Monday, 11 September 2017

Wise Women And The Circle of Sisters

Anyone who knows me knows I'm passionate about Red Tent.  Not just Red Tent, but women's circles in general.  In my experience these are sacred places of healing and certain kind of holiness.

A well run circle can heal a hundred rifts between women, rebuild trust and shut down the competitive feelings that derive from being told we are not enough and that there is not enough, love and approval mostly, to go round.  A circle such as this can nurture the cheerleader in all of us, the one that claps and shouts with her pompoms of joy for our fellow women in business, in homes, in art, in literature, in politics, in education, and in love.

A well held circle can gently caress and hug the souls of wounded women, hold the pain and the many stories.  It is in such a circle that a woman can feel heard, re-membered, and made whole and holy.  It is in the candlelight and the sharing that the vulnerable feel their true strength, the voiceless find their expression, the lonely know their kin, the saddened lean into comfort, and the traumatised have their wounds rightly acknowledged and tended to.

A well intended circle can call women to the altar of their sacred truth and teach the womb wisdom that belongs to all of them, all cultures, all races, all beliefs, and all ages and phases of life.  It is here before the shrine that women know the fullness of their beauty and their mystery, and can dive deep into the sensual world of the feminine in all her forms and rites of passage.

It has always been my hope to hold the space in a way such as this, and I do to the best of my ability.  I have witnessed powerful transformations over the time in my Moon Lodges and Red Tents.  I've seen a community evolve around them and through them.  I know that for myself I am more whole, less scared of who I am, less broken and actually okay with my brokenness, feel more connected to the cycles of earth, sun, moon and womb, and most important of all feel more connected to and supported by other women because of them.

One of the most common things that women say is that Red Tent, or their first time in circle, felt like coming home, home to themselves.


"The Red Tent feels like a homecoming - a place I've always longed for but didn't know existed. It has healed my relationship with other women in a powerful way, I always leave having learnt and grown”

“The red tent gave me the sisterhood I didn't realise I was craving, the voice I hadn't realised I had lost, and the permission to be myself”

“In the Red Tent I felt a sense of recognition and strength with other women and found the belonging I've been missing.”


Others directly link Red Tent to their own healing journey and it is with permission that I post the following: 

"I am officially OFF the antidepressants after more than two years. This is due in part to the wonderful support and space and love I have experienced at your hands, my sistars. Thank you - whether you are embroiled enough to know the ins and outs of my life, or whether we see each other only on Facebook, I would not be where I am if it weren't for Red Tent."

It is this movement, this overflowing river of red, the reclaiming and the healing, the stepping up and the supporting that was part of the original vision inspired by Anita Diamant's Red Tent.  ALisa Starkweather's Red Tent Temple Movement, Aisha Hannibal's Red Tent Directory, DeAnna L'am's Red Tents in Every Neighbourhood, and Isadora Leidenfrost's Red Tent Movie have helped spread the idea of Red Tent far and wide.  There are circles all over the place.  Many women are stepping up to hold space for their sisters.  Many women are co-creating Red Tents.  Many want to ...

Many want to ... but don't know quite how.  Even though the ideas for holding a Red Tent are out there, and any woman can do this, I have been asked over and over now.  "I would like to do what you do.  I want to learn how to hold space like you."  Having encouraged several women to start their own Red Tents, I am aware that for some the desire is strong, but so is the overwhelm and the task seems daunting.  So I've recently I've listened when some have said will you teach us, and I've put together an offering that I hope will be the start of many more Red Tents and sister circles. If you feel the call please come join us. 


Wise Women and the Circle of Sisters starts on October 1st and is a self led course delivered to your inbox.  It was originally going to be live in person workshop with a year of additional support via a Facebook group, but I've had interest from women all over the place and in the end it seemed impractical.  I've packed it with as much juicy know how and practicality as I can and will be passing on information mostly through video format to keep connected face-to-face.  During the month of October the initial teaching package will be shared and from this October till September next year support is offered via a lightly mentored Facebook Group and a monthly package of encouragement and ideas for Red Tents, including meditations, songs, activities and themes.  

I hope this will enable many women to feel empowered to hold Red Tents in their communities and reach the women who are crying out for connection, understanding and nurturing. 

Heidi x

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Red Tent At Into The Wild

It is always a privilege and a joy to hold space for women, and at festivals it is no different.  This year I took the Red Tent once again to the Into The Wild summer gathering. Festivals are a journey of wonder and the unknown.  A new site, lots of new faces, and a multitude of unplanned experiences. This time Cath, fellow Moon Mother and menstrual mentor, joined me as a Red Tent circle facilitator and workshop guide.  We had a wonderful time.
We were well situated in the Wellbeing Field.  With the sounds of gong radiating towards us from a nearby sound therapy space, happy voices wandering past and children playing in a random sandy area behind us, the inner sanctum was incredibly chill.

