Category: My Spiritual Journey

Jumping off the Spiritual Bus (and why I am no longer eclectic)

For many people who break away from Christianity, the realisation that the world is their oyster sinks in pretty quickly. I was no different and the feeling of euphoria was incredible, albeit overwhelming. Feeling like a child in a sweet shop I travelled around the world picking a little something from every belief system I wanted and began tailor making my own spirituality.

At times I must admit this did leave a bitter taste in my mouth. The words “cultural appropriation” cropped up now and again, but I drowned them out with the excuse that I was a universal spirit, a part of the diversity that is life. I believed that just because I wasn’t a Native American or Tibetan Monk in this life time, didn’t mean that I wasn’t one in a previous life time.  We were all part of the same spiritual soul family.

And this is how my life went on with me jumping off the spiritual bus, doing my shopping and then getting back on again, to only get off at the next stop a little further down the road.

At the beginning of this year, however, the unease of mixing different spiritual beliefs within my practice came back in full force. An understanding hit me; I was lost because I had cut myself off from my own ancestral roots. I was caught in the shining lights of exotic lands. I thought I believed that I was honouring my ancestors, but how could I be if I was off walking the Medicine Wheel?  Where did I belong? Where was my spiritual and ancestral home? There was just too much vying for my attention and it was making it extremely difficult for me to cultivate a deep and meaningful spiritual practice.

Today I see this as a growing trend, not only in spiritual circles, but across the board. We seem to be a society intent on being all inclusive, one people, one world, but in doing so we are losing little by little our own heritage, culture, traditions and identity. The older I get the more I have become to realise that I should be proud of where I come from and that it is my duty to preserve my ancestral roots in this life so that my descendants can be proud of where they come from too.

We have already lost so much of our own heritage that when I see book titles such as, “Australian Druidry” or “Zen Druidry”, I just want to cry. We already know next to nothing about the ancient Druids’ and Celts’ beliefs and practices so why destroy what we do know by mixing and diluting it with another belief system?

So this is why I no longer wish to feel like a wanderer or be eclectic in my spirituality. I want to simply settle down and accept that I am not a part of other cultures, whom I have a deep respect for, but I am a part of my own. The blood of my ancestors runs through my veins and there is no need for me to look elsewhere for spiritual guidance. My European ancestors have such deep roots that span millennia and miles that I have all that I need right under my feet. The Celts, the Romans, the Norse, the Anglo-Saxons. the Slavs, the list goes on. I don’t need to look for answers in other cultures that I have absolutely nothing in common with and I no longer want to take for granted what I have right under my own nose.

But what if I feel really drawn to another spirituality that isn’t part of my own heritage you may ask?

I suggest that you really question why it is that you feel this way; spend time looking at your reasons and see if you can find similarities within your own ethnic traditions. For example, each ancient culture has its own names for their gods and goddesses, but the archetypes are the same across the world. So let’s imagine that you feel drawn to Enumclaw the Cherokee god of lightning, but you are European and not Native American. Research the mythology of European thunder/lightning  gods such as Thor ( Norse), Perun (Slavic) or Zeus (Greek), there are obviously many more.

The same goes for practices such as meditation or yoga; again each culture has its own way of doing this. How about researching Norse Shamanism or Runic Yoga as a start?

Taking a DNA test is a fantastic way for you to begin researching your pre-Christian ancestors and their traditions. My own results have shed light on why I have felt drawn to certain places and people and I have spent a lot of time with each of my ancestral branches. However, I keep being drawn back to my Scandinavian roots and since I now have a flourishing relationship with the Goddess Skadi, I have decided this is where I really want to be.

As for yourself, at least consider your own ethnic traditions first before deciding to go down a foreign spiritual path.

I do not regret having been eclectic and I am truly grateful for everything that this path has gifted me, but I believe that invariably we all one day feel a stronger pull to what is inherently in our blood and bones.

So do you follow wholly a spiritual path once walked by your ancestors? Or are your beliefs more eclectic? I would love to hear about your spiritual journey and the reasons behind your own choices.

