obvious that I have to keep excavating my own bullshit to remind myself of it: the pulse of life that is within me is within every single thing. You too, dear Reader. It’s in you too, and you looking out, it’s in me too. And so the ripples of realisation keep expanding.

I’ll just allow that to sink in a moment.

When I remember the simplicity of this, that my beautiful Cherry tree lives because it should and does, just as much as me or you, or my chaotic kids, then everything falls away. The world, the Universe, becomes a network of complex living pulses of essence. This is the truth that keeps me utterly in love with being alive. What a gift we have been given. To have these senses, this body, this world in which to live and learn. Do we even see what a great, unbound gift we’ve been given? In all honesty, no, I doubt it. I doubt that we give thanks. To what? To what should I give thanks? To Life itself? A God? To my Ancestors for going through joy, fear, utter horror and many, many moments of sheer boredom just so there may be the possibility that I could live and that my children would be born? We live for the descendants we will never know. For we are the living Ancestors.

To give thanks is in itself to tread every footfall with reverence. Every breath is filled with Divine purpose of life itself. I for one will give thanks to the Earth. I come from a line of consciousness that has never been broken, from the very first minerals turned carbon into living, organic matter, billions of years ago. So in very real terms I AM the Earth. As are you. Our Deep Time Mother IS Earth, and that is another simple Truth.

Our actions speak volumes about these Truths. Should I pollute the air, that is my Mother? Should I cut down that tree that is as alive as I? Am I treading lightly? Is my footfall reverent? Can I leave here one day, having left only love, when I die?


The wind is still raging. I must walk the dog, he’s as agitated as I am. I think everyone needs a bit of buffeting, now that the sun has risen. Slowly Cherry tree is losing her leaves to that tenacious wind and I should go out and greet the morning.

A new path is opening up……

  • This is a heartfelt blog post. Thank you in anticipation for reading it.

I have completed my Hatha Yoga teacher training! How fantastic this feels, not just because it means I can ‘teach’ classes in a more traditional, formal way, but it also means that I can use the Eight Limbs of Yoga to influence my work from this point onwards. There will be seven of these limbs that many of you perhaps are not aware of; the part called ‘asana’ is what many of us know to be the moving part of yoga, that of the lovely movement, meditation and relaxation of a class. These ‘limbs’ influence all other elements of our lives and Yoga as a way of life is truly complete.

Where does it fit for me? I am a practicing Druid, as many of you now know. I haven’t ‘come out’ with this news in any special way, it has seeped more and more into my way of being as the years have gone by. I have spent many years of journeying through a variety of approaches to Spirit; many of them deeply influence me still, such as Quakerism and Tibetan Buddhism. Through Druidry I have come to be a Celebrant, a Healer, a meditation facilitator, Earth Ambassador, and ecotherapist. Now I am qualified to teach you yoga! Of course I am following a Way which continues to develop; I still have sound therapy skills to grow and I have my first wedding booked to perform next year! Yoga is part of a complete picture: that which opens us up to the Earth, to each other, to OURSELVES once again.

You are all welcome to come along with me. Together, we can get out of our own way, to let go of our backstory and our futurecasting, let ourselves find that sweet kernel of wonder for the world once again.

It is at this juncture that I must declare that I know with all of my heart and mind that we are walking into a crisis on a global scale and we can only really address this by looking deeply into ourselves and finding the heart within us and to fall once again in love and wonder with our world. Only by truly rejecting this madness can we begin to collectively say enough is enough. Time for a new way to bring all our humanness to each other; of compassion, tenderness, deep, deep love, and JOY back to those who have the capacity to protect those who desperately need our love, and back to ourselves. But we can’t love the world, each other and the great Mother if we don’t love ourselves first. Yes, even the bit of you that’s grumpy before you’ve had a coffee, that’s had one too many tragedies in your life, those parts of you that yearn for self-forgiveness, self-compassion, and self-love. It really is quite simple: when we love ourselves, we no longer look outside for acceptance, because we’ve given it back to ourselves. And then we’re unstoppable.

