What if I Am Safe, Loved, Seen, Powerful, Loving, and Heard?

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Turning Fear into Faith has become a steady practice for me since I became pregnant with my son last January. I don’t mean a religious kind of faith, but rather a faith in myself….and the universe. Fear is a very powerful energy, but like any kind of energy, it can be harnessed, manipulated and transformed. If fed, fear festers and turns into anxiety.

What if?

I know that when the classic, “What if….” questions arise it is a sure sign that I am feeding fear and laying the groundwork for anxiety. Reframing these What ifs into positive questions is a powerful practice that, if pursued diligently, can have a significant impact in reducing anxiety. The fact is, the positive question/statement is usually more likely to be true than the negative!

What if I get into a car accident? vs What if I arrive safely at my destination?

What if….. I am safe, loved, seen, powerful, loving and heard?

Fear is powerful and, when necessary, can cause us to react in ways that are life-saving; like jumping out of the way of a moving car, but faith, faith is life changing. Faith and trust in oneself create a solid base from which we can dwell with joy and insight.
Cultivating these qualities is a practice that is supported by understanding where our needs and fears originate. Separating the real from the unreal, moving from dark to light can be achieved by exploring our internal storage system, better known as the subtle body, specifically, the Chakras.

 

Understanding the Chakras

I view the Chakras as psycho-spiritual processing centres that assimilate and store information. They hold the personal and emotional memories of our lifetimes. The root Chakra is called Muladhara, which translates to the ‘dwelling place of support’, and when unsettled switches on the fear response which alerts the nervous system that there is a danger. Whether this danger is actual or only perceived to be real, the breath quickens, there is a surge of blood flow to the muscles and the body prepares to fight, take flight or freeze.

 

Understanding the subtle body, as well as the physical body combined with summoning conscious thoughts that are based on faith and trust interrupts the fear feedback loop and resets the whole body-mind system.

 

Acknowledging what makes me feel safe gives me the tools that I need to stabilize myself when I feel unsafe. Understanding why these things make me feel unsafe helps me understand and compassionately witness my history and how I came to be the powerfully imperfect person that I am today. For example, thru my research and studies as a holistic psychotherapist, I have explored the parallels between western psychology and eastern philosophy over the last 10 years.

 

The stages of development

I have found that the human psyche’s stages of development overlap the development of the chakras quite profoundly. Our first stage of development takes place from birth to age six- seven. It is during this time in our lives that the Muladhara chakra is being formulated. The core needs that must be met at this time in our lives revolve around food, safety, security, nurturing. These are our basic needs and when one of them is unmet our foundation is disrupted and fear is the response that is engaged. I know that when I am hungry or overtired I can be pretty cranky and definitely not at my kindest, toward myself and others. I observed my reaction as we bought and moved into our home 4 years ago, even though we had a lovely home to move into it was still a very unsettling process. But being pregnant was the big one.

 

Fear for the baby’s health, fear for the potential stress on my marriage, fear about the changes to my livelihood… I could go on! I absolutely could not afford to let these waves of fear ruin my experience! So I worked hard to stay present, breathe, trust, I prayed, walked, sat by the ocean, communicated with my husband, nourished myself… And it worked, for the most part!

 

We experience these Muladhara earthquakes throughout our lifetime and the way that we respond to them will be influenced by how this chakra was developed. How safe, loved, secure, nourished and nurtured did we feel like a child? What strategies did we learn to get these needs met? Are we still using them today? Are there more appropriate and meaningful strategies that we could employ?

 

While the deep work that helps prevent the paralyzing effects of the fear cycle is found in the root chakra, each chakra represents specific needs and there are emotional and behavioural reactions when these needs are unmet. Most of the time these reactions limit our ability to live to our fullest potential and experience deep and lasting joy.

 

Start this work by paying attention, observing, witnessing, but not judging your reactions to Muladhara imbalances. Journal, discuss or meditate on your childhood experiences. Visualize moments when your needs are fully being met and the feeling that you experience. Manifest a safe, secure, nurturing and loving reality!

 

Join me at the Art of Living Retreat Center this April for The Psychology of the Chakras, where we will examine each of the chakras and their correlating stages and age of development, as well as the common behavioural characteristics and imbalances for each one. We will use dialogue, journaling prompts well as pranayama, meditation and mantra to rewrite our stories and dissolve the limiting beliefs that prevent us from living our lives to the fullest.

 

Coral Brown is a teacher of teachers, drawing on two decades of experience in yoga, philosophy, and holistic counselling to provide nurturing and open space for the processes of healing and transformation. She has trained in the Iyengar and Jivamukti methods and is a senior teacher of Prana Vinyasa Flow. Coral leads teacher training, retreats and workshops around the world and regularly contributes to Yoga Journal. You can learn more about her work at coralbrown.net.

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Why Loving Yourself is Vital for Wellbeing and Loving Relationships

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Loving Yourself - the Art of Living Retreat Center

When I work with new clients, I generally ask them if they feel they are taking loving care of themselves. They often tell me they are, and because of this, they can’t understand why they are feeling bad or are having problems in their relationships. When I ask them to describe how they are loving to themselves, these are some common answers:

“I take lots of relaxing baths. I get massages and I get my nails done. I work out and keep myself in good shape. I eat well.”