Brightest blessings,

Hazel

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I Start My Day The Spiritual Way

For many years while my children were growing up, my morning routine usually consisted of me falling out of bed on auto pilot, making sure everyone was ready for work, college or home schooling and then trying to survive the day by getting through teaching, chores and random activities my brain decided were a good idea to do at the time. Before I knew it I was collapsing back into bed and bracing myself for another crazy day that would begin again the following morning.

I know that I am not the only one that this has happened to. We are all susceptible to losing ourselves in the doing, in the busyness of life. We somehow disconnect ourselves from what is truly meaningful and important to us and there is an emptiness inside of us that cannot be sated by the physical world alone.

And it was with this realization which slowly began to dawn on me that I knew in my soul that if I didn’t change now, then my life would stay exactly the same. It was time to put myself first. I was undernourished physically, mentally and spiritually and because of this I was not only depriving myself, but I was also depriving all of those that I cared about. I needed a structure that would not only support me, but would motivate me as well.

One of the things that lifestyle experts and successful people all have in common is their morning routine. It sets them up for the day and makes them more productive and happy. The concept of a morning routine or ritual sounded like it was definitely worth a try and after months of tweaking my own I have finally found something that works for me.  I can honestly say that it has definitely made a huge difference to how my day unfolds and it has not only become the foundation of my general well being (or should I say sanity), but also my spirituality.

I have found that by committing myself to having sacred time first thing in the morning has helped me to have a deeper connection with Deity, my family and the world around me. I am more focused, I am getting more done and I am flowing more easily with life’s rhythms instead of trying unsuccessfully to swim up stream.

I must admit that it isn’t always easy and each time I fall off the wagon I just get back on again. With having been very poorly with four different viruses since last August, I try not to beat myself up if I miss a morning. I listen to my own rhythms and allow my body to lead the way. But when I don’t miss my morning practice then it is extremely gratifying.

Now that my children are much older I do admit that it is much easier to set aside time for me in the morning. However, if you yourself have very young children then please do not feel disheartened. Instead of trying to fit in all of your sacred time in the morning why not spread it out throughout your day. Just 5 minutes here and there can make all the difference. You can absolutely find three minutes to meditate. That is how I started and now I am meditating for 10 minutes a day.

This is what my morning routine looks like for the moment. I am not always able to do this exactly because I live with three other people in a small cottage, but I do my best.

The first thing I do when I wake up is stretch, getting all of those kinks and knots out of my body. I start by rolling my head slowly in a circular movement, then I work my way down through my shoulders, arms, waist, legs and down to the feet. It’s basically a gentler version of a warm up you would normally do before an exercise session. Whilst I am stretching I think about what I am grateful for which always helps to put things into perspective.I always do my best to focus on what I have rather than what I don’t have.

And before I forget, first and foremost don’t have any technology, no television, no phone and no internet, for at least the first hour. I only go on my phone to check the exact position of the moon and that is it. Otherwise you get sucked into a black hole of epic time wasting.

Now that the cold season is here I drink a mug of Pukka’s Elderberry and Echinacea tea. While the tea is steeping I open the kitchen door and take several deep breaths, embracing the new day. There are days though when it smells like poop. Not one of the perks of living in the country. My tea mug is red, a colour I use to fire me up and ground me.

Since I have been following the moon’s journey across the sky I have noticed its subtle energy shifts and have been surprised to see how its different phases explain how I feel and how others act as well. I use the free Sky Map app which shows the exact position of the  moon in real time  as I now use Side Real astrology and not Tropical. This morning I see that the moon is in Aries (Real Time), so I grab my journal and quickly read my notes about Aries. It is a day of action, spontaneity and enthusiasm. I can work with that. I also jot down the weather, the temperature, the moon and sun’s rising and setting times and also their astrological positions in my green journal. This helps me to be more in tune with and more aware of the changing world around me.

Every morning I draw either an oracle or tarot card which is my divine message for the day. The message usually says something like, “Get your butt into gear”. Well, I can’t argue with that!

