RRivers logoTeachings of Earth: All things must die; yet death is not the end.

Earth shows us the complex cycles of life and death. All aspects of nature, even those that seem most enduring, will eventually leave their current form. They will die, break down, transform. The more we observe nature, the more that we understand that every death feeds into the cycle of life – that energy itself does not die, merely transform. The horror of the rotting corpse feeds the world and nurtures new life. The leaves fall as they must for the trees to survive the winter, to feed the ground, and to make way for the new blossom of spring. The very planets of our universe are born and will die. There are many little deaths within our own life. Moments when relationships, behaviours, beliefs, knowledge, even things we held as truth must die. As it is natural for humans facing physical mortality, we often resist the death of these aspects and grieve their loss. When we face these inner deaths, especially those of deeply held beliefs, it helps to look to nature and understand that the death we resist may actually nurture new life within us, it may in fact be necessary for us to continue along our cycle of magical, emotional or spiritual development. To grieve is a part of the process and may actually be very enlightening, for grief is the twin of love, pain the twin of pleasure. Understanding why we resist the death of that which no longer serves us, why we grieve it’s loss, why we feel pain to let something go, may actually tell us why we held on to the belief, relationship or behaviour so tightly to begin with. Release what you must, watch the parts of yourself that are unhealthy die a slow death, and do so with grace and understanding. These aspects will transform in time, becoming fertile soil for the new seeds you plant.

 

Romany Rivers (c)2014

This article is a copyrighted extract from my upcoming book: The Inner Alchemy of Witchcraft by Romany Rivers

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Autumn arrives

As my son cries

And places fallen leaf upon my outstretched fingertips

Fix the tree he pleads

The leaf

It fell over

Fix the tree

If only it were so simple

To kiss it better

To hug away the hurt

To ease the seasons sorrow

I wonder if his heart will break a little

With every red gold shiver

With every bitter breeze

With every leaf crunching underfoot

The tree is broken in his mind

How does one explain

The time and tides

The ebb and flow

The come and go

To brimming tear filled brown eyes?

Is it too hard a truth to learn so young

That some things cannot be undone?

I cannot fix the tree for him

And reality upon me dawns

Just as the time has come for leaves to change

The mighty Mama also falls

No longer magic touch

Healing all with simple love

There are things in life beyond a Mamas reach

She cannot even fix the tree

(c)2013 Romany Rivers

Blessings of the Autumn Equinox to you all! May the turning of the seasons bring you peace and bountiful harvests. Look out for the story behind this poem in the upcoming community book ‘Pagan Planet’ due for publication soon!

hearth altarWhen I was young, my little sister died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. There was less understanding back then, and even at my age I heard the whispers in the village. I saw my parents friends remove themselves from our lives, people talking about our family in hushed tones, my step-mother sat almost catatonic on the sofa staring out the window, my little brother confusing my baby dolls with our deceased sister. I stood by my sisters graveside, watching this tiny coffin lowered into the earth, and I felt angry that this big, sweaty priest who knew nothing about our family and yet dared to speak of my baby sister and our family grief. Through all this, I felt my sisters spirit still in the house. I was aware of her presence in ways that other family members were not and it confused everyone. I did not display the same grief as others, because for me a part of her was still with us and that gave me comfort. I felt isolated in my understanding that death was not the end. I felt confused and sad for the loss of my sister and the pain her death brought to our family. I felt comforted and relieved to know there was something more than flesh and bone. In grief and a desire for understanding, I looked for God. I wanted answers. I found no comfort or answers in the Christianity I was brought up around, so I started to explore alternative belief systems. By the time I was a teen, I was fully immersed in the exploration of Paganism, Buddhism, Taoism, Witchcraft, and techniques of awareness and spiritual development. Later I studied psychology, I travelled the world, I read voraciously and I talked to some fascinating people. Slowly I developed my own practice and personal spirituality that honoured my understanding of death and dying.

In my twenties, after a rather shocking spiritual experience, I dedicated myself to studying Wicca and Witchcraft. I developed a deeper understanding of magic and transformation, and I truly transformed my personal life. During my practice I would call upon the Lord and Lady, I would connect with the Masculine and Feminine Divine and the spectrum in between, and I could sense the power and presence of the Divine – yet I did not connect with specific deities. In fact I rather enjoyed discussing the reality of distinct and different Gods, or all Gods as one God, or Gods as archetypes, or Gods as entities, or Gods as universal energy. I talked and listened, and in private I formed no conclusions but continued to work with the very abstract concept of Divinity from an energy spectrum perspective. I was happy enough working with my abstract philosophy. That is until a Goddess spoke to me. Read the rest of this entry »

triple-goddessSeveral times in the last few months I have come across individuals in several communities who are looking to create Red Tents, and I have seen an incredible backlash against the idea. In our ever expanding and diverse Pagan communities there appears to be a pendulum swing between private and exclusive, and public and inclusive. I think there is some confusion about what it means for others to host a restricted event – restricted does not mean rejected. Refusing to cater to one segment of society because it clashes with caring for another segment of society, does not mean that we are disrespected or rejected, it means that we are all respecting and accepting the differences between us. By celebrating the diversity of the human species and creating a safe space for certain groups of people to discuss specific issues and ideas unique to their form, we are not excluding others in a harmful fashion. We all need to understand how to accept, respect and celebrate the differences between us as well as the similarities. We can all learn to enjoy quality time together, and quality time apart. Read the rest of this entry »

WorkThe truth holds a power of its own. It is the power to challenge, to change, to start new paths and spark new ideas. Speaking the truth can be painful, powerful, liberating or damaging, but truth held within has its own way of working itself from bonds and flying free when least expected. Truth is a three edged blade, and getting to the point can pierce a heart. Truth is a salve for festering wounds, exposing pain to the light of day and easing concealed suffering. Truth has the power to burn or to cauterize, to hurt or to heal. Truth reveals that which is hidden, for better or worse. Truth transforms us.

