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A Fall Equinox Mystery: Persephone and the Sacred Feminine

At the edge of the edge of the sunlit realm, where a rough-hewn stone stairway leads down into the velvety darkness of the Underworld, Persephone awaits you, still and silent, wrapped in a black cloak that rustles in a bone-chilling wind. She is beautiful and fearsome, with penetrating dark blue eyes, pale skin, lips the rich red of pomegranate, and long, lustrous ebony brown hair.

This is not the young maiden Goddess, alight with joy and innocence, that you may have read about in the ancient tales, but a regal being who has fully claimed Her place and sovereignty in the great weaving of life.

“Change is in the air,” Persephone says after She has greeted you, “For millennia, humanity has rejected the ways of the sacred feminine and the powers of the sacred dark that reside within the Underworld. There is a grievous imbalance in your world that cuts you off from the natural cycles and powers of life, and your own whole/holy nature.

Yet the season of humanity is turning and a great awakening is upon you. Your Deep Self is reaching for you, calling you to a life of soul and drawing you back to my side and the lost ways of the sacred feminine.”

She extends Her arm and you wrap your fingers in the soft, black folds of Her cloak. The space around you shimmers and morphs, and you find yourself transported to another time and place, looking out on a scene from when the world was fresh and new.

A younger version of Persephone plays in the meadow before you, picking flowers and smiling Her delight. Her face has the warm tones of skin kissed by sunlight and Her eyes are of a lighter shade of blue gray.

“You see me here when I lived in the bright circle of my Mother Demeter’s loving embrace,” the older Persephone beside you says, “Life was very, very good. The green-growing realm was my playground and I wanted for nothing. Yet I was restless, always seeking the outer edge of things, hungry to know more, experience more, become more.”
 
As you watch, the young Persephone wanders further and further from the meadow and the protective circle of Her Mother. Her light-hearted smile has been replaced by an intense focus, as if She is being drawn forward by a compelling, irresistible force.

A great fissure appears in the Earth at Her feet and a God-like being emerges. He emanates a powerful elixir of animal magnetism and ethereal beauty, as if He is equally woven of flesh and of light. A piercing cold spreads outward from His body, withering the wildflowers and yellowing the leaves within reach of His frosty breath. Yet His somber, coal-black eyes are filled with tender warmth as He gazes down at the lovely Persephone.   

“Hades,” She whispers with a note of longing in Her voice and taking a tentative step in His direction.   

“Come,” He says, extending a hand to Her, “it is time for your awakening.”

For a moment young Persephone pauses, looking over Her shoulder from where She came and then down into the inky darkness before Her. And in this moment, it is as if you are inside of Persephone, feeling the push and pull of Her trepidation and profound hunger in the face of this vast unknown realm. A calm determination rises up from Her core, quieting Her fast beating heart and steeling Her resolve. Then She slips Her hand into Hades’s, a faint smile playing across Her lips, and the Earth closes over their heads, swallowing them whole.

The scene disappears and you are once more standing beside the older Persephone at the stone steps leading into the Underworld.

“Life never stands still,” Persephone says, “Something inside of us seeks the edges of what we know in search of our deeper and greater becoming.

“No matter my worldly knowledge and gifts, and all the lovely things that gave me joy and pleasure, I was incomplete in the sunlit realm of my Mother’s world. The dark side of my feminine nature was missing, compelling me to descend into the Underworld, with Hades as my companion and guide, to find and awaken the dormant pieces of my whole/holy nature.”

As Persephone speaks, the light fades from the sky and a profound stillness settles on the land. Fall is in the air and the natural world, like Persephone, has begun its descent into the secret mysteries of darkness. 

“I tell you my story so you may know the ways of the sacred feminine,” Persephone continues, “To seek the true power and nature of your Deep Self, you must step past the border of your known world into the depth of the Underworld that resides in the inner folds of your psyche and in the mysteries that underlie waking reality.

