My theme for the month is wildness. When I tell people this I get funny looks. People assume I’m gonna be running around naked in the woods. While I’m not above doing that, it reminds me about how we’ve got the wrong idea about the wild.
As a word we equate it to something like frenetic, frenzied, chaotic. But true wildness couldn’t be further from the truth.
Somewhere back in the good ol’ bad days we started moving further and further away from our own wild natures. We had to become civilized. Now I’m gonna save the details and debate about that occurrence for another post, but I think it is safe to say, that by now, most of us are pretty darn cut off from our own wild natures. Some of us are down right scared of them. And in turn we are scared of the wild world.
Let’s look at our mistaken ideas about wildness as an example.
Research continually shows us time and time again that nature has a relaxing and anti-depressive effect on humans. Just a few minutes a day outside lifts our mood, calms us down, and improves our health.
Why then do we fear the wild.
I think the answer lies in our own mis-alinged relationship with it. As we moved further and further away from our own wild nature, the wilderness turned from something that supported us, to something we had to conquer. In the process we lost sight of the fact that for the vast majority of creatures that live there, the wild is a place of great peace, not great struggle.
Animals in the wild spend about 90% of their time resting and relaxing, and only about 10% in a frenetic chase from danger, or hunting food. But as humans, our interactions with the wild are so limited, that we tend to only see the frenetic 10%. (These are not exact figures, but google any study on animal sleep habits and you will see what I mean).
Increasingly in our stories and media we are drawn only to the struggle. We are addicted to reality shows where modern humans are dumped in the wild with no community, no ancestral heritage to draw upon, and no help. We look at that picture and think: nature is such hard work.
But the truth is, ancient man would have never been in that situation. Our wild ancestors were surrounded by community structures, and a spiritual belief system that supported their survival.
We have become strangers in our own homes.
Nature is our ideal environment. Being in nature heals us. Take your tired, computer strained eyes and just look at a wild green landscape if you don’t believe me. It is medicine for the modern world.
This is especially true if you are a highly empathic, intuitive or sensitive person. Nature is the exact medicine you need to stay grounded, in your body and restore your frayed nerves.
We need to get outside before we destroy what is left of our beautiful planet, so that we know what it is that we are losing before it is too late.
What is your relationship with the wild? Does nature scare you? Heal you? Leave a comment below and let me know what your journey with nature has been.
One of my favorite holidays is approaching. This is a holiday that changed my whole life the first time I celebrated it. Known as Imbolc or Candlemas, and celebrated in early February, this is a holiday that marks the first signs of spring.
Shortly after I turned 30 I joined a mystery school program learning all about the power of magic and the ways of the Priestess. In the second year of that program we learned all about the holidays of the Wheel of the Year. On Imbolc we all took a vow to walk through the year intentionally, accepting that our lives were works of magic.
Imbolc is that holiday associated with the first stirrings of spring. The weather may not have changed much, but the days are getting noticably longer. In many places the sap is rising once again in the trees, and indeed, this can often be the time for ‘sugaring’ in Maple syrup country.
What all of this means for us, is that the earth is asking us wake up from our winter slumber. The signs of spring at Imbolc are subtle, and it asks us to take a leap of faith.
Imbolc asks us if we are ready to walk another round on the Wheel. Are we ready to engage in the world once again, are we willing to accept our power as magical beings? Are we ready to admit once again that we have the power to shape our own lives?
The first year I made this vow my whole life changed. I went from living in a trailer in my friend’s driveway to owning my first home. I went from working as a house cleaner and living in a constant state of being broke, to joining a Master’s Program in Chinese Medicine and starting my career as a healer.
But most of all, I went from being a person who was sacred to admit she was powerful, to being someone who saw the full power of her own manifestations. This was the year I finally took charge of my life.
Do you want to find out more about celebrating the Wheel of the Year and how these holidays can transform your life? This year on Imbolc my year-long immersion program begins. I will be taking a group of students through these holidays using ritual and magic. Check out my free master-class as a great way to get started on this journey.
When I was in high school, I will admit, I loved experimenting with the mind altering power of hallucinogenics. One particular weekend some friends and I took a camping trip so that we could spend an entire day in the beautiful surroundings of nature, after ingesting one of these substances. Giddy with anticipation, we set out on a walk and each placed a tiny square of blotter paper on our tongues.
As we walked, the world began to take on a shiny hue. The leaves danced, and everything became highlighted in our surroundings. Every single sound became illuminated.