This woman is being loving to herself physically, but what about emotionally?

“I meditate and pray every day, and I belong to a wonderful spiritually-oriented church.”

This man is taking care of himself spiritually, but what about emotionally?

“I work hard and I’m careful about my money. I’ve invested well and I feel safe financially. I’m a responsible person – I pay my taxes on time, I get places on time, and I keep my home and office organized.”

This person is taking care of himself or herself financially and organizationally, but what about emotionally?

Much of the time, I find that people may be taking care of themselves physically, financially, spiritually and organizationally, but they are abandoning themselves both emotionally and in their relationships, which is why they seek my help. They are suffering from the many consequences of not being loving to themselves emotionally, such as anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, emptiness, anger, addictions or relationship problems.

What does it really mean to be loving to yourself?

You can begin to get a sense of what it means to emotionally love yourself – to love your inner child, which is your feeling self, your soul self – if you imagine what an actual child needs in order to feel loved. If you look back on your own childhood, what made you feel loved? Did you feel more loved by getting a toy you wanted, or by being seen and valued for who you are? When you were upset, did you feel more loved by being given a cookie and told to watch TV, or by receiving kind and compassionate attention?

Part of loving yourself is learning to see your own beautiful soul, so that you can genuinely value yourself rather than judge yourself. Do you see yourself through the eyes of your ego wounded self, which was programmed by parents, teachers, peers, siblings or religious leaders, or through the eyes of love and truth?

Learning to see your own essence comes from learning to connect with your higher self – your source of love and truth. We can’t see our soul essence through the eyes of our ego wounded self, which has been programmed with many false beliefs about our worth and lovability – beliefs such as “I’m not good enough,” “I’m essentially flawed,” “I’m inadequate.”

You can see who you are – your essential goodness, lovingness, caring and natural gifts – only through the eyes of truth, the eyes of your higher self, which you will learn to do as you learn Inner Bonding.

Knowing and valuing your own soul essence is essential for creating loving relationships.

What does loving yourself have to do with successful relationships?

Successful relationships are not accidental. From my own life experiences and the experiences of the thousands of couples I’ve counselled over the last 50 years, I’ve discovered the keys to creating and maintaining loving relationships. And learning to love yourself is the most important choice you can make.

Of course, we hear all the time that you can’t love others unless you love yourself, but most people don’t understand what this means. It means that you are taking responsibility for your own feelings rather than making your partner responsible for your pain, joy and self-worth. It means that you are being kind, accepting and compassionate with yourself rather than harshly judging yourself.

You cannot share your love with your partner if you feel empty inside due to abandoning yourself – by ignoring your feelings, judging yourself, turning to various addictions to numb your feelings, or making others responsible for your feelings. In fact, self-abandonment is the major cause of relationship failure.

When you expect your partner to give you the love and attention that you are not giving to yourself, then you will try to control your partner – often with anger, blame, withdrawal or compliance – and this always creates problems. Your intent to get love rather than give love and share love will never lead to connection and intimacy.

For many years, I believed I was loving to others even when I wasn’t loving myself. I enjoyed being there for others, but there was a subtle agenda to my giving – which was to be loved back.

There is no way that you can give to others purely from your heart when you are abandoning yourself. When you are abandoning yourself, your inner child feels alone, empty, unimportant and unloved – just as any child would feel if treated unlovingly. When you feel alone and unloved inside, then you cannot help but hope that the person you are ‘loving’ will love you back and fill the empty hole within that comes from self-abandonment.

Giving ‘love’ to get love back means that you are not actually giving love, because love is a free gift. It has no agenda attached to it. When you truly love, you are not hoping for attention or approval or validation. You are giving love for the pure joy of giving love, which you can do only when your internal ‘love cup’ is filled to the brim and overflowing.

What fills your love cup to overflowing? Loving yourself!

If you believe that your love cup gets filled only from others’ love, then you will continue to abandon yourself and try to get love from others. But this strategy is generally doomed to failure because others don’t feel loved when you are giving to get something back.

So you can’t really love your partner if you don’t love yourself. I hope you can now see that no matter how kind and caring you are with others, if you are not kind and caring with yourself, then your kindness is likely to feel manipulative rather than loving to others. We can’t hide our own aloneness and emptiness, which is always the result of not loving ourselves.

The biggest gift you can give yourself is to learn how to love yourself through learning and practising Inner Bonding. Heal the cycle of shame and self-abandonment that leads to anxiety, depression, addiction, aloneness, and relationship failure: join Dr. Margaret Paul at the Art of Living Retreat Center from May 17th-19th, 2019 for Inner Bonding: The Power to Heal Yourself. 

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Why Loving Yourself is Vital for Wellbeing and Loving Relationships

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Awaken Awareness: A Qigong Remedy for Loneliness

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A Qigong Remedy for Loneliness - The Art of Living Retreat Center

 

The modern world is a lonely place. Even when we’re surrounded by people, and even when we keep ourselves busy, loneliness has this tendency to creep in and make itself at home.

Whenever you’re feeling disconnected, isolated, or driftless, you can cultivate a feeling of being at home in your family, your community, and the universe at large by practising a simple qigong exercise called “Awaken Awareness.”

