Archive for Journey

Remember what gives you joy

Step onto the Pathway of Love, part 3.

This morning at 5 am, rumbles of thunder woke me. I lay there, listening to this uncommon sound and the hush of the rain falling, counting the seconds before flashes of lightning lit up the room.

I’m glad I woke up. I needed to witness the coming of the rain, as much as the land needed the water. I have truly enjoyed the hot weather, the first sustained Summer weather I have seen in at least a couple of years. But the land, and its humans, needed a break from the heat. I was happy to witness this change.

The thunder and lightning made me feel alive. Opening up to the power of the storm, it felt exciting to be present, to take in its wild music. I love the dance of Nature. It fills me with the joy of living.

Being creative does much the same thing for me. Whether it’s serious DIY or making a square of crochet in the evening, I love seeing the physical result of something I have done. It’s rewarding, and gives me a simple kind of joy.

Another joy in my life is truly connecting with another human being. Having a real heart-to-heart with a good friend, where we both feel heard and understood, is a special kind of blessing.

What makes you feel alive? - image from

What makes you feel alive? - image from

I could go on, and I am sure you can think of a few things that light you up.

All these sources of joy, all these things that remind us that we are alive, that being alive feels good, are important sources of strength. They weave us into the web of life and give us reasons to get up in the mornings.

Here are a few things you can do to identify and strengthen these threads of power that feed your hungry soul.

At the centre of the web

Get a large sheet of paper and some felt tip pens. Put your own name at the centre of the sheet. Start creating a mind map of all the things, activities, people and places that give you joy, that spark your enthusiasm, that make you feel alive.

Look at what you have written down. Make sure to draw links between yourself and each of those things in bright colours. Even if there aren’t many connections there, these are the threads that stitch you into the life of this world. See yourself at the centre of the web, fed by this much joy.

Let yourself play. Celebrate these connections with decorations and doodles. And hang the result in a visible place, so that on sad days your eye can always catch something that gives you joy.

Joy is a priority

Take out your diary and schedule something joyful for yourself. In the next week, find a gap in your diary where you can strengthen your connection with one of your sources of joy.

This could be as simple as coffee with an old friend, or as adventurous as climbing the nearest mountain. Just stick it in the diary and commit to it. Don’t stand yourself up. Treat your source of joy like a lover and it will feed your soul to overflowing.

Give yourself at least an hour or so per week, purely to feed your joy. And once a month, make it a whole day. Stop making excuses. Joy is a priority. This is how you keep your soul strong. This is how you nourish yourself so you can nourish others.

Do you know of any other practices that connect you to your joy? Please share in the comments below.

This blog post owes a lot to the teachings of Caitlin Matthews.

Previous posts in this series:
Come to your senses
Blow your mind with awe and wonder

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Blow your mind with awe and wonder

Step onto the Pathway of Love, part 2

Slugs are the enemy. They have eaten virtually everything I’ve tried to grow in my veg patch this year: carrots, parsnips, brassicas, beans. All gone. So I’m not particularly impressed with slugs at the moment.

But I decided to do a little research. What useful niche do these creatures fill in the greater scheme of things? Surely they must do something that I can love and admire them for?

Slugs eat all my veg, but there are always new things to learn

Slugs eat all my veg, but there are always new things to learn

Turns out they are very good for feeding birds and hedgehogs, as well as eating my vegetables in their infancy. But in the process, I came across something I didn’t know.

I knew slugs were hermaphrodites, which means they have both male and female sexual organs. For some reason, I thought that that meant that they changed from one to the other over time, but that’s not the case with slugs. When they mate, they actually inseminate each other, and both end up laying eggs. Which I think is a very fair division of labour.

Our world is filled with little wonders like this. And many big ones as well. From sub-atomic particles to distant galaxies, it is a never-ending source of awe and amazement. We can spend a lifetime finding out all there is to know about just a tiny aspect of our universe. Like slugs. Or the birth of new stars. Or the tiny awesome things that happen when a cell splits and becomes two.

What gets you excited? What are you curious about? What fascinates you and makes your jaw drop in wonder like a kid with a new dinosaur book?

I bet there is something that tickles your curiosity. Please go and find out more about this topic. In this age of the internet, virtually everything you’ll ever want to know is just a couple of mouse clicks away. Go and explore and feed your mind. Your love for our awesome world can only grow with your knowledge.

If you are not sure where to start, try this exercise.

Journey of discovery in your back yard

Go outside and take a few deep breaths. Feel your feet on the ground. Let your weight drop down into the lower part of your body. Allow your eyes to soften a little, taking in your peripheral vision as well.

Now send your feeling senses out into your immediate environment. Can you feel something gently tugging at you? Can you hear a silent call? Follow this call.

When you come to the being that has called you, spend some time with it. Don’t try to label it or analyse it for now. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know its name. You’ll have time to work that out later. Just let your feeling senses touch this being. What does it feel like to be with it?

When you feel you’ve talked to your new friend long enough, gently draw your attention back inside yourself. Then go and find out everything you can about this being. Whether it is a plant, an animal, a weather phenomenon or a stone, you will be able to learn something you didn’t know. Spend as long as you like on this. An hour, a day, a year, a lifetime.

But don’t forget to go back to that being that first called you. Does being with it still feel the same? How do the impressions you receive from your friend compare to the ‘book knowledge’ you have gained about it? What can you learn from this being and the way it relates to the rest of its world?

Enjoy your adventures.

If you know of any other ways to wake your awe, please share them in the comments box below.

Previous post in this series:
Come to your senses


Come to your senses

Step onto the Pathway of Love, part 1.

The Pathway of Love

For all of us world changers, it started with love.

Whether we are volunteers for charity, fully paid up activists, or fighting the battle in our vegetable patch, we are all doing it for the love of the Living Earth and her children.

Somewhere along the line, we were touched by beauty. It might have been the smile of a child, or the majesty of a mountain, or a tiny bee collecting nectar. It might have been holidays in the forest, or by the seaside. Or the humanity of a homeless man with his dog.

At one point, our hearts opened, and we felt the need to defend that beauty against everything that seeks to spoil it, or diminish it, or destroy it. Our love draws us to take action, to give of ourselves, to work for the good of all beings, against all odds.

