Steps on the Pathway of Transformation

Why did I ever think that it would make sense to write the steps on the Four Pathways in order, one by one? Life isn't that well ordered. And the flow of inspiration takes twists and turns like a river through a landscape.

Over the last couple of months, I have been working on my healing. I had another bout of ill health in June, and needed to find a new way of being with my body, with my physical pain.

I sensed intuitively that I needed to learn how to listen deeply to the signals of my body. I needed to find ways to let my body teach me what choices to make for health and balance.

Unfortunately, that's less easy than it sounds. I have spent most of my lifetime hiding away from my feelings and from the signals of my body. Listening too closely was painful, and I often got the sense that staying with these sensations would pitch me into an overwhelming flow of difficult emotions.

Over a lifetime, I learned that the world is not to be trusted. Things may seem OK right now, but they can turn around without warning and come and bite you. A friend's betrayal long ago. A parent's chronic illness and frequent admissions to hospital. No wonder my world felt wobbly.

So the first thing I had to learn was trust. I had to let myself believe that in the end, all will be well. The Earth will always hold me in unconditional support. The Sun will always shine its light through the cycles of the seasons.

Slowly, I started to relax. I let myself trust. But soon, I came up against another problem. Me.

Like every other human being, I'm not perfect. There are a few things about my make-up that can irritate me. I don't perform well in big groups of people. I tire relatively easily. I fear conflict and avoid it at all costs. Just to give a few examples.

But if I want to listen to the messages of my body, I need to listen to those signals too. They are my teachers. They show me without fail where balance is to be found. My personal balance lies in close relationship with one or two people. It thrives in quiet environments where I get plenty of rest. Fear shows me where my boundaries are, and once that is clear, I can choose how to act: by putting up defences (avoidance is one of those) or by stepping outside of my comfort zone.

All these things are part of me. And over the last several weeks I have discovered that accepting them, appreciating them, and loving them for the guides they are, does more for transforming me for the better than any attempt at wilfully changing them ever did.


Dark and Light, One Whole. Image: Yin-Yang mask by Chris Palmer

Along with acceptance of these parts of myself I once labelled irritating, came the acceptance of other aspects I wasn't necessarily comfortable with. Those parts of myself that shine and sparkle for all to see, because I'm passionate about them. Those flashes of power that are made up out of my best talents, which are also my greatest vulnerabilities.

Self-acceptance demands that I gently hold the dark corners of my soul, but also the bright ones. Somewhere between my fear and my passion, I am connected to my gods, my land and my community. And in that collective, I am truly powerful. Together with all the beings, human, spirit, plant and mineral, who support me through my life, I am fully human, my greater Self.

Accepting all that has allowed me to step up and offer something I dearly love doing in service to my community. I am holding my vulnerable self gently and allowing my bright self to shine.

This is quite a transformation, and these last few weeks have just been the tail end of a process that has taken many years, and will probably have its wobbles in the future. But this is the essence of the work on the Path of Transformation.

Here is a little ritual to get you started.

Balancing dark and light

This is a great ritual to perform at this time of Equinox, or at any Waxing or Waning Moon.

Find two stones about the size of an egg, one dark and one light in colour.

Go to a quiet place, in your home our out in nature, where you can be undisturbed for a while.

If you feel the need, cast a circle and perform a ritual opening. Or if your prefer, just relax and let your personal space stretch in a comfortable circle around you.

Place the light coloured stone at the Southern point of your circle, the place of greatest light and radiance. Place the dark stone in the North, the place of darkness and shadows.

Sit in the centre of the circle and relax for a while. Feel the stillness at the centre. When you are ready, choose to go to one stone or the other, the order doesn't matter.

Pick up the stone. If it is the dark stone, hold it gently and bring to mind one of those things about yourself you don't really like. That thing you accuse yourself of 'always' doing.

Just sit with that part of yourself. Let images come of it being in your life. Let it show your its world, its origins, its needs. Just let the images flow.

When you are ready, widen your heart and let this part of yourself come in from the cold. Embrace it. Give it love and acceptance. Give yourself love and acceptance.

Now get up and move the stone to the West of the circle (or the East at the Waxing Moon or the Spring Equinox).

Move to the other stone. Pick it up and hold it gently. With the light coloured stone, bring to mind something you really love, a quiet passion of yours that you feel afraid to show to the world. It may even be something you regularly show to the world but are shy to acknowledge.

Sit with that shining part of yourself. Let images come of its presence in your life. Let it show you its potential, its desires. Just let these images flow.

When you are ready, widen your heart and let this glorious part of you come in from the cold. Embrace it. Own it. Give it love and acceptance. Give your brightest self love and acceptance.

Now get up and move the stone to the West of the circle (or the East at the Waxing Moon or the Spring Equinox).

Sit down with the two stones. Hold them both, one in each hand if you wish. Feel both of them in your body, present inside you. Don't judge. Just allow them to be there. Gently hold all of who you are.

When you feel ready to finish, let your circle draw closer to your body, or close your ritual. Take your time to ground and settle.

Then take your true self for a walk into the reality of your life.