 

The more you sharpen your awareness, the more you enjoy this moment—and the more you feel connected to the people around you and the entire universe. When you do this practice regularly, it becomes easier to integrate into your daily activities, until eventually, it becomes as natural as walking or breathing. Here are the instructions from my book, The Master Key:

 

Part One: Awareness

1. Sit upright comfortably in a chair with your hands resting on your lap. Open your eyes and become aware of the outer world. This is the world that flows into awareness through the physical senses. Concentrate on the sights, sounds, smells, and the sense of space around you. Continue doing this for a few seconds.

2. Now close your eyes and become aware of your inner world. This is the world that flows into awareness through the inner senses. Concentrate on the feelings and images floating through your mind, and even on the sense of time flowing by. Continue doing this for a few seconds.

 

Part Two: Focus

3. Now with your eyes still closed, focus your attention outward once again to the qualities of the outer world. This state of consciousness feels like being in a dark forest on a dark night while your senses extend like antennas. Continue doing this for a few seconds.

4. Next, open your eyes and focus your attention on the qualities of your inner world. This state of consciousness feels like being in a daydream in which your eyes are open but your senses are introverted. Continue doing this for a few seconds.

 

Part Three: Integration

5. With your eyes still open, now become aware simultaneously of both your inner world and the outer world. Become aware of both objective and subjective experiences arising in awareness. Concentrate on the spacious quality of awareness for a few seconds.

6. Then close your eyes while maintaining an awareness of both your inner world and the outer world. Realize that all experiences arise in the light of awareness. Concentrate on the formless quality of awareness for a few seconds.

7. Now let go of all experience. Allow your inner world and the outer world to dissolve into nothingness. Become “aware” of awareness itself. Awaken your awareness. Realize that “Awakened Awareness” is your true nature.

 

Rediscover the universe inside of you and your place in the universe. Robert Peng hosts Qigong Empowerments for Wisdom and Vitality at the Art of Living Retreat Center from March 17th-22nd, 2019.

Awaken Awareness: A Qigong Remedy for Loneliness

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Qigong for the Heart & Mind

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Qigong for Heart & Mind

At the Nine Clouds Mountain Qigong Sanatorium near the Six Harmonies Pagoda in Hangzhou, Zhu Hui, a medical doctor and master teacher of Qigong from Tian Tai Mountain, told this Three Treasures story one morning during a tea break. Master Zhu had been practising Chinese medicine for nearly 50 years, and his teaching was always a rich mix of medical, Daoist and Buddhist influences.

The road to unity

A young monk felt he was prepared to deepen his cultivation practice and his master gave the assignment to cultivate inner quiet and discover the secret of the source of life and its application to the preservation of health and vitality. He gave the suggestion to focus on the Earth Elixir Field (Di Dan Tian). After some months of practice, the young monk reported to the master that he felt sure that the most practical answer regarding the secret was nourishment, rest and the conservation of Qi and inner resources. The master encouraged the young monk, “You have found the secret to preserve the Jing and sustain the body, but you have not found the source of life.” The master teacher asked the young monk if he was still interested in pursuing the deeper secret. The monk nodded and the elder gave him the suggestion to focus on the Heart-Mind Elixir Field (Xin Dan Tian).

This time it was considerably longer before the monk visited the elder. When he returned, now older, he responded that the secret of the source of life and its preservation were associated with accepting what naturally arises and bringing love and compassion into the world. The master agreed and encouraged the monk to continue his good work of compassionate service. The monk said to the master, “I know that I have penetrated to the secret of highly refined interactions of the Qi and the opening of the Heart-Mind. It has inspired me to be of service to my fellow humans. It is clear that this sustains life, my own and others. But I have not determined the secret of the source of life.” The master suggested, “Focus on the Celestial Elixir Field (Ling Dan Tian), the entry place of Heaven in the living human being.”

Some years passed. When the younger monk returned he was older. The elder monk said, “Tell me in one word”. The younger monk said, “Unity”. They both smiled quietly, knowing there was nothing more to say. They parted, both knowing that even though they would not meet again, they were always together at the Source.

The power of Qi

When people turn to Qi cultivation, as the young monk, the focus is usually on health and the preservation of the body. When people discover the magnitude of the power of the Qi (after all it is the energy that runs the entire universe), body health and longevity frequently become secondary benefits of attaining peace of mind and heart.

In the tradition of Qigong, it is believed that once you taste or experience one of the treasures that you are destined to pursue the cultivation of that treasure. As you begin to deeply understand and experience your Body Essence (Jing), your Heart-Mind (Xin) or your Spirit (Shen), you will likely be inspired to cultivate them because the promise is so great. When we cultivate Body Essence it leads to vitality and physical healing. When we purposefully access the Heart-Mind and cultivate the treasure of Heart-Mind Elixir it nourishes peace of mind and emotional healing. It is a rare person who does not become attracted to having peace of mind once they have begun to experience it.

What if you were already whole?

The Spirit does not require healing; Shen is inherently and supremely well. Shen resides within the Heart-Mind longing to be revealed, expressed, and radiated. When the Heart-Mind is cleared of its typical restraints including fear, judgement and all sorts of trauma, Shen expresses as radiance. The cultivation of the treasure of Spirit can trigger the release of miracles.