Along with the opening and closing circles we offered three workshops.  One about the wisdom gifts of the menstrual cycle, then Cath's introduction to the importance of celebrating menarche for our girls, and one about the Worldwide Womb Blessing.  Also as popular as ever was the daily Sister Siesta in the afternoon.
Women of all ages from babes, to girls, to teens, young women, mothers, peri-menopausal women, post-menopausal, and elders found their way to us.  We also met a couple of other women just starting to hold their Red Tents too.  So much to share and so much joy.










Several women came back to the Red Tent from last year's festival, some telling us they had been waiting for this all year.  Many women discovering Red Tent for the first time were overjoyed and said it was the highlight of their festival.  Those coming to workshops went away changed, empowered and inspired.  Even as we were packing away, and all that was left were the big bags full of cushions and decor on the grass as we rolled up the bell tent, women were still coming up to us and thanking us, one even giving us her hand-made raw cacao flower shaped chocolates.

I love this work in service with all my heart and it is in deep gratitude that I shared the holding of  this with a dear friend and sister.  May our Red Tent in the Southampton and the New Forest continue to grow and expand, and may we keep being able to offer it out at many festivals in the years to come.
So if you have a Red Tent near you, avail yourself of the wisdom and nourishment to be found there.  Support and attend those spaces so that they can continue to remain open for other women to find them, because they are crying out for them.  Support the women holding them for they are truly giving something wonderful and life changing; creating community; and offering a space to be heard, to be healed and to grow.


Heidi x

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

God-Mother

This beauty found it's way to me so I'm sharing with you.  It is stunning and poignant.  Enjoy this new piece from filmmaker, cartoonist and adventurer Nina Paley.




God-Mother from Nina Paley on Vimeo.


Heidi x

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Solar Eclipse Magick ... And Sogginess

I planned a beautiful ritual down by the sea.  Imagine the gentle waves lapping while the sun sets. Yeah it went something like that. You may want to read this as a cautionary tale, as in "don't do as I did", but I'd prefer it if you saw it as a "look this is how you carry on holding space midway through your panic and run for it moment"

The tide was incoming which I had accounted for and was part of what I had planned.  But tides come in fast don't they?  They kind of sneak up when you're not looking.

So out onto the little spit I went, perfectly timed for the eclipse I wouldn't be actually able to see. There was just enough dry land to last the duration I thought, although I was aware of cutting it fine.  It felt so otherworldly out there.  A liminal space in threshold time.  A stillness to the sea and a fineness to the air.

I hurriedly created a small fire at the shore line and lit it.  The moon eclipsing the sun as the incoming tide claims the flames.  I added sacred incense to the fire and took  a few drops of the White Wand and Holy Water Sacred Flame of the Brighid Path Essences.




"In this sacred space upon the shore may the fires at the water's edge hold the energy of the wounded raging masculine, the burning pain of women and the agony of a betrayed Earth.

I ask this fire to purify me and take from me all that no longer serves in my thinking, in my heart and in my physical body.

In this sacred space upon the shore may the waves that lap the land hold the energy of the wise intuitive feminine, the gentle warrior masculine and the healing power of the Seas.

I ask these waters to bathe me and bless me with soft power, an open heart and wise ways."


It was as this point in the proceedings I looked back to the main shore and realised that the sea, although gently licking the edge of my fire where I was, and not moving in hardly at all, had somehow completely cut me off across the narrow part of the spit. I was on my very own small island along with a few seagulls. If someone was watching, which judging, by the amount of camper vans further up the beach they probably were, they would have seen a mad women "keeping calm and not panicking honest" as she unceremoniously threw more wood on the fire, lobbed a bit more incense into the flames, grabbed her basket, her tea mug, her large lantern, her blanket and clutched her shawl and scarf about her as she legged it back down the spit, gritted her teeth and ran in a hoppity skip fashion through several meters of water to dry land.


Soaked to mid thigh I tell you.



Any onlookers, who were probably at that point uploading to YouTube the hippy hilarity of it all, would have then seen me nonchalantly look around and carry on as though all was meant to be.

And the fire just a speck in the distance was still burning, a little glowing dot on the left hand side looking out to the Solent.


"The ocean is full, the moon is dark and their powers are eclipsing the sun. We look to the glorious sea, the home of splendid creatures, the dolphin and seal and call them in to the tide.  Bless us Manannan, and may your waves kiss the earth beneath my feet.   Bless us Ancasta, and know we honour you and the rivers you flow in.  We call upon the Mer to rise and bless the land with sea spray."

I had a little inward chuckle about the earth beneath my feet being swamped with watery love, never mind just being kissed.

"May you guide us to the waveless sea.  May you steer our ships upon the crests of white.  May the waters of grace fill our lives.   May the Moon’s wisdom temper the Sun’s strength.  Out with the old ways and in with the new."  

Here I added my own intentions for personal growth, courage and abundance, and gazed out at the beauty that is the waterway.  I watched as the fire glow disappeared and the water swelled.  It was quite powerful and beautiful. Deep shifting in the twilight and great movement in the unseen energies of within and without.

"May it be so as the Moon in the sky is darkening the Sun"


When the time of the eclipse had passed I lit the Brighid Flame to symbolise the new light of the sun.

