This past winter has been a time of deep introspection for me, and I wonder if it has been for you, too. In December and January I felt like I was sitting at a crossroads, waiting, waiting, waiting … making friends with the liminal space of not-knowing, of being in-between. I spent a lot of time seeking wisdom, fine-tuning my ability to discern the call of Soul, as I wrote about in last month’s e-letter. As the Yuletide season became Brigid’s season and we approach Persephone’s return at Spring Equinox, the way ahead is much more clear to me. I still find myself in liminal space; one phase of my life is passing away and a new phase has yet to begin. But I am finding myself much more grounded and looking forward to seeing what unfolds for the rest of 2018 and beyond.
I spent the last two weeks on retreat — first with my Northwest Soulquest mentors in a group facilitation training called “Tending the Knowing Field” at my beloved Aldermarsh, where a sudden snowstorm surprised and delighted us. I was home for two days when I turned around and went back to Whidbey Island to join Christina Baldwin and a small circle of women to “write like heaven” (as Christina says) for a week. I worked on the Sacred Wheel book that I’ve had in my back pocket for a few years now, working on the second (or is it third?) draft. Listening to the women read from their own work each night was another kind of heaven. (I cannot recommend Christina’s “Self as Source of the Story” writing retreats highly enough. If you think you might want to give this gift to yourself, she still has room in her May and December retreats.)
One of my winter practices has been tracking the connections between my dreams, tarot imagery, and wild wanders (contemplative walks) on the land. I want to share one dream and wild wander episode with you that touched my heart deeply.
This past year, the Green Ones have calling to me strongly. One herb I fell in love with is the plant tulsi (or holy basil), which is native to India. I grew a lovely tulsi plant in my garden, going outside each day during the growing season to sing to it and make offerings. I harvested and dried the leaves for fragrant tea. The plant didn’t make it through the winter, even though I brought it inside in a pot. After it died, I brushed the dirt off its roots and put them on my altar as a symbol of the Ancient Ones. I continue to honor Tulsi each day and look forward to tending a new plant this coming year.
Last month I had one of those big, numinous dreams that feels like a visitation. In the dream, I was holding a baby aloft, holding her up to be blessed. Then the scene changed and a very strong image of an Indian woman’s head and hands “filled the screen” in a close-up. She was larger than life, wearing a jewel-colored sari, with sleek oiled black hair, ornate earrings, and a gold nose hoop. She smiled a mysterious smile. I realized she looked like a human representation of the “Tulasi Devi” figurines I have seen — she was the Goddess Tulsi.
In the dream, she held her hands up in a cup to her lips and blew colored powder or powdered herbs into the air. I was not sure what she was blowing, but I knew it was a blessing. Her gesture mimicked the way I held up the baby. I had the sense that she was like a fairy godmother blessing the newborn baby, bestowing gifts on her. I knew the Goddess Tulsi was blessing the next stage of my life as if it were a new-born baby. I felt profound gratitude and awe of the sacred.
About a week later, I was on a “wild wander” on the Aldermarsh land, communing with Cottonwood and Fir and Cedar. I approached a wild rose thicket, and began singing “She Who Hears the Cries of the World” to it. (I identify Rose with the Blessed Mother, and with the Empress tarot card.) In February, there were no roses in bloom of course; the thicket consisted of bare thorn-covered branches and stems with a few red and black withering rose hips. As I sang, I began crying as I experienced the rose thicket embodying the presence of the Holy Mother. “She has a heart big enough to hold the suffering of the entire world,” I thought, as I prayed for the our country, the students in Florida, and specific people I know who are suffering in body or spirit. Then I found myself lifting my hands up to blow blessings onto the rose thicket, to bless the prayers I had made, mimicking the gesture of the Goddess Tulsi in my dream. I wandered back inside to get warm and made myself a cup of tea.
“Holy cow!” I said out loud as I began sipping the tea from my mug. “I’ve been drinking Tulsi Rose tea for the past month!” Of course those two plants came together to bring me such a potent, moving message. They’ve been nourishing my body and spirit all month long.
I pass this practice on to you. Start tracking the connections between imagery in your dreams, in tarot cards, in your daily life, and in wild wanders around your neighborhood. The sacred is always present, if we only have eyes to see.
(Photos above: Grandmother Fir at Aldermarsh in the February snow; a potted Tulsi plant, photo by Latisha Guthrie; and Rose Thicket & Cottonwoods at Aldermarsh.)