Mental Discipline

VI. Mental Discipline


(Journal log of the 5 months of meditation and mental training)

September 2nd My usual method of meditation is passive meditation; concentrate on a candle flame during ritual and clearing my mind, emptying it so I can “listen.”  This method I have done previously bi-monthly, at my Full Moon and New Moon rites as an eclectic Pagan.  But here I am trying to not rely on the “easy” and usual method.  Here I must show dedication to building mental discipline, to meditation and mental training. So, I thought to try something different than usual, expand and try to learn a new method.

I had planned on trying this tonight with my nightly dedication at my shrine.  Instead however, I was prodded to do it earlier in the afternoon.  I had just finished polishing off one of my dedicant essays and decided I needed a break from composition at the keyboard and took a “red-beer” and the book I am reading for the IE Studies out to my back yard.  Tell me I must work on mental discipline by dieting or quitting smoking…No problem.  Piece of cake for me.  Tell me I must work on mental discipline reading a dry text book with no plotline or murder mystery, no aliens and exploding space ships, huge fail for me.  I put the book down.  I closed my eyes, felt the warmth of the sun, heard the caws of crows.  Quietly I laughed as I heard my squirrel friend and a bird fight over the blackberries  just twelve feet from me up in the blackberry draped fir tree.  I settled myself, stilled the sensory inputs and concentrated on breathing.  No concentration on visual, just closing my eyes, and breathing.  I tried the 4-2-4-2 method, breath in and hold, breath out and hold and found it didn’t flow naturally.  I found my rhythm in a 5-3-5-3 rhythm instead.  I hadn’t really expected a lot, figuring it would take a bit more time, more practice.

I was pleasantly proven wrong.  I heard chimes.  Not the physical chimes hanging from my porch, but the soft, high pitched tinkling of glass I’ve heard with deeper meditation and trances.  I “felt” colors, felt the caress of a hand and a Being calling me “child.”  Now that’s something I don’t get called very often at my age.  I heard the giggling of nature spirits.  Everything hovering between the fringes of this world and the next became sharper and as intense as some of my mediations done my old, usual way.

Now, like my old and usual way, I do not expect successes like this to come often. In any method, meditations can still be horrible struggles for my hyperactive mind, especially in times of great stress.  And I could not hold this meditation for very long either.  I suspect it only lasted for about 5 minutes.  But when I lost hold of the meditation, like with the other method, the world remained sharper and more intense for a time after.

September 4th It is full moon and rather than my regular daily devotion, I sat at my altar, centering myself with the breathing method I am trying to work on.  Oddly the 5-3-5-3 rhythm was not to be the rhythm of the evening, but rather I fell into the 4-2-4-2.  It took a while before I could center myself, ignore the distractions around me, cats playing, clocks ticking, my hyperactivity sizzling.  Eventually I was able to shut out everything but when I finally achieved the nothingness it was short lived.  The light beyond my closed eyes flared and brightened and as I edged my eyes open the triple wicked candle of my sacred fire was aglow, the light of the triple flame had a nimbus.  I closed my eyes and tried to return to the meditation and was interrupted with Her voice again.  She wanted to discuss my problem with getting closer to who She called her Daughter, Brighit.  The meditation was over, the Mother wanted to talk and she gave me a way to look at Brighit that clicked and now I have a better way to relate to Brigit because of it.

This is a common problem with my mediations.  I slip from them too quickly to achieve whatever it is I think I’m supposed to be attaining, though –what- I’m supposed to be achieving I am unsure of.  Usually when I meditate, it’s like slipping down a hall, shutting out all the physical world around me and I get to the other side and through that veil too quick and there’s work for me to do over there, kin want to talk to me, Mother wants to talk to me, Fafnyr wants to talk to me.  I cannot help but feel there’s so much in this life they want me to absorb and They feel it’s very important to press in to me now all of a sudden for whatever reason.

September 9: Well this is a new one on me, the result I mean. I’ve started combining my usual visual meditation method to this breathing technique. Breathe in 4…hold 3 while visualizing a single drop slowly fall into a dark pool and ripple…breath out 4, hold 3 with the same visual. I added sound, hearing the drip. I add sense of touch/feel, feeling the ripple caused by each drop roll through my spirit.

I don’t know how long I sustained this before, yet again, I was interrupted by a spirit. I felt outside of myself while the spirit was inside, using my hand, taking the pen on my shrine and writing in my journal. This is something I’ve never experienced before, having someone drop inside me and start writing. Ever.

The writing came fast, like it was trying to get information down before it lost control of the pen.   Me, on the outside, was unconcerned with fighting to get control back, it was a spirit with a good vibration, familiar, so I tried to give it the time it needed. I’ve gone back and read what it wrote several times and will continue to think on what it wrote.

