Autumn Equinox 2017 – Shadow Integration Invocation/ poem

The Autumn Equinox is a time when day and night are of equal length, and this can be a perfect time to work with the Shadow to bring about integration. There are gifts in Shadow work – abilities and parts of our Self we’ve pushed down and that need to be recognised and brought out into the world. Likewise, some people who focus all on the Light can ‘bypass’ their true emotions to try and be more ‘spiritual’.
As with the Equinox, a healthy balance and coming together of both Shadow and Light is needed to integrate and become more whole. Even naming them as such is using the Duality terminology. When integrated a person is more whole, and things less black and white, cut and dry. Balance is achieved by living through an integrated Self, one that values authenticity, integrity and understanding.

This poem/ invocation can be used in your own Equinox celebrations to help with Shadow integration. I will point out that Shadow work is an ongoing process and is not something that can be done in an afternoon. It is something that takes time, patience and dedication, but this invocation may well help to integrate the parts of your Shadow that you have already identified and worked with. Shadow work has many lessons to teach us, but unless you actually integrate those Shadows and actively live their lessons they remain an unfulfilled potential.

 

May I heal my Shadows
And acknowledge my Light.
May I give up dichotomous,
Duality-based fight.

As day and night
Become equal in length
May I unite my Self
And know my own inner strength.

May I remember the gifts
The Shadow can bring
If it’s merged with the Light
And allowed to sing.
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For Sigyn

Sigyn is the Pole Star –
Shining light;
Axis mundi.

Lady of mercy,
Well of compassion,
Beloved Heart.

She is the hand
That holds ours
In times of sorrow,

The hand that
Leads in the dark
And gloom.

She is the Keeper
Of all we hold dear.
She keeps it safe

For us
When we cannot
Hold it for ourselves.

She is the rose
That blooms
With heavenly scent,

Lifting both
Heart and mind,
Tending the soul,

Covering it
In Her gentle
Velvet-soft embrace.

She is the light
In the dark,
The guide, the spark

Of Divine
That guides us home
To our Self.

She loves us,
Foibles, mistakes and all.
She always leads us home.

———
(c) Michelle Gilberthorpe, Northern Tamarisk, 2017

Ixchel, the Mesoamerican influence, South American Shamanism and Palo Santo 

I first learned about the Mesoamerican culture in my teens in history classes, when we were studying the Spanish armada and the Conquistadors. I also saw a program on the Discovery Channel and was hooked. I watched as many programs as I could, later turning to books – cenotes in particular fascinate me. I based a GCSE drama assignment on the Aztecs – something about an argument between the Sun God Huitzilopotchtli and the Moon Goddess Mitztli – I got to play Mitztli, complete with a big silver crescent moon tied to my head. I even went to an exhibition on the Aztecs in London and based an A-level art project on the statues I saw there. Quetzalcoatl, Xipe Totec and Coatlicue were particularly memorable. When I started exploring spirituality and opening up to Spirit I dreamed of two temples, and after trawling the internet I found out they were the Mayan temples of Tikal and Palenque. A few years ago the Mayan Goddess Ixchel seemed to come in a lot; never saying anything, but coming in during certain times of pain and making it known She was there. She is said to have founded Palenque.

When Loki came into my life three years were devoted pretty much solely to Him, Sigyn and Their family. While I wouldn’t take back those amazing years for anything it meant that I often didn’t give much attention to my other Beloveds. Since the upheavals that started in late February my attentions have gotten more diverse, and I’m engaging with more of my Beloveds. I’m also getting more coming back into my life.

Last month I had three instances in a week where Ixchel came up. I took the hint and reminded myself a little about her, and among other things She is a Goddess of childbirth (so connected with gestation and birthing in all senses), weaving, water and also of healing. I believe She is coming in to help me with my own rebirth, helping me with the deeper levels of healing and reintegration.

Here is a photo of my lovely Ixchel statue. She was created by Studio Lindy on Etsy. Ixchel came all the way from Australia, so She’s had a long journey to get to me. She even took a detour back to Lindy because Royal Mail decided they had a problem with the address, but she finally made it to me. She looks rather at home on my window sill.

I’m also being called back to my interest in Mesoamerican culture, and of South American Shamanism. I’m not going to start calling myself a Shaman, but the spirit of those practices calls to something deep within me, and has done for around 10 years. It’s something I learned a lot from before, and feel I can learn a lot from it again now.
This comes combined with a dream I had in May where I was buying a bottle of Palo Santo water. I had heard of the wood but hadn’t felt drawn to it before. Along with Ixchel and the Mesoamerican influence coming back in I took it as a sign that Palo Santo is something I need to work with. I remembered clearly the company’s logo I saw on the bottle in the dream, so I looked them up and lo and behold they sell Palo Santo water – I hadn’t looked at their website before, I’d only seen them advertised in a magazine I used to buy. They also had the essential oil (ethically sourced and harvested) so I treated myself to some, along with a sample piece of the wood for smudging. While browsing I came across a wooden egg-shaped rattle, and when I tried to click on the ‘more information’ link the page jumped (the signal on my phone is dodgy so pages don’t always load properly) and the egg rattle was added to my basket! I checked with Them through my pendulum whether this was just coincidence but no, I was supposed to have it. When I finally got the information loaded it said the rattle could be used for rebirth ceremonies – message received.