"May the fire be a new.  May Brighid’s fire burn bright.  May She of the Holy Waters and Sacred Flame show us the way." 

Then I sat and watched some more as the sky became chiffoned in soft hues and the river suddenly busy.  I sipped my mistletoe tea to bring in the light and took Brighid's Mantle essence.  I was blessed. I was very soggy.

I hope you too were able to make the most of the special eclipse time and the powerful energies of renewal and clearing that were available to us.  May the sacred feminine continue to rise, mer like out of the moon infused waves, softening and nurturing the masculine to a more heart led way of being.









Yes that is a wand pretending to be a hair stick (my son despairs).  And yes that dry patch in the middle of the salty brine is where the the fire was.  Yeah that, don't do that.


















Two friends who also did the same ritual timed alongside me, one on the Itchen River and one for the Test River, had powerful experiences too.  We won't mention the fact that Jani did the sacred sinking into the mudflats.

Yeah that, don't do that either.


Heidi x

Monday, 21 August 2017

Healing The Gaping Wounds With Community

We cannot deny it, there are times in life when people hurt.  Hurt big time.  There are great joys that come with being alive, but also huge sadnesses.  Things happen during the course of a life that rock our world, undermine our very foundations and make our world shrink into grief, shame or loneliness.

It seems at times we are so ill equipped verbally and practically to help others during times of great need that what community there is can sometimes ebb away just when it could be at its most useful. I am grateful to be part of community in the sense that I have a few interlocking circles in which I am active and have close friendships amongst those wider circles.  There is support, inspiration and acceptance for me.  I am able to offer support.  I am needed and useful.  Community literally means the coming together around a common goal.  It is easy to create unity around hobbies, interests or places.  But what about community created for the sake of community.

I live in an area of reasonably dense population.  Apart from the neighbours saying hello and waving hi to some across the street there is nothing like community you would have seen in my grandmother's day.  There is a community centre nearby in which different groups create their own separate communities.  I have also observed many great truths about these hubs around which people gather and come together.  I've seen how they are great sources of joy and solidarity for many.  But what of the healing aspects?   There are three main areas, that I see, that we could do well, as both individuals and leaders, to have an awareness of, to up our game and to serve better.  I've called these healing aspects the hauling, the holing, and the wholing.

The hauling: Hanging on to the man overboard
When we are well and happy it is easy to join inThe flip side is the real bit we need to talk about though. That when things happen to people or they go through tough times it becomes harder for them to stay connected to previously enjoyed activities or social circles.  The onus is on those in the circle to hang on to those people, unless they have genuinely moved on for self propelling reasons. We need to reach out and check in, not expect it to be the other way round.  Communities are like boats in the great sea of life. Currents take us and it is easy to drift away.  So if someone lets go because they are too weak at that point to hang on or falls overboard because of illness of tragedy we should be staying around to pick them up, or throwing them a life ring to stay connected in some way till there are ready to be back on board again. When life horrors strike, one of the great side effects is losing connections and activities that we once enjoyed.  It is like the double whammy and an extra loss.  Sometimes when people recover from the initial months of shock from a life changing event, it causes a huge wave of deep sadness to have the realisation that they have somehow drifted away from social circles which have blindly sailed on without them.

The holing: The family hole becomes a whole family. 
Communities that contain members of all ages fill huge gaps in people's lives and heal heart wounds.  Boys and girls with absent fathers can have male role models and older friendships.  Single parents can gain the support of the village as it were.  Those in older years whose sons and daughters may not live close by, gain extra family including the laughter of younger children. For me, having lost my daughter and after years of the wounding grief and raw pain, I cannot tell you how much joy it brings me to be part of several girls lives.  My heart swells with pride at certain achievements and it bursts with every hug and greeting.  I am grateful to experience something with them that I will never get with my own daughter.  It heals the wound a little more as they grow and grow.  I know for others too that after the first several years recovering from infertility or child-loss  it has been so painful when they are kept out of family events involving children or there are no other children in their life at all. I know of those who do not want children of their own, but are sad when people assume they don't want to be around them at all.  There is no one perfect family, and having a larger family type community does mean that all needs are catered for.  Our elders don't get lonely, our teenagers can step safely away from under the parental wing, our mums and dads worry less and gain extra support, and all those in between feel part of the whole: loved and cherished and needed.

The wholing: That which separates needs to belong
When huge tragedy or trauma strikes we are defined temporarily by that experience.  It makes us different or unique in our circle of friends for the time of raw recovery.  This feeling can be devastating and isolating. Often there are support circles for survivors of specific happenings, and the victim enters a world in which the new community has all experienced the same.  At some point and alongside the support circles, these stories need to be held in the wider context of community to integrate the survivor back into life where not everyone has been through the same.  After losing my daughter I was wonderfully supported by a national group that supports bereaved parents for stillbirth and neonatal loss.  That became my main real circle of friends for several years.  When I wanted to get back to a social life that wasn't just connected by grief it was hard, but it happened.  I was aware though that it was up to me to integrate my experience of Izzy's death into my now newly evolving social circle. I didn't want it to be the thing that separated me out.  When I eventually came to running women's circles and holding the Red Tent space I had a realisation.  These types of spaces are key to the next stage of healing and integrating.  In the beginning it is validating, soothing and less isolating to be able to share with, repeat your story and listen to others who know your pain for real.  As time moves on though, the healing, the "wholing", comes when that story is heard and the pain is held by those who have not been through the same, otherwise it keeps you on the outside.  It is a different kind of acceptance and validation that is now needed.  One that says you are not separate, you belong with us. We all, with each of our stories, belong together no matter what we have been through. Listening is the key.