Different short paragraphs labeled Land, Sea, Sky, Fire, Cosmos, and Vertical “Plath.”  I think Plath was a mash of Plane and Path because the next two words were “of power”. With each paragraph were description words, definitions. The spirit touched on Duality/Dualism which prodded me to pay attention to that next time I got into the IE Studies book I’m reading. And it wrote about the Onion Layer theory of the Universe, and about a way for me to better relate to Brigit.

I am somewhat tickled that I was able to achieve a state where this could happen, but I’m more in awe of being blessed enough to have that kind of reaction to a teacher wanting to communicate, appreciative that  the teacher put that much effort into getting to where it needed to be to get through to use that pen. Blessings are not something I take lightly, nor for granted. I am in awe of the Kindred that have welcomed me back, and how much stronger they are now and the way they are impacting my life.

September 16 I have actually meditated several times in this last week. They have not been very deep or particularly successful. My path is like that at times. It will be rocky over here but stronger over there. I have had to spend more energy on “communing” rather than centering. This will flip back again soon, I expect. These things come in cycles. Suddenly everyone around me is full of drama and woe. It is my turn to be strong for those that were strong for me last May. So this week, I absorb what they shed, draw away their turmoil, be the calm in their storms and then let that lightening ground to the Mother Earth. The lake was very peaceful today. It was a quick meditation, then a rite to release pain that others are holding. Tonight I meditated again, this time concentrating on the Two Powers, and then held a small rite and burned a trio of small candles for the three in need with offerings of lavender and sage.

September 23 My first attempt of meditation is thwarted.  I succeeded in keeping Jaxon out of my lap, I continued with my meditation, and then Jax succeeded in hopping up and landing into the space between my back and my chair, firmly wedging his big furry self into the space and wedging me out of my concentration.  I have much to do today, starting with clean up of last night’s Equinox rite, and saying a prayer and lighting a candle for a very young man who is suddenly paralyzed and on a breathing machine with Guilliam Barre Disorder.  This boy lost his father two years ago.  I cannot imagine the pain his Mother is going through right now.  I pray for them both and for his sister, and pray that the spirit of Ed, his father, is there to give him more strength and will to fight.

I will work again at this meditation tonight after a movie with my step-daughter and then another walk at the Lake.  Perhaps I will mediate there today.

Meditation Take Two: I went to the lake.  They’re in the process of clean up and draining it down right now.  I found an underwater tree trunk now on relatively dry, well semi-soggy lake bed.  I found it majestic, sad, lonely.  Though it was a “dead” tree, I found life growing from it, sprig of green rising from it as though this tree had only been hibernating beneath the lake until it found sun again now that it was no longer hidden under the green eutrophic waters of Lacamas.

I started my breathing, closed my eyes.  I started my visualization of the dark dripping water, and as my mind cleared and emptied, I felt something else rising.  I could feel the life in the tree trunk I sat on.  I felt my hand caressing the root.  In the lake I could sense a drake on the shore watching a group of ducks swimming out in the low waters.  So I went with that.  When my mind would try to analyze it, I worked to push the mind out and just “feel” the pulse of life around me.  It was so quiet.  This is a perk of having a midday week off.  Everyone is at work or school.  I virtually had the lake to myself, myself and the ducks, the blue-jay that watched me from behind, the black and yellow caterpillar that climbed into my lap, not to mention the spider that led me to the path that set me here on this tree in the first place.  It was so quiet, and yet so full of life.  I finished my meditation and left bread crumbs for the creatures and poured fresh water from my water bottle in thanks to the nature spirits that joined me.

Sept 30th It was a very difficult day.  I was suffering depression from the necessities of legal work towards a difficult divorce.  It made meditation difficult. Every time I’d clear my mind of any thought, emotion would fill the void and I’d dissolve into tears.  I tried to meditate today, I failed.  I’ll try again next time.

October 7 I have decided that my greatest need in meditation is working on the Two Powers.  Some of the other things I’ve worked on in the last five weeks are too easy.  I have already been meditating for decades.  This is Mental Training, I need to exercise the muscles I do not have developed.  The Sky Power, also, it’s pretty darn easy.  It flows in me like charged air.  Earth Power, on the other hand, so…damned…difficult.  I thought to mediate using the Two Powers today.  Drawing it forth the way it came forth during that Study Group, well there was just no way of doing it.  So for now, I really need to concentrate on working on that Earth Power. I can feel it stronger when I am at the Lake.  Today it was not possible for me to get to the lake.  I am strong in visualization with magickal workings, so I brought forth the lake into my mind.  It helped.  Still, rather than feeling the earth power heavy as sludge as usual for me, I only got a nudge in the mud puddle, a mere bubble brought forth.  My assignment now is to continue working on that, and keep working on that Earth power until I can feel it with more confidence.