“When you brave the Underworld and travel its ways, you reclaim what has been lost, the sacred feminine and the sacred dark, and you begin the hard, hard work of returning balance and wholeness to your life and your world. Your journey will not be easy because the trials and revelations of the sacred dark are meant to test and teach you. And yet, if you follow in my footsteps and stay the course, healing and profound change will come.

“This journey of soul begins with wherever you are right now, at this moment. Whatever is ready to awaken in you waits for you in the sacred dark.”

Persephone places Her hand on your chest, sending Her wise teachings into the core of your being. Her story is your story, the story of the turning of the seasons into Fall, and the story of the unfolding of our collective humanity. Always at the Fall Equinox, the sacred darkness opens portals that beckon to a new cycle of healing and growth.

Then Her touch and Her presence are gone. Yet you are not alone at the portal to the Underworld. He waits for you on the stone stairs, a magical messenger to guide your journey back to your Deep Self.

“Come,” He says, His hand extended to you and His eyes brimming with tender warmth,  “it is time for your awakening.”

Take His hand, descend; the sacred darkness and your deepest becoming await you.

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A Lammas Teaching: The Seasons and Cycles of Breath

Our journey of soul is like breath.

On the in-breath, we enter deep inside of ourselves, to the well-spring of our soul and the mysteries of the sacred dark, seeking guidance and inspiration for our pathwork of healing and transformation, and the seeds of our beauty and wounding that are ready to return to the light of our waking-world consciousness.

On our out-breath, we turn our focus outward, embracing the enervating powers of light and life and letting the seeds of our pathwork express and reveal themselves in the machinations of our everyday existence. Life is our teacher, bringing us the insights, energies and experiences we need to heal, grow and blossom in the sunlit world.

On our return in-breath, we gather up and take back inside everything that we have learned and experienced. We harvest our healing work and life story, and ingest their transformative lessons, letting them nourish and change us. And in this process, we become a newer, more profound and brighter version of our Deep Self.

The turning of the seasons is like breath.

On the in-breath, the natural realm turns inward as the balance shifts from light and life to darkness and death. Nature sinks into stillness and repose, while the land rejuvenates and the seeds of the new gestate in the belly of the dark.

On the out-breath, the returning light and warmth awaken the sleeping seeds of life within the land. Roots dig deep and green tendrils reach upward to kiss the sun. Everywhere in Nature, creation expands outward in a rampant, stunning display of the beauty and abundance of new and blossoming growth.

On the return in-breath, the living world offers up the fruits of its labors for the harvest. The death and sacrifice of some threads of life ensure the nurturance and continuance of others. Yet nothing is truly lost, for contained within death are the seeds of a new season and a future harvest.

And then the cycle begins anew, always turning, never-ending, one breath, one season, one chapter on our journey of soul is followed by the next. In these ways, life sustains and creates more life, and the light of our soul shines ever brighter.

Our busy modern world is not like breath. If anything, we are fixated on a perpetual out-breath, with its expansive, external focus. We are always doing and striving, charting our passage through life by the material markers of achievements and possessions. More is better. Growth is everything.

Yet we can never escape the natural order of things. We can’t breathe out, without breathing in. The outer arises from the inner, and that which grows and expands, in the end, returns to the still, fertile center of things to feed and give rise to the next cycle of life.

Individually and collectively we have reached the end of our extended out-breath. It is time to turn our focus to the return in-breath of harvesting and ingesting what we have learned from the fruits of our efforts, and of winnowing out what needs to die and be sacrificed in service of the balance and wellness of the whole.

This is the work of Lammas, where profound, consciously chosen endings gift us with the seeds of profound, life-serving beginnings, and from these seeds our lives and our world are renewed and reborn.