In fact listening is the key to most things.  May we hold each other tight, and love each other dearly. May we belong, may we be healed and whole.


Heidi x

Monday, 17 July 2017

The Heartsong Of The City

It is very easy to fall out of love with a place.  Just as with human relationships it's sometimes when we take the good things for granted, only focus on the bad points or we become bored with ourselves.

Southampton is the city which is closest to my heart, it is the place of my birth and indeed has been my home for large parts of my life.  Nowadays I live just outside it, perfectly situated between the heart and hubbub, and the more tranquil scenery of the forest and shore.  Like most places it has a rich, long and complex history.  At times it has shone as a beacon of trade, adventure and invention, and other times has fallen foul of many an invasion, the waging of war and great tragedy.  There have been times when I've not been in love with it at all.  I have moved away, and then somehow ended up back again.  Each time I've looked at it with both the eyes of familiarity and also of new perspective.




Southampton Coat of Arms 


I've been working with the energies, waters and lines of force in the city for many a number of years now, alongside researching it's history and spirit.  This getting to know the place has made me quite passionate about it, and in love with the subtleties and the richness in the land itself.

It is a place where Five Waters Meet, or perhaps I should say was, because the city has lost it's way a little.  There is ancient magick here in the land and it is still very much tangible for those with eyes to see and hearts to feel, but somewhat forgotten in recent years.  I will write about all that soon no doubt.

Anyway, regarding the being in love with the place.  Often when we begin to look we see much more happening than we thought and an aliveness that we neglected in our surroundings.  This weekend, I was reminded once again of how vibrant the city really is, and how much of a glorious multicultural and multigenerational tapestry it is.

On the Thursday evening I held circle for a group of women as part of the regular offerings of Southampton and New Forest Red Tent.  This took place at in the upstairs red velvet draped gallery of the Art House.  This cafe being a veritable centre of juiciness all on it's own I ended back there on Friday night for drinks and a bit of late night energy work.  The cultural quarter was ringing with the sounds of laughter and midnight mayhem as I crossed the Guildhall Square to go home, and there too were the skateboarders flying up and down in front of the the ionic columns.

On the Saturday I was back in the square for a rousing political rally.  Feeling the hope and unity of a passionate crowd of all ages was inspiring.  I was reminded that a city is also for many not just a few.  In that crowd were many friends, old and new, from all walks of life and different community circles all overlapping like a complex venn diagram of social awareness and careness.


After food I wandered with friends down to the Mela Festival in Hoglands Park and was greeted with sounds, sights and smells to tantalise the senses.  I only stayed for a short time.  After a quick chat with the Mayor, in which we discussed our mutual gripe about city pollution and our love of the waterfront and need for access there, we wandered back towards the car.  We meandered via the park and the new development at West Quay.  There in the sunshine along the old walls was screening of Wimbledon.  Crowds sprawled upon the fake grass, temporarily covering the fountains, and the arena like steps.  It was a joy to see yet more people of all ages gathered together, finding the common ground of a national sport.  Then went on to one of the international food stores.  I spent ages perusing spices and oversized bags of all sorts, eventually filling my basket with some favourites.




On the Sunday, just a little out of the city centre I performed with Ancasta Rising at the International Family Day Festival.  Our band is named for the Celtic Goddess whose altar stone was found on the banks of Southampton's River Itchen. Our performance is ritual wrapped up in song, a short public ceremony of sorts.  By the time we had finished I was full to the brim and rather peopled out, but it was a wonder-fullness from all the events over the few days.

So I do, as I always do, and retreat to solitude for a while.  Today I pondered on how much the city gives to me and to others.  I felt moved to write this and acknowledge that the more we engage in a place and it's offerings, the more we are enthralled by it.  The real joy comes from being part and taking part, not sitting back and waiting for the entertainment to begin.  When we become an active member of community we see things we had not seen before and meet people that enrich our lives. It is the people that are the heartsong of the city.  It is that which others see when they come and visit.  We become part of the rich tapestry, the life and soul, that tourists see and benefit from when they visit.  We owe it to the land and our urban settings to be active and present.  It is part of our stewardship and care to keep places alive and thriving, and in the giving there is more than enough receiving to nourish the spirit.


Heidi x

Thanks to Jacqui Forster Photography for the Riverside shot of Ancasta Rising

Thursday, 13 July 2017

How Radical Is Self Care?