Love for the world’s beauty is what motivates us. And we can also let it sustain us through times of frustration, exhaustion and hopelessness

We instinctively know that time spent in Nature nourishes us, body and soul. ‘Forest bathing‘ is now a recognised medical practice. As well as its obvious benefits for our mood, spending time among trees also measurably improves our blood pressure and our immune system.

We can consciously strengthen our relationship with the natural world and use its nourishment to heal us and charge our batteries. Deepening our love for the Living Earth is the first Pathway to connected living.

Come to your senses

I haven’t given myself an easy job here. I must admit that living in my senses doesn’t come naturally to me.

Let your senses play and make love to the world - Wikimedia Commons

Let your senses play and make love to the world - Wikimedia Commons

Because of my personal history, ancient and recent, I have the tendency to shut myself down and draw away from life. It takes effort for me to open up and trust that I will be OK.

But this trust is exactly what I need to learn. My body is screaming it at me: relax, stop fighting what is. Receive the beauty of life as it comes to you.

I do love this world. I love the endless variety of life that surrounds me. I love the thrushes and green finches that live in the garden. I love the roses and the wild flowers. I love the tall trees and the butterflies.

And if I want that love to sustain me, if I want to genuinely take the Pathway of Love towards a life of connection and resilience, I need to let down my guard and let life’s abundance in. And the less naturally this comes to me, the more I probably need it.

So, would you come outside with me? Wherever outside is for you. Even if it’s a balcony outside a city apartment, or a tiny garden by a busy road. Just go there. And wake up your senses with me.

My outside is a large garden by a busy road. The first thing I notice today as I step out of the house is the warmth of the Sun. It has been shining brightly all day. Just opening up to that feeling, and drinking in the warmth and the light of the Sun is healing and nourishing in itself.

What is the first thing that catches your attention when you go outside? It could be the vibrant colour of a flower, or the sharp touch of the wind in winter. Whatever it is, allow it to enter you through whatever sense it speaks to. Let the beauty fill you. Notice how you feel as this sense experience flows through your body, your consciousness.

Stay with this as long as you like. Do it every day, whenever you are outside. Hear the rain on your umbrella as you walk to work. Or taste the first strawberry from your garden. Really notice this. Let it feed you. And when you are ready to finish, give thanks to whoever nourished you. You may feel moved to give something back.

You can take this practice anywhere you like. You can build it into an intense meditation involving all your senses. Or you can go deep following the sensations of just one sense at a time. You can follow your senses through your garden or sit and enjoy the impressions that come to you. Play with it. And feel your soul and your love for the world strengthen as you go.

Have fun making love to the world. I’ll be learning with you.

I will be adding links below as I come across resources that help us come to our senses. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment below. I’ll add the ones I think are useful and in the spirit of this post.

Related posts:

Love heals

Living in a body

Other resources:

How to connect to a higher spirit through nature. Steps similar to The Magic of Connection, stated very simply. 

Connecting to Nature’s Spirit. A beautiful article describing people’s spiritual experiences in Nature, with some suggestions to find your own. The whole web site is a treasure trove of beauty.

7 ways to strengthen your connection with nature and improve your health. Some simple suggestions to get more deeply involved in nature, for mind, body and soul.

20 calming or invigorating mini meditations you can practice every day. Quick tips to come back to the present moment and wake up your senses.


Weaving my soul back into the web

Idiopathic pancreatitis. It came back and put me in hospital for a few days.

The pancreas is an important organ that makes different kinds of hormones and also produces chemicals that help with digestion. Mine doesn’t behave very well. In the past two years, it has become inflamed twice, for unknown reasons (that’s what makes it idiopathic).

Having an attack of acute pancreatitis is painful. It also makes you sick. It’s a very uncomfortable wait until you finally make it to a hospital and they give you the anti-sickness medication and the morphine…

The only treatment for acute pancreatitis is not eating or drinking until it settles down. They keep you hydrated with a i/v drip.

Thankfully, my pancreas settled down quite quickly, as it did last time. It does, however, leave me with lasting pain. Not the kind that needs morphine, but still constantly there and constantly uncomfortable.

Being in hospital is a very stressful experience in itself. In a bay of just four women, there is always something going on. You constantly get monitored (blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar levels, blood tests, …) and so do the people around you. There is never a good stretch of time when you get left in peace, even at night. After four days, I needed to come home for a decent night’s sleep.

Add to that the fact that you are attached to a drip and are feeling ill. You are in a totally artificial environment, pretty much stuck to your bed. If you’re lucky, you can see the sky out of the window at the other side of the room. Nothing to connect you with the Earth. Nothing to remind you of the fact that you are one breath with the air, the trees, the green.

After a few days of that, I felt totally wired. I couldn’t relax. I had another couple of terrible nights’ sleep because I just couldn’t calm down. The combination of disconnection, very limited food, and the restless environment just knocked me off centre completely.

I’m home again now. Still in pain and needing to rest, but also doing things. I have calmed down considerably. Still, my connection is tenuous at best, and I haven’t picked up my meditation practice again.

Weaving a web - by Richard Shilling, Land Artist

Weaving a web - by Richard Shilling, Land Artist

The great thing is, though, I know exactly what to do. Last time this happened, in August 2011, I came home even more shattered. The hospital stay had been longer, and I had very little idea of what was happening to me. After a while, I managed to get myself back into a routine of spiritual practice. Starting with my breath, I gently wove my soul back into the web of life.

Yesterday, I launched my first online course, The Magic of Connection. It is a 9-part meditation practice that takes you along exactly the path I took two years ago. The launch has been brewing for a long time, and I am very pleased to present it as my free gift to the world*.

This time, I will be following the course along with my first subscribers. I know it will help me to find my feet again. I know it will help me find my joy of being alive, despite the pain. It’s done that for me before.

If you would like to try it out for yourself, click here to subscribe.

*With thanks to Alex, my husband, for writing the software that delivers the course.


Four Pathways to Connected Living: An Introduction

Westacre’s Spiritual Centre is slowly taking shape. I have written a basic framework for its teaching and put it on the Westacre web site.

If it speaks to you, please share it widely. Over time, it will become a great resource for strengthening your soul in times of uncertainty.

Click here to go to the page.


For badgers and for peace: letting the world in

This morning, people started shooting badgers in Somerset and Gloucestershire. It is a ‘cull’, an attempt to stop the animals spreading Bovine Tuberculosis between cattle herds. Scientists gravely doubt the effectiveness of this action. Many are concerned that the cull will in fact disperse surviving badgers and make the situation worse. Still, the killing begins.

