from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Thursday, 5 February 2015

giving up the old gods

We’ve just passed through the gateway of Imbolc in the old Celtic Wheel of the Year (Candlemas to Christians).

Now, the Crone is giving way to the Maiden; the earth under its ice is beginning to crack open so that new life can emerge from the death and decay of winter – in our psyches as much as in the outer world.

Last weekend, as I said in yesterday's blog, I celebrated this turning with a group of wonderful women on my Wild Ways residential retreat (with others, not all women, joining us for one day). Our journey remains with me in an active and vibrant way.

For new life to happen in the psyche, for us to walk the path of our soul, the ‘old gods’ have to die. In this context, archetypally speaking the old gods are those habitual wornout and spent patterns of belief and behaviour that keep us small, and keep us safe. Usually, they’re introjected injunctions from our family of origin and external authorities, and are laid down from a very early age.

On the adventure of our soul-life, it’s worth questioning how much we’re living the life we’re called to live, living by essential nature, and how much we’re living by the requirements of others – family, partners, friends, co-workers and bosses, society, and of course our own needs for familiarity and security – that we don’t rock boats, behave in predictable ways, do what’s expected, don’t step out of line.

How much does how we live serve us, and serve the bigger collective, and how much is a conditioned, fear-driven response to the risks we perceive in being different, living differently? There are risks inherent in breaking free to follow the soul – of course. There’s risk inherent in anything that's worthwhile, and that isn’t driven entirely by our understandable need for security.

But sooner or later the soul calls us. Can we go willingly?


  1. '’s worth questioning how much we’re living the life we’re called to live, living by essential nature…'
    Since the weekend (and I'm so glad I came to Imbolc – see my email) I've given even more thought to this, discussing it with J this afternoon, and I realise that I've never really honestly answered it, being reluctant to admit that I don't really know. And isn't this partly the point? That we keep asking the question, that the answer will change constantly, or will often feel unconvincing. The question sounds so simple and yet is complex; one of the hardest of all to answer. I suppose I should say that the questions I'm thinking of are: What am I here for? What am I looking for? What is my life asking of me? That's why Imbolc and Iona and are so helpful: I'm uncertain at first, and by the end of the retreat, I may not have the answer, but I'm clearer than I was at the tentative start. Something always clicks for me and it helps me to keep going.
    With thanks and love,

  2. Miriam, it was very good to have you with us here this last weekend, asking the question with us all. (Lovely too to see J - please tell him.)

    Thank you for your this, as well as your wonderful long email - and forgive lack of a response. I haven't yet stopped since I came back, and tomorrow at dawn we're driving to Northumberland - so it may be a little while.

    Yes indeed - the answer is not the point, in the way that the destination is not the point of eg pilgrimage. Being willing to show up, bring ourselves to the altar of our honesty, our willingness to challenge ourselves, to grow - that's the point of the q, isn't it? (TM would say no, what we want is an answer; but I think the dynamic of asking the question itself deepens our life and understanding.)

    SO - thank you as always for bringing who you are, whether or not you have any definite answers! (Much to be mistrusted, I think, certainty that one has 'the answer'...) Rx


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