The Heart-Mind is the secret gate through which thoughts, feelings, emotions and attitudes are cleansed and purified. The sincere deepening of Qi cultivation practice requires that intention and will become major focus areas in practice and in life. In ancient traditions, retiring to a cave in the mountains or going to the desert, to disassociate from the material world were primary ways to pass through this secret gate. That is why it is often called the “Mysterious Pass”. It was also called the “dark feminine” in many translations because the Heart-Mind gate operates more on surrender communication and collaboration than on conquest or control. The legendary Bodhidarmha, who many revere for having brought Buddhism to China and who was legendary founder of the Shaolin Temple, faced the wall of a cave in deep meditation for nine years. The intensity of his Heart-Mind purification burned his image into the cave wall.

Clearing the Heart-Mind

In modern times, however, most people find it difficult to clear the Heart-Mind, even with years of meditation practice. The intensity of the busy and confused world constantly challenges and activates the nervous system, the heart and the mind. If distraction, busy-ness, constant list making or worry and judgment (of self and others) challenge your Qi cultivation, consider integrating holistic mind/body medicine and group support or counselling along with Qigong and Tai Chi, as complementary tools for helping to clear the Heart-Mind.

In other words, the fire of intent that is required to change Heart-Mind integrity (behaviour) is so dynamic that it radiates a profound heat. This suggests that changing the habits of the personality (Heart-Mind) will require rigour and discipline – Heart-Mind fire.

Purifying the Heart-Mind Qi

Intentful mind leads the Qi. You can combine Qigong practice with meditation, purposeful declaration, and visualization into powerful imagery and focus that can be used in either stillness or movement. In the relaxed state, mind (intent) with directed visualization or inner affirmation combined with the body movement and purposeful breath practice purify the Heart-Mind Qi.

When you make the choice to “let go” of a grudge or forgive someone who has been unfair, you are removing a factor that may have been depleting or stagnating your Qi — inner resources. The grudge or withheld forgiveness is not hurting the begrudged or the unforgiven one. Instead, the damage is done to the one who holds the grudge or withholds forgiveness. Holding these kinds of feelings constrains the Heart-Mind, exhausts the Qi and overshadows the incredible but buried splendour of the radiant Shen spirit.

A chant to purify Qi

Declarations and blessings in chants or prayers may be integrated into Qigong practice to sustain the benefits throughout the day – starting upon waking and including the moments before and even continuing into sleep. Zhu Hui, was from the Tain Tai mountain – a melting pot of Daoist and Buddhist influences. He often said it is the mind (Heart-Mind) focus that makes what appears to be a simple exercise into a powerful Qigong practice. He often used the following chant in conjunction with his teaching of one of his favourite Buddhist forms, Lotus Flower Qigong.

Extra Qi is pulled out into nature,
Disturbed Qi is pulled down into the earth.
In this, my heart is purified.
Who seeks Dao,
Will achieve Dao.

We could as easily say, more contemporarily:
Spent emotional and physical energy is naturally pulled out into nature,
Disturbed and distressed emotional energy is pulled down into the earth.
In this my heart and mind are purified.
Who seeks awareness of Oneness and Unity,
Will achieve Oneness and Unity.

This declaration, and any declarations like it, stated with sincerity and intent helps the practitioner to sustain the focus on purifying the Qi in the practice. Everything from physical sickness to mental/emotional disharmony is being dispelled – Qi channels and pathways are cleared with the power of intent. “Who seeks Dao, achieves Dao” is a promise of Qigong, Tai Chi and all forms of Qi cultivation. It acknowledges that cultivation in a purposeful state will connect the practitioner with his or her true state of radiant wellbeing and eternal spiritual life.

Learn to make medicine with your own body: Join Dr. Roger Jahnke for Entering the Qigong and Tai Chi Way at the Art of Living Retreat Center from April 28th-May 3rd, 2019. Ready to share the healing power of Qigong with others? Dr. Jahnke also teaches the Healer Within Qigong Certification at the Art of Living Retreat Center from April 26th-28th, 2019.

Dr. Roger Jahnke, OMD, has dedicated his life to sharing the powerful holistic healing traditions of China. Author of The Healer Within and Director of the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi (IIQTC), Dr. Jahnke has been a practitioner of these techniques for over four decades and is renowned for the clarity, compassion, humour and depth of his teaching style. Along with colleagues at the IIQTC Dr. Jahnke has contributed to the research evidence base supporting the practice of Qigong and Tai Chi and has trained over two thousand teachers around the world.

Qigong for the Heart & Mind

 

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Spring Rites and Equinox Lovers

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Plutarch, in his essay on Isis and Osiris, mentions an Egyptian festival that he says marked the beginning of spring and which was called The Entry of Osiris into the Moon. Here’s what he says:

Further, on the first day of the month of Phamenoth they hold a festival, which they call Entry of Osiris into the Moon, for it is the beginning of spring. Thus they locate the power of Osiris in the moon and say that Isis, as the creative principle, has intercourse with him. For this reason they also call the moon the mother of the world and they believe her nature to be both male and female since she is filled and made pregnant by the sun while she herself in turn projects and disseminates procreative elements in the air. (Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris, 43)

In his discussion of this passage, J. Gwyn Griffiths notes that there is no festival by that name in any known Egyptian calendar. Yet there are Egyptian texts from the temple at Denderah that show Osiris in a boat with Isis and Nephthys and explain that Osiris is entering into the Left Eye; and the Left Eye, as you may know, is an Egyptian designation for the moon. In the Denderah texts, spring is not mentioned, but Osiris is said to do His entering on the 15th of the month, that is, at the full moon. So in these texts, Osiris is seen as the sun as He enters into and unites with the full moon.