So here are my Palo Santo goodies:

The essential oil smells a little like Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) with a hint of pine and something more earthy. It’s really good for cleansing the aura of any negativity, attachments and untoward spirit influence. I’ve also found using a drop in each palm and then inhaling the scent to be very grounding.
I haven’t tried burning the wood yet but it has a lovely smell to it; woody, earthy and slightly sweet. It’s often used in cleansing rituals.
Unfortunately I cannot recommend this particular brand of Palo Santo water. It has additives in it and a fragrance that smells like aftershave. It is, however, still very effective in a cleansing bath.
I am looking up other options for Palo Santo water, but there aren’t many suppliers in the UK, and it is quite pricy. I may experiment with Palo Santo wood in vodka as a kind of tincture and water it down. I’ll keep you updated.

Honouring Persephone – Shadow integration

I’ve long had a fascination with the myth of Persephone and Hades; even in childhood I wondered if there was more to the story. As part of my Shadow work I’m trying to heal, work with and integrate parts of my Self that have been pushed down for too long. In giving them their say, and in trying to find constructive, positive outlets for their ‘light’ sides I have come to realise the importance of balance. In a healing session with J a couple of weeks ago Loki and Sigyn reminded me of Persephone, and how she had to learn to balance her Upperworld and Underworld time. She had to learn to balance these parts of Herself, and so She may also be able to help me.

Weirdly I’d been buying pomegranate seeds for salads for a couple of weeks beforehand, not even remembering about Persephone’s story. I had also bought a little pomegranate pendant last year because I felt Her calling, but then got caught up in health concerns and other things that took over. This time I am in Her domain, somewhere She understands, trying to find my way back to the Upperworld but still healing my ‘Underworld’.

I went on Etsy and found a lovely bright pomegranate clay piece, and checked in with Her, asking if it would be an appropriate offering and focus for my work with Her. I got the impression it was indeed acceptable, so bought it. I’m a very visual person, and I love different textures; I like to have something to look at or hold onto that helps remind me of my Deities, or acts as a focus for Them.

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Loki and Sigyn: facilitators for deep healing and Shadow integration

Loki and Sigyn by Michelle, Northern Tamarisk

If Sigyn is the Goddess of holding space (see previous post) perhaps Loki is the one who takes our hand and let’s us know it’s safe to open up. He is the one who encourages us to express our most vulnerable selves. All the while Sigyn holds the bowl, catching any poison and throwing it away. Together They are the ones who support us through the deepest levels of healing.

If there was ever a Deity suited to helping us heal our own Shadow it is Loki – He who knows His own, Who loves all His children; knows how to love the seemingly unlovable. He is also the one who calls out hypocrisy and the Shadows of the Gods Themselves. He is the one who helps us heal our deepest wounds.
When we are in our own caves, bound by things once dear to us, upon rocks of our own shame, Loki is there with us. He knows the agony, the torment, on a whole other level. But knowing the cave as He does He can help us through our own time in the Underworld. When our own Shadows, our own repressed selves, drip down onto us, tearing us apart, He is there. 

All the while Sigyn, compassion personified, holds us steady. She takes us in Her arms like She holds the bowl, letting the Shadow poison spill out, helping us to heal. She lets us know She’s there whenever we need Her again. She will always return to hold the bowl when needed.

What we need to hold on to during this process is that, somehow, Loki made it out of the cave. Somehow He was freed from the darkness, and Sigyn could finally rest Her strong but weary arms and heart. That means we can make it out of the darkness too. We can start to reclaim our lives, go out into the world and do what we’re meant to do. We are all the stronger for having been through our trials.

They are a partnership for deep healing. For how do we heal the Shadow? With understanding acceptance and compassion. Loki and Sigyn.

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/

Shadows in the Dark

A contradictory title? If, like me, you’re currently ‘exploring’ the Underworld it may make more sense. My journey into the Underworld began in February, on the day my brother flew back to America. It was like some energy that had been stirred within when he arrived was suddenly unleashed by his departure. You see, in our family my brother is the trailblazer, the independent spirit who tries to shake us up and convince us to leave our safe cocoons. The Gods seem to be in agreement.

During this Underworld journey I have been in the dark about so many things. One after another old constructs, things and people I once held dear, and my safety net have been ripped away. While painful and sometimes terrifying in the empty potential they leave behind it has been my Shadow Self that has repeatedly reared its head.

Just when I feel I can catch my breath yet another dark, unlovable part of my Self arises, hungry for attention. Because I’ve pushed them down for so long, ignored or denied them, they have chosen very visible ways to make themselves known to me – most notably in communication with others.

While I like to believe I’m a good, honourable, ‘light’ individual I have had to face up to the fact that I can also – on occasion – be a darker, selfish, judgemental person. Not often, but boy have those Selves made themselves known in the last few weeks.

Yes, my Shadow Selves are having a field day,  rearing their heads like those whack-a-mole games you see at fairs or the pier. Continue reading