October 14 I used the Two Powers and had slightly better success.  I started with breathing, brought in the visualization of the dark dripping water, then I brought in a gradual visualization of the start of my personal “sacred grove” as I am now combining ADF (for the religious aspects) and OBOD (for the extra studies) and they  have me meditating on building my own inner sacred grove.  I found myself walking along a creek, upstream, to a dark secluded forest that fed a pond with a gently bubbling spring.  It was very dark; the only light was that of the Imbas, and fireflies and pixies the flitted in and out of the Imbas light.  Once I stood next to the pond I drew on the earth power and that did the trick.  It’s still weak, but stronger than it was, and half way there to what I feel of the earth’s presence at Lacamas lake.  I drew on the Sky power and felt the two connect, loop into the shape of a vertical eternity symbol, an 8.  I filled the wells within me, and then let it dissipate out each of my outstretched hands and return to their sources.

October 21: Ugh…real world encroaching so hard on the spiritual one.  I have put in short meditations to get me through for maybe 5 minutes at a time a couple of times this week, but no long, good session of meditation and I can certainly feel for it, the need for it.  Life is going to be very tough until the 10th.  Breathing meditation, and when I have time, visualization to the personal grove.  Oh…something odd happened…my need to draw through water…In hearing the water in the pond in that meditation, it started melding with the sound of my real-world aquarium and the filter’s running water into the tank unifying with the meditative visualization of my personal grove.  It’s given me inspiration to make use of this source of water resting in my own home, my 50 gallon tank, full of life like my favorite place, Lake Lacamas, as an alternate place of meditation to concentrate on.

October 28: Got time at the lake today.  The trees are changing, and I’m amazed at the size of the leaves.  I meditated near the water’s edge on a rock.  It really is easier for me to connect with Earth Power of the Two Powers near water like that. I am currently studying the Dedicant Path of ADF, and the Bardic grade of the OBOD as well as the lectures that are online from UCLA on “Science, Magic and Religion,” so with the OBOD course in mind, I added intoning the Awen.  As I dedicated myself to ADF at Lughnasad, I will be doing the Bardic Initiation for OBOD with a combined OBOD and ADF ritual for my New Year, Samhain, which this year falls on November 2nd as I feel the walls thin the greatest at full moon Scorpio rather than the Gregorian calendar date of October 31st.  Next week if I can get back to the lake to meditate, that will be ideal, but if not, I plan on making use of the idea of connecting to my aquarium, using it as a conduit to Earth since that seems to be the key for me to be able to grab any tendril of that part of the Two Powers thus far.

November 5th: It’s getting easier to draw earth energy.  It’s getting easier to visualize the personal grove. What made an impression on me this week though wasn’t in the meditation but rather the after-effects.  I find myself driving to work wondering how many years have gone by, driving down this same road, and never noticed before how vividly red the leaves are on the trees this Autumn.  How many Autumns have I not noticed this?  Everything is so much sharper, senses, sight and tactile. I feel as though I’ve escaped from a vacuum I’ve been apparently living in and am now just rediscovering the world again.  Is this a normal reaction to meditating more consistently?

November 15th: I forget if it was Monday evening (the 9th) or Tuesday evening (the 10th) that I meditated earlier this week, I think it was Monday.  I meditated again this afternoon. After the usual clearing out of the cobwebs I usually open myself up to spirit guides if they aren’t already pressing for attention.  This week’s focus was on my granddaughter.  She’s having performance anxiety, our little ballerina, as she is in the Nutcracker.  As for the meditation, I started with my breathing, drew one two powers and heard the dripping water, then –saw- the dripping water. I felt the drip fall onto me and entered the Nemeton I visualize and found the shrouded Druid there at the fire.  Teachers misted about, talked about The Lilies.  Apparently I was given the Lily part of my name for a reason, that each of my daughters and my granddaughter is something or someone they consider “A Lily” though I have no idea yet what they are referring to. I would like some insight into this if anyone reading this has any ideas or references I could look to because now I’m extremely curious about it.  I assumed Lily was put in the name for me as it is my favorite flower.  Apparently there is a deeper meaning to it, but I have no clue what they are referring to.

