The Art of Doing What Matters

The Hindus call it dharma, and according to Depak Chopra, it means to know your purpose in life and to fulfill that purpose. We all share the common purpose of growing and moving toward fulfilling our potential for a creative, constructive, and satisfying presence in the world. However, in order to fulfill our dharma, to practice the art of doing what matters, we need to be doing something that provides a service of some kind to others, and that service must contain within it a space for us to grow. So the art of Doing What Matters contains two equally important concepts: service to others and growth potential for ourselves.

Virtually any work we might choose can meet the requirement for personal and spiritual growth if we are trying to live consciously and to pay attention to the lessons the universe is offering us. So that part is simple (ha!), and we can chose anything that suits us, anything that we feel a calling to, a vocation for. It just needs to provide a useful service for others. Our art might be practiced and fulfilled by being plumbers, painters, phytopathologists, paralegals, paramedics, pedagogues, papyrus makers, potters, priests, paladins, palaeoclimatologists, palmists, peddlers, pharmacists, philologists, porters, philosophers, or pianists — to name only a very few of our very many possibilities.

The idea of service is something we may need to think about. Sometimes alternative and complementary practitioners seem to expect that they ‘should’ be able to do what they want to do, without consideration of whether or not anyone wants to be on the receiving end. The thought seems to run something like: I am a good, spiritual person doing good, spiritual things, and people should support me in this. I have learned to be wary of people who say should (including myself), especially about other people’s actions.

If no one wants it, it isn’t a service. Let’s say you want to be a zibbletherapist. No one knows what a zibbletherapist is or does, so only the severely deranged are likely to phone for an appointment. You have two choices here. You can give up, or you can take steps to educate the public — write articles, give free lectures and demonstrations, hand out leaflets on the street corner — whatever seems appropriate and workable.

Let us further say that zibbletherapy is a form of healing in which the therapist nibbles the client’s fingernails and sings to his or her toes. This is a very specialized form of therapy, and there may not be a big market for it unless you can demonstrate to people that it is really effective.

If you are quite certain that it’s a good thing, it would be worth trying all of the educational public relations activities (especially free demonstrations) that you can. We can’t expect uninformed people to buy something just because we think it would be good for them, but it’s surprising how many alternative and complementary practitioners do seem to expect just that.

If zibbletherapy works, and if you are a good zibbletherapist, you probably can make a career of it. However, if zibbletherapy doesn’t work or if you are a substandard zibbletherapist or if zibbletherapy doesn’t promote your own personal and spiritual growth, you won’t be able to sell it or yourself.

These, then, are the fundamental criteria for the Art of Doing What Matters:

The work you offer has to be a service. It has to provide something worthwhile for people. They must both want and need it. It doesn’t matter whether the need is one of the body (food, housing, etc.) or one of the spirit (art, music, etc.) — but both the need and the desire (willingness to buy) must be there.

The work you do has to enhance your own personal and spiritual growth. If it doesn’t meet the needs of your present stage of growth, a kindly universe will try to encourage you into another line of work — often by refusing to provide clients.

We cannot do our work just for our bosses or our clients, nor can we do it just for ourselves. It has to balance.

The Art of Doing What Matters – A Personal View

When I was three, and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was, “A grandmother and a doctor.” The problem was one of vocabulary — I wanted to be a wise woman, who healed in a magical way through touch and presence — like my grandmother. My self-chosen purpose in life, my personal doing of what mattered, was to try to be a healing presence in the world, and I already had a sense of how I wanted to go about this. I suspect that many of us were clear about our path in those very early years, but we simply didn’t have the words to express it. And then we often got distracted by other people’s stories.

Like most of us, I got confused about this. I stuck with the notion of being a doctor until I was old enough to understand what doctors really did. What doctors do is necessary and important, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. Then, I thought I might like to be a nurse until I understood what nurses really did. Same problem. Then I thought I might like to be a psychotherapist, but in those days psychotherapy was all behaviorism and rats in mazes and no-consciousness, and that certainly wasn’t what I wanted either.

So I got married, worked as a secretary, became a mother, got involved with designing, building, and crewing on yachts, got divorced, became a house and sign painter, sold antiques, got married again, worked on boats some more, ran an antiquarian book business, got divorced again (slow learner), acquired a BA in psychology (special interests: counseling psychology, studies in consciousness, altered states, biofeedback, and parapsychology) with minors in anthropology (special interest: comparative religions) and philosophy (special interest: what’s it all about anyway?), and finally officially became a minister (of a highly unorthodox [some would say heretical] religious order). And now I’m making yet another shift to put the emphasis on writing and art — but it is still a form of healing.

In the meantime, from about the age of three onward I was practicing healing by laying on of hands, initially learned by watching my grandmother heal. In my thirties, I started teaching healing while I learned more things — meditation, massage, shiatsu, astrology, imagery work and other related and unrelated theories, concepts, and skills. Then one evening in my early forties, I was standing on a hillside, under a full moon, performing a wedding ceremony.

We were using a large stone for an altar, where I had placed a special candle. The bride and the groom had each carried a lit candle up to the alter, and with those they lit the big candle at the beginning of the service. Near the end of the ceremony family and friends came to the altar one by one to wish them well, offer a piece of advice, or say whatever they felt moved to say. As they did this, each one was given a candle, which had been lit from the large one, by the couple. Finally, everyone was standing in silence, holding the burning candles under the moon and the stars, light over light over light, while I held and blessed the wedding rings. I suddenly realized with an electric sense of shock that I was actually, in that moment, doing what I had wanted to do when I was three. And that my work, every aspect of it — healing, teaching, ministering, fit neatly into what I had really intended all those years ago.

I had blundered into my chosen art without noticing where I was going. I was just doing what seemed appropriate for the moment. I suspect that each of us is walking on our path. I suspect that it isn’t possible to get off of it — that everything we do, everything we learn, every experience we have is grist for the mill. But it does help — or at least it is comforting — to know what that purpose is — and that requires conscious examination and awareness of what we are doing.

At this time, I’m noticing that my path is changing, moving into unfamiliar territory — or maybe it’s familiar but in a different guise. I’ve been trundling around, doing more or less the same sorts of things, for a number of years now. Of course, I’ve been learning and growing and expanding what I do, but it has been essentially the same. Now, things are shifting (not because I decided they ought, but simply because they are) and I really wonder: what’s happening? What’s next?

I’ve talked to a couple of good astrologers and to some psychics and the general message seems to be something like, “Wow, this is interesting! Things are really changing for you.” Indeed. Thanks a bunch. So the message from the universe seems to be ‘wait and see’. I’ve been in this position before where I’ve known change is coming, but not what change. I keep saying that, if I knew what the universe wants me to do, I’d get on with doing it. But this is dodging the issue. What the universe “wants me to do” is to consciously and prayerfully work through the process of change.

At this moment, the change seems to be becoming clear, and it is a simple one. My vocation is becoming my avocation, and my avocation is becoming my vocation. Just a change of emphasis.

Process As Art, Art As Process

There are some questions I’ve been asking myself to try to clarify this process, and if you are experiencing the same kind of inner searching, they may help you.

They are:

1. When you were two or three or four, what did you think you wanted to do when you grew up?

2. How does that relate to what you are doing now? That is, how is your present work (paid or unpaid) a manifestation of that original plan? Or does it seem to be another track altogether?

3. What are your dissatisfactions with your present work?

4. How do these dissatisfactions relate to the concept of dharma? That is, how do they fail to meet the criteria listed above of need, service, growth, and balance?

5. What is satisfying about your present work?

6. How do these satisfactions relate to the concept of dharma and the fulfil criteria?

7. Does your present work hold the potential for fulfilling the requirements of dharma and of being personally satisfying, growth enhancing, and profitable?

8. How does this work offer service?

9. What would you need to change in you or in your work in order for this work to offer a better service?

10. How are you using this work to promote your spiritual growth?

11. What would you need to change in you or in your work in order for this work to better facilitate your spiritual growth?

12. Can you change your present work or yourself to create service, spiritual growth, satisfaction, and prosperity within your present framework, or do you need to change directions altogether?

13-?. If the answer to 12 is that you need to change directions, pick a likely direction and hold it up in the light of questions 1-11. This won’t tell you everything, but it might help you to see something useful.

These and related questions may help us to assess our present (or intended) work for doing-what-matters appropriateness. You may need to invent some more questions for yourself here.

People get confused about this. They think that one has to be doing something ‘spiritual’ in order to be growing spiritually through one’s work. Not true. We simply have to be consciously providing a service and being conscious of our intentions, our actions, and their consequences.

We need to be learning from and examining our lives as we live them. Being a priest, conducting ceremony and ritual, preaching and healing is no more ‘spiritual’ than being a plumber or an accountant. Any work can be done sleepwalking or consciously. Consciousness, self-awareness, self-examination, prayer, dedication, devotion, surrender, and awareness of the process are all prerequisites for the spiritual life. As the cliche says, it isn’t so much what you do, but how you do it that matters.

All right, I accept (reluctantly) that I am in the process of change, that this process is in itself part of my work, and that consciousness is required. I quite understand that sometimes we just have to go through the process and not try to find shortcuts, but I am a person who likes to have a plan, and judging by the number of people who ask, ‘But what am I meant to be doing?’ many other people like to have plans, too.

Or perhaps it’s just that we think we should have one. I suspect that sometimes a plan is helpful, and some times it is a hindrance. The trick is in knowing which is which. And in getting on with our work in the meantime, consciously learning, consciously being of service.

I wish you well on your journey!

