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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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No Words Without Water

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The Pagan Experience’s Monday Musing: Water – We are beings of water, but do we really honor it as element, physiologic need and the beginnings of our lives as humans? How do you honor water? How will you ensure its ebb and flow?

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[Photo: Dancing Earth]

I’m struggling to express this, even though I’m sure I could wax poetic all day… water is more important/beautiful/sacred than words can ultimately touch.

There would be no words without water…

… no humans with language. No animals. No plants. No life (as we Earthlings know it). No experience to describe. No ears to hear, no eyes to read, no brain to comprehend.

Perhaps there would be no worlds without water.

Continue reading

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Ebb & Flow

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The Pagan Experience’s Monday Musing: Any writing for the letters E or F – We are keeping this familiar format on week 4 for those who have joined from the Pagan Blog Project.

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[Photo by John Mee]

 

E is for ebb, F is for flow

the rhythm of life, like the breath

living awen, inspire and grow

expire and draw back, like death

to and fro, above and below

ever-moving requires some rest

 

I think it’s important in a time-oriented culture… in an achievement-oriented culture… to remember the nature of life. Being a living creature means going AND stopping. It means working AND sleeping. Living AND dying. It’s not OR. It’s both.

Like disowning death, disowning rest and withdrawal has dire consequences, in the end. Is it any wonder we have endemic anxiety problems in our society? Our cultural script is telling us we must GO GO GO! Pausing means you’ll miss the train!

But pauses are essential. Continue reading

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I Am Grateful: Relationship With The Divine

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The Pagan Experience’s Monday Musing: Deity and the Divine (Alt Prompt)- What is your relationship with the Divine? Is it Devotional? Collaborative? An agreement of reciprocity? How does this engagement flow into your mundane relationships? or Does it?

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I see myself as part of the Divine, as with every being, every thing that exists, and every non-embodied concept we humans keep in our minds and the experience of our emotions. The whole of nature, together, is my concept of the Divine. My pantheism folds easily into my animism, since if I can have an individual consciousness while being part of the whole, I can interact with everything as if it may, as well. Even if it has no consciousness as we know it, it’s still part of what we all are. God/dess, Divinity, the Universe… whatever you want to call it. I even see the Gods as sparks of the Divine, and may also have individual consciousness. So I can interact with them collaboratively, the same as I do with animals, plants, landscapes, stars, spirits, etc.

Take the picture of the lovely, towering pampas grass, above, from the river I live next to… is that one in the center really grass without the other grass it grows among? Would it be pampas grass without the river bank on which to grow… without the mountain from which the river flows, and the rain and snow that feed it? Would it be, if the Sun didn’t create the planet? Would its leaves and stalk be green without the chlorophyll interacting with the photons from the sun, scattering the light until we see only green? What about our human eyes, evolved to catch all this light and these colors? What about our language, which named the grass, and our minds which love to categorize things and said that this is a grass, not a rush nor a sedge? Would it be pampas grass without its ancestors… even though they’re not here, in this time? Would it be a grass without the animal ancestors who co-evolved with the plant kingdom, each nourishing the other, and exhaling the kind of air the other needs for breathing… for life?

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