They affirmed that they call me Spider Lily, and that I am the oldest of their Lilies, the oldest of souls among them, and the “web-keeper” of the other Lilies. They then surprised me by naming them off, at least the ones that are related to me in this lifetime, Snow Lily, Moon Lily, Tiger Lily, Dancing Lily, and there’s one Lily that seems unnamed.  Is it because they are waiting on something, for her to bloom perhaps?  Hmm, that doesn’t make sense because they named Dancing Lily already and she’s only a little 6 year old.  Dancing Lily, though she is only 6 and my youngest daughter is older at being 14 years old, Dancing Lily is an older soul.  I have no idea what the reason or the rules are here with this or what being a Lily means.  I only know that this spark of inspiration gifted to me in the meditation earlier this week helped me help Dancing Lily with her performance anxiety and helped me bring to her a blend of magic and psychology that got her past her trouble.  I am going to continue attending her rehearsals in case she needs any back up reinforcement of that psychology and magic.  She’s a precious Lily and I love her so very much.  We are very blessed to have Snow Lily who is both a daughter and a sister to me raising Dancing Lily.  Moon Lily continues to grow into her fullness and shines more through each hurdle and goal that she lays for herself.  Tigger, the Tiger Lily, she is still growling and angry with me and I expect she will be for a great deal longer.  I’ve done all I can to reach her, and I cannot beat myself up anymore for it.  It’s going to be a long time before she realizes the cage she paces and snarls in is a cage of her own creation.

November 18: I meditated twice this week, and while there is nothing remarkable to note, what is remarkable is that I have not had a meltdown considering what the legal event looming over me.  Therefore I am concluding that the meditations this week is having the positive effect of what a tranquilizer would do to help me get through this without me having to turn to medication.

November 25:  Busy, busy bee with the holidays.  Meditation is one of the things keeping me centered, calms the storm of my ADHD too, sat twice this week to meditate.  I really like the visualization of my personal nemeton during my meditation.  I am continuing to use the breathing method to start, moving from there to the Two Powers, and then bringing in the dripping water that channels me into the Nemeton.  The white cloaked druid is still there.  Now along with the visualization of the fire pit in the middle of the space, I am sensing the scent of it, the wood smoke.

November 28: I’m making a habit of meditating at the shrine and then following it with a devotion.  I really don’t have anything to report, it’s become a habit and with me being so busy with the holidays ramping up I don’t have much energy to try anything new beyond my regular methods.

December 2nd: Had a rare day to get some writing done, meditated, and then took a long nap.  I usually don’t nap so long.  I wonder if clearing my head with a meditation first set the stage for such a relaxed afternoon for great napping.

December 9th: When I sat to meditate today, it felt like I was preparing for an impending game or battle, like at the end of the mediation my “team” in the Kinship all clapped and chanted “break!” and then “game on!”  In two days I drive down to Mac to spend the entire weekend concentrating on my Granddaughter and the Nutcracker Ballet performances.  It’s a huge deal, 68 dancers, a majority of which are great; a handful of which have Stage-Mom’s as bad as any “Soccer Mom” you could be cursed with having to deal with.  Rather that feeling my meditation bringing me a sense of peace with the wash of calm, the wash of calm brought an alertness and readiness of what was to come.

December 16th It’s getting harder and harder to make time with the holidays and yet it’s even more and more important that I make time to do my meditation. I am not working on trying any new things but sticking to what I’ve been doing, even if it means no more than 10 minutes of meditation like yesterday at work in the Conference Room during a break. As I am having such great time constraints, what I’ve had to cut for the present is my book reading.  I will be able to return to that after the first of the year

December 23rd The two weeks centering on Nutcracker are over.  My family had its Yule celebration.  I performed my Yule rite.  Company Holiday party is tonight. I have done very little to nil in the reading department. After my mate left the apartment I had a quick meditation before setting to work on my contribution to the party’s holiday meal.  I must admit the meditation did not feel very fulfilling.  On the other hand, I am still amazed at how vibrant the world is since I started practicing meditation again.  I feel like I must have been sleeping for the last ten years and now everything around me in a sensory capacity is so crisp and sharp.

December 30 Last week the DP aid, “Wheel Through The Year” had me working again on the Two Powers.  With this all mulling around in my subconscious, I started my meditation as usual with my 5-3-5- rhythm of breathing.  I again as usual moved to the Two Powers meditation, and then when my mind had settled and I’d felt my mind clear.  There was the flash that happens sometimes, not the dim light but a bright flash like I’d seen when Kirk Thomas had led that meditation at the Coho Cloud’s study group. The flash glittered across the horizontal axis like the sun setting on a lake I sat open and waiting for my spirit guide to speak to me.  I knew that they’d been patient while I got through the holidays.  I started to see colors and with it came a soft voice.

