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Parts and Polytheism

My spirituality and religious allegiances have wavered and evolved through the decades. Often this has bothered me. I feel as though I should settle for one path, whether broadly Pagan, Christian, or any other path. Yet I cant.

Christ calls me. Brighid calls me. The path of the Sufi, the mystical paths of Islam, call me. The way of the Druid calls me. Other Gods and Goddesses call to me.

Now I have a different light on this. It is the light shed by a deeper understanding of the various parts within, parts previously completely dissociated by trauma who are now emerging from the shadows. They have their trauma stories to tell. They also have their own religious/spiritual paths.

To force myself into one path is to deny the myriad paths formed within at different times. To deny those parts of me their own unique voice, their own unique relationship with the Divine. In a sense, to follow one path, worship one deity, is to deny the other parts of me their existence.  They have been ignored by me for decades. A way of survival maybe, but to the detriment of the whole.

Dissociation is a brilliant survival tool. A survival tool of the whole being, body, mind and soul. When those parts come together a beautiful – albeit highly complex – mosaic is formed. I will honour myself. I will honour the mosaic of deities that have made themselves known to me.

Blessed Be.

Ogham Ngetal

Ogham-Ngetal, Broom, Reed.

My harvesting of this essence tonight was blessed with two strong images.

Firstly the Cailleach came to me, broom in hand. Broom to cleanse, to sweep away all that no longer serves me. All that is no longer helpful in my life. You do not argue with Her. She is strong, dark, powerful – yet not to be feared if you are brave enough to embrace her.  In the darkest depths of winter she will cleanse with her power, sweep away all that stagnates within. In the spring, when Brighid returns, broom will be there in all her lightness to carry us forward into spring.

The second sensing I had was that the broom she showed me was made up of all the individual  reeds of my dissociated parts, fragmented through trauma, yet integrated by the power of the Cailleach. United they serve a purpose. Right now I do not know what she has planned, but there is true hope in this image.  

As we are pulled forwards into the depths of winter, may the strength of the Cailleach and the cleansing of Ngetal bring you blessings of hope. 

Ogham-Muin

Harvesting the essence from my Muin Ogham ahead of the New Moon tonight I was overwhelmed by her complexity.

Muin can be Vine or Bramble/Blackberry. In Celtic Reiki she is Bramble, and that is how I met her as she rambled at great speed through me. Bramble weaves connections, aids learning.

She is also a great Protector. Muin offers her sweet berries to those you meet who are benign. To less benign people around you, she offers her thorns as protection. My harvesting today felt chaotic.  I sense she may take her time in coming through with clarity.

To all who need her protection yet also her sweetness, I send Ogham-Muin out to you now.

Be Blessed.

Quert and Brighid

Quert – Apple. The gentle, graceful loving energy harvested at the last New Moon. Living with her since then she has challenged me, not quite settled with me. She is too gentle.

 Brighid stepped in the other day. She too is love. Not always graceful – but she showed me love is strong. Love is not sentimental slosh. Love can be deeply fiery, as is her love. Not a love that pussy-foots around us, but a love which challenges, digs out new spaces for Her within.

Fire is also Light, blazing its way through our darkeness. As Brighid gives way to the Cailleach Her Light will still shine on through the winter.

Blessed Be.  

 

Cailleach Calling

The Cailleach has been calling me these past few days.

Her time is approaching. The Hag of the Hills, the Highlands.

She is a Dark Goddess, the one who rules the winter. We meet her at Samhain, not far away now.

She is the ruler of winter, and her sister Brighid the ruler of the lighter spring and summer days, yet they come to me as two faces of the One.

Brighid came to me first in a deeply personal way as the Scar-Faced One, showing me first Her ugly, scarred side before transforming into a light, beautiful faced Goddess. The Dark Scarred One, whether we call her Cailleach or Brighid, is not to be feared. She will lead us through the darkening days of autumn and on through winter, before showing us her Light in the spring.

May you know Her blessings through the dark days. 

 

Ogham-Quert

Quert (Apple) is traditionally about love, healing, cleansing, the underworld. Some of these came through as I harvested the essence from my Quert Ogham stave tonight. She came to me with a beautiful lightness and grace, dancing through my body. I could smell her, sense her sweet juice washing me inside and out.

Rather than taking me to the underworld, she took me back in time to younger me – a me in shame, feeeling defiled by years of  sexual abuse. Her cleansing reached back in time – unprocessed trauma memories continue to live within us until they are processed, placed in the past where they belong. She is a gentle yet powerful ally.

I send her out now as a blessing to all who particularly need her cleansing from shame.

Be Blessed.

Ogham Coll

Ogham Coll (Hazel) had some surprises as I harvested her from my ogham stave today. She is Inspiration, collector of Wisdom. She bridges the unconscious and the conscious, making connections.

