Praise to Hathor!

Praise to Hathor!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Journey Reflections

It seems that over the last three training weekends my entries have gotton longer. I have come back from this weekend - the most disapointed and fed up so far - with the most positive things to say!

 Art by Tiana

Amongst my personal reflections, and my exploring of the seasonal Goddess I have had thoughts regarding the training itself. I am the student who has embarked on his course after hungering after it for two years waiting for the money and to come of age (the minimum is 23). During these two years I have visited Glastonbury and the Goddess Temple festivals as often as that I could; I have read Kathy Jones' books, Priestess of Avalon, Priestess of the Goddess and The Ancient British Goddess twice over and am on my third reading; and I have co-organised pop-up Goddess Temples, and ceremonies, including calling in the wheel, for almost every sabbat. These are not boasts, they are just the result of two years of discovering my calling and running with it. I never believed I would be able to do the training as soon as I hit 23, but here I am!

Now, that being said I have found myself frustrated. I hunger for knowledge, to learn, to experience new things and on the surface I have felt that much of the material I am already very familiar with. Practically and theoretically speaking about first year course content I might be 2 years ahead of a number of spiral sisters; emotionally and spiritually however I might well be very behind a number of them. So in a way, we all come into this training at different levels, and at the same level at the same time. We're all here to grow and learn. I have realised that every course must begin at the beginning and so some things will be familiar; however, this year is not just about learning names, structures, correspondences and crafting tools.

The First Spiral is to become a Sister or Brother of Avalon, before you go on to learn to be a Priest/ess of the Goddess (Second Spiral) and then a Priest/ess of Avalon (Third Spiral). Before you can learn the skills of a Priest/ess of the Goddess you need to get rid of what no longer serves you. You need to go within yourself, find yourself, find the Goddess within.

 Phillipa Bowers Sculpture

You learn about each of the Goddesses around the wheel. This is not just learning a name and correspondences, and doing a ritual in honour of them. Each one of them represents a face of nature and an age of life. When you call in the wheel you acknowledge every aspect and archetype of life (and death) known to our landscape int he present time and place; it's a powerful thing to do! Each season, each training weekend, each Goddess, is so much more than their myth and ritual. She is You. You shoulg learn about Her traditions, animals and weather; but you also must learn Her role, Her challenges, Her mirror reflection of yourself.

You do not just learn about Cerridwen's mythology and the Crone archetype at Samhain. Doing that only goes so far. Every year would be the same if you did that. You must learn about Cerridwen within You. Reflect on your dark side, your painful past, or present, your baggage, things that perhaps you don't like to admit in yourself and that you've been avoiding. You do not just learn about Rhiannon and the Lover archetype at Beltane. You must learn about Rhiannon within You and reflect on your views on your own body and power, on your sexuality, taboos, shame or trauma. If you do that successfully, and start to actually make the effort to deal with them (you are on this training to make the effort afterall), then you can get closer to your true Priest/ess self.

This year does take you through the wheel so that you understand the changing seasons and have a knowledge on our culture's mythology. It will also provide you with a beautiful set of hand-made tools to Priest/ess with. It will build your confidence in participating in ceremony. But this is the surface level and perhaps these might be things you are familiar with already? And if that be so, then it just means you can get to the heart of the lesson quicker, not needing to memorise much.

I have not been happily distracted by learning material. I've been miserably distracted by Goddess invading my personal space, prodding and bringing up my own issues. It'll happen to everyone who is consciously present in the course, but for me, it is happening as soon as I start the training weekend.

As I said at the start, the Imbolc weekend has been the least enjoyable for me so far, not because of the course material, but because of my own emotional state. And despite this, I have come back with so much more understanding and appreciation. The lessons are absolutely what I needed, and I would probably not be experiencing these lessons  if I was not journeying on the Spiral. There is something about this Journey that truly does transform. It's beyond words and straight-forward explanation. But something magical certainly happens when you walk through the veil that first weekend, and declare that you are ready for Her lessons.

