Now, where did I leave that?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

New Year Blessings!

  For most who celebrate Samhain, today marks the first day of a new year. I decided to take the day off and truly mark the day. Most of us, whether we say Goddess, Spirit, God, Jesus, Allah (and countless other designations), mean the same thing at a cellular level...not with our heads or even hearts, but down in some deep core we mean something greater than us, something that steers us, knows who we are. And many of us have experienced that prodigal sense of loss, whether we feel the Divine has abandoned us, or we sullenly and firmly turn our backs on that Spirit because something didn't go our way. And every once in awhile, we aren't sure which of those scenarios we're playing out, but regardless of who is to blame, the result is the same...a disconnect, a clanging disharmony that can leave us, in our quiet moments, feeling very alone. I've written before of my spiritual struggles (and laziness), my desire to leave those struggles behind and inability to figure out how to move forward. I'll confess that I've gone from being  someone who often created rituals not just for myself, but for others as well, and wrote regularly about the power of daily ritual, to someone who smugly turns my nose up at such things. I've told myself rituals are crutches and what we hold in our minds, hearts and souls is the only relevant interaction with our Divine. I've told myself that remembering to say thank you at the end of the day was enough.

I was wrong. For me and my path anyway. Spectacularly wrong. 

  As part of welcoming in this new year, I took a solitary walk at Ramshorn-Livingston Sanctuary. I used to wander woods and trails alone on a regular basis, but it's been several years since I last did that. I feel guilty leaving Linda and/or the dogs behind; I feel selfish if I say I want to abandon some of our precious time together for an hour or two off in the woods. But today I did. I started by asking Goddess for some guidance, asked what I needed to know for the year ahead, how to begin to reconnect with Her. I didn't expect much; after all, we've been polite acquaintances for a few years now, with not much to say. I hadn't been walking for more than ten minutes when a single word came to me: Grounded. I need to focus on being more grounded, figuratively but more important, literally.

  I'm an Air sign (not that I speak astrology). I'm all about words and thoughts. My body is just along for the ride, which is why it's so easy to abuse it with poor food choices and no exercise. I observe and analyze more than participate, a trait that's grown more distinct in the last 7 or 8 years. I'd rather plan and dream about perfect gardens, even plant the seeds, than actually work in the dirt and tend the plants. I'd rather imagine myself strong, healthy & fit than get on the treadmill. I think about spirituality, not embody it. But within minutes of beginning my trek, entering into a world scented with the muddy brine left behind by Sandy, punctuated by the far-off peals of bald eagles, the raucous cries of crows, and the calls of Canadian geese far above, I knew my request was being answered: 

what I need to know, and re-learn this year, is groundedness.

  Ritual does matter. We need to touch, taste, listen, smell and see the tangible before we allow our spirits to soar with the angels (or dance with the faeries). At least, I do. All religions have rituals; they are touch stones that root us, give us placeholders in our lives, soothe and comfort. And so, that's my Samhain stop thinking of ritual as training wheels, and begin again living a life that includes daily ritual. Oh, I can do without the trappings that don't speak to me like wands, athames, cloaks and ritual names (these are powerful tools for some; but they never felt quite comfortable for me). I need ritual that's about the life we're living here...small things like stepping onto the porch every morning to greet the new day, being more diligent about my flamekeeping in honor of Brighid, tending the seeds we plant, embracing the ritual aspects of cooking, greeting the moon each night as I used to do. And casting ritual circles to mark the turning of the Wheel. 

   As I looked over the muddy water, listening to its music, such joy rose in started in my boot-clad feet, curling up and around me, body, heart, soul. I remembered the feeling and had thought it long gone, an ecstatic joy of the spirit that physically manifests as warmth and energy (not unlike Reiki for those who are familiar with that). It's a precious and rare gift I would share with everyone if it was possible.

I was of earth and sky, water and air, part and parcel of this place. 

My favorite Goddess chant became a chorus in my head: Earth my body, Water my blood, Air my breath and Fire my Spirit...I had started this journey wanting to find my way home.

The Goddess wrapped Her arms around me and whispered "You're already here."

Happy New Year...may your feet carry you to exactly where you need to be.


turquoisemoon said...

Lovely post. I am a Buddhist, but have been studying Taoism. Ritual, for me, is meditation, then my prayers. Without it, I get the jitters... One thing, in your post, bothered me, that you felt selfish for taking solitary walks. Why do people feel selfish? for needing alone time?? soul time? quiet time??? These times are needed for your spirit. I hear this often and wonder??? xoxox

Robin Larkspur said...

Ashling, your post has given me goosebumps all over. Seriously. How exciting to reconnect and find ways to truly feel alive and spiritual and be a living, working part of Nature and the world of Spirit. I send you brightest blessings and hugs. Extraordinary post.

Danny said...

Dear dear Sister, you know I don't often read you Blog but I was brought here today and I was afraid then overjoyed and as always inspired by your Journey. Thank you for your New Years gift! Your words echoed my feelings, alone we fall into our own conceit. Together even when apart we grow. SHE is good and wise and leads us thru the turn of.the wheel. Too long I have dwelt with Hern its time to rebuild and soothe Brightest Blessings and wonder in the New Year!

Fiona said...

Have a wonderful New Year

Fiona x

Jen said...

Lovely thoughtful post. I'm glad you took the time alone and it led to deep places. xo

Cait said...

This is so beautifully written and so deeply true. Thank you for taking that walk and sharing it with all of us who need to be reminded. What a blessing!

Linda said...

I am having fun catching up with your posts!! They are so amazing...I have been studying Buddhism after spending years beating myself up with I find myself wanting to add a more Nature based aspect to it...This was beautiful & I have started a ritual of every new moon writing positive affirmations, candles & moon salutations...I have really been drawn to the Moon lately...
This was really nice...Thanks for sharing it...