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Moving With Grace

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I was having a hard time with this prompt, as grace is mostly associated with Christianity, for me, and not even from the Christian tradition I grew up in, which had more of a focus on good works and was at theological odds with the grace camp. So I don’t know a lot about their version of it, and I never even hear the term outside of that context, unless we’re talking about graciousness or the physical grace of dancers, birds, etc.

I’m going to define grace as divine help, a source of strength to draw on, beauty, harmony, health, and compassion. Things at their best, in their easiest flow… the opposite being dis-ease, I suppose.

I could just fold that into my definition of magic. I’ve always felt loved by/love for the universe, felt helped along in subtle and great ways, and felt surprised by so many synchronicities of such quality that there was no room left for doubting that magic is real.

I’m starting to think as I write this that perhaps it’s time that magic should fold into grace, in my schema, now that I see magic as so pervasive as to not be markedly different from the rest of life. It was something special I was attracted to in my young life, but now I live within it, and everything is made of it. Grace is the spiritual health of being in harmony with everything, even with disharmony/disease/disgrace, which has its place. It’s contented, yet excited, interconnection with all that is. It’s being at home and loving being at home, even when home is messy, even when you’re cleaning it up. It’s belonging.

Bumpier roads aren’t even all that hard to navigate, anymore. The flow carries me along with ease. I go where I’m called and I bring harmony and healing, magic and love, and just patiently do the work that needs doing, knowing it will eventually work as it should. That which is sustainable, sustains. The rest decays and feeds the next. Nature eventually evolves the most graceful system that fits what exists. Things fall into harmony, given enough time. It is a process that moves through time. I trust Nature. Her grace is the oldest and strongest and most beautiful.

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Imbolc, the Early Transition

Imbolc is one of my favorite holidays. The hopefulness it brings, celebrating the first stirrings of a Spring about to burst forth, has always been needed, in my life and in the communities that celebrate it. In my younger days I used to have the winter-time Seasonal Affective Disorder, so the smallest hint of green, warmth, or strong light during winter was like a life preserver, promising that happiness was coming and that life would not feel like this forever. People need hope. Communities need to feel that better times are coming, if they’re struggling… that they can reach a transition point and revolution can sweep through.

I remember one suffering winter day around this time of year, in high school, when I walked outside at lunch-time and spied a patch of grass peeking out of the snow, looking surprisingly green… I stepped onto it and, on contact, felt a strong and instant relief. A weight dropped off me, or something heavy drained right out of my body and soul… and riotous, green life welled up within me, energizing me and making me feel amazingly alive and alert. I felt a physical, mental, and spiritual transition as it happened, in the sacred space of a small island of grass in a sea of snow. I think a friend was with me, standing nearby on the snow or the concrete, but I was paying full attention to this experience, which had taken me by surprise. I thanked the grass or the spirit of the green for the gift, instinctively (I’ve always been an animist, even when I thought I was a monotheist), and went on with my day and the rest of that winter in a happier state, and I have always carried the memory with me.

Imbolc makes me think of that gift of healing and hope, along with other similar feelings I’ve had at Imbolc through the years. The transition of winter into spring, at this early and quiet point, this subtle shift, is powerful… quite powerful to those who feel the cold and the dark in their bones, after a long “white death.”

Rebirth is conceived at such a point. And life spirals upward, ever-changing, ever-growing even with its periods of dying back. The light returns, the green germinates, the new life takes hold. Death and corruption are not forever, in a living world like ours, in a Mother’s strong embrace.

Harness this energy to transition into some new beginning for yourself, for your community, and have a hopeful nascent Spring.

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Necessities For Spiritual Growth

What is necessary for spiritual growth?

The same things are necessary for spiritual growth that are necessary for all natural growth. Resources, space, and evolution.

Resources for sustenance are, fortunately, present in abundance for everyone, when it comes to spirit. You don’t need money, you don’t need books, and you don’t even need a deity or a teacher. They’re nice to have, but you can grow spiritually even without them, so they aren’t what is necessary.

A world brimming with life, and a universe brimming with magnificent wonders is resource enough to fill you to bursting with spirit. There is so much to be a part of, and so much that can become part of you, in this home we arose from. We never lack for something or someone to connect with and form relationships with. Spirit is found in those relationships and connections. The joy that blooms… even the quiet, comforting certainty (or comfort of making peace with uncertainty)… from the flow of spirit through the branches of connection brings easy growth. Add additional resources like teachers, books, etc. and you can choose what direction to grow in, and gather plenty of knowledge and wisdom you can also apply to your growth and the growth of others you are connected with.

Animals grow by adding more cells to the body, while plants do that AND increase the size of their cells by filling them with water. We can add more connections to our core, and like our plant kin, we can also add sustenance to our existing core and connections and stretch them into new dimensions, giving all kinds of possibility to the shaping of our spiritual lives. Possibility as can be observed in the world, where many types of religion have thrived in human cultures – some with deities and some without, some focused on belief or cosmology, and others on practice or other aspects. There is no one “correct” way. Diversity is one of the wonders of the way Mother Nature works. So whatever nourishes your spirit, seek that.

Space in which to grow is another necessity. People need the freedom to engage with their own spirituality and ways of doing religion (or choosing not to). Theocracies and other forms of religious oppression stifle the natural processes of spirituality, growth, and individual and cultural progress.