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The Serpent's Kiss: Beltane Fires

We stand at another season and another turn of the Great Solar Wheel. We gather in the fertile space of circle greenery anchored well with phallic maypole standing tall. We dance around the potent fires of Beltane celebrating the sacred union of God and Goddess, youth and maiden and the polarity of seed and womb offered by male and female. The air is fragrant with the promise of summer's musky scent and shoots of fresh grass elongate delicately upwards, stretching towards Father Sun and longer days to bask in His brilliance. We can see the lengthening of the days light and feel the gentle caress of warm sun-kissed air on skin that has just recently shed its winter clothing. In the continuous cycle, darkness gives way to light and so also the sparse flora of the fields gives way to the thick verdant splendor of late-Spring growth. 

This is the magickal season of the thinning of the veils between ancestor and human, spirit and Deva and the gifts of connection to seen and unseen. We bow to the enlivening of all of the fruits of mother earth's bounty that will herald summer's gifts of ripening. We joyfully and with purity of intent and heart give offering to the Fae to aid us in our endeavors and make promise that the progeny of our union with nature and all of its life will make good in keeping her healthy and whole. All is ready and ripe for a consummate union that will feed the cycles of creation. This interweaving takes form in all aspects of being-sexual, spiritual and more. 

The potency of sexual union and the energy that is the by-product of the sexual act is one of the most potent and its heady scent seductively calls to all to join in the dance. If guided and directed towards enlivening and magickal working its raw force has the power to manifest form. In alchemical and Tantric practice, using this energy as a means of self-enlivening and energetic renewal and healing is the goal. It is this energy that is celebrated and called into action as we wait in anticipation of the Beltane’s lovers sacred union. The heat of passionate longing and the desire to join as one ensures the continuance of life's pleasure and humanity’s legacy. It pulses with a lusty rhythm that mesmerizes and magnetically draws to itself the object of its seeking. And, life continues in the throes of human passion and Divine synthesis. 

This is the time of spiritual union. When the potency of the energies and the fires of devotion are most fertile and ready to be held in loving embrace in hopes of creating connection and bond that will move us forward on our spiritual paths. We stimulate the fires of our own will and exhale into the heat of our yearning. At this turn of the Wheel, I would like to propose a deeper union. 

The Fires that arise are much like the breath of transformation that becomes the potency of catalytic change and enlivening. The fires that issue froth from the Dragon; a winged serpent who has conquered the mysteries of Air and has risen above the constraints of earth and land to soar across the heavens. It holds within its body the waters of life and quickens them in the Fires of creation, remaining solid and strong in its intent. The Snake is the terrestrial form of the Dragon and holds the wisdom of the Earth. This turn of the year, in particular offers up especial opportunity to drink deeply from the Dragon’s fires and the wisdom of Snake’s grounding as we seek the rapture of their Divine kiss. As we think on the outward expression of our passions and the desire for union we can also turn that desire inwards, fueling our passion for union with our Higher nature. 

The metaphor of Beltane is that of coming to a point of coalescent energy. The merging, blending and eventual uniting of our polarized selves in all their facets. Male and female, light and dark, earthly desire and the bliss of orgasmic release are the potent streams that become the maypole ribbons that we cling to as we dance around the core of seed-filled center. We also become the womb and vessel of this outpouring of force and act as the container of form so that something new may be birthed from this quickened state of being. We weave the ribbons tightly around this container, affirming the strength that is held in co-creative effort and then marvel at the beauty of that creation the celebration of the outcome. 

If we use another metaphor, that of the Kundalini awakening or Serpent of Fire, we find that this is one and the same type of energy. Desire awakens the serpent of wisdom who lays coiled at the base of the earthly and primal state. We breathe deeply and call forth our will to merge with this energy. Breath and action fuel and catalyze this energy and stir it into heightened awareness as the dance of weaving and life begins. As the serpent moves along its path of return the One becomes two; separating in individualized awareness of the need for polarity and the deeper gnosis of the duality of our singular state of being. Each moves along its intended course, seducing and drawing the other into its embrace at points of quickening and awakening. The pace quickens and the two return as One in the release of catalytic seed and waters of quickening. The fires of will reach up towards the Higher Self and the Serpent’s Kiss bites deeply into primed matter releasing the transformative elixirs of deep knowing and spiritual union with the Divine in all of its forms. The fires of Beltane move serpent-like in and through you and the joyous celebration of God and Goddess’ Sacred Union is that of You and your Higher Self. 