Also today, the EDL and BNP intend to march in Woolwich, the scene of an obscene murder last week. They are using this incident to whip up hatred against a group of people who are just as appalled by what happened as anyone. But this incident confirms their world view, so they will milk it for all it’s worth.

And those are just two examples in a long list of terrible news.

Spirit is asking me to feel all of life. To feel the flow of emotions as they pass. To feel the texture of everything life brings. To savour every taste. On days like this, it’s hard to do.

I find it hard to do anyway. From childhood, I learned to keep a safe distance from difficult feelings. I have built walls and put up barriers. And however much I would love to change this, it is a habit that has become ingrained in my body. I can feel its tension as I write.

But if we are to heal this world, we need to feel it. All of it. We need to feel the sunshine on our skin and the wind in our hair so that we come to love this life, fiercely. And we need to feel the wounds and the tears so that we know it is time to stand up and shout ‘STOP’.badger

If I am to heal myself, I need to see the beauty of this glorious day, filled with flowers and fresh green. And I need to acknowledge the the hard feelings that come up when I try to open my heart to all of my reality.

If we are to be warriors in this time of change, we need to be awake and aware at all times. We need to be like a wild animal, always alert and conscious of its environment, its blessings and its dangers. That way, we can act consciously and naturally for the good of the Living Earth.

I have asked spirit for a way to help me open to the world and the feelings it brings. They have taught me how to use my senses to awaken my awareness. I can use taste, touch, hearing and sight, both outwardly and inwardly, to really wake up to the quality of life as it flows through me and around me.

Today’s warm sunshine tastes like rich wine. The young green of ash leaves is like lemony water.

And the idea of people measuring the humaneness of the badger cull by the time it takes a wounded animal to die makes me feel sick, like drinking a large glass of salty water. (I mean, seriously? How is thinking like that even humane?)

These things need to balance each other. The fierce love and the righteous anger. Too much of one, and you get stuck or burnt out. But together, they can feed our lives and what we decide to do with it.

What does life taste like to you, today?


Rage is passion is true love

Full Flower Moon (better late than never!)

I can’t even begin to tell you how beautiful it is. Just looking out of the living room window, I see the young green of ash reaching for the sun, the white of cow parsley against the beech hedge, different blues of lungwort and forget-me-not interspersed with oranges and pinks. There is a buzz of insects pollinating it all. And just for today it is drenched in warm sunshine. It makes my heart sing. It makes my soul stretch. I love it.

I finish my daily meditations with a prayer that explicitly asks for the blessing of the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water on the mineral, plant, animal and human realms. I give that blessing with such love, but every time I speak it into the wind, my heart breaks a little. Because I know that all across this beautiful planet these things are being violated, day after day.

The powerlessness that I feel in the face of tar sand and shale gas extraction, the felling of rain forest trees, the relentless extinction of animal species, and the injustice done to our fellow humans outrages me. The more beauty I see, the less ugliness I seem to be able to take. I want to go and stand on a mountain top and shout: ‘STOP. Stop it now.’

Tar sands extraction from Environmental and Food Justice

Tar sands extraction from Environmental and Food Justice

We seem to be riding a great, unstoppable machine of destruction that is tearing this world apart. And it is tearing at my heart as it does so. I want to smash this thing with my bare hands, make its noise just stop, so we can hear each other weep and realise there must be another way.

The other day, a Druid friend posted an article on Facebook. Here is a quote:

“Think of the world you carry within you. Only be attentive to the stuff that rises up and makes you tremble with ferocity. That violent, destructive chaos that makes you want to annihilate the universe and then turn around and re-create it (let there be light!)—set this energy above everything else you experience and observe about you. This passion is worthy of your entire love.”

- Kirsti Stout, 10 Wicked Morsels for Living a Sexy Life.

This is exactly the kind of rage I feel. I love the living Earth with that much passion, and I want to stand against what destroys it with the power of annihilation and resurgence.

This is what I have chosen to dedicate the rest of my life to. I am here at Westacre to create an example of how it can be done differently. I’m here to show the world ways to connect deeply with the green spirit of the land. To show people how to make changes in their lives that will allow them to live more lightly on the Earth.

Our collective effect on the natural world is larger and more disastrous than we even imagined. What I am doing today may be far too little, far too late. But it is the right thing to do, and if it comes from such passion, it is worthy of my entire love.

Two more articles I read this week say the same thing in different ways:
Get Apocalyptic: Why radical is the new normal by Robert Jensen
The Retreat and the Return: the eco-hero’s journey by Sharon Blackie


A typical English day

New Flower Moon

We’re having one of those typical English days. We’ve had a mixture of sunshine, drizzle, heavy showers, more warm sunshine, and now thunder and hail. You never know what you’re going to get next.

It’s a bit like life. Any given day can be a mixture of joy, dullness, and outright pain. We encounter all kinds of emotional weather. Some of it bubbles up from our past, from intractable physical challenges, or from close encounters with people. And some of it flows to us from the wider world.

At the start of this Flower Moon, the world is doing just that. The pear trees at Westacre are in full bloom, and the big apple tree is showing pink buds ready to burst. The sea of forget-me-nots is a misty blue, and tulips are punctuating the garden with flashes of fiery red. All this beauty is lifting me, giving me joy that pushes at my soul like the warming soil pushes up the grass.flowering

But the news from further afield is depressing. Just yesterday, we passed 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This is the highest concentration there has been for millions of years. Human kind has never seen this concentration, and the concentration is still rising sharply. The potential for significant global warming with devastating effects on the Earth’s climate is alarming.

Just today, I heard that the African Western Black Rhino has been declared extinct. The last one was seen in 2006. Many more species are about to die out and vanish forever.

That news makes me angry. After all, the dangers of CO2 pollution have been known about for about as long as I’ve been alive. And the decline of the world’s most majestic animals is mostly preventable. Yet still it happens.

And I don’t know what to do with that anger.

Spirit is asking me – has been asking me for years – to do something that I find very hard. It is asking me to stay awake and aware and feel these emotions as they pass through my life.

After all, it is just weather. Emotions come and go, like the showers and bursts of sunlight. But the whole enterprise of really feeling them actually scares me.