It wasn’t until about 30 minutes into our walk that someone in the group broke the enchantment. “I don’t feel a thing” my friend said, “do you?”.
The world snapped back into it’s ordinary hue and shape; the enchantment evaporated as quickly as it had come. I was forced to admit, that no, if I really thought about it, I didn’t feel the tell-tale effects of a mind-altering substance either. But if it wasn’t drugs, what HAD I felt?
In the moment it was a huge disappointment. Some one had sold us some very expensive blank paper and we were pissed. But what I had stumbled upon by accident, was my own sense of natural enchantment.
Later, much later, I was to discover that finding that state of enchantment was totally possible without drugs. We were already headed there, just by setting out on a walk in nature with an expectation to have our minds expanded.
Children come into this world with in a natural state or enchantment. As we grow up we lose that connection.
For me, one of the biggest attractions to walking the mystical path was recovering some of that enchantment.
What if the world is filled with benevolent spirits all rooting for my success?
What if rocks have personalities?
What if the world is one big song of communication that I am a part of?
As I move further and further into following my true purpose, I have realized that part of my work in this world is bringing back a sense of enchantment in people’s lives.
When we lose our sense of enchantment with the world, we lose our connection to all things. When we aren’t connected, it is easier to make decisions that hurt others or destroy the planet.
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Enchantment in it’s very nature is the act of falling in love. It means to be under the spell of something, enthralled, enraptured. When we are in love with the world, especially the natural world around us, we are in a state of grace.
Enchantment exists because it has a purpose. The true purpose of enchantment is inspiration. Inspiration is the spark of the divine within each of us.
Enchantment is the passive, allowing ourselves to surrender to the beauty. Inspiration is the active: using our divine force to create something new.
In stories and faery tales, enchantment is seen as something dangerous. It implies a sort of intoxication.
When we are just chasing enchantment without without recognizing or acting on the inspiration we receive from it, we are just chasing the high, the buzz. I think we all know by now that that usually only leads to a hangover.
The trick is to allow our state of enchantment to move us to a place of creation. To be receptive to the intoxicating beauty that surrounds us, and then allow our own unique creative spark to add something new to the world.
As I found out that one faithful day in high school, enchantment is a practice. I had stumbled upon the beginning realization that if I wanted to, I could find enchantment everywhere I looked.
That is the trick with enchantment: you don’t have to search for it, you just have to be willing to let it come to you. The big beautiful world is out there all the time. How often do we fail to see it only because we aren’t looking?
My wish is that we could all find the world an enchanting place once again: that we could look on our planet with such a sense of wonder and beauty, that destroying it would be a blasphemy of the highest order. To get there, all we need to do is be willing.
What about you? What do you find enchanting? Leave me a comment below.
This has been a sticky and difficult thing for me to be public about, but it finally feels like time to have the discussion.
I am a witch. I was trained by witches. I was in an initiation process for 6 years, guided by witches. All my family knows I’m a witch, yet I was afraid to say it publicly and online.
I am a witch.
Everyone has a reaction to the word witch. It is a powerful word. Many people feel negatively about it, some people feel intrigued and drawn to it. But most people make completely wrong assumptions about me when I tell them I am a witch.
For example: I don’t hex people, I don’t worship the devil, I don’t sacrifice animals, I’m not in a coven, and I don’t engage in ritual orgies (sadly). Are there witches that do all these things? Absolutely! (Except most witches I know don’t believe in the devil, we are a pre-christian religion.)
So why would I use a word that gives people the wrong idea about me?
The answer, for me, lies in history. In their groundbreaking text Witches, Midwives and Nurses, Barbara Erhenrich and Dierdra English outline how the witch-hunts of the middle ages served to divest women of their traditional areas of influence as village healers, and placed men as the authority over women’s health and women’s issues. Witches were demonized charged with all manner of things. So much so, that the word witch is now still means ‘evil woman’ in many parts of the world.
This divorced all people, women especially, from their innate sources of power: the earth.
For me the story goes back way further than the middle ages. To the time before the patriarchy. Back when women ruled the temples, presided over religious rights and were most likely the holders of political power in their communities.
Archeologist Marija Gimbutas who’s pioneering work in the goddess worship of ancient Europe, found no evidence of war in the early cultures she studied. No weapons, and no depictions of battle scenes. Not a single one.
I’m not naive enough to assume that these cultures were utopian, but they certainly seem to have figured out something we have not.
As religions dominated by male gods began to proliferate, so did war. Goddess religions slowly lost influence and importance until the only areas left as ‘purely’ women’s business were the common tasks of birth, death and healing. Until the witch burnings, that is.
