‘Hail and welcome!’ as we say to each of the Six Directions when calling them in, one by one, at the start of Ceremony in Circle or before a Drum Circle.
In a simple ritual moving us from the ‘everyday’ or ‘mundane’ space across the liminal space into the imaginal.
Different spiritual traditions recognise varying values and properties associated with each of the major compass bearings and the upper and lower realms ‘at right angles’ to the face of the compass.
I’ve referred before to the Five Buddha mandala, to the Druidic traditions and their modern observances, and also I have experienced, though not yet shared here, rituals in harmony with the north American first people and other indigenous groups, including north European/Asian shamanism‘
Since spring 2020 I have been working (often in the spirit of ‘play’, in its best sense) with Jason and Nicola Smalley at The Way of the Buzzard and now feel myself fully accepted and comfortable within that knowledgeable and gentle tribe of their students, many of whom feel like close friends, although I have yet to meet them in the flesh.
We have access to the ‘Library Resources’ – including the leaders’ down-to-earth and insightful Animal Spirit Guides and Tree Medicine – offered online in The Mystery School, and Jason’s very professionally produced Earthlight films.
(In case you are wondering, The Way of the Buzzard’s approach fits comfortably with my own experience and perception both of Buddhist aspirations and the core of Celtic contemplative Christianity, both of which are important in my adult faith journey and which I am feeling more confident in sharing.)
The two teachers at The Way of the Buzzard – or “classroom monitors” as they humbly describe themselves for The Mystery School – themselves came from family faith backgrounds that they found too proscriptive (as did I) and at odds with their calling. They regard what they offer as a practice toolkit, not a religious code to be followed unquestioningly.
Within this inclusive network of enquiry, compassion, and Earth-groundedness and Fiery vitality, allied with an openness to vision, emotion, spirit-wisdom, and the lessons of ancestral legacy – however you are drawn to interpret these terms – I feel connected, held, inspired, and confident in my unfolding identity, by turns.
And yes, related again (with much healing) to my family ancestry, with its human limitations and trauma, its tales of courage and devotion, and its achievements over the odds. That is to say, both my immediate family history (which I have been exploring in life-writing for over thirty years) and the wider evolution of humankind and our flawed relationship with our planet.
I’ve been relating in memory-poetry (some shared, more gestating) and my dance-movement-meditation practice, for over two decades. Increasingly finding myself coming home to my body ‘as a dwelling place for the divine’, a sentiment that has been voiced by mystics such as Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, John O’Donahue and – with different wording – by followers of the Buddha, with the notion of ‘buddha seeds‘, and in the Buddhist recognition of impermanence of all things, and the interdependence of all sentient beings on the planet.
My core Buddhist practice is of mudita – expressed in the ‘appreciation practice’ that I share freely as part of writing our way whole: at home and that I continue to follow as part of the Wildmind Buddhist meditation community online. That was where I first learned this – in 2016 – from my teacher Bodhipaksa, as a reflective shared practice.
Back to this winter, 2021-2022, where my need at this passing segment of The Wheel of the Year has been for comfort, internal resourcing, reflection on the past months, intention setting for 2022 and beyond, and a refilling of my artesian and artistic wellsprings
Starting with a Way of the Buzzard retreat called Bear Necessities in December 2021, I entered a period of quietness and chosen solitude, with minimal effort towards social contact and output.
And I am now emerging with more of my playful liveliness, as the evening light extends perceptively, and the noon sun rises higher in the sky, and the Wheel of the Year brings us towards Imbolc next weekend.
Imbolc was a celebration of the return of lactation in the pregnant ewes of the sheep flocks… a sign of hope, the breaking of the long dark winter famine.
What have you planned, I wonder, as we begin to emerge towards the year’s great Quickening?
For my part, I have been walking further afield from Brora, aware that the full night darkness doesn’t start till five now, on a bright day. I’ve been seeing tree-buds fatten, including those of my special Oak trees. I’ve been hearing Robins setting up their vesper songs again. Stirring my compost heaps; observing even here the spear-tips of daffodil shoots, the shiny leaves of Lesser Celandine.
And – as ever – meeting more kindred spirits, on the beach, in the lanes, and on the streets of this small friendly community, and beyond. Some of them human, some animal, and some in the shape of the trees, and of the landscape herself. Today meeting Gavin who with his partner is building theirhouse on sandstone above a marshy area that they’ll continue to develop as habitat for native plants and animals. So inspiring to meet such people anew, and to deepen my friendships with others.
Sending love to each of you, from Kathy Labrum McVittie (yes, incorporating my maiden name again especially for my poetry publications).
Biologist, life-writing companion & poet,
sharing nearly fifty free-to-use presentations of ©writing our way whole: at home