Green, I saw green.  Green had been my favorite color for the first 40 years of my life.  I was growing, I was hurt and healing, I was a child and then a woman with children, helping them grow and unfold into the women they would become.  Then in my 40’s a deep depression hit and it ebbed within me for so very long. My favorite color had become Red.  The voice asked, “Did you not know why Red was sent to you? It gave you strength; it cocooned you and armored you up.  You are a visual being and Red was your security blanket.” I said to her, “I have noticed of late, that Red does not bring me the same joy.  It is still a lovely color.  But it does not speak to me as it once did, or as Green did when I was younger.” And the soft voice asked, “What is your color now?” But I knew she already knew.  In the last six months, the color that comes to me I can only describe as gold.  All the colors in the spectrum between yellow to orange, all the colors of sunlight, of warmth, and the color that enveloped the voice that first spoke to me when I was 7 years old.  I thought these things but simply said, “Gold.” She did not explain to me why gold was now my color, there was merely a nod and then with that I saw a gold thread in the dark.  It rose and it wrapped into the air into a shape until that gold thread had become an outline of a Fleur-de-Lis.  That symbol of the Lily filled in with soft white, a satin, silky white, outlined with that golden, glittering thread.  I felt the smile, heard the soft hum of a happy spirit that I’d received the message.  I ended the meditation seeing that Lily in my mind glowing at my forehead.  I really don’t know why, or what they are trying to tell me, but I expect eventually I will.

January 6  Meditation into Trance I am in week 21 of my 5 month requirement in a meditation journal, leaving me 4 weeks to go, (started September 2nd and will finish February 2nd).  I am in week 26 of my “Dedicant Path: Wheel Through the Year” study aid. I am only through the 4th Gerswu of the OBOD course, having had to drop it while getting through the Nutcracker season with my granddaughter.  I will return to the OBOD likely when I get a little further in this ADF Dedicant course.  I have also completed viewing lecture 18 of the UCLA course, “Science, Magic, and Religion.”

I am finding that a great many things are coalescing together here with my studies.  There is a lot of talk of “altered states.”  I’m finding that the rituals are less and less important to me other than marking the passing of time, as too are the need for daily prayers at my shrine.  Conversely however, meditation is quite important to me and my relationship to my Kindred and has in fact, replaced the importance of daily sessions at the shrine.  Meditation has become extremely important in my relationship with the Kindred and my teachers.  I can’t stress that enough!  It is through meditation and the altered state it puts me into where we have our deepest communions, in the meditative state, not at the shrine devotions.  Now for some, meditation is a clearing of the mind.  For me, it is calming my internal marbles, stilling and quieting them and once they are settled and I have found that quiet, meditative state, the next step that occurs for me is that the fabric between me and whatever one personally calls the “collective conscious” dissolves and depending on your UPG (unverified personal gnosis) I am able to talk to my deeper subconscious/ancestors/fae and shining ones/ and-or my spirit guides. I am to the point now where I can think of that altered space and quite often hear it.  But in meditation, there is a deeper calling and a stronger message when that trance settles in and that altered comes and I feel myself deeper into that well of consciousness and can access more clearly.

I began the meditation listening to Phil Thornton’s “Eternal Egypt.”  I started with Nine Breaths and then brought in Two Powers.  Today as Earth Energy started to rise I started feeling my pulse throbbing.  With each of my breaths the Energy would draw up higher, and then as I exhaled it would recede slightly, each breath taking it higher, deeper, each exhale it would recede just a bit, like the waves on a shoreline bringing in the tide.  I began to pull Sky Energy and as it descended into me, it too came in waves just as Earth did, and my pulse started to throb louder.  The flash of light that comes to me when Earth and Sky unite came across the horizontal axis, but today it was muted as a dark… what shall I call it…a dark pinpoint opened into a dark oval and slowly from it came another light towards mine to the joined axis I remained in.  With each pulse of my heart, I started hearing another pulse, a bigger, stronger pulse that matched the beat of mine.

It brought with it the questions I am having with the need for ritual and daily prayers, or rather my lack of it needing it now.  I questioned if I am following the correct path for me.  The presence affirmed that I am, but I must reconcile some doubts.  The rituals of ADF, for me, are too close to Catholic theater.  I am not one for lengthy, complicated acts.  It’s also what I did not like about Wicca.  Whether it is my subconscious, my key into the collective conscious, or my ancestors, the “other half” of me is much the same way…they are often impatient with the “hand-waving and excessive gestures” and want me to get to the point.  Clearly none of my ancestors ever appreciated the intricacies of a good Japanese Tea Ceremony.   What IS important to them, and to my relationship with them, is reaching that “altered state” so I can hear them, and this is something I do daily, if not in my weekly formal meditation that has been prescribed by this ADF course, then it is most certainly a daily course in my informal meditation I do whenever I do something with a repetitive action like showering, walking at the lake, or using my treadmill.   They talk a lot to me in the shower.  I admit, sometimes it’s a bit annoying, but more often they are giving me a nugget of information they want me to mull over.