I've read a lot about self-care recently.  Even one better, "radical self-care" seems to be the new buzz phrase.  I've had plenty of conversations with other women about their self-care practices and ultimately been examining my own habits.  I came to the conclusion that there is self-care in the "I do love myself, honestly I do" type of way, and then there is Self-Care in the "I lurve the friggin fuck out of myself, my needs and my health are of paramount importance, and I will invest in myself without guilt" type of way.  The latter is the one I aim for, because let's face it new bubble bath isn't really that radical is it.  On the surface, self care may seem obvious, but actually there is whole load more to it than just having a green smoothie and moisturising.

When we care for a plant or a child, we nurture them in the best, most attentive way possible because we want them to be strong, healthy and achieve their potential without dis-ease.  We don't expect the plant to bear copious fruit without this level of care.  We know that the child needs emotional, mental and physical sustenance and love to achieve healthy adult status.  But it seems that often we expect the abundant produce and healthy adult scenarios from ourselves on the budget version of self-care from Poundland. We scrimp on sleep and nutrients.  We do 50% deals on our emotional and mental health. We spend a limited amount of time on our dreams and still feel bad for doing so. We look for the two-for-one offers where we get to do for ourselves, as the freebie, alongside giving for others.

What's with that?

It's what we've been taught in truth, via subtle or not so subtle messages, to put ourselves on the backburner, in favour of giving to others.  But it makes no sense.  It is more logical and truthful that when we give to ourselves in a truly nurturing, wholesome way we are better equipped to be happier and healthier, more energetic and enthusiastic, more diligent and efficient, all the things those around us would benefit from.  We need to teach ourselves anew.

I'd like to suggest a look at different levels of self-care.  The Basic Essentials Package, The Long Term Investment Plan, The Radical Rejuvenate and Reform Program, and The Luxurious Icing on the Cake Bonus. The first one is for staying healthy and sane.  The second for building up inner resources, energy and clarity in order to achieve life goals.  The third for either rebooting your life from unhealthy and insane, and getting back on track, or for breaking through some obstacles to reach for your dreams.  The last package is obviously the living the dream stuff.

To up the level of output in life we must consistently up the level of input.  Often what happens though, the more the level of output, as in job, responsibilities, family etc we often lower the level of input.  We expect more of ourselves for less.  The result is permanent exhaustion that we barely notice, chronic stress, and emotional and mental fragility. We also need to be wary of the self-care that masquerades its harm as self indulgence or that which smoothes a veneer of pampering over self-negligence.


The Basic Essentials Package
The indispensable or necessary element.  If we go back to the plant or child analogy, that would be water, warmth, food and air for body, mind and spirit in order to be an all round human devoid of physical, mental and emotional malnutrition.

Now I'm guessing that there are a few things that you may have mentally shoved in the other self-care boxes, that actually belong in this one. I know I did.  It is good to assess though what is essential to keeping you healthy and sane.  Sleep, good hydration, balanced diet and movement are a given, yet sometimes we cheat ourselves out of even these.  When it steps away slightly from the physical, and more into the zone of mental and emotional health we are even more likely to brush it off as non essential.  Yet the right amount of space or social interaction can make so much difference to our basic happiness and ability to cope with day to day stresses. What about the home environment, is it a place of sanctuary and retreat supporting our overall wellbeing? What about people or situations that are overtly toxic, taking away from our mental and emotional health?  Really harmful toxins, whether ingested via the body or mind, have no place in self-care at any level.

Boundaries are essential to self care and at each new level, there are new bars to be set in terms of needs and requirements.  Others always look and respond to cues from us in regard to what we expect for ourselves.  Implementing boundaries around our basic needs is vital.

The questions here to ask are:

What do I consider to be basic physical, mental and emotional health, and what needs to be done to maintain it for any length of time?  What steps am I taking to achieve it? 

Be honest with your answers and don't fool yourself.  Get real if you know you haven't implemented your personal version of The Basic Essentials Package yet.



The Long Term Investment Plan
When we invest in a business project we pour time and money into it, building it up in the hopes to reap greater rewards in the future.  Investing in ourselves via self-care is exactly the same.  This is on top of the basics, which is just like keeping something ticking over in good running order.  The essentials are about not getting sick or rundown mentally emotionally or physically.  The investment is more like a steady climb to greater and greater vitality, happiness and productivity.

Now the thing is, the higher the levels of output then the more and more of the long term investment then becomes a basic essential.  Think of it like an athlete whose necessary eating and exercise regime is very different to a busy office worker.  The athlete would also no doubt have regular nutritional assessments, physio and massage.  But if that person steadily worked towards similar athletic standards then they too would eventually have the same basic weekly needs.

The questions here to ask are:

What could I add in daily or weekly to enhance my energy levels, my health, my ability to cope and my mental clarity? What areas of myself do I want to invest in and how do I do that? What do I now need to take away that no longer serves my long term goals of mind, body and soul well being?



The Radical Rejuvenate and Reform Program
FYI here are the definitions of radical ...

