Is gratitude part of your practice?

It can be hard when we’re going through difficulties to remember to be grateful for what we do have in our lives, but it can make such a difference. When we are truly thankful for the small blessings in our lives it reminds us that the world is not ‘against’ us. It can be all too easy to forget the good when we’re caught up in the less-good.
This also applies to our practice as Polytheists. When things aren’t going so well do you still remember to thank the Gods for what is in your life? When that surprise gift/job/opportunity comes up do you remember to say, “thank you”?

Between March and up until mid-September time I was really struggling, but even in the darkest moments I was still able to find little things to be grateful for – and I don’t just mean in a superficial, ” I suppose I should be grateful/thankful for this” way. I mean on a truly grateful level. I mean on a level where you feel that thanks and gratitude in the depths of your heart.
Sometimes it would literally just be, “thank you for this hot water bottle,” when I was in pain. In moments when I felt lost or didn’t know what on earth was going on with my life I found myself repeatedly saying to my Beloveds, “thank you for being there, thank you for watching over me.” Even when my fears blocked Them out I knew They were still there, and I was (and am) truly, deeply grateful for that.

But the one that came up time and time again was perhaps the most simple, and yet maybe the most powerful: “thank you for existing, and thank you for letting me know You exist.” I felt (and feel) this from the depths of my heart, and not only in darker times but also moments of happiness, joy and excitement.

Do you remember to thank your Beloved Deities even when it’s not a ‘big’ thing? Do you remember to thank Them for all the little things that happen or come into your life? Do you remember to thank Them for being a part of your life? And, most importantly, do you thank Them just for Being?

Gratitude doesn’t cost anything, and if expressed in a genuine and heartfelt manner it becomes a gift and an offering in itself.

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Remembrance Sunday prayer + repost of ‘Why I wear a poppy’

On this Remembrance Sunday
I wear my Poppy to remember the fallen,
To remember my family and Ancestors Who fought and gave their lives
And hearts for freedom.
I remember those who fought
To maintain the liberties
Of their families and people,
And I honour them for their sacrifice.
May they now know peace,
May they be remembered.
May the freedom we have
Because of them
Never be taken for granted.

(c) Michelle Gilberthorpe, Northern Tamarisk, 2017

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You can also read my piece from last year because I feel it’s still relevant:
Full article link: Why I wear a poppy

I do not celebrate war, in fact I hope continually for the end of conflict the world over. The reason I wear the poppy is to remember people like my Grandad George, who was in the RAF and an air traffic controller in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, my Great Aunty Margaret, who was part of the Women’s Army in the UK, and her first husband Norman, who was killed only a few days after they married. In the First World War my Great Grandmothers worked in the munitions factories.

I honour the fact that the people in our Armed Forces are fighting for a concept I can believe in – freedom – even if I find it very hard to agree with the means.

(c) Michelle Gilberthorpe, Northern Tamarisk, 2017

When the masks fall we meet Them as we Are

I have often enjoyed reading the works of mystics and contemplatives from different traditions. Those two words call to me again now. I have remarked to others several times before that I seemed to have been cast in a role akin to a pagan nun, not necessarily by choice, more through circumstance and beliefs.

I re-read Upon the Mountain: Prayer in the Carmelite Tradition by Sister Mary McCormack of the Carmelites last night and was reminded so much of the all-pervasive love I held for my Beloveds before the loss and upheaval of the last 6-7 weeks, the last month in particular. Sister Mary’s words reminded me of how my whole world seemed coloured by contemplation of Them, particularly Loki and Sigyn.

I wept as I read, because not only did her words remind me of what I have (for now, at least) lost, but because she speaks of the “dark night of the soul” where we face our own shadows, where all we hold dear falls away and leaves us grasping in the dark, often affecting our connection with the Divine. Yet Sister Mary, through her own words, those of St Therese of Avila and St John of the Cross, gives hope.
Only when we are broken down, only when we face those harsh truths about ourselves can we stand before the Divine, no longer encumbered by masks. Only then can we enter into a truer relationship with the Divine; one that transcends anything that may have come before. When we stand as we Are we greet our God(s) with our true face, our true Self, and any preconceptions of how we relate to Them can fall away, allowing our God(s) to in turn reveal more of Their true Selves to us.

So I have hope again. I am remembering once more that all roads lead back to Them, no matter the detours.
I am also determined in these things: never again will I allow the words and misconceptions of another to poison my link with the Gods. Never again will I forget that though I may go through trials They are always there. My heart is Theirs, my love is Theirs, my devotion is Theirs. All I go through breaks down barriers and leaves me a better person, and a more open heart to receive Their loving guidance.

With love and a sapling heart I reach once more for Them.

My deepest thanks go to J, who lent me the book that has provided such solace for my heart, and returned my determination to keep reaching for Them. Little did we know how important this tiny book would become only a matter of weeks later. May your Beloveds hold you deep within Their hearts.

Upon the Mountain: Prayer in the Carmelite Tradition can be bought from the Notting Hill Carmelites –http://carmelitesnottinghill.org.uk/product/upon-this-mountain-2/