Living a spiritual life in our modern world is a layered experience. We need to hold the individual and all of their layers, society and all of its facets, the levels of reality, and the cycle of action and reflection deepening in daily life. There are a lot of subtle moving parts to account for and tend to. In many traditions this is not an individual experience. But in a society where spirituality is quantified and turned into a commodity our spiritual lives are often broken into parts instead of honored in its infinite layers. Instead, we are encouraged to be spiritual on our own time and individually.
But we are wired for connection. Connection to Self, other humans, Spirit, nature, and the unseen world around us. We need help interpreting our symbolic selves & holding the paradox that is life. We need spaces where we can ask questions freely, share vulnerably, and process openly. We need people and places that tend our souls and hold space while we do the deep, subtle work of our Spirit & Souls.
This is a holy week for so many - Jews celebrating Passover and Christians observing Easter. Both holidays have roots in the ancient traditions and both have the themes of rebirth, renewal, faith, and resilience. It's hard not to witness these themes in our daily lives as the society that we know has changed dramatically in the last few weeks. We have been called on to dig deep into our personal reserves to muster resilience for even the most mundane of experiences - grocery shopping, walking around the neighborhood, navigating government structures, etc. To cope with this crisis, many of us are looking to the future, when life will be better, when we can return to "normal." But as the quote by Murakami so eloquently states, our normal will be new in its form. Our rebirth and renewal will be from a place that absorbs all the wisdom from this time, and leaves behind what is outdated, no longer useful, and personally destructive.The phoenix rising up from the cosmic fire, leaving its former self behind.
So many of us throughout our lives have experienced our own crucible that left us far from our beloved normal. When we are forced to move from what we hold dear, there is grief, sadness, and anger. But what I have also experienced (often with a HUGE dose of resistance) is an emergence of new opportunities and ways of being. We experience this as a reincarnation within our current life, pieces remain the same but are colored by newness that we never considered before. Frankly, I wouldn't be discussing these themes at this point in our collective crisis if this wasn't a holy week. But the timing is an invitation for us to take note of what is inspiring us, what is challenging us, and what whispers of new ways of being arising inside us. These small moments are breadcrumbs to the new normal we face once we emerge from this challenge. And we will emerge, just as creation from the egg and the phoenix from the flame have done over and over again.
My invitation to you is to take notes, literal notes, of what is arising for you during this time. What are you enjoying? What is challenging you? What are the habits you turn to when you are limited in choices? How are you feeling? What are your concerns and worries? What are your observations of yourself, your community and culture? Once you make your notes leave them be if you want. Maybe now isn't the time to make meaning of all that is occurring, maybe it's time to add your notes to the fire and see what arises weeks, months, and years from now. It's hard to make meaning in the middle of an experience - and Goddess we are in the thick of it. But a storm eventually moves along, and in its wake there will be time to take stock of the person that emerges. But for now, as the storm rains heavy, I pray we each have shelter that is safe and healthy. I pray that the new normal lands with softness and grace. And I pray that this is a true season of Passover - where the Divine spares each of us hardship as we shelter.
With devotion, Valerie
Summer solstice always feels so bittersweet to me. Since December, I have basked in the returning light of the natural world. Longer days and shorter nights lift our spirits, awaken our more social sides, and return our sense of freedom, liberating us from layers of clothes and our dwellings. And then with the arrival of Summer Solstice, the wheel begins to turn the other way - to shorter days and longer nights. There is no pause, no basking in this highpoint, but a quick turnaround to a new rhythm. It is a bit disorienting, even though it is quite subtle and uneventful. The wheel turns one way and then it turns the other no pause, no fanfare, just the dance of light and dark, continual, ever present, and eternal. And while we have reached the pinnacle of daylight, don’t despair - there is still time to plant seeds and see them to fruition. Or maybe your seeds are biennial plants, and what you plant now will come to bloom at a later date. For now, I invite you to plant and give thanks with no expectation, no seeking the final answer of what form the seedling will take. Just plant and give thanks. Return to the simple and mysterious nature of life - just for a moment, the present moment. I know it may seem like a luxury when the world around us is chaotic and heart wrenching. But turning to the present moment and being with what is gives us footing to take action, to be present, and to stand tall in the face of opposition. The Summer Solstice is a celebration of light - however fleeting and transient the energy feels to be. Light and darkness are both fertile and productive. It is shadow that we must seek out and look with clear vision and uninhibited courage. Plant your seeds now dear ones. Plant and tend with action, conviction, and courage. For what we plant now, just may come to harvest in the fertile darkness of Winter.
For a sweet solstice ritual, take some time to write what your dreams are for the next six months. I invite you to light a candle, say some prayers, and ask your heart to show you the dreams you have for yourself for the next six months. What are your dreams for your health, your career, your community? What are your dreams - no matter how big, wild, small, or subtle! Speak and write them now in the fullness of the solstice light. Ask the Universe to help you realize your dreams - and to align you to the energies of action and transformation.
The official start to winter in the northern hemisphere is today. Winter Solstice is an invitation to touch into the natural world, to reset ourselves to our own natural rhythm, and align with the larger natural cycles. With all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and the demands of the external world, the solstice in its cover of darkness is a brief moment to move inward. This time of year often highlights for me the fragility of life. The year has moved too quickly even with all of its challenges and setbacks and I find myself grasping for a bit more time.
When the light first begins to fade in the fall we hunger for its return. That seeking light can hinder us from fully embracing the opportunity to sink into the rich depths of our being-ness. So much this year I have thought of the tenderness of life - the temporary-ness of those I love and care for and my own impermanence. Grief, in all its forms, is a part of living - and I want to honor this part - give it room at the table - with all the other states of life. The fragility of life feels so heightened with the trees naked and the earth bare. The natural world feels less chaotic and noisy than when everything is in full bloom – a stark contrast to our busy season of celebration. The natural world is more vulnerable and open and the question arises, “when do we strip down the way the earth does?” Truly exposed, tender, not for sex or cleansing, or the voyeuristic gaze but for the witness who sees us clearly and truly and looks in awe? Do we look at nature in her winter with awe? If not her - certainly we don’t look at each other in our winters. And if we do - then quickly we try to turn each other into spring or summer, rushing the cycle along. I realize this is an unconventional holiday message – and I really want to be the girl that only writes about rainbows and unicorns, but then I would be the naked tree with fake leaves instead of lights for decorations. I hope you will join me this holiday season to celebrate what makes you YOU. What are your true decorations? What is the Truth that resides in your heart at this moment of wintering? Honor it. So that we may witness its beauty.
My solstice blessing for you is a bit of time to reconnect with your natural self, a remembering that darkness is fertile and healing when it is pure and calm, and companionship that can hold your spring and winters.
Many Solstice Blessings!