From a very young age I learned to put up walls. I learned to hide from my feelings and keep them at bay as much as possible. Dealing with them was just too painful. So they would regularly burst out and cause me trouble. Which just reinforces the idea that emotions are dangerous.

The trick is to feel the passing emotion, but not identify with it. I am not that anger at humankind’s destruction. I am not the fear I have carried for decades. Those things no more belong to me as the rain belongs to the grass.

Emotions are teachers. They show us what matters to us. They show us where our lives are calling to us to take action. When we listen to them, experience them without identifying with them, we can choose how to use their energy for the good.

It’s a trick I’d love to learn. I’m not sure where to start. For now, I’m sitting with that fear and the anger and the joy, trying to remember that I am me, and it is just weather. Just a typical English day.

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Breaking through the defences


Spring has finally sprung at Westacre. Just three short weeks ago, the last of the snow still lingered in the shadiest corners of the garden. Now the sun is shining down warmly, and flowers are blooming everywhere. We have damson blossom, cowslips and seas of forget-me-nots.

Because of the long, cold winter, and the still chilly nights, everything is blooming late, though. The apple blossom and the hawthorn blooms are still safely hidden in their tight buds, protected from the cold. But staying there is not an option. Each day, the sun’s warmth draws them more strongly, and soon, they also will delight us with their glorious blooms.

Like a flower bud in a frosty spring, I wear my defences thick and tight. It is a hangover from a not-so-easy childhood. My mind and body have kept this habit holding up curtain walls and barbed wire against the world. It’s a bit like walking around constantly expecting to be punched in the stomach. It’s really not good for a person.

I’ve known this for a long time, and I always come back to it. My body keeps sending me signals, sometimes very serious ones, that this is not OK. That I need to break through my own defences so I can bloom and be of service to the world.

Westacres blue sea

Westacre's blue sea

So this Beltane, once again, I have made a commitment to keep working on letting go of the fortifications. The blooms of my soul are tender and vulnerable, but they are the best of me. The world urgently needs the best of all of us. There’s no time left to hide our lights.

This time, I intend to do it gently and joyfully. My mind and body have kept me safe like this for a long time. I need to honour that effort and not beat myself up if I fall back into the old habit. And I need to gently and playfully step out of myself, and forget about pretending that I am doing some Great Spiritual Work that is difficult and dead serious.

I’m not the only person who needs to soften their defences against perceived threat. I can see the same thing causing problems in my community and in the wider world.

Like virtually everything else, my spiritual community is going through a tough time of rebirth. It has brought its inevitable tensions. But I can see that the conflicts that arise from people misinterpreting each other’s defences. The mask of confidence someone puts on may well hide a raw and vulnerable soul.

If only we could show each other our true vulnerability, much of the tension would dissipate. I’m not saying that being vulnerable with people is always easy to do. It is a leap of faith and trust. But I believe that taking the risk can help better relationships to flower.

In our world, where climate change is beginning to have a clear effect even on affluent countries, I believe much the same thing is going on. We are protecting ourselves in so many ways, hiding away from things that make us feel vulnerable. We hide, each in our own homes, for fear of being hurt by each other, and thereby losing our communities. We spend the resources of our planet to shield ourselves from the seasons. And even more to delay the effects of time on our bodies. If only we could shed some of those defences, and rediscover our connection to the natural world, we would come to care more deeply for everything we share our world with.

Many of us are doing so, growing more of our own food, and discovering the delights of connection with nature and with each other. We humans are part of the natural world, and our considerable intelligence thrives when it works with nature for the good of all beings. Connected to the living Earth, our humanity flourishes.

Our human strength and beauty doesn’t lie in the walls we build around ourselves. It lies in our vulnerability, tender as a spring flower, and source of our fertile creativity. The world cannot afford to wait for our light much longer.

If you feel inspired by these thoughts, please share this post with your friends.

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Making magic for the world

Full Wedding Moon

Today, I did some magic in the garden. My intention was for all the deep connections that we make in this place, and the work we do for the good of our planet, to spread out into the world.

It is my hope that Westacre will become a place of deep connection with the spirits of place. By ‘spirits of place’ I mean all the life forms that contribute to the individual character of this place. It includes the apple trees from the old orchard, the ash trees on the boundary, the primroses, the bees and flies, and the people who live and visit here. All of those are expressions of the endless creativity of Divine Spirit, and have their own wisdom to impart. All we have to do is listen.

My work here is to create a wide network of connections with these spirits, and with a growing community beyond. In my daily practice, I listen deeply to everything that lives here. Beyond, I hope to make connections of friendship and goodwill with anyone who helps us with the project, from people on the internet who share our stories, delivery men who bring materials, and friends who come to pitch in.

Web of connection

Magic of connection

My vision is that all those connections will form a network of blessing that reaches far out into the world. Hopefully, our relationship with this place will inspire people to make more meaningful connection with their own land, and with the living Earth.

With this vision in mind, I made a journey to my helping spirits a week ago. I asked them how I could make Westacre into the centre of such a web of blessing. The spirits gave me a ritual that I enacted today, and I’d like to share it with you here.

At the heart of the Westacre garden stands an old apple tree. Its hollow trunk sends out long branches that are now just about to burst into leaf. It is not long for this world, but it is has been here a long time, and has become one of the guardian spirits of this place. This apple tree was the centre and main witness of my ritual.

I started by calling upon the seven directions to be with me and bless my rite. I thanked the apple tree for helping me. Using white sage, I smudged its trunk and all the way along each main branch, honouring its energy and cleansing it for the next part.

A small semi-precious stone became the carrier of connection. With it, I walked to each of the four corners of the property, once around the house, and once around the perimeter. Together, we drew a web of connection. As I walked, this prayer came to me:

May all connections that are made
in this place, for this place, through this place
be a blessing
and reverberate throughout the world.

To ground the energy and anchor the web of connection, I buried the stone at the foot of the apple tree.

I closed my ritual and gave thanks to all spirits who attended. But the magic isn’t done yet. When the apple tree bears fruit this year, I am to cook with its fruit and share the results as far and wide as I can. If the harvest is good, there is going to be an abundance of apple chutney, sauce, pie, cake, and goodness knows what else.

And the blessing of this place will begin to flow along many lines of connection.


Weaving my soul into the land

Waxing Wedding Moon

What a difference a couple of weeks make. There was still snow on the ground when I last wrote, and I was feeling frustrated that I couldn’t do much in the garden.