1.
(especially of change or action) relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough.
synonyms: thoroughgoing, thorough, complete, total, entire, absolute, utter, comprehensive, exhaustive, root-and-branch, sweeping, far-reaching, wide-ranging, extensive, profound, drastic, severe, serious, major, desperate, stringent, violent, forceful, rigorous, draconian
"radical reform is long overdue"
2.
characterized by departure from tradition; innovative or progressive.

Now you see why the lemon water and bath salts aren't in the radical category.  Radical is great change.  It is not our normal way of doing, because we desire not our normal result.  When we need and want vast transformation from our body, our energy levels and our mood, then we investigate the hows of creating that.  Radical is implementing systematic daily self care at such a level that it alters us from the inside out.  Radical could be changing our diet completely.  It could be drastically cutting our workload. It could be upping our work and income level, and realising our value.  It could be setting big new boundaries.  Radical is bringing in the super duper nutrient rich, mentally, emotionally and spiritually supporting and altering foods, people and activities into our life.  It is looking at the areas of chronic stress and over stimulation, and making the right choices to eliminate them permanently.  It is looking at our intake, being brutally honest with ourselves, and cutting out what is inflammatory and irritating to our body, mind and soul.  It is working at and crafting self love and care with a high degree of determination and diligence if it doesn't come naturally.  It is moving to a loving self acceptance at the roots and branches level.  Radical is many angles all at once over an extended period of time, not just the odd yoga class followed by a turmeric almond milk.  It is taking us to a whole new level of being in a shorter amount of time than the long term investment plan.  And after a while some of those radicals may become our new basics to maintain our new level of being.

The questions here to ask are:

What change do I really want to call in? What am I doing right now that is detrimental to my health that I need to stop?  What is adding to my stress and unhappiness that I need to change if I can?  What boundaries have I not created that allow my personal power to ebb away?  What steps do I need to take to repair any damage I have received to my person on a physical, metabolic, emotional and mental level?  How can I support my rejuvenation and growth towards wholeness and health? What help do I need to call in from friends, family or professionals?






The Luxurious Icing on the Cake Bonus
This is the languishing by the pool lazily dipping a toe in, sipping a pixie juice, whilst waiting for a two hour massage, followed by a mani-pedi and a sprinkling of glitter on day four of a two week retreat.  Let's face it, this is the stuff we all want.  But the truth of it is, unless we have crafted a lifestyle that allows us to have the energy to get the income to afford it; have our lives set up to be free and available to afford the time off; and realise our self worth we are not going to get the icing or even allow ourselves the luxury. And here is the key, implementing the basics, doing the long term investment, taking the necessary radical steps are going to get us closer to the icing than if we just sit and dream. And the ultimate truth, is that if we don't implement the basics and invest in ourselves long term, the dazzling effects of our stunning beach holiday and pampering, body shimmering time will be dulled very quickly by dehydration, exhaustion and stress.

On another note, this sort of luxury may not be a luxury, it maybe the radical step that is necessary to kickstart great change and a rethink around self care and self worth.  We tend to put luxuries in a far out of reach box, only for use on special occasions with special people.  Remember you are the special person and life is the special occasion.

The question to not ask here is:

Am I worth it?   The answer to that is obvious, in case you were actually asking it ... yes, too bloody right you are. 


In conclusion then, self care is not so radical, unless it really is drastic and rapidly life changing and life saving.  Self care is a necessary way of life.  Self care is fundamental in going from the survive to thrive scenario.  Let's all get back to basics, shall we?


Heidi x

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Being Human, Being Spiritual


One thing thing I have been asked so many times over the years in various ways is "how do you weave your spirituality into everyday life, with so little time to do so ?"  I hear frustration in the voices that ask, and sometimes a touch of despair in the knowing there is more out there, but not knowing how to access it.

The truth is you don't add it in, it is already in you.  You just realise that your spiritual life is your daily life. That is it.  There is no separation.  Your spirit is not on a completely different planet from your body or your mind.  The only thing that makes it feel "more spiritual" is the attention you bring to it.

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience" Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

By being aware of the effect each and every thing has upon the inner you, is for each experience to feel more spiritual, more alive, more connected.  Connected to what?  Connected to all of you, connected to all of life, to the ebb and flow, and something more than the physical.  

Being spiritual does not mean being uber positive and shiny all the time, it just means being mindful of your spiritual aspect, your subtle energy. Sometimes it is true, we do take part in specific activities to help us become conscious of that subtle flow and that interconnectedness.  They are tools though, methods to achieve a goal.  Sometimes we have lots of time or we prioritise those ways and means, and it ups our level of everyday spiritual awareness.  Sometimes life is busy and our "spiritual" practice goes by the wayside.

So here are two simple methods you can do any where, any time, any place to connect you to all that you are.  Using these regularly, several times a day, can bring a sense of peace and gratitude.  They also expand a sense of time, because they bring us frequently into the present.  We use up a lot of time and energy thinking of the past or future, so by being in the moment we actually gain real time. More time for those other "proper" (whatever that is) spiritual practices. 