Ecotherapy, Celebrancy, Radical Joy for Hard Times rituals, Yoga and celebrating through heritage workshops our connection to the land all ask for a significant change in the way we interact with our world. Being honoured to help be part of the narrative of wisdom, self-compassion and collective love for ourselves and this incredible, UNIQUE planet gives me goosebumps!

With outdoor yoga, wilderness walks and meditation, sound therapy, one-to-one energy healing and group meditation I can offer something for you in a more official capacity. Many of you have known that I have dabbled a little here and there as friend and confidante, but I have always shied away from the BIG label, of Priestess, or Therapist, Ritualist, Minister, Witch or even Druid. I still don’t have a label, by the way, what would fit?! Harriet will do.

Other workshops which will be facilitated by myself and others who have important knowledge and want to share significant teachings about how we can return to ourselves, our community and to the world of Nature. This is therefore a call-out to anyone who wishes to offer related teachings and workshops! Get in touch and we can work together to make this happen! teesdalehealing@gmail.com 

I have a new name for all this too: Wild Us. Because we are wild, bold, free, gentle, compassionate, loving and amazing creatures of this blessed Earth! Wild kids, who talk about the earth with reverence, who show us their favourite tree, who have school meditation classes, yoga workshop and Earth spirituality as part of their normal lives. Adults who return to the Earth, guided to reconnect with love and wonder. This is the way I envisage to serve you. I will offer weddings, handfastings, baby namings, funeral celebrancy, rituals of transition, be that the end or start of a job, the beginning of a relationship, becoming a Crone, or a Teen, the motherhood transition. Transitions of initiation and of release. I offer also yoga classes on a regular basis, sound therapy, meditation, heritage workshops and ancestral walks through the land. I am currently in Teesdale, county Durham, and I will work in the near vicinity for now…..

Watch this space guys!!! And THANK YOU for giving me confidence in myself over these years. You’re beautiful souls, every one of you.

Cailleach hair

Head bowed down to inspect the mole hills, I walked to the gnarled old Oak. It said

If you keep looking for the humans, you’ll miss the Sidhe

Looking up, I saw Cailleach hairs of long, thin and tangled grey, caught high up on its bark. Too high for a woman to have reached, too far from any path to have been a chance catching. This is faerie hair, I knew.

I didn’t touch it. To eat the food, or to take anything from a Sidhe is to be taken from them for years of our time, when only moments may pass in their world. I didn’t want to chance it and miss the kids’ growing. Anyway, what if she had a sacred task to fulfill? To gather all her stray hairs and to weave them into a cloak for her enchanted lover, to free him from a terrible spell and to let him smell the pure, clear air of freedom? How could I dare to take a trinket for my windowsill and rob someone of completing such a terrible and arduous, vital task, simply for my spiritual vanity?

No, that hair was too precious, too doom-ridden to bear taking. It put me in mind to not take anything I didn’t need for my own task, for who am I to rid anyone of their own sacred work? Sacredness does not exist purely for my gratification; others weave cloaks that I have no business in meddling with.

I jumped over a wall and climbed up the bank by a waterfall. I sat down on the soggy ground; lying back the rain tickled my lips. Rumble of waterfall, cold ground, chaotic drips on my face, slowly I disappear into senses and input, no more me. Roaring, dripping, warming. Tickling lips. Roar. Drip. Peace.

A sheep skull covered in green, except white teeth. I put it on the wall I jumped.

The Sidhe are an ancient race of Irish mythology, the faerie race. Pronounced shee, they live in a parallel world to us, one that we can access any moment, by entering into ring forts or by accidentally stepping over a veil.