Copyright © 1995 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.
This essay originally appeared in Otherworld Arts, 1995

Krowing While You Work

Not My Desk; Marzipan is More Tidy

“Krowing” makes a change from whistling — and while whistling while you work is often a good thing, krowing may well be better, both for you and for the work.

(Krow, krowed, krowing — “krow” is “work” playfully spelled backward. Very early on in school, we learn that many teachers think you aren’t really trying to do the work unless you sit hunched over your paper, tightly clutching your pencil, with your feet all twisted painfully around the chair legs. Ungrounded. It’s best if you frown too. The thing you mustn’t do is look relaxed. None of this actually helps you think better, and it takes a lot of energy while the discomfort is distracting. The fae believe all of this is seriously weird and wonder how we ever get anything done.)

It’s fascinating the way we seem to keep learning the same lessons over and over — until we finally get it really truly deep down. Whoever is in charge of all this seems to be endlessly patient — much more patient with me than I am with myself.

Eileen Herzberg phoned me to say she was planning to run a meditation course and to discuss a few ideas she had about it. “First, I’ll do what you do,” she said blithely, “and start them off with an inner journey to meet their inner meditation teacher.”

I gently pointed out that I had never met my inner meditation teacher, but that it was a really brilliant idea, and I wished I had thought of it. After a brief muddle while we sorted out whose idea it really was (Eileen’s, of course), we went on to discuss how best to set the scene for the inner journey she planned. While we were doing that I took an inward brief peek at my own inner meditation teacher.

The image that flashed up was of a tiny, upright, ancient oriental lady with a face as brown and wrinkled as a walnut shell and bright, bright black eyes. I knew as soon as I saw her that I’d better come back later and listen to what she had to say, and so I did as soon as I got off the phone.

Old Mama Li, she said to me,
Look, kid, you’ve got
to get your act together.
What you’re doing is OK, but
there is so very much
more to be done. For starters, let’s
Keep It Simple, Sweetheart. Choose
one task each day, and do it
as a meditation. It’s all
very well, even necessary, to Sit
in meditation, to rest into the silence when
healing is happening, and it’s
not that hard to do
when you are building
a dam in the burn, or painting, or walking
in the hills — doing something
quiet and fun — but
there is much more to it than
that. Meditation has to happen
all the time. Don’t try
to do this all at once, don’t try
to go too fast. For a while,
take just one task a day. In time, this
will give you the place to stand
so you can move the earth —
if you are silly enough
to want to.

She suggested that I start with getting out my quarterly newsletter on my courses and things the next day. That, she said, would give me plenty to practice on. She obviously knows how very much I dislike doing those mailings — thousands of pages to collate, thousands of newsletters to fold and staple, thousands of newsletters to put in envelopes and seal, thousands of mailing labels to put on, thousands of stamps to stick down, thousands of return address labels to put on. Arrrgh! Boring!

The next day, I tried to focus on my breath while I worked on the mailing, but I kept getting muddled about what I was doing. Then I tried to work in time with my breath, but it was so slow — and I found my breath going faster and faster — or my hands racing while I didn’t breathe at all.

My usual way of trying to get through a distasteful task is to rush madly at it, so I kept finding myself sitting on the edge of the chair, panting.

I felt so frustrated! I’d thought this would be so easy, but I couldn’t seem to do it at all. I even caught myself thinking that I ought to be able to do it; that this should not be a problem for me. I was messing up on something I ought to be able to do easily. When I caught myself ‘oughting’ and ‘shoulding’ all over myself, I stopped. I ‘ought’ not to be doing that either!

I just sat there with a page in each hand, almost in tears of frustration. For a while I simply focused on my breathing with some vague idea of getting a running start at stability that way. Finally I asked for help. Why does it so often take so long to remember to ask?

The answer came at once — focus on the energy of the task. It has its own natural rhythm and focus. Find it.

A rhythm established itself as soon as I stopped trying to do something: collate while grounding myself and the newsletter with the earth, center while stapling and folding, put it in the envelope while connecting with the Source, seal it while filling it with healing energy. This was easy.

Gradually the understanding grew in my mind — each newsletter should have its own connection with the earth and the Source, its own healing energy, and this could be available to anyone who touched it, if they wanted and were open to it. Because each one had its own connections, it would constantly be brimming over with healing energy, more than enough for everyone who might need and want it along the way. Some of the envelopes might be reused and carry the energy even further. And what will happen if the paper is recycled? Hmmm. Like ripples from a stone thrown in a pond, out to the edges of the universe and back. What fun!

Then the mailing labels — each one went on with a friendly energy ‘hello’ to the addressee. The stamps each had a smile attached, and the return address labels each went on with a wash of ‘love you’ from me.

I couldn’t believe it when I suddenly ran out of mailing labels. I scurried around the house to see if I could find any more names and addresses on scattered scraps of paper so I could do some more — it was such fun! When I realized what I was doing, I had to laugh at myself. I went off to the post office with bags full of energized newsletters, smilingly stamped.

When I got to the post office, there were hordes of people waiting, and the clerks were all working frantically. By the time I reached the counter, the clerk in front of me had an obvious headache, a scowl on his face, and a fierce impatience with the world. Besides the newsletters, I had several fiddly things to do — letters to the States and other places, each to be weighed and postage calculated individually. You could see him getting more and more impatient as I handed him one thing after another. Finally, putting all of the bags containing the thousands of newsletters on the counter, I said, “And this is the last.” He touched them — and stopped.

For a moment he just stood there. Then he turned and slowly put them in the big mail sacks a few envelopes at a time. He could have dumped them in a bag at a time much more quickly, but he seemed to be savoring each handful. He came back to me with a cheerful smile spread across his face. “There,” he said, “that’s a job well done, isn’t it?”

I was quite taken aback — it was actually working! Up until then I suppose I had just thought it was a game for me to play by myself. Now I realized that it was something that really could spread out, like the glittering ripples on a pond.

So, what did I do the next day? I forgot. Didn’t remember at all to find a task to do mindfully. And the day after that as well. Then I chose things I really didn’t want to do at all for my special task and then just didn’t do them. There is obviously a big resistance here to enjoying the boring, tedious, mundane things of life. What would one have to complain about? Procrastination wouldn’t be any fun if one were procrastinating on having fun. And I can’t scold myself because that is getting trapped in my oughts and shoulds again, so I really can’t just indulge in feelings of guilt or remorse instead of actually doing something.

The only thing left is either to do a task with the clarity and mindfulness thing or not to do it at all and just leave it undone or do it resentfully — but it feels so silly and perverse not to do it.

I hate to feel perversely silly.

It may provide a bit of harmless amusement for the Otherworld folk, but I’d rather not do it that way. ‘Undignified’ I have no problem with, but “perverse” and ‘silly’ combined are just too much. The thing that had become a regular practice was to have a good laugh at myself when I review my day, just before I go to sleep.

Okay. I wrote the above in early 1994. I added this in the middle of the next year: I’m just recovering from a prolonged bout of pneumonia and am taking this opportunity to reformat and update my disorganized web pages, which have gradually become all helter-skelter. I can do this on my laptop while I technically stay in bed, as instructed. And now, I’m thinking about how I can apply these principles to healing myself. What can I do while confined here — besides my regular meditation and self-healing?

I have recovered to the point where I can go down and up the stairs once a day, and I’ve learned to pause on each step and take two healing breaths. And to take five minutes worth of healing breaths on the landing halfway. This way I don’t collapse before the top. (At first, I unconsciously held my breath as I tried to hurry up the stairs before I collapsed. Needless to say, that didn’t work well. But I can’t climb the stairs very often, so this doesn’t seem much of a task to apply this technique to. It seems that there isn’t much I can be doing with it…

But wait! I’m working on these pages. How can I incorporate meditation/self healing into this? Well, breath seems very important just now. Pneumonia messes that up. So perhaps I could incorporate breathing consciously and in a healing way into this somehow. I’m going to try something for a few minutes…

Ah, yes. I just need to stop at the end of every paragraph and breathe in healing energy for a few breaths. Three slow ones feels about right. It changes the whole energy of what I’m doing. Instead of getting a feeling of self-induced pressure building up, I feel tranquility. I smile while I work. That alone tells me it is right. So. I shall stop here and do another page.

Now here we are in 2018! Have I learned this thoroughly? Do I automatically do it on new things as well? Noooo. Do I need to start again? Yes, I do. These days I’m working on writing my first fantasy novel — it seems that it should (there’s that word again!) be easy to apply the paragraph above to that.

Also, I have to use a walker these days, and I do already get it that I have to monitor myself closely and not push myself too hard at that. The rhythm needs to be to walk, stop and sit and breathe, and walk again. And sit and breathe again. But much of the time I push myself to a hazardous edge before I stop. If I were to insert a little more mindfulness in the walking, I might not be so exhausted so soon.

There are also gentle exercises, I’m supposed to do — perhaps I could find some way to keep myself from rushing things there too.

O! I think I see the key here. It’s the rushing at things that is the problem, not the things themselves. I wonder where that comes from? Perhaps if I could find a way to be aware of that before I fall into a self-created hole — perhaps I could really finally get this? What do you think?

Copyright © 1994, 1995, & 2018 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved. This originally appeared in Crann Beathadh, 1994.

Soothsaying, Omens, Intuition, & Paying Attention

First, let’s get something clear. There are two types of psychic reading. Many people think it is fortune telling, which tries to tell what is going to happen as if the future were fated and we have no choices. But the other type is psychic and spiritual counseling, which assumes that, if we really understand a problem, our possible choices and the likely outcomes, we can handle the situation better somehow.