This year as you celebrate Beltane, open yourself to the deeper enlivening. Become a conscious participant in awakening all parts of your being. Celebrate your Gods and Goddesses. Celebrate your physical nature and connection to that which makes you most human. Celebrate the life that flows within you and the potential of being creator and co-creator of all that you will to be so. And, think deeply on these questions:

Will you seek the serpent's kiss*? Will you allow the energy of desire, will and action to guide you to the ecstasy of union? Will you draw into yourself the seed of potential and quicken it within the womb of your own making? And, at the next turn of the Great Wheel will you stand as one with the heat of the blazing sun issuing forth the breath of the fiery Dragon you have called to Light within?

Happy Beltane. May the Fires of Life Flow Through Every Part of Your Being!

 

Image: Stock Photo 123rf
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Title: The Shaman Speaks

Publisher: Middle Creek Publishing

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Compassion?

I am reminded as we move closer towards the beginnings, the beauty and fertility of Spring that we are once again provided with the opportunity to seed a new way of “Being”...

Have We Forgotten To Be Kind? Have We Forgotten To Be Understanding? Have We Forgotten Compassion?

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  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Thank you!

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Your Undimmed Lightness of Being

One Reality:

I’m in magical circle, celebrating Samhain. We’re in a group trance, traveling to the isle of the dead to commune with our beloved Ancestors. I’ve done this meditation many times before, yet this time is different.  As we reach the shore of this blessed isle, we unzip our flesh coats and step forth as beings of pure shining light, tethered to our living, breathing bodies by a silver cord.

There will never be enough words to capture such a lightness of being. For this blessed time, I’m free of my human body, and my mindscape of fears and tangled habits that make me less than I am.  I’m pure light, untainted love, unbounded beauty, in the company of other bright shining beings, both my living companions and our blessed dead. 

I understand, in the deepest parts of my being, the truth of this moment: that I am this being of light, always. This is my naked, true Self, and our naked, true humanity. We are, always, pure light, untainted love, unbounded beauty. When I follow my silver tether back to my human body, and zip myself back into my flesh coat, my skin seems to loosen its fibers, letting more of that inner light shine outward.

Another Reality:

A few weeks later, I’m on the treadmill at the gym, working to make my body strong.  There’s a screen in my face, blasting out the daily news: a gang rape by teenage boys from a Catholic high school; a high profile, high drama murder of an international journalist; the latest Trump cringe-fest fiasco.  My heart squeezes tight and my adrenals spike. Barely halfway through my cardio routine, I’m already drenched in the toxicity of status quo reality.

Damn! It’s caught me again, off guard, that constant, outer noise pushing its way past my defenses, triggering my fears and negative mindset, trying to spellbind me into believing in the worst of my humanity. I forget, in these short moments, my Samhain experience of the light being in my core. Loathing rises up in me, and horror, grief and rage. I feel dirty and ashamed of my flesh coat and our collective humanity.

Big breathe in. Big breathe out. I tune out the screen, and focus instead on the reassuring rhythm of my striding legs, my hard-working muscles and sweating skin. I love my wondrous flesh coat; I clear my mindset of fear and loathing; I remember the shining light of who I am, and the true, untainted nature of my humanity — the spell of our shadow humanity is broken.

Two realities.  Two versions of our human nature. 

Which do we choose to believe in? Which do we give our attention and juice to? Which do we allow to steer our choices and actions? Which will help us build the world we want to live in?

The shadow side of our humanity is true. We are doing terrible things to each other and our planet home.  Rape, murder and political fiascos are daily occurrences. Our flesh coats and mindsets are burdened down by fears and tangled habits born out of our personal and collective histories of trauma and wounding.   Yes, these things happen; they are real and seemingly omnipresent. 