Sensual Orientation:
This practice brings you right into your body and  your five senses. We often miss the trick of being fully present in our physical body. To yourself name three things you can see; three things you can hear; three things you can smell; three things you can touch, or that which touches you; and finally become very aware of the taste in your mouth.   Really see, hear, smell, touch and taste all that you can.  Drink in the sensations.  


Five Breaths of Awareness: 
Close your eyes. Take five deep breaths.  The first is to become fully aware of your physical body. As you inhale connect with all the body sensations, without judgement, just being aware of aches, pain, tension, your strength and physical alertness. Exhale, let go and relax.  Next breath do the same, but for your emotions.  With the third breath do the same for your mental state and your mind. Remember each time to release with the out breath. The fourth breath is to connect and become aware of the you that is not body, emotions or mind, sensing your presence in the space around you.  The last breath is to open your eyes, breathing in all of that which surrounds you into all the layers of your being that you just became aware of. 




In truth, it is sometimes that human experience we lose sight of being aware of, not the other way round. We forget to connect with the reality of being in a body that can feel and experience the length and breadth of humanity.   We forget how wonderful it is to feel a huge range of emotions, to think a thousand thoughts, to create a multitude of things, and sense a million sensations. We forget that the spirit part of us is not only informing our journey, but learning, growing and evolving via all of this very physical time here on Earth. We forget to check in and see what effect all the body stuff is having on our spirit. Sensuality is connected to spirituality.  When we feel our bodies deeply in each moment and take pleasure in them, our five senses expand into more subtle realms, and somehow the whole thing gets a little more spiritual.

Thus our spiritual awareness develops, and our natural desire to create and experience things that bring our spirit joy and peace also expands.  The small acts of mindfulness and sensuality lead to big shifts in awareness and us choosing a life that serves us well.  We find ourselves taking more time to look after body, creating space for our soul, and making time for spirit. 


Heidi x

Monday, 3 July 2017

Othergirling

"I'm not like other girls", or "I'm different to other women" is just code for comparison, putting other women down and internalised mysoginy.
I used to do "othergirling" when I was younger not realising that it stemmed from so badly wanting to be cool and approved of by men. It's taken years of self healing and trust building to realise that the damage done by "othergirling" is vast and how much of that patriarchal crap we internalise, digest and spew out upon our fellow females in various ways, whilst insidiously eroding away our own identity and esteem.
This is part of the reason why I love women's circle work and Red Tents, there is naturally no need for "othergirling" or dissing the "club". We come to see very quickly there are no 'other' girls, there are no 'other' women. There are in fact just women and girls being and doing all sorts of things, in all shapes and sizes, all ages, with all hobbies, beliefs and outlooks ... some a lot like us.




The only "other" is that perceived by those that are still fearful and still desperately trying to survive in patriarchy. That is ok too. There is a space for us to hold that. But I'm calling it out, and naming it. It is internalised mysoginy. It's ok, we all swallowed a chunk. We are detoxing together. But there is no club, there is no other, there just is. Women and girls together, learning to love, trust and build community alongside the men we love and trust too.

Heidi x

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Sort Of A Priestessy, Healer Type, Magical,Wise Woman ... That Makes Perfect Sense, Yeah?

Cultural appropriation is huge in fashion, in movies, in media ... and guess what in spirituality too.  This spiritual theft of identity and meaning, began as a rediscovery by younger generations, born from mostly white invaders, of what they had lost from their own culture.  These seekers for something deeper, severed from their ancestral roots and subtle connection to that land of familial origin, found what they were looking for via the indigenous spiritual practices.  This awakening led to wave of "new spirituality" and a host of new spiritual teachers.  This is the bit that is very difficult to navigate.

It is one that I have had to feel my way through in to what feels right to me also.  I have had the benefit of being taught some of the ways of the Native American and Inkan spiritual practices.  I am a qualified yoga teacher and have delved into the philosophy of of the East.  I have lapped up many a book on Toltec teachings.  I have been researching women's spiritual practices and goddess traditions from more than twenty years.  I have done my fair share of  cultural and spiritual magpie-ing. But ...

It taught me one beautiful thing.  The interwoven and connectedness of all teachings.  They may differ vastly, but the core is so similar.  And they all show  a few key things.  Like how to be connected strongly to the land beneath your feet; how to walk between the worlds and energetic realms; how to understand the subtle anatomy of your own human form; and how to make whole. It was an eye opening joy to find womb wisdom traditions in both South and North America, Asia, China, Europe and Australia.

Without these practices I would not have been able to heal and I am forever grateful and respectful.  Without these teachings, I would not over the many years have been able to overlay, or maybe underlay is better, my ever growing knowledge of Celtic ways with the deeper understanding.  These practices of other peoples and places showed me how to connect so strongly to the land around me and to trust that the land will teach me the way.  It is because of my learning derived elsewhere that I have had major lightbulb moments about Western Mysticism and Druidry.  It is because of the richness of all these teachings that I now find myself uncovering lost ancient wisdoms from my own culture and channelling old, or perhaps new takes on old, ones.  I am eternally thankful to other cultures for showing me how to glimpse behind the scenes, opening my doors of perception wide. But it is the truth that I have not had one indigenous teacher of these other ways.  White folks like me who found what they were seeking in a land other than their own, most were taught in that other land itself.  My teachers were genuine, passionate and authentic.