As a reader, I do not do fortune telling, feeling that spritual counseling is far more useful. Ironically, we get to choose which we believe in — fate or choice. The following discussion is about psychic reading as spiritual counseling, not fortune telling.

One day recently I found myself preparing to do a reading over the phone for a friend. My Faeries’ Oracle was in the other room, so I lazily reached for the nearest deck. It was the Cat’s Eye Tarot, though that doesn’t matter to this tale.

The cards were difficult to get out of the box. All but one finally came out, but that last one was firmly stuck. I was fumbling with the loose cards, the box, and the phone, needing four hands, while being watched by Marzipan the Cat Who Reads Cards. She had been awakened by the kerfluffle. Instead of helping, as she often does, she just sat there with her head tilted, saying, “Well?”

(Rethought: perhaps the fact that it was a cat deck does have something to do with the reading. Cats use body language and pantomime a lot to communicate and they love their boxes, so being stuck in a box should have told me what I needed to know. But I was being obtuse and slow.)

Eventually, I thought, “Wait! Why is this card so hard to get out? Why is it being such a big deal?” I put everything down and actually thought instead of blundering blindly, trying to get the card out. I must have told students over a thousand times, “When you are doing a reading, when you are trying to see and speak the truth, everything matters. Every “distraction”, every obstacle, every sound, every thought. Some of them may not matter much, but all of them need to noticed by the reader and examined for relevance.

IF A “DISTRACTION” CALLS FOR ATTENTION, read it as you would the symbols on a card. Read the traffic sounds, read the pattern and marks in the carpet, read the movement of the wind, the grain of the wood in the coffee table. In actual fact, you could read the clothes the client is wearing — the colors, the style, the way the wrinkles fall. Cards are just tools to bring out intuition — just ink and paper. All of those “distractions” matter too. They are often our intuition trying to tell us something in the Universal Language of Action & Reaction that we all use — cats, trees, and others. Even humans use it, although often unconsciously.

Once you have set up your intention to do a reading and defined the question, everything matters. Pay attention! I’ve said that to students so many times you’d think it would be engraved on the inside of my eyelids. So here I was with a stuck card shrieking for attention so loud it woke the cat up — and it took me much too long to Pay Attention.

The topic for the reading was “What next?” My friend had decided to stop doing her former career. She felt she’d been doing it for too long and was burned out on it. But she couldn’t seem to to figure out what she wanted to do next, what really mattered to her. She knew that it needed to be something that mattered to the world as well as to her. But she couldn’t figure out what she truly wanted to do.

So, finally prompted by that stuck card, I asked my friend. “What is it that’s stuck? Let’s think about this for a moment.”

It turned out that what was stuck was her! She was in a box, didn’t realize she was there, and therefore couldn’t get out of it. That was what was stopping her from finding her new path. Her box was that she felt there were many things she couldn’t do because the people she had worked for in the past would disapprove of her new choices. The new direction had a conflict with her old work — which she no longer wanted to do. The box had served a purpose before, but it was quite superfluous now. You can’t find a path if you are stuck in a box before the path even begins.

The crucial thing about this reading was to realize that she hadn’t yet let go of her old restrictions. Even though the currents of life wanted to take her along new paths, she was still unconsciously holding on, still judging how doing the new things would impact the old things even though she didn’t want to do the old things anymore &mdash and she couldn’t move. So the reading became about getting out of that mental box — looking at each issue and deciding what to let go of and what to keep. She really already knew where she wanted to go and had been making forays in that direction and then stopping herself because of these habitual restrictions.

It did strike me that the cards we read didn’t matter nearly as much to the reading as the fact that one card couldn’t get out of the box so that we could begin. The most vital part of the session happened before we drew a single card.

Sometimes the essential, critical, necessary part of the reading happens when we’re figuring out the question, and by the time we understand what the real question is, the answer may be quite obvious. A psychic reading is not just the cards or the runes or the crystals or whatever your favorite tool is. It’s a process that begins when you decide to do the reading and are working out what the question really is, and it finishes when you feel satisfied that you understand the answer well enough to go forward.

In a way, we can “read” the world just by paying attention to what calls to us. Every morning when I check my Facebook page, I look for the things that hit me, make me sit up, make me pay attention, ring my internal bell. Sometimes I repost them, but often I just sit with them and then try to be aware of what they are teaching me throughout the rest of the day. I suppose one could call this something like “conscious living” but it’s really just Paying Attention, noticing these things that speak to us — that’s what omens are.

Does that make sense?

Kundalini Rising: The Experience, Part I

I wrote this article many years ago, and am reposting it here just so I can find it to include it in my WooWoo pages (classes on healing and psychic and spiritual development) when I get a chance. However, some of you may find it useful so here we go.

This is in two parts: first, how to recognize and take care of ourselves in a kundalini rising experience, and second, some tips on working with a client with kundalini rising. I’ll post the second part soon after this one.

It has been many years since I went through my own kundalini rising experience, but it isn’t the sort of thing one forgets. An explosion of energy in my root/sacral center hit my feet and the top of my head hard enough to throw the masseur who was working on me against the wall. He clung to the wall with both hands, I clung to the massage table with both hands and all my toes – and I think I remember biting the sheet. Have you ever put an Alka Seltzer or other effervescent tablet in your mouth by mistake? It foams madly and has to run out because you can’t swallow fast enough. Well, I felt like that everywhere inside, and there didn’t seem to be any place for the wild energy to go.

John, the masseur, spent the next hour holding my feet, trying to earth us both, while I lay there and fizzed and fizzed and fizzed. It was months before people stopped getting electrical shocks when they reached out to touch me. And other exciting things happened as well — books leaping off of shelves, lights turning themselves on and off, that kind of thing. Nothing harmful, just a lot of busybody activity from ungrounded psychokenetic energy.

I was fortunate. I knew things about kundalini energy; I’d been reading about it for some months (intuition tries to guide us, if only we will follow). Since then I’ve worked with a number of people going through this process, and learned quite a lot both from them and from other sources. The experience itself is rather like waking up one morning and finding yourself on a roller coaster just headed down that first long dip. Exciting! It certainly can be alarming if you don’t know what to expect, and if you don’t realize that this is a part of a healthy evolutionary development process.

Kundalini usually rises as a result of different events or processes. First, and most likely, is the strengthening of the subtle energy system through meditation, yoga, the practice of healing, some martial arts, or other practices aimed at developing that kind of psychic energy strength. The second most likely cause of arousal is as a result of releasing emotional/structural blocks in the body/mind that have served to repress the energy. Either of these things may, by themselves, result in the rising of the “serpent power”. There is a third possibility as well. Sometimes kundalini rising is triggered by trauma or misguided exercises in a person completely unprepared for it. This can be an extremely difficult experience, as you will understand from the explanation below.

Kundalini rising experiences vary a lot from person to person. They can happen in a sudden, drastic whoosh, or in repeated bursts extending over a longer period of time. Or both. The important thing about recognizing it, is to remember that it is very powerful, a radical change in one’s energy. If a person has managable energy surges and can cope with them with a little extra earthing, it probably isn’t kundalini — or they have been practicing one of the disciplines like kundalini yoga , which often make the process more managable. If they think that they may be having heart failure, becoming psychotic, developing a severe neurological disease, or similar symptoms, it may be kundalini rising. On the other hand, it may be heart failure, psychosis, etc. Tricky.

Often the “main event” of the rising is preceded by a series of “precursor dreams” and by the experience of strong, but unstable energies. The dreams are usually symbolic of the sudden movement of vast energies — such as tidal waves, earthquakes, burning heavens, et cetera. The unstable energies are often powerful surges. They may be experienced first in the legs and pelvis, resulting in strong sensations there. Sometimes this triggers powerful sacral center energies, which may be interpreted by the unprepared as strong sexual drives (that one, as you might suppose, can create a whole range of problems and confusion all on its own). On the other hand, there may be a temporary loss of interest in sexuality while the process unfolds through the higher chakra. There may be sensations of intense heat and/or moments of loss of motor control. There may also be emotional disturbances (see more on this below). What is happening is that the energy in the root chakra, awakened by meditation or healing or whatever, is trying to move upward, where it encounters a block (often in the sacral or solar chakra), and it earths itself through the legs until the block above is released. At that point, the energy may rise explosively and very powerfully.

In traditional yoga, a balanced program was followed to prepare the adept for the kundalini rising experience, which they consider to be an evolutionary step forward for the human nervous system and subtle energy field. Several yogas (body, emotions, mind, and devotional) were all practiced under the close supervision of an experienced teacher. This meant that the student was prepared for the radical changes that occur and also that they were more clear — there was less emotional and mental and physical “pollution” to be stirred up by the rising power. Unfortunately, in the West many have not yet fully accepted that healing, meditation, and practices like yoga and other exercise systems that affect the subtle energies also require continuing personal growth work in order to avoid the worst of these emotional disturbances with the precipitous rising of kundalini.

When the energy rises through the subtle channels and the chakras, it tries to radically open and cleanse the chakras. If a person has been prepared for this by the resolution of emotional blocks and traumas and by the strengthening of the subtle energy channels and physical body, the process is simply a very wild, but often enjoyable ride. However, if the personal growth work has not been done, great emotional disturbance can result — in some cases going so far as to appear to be an acute mental/emotional breakdown or psychosis. If the strengthening of the subtle energy channels and of the physical body has not been adequately accomplished, there can be alarming physical and energetic symptoms, especially in the heart and nervous system. Modern Western medicine is not prepared to cope with any of this, and in fact, may offer treatments (aimed at relieving the symptoms) that work against the real needs of the client. For example, people experiencing kundalini rising will not usually be helped by tranquilizers, beta blockers, anti-depressants or sleeping pills.