***

What still remains as a topic of contemplation for me is when I will do the Rhiannon training, for it truly is a when. I cannot wait, but then I don't think I'll walk to take a break in my Spiral training. This will be something to work through too. Something drew me to the Avalon course in the first place and I do believe that come Conference, I'll discover what it was...

Handing over the Rod of Power to Bridie

Danu's wintry weather didn't seem to kick in during Her season this year. I found myself waiting for it to come for so long, that I then realised I hadn't done my ceremony to Her and was already feeling Spring energies approaching.

A week or so before Imbolc I changed my altar over to honour Bridgit. At first it was hard to find things, apart from my two images, a Bridie cross, snake and white cloth. I covered the altar with other figurines, candles and stones to fill it up. After the training weekend I came back with a new (more natural) Bridie cross, Bridie's Eye, Bridie doll, a 'forge' key, sheep wool, a Flame of Avalon candle and a newly purchased swan vase!

Altar for Bridie

I was so excited for this training weekend. I longed to be in Avalon. I had the great honour to represent Bridie on the first day and I totally loved it. At the back of my mind, however, I knew I did not want to be typecast as the Maiden in the group for doing this... But I do treasure that inner child and have learnt to treat Her with kindness, as if She was my own daughter.

I found this weekend, as before, emotionally difficult. First of all, I confess, I was not at all happy with my homework poem. I know I could have done better, had I been inspired and made the time (rather than delaying with Danu). But I just did not get into it. I WILL be doing a new poem for Bridie very soon and sharing it with the group; I want to give this to Bridie. Secondly, I had poured love into preparing an outline of a Bridie doll (thinking it would save time for me to decorate it exactly as I wanted it) only to be told I had to make one from scratch that day. This really upset me as I had worked really hard, was excited about it, and I detest sewing... Once again, I did not voice my frustration at the time, and let it eat away at me, denying my feelings to others. I didn't want to draw attention, make a fuss, seem spoilt or ungreatful.

I wanted to be a nice, good girl.

But I realise now, why I was asked to do this and I appreciate the reasons. Interestingly, it was not just the group who benefitted from this, but being told 'no' benefitted me too. I sulked and my inner brat emerged. She had to be confronted! And that is why I felt ashamed and would not admit I was upset. First I had felt fear of being told off for already starting my doll, then I felt shame at having a silent tantrum. But I now understand why I did not like being told 'no'. For the last 8 years I've been told 'no'; over the last year I decided that I would do what I want and be independent. I'd indulged myself and said 'yes'. This brought me back to a balanced centre, of 'yes you can have that' and 'no you can't have that at this moment'.

My Bridie Doll (who I love by the way...)

In addition to this episode, before the weekend and during it, I did not seem to connect to Bridie beyond my initial ceremony with Her. I really felt Her energies during that time! Sadly, my poor mood must have cut Her out beyond that point. Before the weekend I felt that She was such a broad goddess that trying to place her on the wheel was hard, but then I opened up to seeing her as a child and maiden (as I hadn't thought of revering a Child Goddess before). After feeling distressed with making another doll I descended into a distant mood.
I spent the evening thinking about the day and bringing up feelings of disapointment. 
The next day I returned feeling distant again. I expressed some of my frustration to a Lovely, as I knew I had to let it out. She responded happily saying that it was excellent for me to notice how I felt and to explore it. She pointed out that it carried themes of wanting to be a 'good girl' and my competitiveness with myself... I was actually very inspired by how she viewed my distress as a good thing - something to learn from. I spent the day hugging my doll, trying to bond with it and push away the negative energies I had made it with. That was when She (my doll/Bridie) informed me that She needed to have red hair instead of green...