This also seems to be the case in what Plutarch writes. Osiris enters into the moon and Isis, the Creative Principle, unites with Him in sexual intercourse. Like the moon—the Mother of the World—Isis is filled and made pregnant by the sun, which has to be identified with Osiris. The moon is then both male and female for Isis and Osiris are united in it.

To date, this is all I know about this ever-so-intriguing reference. But I very much like the idea of a spring rite of Isis and Osiris and, in fact, this reference inspired the rite of sacred sexuality in Isis and Osiris Mysteries. A rite of sacred sexuality makes a great deal of sense as a rite of spring—when everything else is waking up and having sex and getting fertile once again. Bunnies. Eggs. Flowers waving their genitalia in the spring air. You get it.

In another part of his essay, Plutarch mentions an Egyptian tradition that the confinement of Isis (while She is pregnant with Horus and awaiting His birth) was celebrated after the spring equinox. This actually could work if Isis becomes pregnant at the spring equinox and carries Horus until His birth at the winter solstice, a period of ten months—or by Egyptian lunar count, ten. One of the Isis aretalogies notes that Isis decreed that women should give birth in the tenth month.

I’m not quite sure how to place the death of Osiris in this scheme, for His death rites are generally celebrated after the autumnal equinox. In that case, He has approximately six months in the otherworld, which is perhaps sufficient time for Isis to use Her magic to raise Him so that, by the vernal equinox, He can “enter into the moon,” make love with Her and beget Their Holy Child.

Just to be clear, no Egyptian tradition that I know of includes this particular seasonal timetable, yet I think it’s a fair conjecture and should be more than enough to inspire the appropriate rites of spring in Her devotees. Happy spring equinox…and may Isis and Osiris inspire and bless you in this season of growing light and life.

Our Isis and Osiris Mystery Initiation explore the sacred rites of divine unity find out more here

 

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Celebrating Sisterhood, International Women’s Day

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Reclaiming and celebrating sisterhood

What does the word ‘sisterhood’ conjure up for you? Togetherness, mutual support, celebrating each other’s successes and lifting each other up in our difficult times are some of the aspects that come to mind. 

Yet, it’s a sad fact that the idea of sisterhood has so often been undermined by our conditioning as women to compete, fear and turns on each other in a patriarchal system where power and resources are scarce. 

The distortion of our culture

The image of the backstabbing ‘bitch’ who steals her friend’s boyfriend, gossips behind her back, ‘uses’ her female friends and secretly envies their success is an all-too-common image in mainstream media and is one many of us recognise from our own experience. When women are systematically disempowered and stripped away from the root of their own womb power, this can have a very distorting effect, and the stereotype itself can have a self-fulfilling effect. 

According to eminent feminist bell hooks, women are separated from each other by sexism, racism and classism. Instead of seeing each other as beloved sisters, we feel threatened. We fall into the limitation of viewing each other through the lens we have learned in a deeply divided, sexist society, constantly assessing which of us is in a ‘dominant’ or ‘submissive’ role in any given situation. Woman-hating is deeply embedded in our culture. 

hooks say,we are taught that women are “natural” enemies, that solidarity will never exist between us because we cannot, should not and do not bond with one another. This is part of the patriarchy’s attempts to keep us from our power by separating us from each other. 

Yet, we long for more.

Natural co-operation

In fact, it is more natural for us to sympathise with each other and to co-operate peacefully as we used to do in pre-patriarchal societies, which existed for much, much longer than the structures we have today, according to researchers such as Merlin Stone, who explores these ideas in the seminal book ‘When God was a Woman’.

To reclaim our ability to live in sisterhood, we need to go beyond the barriers that seem to divide us and to achieve political solidarity between women, says feminist blogger Maribel Lopez. This means not oppressing each other in the way we have been oppressed – it is to unite in our diversity, find our common ground, and try to communicate with and understand each other despite our differences in culture, religion, class, race, ethnicity, and beliefs. To rise together. 

At the Temple of Sacred Arts, respect, honouring, nurturing and sympathising with each other form the basic goddess-centred approach toward all members as well as towards nature. It’s no coincidence that the division between humankind and nature occurred around the same time as goddesses were reviled in favour of male gods, and we are actively healing these divisions through our work. 

At the Temple of Sacred Arts, we strive to embody the ideals of Ma’at in our day to day life, which include:

⋆Speaking with sincerity and living in truth

⋆Living in a trustful way in all affairs, including our relationships

⋆Keeping our own council

⋆Acting respectfully

⋆Creating harmony

⋆Communicating with compassion

⋆Being forgiving 

⋆Speaking positively of others and with good intent. 

 

Isis and Nephthys

For inspiration on how to live in true sisterhood, we can look to the relationship between Isis and Nephthys, twin sisters who are the polar opposite of each other. Some might say that they are aspects of all women, representing both the dark and the light.