The power of the Witch is the power of personal truth. We stand on the thresholds of the worlds and explore the landscapes through our own understanding. We converse with Gods, with Angels, with Demons, with Spirits, with the Beloved Dead, and we walk away with truth upon our tongues and hearts. We take on the truth of Mother Nature, of the restless ocean, of the Sun and Moon. We accept the truth of magic, even whilst we still learn the techniques and process of manifesting magic every day. We accept the truth of seasons and cycles, of honor and hospitality, of differences and similarities. We face the truths hidden deep within our personal shadows, stepping into the darkness and dragging them into the light. We face beautiful truths and ugly truths, and truths that parts of us wish we had never seen. We learn the truths of personal power and personal responsibility, shared truth and shared responsibility. We learn that my truth is not always your truth.

The Witch does not shy from the painful truth, for there is always transformational power within the pain. We cannot heal that which we cannot see is damaged. And truth be told, we need to speak our truth even when our voice shakes… for the truth really does set us free.

 

PBP2014

This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project 2014

fall.jpgEarth turns. Sun rises and sets. Wind blows, leaves scatter, seeds are sown. Thunder cracks, light splits the sky, fire burns bright in the darkness. Rain lashes my skin, clouds obscure my vision. I witness the birth and death of life around me, ever cyclical. I reach out to the elements and wash myself clean, and listen to the whispers of the wind. The world tells me tales of love and loss, of journeys taken, trials endured, planting and harvesting. The water reflects the world back at me until everything I see outside of me becomes the story of my soul. Read the rest of this entry »

helping-handMy heart goes out to the loved ones of Robin Williams, and to all those touched by his life and death. His suicide has opened a wave of discussion about the impact of depression and what it means to live, and love, and be within the shadow of sadness. This has hit me hard, not least because I know what it is like to smile through sadness, to live with depression and to face suicide. Mr. Williams brought laughter to so many, lifted the hearts of others so often, and yet he lived with a shadow that many of us endure and never speak about. Now people are talking. Everywhere I go I hear people talking about it. The internet is full of people talking about it. Talk is great, we need an open discussion about mental health and its impact, yes we do. But talk is also a trigger, and these last couple of days have forced me to poke old wounds, bringing memories to the surface. Read the rest of this entry »

RIMG0269“And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye are really free, ye shall be naked in your rites; and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in my praise.” – Doreen Valiente

Wicca is not alone in extolling the virtues and benefits of ritual nudity, but it is possibly the most thought of path when we envision naked spirituality. For many, stepping out of our clothing and stepping into sacred space as naked as we were born is a form of rebirthing ourselves into the sacredness of our lives over and over again. But let’s not be naive, nudity may relieve us of our clothing and still add layers to our psyche. Nudity can furnish us with challenges from body issues and self-consciousness, or gender, sexuality and identity concerns, to reliving the trauma of assault and rape. To be naked in ritual is to be vulnerable and exposed, and for some people this does not make a sacred space – in fact it may not even make a safe space. The act of letting go of our clothes, stripping away our perceived identity, dropping the roles we take on in daily life and simply being in our skin can be a powerful tool of transformation and growth; but it is only a tool. When used carefully and with compassion it can be the skilled tool of the surgeon, exposing our issues one layer at a time, stripping us down to truth and bone and blessing; when used with expectation and dogma it can be the blunt hammer upon anvil, creating change through force. Read the rest of this entry »

RRivers logoAt some point on our journey we have all been the neophyte, the newbie, the wide eyed seeker. As children or adults we have come to our paths with tentative footsteps or joyful bounds, absorbing all the wonders we experience, discovering secrets of our Gods, our world, and ourselves. Over time and through experience, those who have walked the path with purpose and passion become known as the Priests, Priestesses, Shamans, Magicians, Teachers and Elders of our communities. However, here lies the paradox: An adept is never not a neophyte. No matter how skilled, how experienced or how knowledgeable a person is in their chosen area of expertise, there is ALWAYS something new to learn. Read the rest of this entry »

I am very excited to announce the release date of my next book The Woven Word: A Book of Invocations and Inspirations, coming out in hardcopy and ebook on the 31st of October 2014. That is right folks, a happy Halloween release!

The Woven Word Full Cover

This is a pagan tome of poetry and prose designed for rituals, festivals and celebrations. Working with deities, Romany has chronicled invocations and evocations for many Gods and Goddesses, and created clear and crafty quarter calls, circle castings, celebratory prose and meditations. Ritual is broken into its component parts allowing for easy reference and personal adaptation, and the additional correspondences information benefits the creation of unique rituals and celebrations. Created for use by both solitary practitioners and covens, sample rituals are also provided for seasonal celebrations and life events.
Romany’s personal experiences as a High Priestess give this book an enlightened view of the use of poetry in ritual, whilst her skills in classes, courses and workshops create a solid, practical foundation. Pagans, Priests and Priestesses, initiates new to the Craft, RE teachers and students, and anyone who loves Romany’s poetry will thoroughly enjoy this latest work.

“A fascinating book celebrating and utilising the power of the word both spoken and written with all areas of the Craft, including beautiful prose, blessings, meditations, visualisations and invocations. A great reference for how to use words for the greatest benefit.” – Rachel Patterson, author of Kitchen Witchcraft and Moon Magic Read the rest of this entry »