Sunday, 22 February 2015

I've Cut My Teeth On Lesser Men...

A challenging statement with which to start today's blog post? Well yes, however it's not meant to be gender specific, more relating to humans than opposite-sex-to-me men!

This evening, Ms Magenta ponders what it means to be a WARRIOR. Earlier today, my lovely friend Earl (see Karmic Coaching for some of his great work) sent me an article to read. It was an article he felt spoke to him, in part about me. I am honoured that this great man sees me as a Warrior Sister, and you know what, it's true! Too often we hide our light under a bushel, afraid it will seem arrogant or self serving if we name our talents and skills. But what is this dis-ease with knowing who we are and being able to speak of that with confidence? I, Steph Magenta, am a Warrior!

The article which you can read here is an interesting read, highlighting a combination of old values of warrior hood against new ones. What does it mean to be a warrior in today's society, especially if you don't live in a typically war faring culture? To me it means to be strong in your convictions, to be bold in your aspirations and to know exactly when to advance and when to retreat. It means to know when you are in danger, to be prudent enough to recognise an adversary, wise enough to know when you have met an ally and to be clever enough to how to move between those states and people with the grace of a deer, the force of the great bear or the buffalo, and the cunning of the fox.

I chose the image from Kill Bill above very deliberately. The Bride: classic symbol of a woman dressed in virginal white, pure of heart and body, agreeing to honour and obey her soon-to-be husband. Maybe it's less obvious these days with new possibilities for wording your ceremony, but the tradition nevertheless holds some kind of collective conscious expectation, for both behaviour and compliance. I like that the bride wields the sword of the warrior in her wedding gown. It's a juxtaposition that pleases me as it jars slightly, which is a good thing. It's good because it makes us think.


One of my favourite scenes from Game of Thrones, from my favourite female character, is the one where Daenerys Targaryen is trading for her army. Courageously entering enemy territory, she stands, silently listening to a heap of abusive words being directed at her in another language presumed she doesn't understand. She maintains her poise and her dignity until the moment when the man who would cheat her, realises that not only are her legions loyal, and her dragons her protectors, but that her intellect is mighty. Revealing only in the precise moment of uprising that she understands everything, the battle is already won, and her strategy wins her her army.

Being a warrior is indeed strategic. We must learn from life or be condemned to repeat our mistakes or die (not necessarily literally). Repetition can dull the senses or it can sharpen the practice depending on context and intent.

"To walk the full length of a path that one truly loves, Don Juan said, one needs passion, courage, imagination, vigilance, discipline, self awareness, grace, strength, resourcefulness, efficiency, patience, adaptability and the humbleness of a navigator."

That's quite a list. It formed part of what was taught to Carlos Castaneda by his teacher Don Juan in his shamanic apprenticeship, and it became part of what he called his Magical Passes, a series of movements designed to bring all of those qualities into the heart of the Seeker, the Visionary and the Warrior.

In my shamanic training we are taught various movement and other daily practices to help us maintain exactly that kind of focus. A warrior cannot be lazy! A warrior cannot be complacent, or make assumptions. A warrior must be vigilant indeed. For me, given that I don't have to worry about a neighbouring tribe attacking me at any moment, or a buffalo stampede in my garden,  my vigilance is generally of the mental, emotional and spiritual kind. It's a way of dedicating my life to growth and to health. When I say health I simply mean to have a strong mind and a clear heart and to honour my body enough that it can be a forceful channel for both.

I've done my time in the lair of those who would have me down. I've done my time in my own self imposed prisons of misery and suffering. I've walked the path of addiction, abuse and anger, and it's passed and is in the past. I'm no longer pointing my weapons outward from the door of my cave, expecting trouble, because I trust in my ability to be a Warrior at all times.

Witches were burnt at the stake if they floated and did not drown as this was seen as evidence of their demonic possessions; a lose-lose situation if ever there was one! As a warrior, one has to have known defeat, known suffering, known hardship and known devotion, and rising from these things is where our swords are truly forged.

How will you turn your defeat into determination? Your suffering into strength? Your hardship into heart and your devotion into love?

How do you stake your claim in life? And do you even recognise it yet? If not, find someone, find people with whom you can get yourself in metaphorical training. Your sword awaits you. Aho!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Following The Trail - Stalking Your Bliss

What does it mean to 'Follow Your Bliss'? What does it cost to follow it? And where do you even get started?

Joseph Campbell, originator of the phrase, when asked if he ever felt a sense of being helped by invisible hands replied:

"All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time - namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be."

So why do we hesitate? why do we allow ourselves to become distracted, confused, fear-full? Largely because we can always find enough reasons not to do something rather than looking, or rather feeling, all the reasons there are to do something. So often when I'm holding space, I am coaching people into their hearts, into finding their true voices and their authentic selves. Lost, buried, forgotten, our true desires can become something we associate with naiveté, youth or ignorance when in fact the opposite is true but we have simply forgotten that innocent place wherein lies the beauty of imagination and the power of the Dream.

Bliss: In Sanskrit the word for this contains three syllables - SAT-CHIT-ANANDA. Sat = Being. Chit = Consciousness. ANANDA = Bliss or Rapture. So, we combine the purity of being, with the state of high consciousness (or awareness) and enter into a state of Bliss. Meditators speak of it, Tantrikas speak of it, Monks and Holy people and Shamans speak of it. But what is it?

