Gaian Soul

Earth Wisdom Tarot Sacred Art

Dreaming of Tulsi & Roses

in Goddess, Herbs, Retreat, Spiritual Practice

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.

Tulsi, photo by Latisha Guthrie

Tulsi plant, photo by Latisha Guthrie

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.

wild rose thicket & cottonwoodsAbout 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.)

How do you discern a call from Soul?

in Spiritual Practice

For the last couple of months, I’ve been pondering the ways that we recognize a call from Soul.

How, I asked myself, can I tell if an inner prompting, or a desire, is a true call from my Soul … or if it’s from my ego, or perhaps even from the wounded part of me that hides in shadow?

If someone asked me that question — “How do I discern a call from Soul?” I would answer:

Use all your sacred tools: tarot readings, journal writing, time in nature, conversations with trusted wise ones, tracking signs and symbols in dreams, cards, books, and nature; and perhaps most importantly, paying attention to your body reactions. I would say that the call from Soul might come as a sudden Tower-like epiphany, or it might unfold slowly over time. I would say: Double down on meditation and prayer practices. Keep your senses alert for signs and messages.

I then counseled with a circle of Wise Ones and asked for their responses. Here’s what they added:

“Your true self — your soul — never speaks from a place of fear or judgement or low self-worth. If you feel those things, it is not your soul speaking, period.”

A friend who was raised Catholic had this to say about the process of discernment she learned in the church, and which still serves her well:

“The first thing I learned was to find solitude and reflect on our inner feelings while listening for the still, quiet voice of God. The second was to be observant and watch for signs and symbols in the world around me that appear as clear indicators of the path forward. The third one I remember clearly was to wait and be patient. I remember that because I’ve never had an excess of patience and don’t like to wait for anything. Finally, after enough time doing the first three things, commit to the path forward.”

Another one responded:

“I journal — a lot! — when faced with something I think may be a call from Spirit. I write about it. And then I read what I wrote. If I have a lot of justifications, qualifications and ego-based desires, I know it’s not a call from Spirit.

Then I use my essential divinatory practices — tarot, praying for guidance and meditation (so that I can hear guidance).

And I tune in to my body. To me, historically, a call to Spirit is not without some excitement/fear but it is almost always accompanied by relaxed joints, soft muscles, a deepening of my breath (having more depth and breadth) and a lightness to my body. If heaviness, tension, or shallow breath are present, I assume my soul is not in alignment.

Finally, if something is a call from my Soul, I trust that it will move me to action, even if/when I am filled with fear. I have an inherent belief that I will never lose or miss out on what is right for me — not in path, people, places, opportunities. I trust that even if I resist (due to fear), the power of love that wants to move through me will grow so big that I can’t ignore it and will feel compelled to align with it.”

Such a lucky woman I am, to have such Wise Ones in my circle of friends.

I pass the talking piece to you:

How do you discern a call from Soul?

The New Year Slowly Unveils Her Face

in Uncategorized

snow, sun 2012It seems to me that the New Year unfolds in increments, beginning at All Hallows and continuing through Candlemas.

Gaian Priestess faceShe comes in quietly, like a ghost on All Hallow’s Eve. She unveils Herself a little more each day through the season of darkness, pausing to mark the birth of the Sun at Solstice, feeling the radiant warmth of the dawn’s rays.

And we enter the deep dark with Her, dreaming, resting, incubating. We look back at the year gone by and note our successes and our disappointments. We rejoice with our community at the Return of the Sun.

But the days are still dark, still short, still cold. Secular New Year’s Eve and Day comes and goes.

As the month of January unfolds, we will find ourselves desiring to cleanse ourselves, to eat austerely after our holiday feasting, to move our bodies, to wipe the slate clean and bring something new into manifestation.

 

And this holy longing grows. What do we want to do differently in the coming year?  How do we want to be different?  We carry these questions in our hearts into the cold January days, and we mark the daylight that grows longer each day, oh so infinitesimally.

Soon it will be time for Candlemas at the beginning of February — a time for initiation, for pledges, and for promises. And the Old Woman of Winter will make way for the Maiden of Spring.

Most of us who live outside of mainstream culture no longer make resolutions, knowing that they come from a place of lack and often from shame. And they rarely work.

 

Gaian SeekerBut like the Seeker setting out on the path with the goal of reaching the top of the Great Mountain, we need to have an idea of where we want to go, if we ever want to get there. We Seekers walk the path of deepening and transformation. We make conscious choices by creating maps, making plans, and setting goals. At the same time, we need to be guided, to be nudged by intuition, signs and synchronicities.

“Here,” the New Year whispers. “Follow this path, follow the lead of the swallows and butterflies . . .”

And we lean into Mystery.

Throughout November, December, and January, as the New Year unfolds, we walk a continuum between making conscious plans to following the promptings of the Spirit, back and forth. We need both, in order to bring our visions and dreams into manifestation.

