Here are some pictures from my trip to Perthshire, Scottish Highlands this past October just before Samhain. This was a long anticipated trip, not because it haven’t been before, I have, but because I made it there on my own after talking and planning for years. I finally did it and something in me changed forever now, solidified in knowing this is it. This is the place I first came years ago and where my love affair and deep spiritual connection with the land began. The trip that I took was a journey down memory lane and my love is just as strong, if not stronger. It was an absolutely perfect end to a wonderful year where all the through I have been committed to doing things differently and have succeeded. Enjoy Scotland pics in Autumn.
As summer begins to spread her warm embrace throughout the land for me achieving a balanced state of mind becomes challenging. I begin to feel enclosed with everything blooming into thick foliage and undergrowth. As winter is a time of spaciousness and openness for me, summer is overwhelming to my senses. It makes me withdraw slowly with each day inwards, as woodlands become overgrown and noisy with life and potential. I do welcome early mornings and late evenings gladly in summer, as during that time magic is all around. It feels like an undiscovered time and space for many and energies during that time is vibrationally very different to a summer day time. I crave cool and open spaces of the northern mountains and lakes where I feel I can stretch not just my physical body and ingest the land in its majesty, but allow my mind fly high above where there are no enclosures. My walks become infrequent, if any at all, during summer unless I get up early or go out late into the fresh and fragrant air of a day anew. Summer can be a difficult time of emotional overwhelm for me just as vegetation of the land spreads its thick green coat over everything and bursts into colour and vibrant noise of wild life. I want to be still, hidden, in-doors just like it happens for many in winter. Summer demands engagement, participation and joy. It heats up the land so many would come out to play, but not me. I feel that pull strongly yet choose to remain in a position of my choice.
This year is all about new and different yet with each day I do feel the contraction of my physical and emotional into a space of hidden safety within my home and psyche. That has not changed. Previousl I would drop into a deepd depression as heat of the land rose with each day and what made it difficult is my resistance to it, my own judgement on the season of ‘too much’. What is new this year is my outlook on ‘what is’. Resistance is less and acceptance is more, which allows further self-compassion towards my way of being without having to do anything different or throwing judgement into it. It is how it is and my awareness keeps me grounded in what each season teaches me about myself. That is invaluable.
One of the most magical sights of the whole year – bluebell woods, a time when deep blue, purplish coloured flowers cover the ground of ancient woods and it is magnificent. Not only it is delightful to the eye it is reviving to all senses, as bluebell fragrance is fresh and beautiful.
The forest is very pleased with itself wearing the spirit colours of green and purple. I wish I could bottle a sense of freshness and a delicate scent that spreads in the air and on the jewelled forest floor. Birds delight in spring so much so it makes me want to open my wings up and fly towards the tops of virgin foliage. Spring fills me with such joy I can’t stop smiling and breathing in the air. If I was not to be here tomorrow this is the scene I will take with me in my memories and dreams. I am grateful for having witnessed a spring bluebell forest once again, for another year…
I went outside and was met with a cold wind on my skin and a bright sun reflected in my hair. I squinted towards the light and took in the wind’s cold embrace into my face with pleasure. I exhaled all I no longer wished to carry.
When I walk in nature I always find I begin to breathe properly, deeply, slower, more aware of each inner and outer breath. I stop, close my eyes and feel into my body, as nature surrounds me. Birds’ wild swooping above my head and a distant calling of their comrade wakes me up into my walk again. I begin slowly and steadily on my path, through some farm fields and into a wooded area. I become aware of a chant, as I carefully watch my steps and feel pressure against the earth with delight and embodied knowing. The chant becomes louder mud, sticks, stones and trees; mud, sticks, stones and trees. As I repeat the words I am completely and fully aware of where I am, who I am, what I am doing and my breath has never been more profoundly present. I close my eyes again and stand still for a minute continuing reciting the words again and again and with each in-breath I feel full of life. I also become aware of my body in a way that it carries me every day. I am grateful for my legs and feet that allow me to be in nature whenever I feel like it. A grounded walk is all I ever need to come back to myself.
It’s just passed Imbolc and the air is filled with hope and anticipation. Everything around us is waking up, yet everything is still, about to move, about to sprout, but not just yet. It is pure joy and excitement. I love early spring and begin to crave some warmth and softness of soil in my hands, as I begin to plant seeds in my garden. Every year with the arrival of copper topped trees that unveil in the landscape I see Brigit with her red hair. She is singing and calling in the birds for a dance. Young, free and beautiful she plays amidst trees in pure knowledge of her own divine force and power to bring creativity into our new spring and support us as this new cycle begins. Soon everything will explode in ecstasy of spring and with a fragrant fresh air we are reminded there will be light, warmth, harvest and bounty to be had in months to come. She stands in the middle of the woodland grove in white and green clothing cupping a white candle. She sings and bows to trees, then sits down to play a tune on her flute and writes a poem with a goose feather wand. I observe in reverence and silence and my own heart is filled with immense gratitude, peace and authentic energy of myself being here and now, in this moment and that is all there is and it is utterly beautiful. A blessing, indeed!