With the subjugation of women’s bodies came the regulation of their sexuality. We are still seeing that tired story played out in our national politics.
For me the reclaiming of the word feel like the reclaiming of something fundamental. The right to know my body and it’s rhythms, the right to know the medicines that grown around me, and to know the simple remedies that can help my family. The right to birth my child at home. The right to bless him without needing a priest.
We are in the midst of what many have called the Great Remembering. We are waking up collectively to the knowledge and power that we all lost when we burned those women and men. When we shut down the goddess temples and when we stopped worshipping the rhythms of nature. For me, the word witch holds that, but it also holds something else.
It holds the scrappy anarchistic notion that we all have access to this power. It means something more that the word priestess, which I also use. As one of my teacher used to say: all you need to do to become a witch is clap your hands three times and say “I am a witch, I am a witch, I am witch!” Accessing and honoring the power innate with in each one of us, is our birthright.
In reclaiming this maligned word, I seek to honor all those women, those who were of the craft, and those who where simply deemed guilty because of they were bright or unmarried, or simply didn’t fit the mold.
That is why I call myself a witch.
Have you heard of Samhain?
It’s the celtic name for the holiday that we call Halloween. Pronounced sow-een, it is a holiday of honoring your ancestors and the spirits from the other side. It is said to be the time when the ‘veil between the worlds’ is the thinnest.
If you live in the US, I’m sure the arrival of pumpkin spiced everything has alerted you to the impending arrival of Halloween and Samhain, but did you realize what a powerful time this is for connecting with your guides and allies?
If you don’t already observe Samhain or some form of ancestor honoring (such as Dia de Los Muertos) here is a great way to get get into the spirit of this potent time of year:
Create an ancestor altar. Gather pictures of your ancestors, those whom you knew, and those whom you never knew. If you don’t have pictures, or don’t know who your ancestors are, tune into the symbols and colors and pictures that you are drawn to. You may also want to include images of your cultural heritage, or pictures of important people who have inspired you.
What is remembered, lives
This is also a potent time of year to honor all those who have died this year. Especially if you have lost loved ones this year, make sure to include their picture on your altar and spend some time giving space to your grief.
On my altar this year I will be honoring all those who have died this year due to police violence and in mass shootings.
This may seem like it would be a morbid or sad thing to do, but I have found that Samhain is one of my favorite holidays of the whole year.
As a culture, we tend to not want to think about death or dying, and instead cover it up with consumer goods, and an obsession with youth. Yet death is one thing that we are guaranteed to all experience. How many things can you say that about?
For me, it has been incredibly powerful to make room once a year to honor the dead. Doing so has helped me make peace with my own mortality.
I have also found it a deep comfort to spend some time honoring those I have lost. Nothing will bring them back, but by honoring them each year, I can feel their energy around me.
In my magical circle we hold a ritual every year on Samhain. The ritual is always different, but the underlying structure is the same. The names of those who have passed are read out loud, and a rite is performed to make sure they truly cross-over to the afterlife and don’t become stuck here on the earthly plane, never at peace.
Then we honor those who have arrived new this year. Birth and death, same gate, different directions. It’s not easy living in a human body, and we honor those who have joined us new to make their way in our world.
Letting go as a tool for manifestation
Samhain is also the time of year to let go of anything unfulfilled for the year. Look back at all the projects hopes and dreams that are yet unrealized and let them go. I know what you are going to say next: “but what if I still really want those things?” By no means am I suggesting that you will never have them, but by allowing yourself to let go, you will discover two things.
First, you may find that you no longer want some of them, and were just hanging on to them because you thought you were supposed to. Second, the act of letting go of things we really truly want, will allow us to grieve for not having them. Go ahead and allow yourself that release. What does it bring up for you when you think about never having them? Do you feel cursed? Unlucky? Unworthy? Let all those feelings come up and out.
This practice highlights any negative beliefs that you are holding about manifesting your desires. Guess what? Those thoughts and beliefs were in there all along, and now you have cleared them, and brought them to light. Not only is this incredibly healing for you, but it will create a strong and clear way forward towards manifesting them. Sometimes, it is only when we are truly at peace with not having something that it emerges.
Do you want to tap into the powerful magic of Samhain and the thinning veil between the worlds? There is still time to join the live version of my Spirit Guides 101 class. It’s a 4 week journey helping you get to know your guides, your ancestor allies, and all the other spirit beings who are here to help you find your path. Get more info and register here.