This is the time when I get a little reading in which is either ancient history or spirituality themed (I save fiction for the evening). The last thing I do before having breakfast and getting ready is to do some yoga, then I sit by my altar where I say my devotionals. I spend a moment in prayer with my ancestors too; finishing with a meditation. I know that this does sound a lot, but I make sure I’m up by 6am so I don’t have to rush. This is the only time in the day that I know I will have any degree of control over.

While I am having breakfast, which is usually a bowl of organic oats with almond milk, I look through what I need to do that day. I also keep my goals in view because if not I get distracted by all sorts of shiny things. Not good.

I truly believe that there is a link between how we take care of ourselves and the health of our relationship with our spirituality. A morning ritual can help balance our mental, physical and spiritual self which in turn will strengthen the connection we have with the world around us and with the Divine. Remember, if you don’t use it, you lose it.

I would love to hear whether you have any rituals that you do in the morning.

Brightest Blessings

Hazel

xxx

 

 

 

 

Reinventing The Wheel

boskednan_stones_at_sunset_penwithStepping onto an earth based path was a little too unnerving for me as I didn’t know where I was going and I didn’t know what I was doing. Even though I knew deep down that the faith that I was brought up with was no longer serving me, at least there was a safe familiarity about it; the routine, the boundaries, the expectations.  All of these were ironically comforting. You didn’t have to think for yourself. It was all done for you.

My fall into the void was thankfully short lived and my discovery of The Wheel of the Year gave me  structure and guidance that I so desperately needed. The Wheel of the Year as many of you will know is the seasonal cycle that celebrates the solstices, the equinoxes and the four fire festivals, the latter being based on the agricultural year and Celtic mythology. As a collective they are all known as Sabbats.

My journey along the path of seasons and ancestors was and still is a slow and appreciative one. I see the world through the eyes of a child, noticing the subtle changes of Mother Nature’s breath. Subtleties that I never would have made the time for before because I was just too busy being busy. But now I make a conscious effort to stop and take note.

How could I have seriously believed that February was Winter and August was Summer? Lambs are being born in February among the snowdrops and crocuses bursting through the frozen ground. These are the subtleties of Spring. And as for August, how did I not realise that the leaves begin to turn and the mornings hold the promise of cooler days ahead? These are the subtleties of Autumn.

As I have been celebrating each Sabbat in turn I have come to realise how much more connected I feel to the world around me.  Each spoke of the wheel gives me the opportunity to take stock of my life and appreciate how far I’ve come. With our busy modern lives it is all too easy to lose track of time as we get caught up in the daily humdrum, forgetting that we are one with the world, the world that is right outside the kitchen window.

But if we just take notice of the the earth’s rhythms, her ebbs and flows, our five senses explode into life. We see the grass snake basking in the last rays of sunshine. We hear the swallows as they take off for warmer climes. We smell the musty damp leaves as they slowly decompose and become part of the rich soil. We taste the bonfire smoke on our tongue and feel the crisp sharp wind on our face.

So this is how it has been for me for the past few years, until this Autumn when I didn’t celebrate Lughnasadh. My heart wasn’t in it, there was no anticipation and this led to me feeling very disappointed in myself. I had never missed a Sabbat, ever! I loved them all.

But I came to the stark realisation that a change was needed. I had to start thinking for myself and break away from yet another stale practice. Even following the Wheel of the Year can deprive a person of a free flowing organic spirituality.

The traditional Wheel of the Year has been a wonderful introduction to Paganism and I am grateful for the solid foundation that it has given me. But I no longer want to be comfortable. I am ready to seek out new treasures, new adventures.

My spirituality is a living, breathing  organism. Spontaneous and unpredictable and it needs to be nourished if I am to be gloriously unrestrained and feral.

So now I begin reinventing my wheel, undeterred by what others are doing.

For the moment I am just playing around with ideas, thinking about ways of personalising my spirituality. Below are just a few of them and if you have some of your own I would love to hear about them.