There are some standard, routine things we need to do to take care of ourselves in this situation. Most of them are common sense, but a couple are less well known. It helped me to think of what was happening in terms of electricity. Suddenly there was 220 v. running around in a 110 v. system — and the grounding was inadequate. Whatever you have been doing for centering and grounding yourself needs to be done a lot more, and you need to do it repeatedly during the day and when you wake up at night. You may even need to learn or invent some new and better earthing techniques. I spent a lot of time paddling in the sea, which helped wonderfully but is not necessarily practical for everyone.

In such an experience we can expect all sorts of bizarre sensations of energy, trembling, shaking, muscle spasms, et cetera. Dreams of earthquakes, tidal waves, and so on are also common and really have nothing to do with our psychological state. Also, we must expect all sorts of emotional disruption. Don’t take this too seriously (I know it’s hard not to!) because much of this is quickly alleviated when we become more earthed. There is a kind of wackiness (technical term) that goes with unearthed energy that can seem like real psychological disturbances, but disappears as soon as we are grounded again. That is stuff that doesn’t have to be dealt with, because it isn’t “real”. What remains once we are grounded probably is real, but until we are solidly earthed, we won’t really know which is which.

As I said above, this process is very individual, so some of the things I’m suggesting may not be appropriate in specific cases, but this article is just suggestions for first aid.

First, one of the important things is meditation. It is very helpful to meditate 15 minutes a day. This helps to earth and stabilize the energy, especially if you begin and end your meditation with centering and earthing. For this purpose, I recommend a meditation that focuses on the breath as they tend to be inherently grounding.

The “15 minute rule” is very important. That gives just about maximum relaxation, stabilization, and integration. After that, the energy in the system starts to increase, which is just exactly what you don’t want. So 15 minutes, no more, and preferably no less each day helps a lot.

Diet is also important. Are you a vegetarian? If so, it makes it a bit harder, because meat is grounding, and you will need to include more earthing vegetables in your diet. We need to avoid stimulants like sugar and caffeine. Using minimal salt is also a help, because salt and acids (like vinegar in pickles and salad dressing) stimulate the adrenals. Red meat does too, so the lighter meats like poultry and fish are better in general. I’ve been told that a vegetarian should eat a lot of root vegetables — at least, that is supposed to help. (I can’t say from personal experience because I am carnivorous and didn’t have to pay a lot of attention to the grounding qualities of vegetables.)

Exercise helps, but it needs to be moderate and regular. A rule of thumb in dealing with kundalini is to avoid overdoing anything. The system is already overdoing things, and it needs moderation and calmness.

The primary requirement in dealing with this experience is to learn to earth and to integrate this enhanced energy flow. To do this we may, especially at first, need help with earthing the sudden release of these powerful energies. We may also need help with the emotional/mental patterns and malfunctions brought into increased activity and under increased pressure by the rising of kundalini.

As you may guess, it is very helpful to try to avoid making a huge drama about this. The more we can be calm and grounded, the easier, swifter, and more smooth the passage is through all the dreams and other exciting things.

In cultures where kundalini is known and understood by many, people undergoing the experience will usually be encouraged to work closely with a teacher who understands the process and probably to take time from their ordinary life for a retreat while the energy rebalances. In our Western society, we often do not realize that we need to do this and attempt to carry on with all the demands of ordinary life while we try to integrate the kundalini changes. This can be done, but it requires special attention to the things mentioned above like diet, exercise, and meditation. It is also very helpful if we can get time for mini-retreats — occasional days of solitude and quiet. Things like long outdoor walks or working in a garden also are helpful, as is paddling in an ocean or a river. Time spent with nature is never wasted and you may well discover new aspects of nature with your enhanced subtle senses.

The one thing I can say for sure is that the kundalini rising experience is worth having (but I like roller coasters), and the end results of enhanced psychic strength, increased stability, and greater healing ability are well worth going through the turmoil of the transition period. Full integration may take several years — two or three is not excessive.

This article originally appeared in Otherworld Arts, 1997, a small bimonthly magazine published by Jessica Macbeth. Copyright © 1997 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

Your comments will be read with interest.

Midsummer Journey 2016

These are my notes from doing the Midsummer Meditation yesterday. The card I drew before starting the journey is:

The Faery Who Was Kissed by the Pixies, Morna, who says, “The answer to your question is, put simply, love — love given with wisdom and compassion, love without selfishness or possessiveness.”

Morna tells us that giving and receiving love and intimacy in a wide variety of relationships is important at this time. She gives you notice that this is a time to open and heal your heart.

Different aspects of life may well be flowing happily together, healing separations and hurts from the past. Bonding may take place and deep feelings emerge. Changes for the better may occur in all aspects of life, but especially in relationships which are deepening and becoming richer.

You are experiencing love therapy for your heart.

Faery blessings on the loving!

I am right here, sitting at home. When I tried to “go” to the Otherworld, the guardian informed me that this is the Otherworld. Everywhere is the Otherworld — nowhere is left out. Not everywhere is Earth, not everywhere is my house, but everywhere is Otherword if I just let myself be Awake and Aware.

I knew this, but I’d forgotten. I’m glad to be reminded. So I’ll sit right here with my cats, knowing that we are all in the Otherworld, and sensing it’s magic around me. As soon as I remembered that Marzipan came, gave me a kitty kiss, and laid down to be my guide. She is purring. Okay.

The God and Goddess want me to practice loving — to do it, feel it, dream it, learn it. It’s very important for me to be learning love just now — love for everyone, everything, including myself. Love is what keeps us alive — and I need to stay alive a lot longer to get the things done that are mine to do.

They have handed me a list: write books (especially Marzipan’s and Gran’ma’s Oracle and the Green Woman’s Book of Healing — maybe others too, they say, but those for starters), do healing (myself, family, everyone I meet to whatever degree is acceptable), and learn to dance more, play more, create more, plant more, breathe more.

I can see why they think I need to practice love in order to live longer if they want me to do all that! There are five books planned just for Marzipan alone!

I’ve been working on this, realizing that it was timely, and I do feel ready to agree to do it. I can do it much better now than in the past. Having my sisters here helped me a lot about that. “Love is patient and kind.” Easier said than done, but all the same, doable.

I hold out my hands with my eyes shut. They put something in my hands — very light, very small. It feels fragile and feathery. It’s a baby wren. No, it’s three baby wrens. They are tiny! They eat, the god tells me, bugs and love. They will help me remember to practice. Goddess says they are also very charming and enchanting and will improve my magic. (O, punny!)

Marzipan says wistfully that she will look after the birds for me, if I like. I agree that we can share them. She takes them one by one off to her “safe place” (her enclosed bed where she doesn’t allow the other cats) and purrs them to sleep. These wrenlings may grow up very confused but well loved.

I am so grateful…. The God and Goddess ask me to draw another card from Gran’ma’s Oracle. I do, and it says:

What to do? Which way to go?

“Weeeelllll, it all depends,” says the Really Good Faery. “To decide your course, ask yourself, please, is this is going to do any unnecessary harm to other people or any harm to you? Be careful – that isn’t a simple question.

“But, If no harm, then why not go ahead with what you want?”

She would like you to remember that being really good does not always mean keeping everyone else happy to your own disadvantage. There is a difference between what people want from you and what they need from you. To be really good, it is important to take care of the needs, when you can do so without harm to yourself, but their wishes are not your responsibility at all — although you may like to fulfil them for the fun of it for you both, just for love, not for need.

Faery blessings on the giving, the giver, and the receiver!

The God and Goddess look at each other and nod. I guess that’s okay then. I probably needed to be reminded of that too.

© Copyright 2016 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved

Midsummer Inner Journey

midsummer sunrise

Midsummer Meditation

This is the Midsummer Inner Journey/Ritual I generally use for myself and when I’m leading a group. It’s part of my Sun Magic, Moon Magic project. The format below is written so it can be used for a group, but obviously you can just use it for yourself. I hope you enjoy it and it helps you along your Path!

Copyright information is at the bottom.

Things Needed If You Are Leading a Group:

Ask the group not to talk to each other during the process, not even during the writing times. Conversation brings them too far from the inner journey state of mind. If they have questions or comments, they should make a note of them and discuss them at the end.

One thing — “sidhe” is pronounced “shee”.

This is going to take about an hour so make certain that everyone has done whatever they need to do to be able to sit quietly and comfortably for that time. It may take even longer if people have a lot of questions or comments at the end.

Each person should have at least three sheets of paper and something to write with — pen or pencil, colored or plain. They also need something to rest the paper on as they write — a clipboard, a notebook, a piece of stiff cardboard — whatever works. This should be ready to use easily so everyone can write from time to time on their journey.

You will need at least one, preferably more, Oracle or Tarot decks. Have each person in the group draw one card from the deck of their choice, which will be used at a certain point in the meditation. Actually, you can do without one, but then you must remember to leave that part out of the journey.

Once they have the card and sit in their place in the circle, they are ready to begin. Starting with the induction, read the inner journey aloud in a calm, gentle voice, allowing ample time for people to process each thing and for a few breaths between.

Induction (The part that relaxes people and helps them into a mental state conducive to making the journey)

You need a comfortable place to sit, a place where you will be able to close your eyes and relax, yet also a place where you can write on your paper. As you sit, close your eyes for a bit and just breathe. Take three slow, deep, natural breaths down into your belly, releasing each one slowly but naturally. No strain, just relaxed deep breaths.