Campbell states very openly that he doesn't know where his consciousness is, or whether his thoughts on that are even proper or not, but that he does know where his rapture is, so that's what he will hang on to. Seems like a good and simple strategy to me. On a recent money coaching webinar I signed in to, one thing that arose in relation to the notion of making a really good living doing what we love, was a challenge to journal what you are doing and where you are when you are really in your bliss, in your pleasure, and in your passion. Notice it, write it down, and get clear! What makes you truly happy? All of these things give us clues into the calling of our souls, into our deepest longings and our greatest potential talents. They are signposts if you like, and often the seemingly synchronistic events that illuminate this and offer up these clues are ignored. Instead, what most of us do though, is visit those things for brief holidays, or brief encounters. Why? Because we are trained into a 'can't do' rather than a 'can do' attitude. So how do we transform that?

We start by becoming courageous. We start by paying attention to, and following our dreams and trusting where that takes us. Here's where it gets risky; we may hear the call of the wild and get scared of what we could lose, never realising what we may have to gain.

I started stalking my dreams and visions several years ago and began writing each year, just after the Gregorian New Year, a kind of Dream Quest in which I would call in all I wished for myself in the coming twelve months. I write this as if it's already happened, and I tell you, intention is a very powerful thing. Each year it has worked so powerfully and having seen what was possible, I wanted to share this with people. It has now become one my annual Soul Session Workshops.

In this year's Dream Quest I visioned visiting Bali. It's been calling me in my dreams, both waking and sleeping for over two years now and it's been in my memory since childhood, although I have never been in this lifetime. I once called it 'home' whilst in an altered state on a Medicine Journey in which I described the place in great detail. I was on a beach on the Balinese Coastline and I loved it with a passion I could not describe in words and I wanted to get there - I wanted to go 'home'. This revelation took me totally by surprise. I'm willing to follow my dream because life is precious, it's a gift, a blessing, it's a brief moment in time. I'm a soul adventurer so I cannot imagine not going to be honest.

I saw this Temple in my searches; to me it sums up almost perfectly the divine meeting of Heaven and Earth, Root and Crown, the Corporeal and the Celestial. I will visit this place in ten days time! I'm following my bliss. How will you listen to your soul calling?

Listen hard for the voice of God is very quiet.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Imbolc - Divine Spark of Inspiration

Imbolc is here! Celebration of the Divine Spark of Inspiration, festival of the return of the light, reawakening earth and potent portal for manifestation. Christian traditions overlaid many old Celtic celebrations with their own version. Here we see candlemas; in the literal sense a festival of light in the pagan year, but perhaps more interesting is that the root of this old anglo saxon word 'Candali', or Kundali, (or Kundalini) offers perhaps a true glimpse of what this festival is all about.

Understanding what it's about gives us more insight into why the festival may have been co-opted by other traditions, for there has long since been a fear of, and subsequent repression of, the powerful arising of sexual energy, as is inherent in the mirror of nature as the earth starts to move into growth, energy of new life pushes through, and we start to feel the stirrings of new possibility.

Nature is a wonderful teacher. She holds within her all of the Universal Laws from which we can truly learn. These are the Laws of Wholeness, Flow, Balance, Limits, Cause & Effect, Planes, and Evolution. Without going into great detail here, I recommend you read Mystery Teachings From The Living Earth by Michael Greer, as recommended to me by my wonderful friend Gavin.

It's fair to say that the laws reflected in nature are wonderful teachers from which, if we pay close attention, we can truly come to understand ourselves. What, we may wonder, is the purpose of this self actualisation? Well, I'd say it's to return to love, to a state of grace and to our naturalness. The innocence of childhood, the purity of a heart seeing and feeling through eyes unencumbered by conditioning that really know the truth; that LOVE is the greatest force there is and that everything is energy in motion if we can learn to remain unattached and trusting of the flow.

So here at Imbolc, the days are beginning to lengthen and new life is starting to push through the soil. Plant your ideas and leave them to germinate in the remaining darkness, ready to burst forth with spring. This celebration is all about looking at what has been take into winter's darkness and letting it go. It's all about starting to take your visions and plant them with a strong intention ready for growth. In order to do this, now is a good time to create a small fire ceremony to burn away any lingering things that may be holding you back. Get clear! Shed the next skin so that you can move with clean energy and crystal clear clarity into your dreams for this coming year.

Last night I found myself pulled to do a shamanic drum journey for myself. In a week in which I've completed a powerful shamanic ritual, leading to a physical, mental and emotional clearing, my drum was calling to me. I rarely drum for myself and it's fair to say this was almost a compulsion! I sat on my bed and began to drum. Straight away I was journeying to the Upper World where I was given very clear images and messages. I've learnt to trust these visions and impressions now, and so sitting with it, the beat of the drum consistent and clear, I began to 'see' exactly what I needed to see, understand and release in order to move into strong Imbolc imaginings (the name of one of my workshops).

There is a wealth of resourcefulness, intuition and knowing inside us. We have all the information we need in order to give ourselves all we need in order to live in wholeness, compassion and love. Imbolc is a time for reclaiming what has been forgotten. What do you need to reclaim? What spark of fire will help you birth a new dream of yourself?

1. Build an altar to the returning light, to new growth and to divine inspiration. Ginger, coltsfoot, rowan, willow, snake, dragon, greenery from outside, seeds etc are all good items for your altar.

2. Clear out any old crap lingering in your homes, workspaces and lives (if that last one is not too tall an order! If it is, focus on your home and workspace and keep it simple)

3. Create a small fire ceremony. Write down and then burn away what no longer serves you.

4. Go sit in nature for a while. Listen and just BE.

Happy Imbolc to all!

*Steph Magenta & Sarah Rose Bright are currently working on developing a programme of sacred gatherings working with the cycle of the year - please let us know if you would like to know more by clicking here.