  1. Looking into how my ancestors would have practiced and celebrated their faith. ( Mine are Celtic, Scandinavian and Roman).
  2. Where I live has a rich Celtic and Roman history. I would love to study my local history a little more.
  3. I will mark on my calendar meaningful days to me such as Goddess Day, National Women’s Day and birthdays of inspirational people.
  4. I want to consecrate more time to being in my local environment, trusting in the signs that indicate when each season turns and not just celebrate a Sabbat because that is the date on the calendar.
  5. Spend time learning about the Deities of the seasons. At the minute I am reading Goddesses for Every Season by Nancy Blair.
  6. Meditations and devotionals at my altar.

My wish is to create my own traditions that I can build upon.

Brightest Blessings,

Hazel

xxx

 

Forging A New Path

My early tentative steps away from Christianity led me to an oasis of endless spiritual possibilites: Druidry, Buddhism, Native American, Shintoism, Heathenry, Goddess worship, Celtic, Roman, Greek, Germanic, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Gnosticism, the list goes on. But the initial excitement of researching and trying to find ‘the one spirituality’ for me  quickly deteriorated into disappointment when I realised that the same pattern was emerging. Just like Christianity I was not resonating wholly with any faith that I was studying.

I came across the term Eclectic Paganism early on in my research and it didn’t sit well with me. In my eyes it was the cheat’s guide to finding your own faith. Just ‘pick and mix’ all the bits that you like of every spirituality or faith that take your fancy and then discard the rest that doesn’t. I was so used to following just one religion whether I agreed with it all or not that to suddenly come across a belief system that could be tailored to soley suit all my needs felt wrong on so many levels. It lacked committment, it lacked thoughtfulness and it definitely lacked substance. Chocolate and sweets  could no way substitute manna from heaven. For me, spirituality was more than just a quick sugar fix. It was the slow burn of carbohydrates.

Ever since watching the Scottish historian Neil Oliver take an ancestry DNA test on his television series, ‘The History of Ancient Britian’, in 2011, I have wanted to find out for myself where I come from. Back then it would have taken a very expensive blood test to find out, but now thanks to Ancestry, a simple saliva test at a more reasonable price can make the same amazing discovery. The need to do this grew with my confusion of not being able to identify with any one particular spirituality. I believed that with these test results I would finally be able to follow the spiritual path of my ancestors. This was the path to take and would solve my dilemma once and for all. I would have clarity at last.

When the results came back I was shocked to say the least. There in front of me was clarity, but not in the sense that I was expecting. I was 35% Italian/Greek (did this explain my love of Roman Mythology and my connection with the Goddess Diana?) 21% Irish (did this have anything to do with my love of Celtic myths and legends and my deep desire to explore Scotland and Ireland?) 18% Scandinavian ( was this the reason why I have an affinity with the runes and since childhood wanting to visit the fjords?)

I eventually arrived at the conclusion that eclecticism, when it comes to spirituality, is not a dirty word. The Greeks, Romans and early Christians are fine examples of eclecticism. It is something to embrace and honour, just like we are able to embrace and honour our ancestors that have gone before us. Those strong unwielding souls who survived plagues, famines and wars.

So not only should we not feel ashamed or guilty about incorporating different faiths into our spiritual practice in tandem with our ancestral roots, but also lest we forget, we have been on this Earth many life times before as Native Americans perhaps or Aboriginies or Eygptians, so honouring a part of these paths is a reflection of who we are, both in our physical body and our soul.

We are all related to one another on this Earth and as long as we are respectful of how we practice our spirituality and understand the history behind what we do and the reasons why we do it, then we need to let go of the guilt. So if you want to practice Shintoism and you were born in Sweden then don’t let anyone tell you, ‘You can’t because you are not Japanese’.

For now on my ever evolving spiritual adventure I incorporate Ancient Roman, Celtic and Stone Age celebrations into my practice, rune magick and The Nine Noble Truths, Totemism and the Medicine Wheel, as well as aspects of Druidry to name but a few things I do.  These I am sure will change and grow over time.

And what about yourself? What excites and inspires you about different faiths and spiritualities?

