Urban Pagan in Somerset

Urban Pagan in Somerset

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Time of the Crone?

You may be thinking this is a strange kind of thing to write about at this time of the year. Spring doesnt tend to make people think of endings, death or the time of the Crone. However, I am writing from a personal point of view and how I am feeling at the moment.  Seasons do have an effect on us all, sometimes some more than others, but I am writing from the perspective of personal seasons, lifecycles and even planetary effects.

The last few months have held some interesting experiences, thoughts and events for me. It has made me think over big issues – you know the kind I mean; Life, the Universe and Everything!! First of all we lost a couple of pets to illness and old age, and I was aware of some very tragic events to people I know, losing precious young family members to accidents and other sad situations. Then I fell ill to a very nasty attack of the Flu and for a few weeks was really unable to do anything more than lie in bed and rest.

And last week, my original teacher and High Priestess of the first Coven I was trained in passed to the summer lands. Sylvia was a good old age, well past the 3 score years and ten and had lived an interesting and eventful life, so not an unexpected event when her life finally ended. Even so, it gave my heart cause to grieve at her loss. She was a Great Lady, trained and advised a great many people who entered her circles, and was a wonderful role model for many Witches and Pagans.

My parents are in their 80s now and although fairly healthy, I have become aware that their time is limited and one day I shall have to encounter a personal grief when I lose them. And then my 50th birthday comes up next week and I have been menopausal for a while now.

It’s a time when I feel I want to look at my life now, and what is possibly to come. Im aware that certain birthdays can initiate these feelings and make you feel that it should be acknowledged. However at the moment it seems more than that. I feel the call of the crow as she calls me to pull the dark robe of the Crone over my shoulders and follow Her path now. I’m sure (well, I hope!) I have many more years to go before I am called to cross the Styx, but it feels almost like I am entering a cave for another initiation that I have only now started to become aware of.

When I originally trained in Sylvia's coven Moonshadow, back in the late 80s I was eager to learn, work through and take the formal initiation ceremonies available to me. Over 3 or 4 years I learned, practised and ceremonially took the 1st 2nd and finally 3rd degree initiations to allow me to become an elder of her coven and eventually form my own groups and circles. My understanding then was that the 1st degree was akin to connecting to the Maiden aspect of the Goddess. Then the 2nd was connection to the Mother and finally the 3rd degree was that of the Crone. And as a 3rd degree initiate I could call myself that!
Ahh the arrogance of the young! (well actually I had just reached 30 when I finally took the 3rd degree initiation - but still had a lot to learn on my spiritual path). I can see that my initiations to the Maiden and the Mother could well connect to the Maiden and Mother Goddess as I had lived as both, I had - obviously, been a Maiden and had already had the first 2 of my 3 children so had experience of motherhood. I think I could also say there would have been some identity of running and teaching a coven, often 'mothering' some of my circle members.

Maiden by Rachel Mayatt

Mother by Rachel Mayatt
 I like to think of these times as my own personal seasons.

I had some experience of the seasons of maiden and motherhood.

However, the only experience I had of the time of the Crone was that of observer - with family or friends. I could read as much as I wanted about women experiencing their own Crone time, but without being immersed in it myself, I could only guess at what it really means to be there.

And strangely enough, I feel it has crept up on me. Or maybe it wasn’t obvious to me because of all the experiences I needed to have before my body started its journey to becoming the Crone. Mental, emotional, physical and spiritual experiences, from the end of my marriage, the descent into my own personal dark night of the soul that lasted for several years, and the birth of my last child. I have spent the last few years still in the mother phase - and this will stay fairly intense for several more years yet as my youngest daughter is only 8 years old. However, I have also become a Grandmother. My periods have stopped and have only reappeared once in the last 12 months and I am regularly woken with amazing rushes of heat as I ride the power surges that are my journey into the realm of the Crone.

meno pause by Rachel Mayatt
And then as I mentioned previously. I am on the precipice of my 50th birthday which is also astrologically the time of my Chiron return. Death and endings are always around us but I have become more aware of them lately as they have been people or animals I know and care for. I can sense a new awareness of the Crone as she beckons her wizened finger to me to enter her Cavern and begin a new time of learning. I am apprehensive - am I ready? Will I be able to sufficiently rise to this challenge? Actually I think I will. I think whatever is on this new path to be trod; will be particular to me and my experiences.