The next resistance comes from identifying with the Maiden archetype. I had previously expressed to my support group how I was frustrated with always being seen as a maiden. I did have initial concerns when I was told I'd be calling in Bridie, for this reason, although I was perfectly happy to still do it. When I represented Her in ceremony I was felt empowered by this archetype. I was able to own it. Rather than seeing the Child/Maiden as vulnerable, lesser and small, She became Enchanting, Innocent and Powerful, And so did I.
I was very happy after (until later on). In life however, although I do feel that I am in touch with my inner child and she manifests often, recently I have been pulling against Her. One reason for this is that I am trying to face the new trials of adult life: living without a student loan, trying to get a job to cover rent, learning to drive and figuring out where I'm going to live. This is all new to me and everyone goes through it. But how can I embrace my inner care-free child and cope with this? I have to make mature decisions and try to be independent.
The other reason is that I'm so totally in love with Rhiannon (the Lover) and it's tricky to embrace wild and free sexuality when I am still viewed as a maiden... I fear that people are seeing something external (my youth) rather than who I feel like inside. Or am I missing something deeper there? I had received some very kind comments saying how I was such a lovely Bridie, and a brilliant Maiden. These were wonderful things to say, but I couldn't help but yearn to have that said about me for Rhiannon and the Lover instead. So I felt frustrated.


I never got into the energies of that weekend and Bridie's influence and left feeling flat and worried. Should I be on this course? But actually I DID connect to Her energies - Her energies within me. I tapped into my inner child - both the carefree excited maiden and the spoilt sulky brat!
 
***

But after gaining some advice and venting my feelings I feel SO MUCH better. I will follow up another post with new thoughts about this training. On Monday I decided to refresh, reflect and manifest Bridie. On the train to my interview I added red hair to my Bridie doll (identifying Her with me, and me with Her). I hummed songs to Bridie and prayed that she'd help me to see the (scary) journey as an exciting adventure to somewhere new. The journey did not go well, but I got there in the end and Bridie's zest for life came across in the interview!

I have lots of creative projects to do and Her spark is alighting. After all of Danu's stillness I feel Bridie's energy rising up from the earth. I have so much hope and prayers for the success of the interview (and my back up interview that was also this week), and this means success and security for the rest of the year, and my future. It means I could find somewhere to live, learn to drive and continue to pay for Priestess training. It all lies on the job - which is why I've been so agitated about it!

I am seeing Her as the young maiden, excited for life, who quickens the land with Her white rod of power and sets everything in motion. It feels like a beginning.

Stillness with Danu


 Last year Samhain brought difficult challenges to face that required direct action; Yule was completely missed by me then. This year I have been in a better emotional place and through doing the training I have been able to focus on observing the season. This time, as with Samhain, I’ve had lots of introspective lessons. 

 Danu Altar

This training weekend I had pestering negative thoughts crop up. Most of the time it was a reflection of my own feelings of inadequacy and jealousy. It was me projecting my feelings onto others. Identifying this was the first step. It made me feel frustrated and ashamed, but I had to confront it. I found competitiveness come up too. This was to compensate for my low sense of self-worth: I need to prove myself; however, this being said, I know that it is not the desire to be the best, better than others, and centre of attention: It is the desire to be noticed at all, and reassured that I am worth something. Again I had to realise this before I can heal these wounds.
Walking in Her Landscape 
 
By the end of the weekend, after an absolutely gorgeous walk - with a stunning view of the Tor and moon in the distance, over a lake at dusk - I left feeling good. I had felt really, really low, but the realisations and the walk began to the healing. 
I learnt that I definitely project my own bad feelings and ideas onto others and that had to stop.
I learnt that if someone else does something amazing, even if it's better than what I did (and that's subjective anyway) that just means I've had the privelidge to witness it, take part or enjoy it too! If others shine, bask in the brightness!
I learnt the beautiful power of compliments. It feels so nice to recieve them. It feels even better to see someone light up when you give one!
I learnt that I would need to go into myself to dig up what no longer serves me; that this would be uncomfortable and I would probably have lots of tantrums and panicky moments; but that this was necessary. I realised that if I wanted to truly be a Priestess of the Goddess I needed to lose this petty childish attitude that was not really a reflection of any truth. She made me face it this weekend so I could begin to release it. 

Solitary Danu Ceremony 
 
Beyond the weekend, the season of Danu was still and restful. I had a wonderful birthday, and spent a lot of time crocheting a blanket. I rested, and planned for the upcoming year.


She gave me time to be still.