Lift your shoulders up high, then gently let them drop. Do this three times. Softly flex your hands and relax them three times.

As you breathe, notice that your forehead is relaxed… your cheeks, your mouth, your entire face is relaxed. Your eyes may be closed or half open, whichever is most comfortable for them. If your eyes are open, let them rest on your hands or your lap so that they are not busy with the outer world and you can let your mind focus on your rich inner world.

The Journey

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago (or perhaps it was just yesterday or perhaps tomorrow) everyone gathered together at midsummer, the summer solstice, the longest days and the shortest nights. No one got much sleep… but they did do a lot of other things. One of the things that is often forgotten nowadays is that they made journeys into the Otherworld, the land of Faery, the world of the ever-young and the eternal gods and goddesses, the shining ones, the sithe. There they consulted the ancient wise ones to discover three things.

First, they considered what they had. We all have happy things, things that please us, and we all have unhappy things, the things we don’t want, and we all have the things we fail to notice because we are so used to them that we don’t see them anymore — and yet, were we to lose them, our lives would be immeasurably poorer, or in some cases, much richer.

Once people had considered what they have, what is filling their lives now, and then they went on to consult their gods and goddesses to find out what was appropriate for them to be doing at this season, this time of their lives and they asked the gods and goddesses for suggestions about how best to do this.

And then, because all the best gods and goddesses are loving and generous, the people received gifts from them, gifts to come in the future, perhaps quite soon, or perhaps a little further down the line in accordance with when and how they did the things they needed to do that had just been discussed.

Today, we shall follow this ancient observance of this midsummer season. Are you ready? If not, take a final three deep breaths, rest your eyes another moment.

Now, imagine that you are standing up. There is a gate or a door in front of you. In a bit we will enter those doors, but first, notice where you are standing.

What does the earth feel like under your feet? What is your first impression of the ground you are standing on? Is it hard or soft, grassy, rocky, or some other surface? This isn’t a big thing, just an impression of where you are at this moment.

How does the air around you feel? Moving or still? Warm or cool? Dry or damp? Just notice it for a bit. You may allow the feeling of the air to help you to relax if you want to.

Notice how the light is around you — does it seem bright or dim? Where is it coming from? Is it light from a candle or lamp or fire or something like the sun or moon or stars? What is your first impression of the light? How easy is it for you to see?

Now, again notice the gate or the door in front of you — which is it? What is it made of? Is it closed or open or in between? Give it a gentle push to see what happens. If it is locked, you’ll find a key hanging on a nail close to the lock — take it and open the gate or the door. Then go through the opening into the Otherworld and notice any difference you find there.

Is the ground the same or different? Has the air changed in any way? What is the light like now? Do you notice any scents?

At this moment, you are in both the Otherworld and your own inner world, a liminal place, a threshold between times and spaces. It is a safe place for you and, if you wish, you can relax into it, taking a few deep breaths to become more familiar with it as you begin to consider what you have in your life at this time.

On your first piece of paper, write down the first things that come to your mind. You don’t need to list everything, not even all of the “important” things, just the things that come to your mind. They will be the things that matter right at this moment. You will have fifteen minutes for this — plenty of time.

If you run out of thoughts, just breathe gently. As you do that, more things to write may come to you — or they may not. It doesn’t matter. Just write what comes to mind no matter how small or how big it is in your life. Simply write — and when you’re not writing, just breathe gently and naturally. Allow your mind to rest between noticing what you have in your life at present.

***

Now the time is up for writing about what you have, so put your paper and pen down. Get comfortable again and take a couple of deep breaths, close your eyes, and relax into the next part of your journey.

You have already come to the liminal place inside the gate to the part of the Otherword that is also part of you. Now it’s time to move beyond your own personal inner world and on into the timeless world of the Powers.

In the distance ahead of you there is a group of trees. These trees are very tall and their branches spread widely. The leaves shimmer in the soft light, and as they shimmer you may be able to see that they are many, many shades of green — and even that some are more blue and others are golden. Even more rarely, these trees also have leaves of all colors of the rainbow — and many that aren’t in the rainbow at all. These are the ancient trees of Faery and they guard the entrance to the Otherworld of the Sidhe (shee), the people of peace, the elder race.

To help you to enter the guardian tree grove, an animal is coming to guide you. This might be an earth animal or a faery animal or a mixture of both. It may be an animal that is familiar to you or one you’ve never seen, perhaps never imagined before.

As the animal comes closer and you can see it more clearly, what color or colors do you see or sense? How big is it? Does it walk on two legs or four or less or more?

By now it is close enough for you to look into its eyes. What color are they? How are they different from your own eyes? What feeling does it give you to look into them deeply?

When the creature reaches you, hold out your hand. Does it sniff the scent of your hand? Does it touch your hand? If the creature indicates that it would like to be stroked, and if you would like to do that, go ahead and touch it.

When you are ready, ask the creature to guide you on into Faery, and follow it. The animal may lead you toward the trees or in some other direction. There may be another gate along the way or nothing at all to show that you are going deeper into the Realm. The animal know the way. Trust your guide and follow where you are led. When it stops, you are there. You will find that both the God and the Goddess of Midsummer are there to meet you or are very near by and coming to you.

I cannot tell you which aspects of the God and Goddess you may see. They may be familiar to you or faces you have never seen before. If they are unknown, this indicates that you have been growing since you last connected with them, and they believe that you are ready to know them more deeply.

Now you may hold out both hands to them, and they will each take one of your hands. How does their touch feel to you? And how do you feel inside yourself as they touch you?

Does the touch of the God’s hand feel different from the Goddess’s? How do they differ and how are they the same? What physical or emotional sensations do you notice? There are no right answers, no wrong answers — there is just what there is and that is what you feel, what you hear, what you see and smell. Sometimes you may even just know something is there without seeing or hearing it.

Let yourself rest for a moment holding the hands of the Goddess and the God — just feeling, just being.

Now I’d like you to ask them, “What do they need or want from you at this moment, for this season?”

First, one of them will answer. It may be something very simple or something more complex. Breathe slowly in a relaxed way and let your mind simply relax and listen. If you don’t get it right away, just let yourself be patient and listen. Listen with your ears, your mind, your body. Are there feelings in your body that may help you to understand? Are there images in your mind?

If you’re not quite certain, ask the other one of the pair to clarify this for you: What do they want or need from you? Your animal guide may also offer you some help with understanding this. The oracle or tarot you drew before the beginning may help.

When you feel that you understand the request, write it down on the second page of your papers.

Then relax back into the calm restful state you were in before and take three slow, deep breaths — not straining in any way, just peaceful and easy. Then think again about the request the god and goddess made of you. What did they ask you to do?

Is this something you think you can do? Are you willing to try to do it?

If it is, tell them exactly what you are agreeing to do.

Now, write that down on your paper.

Gift

When you have finished writing, relax back into the journey, taking a few deep breaths until you are back standing with the god and the goddess.

Then, imagine holding your hands in front of you, palms up, and imagine that your eyes are shut. They are about to give you a gift.

One or both of them places something in your hands. With your inner eyes still closed, see what you can learn about the gift in your hands. Is it heavy or light or in between? Is it moving or still? What does the texture feel like? Soft or hard, smooth or rough? Does it feel alive or inert? How do you feel in yourself as you hold this gift in your two hands?

Now look at the gift — what colors do you notice? Does it have a scent? If it’s alive, is it looking at you or doing something else?

What is it? How would you describe it to someone else?

Ask the Goddess and the God what this gift symbolizes — what will it mean to have this in your life? If you don’t understand right away, you can ask your animal guide to help explain. Take your time, breathing slowly, and just waiting and listening as they give you this information — it may be in words or in feelings or in some other way — or possibly you’ll just know in a flash of insight.

Let yourself continue to breathe slowly and gently while you receive this gift and the information about it.

When you understand, tell them whether or not you accept this gift. If you don’t want it, just set it down on the ground gently, leave it there, and ignore the rest of this. If you do want the gift, hand the it back to the God and Goddess, and ask them to put it in you or on you or around you — wherever it belongs.

What do they do with gift? Where do they put it? How do you feel with the gift there? Do you feel any differently than you did? Just breathe quietly for a couple of minutes and let the gift settle in.

Is there anything else the God or the Goddess or your Guide wish to tell you about using or living with the gift?

When you are done, you may wish to express your gratitude to goddess and god for the gift and for helping you to understand it.

Now write down both what the gift was and what it symbolized.

And now, it is time to write one more thing — what stood out most for you in the journey? It may or may not have been the most “important” thing, but what was the most vivid or perhaps the most surprising thing?

Return Journey

Again, breathe gently for a moment. Now it is time to come back with the help of your animal guide. You may want to tell the Goddess and the God goodbye for now — though they are always with you, their presence may feel different when you are in your ordinary state of consciousness.

Your guide is ready to bring you back. It may retrace the path you took in or you might come out another way. It might even want to show you something on the way. The Guide may choose give you it’s name — or it might not — they can be tricky or shy about names.

You have a few minutes, about five, to come back through the gate or doorway you first entered.

***

When you are back through the gate, take several deep breaths. Wiggle your feet and toes. Wiggle your fingers. Stretch as much as you’d like to.

Now stretch one more time, as far up as you can reach. Then open your eyes and move around a bit.

Questions and Things to Discuss

What was the thing you were asked to do? Did you agree to do it? How do you feel about that? Is it something you are confident that you can do? Remembering the oracle you drew before we began, does it cast any further light upon the thing you were asked to do?