The pure, shining brilliance of our humanity is true. We are blessed with the glorious gift of living in a light and beauty infused world. We ourselves are light and beauty infused beings. Love, kindness, justice, compassion, creativity, courage, humor, sensuality, and so much more: these are the shining of our inner light outward.  These things are real and truly omnipresent.

We talked about this dual nature of our humanity at the end of our Samhain ritual, and the overwhelming challenges and atrocities that have come to dominate our shared society and non-stop news cycles.  How can we be a force of positive change, we asked ourselves? How can we make a difference?

One of my brilliant companions answered simply, “we have to bring a little of our light into today, and then tomorrow after that.”

Nothing or no one can ever dim our lightness of being.  We’re meant to shine bright, gifting the world with the brilliance of our pure, naked Self, unbounded beauty and untainted love.  But we’ve been convinced to do the dimming ourselves. 

Individually and collectively, we’ve been bullied, shamed and abused. We’ve been indoctrinated into the shadow reality of humanity, fed to us constantly, unrelentingly through the one-sided messaging of mass culture. We’ve been spellbound through lies and illusions about our unworthiness and tainted nature. We’ve become lost and fear tangled, our flesh coat and mindset made into prisons, and our shining inner core forgotten.

But this doesn’t have to be your truth. You don’t have to give your attention and juice to the shadow reality of humanity.  You can choose to believe in the shining brilliance of your Self and human nature.  You can begin to undim your life light, loosen the fibers of your flesh coat, and let more and more of that glorious beauty that you are shine through.

Big breathe in. Big breathe out. Tune out the outer noise. Focus instead on the reassuring rhythm of your beating heart, the wondrous motions of your hard-working body, and the caress of air on your sensing skin. Reach inward to that shining light at the core of your being. Unzip your flesh coat, just a little bit, as much as feels good and safe. Take a little bit of your light into today, and tomorrow after that. Little by little, breathe by breathe, moment by moment, shine your lightness of being outward, and brighten the world around you.

In each of these undimmed moments, the shadow spell of humanity is broken, and you are set free. You may forget, be caught off guard, or choose to hide again. Don’t worry, these are natural parts of your journey of reclaiming your full-shining Self. Once you unzip your flesh coat, and taste your own innate brilliance and beauty, even a little, you’re no longer lost. You’ve woken from your spellbound sleep, and set your feet on a path that will guide you home to your true Self, undimmed moment by undimmed moment.

Trust that this journey takes time and practice. It’s done in small steps and big leaps, where, again and again, you choose to wake up, disconnect from the negative, shadow-reality messaging and experiences outside and inside of you, and re-align yourself with your shining core and a positive, love-filled vision of our humanity.

With every bit of your light you reclaim, you’re gifting yourself and everyone who crosses your path with bright new possibilities.
 
In these small steps and big leaps, we build the world we want to live in, each of us bringing a little of our unzipped light into today, and tomorrow after that. Together we can break the spell of our shadow humanity, forever, and bask in our collective, undimmed lightness of being.  From this vast, untapped resource of love, beauty and power, anything and everything are possible.  

Photo Credit: Seraphina Capranos & Ben Skorguson

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  • Karen Clark
    Karen Clark says #
    Thanks so much for the lovely comment Tasha.
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Nicely said and beautifully put. Thanks you for shining your light, Warmest joyful greetings ato your light that shines so brightl

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Deep Into the Belly

"Our roots are in the dark; the earth is our country. Why do we look up for blessing-instead of around and down? What hope we have lives there. Not in the sky full of orbiting spy-eyes and weaponry, but in the earth we have looked down upon. Not from above, but from below. Not in the light that blinds, but in the dark that nourishes, where human beings grow human souls."....Ursula K. Le Guin

Down into the belly of the earth I seek myself. My blood warm and pulsing, flowing like sap in the veins of a tree that has seen time through the eyes of the season. I breathe and leaves billow out from limbs long and lanky. I breathe and ripples run through the sweet smelling earth. I breathe and the ground vibrates, knowing who I am. 

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