 

I have found that it is absolutely necessary for me to map out my plans for the coming year, to set goals and create strategies. But I rely on intuition and the guidance of the Spirit to help me make those plans.

And I keep myself open to the winds of change.

Tarot Prompts for December

in Tarot, Wheel of the Year

Here are a couple of tarot / journaling prompts for you … and my own responses to them.

What do I need to know about the coming month of December?

I pulled the Ten of Fire from the Gaian Tarot in answer to this question. I pulled the Ten of Fire from the Gaian Tarot in answer to this question.

I was not too happy to see this card! The Tens in the Gaian Tarot are all mini-Death cards. Something is passing away, and what is to come, is not yet clear. Fire is all about creativity and passion and personal power. So in December, I may experience some kind of a mini-death around those things.

It could be burn-out (yes, I have been working very hard). It could be that I am bringing a particular creative project to completion (which I am; my intention is to finish before the end of December). It could be a lingering illness; the bronchitis I brought back with me from a long plane ride in November.  It’s even possible it’s not about me, but about something happening on the national or international stage that affects me.

It’s hard for me to say right now how the Ten of Fire might manifest in my life. But I do need to remember that some seeds need the intensity of fire in order to germinate; and that indigenous peoples commonly set controlled fires to maintain the health of the land. I think I can look at this card as release and letting go — even if it’s painful — in order to make way for the “unknown new” that is to come.

Your turn. What do you need to know about the coming month of December?  

What composted wisdom do I carry with me as I await the Return of the Sun?

Choose a question, either early Winter or early Summer, depending on where you live. Pull a tarot or oracle card and let the imagery spark suggest a way to finish the sentence:  

(Winter):
The composted wisdom that I carry with me as I await the rebirth of the Sun is …

(Summer):
The full blooming wisdom I carry with me as the longest day of the year approaches is …

I pulled the the Two of Earth from the Gaian Tarot.

The composted wisdom that I carry with me as I await the rebirth of the Sun is the reminder to focus on one thing at a time, instead of priding myself on how well I multi-task. I’ve been making my plans for 2018, and find myself adding things in to my schedule, then going back and cutting them out. Because this is composted wisdom, it is slumbering beneath the surface of my awareness. I’m grateful for this reminder to always look for and find my center in the midst of many demands on my time and attention. And to focus on One. Thing. At. A. Time.

Your turn. What wisdom do you carry into the season? 

Tarot Prompts for November

in Tarot, Wheel of the Year

Here are a couple of tarot / journaling prompts for you … and my own responses to them.

What do I need to know about the coming month of November?

Gaian Tarot 5 of EarthI pulled the Five of Earth from the Gaian Tarot in answer to this question. I just had to smile, because the imagery in this card looks very much like the view from my window right now — bare trees, rain, and leaves whipped up by the wind, drifting into piles on the ground. The 5 of Pentacles is traditionally a card of deprivation, illness, loss, and survival concerns. My own particular twist on the card in the Gaian Tarot is to show a person who knows s/he has the survival skills necessary to build a shelter to survive the storm, whatever that storm may be.

Over the years I have heard many people describe this card as very comforting. They call it the “hunkering down” card. It’s time to hunker down and wait out the storm. I have the sense that this card is about literal storms, as we often get in November in the Pacific Northwest. I think it’s also about the political storms brewing in the US as well as other parts of the world. We all need to remember that we do have the skills and the resilience necessary to see it through.

We might ask ourselves: What are my survival skills? How do I cultivate resilience?

Your turn. What do you need to know about the coming month of November?  

What wisdom do I carry with me into the season?

Choose a question, either Autumn or Spring. Pull a tarot or oracle card and let the imagery spark suggest a way to finish the sentence:  

(Autumn):
The rooted wisdom I carry with me as I inhabit the darkest time of the year is …

(Spring):
The blooming wisdom I carry with me as the earth bursts into flower is …

Gaian Tarot MoonI pulled the Moon from the Gaian Tarot.

The rooted wisdom I carry with me as I inhabit the darkest time of the year is … the knowledge of the Sacred Wheel of life / death / renewal in my very bones. I am grateful for the teaching that Nature Herself has given us: as the moon waxes to fullness then wanes again, we know that all things begin, blossom, come into full flower, wither, release seeds, and die. When times are hard, we have the promise of renewal. We know that the time of grief and loss won’t last forever. When times are good, we can cherish them, knowing them to be evanescent and all the more precious.

Last night I watched the almost-full moon rising in the east, hiding her face behind storm clouds, then coming out to shine in all her brilliance. My heart rejoiced to see her, La Luna Bella, my beloved friend.

The model for the priestess in the Gaian Moon card was my friend Charlotte, who was an organic farmer for decades. The sweetgrass in my garden that I harvest every August comes from her farm. She died on Winter Solstice three years ago; her photograph is on the altar for our Beloved Dead. I like to think that she is one of the ancestors whose voice is whispering in the wind.

Your turn. What wisdom do you carry into the next season?