Funnily enough, as I have got older, I had begun to shed the layers of should, should nots and must or must nots that we often encumber ourselves with during our spiritual journey. I don’t see myself as not being equal to the tasks ahead. As all my experiences, all my feelings and expectations are right as they are. Any feelings of inadequacy or concern are waves of negative energy that I can either indulge in, or waft away. I am all that I should be. I can be more or less if I wish.

Maybe that is one of the biggest lessons to learn as a Crone.

But whatever is waiting for me in Her cave, I know now that the experience is what will truly initiate me and give me the right to call myself Crone.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Making plans to live now, not later

Im one of these annoying people that sail through the winter without getting much in the way of sniffles and coughs! Well, I was! So imagine my irritation and annoyance at coming home from work one monday evening several weeks back feeling achey and a little bit peculiar! Dammit, I thought to myself, Im coming down with a cold. Paracetemol and an early night and a couple of days feeling less than great at work coming up.

About 2 am in the morning, I realised that actually, work wouldnt be an option the following day and I must admit over the next few days I was completely taken aback as I couldnt stand up, shivered when fully clothed and covered with 2 duvets, hurt all over and felt as lousy as I thought it was possible. Finally after a week when I felt I could get out of bed to go to the doctors, I learned I had got the Flu. First time ever, and if you ever see someone sniffling a bit with a head cold telling you they have the flu, remember to tell them they dont know what having it really means.

But this blog isnt about the Flu really. Its more about what went through my mind while I was made to rest up and had nothing to do but sleep or think all day and night. Now I only had Flu. I wasnt terminal, I know it can lead to nasty things and really bad cases of it can be dangerous - but I just felt very unpleasant, and after it developed a secondary lung infection resulting in anti biotics, I turned the corner and got better.

What it did though was make me consider a number of things; my life so far, things I want to do in the future, and how I live now.  The first thing I realised was although Im not really that old, Im 50 this year and I dont consider that particularly old, but I am aware that parts of me dont work as well as they used to. My eyesight has got worse and now I am shortsighted but also need reading glasses too.

I have developed gall stones and have to be careful of what I eat to keep them managed. I dont have the energy to go to work, go out all night and get up at 6 am after a few hours sleep like I could in my twenties.

So Im not as young as I was, and I need to make sure I eat well, get enough sleep and hopefully last well into my dotage. But I also had other things to consider. I realised that the things I had thought I wanted to do or achieve in my life over the last 20 years or so, have changed and I need to make some kind of 'bucket' list. Not that Im expecting to kick the bucket for sometime hopefully, but it did make me think that I dont want to get to a stage where I regret not making plans or taking up things I want to do, just because I want to! 

Ive also had other things happening around me over the last year which has made an impact. One of my dear friends was diagnosed with cancer. After having a breast removed, a dose of very intense chemo and radiotherapy she has gone into remission thankfully. But it did make me think of my own mortality and whether Im living the fullest life I can nowadays. Even little things like 2 of our family pets shuffling off their mortal coils recently added to the thoughts turning over in my mind. And so I started to assemble some ideas of things I want to do in my life, so I dont have cause to regret when I come to its end.

One of my major dreams is to live on a canal or house boat - and I had mentally made a note to do this when I retire, or my youngest daughter leaves home for university etc. Suddenly it occured to me. Why on earth was I waiting another 15 - 20 years for this? I had been kind of mentally considering an inheritance that I know will come to me some time in the future, although hopefully not too soon, and was assuming I would use this to finance it, but there are other options available and so I have opened myself up to looking into it now and seeing if its possible.

A couple of other things to go on my 'bucket' list include a trip to the Scottish Highlands and the Islands.  And one other item which may seem strange to some people, is that I want to be painted, sketched or photographed nude. This is probably an odd one to mention, but it came when I was getting better during my Flu bout and watched a really interesting programme on the art channel about a photographer in America, doing the American road trip thing, and taking pictures of naked people in unusual situations - such as 100 naked people lying in the road with cars and buses driving past them.

There was one particular photograph when there were 2 women. One was a very skinny and tall lady with very pale skin. The other lady was a very large lady, with a lovely face and long luscious hair but lots of rolls of skin and flesh. The larger lady spoke about how this experience had made her feel beautiful and free as she lay back on some rocks by the waters around New York in some of her photographs. The ones he took of both of them together were fantastic, she didnt look uncomfortable or concerned about her body compared to the thinner lady and together it was beautiful.

