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April 14, 2015

I sit in candlelight and allow everything to slip away. I settle into my body, feel the breath drawing into and pushing out of my lungs, my heart ticking my blood through my veins. I feel the floor, the cushion beneath me, the still warm air around me, and the boundaries between my body and the room and the altar before me start to melt away.

The edges of my mind start to shift outwards, too – the more I release my thoughts, the more I surrender to the silence, the further I feel my consciousness shift until I am me – everything – nothing.

And sometimes, at the depths of the stillness, something stirs. Something vast and empty opens up, something utterly dark and perfectly light. It feels like breaking open. Peace descends. But there is a dark seed, too. Awe so deep it is almost fearful. Love so immense it is incomprehensible.

And I am back in the first church I ever knelt in, the sweet oppressive scent of frankincense clouding my senses, searching for and finding the dark joy of God in my heart.

April 1, 2015

When you’re a pantheist who believes the gods are archetypes, it can be hard to tell where the devotion ends and the inner work begins. If I speak prayers to a deity, or make an offering, or conduct a ritual in their honour – am I expressing devotion to Cosmos? Or am I petitioning unconscious parts of myself, working inner change?

It’s definitely both. And sometimes I’m ok with letting it all merge together without too much analysis. But sometimes I feel a yearning for clarity, a need to draw a line between worship and self-development. Because while they are fluid, they are ultimately opposite – expanding consciousness without, and expanding consciousness within.

The Sabbats have tended to focus, for me, primarily on inner change. And it seems to me that a large amount of the wider Pagan community treats them this way, too. They are seen as metaphors that we can tap into in order to effect similar changes and patterns within ourselves. We “plant seeds” and “harvest”; we “release” and “receive”.

But following this fairly rigid symbolic structure has not really been working for me of late. Instead, I’m feeling the urge to return to pure devotion at the Sabbats. As poignant markers on our yearly cycle, the Sabbats are not about me. They are about Earth, and the yearly cycle of creation and destruction that reflects much bigger such cycles in the wider cosmos.

Yes, these cycles occur within me, too. But not necessarily in tandem with Earth’s plant- and wildlife. I do enjoy the trigger for specific types of contemplation that the Sabbats evoke for their season. But I’m feeling a pull towards letting go of that self-centric habit for the Sabbats themselves, and instead focussing on pure celebration of the cycle of the year – the largest and longest cycle, apart from our own life and death, that we experience tangibly.

But I want to get more serious about developing ritual for inner work, too. I have recently committed to doing regular shadow work, and perhaps a monthly ritual to work through the major shifts and explorations of the month would be beneficial. But I like the idea of this being separate from the Sabbat celebrations.

I’ve been experiencing some frustration with the full and new moons. For the first year or two of my dedicated spiritual practice, these were times for me to “practise” my ritual structure. But at that time, the very act of developing quite a rigid ritual structure was the process by which I solidified my beliefs and personal mythology. So the full and dark moons were times of exciting exploration of my beliefs, as I tried on my latest ritual-shaped cosmology for size.

But since these days I have become much clearer and more comfortable in my cosmology, I have been finding it hard to inject meaning into those days, and sitting down to do arbitrary ritual doesn’t feel right. I have tried before to establish a sort of magical practice for the full and dark moons – doing simple workings to reflect changes I want to invoke. But somehow, that practice hasn’t stuck.

If the Sabbats focus more on the outer, perhaps I will naturally gravitate more towards doing inner work at the dark moons, if not the full moons too.

Of course, both types of ritual – devotional at the Sabbats, inner work at the dark moons – will continue to look quite similar, for me. I will use similar language, I will sit at my altar, I will even – I imagine – have similar emotional experiences. But right now, I feel like making this distinction will be helpful.

And one of the most wonderful things about having a self-made spiritual practice is that I can do this, I can experiment, I can feel out what I need right now and flow with it.

February 24, 2015

The Tower from the Wild Unknown

How can you tell the difference between running towards something good and nurturing, and running away from something that is just too challenging for you to face?

I have been living in a Tower moment for months – I felt it bearing down on me, standing at my shoulder, waiting. I submitted to it, or so I thought. I released everything from my life and attempted to start again. But still the feeling of chaos, of ripped up roots, hangs onto my heart. Still I feel like I’m running.

What if the Tower moment isn’t about abandoning ship and running off to calmer waters – but about sticking it out, seeing it through, following the current, and holding on for dear life to the things that have mattered?

