Welcome to Imbolc. Also known as Lady Day, Candlemas, and even Groundhog day.

Initial signs of spring are being noted here in the uppermost New England region The days are longer, the light brighter, and the wildlife is more active. Snow will remain on the ground for another couple of months, and it’s extremely difficult to imagine spring.

Many of us are perusing seed-catalogs/orders, appreciative of warmer days and snow-melt, and some of us are gathering to celebrate with music, stories, and tales of renewal.

One traditional form of renewal, for those of us on a Priest-path, pertains to Oaths. 35 years ago I found Wicca, and was quickly told “you will Serve.” Service to the Gods, and Service to the Community. This Call has presented many challenges, as I’m human and have my own struggles. I have revisited doubts frequently, have gone through episodes of spiritual darkness and fatigue, have struggled through loss, loneliness, emotional pain, and have been overwhelmed by mundane challenges of raising a child, and maintaining a practice as a therapist. I continually reflect on how best I can Serve, and there are many times I question if the Community even cares what spiritual leaders and Clergy are attempting to create and offer.

While the Work may be demanding, and the rewards may be infrequent, the Call has never waned. You will Serve. I have found solace in the God and Goddess, and in times of doubt and loss, it is They who comfort me. It is They who gave me purpose as a teenager questioning their worth, their existence, and life itself. I am here today because of Them, and I will continue to Serve.

 

The Winter Solstice has passed, celebrations have occurred, and many of us are appreciative of the light in the darkness.

This time of year is very challenging for some. There may be grief, sadness, and reminders of past losses. There may be loneliness and isolation, with many home alone, or even homeless. Many Pagans were born into Christian families, and while those family members continue their traditions (and assumptions), the Pagan family-member can feel ostracized or even invalidated. Reaching out to others can be challenging, especially when you might already be feeling invisible. Finding, or building, community can be difficult.

Rather than talking about the idea of light returning, why not BE that light? So ‘hello’ to someone. Offer to help in some way. Find a way to put words into action regarding how you interact with others and the land. BE present. Be the present. Join in a gathering, an open event, and start to build new traditions and new connections. First steps often feel the shakiest, but who knows what joys may be found along the way? In the Darkness may you see the flicker of a candle. May that candle-flame be joined by others until the darkness is filled with light, with faces and voices, and with a sense of being connected to what was, what is, and what will be.

Welcome to the First Harvest. Whether it be grains, fruits, or the product of your intentional actions….may you be blessed.

I know it can be challenging to celebrate when there is so much chaos in our world right now. So much hate and violence can destroy gratitude and mindfulness of those things that are beautiful and life-sustaining. It’s important to stay connected to the earth, and to offer healing where possible, and to nurture that connection between yourself, the land, and all of life.

What is your first harvest? What intentions did you send forth? What did you nurture? What action did you follow through with?

My gardens are less fruitful this year, as I experimented with no-til concepts, and apparently missed an important step. Even so, my plants brought the bees, a few hummingbirds, and there are still fruits and vegetables to be harvested. A gathered about a gallon of blueberries prior to animals stripping the remaining berries.

 
In my work as a therapist, I encounter a lot of different people. We explore the gamut of depression, anxiety, developmental challenges, personality disorders, and trauma. Some of those people are motivated to learn helpful skills, face their challenges and emotional injuries, and create a life that has a little more hope and meaning. We encounter these people in everyday experiences: a family member, a partner, a co-worker, a group member. We’re left reeling when they’re struggling to manage their mental health challenges, which can result in too much information-sharing, vicarious trauma, absence of boundaries, and their struggle to remember that each new encounter isn’t going to be another trauma-experience. Their struggle to discern whether someone’s words or behavior aren’t a threat is a profound challenge. Sometimes these people are aware of their actions, other times they’re oblivious to the damage they’re perpetuating. Their doubts and suspicions can feel unfair to the individual who has no understanding of trauma. Sometimes they expect others to know their triggers, take care of them, and not be held accountable. When expected to take accountability, they react with shock, outrage, sometimes complete withdrawal, and sometimes by demonizing the individual confronting the behavior. Sometimes they perceive threat when none has been offered, and lash out with accusations of “bully” and “abuser!.” Sometimes their reaction to complex trauma is to become a Victim Narcissist. Abusing others in their attempt to cope. How does a person cope with this experience? The impact of a Victim Narcissist? They may experience a sense of craziness and confusion, wonder “what the heck just happened?!” They may not feel grounded, and be questioning their reality, words, and actions (gas lighting). They’re left with all the broken pieces, as the VN has probably moved on, shut them out/or down; all after shaming, blaming, and attempting to stomp over other people’s boundaries and concerns…. due to the belief that the VNs experience is the only valid one. And the Victim Narcissist? They’re still hurting and emotionally bleeding. Their sense of instability is profound, with efforts to re-stablize taking the form of continued denial and avoidance. Avoidance of accountability, refusal to reflect on who they just hurt, and the perpetuation of continued pain.  

Samhain blessings everyone!

Ghosts, witches, goblins, and all things scary were out in abundance last night. The jack o’lanterns were lit, the candy was doled out, and the night was filled with lights, laughter, and a gentle fall of autumnal rain. Welcome Halloween, and the opportunity to play, pig-out, and celebrate the end of the harvest season.

Flip the coin, and we have Samhain: a time to honor our Ancestors, travel between worlds, and decorate altars with offerings, photos, and sacred ties of connection. Again, we celebrate the harvest, all that we have received, and the turning of the Wheel. Now do we enter into the Dark Night, and a time of introspection, darkness, solitude, rest, and shadow-work.

Currently, I’m ill with a head-cold, don’t have much energy, am tired and grumpy, and am dreading winter. Probably should explore that dread in-depth if I want to be practicing what I preach. Yeah? When I can think a little more clearly.

The summer was abundant, with no drought, but I noticed that I became a bit “bleh” with managing the garden, and observed that some things have gone to waste. Hmmm…what’s that all about? Got distracted by household renovations, Autumn arrived, I noticed that the start of the school year had been stressful, again, regarding a tween with attitude. Lots of energy was poured into navigating child-teacher conflicts and the angst of a budding teen. Grow, child, just not too fast.

My country is in turmoil, invalidation is rampant, #Metoo, predators, and self-care in the face of trauma are at the top of most people’s list. Our President’s hatred and divisiveness is poisoning everything, and we’ve seen a rampant increase in racism, and hatred in general. I’ve also seen a high level of reactivity without growth, and people becoming bubbling, festering wounds; re-traumatizing themselves, and those they were trying to educate or help.

What does this have to do with Samhain? Shadow-work people. Shadow-work. What needs to be addressed that hasn’t been? What darkness is within us that needs to be brought forth and examined? What needs to be ripped out and composted? What needs to be put to rest so that renewal can happen and life can begin again? What pain needs to be validated and healed? What do you need to let go of. Blood, sweat, and tears….let it go. Rest, heal, reflect, learn, and move towards tomorrow. Towards new seeds, growth, and the potential for joy and life.