Officially we are now in the winter season. I have noticed how the trees stand proud against the skyline with their bare branches. I see my hedge getting much thinner with large spaces so I can see through into the garden of my neighbour. The birds are still there but keep hopping out to feed on the conveniently placed feeder. I love the days when the sky is clear and the sun is shining. There is something special about the winter sky and the landscape around us.
But winter also has a special meaning for me It is the time when I take stock of what the year has brought me and look at how I have dealt with it. There has been a lot of sadness and grief this year and that has been hard to deal with but getting out occasionally amongst the trees has helped enormously. I have also looked at what I have achieved or not achieved as might be the case with some things. Are there lessons to be learned from this and can I do better next year. I find the winter months with the shorter days gives me more time to contemplate what has gone and what is to come in the future. I can do the stuff that I have put on one side while I have been enjoying the summer times. I can unpack the boxes still left to do since I moved earlier in the year. Maybe I will find the items I have spent hours looking for but still not found!
I also stock up on food just in case I cannot get out. I am old enough to remember the years of heavy snowfall when nothing stirred so make sure I will be OK if anything like a heavy snowfall arrives and stays with us. But most of all I am looking forward to the Winter Solstice, now in less than three weeks time, when the light returns and the hours of daylight start to lengthen. I have lots of new things I want to try next year so I shall start planning them now, making sure I will have everything I need to do these things.
So a time for contemplation, planning and enjoyment is what winter brings to me.
It is that time of the year when I start to gather together food for my larder and freezer so that if and when the weather gets too difficult for me to go out, I have food to eat. But it is harvest time and many others are out collecting the fruits of nature. I saw a woman collecting blackberries the other day. So far I bought some Victoria plums which I really like and turned them into jam. It is a good start but I need to check what is in my cupboards and see what I need to buy.
It is not just food that needs to be collected and stored. There are all the other household items for laundry and cleaning and the essential toilet paper! Over the last few years there have not really been any hard winters here but if it is icy then going out is a no-no. So being prepared is good.
I do like this time of the year as the leaves change colour on the trees and gradually fall to the ground. When out last week, there were elderberries ready to collect but remembering to leave some for the birds. There were cones ripening on trees and lots of beech nuts lying around. I feel it is important to recognise these gifts of nature, take a few for yourself but leave plenty for others. I hope to get out this coming week to take more photos and to enjoy the autumn colours but this may not happen as my arthritis has flared up again especially in my spine which makes lots of walking difficult. But I will go out even if not very far. I have lots of trees at the end of my road and they are slowly changing colour.
How do you experience Autumn and do you store things for the winter?
‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me’ is a well known saying but unfortunately not true as many well know. Words can hurt as they affect our emotional state and it is easy to let teasing words or words said in anger affect us. I know people who tease and keep teasing until the teasing becomes abusive. Some people do not know when to stop or when the person on the receiving end has had enough. And people often say things in anger that they don’t really mean but these can be hurtful all the same.
This ‘over the top’ teasing has happened to me recently, twice in fact. The first time the teasing definitely got out of control and became abusive then suddenly stopped possibly because someone else stepped in and complained. A week or so later more teasing from someone else but about the same occasion in my life and again, someone who did not know when to stop. It is easy to say keep away from these people but when they are part of a group that you are with it can be difficult. So what do you do?
Well, this is where the element of water comes in. Water is cleansing so a shower is good but with the intention that it washes away the negativity caused by the teasing. I also like to meditate using water sounds as a background and letting them soothe me and wash away all the bad stuff. I used to love sitting by a river or the sea and doing the same thing. Water not only cleanses but it refreshes and re-energises so that you are ready for another day. Smudging the aura with sage can also help. Do you know of other methods that you can use to heal the affect of abusive or excessive teasing?
On another note, this morning, the sun shone on the tree tops and chimneys but not on the ground. I loved it and tried to capture it so here it is.
A couple of weeks ago I read a book (Zen Druidry by Joanna VanderHoeven) which resonated very strongly with me. So much so that I wrote the following poem;
Be mindful, I hear you say;
Be mindful throughout the day.
Mindful of what I eat,
Mindful of what I wear,
Mindful of what I do,
Mindful of what I say,
Mindful of what I feel,
Mindful of what I sense,
Mindful of what I think,
Mindful throughout the day.
Mindfulness brings its own rewards
Of peace, of balance and harmony.
Be mindful throughout the day.
During and after a Beltane meditation, the difference between needing and wanting came up. If you don’t have a lot of money then the question of do you need something or do you just want something can often cause quite a lot of argument between people.