An earth-bound Capricorn, I found her delightful. She danced through my conscious and unconscious being, showing me that we do not always have to plummet to the absolute depths and darkness of our being in order to tap into her Inspiration, her Wisdom.

I can see her smiling at me, ‘Lighten up’. ‘Dance’.

To all who need to Dance, no matter the depths of their Despair and Darkness, I send her out to you now.

Be Blessed.

 

A Carmelite Soul

Tomorrow my stay in a Carmelite convent for this week comes to a close.  In some ways these few days have been an abbreviated version of my five years living as a Carmelite. First, something of Carmel.

Carmel is a desert landscape, yet a desert that blossoms.

Carmel is a mountain to be climbed, yet full of ravines, crevices, overhanging rock. The path is never straight, and rarely can you see the summit. For those who do reach it, the vista (I am told) surpasses all words.

Carmel is of Elijah, that fiery prophet, yet who prayed for G-d to end his life. Instead he woke up the next morning, and the ravens came to feed him, ready for his journey to Horeb. Being a fiery soul, he waited for G-d to come in the dramatic natural events. Instead He came in a whisper, that still, small voice. Carmelites of today trace their spiritual origin to him. I chose the reading of this event in his life for my first profession.

Teresa of Avila followed in the uncompromising footsteps of Elijah. In the times of the inquisition (1500s), she dared teach that women were perfectly capable of mental prayer, capable of a personal relationship with God. A heretic of her times. She reformed the Carmelite nuns. She also had the audacity to take Jesus to task, saying that she was not surprised he had so few friends when he treated them so badly. Somehow she escaped punishment in prison, escaped the inquisitors. She had no time for gloomy saints. Quite a character.

John of the Cross, who reformed the friars, was less lucky – except it was his own friars who beat him up for asking so much of them. He escaped, and his escape gave rise to some of his greatest spiritual poetry. He it is who wrote of the Dark Night of the Soul. An image which continues to speak deeply to me.

So Carmel is uncompromising. It asks everything, because God asks everything. Therein lies the paradox. We can only give ourselves (to anyone) if we first possess ourselves. We cannot give what we do not own. If we do not own all the mucky bits, the dissociated fragments, we can only give a part of ourselves.

Another paradox: Carmel is both utterly safe and utterly terrifying to be in, whether literally or figuratively. Tomorrow I must leave here, traverse 2.5 hours of holiday traffic to get home. I am screaming inside: because leaving Carmel 25 years ago was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life – along with living as a Carmelite for 5 years. Why? Because Carmel is a place which tears down every last fibre of false or incomplete self. It asks everything. There is truly nowhere to hide from that abiding Presence. Yet it is also utterly safe to be stripped spiritually naked here.

Prayer is complex for me. I am a spiritual wanderer, meandering down various spiritual paths. Yet yesterday and today I decided to take every one of the inner child parts of me which are slowly coming out of hiding and present them to Jesus – the image of him welcoming little children prompted that. They were two terrifying prayer times – yet it also felt completely safe to do that.

In Carmel all those years ago my sisters saw all the triggered parts of me in action, I suspect. Somehow I was still loved. I know I was very challenging to live with at times, especially for my fellow novices…

Tomorrow I must leave….Then I remember the note that the lay extern (outside the enclosure) passed in to me the night before I left, in which she said ‘you can take the girl out of Carmel, but you cant take Carmel out of the girl’. I guess that is still true, 25 years later, although generally expressed in more diverse ways. The language of the desert, the dark night, Presence in Silence, still speaks so deeply to me.

Life remains a desert. Life remains the challenge of climbing that mountain, falling down crevices, navigating overhangs. Somehow all this happens without crampons either. I guess I will just keep climbing (I hate heights and climbing…), with a Presence who is beyond all names, indeed is unnameable, but who reveals themselves in different, ever unexpected ways.

 

 

Childhood Trauma and Dissociation

Yesterday a link on Facebook sent me here https://lucidwitness.com/2015/09/25/peek-inside-a-classroom-jose/ – A poignant, powerful account of a young child’s dissociation during lessons on account of traumatic events unfolding in their life.

It reminded me of my own childhood in class, the ultra-quiet one, the spacey one. Working in education now, these are the children I am mindful of, the ones who are just too quiet. They may be the joy of their teachers in the midst of an otherwise unruly bunch of young people, but the extremes of withdrawal are not normal, and should be flagged up.

Children experiencing abuse at home may not even know what they are being subjected to, due to stronger depths of dissociation; one self functioning at school and in the outside world generally, while another part tries as best as a child can do to survive the abuse.

Thank you, Daun Koffman, for writing about – and caring about – traumatised children.