I love it so much it hurts. The land welcomes me this time with open arms and I feel nothing but warmth and nurture. I feel at home and I instantly recognise that familiar smell of the land, which I know well. It is raining and I am in my element of gentle water standing on a lake shore watching gentle giants mountains hugging the shore. I touch the water, it is clear and crispy cold and through my body pure joy spreads. It is a dance of recognition, which I feel a lot stronger this time round. While my husband looks nostalgic for hot weather and home, I am home. I tell him that most of my happiest memories took place either in rain or snow and I acknowledge that link and it makes sense.
Isle of Mull – lush and green with landscape showing off its mountains, valleys, lochs, forests and sea. It is such a mixture of the elements that makes it so rich. It is incredibly peaceful here like nowhere else I had felt in Scotland so far; well, perhaps, only the first time in Perthshire where my love for the land first stuck me. We are staying in the middle of nowhere and it feels so safe to me here. It feels like no one and nothing would find me here and if I was to stay I would be happy for the rest of my days. My heart begins to ache along with joy I cry inside for wanting to merge with the land forever. It hurts in my chest and with each breath I can’t seem to get enough. That feeling of safety is a new one, as previously while in Scotland I have always felt conflicted and often anxious, even scared. Not this time. Here I have come into myself somehow and the land here is so gentle in comparison with Northern Highlands or the Isle of Skye, e.g. Those places activated my shadow material and threw me into an emotional turmoil amidst some deeply spiritual experiences. The land there is fierce, wild, unforgiving and untouchable in its stunning beauty. It is majestic and independent. Here I am held, firmly and I can hear the land speaking to me. It is gentle and soothing. Vibration is of softness and it touches on places within me much lighter and happier. This reflects in our relational dynamics between the boys and me. Our trip was very different this time round like we all tapped into a gentler way of being with one another, there is less conflict and more recognition and acknowledgment of needs all around.
Standing in the garden I witness deer coming in closer grazing on lush green vegetation surrounding the house. It is a beautiful sight and they stop and stare at me in silent pause. God it is so peaceful here! Even deer is different here compared to imposing huge stags of the Highlands. These deer are gentler and smaller and devoid of antler crowns. My response to them is also strikingly different, less of knee shaking awe and worship-like way of witnessing them, it is quieter, softer and more ‘homely’ somewhat. As I lie in bed looking out of the window with views to die for I feel my heart beating with such love. It is intense and aching, as I already know how hard it will be leaving this land in a few days.
The night I felt like praying was the night before Easter Sunday 2017. We were in North Wales, Snowdonia.
I am feeling out of sorts with flare ups of anger and that moaning voice talking harshly to me and all those around me. It feels unpleasant and I find myself unable to control it coming out. This is not unfamiliar to me and I often feel at a loss when this happens. I have experienced this voice over and over again for many years and it comes as quickly as it leaves. I am yet to work through whether this is something within me that continues to manifest as unhealed or is this a past-life memory, vibration or personality trait mine or someone else’s. I might say it feels like a possession of some sort when something from within is desperate to be heard and the voice of pain, bitter disappointment and cruel criticism would not be silent. It feels slightly ‘out of body’ when I can hear and see myself yet I am unable to have any say over what happens or gets said. Post-episode I always feel deep sadness and yesterday I also felt incredible guilt. What happened and what was expressed felt wrong and hurtful and I knew it wasn’t my intention. I felt shame, wanting to atone, a deep sense of feeling sorry for those around me. It was a real genuine sense of wanting to say ‘I am sorry’. It had a mixture of love in it, deep love and compassion. I saw myself going on my knees at the edge of my bed wanting to pray, ask for forgiveness and release and the idea of God was very present. As a pagan this puzzled me but I remained opened to whatever was coming up. Pagan, of course, pray too in various ways, but this felt different to me. It was God I wanted. Something strong and new was being born in order to aid me with my troubles. I realised something within was uncontainable and I needed to be contained, held and understood. I felt confused and alone. I suggested to my husband I went to church the following day and I felt even more confused as if another part of me, the lost, loving one was seeking resolution and release of the pain caused by a cruel, angry side. I fell into mini-despair about it all and almost froze into a sleep, which was restless and broken.