Now, Spring is here at last, and Westacre is bursting into flower. We have primroses and cowslips, daffodils and lungwort. The first few forget-me-nots are coming out. Soon, they will be a sea of blue across the garden.

And I have planted vegetables. Finally, at long last, I have dug over two of the four vegetable beds and put in potatoes, peas, beans, carrots, onions and parsnips. I just cannot wait for the little seedlings to start peeking out of the ground.

Working with the soil is such a blessing. Seeing the soft ground break easily against my garden fork. Pulling up weeds and finding big fat earth worms – a sign of healthy soil. It sealed my connection with this sandy loam that I have been working on since I got here at the Winter Solstice. Who would ever have thought that I would actually relish this work? My teenage self definitely wouldn’t.

Doing hands-on work with the land is so healing. It has settled me into this place like nothing else could. My nerves that were jittery from the move and the hard work have calmed. I feel purposeful and I couldn’t be happier. The whole thing is so exciting that I have to stop myself from going to check the plot every half hour to see if anything has sprouted yet.

Primroses pretty in pink

Primroses pretty in pink

As I touch the living soil of my home, I weave my soul into the tapestry of this place. As I plant and weed, I put my mark on the land. I become a part of it. And when (fingers crossed), we consume the harvest, our land will become part of us.

This things are very real, and so very lost to most of us in the Western world. Even people who have gardens either barely look after them (I know I used not to – life in London was just too hectic), or plant flowers. The essential life connection with the Earth who feeds us has become removed from us, mediated by wholesale and supermarket. Scrubbed clean and packaged for our convenience. We have uprooted ourselves and wonder that we feel lost.

If you are reading this, and you don’t grow your own food yet, try it. You don’t need three quarters of an acre. All it takes is a flower pot, some potting compost, and some seeds. Choose your favourite herb and grow it on your window sill. Feel the soil in your hands, put the seed – your intent for connection – into the pot, and wait for the miracle. Few things in life are more rewarding.


Diving deeply into the sea of sensation

Waning Leaf Moon

For as long as I can remember, I have had this longing to live fully, to feel deeply. My soul thirsts for connection with something that is larger than myself, something Divine.

Many years ago, I looked for that connection with the Christian God, exalted and detached from His creation. But the strongest and most lasting connection came when I recognised the Divine within all beings, from the vastness of the Night Sky, to a blade of grass.

Of course, I am human, and none of us can or should live in a state of graced connection all of the time. But I will seek out moments of inspiration that flow between me and the birch tree in the garden, or me and the morning call of the mistle thrush.

Mistle Thrush (wikimedia commons)

Mistle Thrush (wikimedia commons)

Right now, finding those connections is more important than ever. If I am to co-operate with the spirits of this place to make a house and garden that are in harmony with the land, I need to be able to connect and listen deeply. It’s part of the job.

As I am beginning to do the work, I have found that I am holding back. I am not allowing myself to dive into the moments of connection as deeply as I would like. And the whispers of Westacre’s spirit remain somewhat distant and indistinct.

This is hardly new. I have always carried resistance to what is, to the here and now. It comes from experiences in childhood that told me that feelings were painful, and that the world was not to be trusted.

So as I sought connection with the spirits of Westacre this afternoon, I could feel that familiar block in my heart. I accepted its harness and roughness. Its discomfort. I needed to get past it.

With the Waning Moon, I called upon the Element of Water. I felt its liquid quality, its ability to seep through the smallest cracks. I anointed myself with it and let the clear water soothe me. And with that extra bit of help, I was able to move past the old discomfort in my heart and open up to the world around me.

The wind singing in the high ash trees. The warmth of the sun on my face – warm at long last. Birds singing their joy of life to the world. I sipped some of the water and with it, dived even deeper, becoming one with the flow of life around me. There, the voice of Spirit speaks clearly, and brings healing.

Do you speak to the beings that live around you? How do you do it? Are there any blocks that stop you from going deeper? How do you deal with them?

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Being with the reality of now

Full Leaf Moon

Things are not going as planned. The Westacre Project is running late. So is the Spring. And doing sunrise meditations isn’t working for me either.

I had it all worked out in my head. We’d move from Harrow to Westacre at the Winter Solstice. We would start work on the Westacre project immediately. I would take on the garden and have at least potatoes planted in March. And I would go out every morning at Sunrise to meditate and connect with my new land. It didn’t quite go that way.

I’m especially disappointed about the Sunrise meditation. I really hoped that it would work out. The plan was, that as the days lengthened, I would go out earlier each day and go back to bed afterwards for some more sleep. Unfortunately, my body disagrees. I just cannot get back to sleep. And all of that is playing havoc with my sleeping patterns and my energy.

It doesn’t help that it is still so very cold. You’d expect that by late March Spring would be well on its way and the temperatures would be rising. Instead, I am writing this with snow on the ground, in an outdoor temperature of 2 degrees C and a biting Easterly wind. Of course, it’s even colder at Sunrise.

Frozen Daffodil in the March garden

Frozen Daffodil in the March garden

I can feel myself resisting the reality of now. I feel guilty about abandoning my experiment. And I am judging the snow for being in my way, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s not supposed to be like this.

But resisting it really doesn’t help. Me getting grumpy at the unseasonably cold weather really isn’t going to make the snow melt or the sun come out. In the same way, getting worried about the timing of the Westacre Project is not going to make the clock turn back or the jobs miraculously done. Resisting the reality of what is, in this moment, is both useless and a waste of energy and inner peace.

So I have to work with what I’ve got. A house that isn’t ready to start renovating just yet, gives us plenty of jobs to do in order to get it there. A garden under snow takes away any need to worry about the digging and planting that has not been done, and gives me ample opportunity to do some practical planning work. A meditation practice that isn’t quite as romantic as I would have hoped, still has the potential to connect me deeply to the place where I live and work.

Accepting these realities isn’t easy. After a very long Winter, we are all longing for warm sunny days. It is human nature to resist and protest what is uncomfortable. But real peace comes from that kind of acceptance. And the first step is to accept our human nature and the feelings of resistance that arise.

It’s a very small beginning, but accepting just that, just our own human feelings, gives us the space to breathe more easily and embrace the reality of now.

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Beginning again

Spring Equinox

Have you sat and listened, really listened recently? Even though the air is still cold, and occasionally snow drifts down, the earth is filled with life and expectation. She is well nigh bursting with the urge to grow and unfurl and flower. She is waiting for the right time, for that little bit of warm sunshine.