What was the gift you were given? What did the gift symbolize? Did you accept the gift? If you did where the God or Goddess put it in you, on you, or around you? How did you feel when the gift settled into place? Do you feel any differently now than you did before beginning the journey? If you would like, you could draw another Oracle now to tell you more about the gift. If you do, what does it say?

What do you remember about your animal guide? And can you see any reason now why that creature may have chosen or have been chosen to guide you on your journey?

What questions to you still have? Let the others in the group see if they can help you find answers to them. Also, feel free to draw an Oracle or Tarot card for each question you have and write down the responses on your paper.

Bless you on your life journey. May what you discovered on this inner journey help you on your way.

***
Remember — miracles happen. Faery blessings to you and your miracles.
© Copyright 2016 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved. You may record the journey for your own personal use but not to share the recording with others. I will be making a recording available quite soon and will let people know it is ready on Facebook ( Jessica Macbeth or jessica@jesamac.com ) and also on this  blog (jesalog.com) which you can freely subscribe to, and also it will be on my webpages (jessica@jesamac.com).

You may also like to know that I have a book, Sun Over Mountain, that has many inner journeys. In fact, it’s a complete course on creating and using inner journeys for personal and spiritual growth and spiritual contact. I hope you’ve enjoyed this!

Writing & Other Simple Things

At the end of 2013, I did an inner journey for Yule. In it I really needed to take a look at some things from a different angle — with the help of the fae and Gran’ma Maple.

Some of what I wrote then was: Under my feet the path feels rough, irregular — not a well-worn path, but one that is not often used or has fallen into disuse. I have an impulse to stop and clear some of the clutter — the slippery leaves, the tumbled stones — and to rake it smooth. It will be much more use in the future if I take care of it now. Sometimes these impulses are just distractions but this one feels valid and a good beginning, so I spend a bit of time tending the path itself. There’s no point in having things be more difficult than they need to be.

The path winds between the great trees of an ancient forest, and I’m surprised to notice that clearing a bit of the path affects the whole — the clearness spreads so the entire way is easier to walk. That was easier than expected — sometimes intention is almost all we need. Intention followed by just enough action to fulfill it.

The now-smooth path leads me to a natural clearing in the forest. In the center, there is one ancient maple tree. I recognize her from my worldly life — Gran’ma Maple. How lovely! I lean against her trunk, comforted by her presence. I’m surprised by the amount of tension that drains out of me as I lean against her. And I suddenly realize that one of the things I need to release is the underlying tension caused by feeling that I have to do everything for myself. I don’t. I have help. Why do I feel that I must do “it” all by myself? And can I let that old habit go?

Intention and action… I have the intention, clarity is needed on the action. But first, I want to know more about what I need to release, and I ask Gran’ma Maple what else I need to do. I feel the movement of her silent chuckle. “You don’t think that is enough for now? You think that breaking a life-long pattern and replacing it with a healthy attitude is easy? You don’t think that way for other people — why do you not be as gentle with yourself as you are with them?”

I think about the big difference I felt when I let go of that tension and wonder how much of my energy usually goes into maintaining that “I can do it myself” attitude and self image — not into actually doing things but just into believing my old lie to myself? And then the doing things is even harder sometimes. But doing things for myself when I can is appropriate, while telling myself that I can do everything for myself is not only unnecessary and untrue, but apparently is stressful in many ways.

I get that. Now… I ask Gran’ma Maple about right action. And again, that silent chuckle happens with a rustling of leaves. “Dear! By now you surely have all the tools you need, and if you don’t, you’re perfectly capable of inventing them as the need arises. Blessings on the path!”

Here I am two and a half years later, approaching Midsummer and feeling overwhelmed by all the thing I want to do. I recognize the feeling and know I’ve been here before, but still haven’t quite let go of creating so very much to do and worrying about how little time there is to do it in even if I live to be a hundred years old. I am much better at letting people help me. Not perfect — I still feel guilty and “lazy” when I ask for help. (It would be so much easier if people could magically know what I need and, if they feel like it, just do it, and then I could simply say “Thank you!” but I do realize that this would still give me that uncomfortable feeling of not doing everything for myself.) Lesson not learned! So once more I decide to stop trying to figure this out in my head and see what my heart and soul have to say on an inner journey.

I bow to the Lady and Lord and ask for their guidance (that’s easy — I have gotten some of this asking business right!) and I light the candle symbolizing their presence. I ask them, “What do I need to do at this time to prevent or cope with my tendency to put myself into overwhelm?”

First, I draw a card from the Faeries’ Oracle to give myself a starting place. The card I get is …

She of the Cruach, the Great Yin polarity of the Universe is the many-named Mother of all. She is nurturer and protectress, and in her hands we are safe, secure, and grounded.

This gives us a secure base to work from so that we in turn may offer her nurturing, patience, and creativity to others through our own attitudes and actions.

It is very important for you to focus on that at this time.

Remember to balance that nurturing with the strength of He of the Fiery Sword and to channel their energy instead of using your own personal energy.

Faery blessings on the being!

Well, DOH!

What I love about asking questions of the fae is that they often fairly clout me over the head with the answer!

Of course I need to ask and allow them to energize these projects instead of Trying To Do It All Myself! It isn’t only humans who are willing to help. I could be channeling the energy of God/dess for the things I’m doing. This would be entirely appropriate as these things are my attempts to work in their service!

I know how to do this — it is just like healing. Each time I start to do the work, I can begin by earthing, centering, allowing the energy to flow freely into the writing. While working, I simply need to continue to stay earthed in their hands, their energy — and not to fall out of it into worrying or hurrying or criticizing myself. And when I find myself falling out of the flow and pushing myself, I can simply stop and rest or stop and reground as appropriate. I can even ask them to nudge me when it’s time to stop for a break — another thing I’m not good at remembering yet.

This is so obvious. I’d feel silly if I didn’t already know how silly I am. I’ve only been doing healing most of my life. This uses the same principles exactly. Now one more card, in case they have anything to add.

From Gran’ma’s Faery Wisdom and Gnomic Utterances: the Oracle:

The Unconditional Elf is one of Santa’s Special Task Force elves. This is the one that makes gifts for people whether they deserve them or not. He also delivers them out of season, so they might happen at any time at all. These gifts are not lumps of coal, unless the people are very, very cold and have empty fireplaces.

The only question about the Unconditional Elf is: is he giving you an unconditional gift or wanting you to help him give one to someone else? Or both? Hmm? What do you think?

There are many Unconditional Elves, and this one is named Fred. “Fred” means “peace”.

Faery blessings on those who give and those who receive! May they often be one and the same!

Quite likely the answer to the question above about giving or receiving’ is simply ‘giving and receiving’. I’m receiving to give, and giving to receive. Marzipan’s Adventures, Gran’ma’s Faery Wisdom & Gnomic Utterances, this blog, the web pages, the prospective e-books are all just energy flowing both ways at the same time.

Filled with enthusiasm (but knowing it is well past bedtime), I bow again to God/dess and thank them for their helpful insights. The candle is blown out with gratitude, releasing the energy to work in O Universe, including me, and I saunter gently off to bed, hoping this will help you, just as it is helping me. Good dreams!

P.S. I was so excited about this that I woke up before 6 AM (after going to sleep just past 2 AM) and I thought, “I’ve got to try it!” And what happened? Nada. Zilch. Nothing. Would you believe that it took two hours of frustration to realize that it was working — just as I’d asked. I was being given first a gentle and then a strong nudge that it was time for something else — time to rest, time to sleep, time to dream. That’s the necessary other side of Getting It Done. Sheesh. Am I slow or what? Yes, I’m slow. I really am. But they are patient and will try to help me, even at my most daft. I’m so grateful.

© Copyright 2016 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

Dementia

rainbow-bit I want to understand my sister. I have this deeply ingrained belief that understanding leads to being able to help. BUT!

Without a medical miracle this wish will never come true. Dementia is cruel that way. Understanding depends on things having a reason, but dementia reduces everything to fragments, disconnected from any reason, free-floating in a destroyed brain.

“I don’t know why all these bats are flying around the house making such a racket!” she says.

The cats have been running up and down the hall as cats do, so I say, “Yes, the cats are quite wild just now.”

“NO!” she replies indignantly. “You’re not listening. I didn’t say cats — I said bats! Those black things that fly.”

I’ve learned to say, “O. I’m sorry I misunderstood.” That much is true at least.

About three this morning she came into my room to wake me. I was already awake, of course — the cats tell me immediately when she is up and roaming. She was amused and wanted to tell me about the man and the two little boys who had just come into her room. One of the boys was looking for a dog, but the father told him that the dog wasn’t there, and they left. She thought this was quite funny and asked, “What would I be doing with a dog? Shall I fix you your breakfast?”

(She can find the kitchen now, but as for fixing breakfast, no. She spent twenty minutes the other day trying to bring me a glass of water that she had offered to get for me. I usually say, “No, thank you.” This time I said, “Yes, please” just to see what would happen. The kitchen was ten feet from where I was sitting. She often can’t get that far before forgetting why she has gone there. It took 20 minutes of restarts before the glass of water wound up on the table beside me.)

So, when she offered to make breakfast at 3 AM, I replied, “No, thank you. How about I fix you a snack — peanut butter and banana on toast?”

