Sacred steps to practical healing

A step on the Pathway of Transformation.

I love the New Year. It feels like an opportunity to begin anew. Dreams and intentions feel fresh once more, and old routines can be dusted off and revived, transformed for a new purpose.

This New Year is extra special, as there will also be a New Moon on 1st January. Its energy will strengthen the feeling of renewal as I step deeper into a life of commitment.

My greatest concern for the future is the global challenge of climate change. I know that in order to protect our planet, ourselves, and all beings who live on the Earth from the worst effects of our changing environment, we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground as much as possible. We need to use kinder ways of powering our lives.

The Westacre project is our way of reducing our energy requirements. In 2014, we will be doing most of the major building work for our house renovation. We are aiming to cut out our need for fossil fuels by heating our house with solar hot water. We already buy our electricity from a green power provider.

The UK government has different priorities, though. Rather than keeping fossil fuels in the ground, it has embarked on a drive to exploit as much of this island’s fossil fuel as possible. Even if that exploitation entails highly controversial extraction methods that endanger the countryside and threaten to poison, our land, water, and air.

It seems insane to me that this late in the game, when the consequences of using fossil fuels are obvious and dominating the international news ever more frequently, we should be desecrating the land in order to get more. That, and the obvious conflicts of interest at the highest levels of government, makes me livid. And I need to do something about it.

Together with some Druid friends, I will be going out to speak to pagans across the country. We will tell them about fracking, and about what we can do, together, to defend our land and our planet against its threats. In 2014, I commit myself to keeping those fossil fuels firmly under Britain’s ground.

Anti-fracking activism isn’t exactly my natural element. I like to keep myself to myself, and stay far away from trouble or conflict. But this is so overwhelmingly important that I need to put myself out there and shout with the protectors until we are heard: Frack off. Take your drills off our land.

I am going to need all the help I can get. I am drawing close to friends, making community around this issue and our belief in the sacredness of the land and all beings we share it with. I am calling on the spirits who guide me, asking for strength and inspiration as I step into the unknown. My spiritual practice will be a succession of gateways, of new beginnings, stepping into new strength each time.

A natural arch made by two trees is a beautiful gateway to use for this ritual.  © Copyright Ian Greig

A natural arch made by two trees is a beautiful gateway to use for this ritual. © Copyright Ian Greig

As you become aware of the injustices that happen around you, you also will feel the need to find transformation. As you step into situations you have never faced before, you can consciously create a gateway where you leave behind what holds you back, and embrace the strength that is yours. And it doesn’t need to be the New Year for you to do so.

Any moment of change, any major point on the Wheel of the Seasons, any significant phase of the Moon can be a moment of transformation and renewal. This year, take every opportunity to walk away from the limits you impose on yourself, and to step into your greater strength.

Creating a gateway

Any of those moments, whether it is a Waning Quarter Moon, or the great festival of Beltane, is a great time to create a personal gateway of transformation. All it takes is a little thought and preparation.

Start by taking some time alone. Take your journal with you, if writing helps you focus. Ask yourself three questions:

Where do I want to be? What is it you are preparing for? Do you want to prepare your first ever vegetable patch for planting this Spring? Do you need to broach a tricky subject with a loved one? Do you want to make your first foray into front line activism? Whatever it is, be very clear about what you want.

- Where are you now? A complete novice in gardening? Very averse to conflict? Not in any way physically brave? Don’t judge yourself for these things. Just take factual stock of what is true for you right now, and love yourself for who you are.

What do you need to get from here to there? What qualities would help you do what you need to do? Patience? Curiosity? Passion? Courage? What do you need and why? And what do you need to let go of? Usually these are stories of inadequacy.

Next, create a symbolic gateway, or find one in nature. This can be as simple as two stones to walk between, or a line of autumn leaves to step across. If it’s a big gateway you are passing through, you may wish to make an archway from hazel branches, or use a natural gap between trees or rocks.

Now you are ready to walk into your new reality. Begin by standing some distance away from your gateway. Feel into your body, your mind, your emotions. Be with yourself as you are right now. You are a wondrous weaving of past, present and future; of the gods, the ancestors and the elements. Slowly walk towards your gateway in your own accepting company.

Before you are ready to cross the threshold, let go of any feelings of inadequacy you may carry. Then, send out your prayer to the four directions. Ask for the qualities you need from North, East, South and West. Face in each direction in turn. Sense these qualities flowing towards you. They are part of what it is to be alive on this Earth. They are part of Nature and part of you. Breathe them into yourself, strengthening the seeds that are there already.

Now face your gateway. Visualise your purpose beyond the threshold. See the place where you want to go: the difficult discussion, the vegetable patch, the activist front line. Bring your qualities with you, and step into that place. Feel yourself present there.

Give thanks to all the spirits who helped you cross that threshold. Honour them as you let go of ritual time and space, and manifest your purpose in the world.

Whatever your challenge this New Year, this New Moon, or at any time throughout the year, try this ritual. And let me know how it goes.

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