I have been feeling much the same since the Winter Solstice. The practicalities of the Westacre Project have not entirely gone to schedule, so things are happening a couple of months later than we would have hoped. I have been well nigh bursting with impatience to start digging and stripping and constructing. I’ve just been waiting for the opportunity to settle and really arrive.

In the chaos of a double house move, I have not been able to keep up my spiritual practice. And it was really beginning to tell on me. I could feel the stress beginning to get the better of me. But here we are at last, the sole occupiers as well as the owners of Westacre.

Now I can begin again. I have re-committed to my sunrise and sunset meditations – now exactly 12 hours apart, and to my ritual practice. Today, I asked the spirits of Westacre to show me how to begin building a more practical connection with them.daffodil

I was guided to feel the emotions that this place evokes in me. And right now, it makes me feel decidedly overwhelmed. The old growth from last year has never been removed, the grass is growing longer, and the veg beds haven’t been touched for years. And I’m not even thinking about what needs to happen in the house. So I sat with the feeling of overwhelm, let it flow through me, and let its currents settle and come to rest.

From that place of peace, I could really begin to listen to the land, feel that life force ready to burst, taste the purity of the wind. I was told that, as I begin to work this garden, I need to listen like that all the time. I need to flow with the subtle currents of the land as I work. That way, everything I do will be a stitch in the great embroidery that is my connection to this place. And my work will be a blessing and a prayer for the world.

What feelings stop you from really listening? Can you accept them as part of your reality, so they no longer distract you? What do you really need to listen to at this time?


How to welcome the joys of life

Waxing Root Moon

After two months of struggling with my new meditation practice at sunrise and sunset, I’m finally getting the hang of it.

My main point of difficulty is the sunrise meditation. I never wake up in the right state of mind to meditate. My thoughts race away with me in all directions. They don’t settle very easily. And as the sun rises earlier with the coming Spring, getting up for the sunrise gets harder every day.

Of course, given my life circumstances at the moment, it is not surprising that I’m stressed, or that my thoughts tend to wander to which wall in the bungalow I should paint first that morning. It’s normal to be stressed when life is changing so drastically.

But a few things are different.

The first change came with Imbolc, when I re-connected with a practice that has been valuable to me before. It’s called the Dance of Life and it is a moving meditation with a chant that is done every morning when my spiritual family gathers. I have taken it home and practised it in the mornings before. It has the benefit of getting me out of my mind and into my body. And because of its weaving movements, it connects me quite literally to the beings who surround me. After three rounds of the Dance of Life, I feel a lot more settled.

Secondly, the weather has changed dramatically in the last few days. Straight after flurries of snow, we have had four of the most gorgeous, sunny and mild Spring days I can remember. All of Nature is breathing a sigh of relief and waking to the new light. And I am waking with it.

And finally, I have remembered something important. When I am that tense, when I find it impossible to settle and my muscles ache, it means I am putting effort into holding myself together. In some way, I am fighting reality and not finding peace with what is. It’s not a good way to go, and it’s bad for my physical, emotional and spiritual health.

What I am doing when I’m tense like that is literally putting up defences. We all naturally hold a space around ourselves. You know this most clearly when someone unexpectedly enters your personal space. It makes you uncomfortable and you will shift to preserve it. When you feel vulnerable, you will strengthen and thicken the edges of your space. They will relax and become more permeable when you relax.

My defences tend to be quite sturdy at the best of times. I have to remind myself to relax and to trust. And while I’m living in a house that’s not my own, doing physical work every day, and wondering how we’re going to get everything done, my defences have begun to resemble mediaeval fortifications.

If I want to meditate, and stay sane, I need to soften those defences and let in the joys of life again. And I do it by inviting beauty into my personal space.

This morning, I asked the gentle light of the rising sun to paint the edge of my personal space. I let my defences become sunrise-coloured. Soon, I felt a lot better, and could sense my castle wall beginning to thin. I asked the snowdrops by the apple tree to do the same. Their gentle bobbing motion began to fill my awareness, and after a while I could feel how my defences had become permeable. The energy of the snowdrops had pierced it, and I was sharing my space with them.

It works beautifully. You can do it with sunlight, moonlight, bird song, flowers, trees, your cat, a friend. You can welcome anything into your personal space and share its energy. It’s a joyful experience and lifts my spirits every time.

I still struggle to meditate in the morning, but at least I have a place to start. I’m looking forward to finding out who will join me in the morning.


Imbolc blessings and frustrations

New Root Moon

Imbolc is such a beautiful time of year. I’m cheering on the snow drops beginning to open their petals in the garden. I relish the clarity of the sunshine, on days when we are so blessed. The air is full of the promise of Spring.

But at the same time, Winter is still firmly here as well. The temperatures are staying very low, and we’re getting cold rain, sleet, and snow. Spring is promised, but not yet here.

My life is mirroring the weather, these days. We are here at Westacre, and every morning promises the beginning of our new life. But we’re not quite there yet. We’re still working hard on Roger’s bungalow, and sometimes it feels like it will never end.

I celebrated Imbolc with my spiritual family this year. It was an honour to witness our maturity as our organisation’s structure needs to change and we need to take responsibility for all of what we do together. But what really made my heart sing was being able to share ritual with my people.

Snowdrops from

Snowdrops from

The shared festival reminded me of my dream, of what I believe I am here for. It is my calling to make rituals that connect people to the spirits of their place and their time. To weave the magic of connection. And there I was, for a few days, doing just that. I felt more relaxed than I had for ages, and I felt inspired to dive back into the bungalow work.

But returning was harder than I had expected. I still get enthusiastic about Golden Goose and Frapuccino paint, and even Manhattan Grey tiling grout, but I am getting impatient. As long as we are pushing to get the bungalow habitable, I don’t have time or head space for my own projects.

During those sunny days last week I would have loved to have started digging in the Westacre vegetable patch. And I am dying to deepen my connections to the Guardian Oak, the Grandmother Apple, and the drifts of snow drops. But it has to wait. After all this time, it still has to wait. And I’m getting a touch frustrated.

Today was a day off. Just being able to relax and read does do me good. What I really need to do, though, is reach out to my community and get some moral support when times are tough. Trouble is that I tend to shut down and find it even harder to pick up a phone when I’m not my best positive self.