In today’s meditation I was shown an upended symbol of infinity swirling upright like a figure 8.  I saw the Earth within that infinity, each hemisphere of Earth inhabiting a circling half of that upended infinity symbol.  The living earth rotated before me, yin and yang.  When one half is in summer, the other is in winter.  I saw seasons, and a question arose about the druids and the latest theory that the Celts heeded little to the solstice/equinox High Days.  Well this is just wrong to me and to my Kin.  They were scholars, my Spirit Guide argued, they were mathematicians, they followed the sun, moon and stars and the movements of them across the sky.  They did not build Stonehenge, but they did use it.  I do not care about the arguments for or against that; I know with an internal certainty that we did mark the time of the equinoxes and the solstices.  We did not use the current Gregorian calendar. I remember that this was important from that past life regression that partially opened those Akashic records. Watching the stars and predicting the equinoxes and solstices was important in marking the passing of the year and seasons.  The passing of seasons….the teacher who was currently speaking to me from light in that dark misty oval (again, if you are ADF call it one of my Kin or Patrons, if you are a psych major, call it the collective conscious) reaffirmed my belief in that those equinoxes and solstice celebrations, that they were the solar unlocking of doors, doors that were fully opened wide by the following full moons.  The Fall Equinox unlocked the door to the existence beyond, and the full moon of Scorpio had that door opened fully wide, where my Kin celebrate Samhain.  Likewise, the Spring Equinox unlocked the creative, fertile realm where the Spark of Life dwells and the full moon following is when my Kin acknowledges Beltane’s full fertile force.  My next question was, “what of the other High Days?”

Again, I saw the Living Earth slowly turning within that upended Infinity symbol and was told the Life Force of Her is born from the Light of the longest night.  The door opens and with Imbolc the child becomes a very young Woman.  With the Spring Equinox the Woman becomes fertile and ripens and at Beltane She conceives that which enriches the Life-force.  With Summer Solstice, that conception “quickens” and the full moon of Lammas becomes Labor.  With the Fall Equinox the door to the Undead is unlocked and as the door slowly opens to the Full Moon of Samhain, after She has birthed and passed onto her Crone age, She slows down, starts making the tired journey the end of Her cycle and communicating with those who will receive Her.  Her predecessors are remembered, and She prepares for her end.  At the longest night, She expires, and with the new light after that longest night, She begins again.  She is the Earth, and as a druid it is important that I honor the Earth Mother with acknowledging the passing of her years as I live upon Her. Her Pulse is alive and a living part of the entire body that makes up the living macrocosm of our Universe and this layer of our reality.

In this trance-meditation, my Spirit Teacher (again, your mileage may vary here, call It what you will that agrees with your UPG) I am told that I am on the right path, that Druidry is the walk for me.  And it is important for me to honor the marking of time for the above reason.  I cannot see myself participating in grove High Days for religious purposes in the manner that it is presented, however, honoring certain gods for certain times.  High Days in my UPG is for celebrating the holiday feel of the High Days for the reasons that were presented to me in the previous paragraph.  But not so much in honoring individual Gods.  High Days are more Solitary method for me or a thing I celebrate with my family.  It is not in me and my Kin to need the Rites or Vespers to connect to my faith in a religious way.  The High Days are not days of “faith” for me, but of honoring traditions, honoring that turning of the Wheel of our Gaia, spending time with family and examining the events that are passing and approaching.

What is a huge importance to me in the context of “my faith,” however, is this practice of meditation that translates into this altered state/trance state, to nourish this part of my practical practice in my chosen faith so there continues to be a flowing between me and the Kindred.  Now, it comes to me that there may be those that feel my UPG is contrary to ADF.  I think a time will come that I will need to speak with an Elder, such as we have about this.  I consider myself Druid, but am I too off the course in my UPG to be an ADF druid?  Are my leanings too Taoist?  Can I be both?  I know with certainty that Wicca is not my path. I am Druid, but am I ADF druid?  Are there those in ADF who would object to the way in which I travel this path?

January 12: So….I have formal methods of meditation, and informal methods.  I considered…how about combining them?  My intent…combine my formal breathing and visualization technique with a repetitive activity….how about a repetitive activity that kicks in natural endorphins with the goal of enhancing the altered state I usually achieve during meditation?  So…I took my meditation music in my MP3 player to my den where my treadmill sits.  I warmed up a little on the treadmill, and then set into a 3.3 mph walk.  I am not quite 5’2” so 3.3 mph is a brisk walk for me, but not brisk enough to set my shin-splints screaming (which I seriously cannot risk, I have ballet class tomorrow).  See, doing a “walking meditation” outdoors still requires I also pay attention to obstacles like trees, dogs, joggers.  At my treadmill, I have a pair of hand rails to latch onto, which I did, and after 15 minutes (I hit endorphin rush usually around 12 minutes at this pace), I flipped to the next song, closed my eyes and tramped to the beat of Phil Thorton, this time to “Cobra Dance” which is a 7+ minute piece.  With this brisk walk, my feet thud-thud-thudding to the beat, my cardio working and steady, I took to the 9-breaths, cleared my mind, and then invoked the Two Powers. Earth rose, and then I bid Sky to descend.  The flash burst across the horizontal access, bright pale yellow glittering like ripples on sunlight water, and then….that flash recoiled in a dozen thick, colored strands, each a different color.  They whipped to me and then slowed, wrapping a shape like an oval egg around me.  The egg made of rainbow streamers revolved around me.  My Kin did not speak to me.  No one explained what the experience meant, if it was meant to mean anything at all, but it was enjoyable to say the least.