Their story could easily have resulted in separation and destruction. Nephthys sleeps with Osiris, Isis’s beloved, and gives birth to Anubis. Out of shame, she tosses the child to the desert. Isis hears about this and without a second thought goes to find the child, forgiving her sister and her partner. When Isis is captured by Seth, Nephthys breastfeeds Horus and also takes a very important part in the lamenting  (the resurrection of Osiris). 

The two support each other through these most difficult of situations. Instead of picking sides when it comes to one another, they exercise forgiveness. There isn’t any sign of jealousy between them and, instead of competition, they choose solidarity. 

Rooted in sisterhood 

Blogger Mookie Whitten puts it beautifully as she shares about the community she lives in, which is deeply rooted in sisterhood: “We have not let ourselves be alone. We have pushed, cried, and loved each other’s wounds. … we are beginning to heal. That is what sisterhood looks like. It is a deep feminine community. Rooted in love. Challenging, unselfish love.”

How can we start to embody sisterhood in our lives?

  • We can start from a vantage point of listening. We take the approach of seeking to understand the other woman’s reality, asking her sensitive questions and showing openness and support through body language and verbal communication. 
  • Instead of seeing the other woman as a competitor or threat, we actively look for opportunities for collaboration, finding our shared interests and challenges and uniting our energies for the collective good. 
  • We include each other. When a new woman comes into our community or workplace, we strive to welcome her and find out what she needs and how we can support her to contribute her gifts. We create networks of mutual support.
  • We avoid gossiping about our sisters and instead use our speech to uplift and support. We always respect each other’s privacy, integrity and autonomy and allow room for differences of opinion without taking it personally or making each other wrong. If this is difficult, we can ask for mediation and continue to work on our communication skills.

At the Blue Lotus Sanctuary, the goddess-centred nature community we at the Temple are creating, sisterhood will be one of the core founding principles. We will meet, celebrate and honour nature and the wisdom teachings together, working to transform ourselves and our society through deep respect and support of each other. You can read more about our community vision and find out how to be part of it here. 

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Rites of Passage

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Honouring our Life Journeys with Rites of Passage

 

Imagine if all the important events of our lives, and those of our loved ones, were honoured and celebrated together with a community. The richness of our human experience and our journeys through change would be witnessed, shared and supported to bring out the power of these transitions in healing ways.

Rite of passage

The loss of rites of passage

In traditional societies, rites of passage include transitioning into adulthood, becoming an elder, making a partnership commitment, or honouring the life journey of someone who has died or is dying. In the Western world, many of our rites of passage have been lost over the centuries or replaced with generic, commercialised versions such as getting our driver’s license to signify new adulthood or the big white wedding to symbolise commitment in love. This can leave us with a lack of meaning, purpose and integration into the community around us. 

Rite of maidens fire ceremony

Nowadays, rather than being celebrated as they once were, key life events such as a girl’s entry into womanhood with her first bleed are often simply ignored. The potentially positive impact of these events is lost and subverted into more destructive outlets. For example, teenage risk-taking behaviour takes the place of being actively welcomed and mentored into adulthood by elders. 

The loss or drastic change of these rituals is due to factors like colonialism, industrialisation, cultural assimilation and modernisation. Traditional rites grew out of societies very different from our modern ones. Communities were stable and seasonal changes were woven into the very fabric of everyday life, with our survival directly linked to the earth’s wellbeing. People were much more strongly connected to their family members and community since living setups were ‘human scale’ and people stayed in one place for their whole lives. Increased geographical mobility and transience people mean that people have drifted from their roots and from an innate knowledge of our relationship to the land. 

First moon initiation rite for girls

Professionalisation has turned duties which used to be lovingly performed in the home by family members or neighbours into tasks outsourced to specialists. “Caterers, funeral directors, and other entrepreneurs … sell rites of passage as commodities”, in the words of Pamela Nelson in this fascinating article on the return of rites of passage in America.

Both birth and death have been medicalised, with obstetricians and funeral directors taking over these intimate realms of life. Rites of passage have also declined with the rise of scientific rationalisation: the sacred has been driven out of our society’s awareness because of its association with religion.

Smudging with local herbs

 

Revival

Recently, however, there has been an exciting worldwide resurgence of the ancient rites of passages and celebrations of our natural life cycle, particularly those held in nature. This revival is answering our call for deeper meaning, acknowledgement of the personal and communal transitions we encounter in our lifetimes, and a reconnection to the land. The re-awakening of rites of passage is true medicine for the isolation, fragmentation and disconnection so endemic in our modern society.

Rites of passage allow us to bring in the Divine as well as to be witnessed by those who surround us as friends, family and community. By invoking blessings and showing gratitude for our lives, we consecrate the important events, passages and thresholds of our lives and reaffirm our place in the sacred, eternal cycle of life. 