Dishwasher Magic Farewell

Dropped off the dishwasher at the tip today

Heavy with Baby no. 1 I got that machine to

Lighten the domestic burden and to

Free me for Very

Important

Stuff

Like not doing the washing up

 

365 days times nine

Must be a lot, 3000 perhaps, give or take

Hours, perhaps more

Of a co-creativity,

That hum and splosh,

Swoosh of watery cleanliness so I could bake or

clean or

drive the kids somewhere

 

Oh, Dishwasher

Your magic was not to free me of the shackles of domesticity

As you can see I am chained by more than just dishes

But to be my friend

A friend in the kitchen you were

 

 

The voices of women through time

Arms deep in suds and

Raw hands praying to the Goddess of freedom for

those who were to shackle themselves next in line

I can hear their voices in your rumble

 

Farewell, as I drive away

Good, beautiful little machine I

Thank you

 

 

The Year is Dead, Long Live the Year

As the year turns, many are conscious of a long-drawn out process of multiple ‘new’ years. One would be forgiven to think that many in our society see the year itself differently, almost as if we don’t all see things the same way. Yet surely we were all celebrating the ending of one year and the starting of a new one. Samhain, or Hallowe’en is celebrated as the end of one year, as it is traditionally seen as the end of harvest and abundance and the beginning of the fallow months. This seems a fitting end to a year; the ghosts of our ancestors walk amongst us, our trials have reached fruition and have been harvested. Yet, not all ‘paganic’ spiritualties would say this was the year’s end. Instead the long, darkening months of November and most of December are seen as the death rattle of the year. We cannot truly die until we have been dying awhile. Then comes the solstice, when darkness is complete. A point is reached in a very real sense, far out in space, when Earth is at the zenith of her orbit, far, far out into the desperately cold wastes of Nothing. This is the physical end to the year, for this marks the point where we can’t get any further from the Heart; it hereby all gets lighter, brighter, we as a planetary consciousness are invited back into the warmest embrace of the Sun’s hearth.

But then we have the mythological birth of the Son of God. The ancient, shattering importance of this moment rings through the ages, so important it was that the invading Christ chose this moment for himself. To be born anew on this Earth is so brilliantly pure that all are drawn inexorably to honour this moment. Christians, pagans, atheists, Gnostics and mystics are all drawn to the simplicity of this moment: a god-child is born on Earth, a star has been moulded into human form to live a life of challenge and pain, to remember his godhead, to fearlessly share the Truth and to ascend into enlightenment. This is not a mere two thousand years old story and we know that, deep in our bones. Whenever we hear carols at our door, or see the Nativity scene of parents and child, gifts from Mages and of simple herdsmen we hear angels speaking to us from aeons past. This speaks a truth so simple that it transcends learning and dogma, it dares us to believe that this year, this birth, is one of hope. Not of some god, but our own birth, our own hope. This is the true message of Christmas; we all have stardust in us, we all are the Baby, born at the return of the light to Earth to awaken into our embodiment of sacredness, to live and to die enlightened.

Then we have the official end of the calendar year and many westerners really allow themselves to let their hair down at this one, as this is the Left Brain saying it’s OK to know that an end has come. It’s written into bank holidays and work patterns, so it’s acceptable to allow the cells to realign.

Then January 2nd comes and it’s back to work we go. Nothing much has changed at all really, has it, even with the obligatory New Year’s resolutions? Still the same job, same family, same alarm sound, same commute. No Thing Has Changed. No wonder we suffer so terribly from a malaise of the spirit at this time of year like nothing else collectively felt. It even has a name: Blue Monday. It falls on January 15th this year and it is the most depressing day of the year (Watkiss, 2018), although this ‘theory’ has been debunked by many a psychologist. Although contested by psychology, it doesn’t take away from the reality that something is amiss with our collective happiness levels. Here I must acknowledge that not everyone feels this dip. Some sail through the festivities and into January without so much as a backward glance. Not all see this time of year as this heart-opening and I understand this. The problem comes if this is a deliberate act, in order to actively avoid the magic, the Mysticism.