“O, that would be all right,” she responded glumly. She had visions of I-don’t-know-what — and never will know. She went back to bed and was sleep before I could get the toaster going, so I left the snack on the tray beside her bed. She’ll eat it when she wakes up again in the night. She won’t know or need to know where it came from, and she won’t remember it in the morning. She might ask me why a plate is in her bed, but probably not. It may be inside the pillow case with the pillow. But the food will be gone. It is a bit like making offerings to a capricious god — they are almost always taken, but one is never sure by whom or what.

Our days and our nights have little consistency. Her viewpoint is chaotic, without order, most things forgotten very rapidly and things remembered that never happened. But it’s quite remarkable how much chaos can be created in a house by one elderly, exceedingly slow-moving woman, unsteady on her feet, who cannot remember where she was going or why or what she picked up along the way nor where she put it down.

I yearn for order, for reason, for understanding, for a way to make things better — for her and for me. Even for the cats who are bewildered by her and wary of her slow fumbling traverses of the house. They watch her with perplexed and concerned eyes. So do I. I want to understand her, but it isn’t going to happen. It’s like living with a natural force — a storm, a tidal wave, a fire. Things don’t have to have any reason why — at least not a reason within the scale of human comprehension.

For me this is an intensive spiritual exercise. Perhaps someday I’ll be grateful for having had it. I try to be grateful now.

rainbow-bit

Within Stone (or The Altitude of Wu Wei)

My good friend, Nancy Hendrickson of TarotExplorer.com, strongly recommended that I go on an inner journey. Specifically, she suggested that I go to the heart of a stone and there talk to the Hierophant of the tarot and ask him about what the stones are trying to teach me just now — because clearly they are trying to teach me something.

The stone whose heart I’m going into was given to me by a good friend, Jerry George. It came all the way from the high land of Tibet to live with me. He had found several of these small, smooth, pieces of jade and had been surprised to find those particular stones in that place — he knows his geology and they would not have been expected to be there. Where had they come from? How did they get there? No one knew. He brought them all the way back, and for thirty years now he has carried one in his pocket. I carried mine in my pocket or in my purse. (Why do so many women’s clothes not have useful pockets?) Then a terrible thing happened — I lost it. It must be somewhere in my house, but I cannot find it. I feel bereft and ashamed, guilty of being careless of its well-being and special value — unless it ran away, which is also possible.

But tonight I realized that of course I still carry this precious stone in my heart along with many other stones — the standing stones of Calanais, the stones of the blessing cairn here at home, my outdoor altar at home, the cairn on Dun I on the Isle of Iona, Castlerigg stone circle, the huge lump of white quartz that I brought home in Scotland and eventually had to leave behind because the movers refused to try to lift it, and so many others, large and small. I can only begin to acknowledge them all. They live in my heart and sometimes I feel them murmuring in tones too deep, too slow to hear. Trees and other beings live there too, but tonight it is the stones who wish to speak, especially the small Tibetan stone that I have mislaid but that is still with me.

So I begin this journey within at the gate to my own heart. At this moment, it is a small wooden gate with hinges that squeek their own song, swinging loose in the wind. It opens itself for me, and I freely pass through.

The path to the stone is grassy — greenly aromatic, gentle underfoot. The stars in the dark sky above are shining brightly. A soft breeze lazily plays with my hair. Ahead in the darkness the stone rests on the ground. Although the stone I was given is quite small, here it is its true size, as big as a house. In front of me there is a door, the door to the heart of the stone. The door is small, just big enough for me to enter. All around its frame rune-like symbols are carved. The door swings itself open for me, and as I enter in, I see that it is someone’s home. A bright fire burns on the hearth. On either side of the fire, turned so they both face each other and the fire, are two comfortable armchairs. I sit in the one on the left, and as I do, I remember that the dark column is on the left side of the High Priestess tarot card, so I am sitting in the yin, receiving place.

Faint shadows move in the other chair in the flickering light of the fire, and gradually the hierophant becomes visible. He is dressed like the pope, but in a shimmering cloth that seems to be all colors at once, even white, even black. I am distracted, fascinated by that cloth for a while and when I come back to the present moment, I see that the shadows have solidified, become someone visibly real. It is the hierophant. He grins at me, almost mischievously, as if inviting me to enjoy his neat arrival trick. Without moving, he is here, as if he had always been solidly and really here.

I rub my nose and apologize for having entered uninvited. He both acknowledges and dismisses my apology with a casual wave of his hand. “The first pope,” he elucidates didactically, “was Peter — and as you may recall “peter” comes from petra and means rock. He was the foundation rock of the church. I am not that pope, but I am the foundation, the true rock of the earth. Now, why are you here?”

I’m not sure of the answer — is “I was told to come” a true answer? My mind is a blank. Is this going to be one of those journeys? The ones that go nowhere? I think of leaving and coming back later, but know that only rarely do I come back to the same place again after leaving it. Catch the moment or let it go… which? I feel more like a butterfly than a rock — and how do butterflies communicate with rocks?

I rise from my chair and sit on the floor at this honored teacher’s feet.

“On these journeys of yours,” he prompts me, “you usually ask, what do I, the guide, need from you — remember?”.

I nod. I’ve only been making these intentional spirit journeys for a little under 50 years in this life — you’d think that by now I’d remember how to get back on track when I get lost. Why do I feel so confused?

Ummm. Because I’m not grounded. Here I am, sitting inside a rock, talking to Rock, sitting on the stone floor, and I am not grounded. I try to “sit like a mountain” as I do when I meditate. Not working — I’m still fluttering. How about sitting like a tree, roots running deep, leaves moving in the breeze?

My spirit self stubbornly persists in randomly floating like a butterfly. Why?

The hierophant’s intense dark eyes pin me in place, my invisible, intangible wings still fluttering. To him, to All Stone, I am like a butterfly — light, floaty, ephemeral. As permanent as a mayfly. It dawns on me that I can be nothing else! To the deep stone, I am impermanent, even evanescent. Fizzy me. I stop trying to be grounded like a stone and instead rise gently in the air. The stone I feel most like is a reverse meteor rising slowly up through the air, slipping free of gravity, burning in my moment of bright insight.

I have spent all of these years trying to be grounded. What am I, what will I be if I let myself go free — ephemeral, short-lived, momentary… floating? This is so relaxing. There is no effort in floating. Being a grounded, practical doer is so effortful… and exhausting. I remember with a feeling of d’oh! that I learned once before, long ago, how relaxing and healing it was to just float, just be free, be diffuse and unfocused. I even made a “meditation technique” of it and taught it to others. (At the right time in the right circumstances, this is a valuable skill  — but it is not a substitute for meditation or being well earthed in the right circumstances for that.)

At this realization, the rigid Stone around me melts and becomes Tree, branches waving in the breeze, roots reaching into Earthmama. Yet, though I may sit like a tree to meditate — usually — I am not a tree, not rooted. Mobile. Bouncy sometimes. Sometimes I flop down on Earthmama, my heart energy connected with her, sometimes I float on her waters or sit in the branches of trees, drifting.

Looking for my right place between the states of stone and vapor, I find my own specific gravity, the place where I am at home — the place of perfect balance, effortless, free, not holding, not releasing, just being. Sensing, noticing that this point changes moment by moment, like the balance of a surfer on a wave. The surfer, too, is in a medium where he neither sinks nor rises above — his natural place is on the boundary between. He bobs with the waves and with his own breath, a complex single movement flowing from many natural forces.

I have earth within me, solid bone, flesh, and bonded blood, and I have air and spirit within me, boundless. There is bright fire and flowing water too. All of the elements are part of me. My natural place is to be just as earthed as I need to be to do what I need to do at this moment. That’s it. That’s all.

Yet at other times I may need to soar freely to listen — to catch the messages that waft between the stars. Or at other present moments it may be time to be between the ebb and the flow to rest in my own specific gravity place — to rest, to restore, to recover, to recuperate, to regenerate, to re-create. Note that word STILL. Being connected to the universe, to stone beneath and stars above, is important. But it is equally important to allow Self to just BE, to rest, silent, not rigidly straight, not effortfully rising, but a living stillness that is in constant motion floating on the waves of the breath of the universe, letting my own breath be what it is and find its own harmony.

Tension is about holding an unnatural, inappropriate, or unskillful way of being. We know it is unnatural and unskillful because it requires tension to hold us there — how simple is that? Relaxation is about consciously letting go of that tension by focus and attention (“at tension” — isn’t that sneaky?) Both are doing. Peace is the place between, the point where nothing is needed, no action at all.

Wu wei.

Good God/dess, how could I have forgotten that?

Everything around me dissolves, becomes esse, being, even the man who is Stone. Nothing is left but a smile that isn’t even there.

Winter Solstice

This is an excerpt from Marzipan’s Adventures, a series of books currently being written about some chat sith dos (tufted faery cats) who live on a world halfway between the Outer Hebrides of Scotland and Tir n’an Og of Faery. This is close to the end of the second book. (No, the first one isn’t finished yet, but these things do happen when you’re doing things with either cats or faeries, and this is about both.) You may wish to know that A’ Ghrian is The Sun in English, and here it means more than just a ball of fire in the sky — it is also the spirit of the sun, a divine being. I plan to add at least one photo to this after the initial posting so check back later for the picture. I hope you enjoy this excerpt from the story, written during the most recent solstice, step by step.

by Jessica & Marzipan Macbeth

Solstice Eve

Solstice evening came early, the longest night of the year. It was cold — colder than Marzipan could ever remember. All of the villagers, all of the people from Hill House, all of the wild chattan sith dos, the cattle, the goats, even the chickens, the wild creatures, and birds — all of them stood silently on the western shore and watched A’ Ghrian falling toward the sea.