January 20: I’m finding I really am enjoying the meditations combined with physical activity.  I tried it while crocheting as well as while using the treadmill.  I am currently working on a very simple afghan, just triple stitch row after row after row so I don’t have to count stitches, I can just tune out the world and start meditating while doing it.  It’s a very peaceful meditation.  The meditations on the treadmill are more euphoric, likely due to the added endorphins pumping as I reach the altered state.  I had a yoga class last night, it was held in candlelight and I found myself almost slipping into that altered state there as well.  Meditation is so different from when I started meditating in my early 20’s. I remember starting with those meditation tapes that led me through the relaxation and then into visualization, building a personal sacred space.  I’ve looked for those tapes again, but on CD’s instead of tapes, for a friend who I think would benefit from meditation, but I’ve yet to find one so far that doesn’t have a voice that is annoying. I really like those for beginners, guided meditation.  I floundered until I started using those. Wow, that would be 30 years ago.  I’m still questioning if I am wholly Druid but I think I’ve decided that as much as I prefer meditation over ritual to connect to my Patronage and Kin, I think really want to maintain a combination of Druidic and Eastern philosophy and practices.  This latest deep meditation at my treadmill…well this time when I brought up the two powers they became that upended infinity symbol, a figure 8 but instead of it swirling before me, it was swirling within me.  The Earth power started swirling and my “marbles” began settling and when I pulled Sky, there was that flash, and then the two energies began rippling together like colored ribbons flowing in that infinity symbol.  My Kin reminded me that a lot of Druidic philosophy of the time that I came from was an assimilation that had started in the East and grew and mutated as they traveled to the West.  They reminded me that no philosophy or religion is pat…that it must evolve or it grows stagnant.  A Faith must take what works for the current times and the current people.  I heard whispers, so many that there were only snippets I could pick from among them, but each spoke of the same current that slipped in the flowing upended infinity symbol that embraced me. That there are many layers to our realities, and may layers to Faith.  Every Faith is true to who it speaks to.  My Faith is Celtic-Hippy-Shamanist-Tao.

January 27: I am now doing Yoga on Tuesdays, Treadmill on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings (most of those with meditation of varying depths) and Ballet on Thursday.  I put in time on my studies on Wednesday and Sunday.  I’m finding a really good balance between body, mind and spirit this way.  It’s easy for me to become OCD on one of those paths over another so part of my “mental training” is consciously finding the balance and maintaining it.  The constant schedule of maintaining these three aspects of my life are what are truly responsible for the long lasting changes in my life, the way I relate to my patients at work, to my co-workers.  It’s really affected my connection not only to nature but to those living and breathing around me.  Peace and centering cannot really be achieved within me, personally, the way my soul/body connection works, without balancing all three aspects, Body, Mind and Spirit.  All the praying and devotions in the world will not bring me into balance without maintaining the studies (which is why Druidic is such a great path for me as it strongly encourages continued learning and study) and without maintaining my physical body (which I am doing primarily with Ballet, Yoga, and the treadmill.)  I am over half a year into this and I can feel the work I’ve put into it creating a lasting transformation, which feels pretty darn powerful.

Somewhere between 30 yrs ago and today my meditation visualization changed.  I’m not sure when it happened, but originally I learned to visual through “guided meditation” where a disembodied voice  on a cassette tape would guide me through the meditation. I’m sure this is a common experience among many.   In current times when I empty my mind and then let it drift, my hyperactivity slows down and then the teachers come to me.  Sometimes I hear their voices.  Always I will see visual representation of what They want me to pay attention to.

I hadn’t intended on meditating Tuesday morning.  I was dead tired when I got up that morning and had to really push myself to get onto my treadmill.  I started thinking about how I started with ADF, did everything to the letter with the written material I’d been sent.  I have been diligent on my DP studies.  I got to thinking about the future, and if this is truly “Our Own Druidry” then how do I, as an individual want MY own Druidry to go.  I had vaguely thought on changes to my shrine.  I used to really like having a plethora of things on my altar when I was Wicca.  I have a plethora of things on it now but it is set up ADF style.  Now that I’ve been a member of ADF for six months and am a little over halfway through the Wheel Of The Year study tool (which I can’t give enough lauds too, it’s a wonderful study tool) my shrine is just too busy for my current needs.  But how do I set up an ADF shrine and coexist with my need for simplicity and have it be MY own Druidry?