As I watched this, I realised that I have myself become very comfortable in my own skin. Im not obese, but not a slim type either and I have had body issues in the past. But now, I am content about my body and how I look and feel. It also made me realise that I too, would like to be able to feel totally free, strip off and have someone capture my freedom in paint or print. And so Im looking at the possibility of offering myself to a life art class.

Looking at the few things on my list - which I am sure I will add to as I go along, I realised that its not unachievable or impossible things that I want to do. Maybe slightly unusual, but its ok - its my list. And Im not in a rush, but at the same time, Im not going to put off things that will make me happy.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Resolving not to make resolutions?

The midwinter season has finally wound up and I find myself looking to new ideas, projects and hopefully an interesting year ahead.

My solstice celebration was such a lovely time. My family and some good friends all together. A feast of food and sharing, presents under the tree and lots of fun and silly games afterwards. The only rule was no TV. And so we made merry until it was late and people began to depart.

Over the next few days I saw other family and friends, but having done the meal and presents already, it was lovely to relax, chat and get out into the countryside or by the sea and avoid all the last minute rush of the shops and people doing xmas.

On 25th december I took my youngest daughter for a long walk by the almost deserted beaches of Whitstable and Tankerton. We met a few dog walkers at first all smiling and wishing us merry xmas but eventually as it got towards early afternoon, we found ourselves alone with just the sound of the surf, the seagulls and a lovely time of beach combing and finding interesting shells and driftwood for crafting. Rhiannon declared in her 7 year old wisdom, it had been the best xmas day ever. I had to agree!

It was the same for the next few days, and I cant say I remember having had such a lovely relaxing holiday. We had more seashore walks - along Deal and near Dover.

Yesterday a wonderful day by the mysterious Dungeness with its strange otherworldly energy. The sun shone and that amazing winter light danced around us and the people fishing on the beach. And today I have packed up the last of the tree decorations and cards. Caught up with my household tasks and made myself ready for the return to work tomorrow.

Now Im not one for New Year Resolutions. Ive always felt that if I cant have the discipline to follow a plan through at any other time of the year, it certainly wont be any different at the beginning of the calander year. And to be honest, I celebrate a couple of 'New Year' festivals. The Samhain/celtic new year is one and Imbolc - the beginning of early spring is another. I clinked my glass on 31st december at midnight as it signalled the beginning of a new calander year as well as the birthday of my eldest daughter born on 1 january back in 1987. However, I do find it another good time to take stock of where I am, where I am going and anything I want to focus on next year.

This is not the lose a stone in weight, join a gym or improve my lovelife type of taking stock. It is usually something that may include remembering to honour my time and family. It also tends to be a spiritual focus for me too.

One of my main plans for the year is something I have been thinking of on and off over several months now. For many years I sooo longed to live in the west country. Somerset or Cornwall were two favourites and you may have read in previous blogs how I longed to live in Glastonbury and was sadly dissillusioned in the summer. It resulted in my really looking at why I feel this need to move elsewhere rather than really connect with the land on which I live at the moment. I realised that I wasnt honouring the spirit of the land here, not being in the moment and really connecting. And so I have been thinking of ways to do this.

One of the things I came up with while talking to my best friend last autumn was that there are an awful lot of sacred sites in Kent that we either havnt visited (or maybe did so many years ago as children) or didnt realise were here.

Wonderful places such as Toad Rock and the Coldrum Stones.

Last year I did make more of an effort to visit local and slightly more distant country fayres and celebrations during the year in an effort to connect more. I intend to continue to do so as well as visiting and honouring the sites I am discovering. I will probably write about them on this blog during the year too and Im really looking forward to these visits.

Last year one of my decisions was to make more of an effort to grow my fruit and veg in my pocket handkerchief garden, for the pleasure of having home grown veg as well as another effort to connect with the land. I managed to find some old car tyres and bins to grow some bit and pieces and get the chickens I planned to have a couple of years ago.

This year I am planning more veg - I last grew onions about 20 years ago, so thats another new challenge. Still doing the potatoes, tomatoes and courgettes. My herb patch needs sorting since the chickens used it for a dirt bath!! I think some soft fruit this year too.

Other ideas and plans for the year are cooking in the pot and will probably be started in the next few months.

Our first Witches Stitches craft night of 2012 is tomorrow night and we plan to sit and make lists of the crafts we want to do this year and make sure we organise our diaries to keep to our plans.

So though I cant say I have any resolutions as such - I can say I have plans. I am planting the seeds and who knows what may grow this year.