Brightest Blessings

Hazel

xxx

Shadows and Sunbeams

I am finally writing my very first blog post. It has taken me a long while to pluck up the courage to do this, as ever since I have joined the online pagan community I have believed that no one would be faintly interested in hearing what my voice had to say.

I am no pagan or occult expert; I possess no witchy credentials or have astral travel mileage behind me. I don’t even own a single animal skull. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did buy a plastic crow skeleton last Samhain and he has sat magestically on my bookshelf ever since.

I am just little old me. A girl who has found herself on a crazy exciting path of spiritual discovery who wants to get back to her bare roots so she can heal herself and others too who wish to come along for the ride. I want to find my home, my tribe.

As a child being brought up a strict Christian, it was easy to feel part of a family, a part of something much larger than myself and I didn’t question a thing that I was being told. Every Sunday and every Day of Obligation I dutifuly turned up to celebrate with others like me, year in year out.

But I gradually became aware of a dawning realisation. I wasn’t like everyone else. I didn’t feel or believe everything that they believed. It wasn’t a one religion fits all scenario. I was going through the motions, but I felt numb inside. What had happened to my connection to God and the Virgin Mary? Did this connection even exist to begin with? Perhaps I had always been blindsided by the pomp and ceremony to even realise that it was never there in the first place.

I didn’t want to be here anymore. I wasn’t here for me. I was here for others. Even God didn’t want to be here.

The day I told my family I wasn’t going to church anymore is a day that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Seven years later it’s all water under the bridge. They have accepted it because they love me, but they don’t like it. They believe that I am still a Christian abeit one that no longer practices and I will never tell them otherwise. It would hurt them too much. Of course this makes me sad that I am unable to share my new spiritual path with them, but I do my best not to dwell on it. I am blessed, however, to have a wonderful husband and children who are as open minded and free spirited as I am. They are also walking their own unique paths in this life, discovering awe and wonder in the world around them and I am proud and excited to be a part of it.

Walking away from Christainity was simple enough, but it was filling the void that was left behind that was the hardest part. I do not use the word “quest” lightly. I was definitely on a quest now.

Soon after I had to move from the city to the countryside, due to unforeseen circumstances, a floodgate inside of me gushed open. An awakening occurred that was somehow miraculously triggered by my new environment. With no light pollution I could see the moon and the stars in high definition, even the international space station zipping over my head. While my hands were in the earth, buzzards and swallows called from nearby. The Divine was here, but nothing like I had experienced before, except only as a child. Childhood memories came rushing back; faeries, spirits……magick.

There was something here more ancient than Christianity, even more ancient than time itself and I craved it. I needed to know what it was, what it was called. So I read and researched, watched videos and researched, absorbing as much as I mentally could. I was like Neo and I was plugged in.

This thing that I had found had a name; paganism. She had a name; the Goddess, but there was more than just one Goddess and there was more than just one God. They all had their own unique personalities and voices and they all had something to say.

I began to feel that I was almost there, but not quite. I needed to put a name to what I was. What was I? Where did I belong? Perhaps I was an Essene, a gnostic? Not quite. A Druid? Yes, there was much I resonated with, but not quite. A Heathen? Yes, oh yes this was it, yet not quite. So weeks turned into months and months have turned into years and I have slowly come to the conclusion that I don’t need a label to define what I am, who I am. I am just me, someone who believes what I believe and these beliefs are ever evolving, ever changing, just like life itself and I am at peace with that. My path, my truth my choice.

I am not the same person I was seven years ago, not even the same person I was six months ago. My journey is changing who I am and it is for the better.

I just wanted to share a little part of me and if you have stayed to the end of this post then I am truly grateful that you have taken the time to listen to what I have had to say. If I have touched or inspired just one person to break free and find the courage to go on their own quest then I am happy.

My aim for this blog is to share my spiritual journey with you and for you to share yours with me, as well as talk about my creative projects, my search for ancestral wisdom and my goal of living a healthy, natural and simple life.  And I would feel honoured for you to join me.

 

Brightest Blessings

Hazel

xxx

 

 

 

 

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