It didn’t take long before my deep regulated breathing on the treadmill and the milling of my thoughts had sent me into my usual meditative trance.  I heard the soft tinkling of glass wind chimes that usually heralds one of my Teachers presence and then I saw a wisp of dark heavy incense rising as I felt the Earth power  rise.  THIS time, it was not a conscious effort to draw the Earth Power.  I was not directing the Two Powers, my Teacher was.  The visualization of the dark heavy smoke of incense was heady and strong and fertile as it filled me, rising from beneath my feet and up through my chakras.  Another wisp of smoke descended to embrace me.  It was pale, light, and fruity almost.  It descended into me, and as the Sky Power wrapped and danced with the Earth power, the smoky wisps of light and dark mixed and the flash of light spread across the horizontal axis and I became a vertical axis…which was a different concept for me, this time BECOMING the vertical axis.

Before me I saw my future shrine, minimalist, much like a personal Buddhist shrine but with the addition of the bowl of water I use for my well.   My incense burner was different in this visualization than the one I have in reality, long for laying sticks in.   I saw a container of earth mixed with sand. I asked “I see water and earth, what of sky, or my tree representation?”

Then the visualization shifted and became odd until I absorbed the concept.  The Earth energy thickened, pulsed, and became of all things, a giant placenta.  I felt myself looking up and the Sky energy arced over and around me and became the walls and space filling a planet size womb.  And then I felt myself ask again, “What of tree?” …and I became the tree.  I felt my roots reach deep into the placenta of life.  I felt my arms reaching overhead and touching the very edges of the womb and felt the energy of the life that I knew this womb dwelt within.  And then I heard a singing of a life song.  It started quietly at first and then grew with many voices.  I looked across that sparkling horizon and the blinding sparkling horizontal axis muted it’s light and I saw a forest of trees, and within all those trees were all the souls of people on this earth, all the trees with their roots in the placenta of the earth and their arms reaching to the sky as we all dwelt in the womb of this existence.  “Respect the Gods of the House you are in,” my teacher said to me.  “Practice full ADF when you are among your grove-mates, but when you are in your own space, well it is YOUR own Druidry.  Have your shrine as it works best for you.” And with that I saw that shrine again, the container of earth, the container of sea, and between then the flat burner of incense burning in the ashes of previous incenses burned, the smoke raising to the sky.  To me, it was beauty in simplicity, uncomplicated and at peace.

February  3rd. I’m finding I thoroughly enjoy the meditation technique using physical repetitive movement.  It works very well in giving my twitchy hyperactive body something to do while I lose myself internally to the meditation.  Today’s vision I did not receive anything enlightening, simply the gift of peace and calm which I truly needed as I’ve been feeling a bit frustrated the last couple of days, you know the days when you’re feeling like you’re spinning inside?  My internal marbles really needed Two Powers and today I got a chance to still my churning waters while meditating on the treadmill.  I didn’t spend much time on the treadmill today, only 15 minutes of my usual 30 and I should have stayed on it longer, but got the meditation I needed before moving on to the other handful of projects I needed to do on my mid-week day off from work.

Addendum, Feb 5th:  The subject of water between earth and sky came up again after initializing meditation and going into trance state.  I questioned my Kindred about why they are teaching me water above earth, in the middle of the three realms and I brought up the accepted version of water beneath earth, as in deep beneath the land and down in the wells putting water deeper than earth, then earth as the mid and air atop the other two of the three realms.  They countered with the idea that water is the fluid, transitional and catalytic, changing matter between the realms, it sinks below the earth, but it also rises into air, and rains back down.  It is a liquid, a solid, and a gas as it transmutes from ice to water to steam. It lives between, sinks into earth, rises to sky, but continues that cycle between the two realms of earth and sky, living in both, joining both earth and sky, and They say that is why I see the flash and water-like shimmer of the joined powers of earth and sky in the Two Powers meditation.  I’ve no idea if that makes sense in anyone else’s UPG, but it’s the idea They are pushing at me and that makes sense to me now.

February 10th As of last week, I had completed 5 steady months of  practicing meditation on a regular basis, and to be quite honest, I  can see me continuing this regularly throughout the rest of my life where I cannot see myself doing so on what others practice with daily devotions.  In practice, the devotions seemed very one sided for me, much like prayers when I tried Christianity.  With meditation, after I have succeeded in finding that quiet space, quite often I am joined by Kindred of some kind whether it be nature spirits, an ancestor coming to teach me something, or a Patron who has come to me to teach or comfort or scold.  Meditation is by far the most rewarding of my spiritual practice elements.  Whenever I empty myself out, something from the altered reality almost always fills the space back up and leaves me feeling calmer and more at peace.

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~ by Spider Lily on August 29, 2010.

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