By taking part in an intentional rite of passage ceremony, whether you are the one being celebrated or a member of the witnessing community, you co-create a meaningful story that allows all those involved to move forward and to contribute purposefully in ways aligned with their values and the community’s, confident of their responsibilities. Rites of passage also connect the generations in ways that are often difficult to achieve in our modern society. 

pagan rites

Rites of passages include:

✨ Handfastings, sacred unions and marriages ✨ Land blessings ✨ Baby blessings ✨ Coming of age or initiation rites for boys ✨ Births ✨ Naming of children ✨ Celebration of menarche (first menstruation) ✨ Crone or Wise Woman initiations ✨ Death rites ✨ Last rites ✨

Usually, these ceremonies are held by celebrants who are hired to perform the service. When we participate in these ceremonies in a community, however, we are following the ways of our ancestors, who experienced these events as part of the weave of daily life. At the Blue Lotus Sanctuary, the goddess community and eco-village we at the Temple are birthing into being, rites of passage will be embedded in the society in a natural way. Rather than having to remove yourself from your everyday life to undergo a rite of passage, with the challenge of integrating that back into a very different environment, you will be anchored in a community which honours the sanctity of life transitions with grace and flow.  

All our priestesses learn blueprints for initiations that can be customised to fit the occasion and the needs of the participants, including once in a lifetime events. We conduct these as free rituals through the Temple because we believe that they are a normal part of life. Even in the early stages of our community building, we envision holding rites of passage as an integral aspect of day-to-day priestess duties. 

Rite of pasage for young man

In the context of communal living, we will prepare for the natural cycles of life together and hold space to honour them. 

If you would like to have a rite of passage (or Life Cycle ceremony, as we also call them), you can book here to have one held by a Priestess of Isis, free of charge at a location of your choice.*

We are inviting people to get involved with Blue Lotus Sanctuary and help us to fund this vital project, where like-minded people can gather in community living to learn earth stewardship skills such as permaculture and immerse in deep wisdom teachings and practices. To find out more, please go here.

*food, accommodation and, where necessary, travel costs will need to be provided for the Priestess. 

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How to Set up a Sacred Space

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How to Set up a Sacred Space 

Sacred space is a potent way to invite magic into our lives and to remind us of the depths hidden beneath the surface of everyday life. The gift of a sacred space is that you can set it up wherever you are. Even if you are not in your own home or at a regular spot, you can enter into this magical sphere to perform a purification chant or movement. 

To create a powerful space for connection and transformation to enter, we need to carefully and lovingly craft both the inner and the outer elements: the physical and the emotional or mental. 

Physical Sacred Space

By using items that have emotional value or esoteric meaning for us, we create a comforting or empowering atmosphere. Depending on the specific purpose of the space, you can use things like candles, crystals, carpets, blankets, pillows, and altar items. An altar configures your sacred objects in a way that bridges the inner and outer worlds. 

  • Honour the principle of the circle

The circle is a symbol of no ending and no corners, and so setting things up in a circular way reminds us of the qualities of eternal space. If you’re holding a group ritual, arranging the seating in a circle allows for a feeling of equality and encourages the energy to flow.

  • Represent the 4 directions and the elements

This is a fundamental of magic practice in many traditions and simply involves placing an item – such as a candle or crystal – in each direction: North, East, South and West.

You can also honour the Earth Elements by marking each direction with an elemental object as follows:

    • Feather for Air,  
    • Candles for Fire,
    • Chalice or cup for Water, 
    • Stone, crystal or bark for Earth

Traditions differ on which element is present in which direction, so research which one is best for your purposes.

You can also choose one element that you feel is most ideal for your space. 

At the Temple of Sacred Arts, we associate Deities with the Direction as follows:

    • North: Isis/ Osiris 
    • East: Bast/ Ptha (or Sekhmet)
    • South: Maat/Thoth
    • West:  Nephthys/Hathor

In this practice, we place items outside the circle on each direction to symbolise either or both of the deities. This is to honour them and to bring the values they specifically represent into the space.

The process of setting up physical sacred space doesn’t have to be complicated. Both simple and more detailed options hold equal power. Allow yourself to be guided by your own preferences and culture as you find your unique way of setting up the physical sacred space – this can be very empowering. For example, you might want to simply use pure rose quartz for your circle at home, but create a more elaborate set up when holding a circle for others. 

  • Include healthy food & drink 

This is so that you can feel comfortable to stay in the circle for as long as you want. Avoid drugs or alcohol unless they form part of the act of ritual within the circle.

  • Carefully manage transitions out of & into the space

If you need to leave the space for any reason, but still wish to go back, it’s better to keep interactions with others outside the space to the minimum.

Here is more inspiration on how to relate to your altar in ways that support your relationship with the mystical. 

Mental/ Internal Sacred Space

Here, we are looking at ritual space holding rather than holding space to support someone with an emotional process, which is another art and practice.

The Mental or internal part of creating sacred space is about setting and holding the intention you want to imbue the space with. Perhaps your intention is relaxation or meditation. Or maybe you want to heal from a negative experience, send healing, love or prayer to others, or cleanse yourself or your home. Other times, you may be performing a ritual for others or a dance for the divine – a common practice here at the Temple. There is no wrong way of doing this as long as your intention is pure and honest.

Without an intention, however simple, this beautiful and vulnerable space can be hijacked by an outside force or by one’s own mind and ego-driven motives. In group rituals, we always have a space holder present purely to prevent this happening. This person will have the ability to clearly and openly hold a pure intention for the longest time.