Sometimes a religion itself can become oppressive, demanding that its adherents only grow and shape themselves in certain ways. That may involve growth, and perhaps it can be lovely like a bonsai tree, but each person should have a true choice about whether they want to be shaped that way by their religion, or whether they want to choose their own shape and have freedom to branch in any direction that might call to them as they grow.

Personal space or time carved out of your routine just for spirituality is also helpful. Even just paying attention to your spirituality or spiritual matters is making space for them, and room for them to grow and change. Physical space can be important, too – temple, shrine, a quiet place to meditate, and even roaming out into the beautiful world so you can meet new places and beings, and increase your knowledge, experience, and wisdom. Even inner-space can be an infinite place to explore, with human creativity generating and discovering pretty much anything.

Evolution is simply change over time. A static state is not growth, is not life, and is not how our universe works. There is always movement and change, even when it doesn’t appear to be so on the scale that we humans are able to observe.

Being open to change and new directions and new configurations of self and community is necessary for growth, because how would growth be possible without change?

“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” ~Frank Zappa

So an open mind and heart are necessary for growth. Sticking to a prescription in a strict manner isn’t growth, it’s just a process, just a shaping mold to grow into (or out of). Prescriptions are often for something that has worked before, or for sharing best-practices thus far, but there’s often more than one way that works. Finding new ones IS a best practice, when practical. Being curious and willing to explore is necessary if you’re going to grow beyond what you think you know… what you think everyone knows… what you think everyone should know… what everyone has told you that you should know. Try NOT knowing it, and see what happens. You might be surprised. And if you are open and love truth-whatever-it-is, these surprises won’t frighten you, and you’ll get a good rooting in the soil of the world (as big and strange as it is) for growing and taking part in it, with abundant wonder, even if it surprises you less as you learn more. Or even if it surprises you more as you learn more. 😉

May we all keep growing and maturing in spirit, connecting in community, respectfully nurturing each other’s growth, and thriving in this beautiful life together.

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Experience

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July 6 – You Pick! A reminder that this month there are no formal writing prompts. Please post about whatever topics are your favorite and which you think would be of interest to our community. If you would like to keep Weeks 3 and 4 for Deity and the Divine and the Letters “M and N” go for it!

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Poor neglected blog. I changed the domain and then fell out of touch.

I’ve been in a place lately where my words are spare. My mind seems to want efficiency and necessity. This week I told a friend that, “my words are tired.”

This drives me a little nuts, since I’ve always had so much to say – so many insights and clarifications to share. It seems there are so many of them now, that I don’t know where to begin, anymore. It has all become an amorphous cloud of experience and knowledge to draw from (and that does make me efficient, like when driving is mastered so you don’t have to think about operating the vehicle while you’re navigating, it’s just part of your body now…)

I’ll have to push together messages from the cloud I exist in, in a more formal craft, now, and that thought tires me. It’s like teaching someone to drive, after you’ve forgotten all the details of how it’s done (“accelerate halfway through the turn…”) because it has become automatized for you. You haven’t had to think explicitly and step-by-step about making turns in decades. It’s all just part of the flow.

I love this blog, though, and I’m going to re-commit to it, and to The Pagan Experience project. I think I’ll just skip what I’ve missed, and continue on from July. That way I can work ahead instead of trying to catch up with 11 missed posts. Maybe some of those 11 will sneak into place, backdated, if I have spare time and writing energy, though.

I was really looking forward to writing G for Genius Loci, for instance. I suppose it could move ahead into S for Spirit of Place. I don’t have the energy just yet for doing it justice, anyway. It is huge in my life and spirituality, but putting it into words is going to be challenging. This language and this culture haven’t carved out much space for the concept. It got left behind in our Pagan past, and we’re just starting to be able to think and feel that way again, at least in an explicit way that can be shared. It is ancient and inherent in the human psyche, and yet we’re new at noticing it, because of the way our culture went, and the emphasis our culture gave to humans and everything but the present and the land.

Well, consider that a preview, heh. I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, with daily writing, so there will be more.

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New Blog Address

You may have been surprised to find a notification that I’m following your blog again when you thought I already had been.

It was time to change my blog address from tangledgrove to awenyddofthemountains to match the new name I gave the blog earlier this year (and to keep a separate account from my other blogging so this one can have its own profile). Making a separate account means that I left my followers and followed-blogs in the reader of my other account. *sigh* I also have to go make redirect posts on the old blog address for my posts on The Pagan Experience site. But it had to be done, and sooner rather than later so I’d only have half a year’s worth of posts to redirect, rather than more, if I’d waited.

So here I am, again, still. 😀 Refollow from here if you want to follow my future posts. Sorry for any inconvenience.

~Lia

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Earth Day 2015


It’s not all pretty. The earth knows terrible things. She receives all deaths, gentle and brutal. She bears the pain of every birth. She turns all things back into herself; she worries the bones to dust. She is changing, always changing. Layers shift. Her own bones crash and break. Tides heave. Rock erupts into fire. It’s not all pretty. Beauty never is. ~Elizabeth Cunningham, “Magdalen Rising


Happy Earth Day! Let’s remember and be grateful for our Mother’s care, and care for her with gracious hearts and devoted hands.

What could be more precious than the only planet we know of in all the universe that sustains life?!

And she does it so beautifully.