As the sun just touched the sea, Riona’s rich voice lifted in slow song — a threnody of sorrow, of deep sadness, of grief and desolation. The light, the warmth of the world was dying. Dairri’s tenor voice joined Riona’s, and soon the silver bell of Aislynn’s voice soared above them both, ringing with Ceilear’s clear soprano. Bram’s bass tones were so deep that Marzipan felt as if it vibrated in her bones. One by one, all of the others joined in, even the animals and the birds, and their voices echoed off the hills. Only Mama Isa and Gran’ma Cait were silent — but their tears were their own songs.

Marzipan felt as if something within her was breaking. She held out her arms to A’ Ghrian as she had done every morning of the year past, but this time was not to help him up, but to gently ease his going. She too sang softly, her small voice breaking, almost unheard in the many-voiced threnody, the song of farewell, of morning.  She sang of all their mornings together, of how his warmth touched her and helped her grow strong, of how generous he was with all his blessings and warmth and light through the year, of how he illumined mind and spirit as well as the world. She sang about the plants in her little garden, who loved him as she did. She sang gratitude and love that pulled at her heart as A’ Ghrian disappeared into the sea for the last time.

He would not return.

The song changed, became A’ Ghrian’s coronach, proclaiming his death, and gradually his requiem — remembering him, remembering the glory he brought in the spring, remembering the richness and abundance of summer, remembering the melancholy beauty of autumn, and the dying of the year… and now his death in the cold sea.

As the shadows deepened into night, all of the folk turned and walked with darkened eyes as the cold stars came out above them, hard and bright. They walked south, then up and across Two Bridges Road, and up the snow-covered Green Road, still singing the slow, heavy song of grief and memory. It was a long, sad walk and some of the smaller creatures needed to be carried part of the way. Sometimes one voice would ring plangently over the rest, poignant and filled with pain, and other times all would harmonize together, swelling and soaring and fading… but never quite silent.

When they reached the top of the tor, still softly singing, the Lady Riona and Lord Dairri paused at the entrance to the old stone circle, more ancient than the world itself. They stood to each side and waited until Gran’ma stepped through and went to the altar stone. She turned and lifted her hands in welcome to everyone. Next Riona and Dairri entered and they also bade welcome to the rest. In ones or twos the others followed and then they all sat on the frosty grass, except for Gran’ma who turned back to the altar fire. There wasn’t quite room for everyone in the small stone circle and some of the wilder creatures were shy about being so close to others. They huddled together just outside and looked in. Marzipan could see the light of the altar fire flickering in their eyes between the stones, and she could see the same light on Gran’ma’s face and in that glow saw how Gran’ma sometimes looked incredibly old and other times very young — and all of the ages in between.

The song continued, sometimes in one voice, sometimes in several, almost like a conversation, the stories and the memories of the year. Marzipan knew the song in her own heart and how it blended with the rest. She wanted to sit in Herself’s lap, cuddled close, but at the same time she knew this was a time for being alone and lonely in the darkest, coldest night, so she pulled her shawl around her and fluffed her fur underneath it. She was still cold — there was an inner coldness as well as an outer one that she felt as she murmured her song of farewell to her beloved friend, A’ Ghrian, who had warmly blessed her every morning, every day for most of her life.

Just before midnight, the song slowly died. The fire on the altar, which had been flickering lower and lower, went out in a puff of smoke. The wind’s whisper among the trees hushed. For a timeless moment Marzipan felt as if her heart had stopped. Stonemother’s little world was wrapped in deep silence. It seemed like a long forever time in the nadir of the night.

It might have been silent forever had there been no one there to open their hearts, but out of the darkness, Riona’s voice rose again — softly, gently, and this time in a hesitant hymn of hope. Dairri’s voice joined hers, interwoven in counterpoint, voices entwined, rising up to the scintillating stars. Other voices rang in, and it was as if the voices were dancing. The swirl and whirl of the interwoven songs, all coming out of the deep darkness, enchanted Marzipan, both made her breathless and brought her more deeply into the song. Every one sang their own hopes and dreams and wishes, no two the same, and yet they were heart and soul in harmony.

Marzipan hummed in her own purr, thinking of her own dreams. Obviously, she wished all of them joy and her own self as well. Good health to the people and the land, gladness and prosperity to all… but anyone would wish that. What did she wish? What path did she want to walk? What did she want to become?

She didn’t know. Marzipan had reached that strange age where no one quite knows what you’re going to do next, least of all yourself, and at that moment she didn’t know what she wanted, didn’t know what to do. She finally realized that going in circles in her mind wouldn’t get her anywhere, and remembering her lessons, she let her mind grow still and sink deeper and deeper into the song.

Solstice Morn

For just that deeply still moment she could hear the Oran Mor, the Great Song of Stonemother, of the stars, of everything that is — and she remembered. She remembered promising Stonemother that she would try to be the very best she could be — she might not yet know just how or what particular thing that might be, but she knew that was it  — to find the path to her very best. And for that, she would need help — the blessing of A’ Ghrian, of Stonemother, of all of the beings around her — the songs of all of them were a part of her song — and her song a part of theirs. She could feel that wish, that profound desire within her, trying to burst out in a joyous carol, to soar up to the stars and delve deep into the heart of the world. She felt as if something were swelling within her, as if she were a small balloon about to explode.

She stood up, quivering, and far too full to speak. Suddenly she leapt upon the altar where she danced the song she felt. There were no words — just her dance, and as she danced, the fire on the altar re-kindled in a burst of light. She danced in the light, like a living flame. She danced to the song the others sang, and the dance itself was her own heartsong. It felt like she danced forever.

The sky began to faintly lighten in the east, over the sea. She could feel the small presence of the new A’ Ghrian becoming stronger, becoming closer, becoming Himself, the blessing of light and warmth and growth.

Father Eagle soared over them, shouting, “He is coming! Now! He comes!

Somehow, instinctively and without thinking about how she was doing it, Marzipan wove all of the heartsongs together in her dance and entwined them with the light of the altar fire, which was the heartsong of Stonemother, and with the gentle glow in the east. Placing her feet firmly on the altar and stretching out her arms, she lifted A’ Ghrian above the horizon. It was the èirigh na grèine, the rising on the sun. He was born. He lived. He illumined Stonemother’s small world.

And Marzipan held him in her paws as she would hold a babe, a kitten, cherishing him, his tiny and fragile and newborn self.

She could feel her friends beside and behind her. She felt their eyes glowing with the new light within them, and all of them had reached as she did, lifting, holding, loving the baby A’ Ghrian — and all of them were filled with his joyous light. The song rose to a crescendo and ended on a single heartbeat — and yet it went on echoing in the hills, between the trees. Marzipan knew that it would echo there all year, shaping the dance of life in the isles.

Gran’ma stretched out her arms and Marzipan jumped into them, and threw her arms around Gran’ma’s neck and hugged her as close as she could. Riona touched her gently, and Marzipan turned and hugged her. Mama Isa watched, smiling through her drying tears, and Marzipan went into her arms and was gently hugged, then handed on to Ceilear, her very own Herself, and she nestled into her arms — safely home, secure, and almost thinking about breakfast.

Solstice Day

Slowly, smiling, each one left the circle, Dairri and Riona first through the gate, where they stopped on each side, blessing each of their folk as they came out. New sun, new day, new year, new life. Gram’ma Cait was the last out, Mama Isa holding her arm, lending strength. It was a long walk home, north on the white snow of the Green Road, westerly down to the bridge and across to the village. Marzipan got to walk part of the way with Aislynn, who was back from visiting Old Earth, and her chat sith dos, Megan, who was new to the isles. She had heard that they would be home and this would be Megan’s first Solstice on the isles.

Megan seemed a little bewildered — she had never seen so many of her people before. Most of the chattan had gone home from the tor to their own places, but Marzipan introduced her to Jake and Granny Catriona who both welcomed her, but Megan seemed very shy and hid her face in Aislynn’s skirts as she mumbled “hello”. Marzipan tried to be friendly, and was sorry when Dairri and Riona turned off for the Hill House and took Aislynn and Megan with them. She had a lot of questions about Old Earth that she would like to ask Megan. But that was all right — she’d see her later at the feast. Aislynn and Megan had come home and would be here all winter.

As they went through the village, all of the purrsons stopped at their own places except Mama Isa and Papa Davie, who had their vardo just beyond Ceilear and Marzipan’s house. They were going to have breakfast together. While Ceilear and Isa lit a new fire in the old kitchen hearth to begin breakfast and Papa Davie lit the fire in the sitting room, Marzipan went outside to visit her garden. Most of the plants were bedded down for the winter in straw, but she lifted up their straw caps so they could see the new sunlight and she told them about the death of the sun and the long night and then the birth of the new sun and the spring and summer that was coming. They seemed excited about the springtime. Then she carefully tucked them back in, and went in to have breakfast and a good nap.

Marzipan knew that later in the afternoon all of the villagers and the wild chattan sith dos and some of the others would gather in the village hall. The chickens and squirrels certainly would come too — they always came to parties for the crumbs and the singing. So did the wild birds — even the owls. The goats liked to come as well, though there were extra-delicious things in the barn for them and the cows and sheep. Goats liked to be in the middle of things.

There would be music and dancing and feasting. There would be presents, handmade gifts to each other. There would be laughter. And over all of it, there would be the warm blessing of the newborn A’ Ghrian. Marzipan thought, “He’s a little baby — he’ll go to sleep early tonight. I must be there to help tuck him in. We’ll all want to go to sleep early tonight!”