We live in a world where it is easy to be enriched by other places and other cultures.  We eat gorgeous foods from all over the world.  I have clothes brought back from other more exotic climes by friends on their travels. Here is the thing though, whilst I love my jewel like harem pants in the heights of summer, I am very aware that they do not fit my landscape or my climate.  They are not born of this place, they are born of another place and I love them for that.  It is the same with foods.  I have an organic veggie box delivered and mostly the food is local and in season.  Occasionally a mango or pineapple will find its way in there too, but it has shown me what really is of my time and place food wise.  There is definitely a seemingly endless winter of cabbage, and a neverending season of apples, and other things have their moment.  The sprinkling of other foods from other places enriches and wows me.

For me it is the same with spirituality.  Other times and other places have added to my understanding of my time and my place. The best practices for the people of a land are the ways taught by the land herself, but if you have lost how to listen, maybe sometimes you do need to go somewhere else to learn.  I do know however that there is a rich ancient wisdom tradition here the British Isles and that the land that made me is magical.  It is all to easy to search in greener grass when what you are looking for is right beneath your feet, but not so exotic sounding.  It is my belief that overall the best spiritual diet as it were, is that which the land feeds you, with a dash of elsewhere.

For those born to a land that in truth is not culturally their own, what to do.  Third and fourth generation Muslims and Hindus living here in the UK, still often practice their religion, but are culturally very different from their grandparents, adapting and growing up in a different world.  For white people born in the Americas, culturally their more recent family ancestry probably comes from a Christian background, which if you are seeking a more nature based spiritual practice, where do you turn?  To the old Celtic ways, which are now twice removed from you or the practices that emanate from the land in which you  live and were born in?  Or do you find a way made from both.  I don't know.  All I know, it is a minefield which needs diligent and sensitive walking.  To borrow or learn from another culture without respect, oozing out of sense of entitlement and white privilege is just morally wrong. Healers have walked the earth though, for thousands of years, learning new plant medicines and energetic techniques from each other on their travels.  We now use Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines alongside our Western methods.  Where do we draw the line on sharing wisdoms and actual appropriation?  I'm still learning where the line is, it keeps changing, and I am only on the outside looking in. I have to take my cues from those who feel their traditions and identities have been somewhat stolen.  We have to give credit where credit is due.  Yet all the teachings were originally, even thousands of years ago, given to wise, sensitive men and women, with ears, eyes and hearts open enough to listen, see and feel, by the Earth Herself.  They are teachings of Land, Sea and Sky.  They are truths wound into the fabric of Matter and emanate from Spirit.  The ways to connect to those truths are what defines a people and culture I guess.  Those are the methods which get carefully handed down, and feel so very personal and specific to a way of life, a tribe or a family.  This is the stuff of soul, and when the land and the ways are taken, then the crime is immeasurable.

As for the label shaman, my personal jury is out.  Shaman is a word from Siberia,and originally relating to powerful women, so in truth is it odd, and probably offensive, that it is used describe by Westerners, teaching from both the North and South Americas.  Those peoples have their own words for their medicine men and women: elders, naguals and paqos.  Those are words, rich with meaning, honour and respect, that truly belong to a people.  I often think about words from my own culture that fit.  Sorceress, wise woman, holy woman, witch, priestess, magician, walker between the worlds ... believe me, they don't always translate well, because the true meaning is lost here.  That is the sad reality, we have more of an understanding culturally of the foreign terms yogi and shaman, than we do of wisdom tradition terms here.  I get affectionately called head witch and shamanka by some friends.  But I won't be putting the term witch on my bio, because it conjures up ideas of wicca as a religion, rather than its etymology which has roots in power, craft, skill, divination and sorcery. In a desperate attempt to avoid the word "shaman" my current bio reads that I am a ...

" facilitator of healing journeys, mentor, priestess, walker between the worlds and a sacred activist" ... "a keeper and creatrix of wild medicine and womb wisdom traditions, living life from the heart, often with the soles of her bare feet on Mother Earth"

See,what a mouthful and sounds a bit up my own arse, to be honest.  It was easier to use shamanka, but that didn't really do it either. I don't really like the word healer as people think you are a fixer and a repairer, when in fact the root of the word means I help to make whole, even if the whole is still damaged.  The term "wholer" all though it describes some of it perfectly isn't even a word. For some of us who are refinding the threads and walking our old ways from our own European lands it is hard to find the words, it is difficult not to spiritually appropriate a little.  When battling through two thousand years of patriarchy and Christianity trying to find the right words to use, it is a nightmare. Language is fluid and ever evolving.  What was right three millennia ago, is probably not right now.  So maybe we need new terms, and definitely a re-education of old ones.  But till then I can't see me putting sorceress on my business cards. "Priestessy, healer type, magical,wise woman" is probably about as close as it gets, even if I do say so myself.

Heidi x