Why may this be? It may just be the weather and the dark, we’ve over eaten and spent too much, but there is more to it than this, I believe. It is as if so many feel all these feelings of peace and hope and joy, of renewal and all the other lovely things we’ve actually allowed and encouraged into our hearts, only to find that the ‘real’ world has no capacity at all to let us embody this. People kindly ask if I had a good holiday? Was Christmas stressful? Did I eat too many mince pies and drink too much wine? My mouth says lightly-fashioned quips, while my heart wants to sing: I danced barefoot in the ice and snow under a waxing moon, my children held candles and blew away the-end-of-things wishes they no longer needed, I cried as I played See Amid The Winter’s Snow on the piano, I made love to my husband for the last time before the solstice and then again when it had turned to greet him back into my being, I vowed to be more grounded this year and to be more Druid, I gazed with love at the moon at New Year’s Eve and I was called by the stars to remember my birth and I did, I did and I do. 

Our heart language is muted by normal life. The change-over from heart expression to mind and logic is managed in the only way we know; by silencing our hearts, falling into a muted depression and silently despairing until we finally forget that we ever dared to believe in the miraculous births of our own majesty and soul’s potential. January is littered with the corpses of good intentions that we simply cannot sustain, we were manipulated into opening our hearts to the magic and we find out that this is not actually very acceptable, because the world we have created around us has long conspired to keep our souls silent and under strict control, let out only for state-endorsed national holidays and times like Christmas when we are actually allowed to let our hearts speak and be spoken to. One of the significant messages our hearts receive at this time of year is one of self-renewal. We actually glimpse the mystery of our souls; the magic of the Birth works!! We aim with all our hearts to sustain this, by going vegan, losing weight, giving up the booze or volunteering at a local charity.

Once our hearts were opened and gloriously, wildly in charge at Imbolc and Beltane, even at Samhain. This beautiful ceremony. Oh, if only we put our heart-feelers out there we would feel the loving embrace of our ancestors. Instead we have been conditioned to fear Death, covering up the true value and potential connection to our own mortality and the miracle of living by plastic-coated ghosts on 99p brooms in Scream masks.

What solutions should I propose? Any quick Google search will return many, many suggestions for detoxing and for ‘beating the blues’. Yet, these suggestions are body-bound, looking to shed weight or save money, to kick-start a ‘new you’ (as if the real you is too wild to make friends with). These are of course valid and sensible ways to realign us after a particularly spectacular splurge. Yet, this malaise of which I speak, one that psychologists are reluctant to endorse, for fear of devaluing the grave and serious nature of the mental health crisis that is depression, can only be addressed if it is truly acknowledged. And it is this: we are manipulated into cracking open our hearts for consumerist purposes, only to have them slammed shut by the world, once the tree has been chipped and the cards cut up for a craft project.

My response to this is: light a candle at the Solstice and then blow it out at the very darkest point of the year. Feel the darkness and know that it is from here that all light comes. Then light it again, inviting the small pinprick of light into your vision, your sight and heart. On Christmas eve walk barefoot in the garden under the moon and feel our being becoming renewed again, work further on the light ceremony of the solstice, think of your own body being born again, starlight made human. The Baby is you. Then, finally, when our culture, friends, calendar and everyday life celebrates the coming of the New Year, you have been readying for this moment, twice already. In this way, you have three-fold opportunity for moving down the birth canal of renewal. Every year this happens. Every year we are given this extraordinary opportunity to go within, into the darkness of our souls, three-fold, through music, light, gifts and birth. The angels truly have given us the darkest moment of the darkest night, to be born anew, time and time again. It is our gift to ourselves to be born to ourselves and to each other, once we step once again into the world, to touch that magic and to bring it back, blinking into the light.

Reference

Watkiss, J, 2018: When is Blue Monday 2018? Five ways to beat the January Blues http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/blue-monday-2018-five-ways-14089982