The morning didn’t seem to bring much relief yet I felt stronger and more intent on understanding what was happening. It also felt joyful and light somewhat and I delighted in beautiful pictures that my parents sent me of Easter eggs and their celebratory table full of traditional food of the season. It felt warm, contained, simple and knowing. It felt like another ‘home’, my mother. The theme of Home was coming through in the mix of it all. I realised that even though I grew up in a non-religious family one holiday that was always celebrated in a traditional way was Easter. I glanced back into my past and remembered gatherings around a table full of pies and baked deliciousness with colourful eggs (real ones) prepared by my mother with the whole family partaking in a celebration I never really understood. No one ever explained its meaning or told me things I needed to do, I simply followed what others did like knocking eggs together to see whose would break first. It was like a game. We did that with each member of the family and ate a lot of eggs that day, we all loved eggs. I always felt there was something quite complete and versatile about eggs.
We decided to go to the forest for some fresh air. Magnificent old pines looked inviting bowing in their knowledge and welcome as I stepped on the path. It felt homely, fresh yet wild and still uncontained. I realised how nature can overwhelm me often and I don’t always feel safe in the space in a way I need necessarily. The idea of a church hadn’t left me still this morning. After spending a few hours wondering through the beautiful forest breathing in fresh spring air we ended up in a village and sat outside next to a church. I was drawn to it instantly and realised this Easter Sunday I must go in, I am being called into a church of a different making to stand at the altar, which is not a forest floor or the altar in my home. I went through the old door decorated in spring flowers and it hit me. I began vibrating all over with shivering sensations spreading throughout my body. I was all alone in this beautiful old church facing the altar. God is Risen! I smiled as this felt like my spirit or the spirit that I know well recognised the spirit present in this place. I knew it is one spirit, it is all the same thing, something spiritual that we all possess and know deep down and that alignment felt instantly soothing and the church felt welcoming. Another feeling I did receive was of that containment. I truly know and understand the meaning of a church being a refuge for so many, it is such a container of people’s troubles, prayers and joys. I get it. I felt contained and held, something I needed more than anything since last night. I lit a candle in honour of everyone that had passed and asked for health and happiness for all my loved ones. I walked away from it lighter, much lighter.
Altar, container, church are all various forms of sitting with the Divine whether it is one God, Goddess, Nature, Spirit or the Source, whatever it might be it is all off the same root, off the same home and it doesn’t have to have a name, face, physical form or a particular way of being. It is a feeling, an emotion, an experience. It is recognisable when it is present in the atmosphere around whether it is in a forest or in an old village church. Spirit is present everywhere and more potent in places of worship, energy is simply more concentrated, as many desires, wishes and prayers are shared in these places and potent rituals had been performed there for centuries. Places hold that vibration. It occurred to me that whatever is being called force in any given moment, following it with curiosity and an open heart can lead to discoveries not so new, perhaps, yet surprising may be. I felt in union with all and asked for peace within myself and religions around the world whether you are pagan, Christian, Muslin or Hindu. That Spirit that unites all spiritual paths has the same message of love, the same feeling of peace and sacredness whatever religious variations in how worshipping is done. It can be in a church, in a corner of your bedroom, in the sea, on the forest floor or on top of the mountain. It is all about working with energies unseen, but deeply felt and allowing it to touch us in ways that are healing and soothing. It is about asking for guidance and seeking answers when we are at a loss and knowing we are not alone. We all come from spirit and to spirit we will return just like seasons come and go, the wheel of the year keeps on turning we continue on our journey through cycles of life and today is the day of renewal, light coming back and celebrating spring.
I remain curious to exploring my connection to Easter, some Christian elements and what it all means for my spiritual path. I remain open and allowing. It is valid and important to give it space and consideration and allow experiences touch me. This year, as I go through the cycles in nature I am even more intent to explore what each season, cycle, festival mean to me and I am already beginning to see some elements, that will be included in my future, which hadn’t been considered before. I am creating my own version of the wheel of the year, if you like, and it feels exciting and very personal. I am also grateful for these spiritual experiences and new insights that happen when I am travelling away from home in lands steeped in history and stunning landscape. I love how the Land never fails to facilitate my growth.
Will I be praying again and asking for forgiveness and restoration of peace within? I am pretty sure I will. This experience felt deeply important on the night before Easter, divine timing, one might say, and the feeling afterwards was even more profound. Who will I be praying to and in what form? Will it be in the forest, my bedroom or the church, who knows, but whatever I am called I will follow. It is a fascinating journey of piecing things together, it seems. Another thing to remember, of course, is that there is a constant change, an evolution that occurs. I found nothing is completely static in a spiritual practice and that is what is wonderful about this personal journey. It is like reading a book, which offers more and more possibilities with a promise of always adding mystery and wonderment to my experience.