So, feeling like a snowdrop, not quite yet open in the grey and wet, I hold on despite the cold weather and know, for sure, that the Spring will come. It will come, and all will be well.


Restless mornings

Waning Maiden Moon

I’m not having an easy time meditating these days. I just don’t seem to be able to concentrate, and whatever I’m doing in the bungalow seems to bleed into my meditation time.

Now, it’s hardly surprising that my mind is a touch restless. Life is rather stressful at the moment. In no-man’s land somewhere between lives, it’s hard to tell where home even is. I don’t feel grounded enough for my mind to rest.

My new experiment of meditating at sunrise doesn’t help much either. I’ve never been very good at finding stillness first thing in the morning. So I have really set myself up for a double difficulty.

After over a month of practice, though, I’m beginning to learn. Apparently, my mind comes to rest when I focus on my body. When I direct the first rays of the rising sun, or the colours of the sunset, into my body, I find it much easier to relax. Just watching my muscles let go of tension really helps my mind to let go of thoughts about painting, or the fact that the veg patch still needs digging, or whether the estate agent managed to get some nice pictures of our house.

Today, the wind helped a lot. The strong winds make a big difference from the quiet weather we’ve had recently. The wind really touches me, flows through me, and helps me to focus on my body. It’s lovely to sit out and let the cobwebs blow away.

Meditation at sunrise by skyseeker

Meditation at sunrise by skyseeker

For the next six days, I’ll be with my spiritual community at Wildways. There is a morning meditation at 7:30 in the morning, the same time that I got up for my sunrise meditation this morning. So it shouldn’t be a problem joining in with that. Hopefully, the sense of shared presence with others will also help and give my daily practice a boost.

Do you have a regular meditation practice? What helps you to still your mind? What hinders you? Although I won’t be here to read your comments in the next week or so, I’d love to see some when I get back.

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The great wave of being

Waxing Maiden Moon

The Westacre Project is a scary thing. It’s two house renovations, one more ambitious than the other. It’s a move across the country. It’s a complete life change. It’s a huge gardening task. And for me it’s also a new business idea that needs nurturing. When I start to think about all those aspects at once, I get a touch overwhelmed. It’s an ambitious thing for two people to take on.

Still, I believe and I have faith that we will do this, that I can do this. Deep inside of me a fire is burning that will get me to my destination. I have the power to create the life of my dreams.

This is a new thing for me. I have always had these grand dreams, and I could feel that fire burning inside me, but I could never put the two together. I could never work out how to draw on that fire and make it work for me.

Two things have changed. A year ago my life was taken apart to such an extent that there was nothing left except for that very fire deep, deep inside. And we have started working on this one project which is both bold and ambitious and at the same time achievable. I have a purpose like I never had in my life before. The beauty of it is that I’m not doing it on my own.waveofbeing

If you read back through this blog, you will find the story of my struggle with abdominal pain and how it stripped everything from me. The security of living in a body that was functioning well. The reality of being a teacher. The belief that my spirituality would heal me better than any medication. All these things fell away. All there was left was this single luminous thread of connection to the Divine. This feeling that I am still, and always will be, part of a greater reality, a drop in the Great Wave of Being.

It is that very connection to the force of Life itself that gives me power. Recently, as I have moved to Westacre and started giving the project my full attention, I have felt that great power sustain me. A year ago, it was something that I could only reach in the stillness, away from the demands of life. Now, it is accessible: I am the Great Wave of Being embodied as a human being. I feel that I can use it to help me create this new life, this dream of connection.

I send that power, that sense of purpose, out into the world. I use it to reach out to the spirits of Westacre, asking for their help and support. I use it to hold my Tribe, my extended family of Spirit, in my heart as it also searches for its greater identity and its purpose. I use it to pray that what I do will in some small way inspire someone else to create a life that is more deeply connected to our Earth and to Spirit.

Because we are all drops in the Great Wave of Being. We all have the power to envision and to create a world of connection where all beings support each other and allow life to flow freely, for the good of all.

Do you have a connection with your inner power, which is the power of Life flowing through you? How did you find that connection? What are you using it for? Please comment below.

image by J Hibbs



Maiden New Moon

As Galadriel says at the beginning of the Lord of the Rings movies: “The world is changed. I can feel it in the water, I can feel it in the Earth, I can smell it in the air.”

I did my sunrise meditation among snow flakes today. Suddenly it has gone colder, after weeks of very mild temperatures and incessant rain. The daffodils are many centimetres high all around the Westacre garden, some of them with flower buds.

The seasons seem to have given up any pretence of order, and we now live in a perpetual ‘Sprautumn': never very hot, never very cold, moving from Spring straight into Autumn without stopping for Summer.

Climate change is probably the biggest cause of uncertainty in our world today, although there are many other shifts and upheavals. Under the circumstances, it’s hard to find solid ground. If even the Earth, that source of solidity, stability and strength, is changing, what can we trust?

I have the same struggle in my inner life. Due to my dad’s illness, my world was full of uncertainty and unpredictable upheaval. I grew up with very little trust in life. I could never be sure that things would be OK in the morning. On top of that, I was bullied at school and had a long time friendship end in betrayal. I could not trust my world, or the people in it.

Even now I have difficulty trusting. Somewhere deep inside, I never quite believe that I am safe.

A month or so ago, I decided to really work on this trust issue. Since then, I have been visualising my inner Sanctuary. It is a place deep inside of me that is protected by stone and earth and by the power of my Goddess. Here, nothing can happen to me. Here, I am safe. I feel that sense of security and breathe it through my body, sharing it as a blessing with my surroundings.

Today, at the New Maiden Moon, I am ready to play with this new feeling of safety. It is time for me to test its strength. Can I trust that, no matter what, everything will be OK. Can I trust that I will be strong enough to see the Westacre project through? Can I deeply believe that I will be safe, even if all the work takes much longer than we had hoped? Can I feel safe, no matter how unpredictable life gets?

In the deep of that Sanctuary, I find the truth about myself, which is the truth about all of us: I am connected to All That Is. I am held by the great Web of Life, that reaches to the farthest star. I am part of the great wave of Being. No matter what, I am safe.


Do you have your own inner sanctuary? Where do you go when everything around you is shifting and shaking? Where do you find stability and strength? Please comment below.