I thought I was starting a new life for myself. I thought I needed to drop everything and escape in order to become the woman I want to be. I could almost taste her, she was so close. And then… when it all got pulled from under my feet, I realised that I was placing my power in the hands of another. Again. I was chasing after ready-made passion, chasing after a perfect happiness that could be found and kept and held onto forever.

February 10, 2015

What if the gods are just in my mind? What if human consciousnesses cannot connect in any discernible way? What if the connectivity of all things is true on a physical, literal level; but does not translate into an attainable mode of experience where humans can shed their ego and experience or influence the All directly?

Well, I would be back where I started. It would change nothing about my spiritual experiences, my core beliefs, or my commitment to reverence. And would I be losing anything, really?

At some core level, I am aware that my beliefs are largely naturalistic. My interpretations of divine experiences and magic are psychological. I think the archetypal realm is hugely important and powerful and transformative – but it is primarily or even exclusively located within the individual brain.

I have been pushing against this for months, for years. I came to Paganism originally because I didn’t want to embrace this worldview. I wanted magic, I wanted “real” gods who “really speak”; I wanted transcendental experiences that change me and my perceptions of reality forever.

What I ended up with was a spiritual practice that nurtures me creatively, that draws out my sense of devotion and awe. I discovered that celebrating the cycles of Cosmos and the mysterious depths of the psyche is even more rewarding than lighting candles and hoping silently in the dark for some greater revelation.

January 31, 2015

Imbolg

My life feels like it has been stripped back to its basics in these last few months. The season of Winter has seen me release more and more of what my life has been for the past few years. Now, at Imbolc, I feel almost completely empty. I am moving past the fear, the loneliness, the pain. I am striving for serenity and hope.

It seems fitting that tonight, on the eve of Imbolc, I will be performing my simplest Sabbat ritual to date. I’m not sure that it’s going to look like a ritual at all. I suspect that I will simply sit at the altar, and meditate, and talk. And I will listen to the deep silence of Cosmos, expecting no answer but the beating of my own heart.

Other years I have made St Bridget’s crosses and lit multitudes of candles and worked with Brigid. I have spoken lengthy poems and worked elaborate rituals. I have celebrated the return of light and life – the rebirth of Spring.

But this year, all of that would seem false and forced. I am most definitely sitting in the space before Spring, yearning for its time of manifestation. I am anxiously tending the seeds I have planted in the hard cold earth. But this does not feel like the time to be singing and dancing about it. It feels like a time to hold my own hand in silence and grieve, and hope, and pray.

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Praise


Thank you again Áine. I very much enjoyed receiving the much needed direction and ideas you put forward in this 4-part reading. This has helped me think more deeply and and become more focused on what is important to me on my spiritual journey. Now for some action on my part and then I will be back to experience and enjoy some of your other spiritual mentoring :)
Áine's reading was insightful and meaningful. I could feel the love coming through in each carefully chosen word. What she had to say was true and real for my life and my situation, and I have made good use of her very concrete and helpful suggestions in moving forward in this situation. Sensitivity and a loving spirit know no physical distance or boundaries. I will surely be contacting Áine in the future. If you are thinking about having a reading done by her...please do not hesitate. A profound experience.
This reading was amazing! I absolutely love this format of tarot reading - this is a really unique service! I asked a question and then she did the initial reading which was very thorough. After I processed the first part of the reading, I emailed her back with thoughts and questions. This went on for 3 days! This reading really helped me with the issue because I was able to participate with the reading and bring my higher self into it as well. Áine really knows her stuff and offers a heartfelt reading that really helps you move back blockages and resistance. I highly recommend this reading for anyone for any issue or question!
This participatory reading has been incredibly helpful and inspiring. Áine has a true gift and she does indeed write for the heart, from the heart. She is also quite gracious when her querent is a bit forgetful. :) Thanks so much.
This is great! Nice readings, a lot of empathy and she really listens to your replies!
Áine's thoughts and interpretations were wonderfully apt, often spine-tinglingly so. And all her ideas and suggestions were extremely thought-provoking. ...But the best part of all was the ability to respond and continue the "conversation" process. It encouraged me to think more deeply about the cards drawn and to consider how this impacted on my original question. My thinking grew and evolved wonderfully over the three days and it was fantastic to be able to "talk" my ideas through with someone.
That is the kind of reading I like. Very down-to-earth advice. Thank you very much for the reading, Áine!