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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the ancient temples of Egypt, there is hardly a monument to be found that doesn’t prominently display the Blue Lotus flower. It’s seen everywhere on pillars, thrones, stone alters, papyrus scrolls, and on the ceremonial headdresses of pharaohs. When they opened Tutankhamun’s tomb, even King Tut’s mummy was covered in what has become known as the Sacred Lily of the Nile. Yet, oddly enough, if you look around Egypt today, it is rare to find this flower growing anywhere.
I was curious to know why the ancients cultivated special lakes and ponds of Blue Lotus and prized it above all other plants. When I asked modern-day Egyptians they told me the lotus flower, known as Nymphaea Caerulea or the Blue Water Lily, symbolized creation and rebirth as it emerged from its primordial waters to bloom once a year for only 3 days. The plant was associated with the sun-god Ra as the bringer of light and the embodiment of the “perfection of wisdom.”
When it was mentioned that the plant had medicinal properties, I went on a search. What I found was quite interesting. The Sacred Blue Lotus is a plant with psychoactive effects. A clearer picture was starting to form. I recalled seeing the plant on a few Egyptian wall depictions—some that looked suspiciously like nude party scenes.
The plant is actually a natural sedative. It contains small amounts of alkaloids highly similar to those used for sedation and anti-convulsant
purposes. For thousands of years, it was used by the ancient Egyptians as part of religious ceremonies to reach higher levels of consciousness and connect to the Divine. They would steep the Blue Lotus flowers in wine for several weeks and use it as a sacred sacrament. (They say it nullifies the negative effects of alcohol.)
Blue Lotus contains nuciferan (a natural anti-spasmodic) along with aporphine, which will give you feelings of calming euphoria. For that reason, it is a natural anti-anxiety and stress reliever. No wonder it was often used in ancient social gatherings. It has been reported to be useful as an aphrodisiac and to remedy erectile dysfunction (which might explain the ancient nude party scenes). Perhaps it’s a modern-day Viagra as well. On a more medicinal front, Blue Lotus is used to treat gastrointestinal problems, diarrhoea and dyspepsia and aid in sleep. That’s quite a plant!
Users report that the plant’s calming effect is much like the drug Ecstasy (MDMA), while others report a mild stimulant-like effect with tingling sensations. Some have used Blue Lotus to help relieve depression by opening them to a greater examination of what led to their depression. With calming euphoria often comes insight—which is why the ancients prized Blue Lotus effects. It was believed that use would easily release fear and lead to increased states of cosmic connection and ultimate soul growth.
So important was the Blue Lotus that they dedicated the protection of this plant to the God Nefertem, son of Ptah and Sekhmet, who is portrayed as a beautiful young man with a Blue Lotus flower on his head or holding lotuses. During ancient times the plant was widely cultivated in temple lakes and along the Nile, then exported throughout the Mediterranean. This flower was revered in Greece as early as 550 BC, where the sacred sacrament of the Blue Lotus was re-introduced to the then newly formed religion of Isis and Serapis.
This magical elixir was concealed by the early Church for well over 1500 years. It’s true purpose long forgotten until interest re-emerged again in the mid-1800’s when archaeologists began asking questions. They too wondered why temple wall carvings showed Blue Lotus flowers laying over earthen jars. No one guessed it was to steep flowers in wine for mind-altering use. Some debated it might have inebriant properties, but no one put it to the test until a recent group of Egyptian archaeologists decided to measure the effects on two test subjects and see for themselves.
For those who are wondering, Blue Lotus is not a controlled substance. The cultivation, sale, and purchase of Nymphaea Caerulea is legal, but it cannot be sold for human consumption. There are three ways people have taken Blue Lotus: smoking it, brewed as tea, or in a tincture after steeping it in wine for several weeks. The full effects kick in after about 20-30 minutes. There are mild withdrawal symptoms from continued use, which tells me it has some addictive qualities. This is why the ancient Egyptians priests reserved its primary use for temple ceremonies, healing and communicating with the Gods.
For all the reasons above and because of our wonderful experience with the plant, we have decided to share the benefit and magic of blue lotus as part of a tea ceremony available at our temple upon request.
to find out more please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or email us via the contact page.
God and Goddess in Sacred Unity
The aspects of the Goddess Isis, Hathor, Sekhmet, Bastet are all different expressions of the One feminine consciousness.
This understanding now comes back to earth.
It helps men and women to awaken and to regain their true power and to become alive again. For the men it is a wake-up call to no longer suppress their feelings and to express them without fear of being ridiculed. For the woman it means they can now be in their truth without getting too masculine, they can be soft and powerful at the same time.
The divine child is a symbol of the completely balanced energies of masculine and feminine. So, Horus is a symbol for that, the child of Isis and Osiris, the symbol of divine balance. As a divine child of the Goddess, it is helpful for us to feel the presence of the divine child within us, it creates balance within ourselves and it allows the Goddess energy to flow through us.
Through our connection with the Goddess, we find our balance, spiritually, emotionally and physically. New preferences and new consciousness arise. Giving and receiving, action and reception are balanced.
We are here to keep this gate open for you to witness the unfolding of such consciousness and rebirth of the divine child within.
Duality in the Egyptian pantheon
Whilst dedication in service to the goddess consciousness, and to the cause of returning her to the rightful place of true recognition and balance, acknowledgement and devotion of her masculine partner is equally as important.
All Deities in Egypt have partners and children, to represent their power is strongest in unity.
There is no goddess standing alone without her husband or masculine equal.
They together represent balance and more often than not, complement each other.
There were times when the goddess was addressed and called upon for her unique attribute and quality. But even within that invocation, there is always a note or mention of her masculine partner.
Ra – Hathor
Nut – Geb
Osiris – Isis
Seth – Nephthys
Most ancient spells are written addressing them together or one as part of the other and vice versa.
“Thy young one in the Aten within the arm of your mother Hathor”
Adoration to Ra
“ Osiris stands upon his throne according to her word “
Him to Isis
They are together holding the transformative wisdom of the universe.
To acknowledge a Goddess’s devotion to her masculine counterpart is to accept and adore her fully
There was no inequality in the Egyptian pantheon and whilst some gods were less popular, their equal opposites were always just that, equal.
“No one shall disrespect the king in my presence”
Isis in the house of Seth
It is important that whilst we are actively working to return the goddess consciousness to our present world of patriarchy we do this with the vision of balance in mind.
To own our own power, we need to see the Unity in this Divine Duality.
No opposite can exist without the other… think about it.
They are not truly separate at all but are only two faces of the same – just as with Goddess and God. The many are the One and the One is the many… all goddesses and Gods are of the source.
All life is from the same Divine Source and is it is Divine – being animated by the Spirit.
This new world we are now ready to create shall be better than the ones before.
We are not here to return a failed matriarchal consciousness we are here to restore her “the goddess”, into the feminine consciousness,
to her rightful place and whilst doing so, healing the wound of the masculine presence.
Resurrecting the dismembered king, who was once loved and adored, to now and once again be by her side.
Just as the Lady Isis goes through her journey full of difficulties and challenges to return the life of Osiris, out of pure love for her beloved and through him for all of us, in need of rebirth.