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Co-creating with the rain

Waning Seed Moon

It certainly has rained a lot, recently. Over Christmas, parts of the country were flooded, with dire consequences for a lot of people. Everywhere else was waterlogged. Even the Westacre garden, which has well draining soil and is relatively high on a slope, was squishy underfoot.

The weather put paid to another one of my ideas of how things would go when we moved here. I planned to start digging in the garden immediately, clearing the rather neglected vegetable beds for the coming growing season. But that wasn’t an option just a few days ago.

The wet weather has been disastrous across the country. From flooded out homes to crops that couldn’t be harvested, the rain was causing a lot of damage.

Flooded field by Harvey Robinson

Flooded field by Harvey Robinson

Instead of getting frustrated with the weather, I decided to speak with the spirit of the land and of the rain. I wanted some guidance about how I could connect with the rain with respect and with a positive attitude. Extreme weather is going to be part of our lives. It’s not going away. So we need to find ways to work with the weather gods rather than against them.

The result was rather surprising. The spirit of the soil told me she was rather enjoying this mud bath. She said she is still recovering from the drought of the last few years and is drinking deeply of the nurturing rains.

I asked how I could work with the spirit of the rain. She came as a lady in transparent white. She said I need to feel the wet weather and receive it with gratitude. Eventually, it would stop raining, and I need to be ready for it, ready to do the work on the land. She also asked me to appreciate water wherever I encounter it.

For about a week now, I have been doing exactly this. As it continued raining, I received its cleansing quality with gratitude. And I have used water consciously and with appreciation. After just a few days of that, it stopped raining so much. The weather forecast for the next ten days only has two days with some light rain. The rest is mercifully dry.

If it stays that way, I’ll soon be able to do some work in the Westacre garden. I am looking forward to getting to know the spirits of the vegetable patch.


Learn more about Westacre, its garden and its people by clicking here.


A new experiment

Full Seed Moon

At the Winter Solstice, I started a new experiment. My intention is to meditate twice each day, at sunrise and sunset. I have been wanting to do this for years, but my life and work made it hard to arrange.

But now I have a new life, and I can create a new routine. We’ll see how it goes.

Of course, just now, around the Christmas holiday, it has been relatively easy. Getting up for sunrise at 8:20am isn’t any hardship. And I haven’t been doing anything crucial that was rudely interrupted by meditation time for sunset at 4pm. It will probably get a bit harder as we get to work in the bungalow again, and especially towards Midsummer, when the sun rises very early indeed.

These daily meditations are a crucial part of my new life, though. For the first time since I was a student, I have a very clear purpose. Everything that I do is about creating mutually beneficial connections that will make Westacre into a home of harmony and beauty. Meditating regularly is essential to those new connections.

The meditation I do is essentially mindfulness meditation. I sit, preferably outside and preferably on my blanket on the ground, and note every experience as it passes. My breath, the wind, a thought, bird song, the touch of the earth, cars passing, … I stay present without judgement, allowing myself to really hear and feel my surroundings.

And even after just a few days, I have made some valuable discoveries:

- It’s not easy for me to meditate first thing in the morning. It takes me a while to settle and find my ability to concentrate. I am hoping this will improve with time and practice.roots

– As I seek connection with the soil of Westacre, gently feeling its life and character by extending roots into the ground, I can feel the soil answering me. As I long to become part of this place, so it wishes to become part of me. It is a relationship of equals. As well as reaching out, I need to open my door and let the other in.

– The Westacre soil is sodden wet. It has been raining a lot here, recently, and the lawn squishes as you walk on it. This puts paid to my resolution to get into the garden and start digging up vegetable beds straight away. I would do more harm than good. So next I will ask the spirits of this place and my spirit teachers for ways to connect and co-create with the rain. Because there is more to come.

And so the adventure begins. I will learn to call all of myself to my meditation practice. I will gradually allow my relationship with this land to deepen. And I will find ways to work with the spirits of Earth and Water, for the good of all.

What kind of connection do you have with the place where you live? Have you been able to build a relationship with the local spirits? How did you do that? Do you have any advice for me?

Please comment below.
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A new beginning

Winter Solstice

Midwinter sunrise (copyright Liz Keil)

Midwinter sunrise (copyright Liz Keil)

Tomorrow is Westacre Day. I’ve been counting down the days, with increasing seriousness, for the last year. Westacre Day is the day I get into the car with my husband and some of my most treasured possessions, and drive to our new home to take up residence.

I first chose this date for its symbolic significance, and because it was so late in the year that we were certain Roger would have moved to the bungalow and we would have the Westacre to ourselves.

That hasn’t happened. I’ll be moving in with my father-in-law for a while. But the symbolism of the date is strong enough for me to hold on to and to honour. Tomorrow, will spiritually move from my old home to the new, and I will celebrate the change with a ritual. Read the rest of this entry »

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Seeds sleeping in the Earth

Seed (image source: wikipedia)

Seed (image source: wikipedia)

New Seed Moon

Yesterday morning, as I walked to the station for my last day at work, nature was dressed in a white gown of hoar frost. Every twig, every fallen leaf was outlined in delicate silver. It was breathtakingly beautiful.

At this time of year, the Earth sleeps. As the northern hemisphere tilts away from the Sun, and the nights here are at their longest, the Mother is taking a well deserved rest. Today, at the New Moon, the sky is lit only by stars, and the world is at its darkest. Read the rest of this entry »


Finding the sacred within

Waning Compost Moon

I’ve just finished re-re-re-reading Ritual by Emma Restall Orr. It is one of my return-to spiritual books. And this time I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before.

In the book, although she doesn’t say this in so many words, Bobcat speaks of us, individual human beings, as equal to any other aspect of nature: sacred and filled with spirit. This stopped me short a little, as that doesn’t tend to be the way I think of myself.

A few months ago, though, I received a teaching from my spirit guide that has similar implications. Read the rest of this entry »


Eco-renovation for the good of all beings

Compost Full Moon

We’re so lucky. Not everyone has both the opportunity and the means to make their dream come true. In just a few weeks’ time, I will be able to dedicate myself to it full time.

In the first instance, the dream is to create a home for ourselves that is as energy efficient as we can make it and has the lowest possible impact on the environment.

Alex would explain his reasons for this in terms of peak oil and the likelihood of fuel insecurity in our near future. He would also mention climate change and the importance of reducing our fossil fuel use so we don’t make its effects even worse than they would be already. Read the rest of this entry »