In today’s world we all seem to want everything that is available for us to buy and many people get into debt because they feel they have to have what they want. As I’ve grown older and delved deeper into my spiritual side, I now find the decision of needing something much easier to deal with. But for many this kind of decision is much harder. Of course, the wanting or needing something can apply to jobs, holidays and other things such as relationships as well as the purchase of material goods.
There are other ways of looking at this kind of choice but you have to be honest with yourself. You can look at the ethical side of the holiday or goods that you buy. Do you really need whatever it is? Why do you need it? Is it a good buy or the kind of bargain that falls apart after a few weeks?
I was brought up with parents who believed that you bought nothing until you had saved enough money to buy it. The only exclusion to this was the mortgage on the house. There was always enough food despite the post-war rationing and my mother made my clothes as well as her own. My father grew vegetables in the garden and enjoyed walking in the local parks. We had no TV so there were no adverts to try to persuade us to buy things we did not need or even want. There is so much pressure today to buy things we don’t need, to take holidays abroad and to do things we don’t really want to do.
Does your respect for others and our natural world influence what you buy and how do you choose whether it is a need or a want? Does your spiritual path influence this as well?
I’d love to hear your ideas on this theme. This mornings photo is of the trees at the back of my garden just coming into leaf. They give me hope for the changes in the world that I would like to see.
When I first moved into this house, the small garden was rather overgrown. After some severe weeding and pruning I found a buddleia hidden away. Pruning back other shrubs gave this wonderful bush room to grow and breathe. Butterflies love this bush and it is often called the Butterfly Bush. My son was here last weekend and was busy using my camera to take photos of the butterflies on the buddleia. They are so wonderful to watch, to spend time in contemplation, seeing how they collect nectar from the flowers. Nature never ceases to amaze me and I wish that all of us could see the magnificence of it all.
Butterflies are about transformation and this is what is happening to our world today. There are many changes afoot and many more to come so we must be like the butterfly, ready to change, to transform ourselves into something better, more caring and more aware of all around us. What do you see when you sit and contemplate on this photo of the butterfly?
I was lucky enough to have another trip out to Launde Abbey this week, having lunch with my local WI members. It was a beautiful day for once and I was able to take advantage of the weather after lunch. The spiral I had found in the woods was now finished and had become a labyrinth with a couple of very sharp turns. One of these passed around a holly tree which had drooping branches. There was a notice at the entrance explaining the purpose of the labyrinth and in the centre was a bowl of stones with a notice asking you to take a stone to represent something you wanted to give away. You were to take the stone home with you then dispose of it perhaps by burying it or putting it in a river. Then you would have given away the thing that you had wanted to give away. Launde Abbey community is a Christian community so I found this labyrinth very refreshing to see.
For me personally I enjoy walking the labyrinth and finding the silence that comes with this. It is an amazing place to be and the whole area has lovely energy which both refreshes, calms and brings creativity and peace. Here is another photo of the centre of the labyrinth.
My visit to Launde Abbey last week left me with a very refreshing feeling. I managed with my crutch to negotiate the woodland paths and came upon an almost completed stone spiral with a pathway to walk around it. It was surrounded by shrubs and trees and I really enjoyed walking it. Walking spirals and labyrinths are very spiritual experiences if walked in the right state of mind and in silence. The centre is where you find the quiet within you. Any kind of walk like this replenishes the spirit as well as the body. I am looking forward to my next visit.
I have been very busy this year, far busier than normal and I was told many times to rest more. Now Spirit has taken a hand in this and I have my foot and leg in plaster because of an inflamed tendon. So an enforced rest!
Looking through some old photos for inspiration for my poetry writing and for this blog, as well as for meditation and inner work, I came across a photo taken a long time ago, 10 years or more, in some woodland in Derbyshire during a druid weekend in a youth hostel. I remember walking through the woods and by the stream and thinking what a wonderful place it was. You could feel the nature spirits and the sense of sacred land was paramount. The photo was taken with a normal 35mm camera, pre digital age then and it surprised me when it was developed and printed. I will leave you to your own interpretations of what is in the scene. But I will be meditating on what can be seen.
Before I start writing today, I’d like to thank those who took the time to post comments on my previous blog entry. They were all appreciated.
I have been looking at my collection of photos that sit on my computer and also in boxes (photos from the days before digital cameras) Several years ago I sorted all my photos into large envelopes or boxes according to their subject or theme. Many of these were put into scrapbooks which I made for each journey to another country as well as for handfastings and other special occasions. Many of these photos inspire my art work and my writing. Here is one of those that does just this. It was taken on a holiday in Brittany at a favourite spot where I could sit and meditate watching the ripples and the reflections as they changed with the flowing water. There was always a feeling of peace here.