 

Here are some things that can help with holding your intention:

  • Chanting and meditation: this trains the spirit to silence the mind, which in turn will help you to hold the focus on your intention for longer. 
  • Connecting with nature herself by setting up outside is another effective way to support your intention setting and internal sacred space holding. The wisdom of trees and the healing flow of rivers can palpably remind us of the qualities we wish to call in and embody, even as they soothe our spirits and raise our vibration to a higher level.

 

The intention-holding part of the process demands a high level of self-control and discipline, which we help you to develop on our Priestess/Priest Apprenticeship Program. This course offers an innovative way of teaching that is also grounded in tradition and will empower, train and prepare you to embody your Priestess/Priest role. You can also start with the Novice Devotee program if you want to develop more experience before taking a Priestess path. 

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Axiom Oracle Course

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AXIOM ORACLE PRACTITIONER COURSE

 

We would like to offer the “Axiom Oracle Practitioner” course to anyone who is interested in the merging of the technological and mystical. It is an intense program of study, demanding personal honesty and inner strength. You will familiarize yourselves with all the skills an Axiom Oracle Practitioner will need to be able to serve others and the land.

It is a journey of individual transformation, illuminating insights and change. Please be aware that this practice does not rely on physical tools or conventional “magic”/spells, despite the fact that these topics will be studied as part of this training, the majority of the practices are internal in nature and are connected to the body and the elements as they appear in nature, including, but not limited to modern day technology and knowledge. 

This Course will be available in 2019, to stay up to date with course dates and information please sign up here.

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Living as a cyclical being in a non-cyclical world

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Many of us honour the cycles of the seasons and the moon. As women, we can also allow ourselves to be consciously worked by our inner cycles, uncovering the body wisdom that ripens through the sacred gift of menstruality. 

To live cyclically, attuned to the rhythms of life and the waxing and waning of our energy, is to live sustainably. Just as on an environmental level we’ve seen the dire consequences of taking from the earth regardless of the soil’s need to lie fallow and replenish, and of valuing economic growth above respect for the planet, so too we cannot expect our bodies and minds to keep going without listening to the need to slow down, stop, and rest at times. 

The consequences of driving ourselves on throughout the month, no matter how we feel? Fatigue, depression, rage, pain and illness. By working with each different phase of the cycle and listening deeply to what it wants to unfold in us, we invite in more wellbeing and healing and start to thrive. 

Looking around, however, we see a world that is structured to function the same way, day in, day out, regardless of our internal rhythms. Modelled on patriarchal values that ignore the reality of most women, consistent productivity is the gold standard for our capitalist society, and if we’re not able to keep up, we can lose our clout at work. If you’re a mother, dropping the ball often just doesn’t feel like an option. 

 

So what can we do? 

First, begin to track your menstrual cycle. If you no longer menstruate or currently don’t have a menstrual cycle, you can track your emotional and physical changes in accordance with the moon’s movements. While each woman is unique, there are general ‘maps’ that can help us to understand the shifts at different times of the month.

Keep a diary to log how you feel emotionally and physically on each day of your cycle. Look for patterns of differences between the two ‘poles’ of ovulation and menstruation. In ‘Winter’, the ‘menstrual zone’, it’s ideal to take it slow, retreat and receive vision and direction for your life and community. Emerging out of Winter into the ‘spring’ of pre-ovulation, it’s a chance to be playful and experiment with new ideas. 

The energy rises until ovulation, or ‘Summer’, when you can be highly motivated and often ecstatic, with plenty of energy for work, play and pleasure. Pre-menstrual time, or ‘Autumn’, is when we strip away illusions about ourselves, others and our life – not so comfortable, but also a ‘harvesting’ of wisdom when you can channel your warrior spirit in the service of truth-telling. 

By working with these tendencies, instead of holding ourselves to the rigid consistency expected by the system, we harness the power of our ever-changing nature as women to become more aligned with our true desires and visions – and also more productive over time, with the things that truly matter. 

Living cyclically is a revolution from the inside out. Once you are working consciously with your cycle, you can start to speak about your cycle to others. This not only empowers other women but also normalises the concept so that eventually, it’s embedded in everyday consciousness. Already there are promising signs such as ‘period leave’ in certain companies. Educate your children about cyclical life at an age-appropriate level and they will be more likely to understand your need for more space at certain times. Plus, they’ll grow up thinking it is totally normal.

If you’re thinking, Rest all day when I bleed? Yeah right, give yourself what you can: for example, an hour at either end of the day to simply stop. Let go of all doing and simply be. Give your system the message to unwind and do its job of healing and repair. Gradually allow this small yet precious investment to expand into a full day of delicious rest and replenishment, or more. This will reap dividends for the rest of your cycle as you’ll be ‘powered up’ rather than running on empty.

Ask for help. When you know your bleeding time or natural energetic ebb, is approaching, get as many hands on deck as possible so that you can truly let go. You might get a friend or neighbour to have your children, delegate a few more tasks at work, or ask your partner to take on some household chores.

This takes courage and belief in yourself, and others may well require educating, but remember, you are working towards a world where we live in tune with our cycles, which benefits us all. 

With blessings,

Morgan 

Want to explore further? A great place to start is with the Red School website and Alexandra Pope & Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer’s excellent book, ‘Wild Power’.

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