Women’s Circles and the Quest for Community

Everywhere I go, I find myself in gatherings of women. Most are spiritual seekers, deeply engaged in the process of healing old wounds and awakening to their divine purpose. Sometimes I’ve been in tribes that formed naturally and easily, as though we already knew each other, and we were just picking up right where we left off. Other times, I’ve had to be more like a lighthouse, beaming out into a misty void, not really knowing who would show up and drop anchor. This past year has been a lighthouse kind of year. Both circumstances—having a closely knit tribe and then searching for one in a new place—has taught me a lot about what women look for in a sacred circle.

There is such a longing for women’s rituals and ceremonies that it’s almost palpable, especially here in the southeast. Can you feel it, too? It’s like the stirrings of a seed underground that has finally been watered enough to burst forth from its protective layer. I have read this quote by Starhawk many times over the years, and each time, I am filled with inspiration for what could be…and a twinge of sorrow for what women have lost:

We are all longing to go home to some place we have never been — a place half-remembered and half-envisioned we can only catch glimpses of from time to time. Community. Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power. Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free.

Several books have been devoted to the subject of creating exactly the kind of community Starhawk envisioned. I own a few of them myself. They offer sound, practical advice that looks so delightfully inspiring on paper. All of them will make you want to erect a giant Red Tent in your back yard or buy 20 acres just to create your own version of Stonehenge. The reality is that most gatherings happen in living rooms or around a kitchen table or on someone’s patio or maybe in a community center. It doesn’t really matter—any space can be sacred, depending on the energy and presence of mind and heart that you bring to it—and that feeling of sanctuary and trust in each other is what women are seeking and not finding so easily.

But why?

You’d think that developing a strong sisterhood would be easy. Women are naturally communal and cooperative, right? Sure we are, but we’ve also learned how to be competitive with each other, how to hide our authentic selves, how to be controlling, and how to sabotage our own personal growth. All of that comes into the circle, too, more often than not—and the circle sometimes fragments as a result. So, then the question becomes whether we can unlearn those patriarchal influences while still holding space for each other to move past those barriers.

I’ll just say it right now—it’s easier to give up, go your own way, and practice your own solitary rituals. But then you also miss out on the power of women whose energies are united and fueled by the mystical radiance of the moon, the strong pull of the tides, the healing power of the sun, the richness of the earth, and the lineage of our matriarchal ancestors going back thousands of years. It’s strong medicine and much needed in this world. I believe it’s worth getting out of our own way and working together for the common good. Maintaining both a personal and communal practice helps both the individual woman and her tribe, creating a ripple effect that ultimately benefits the whole planet.

As Sandra Ingerman notes in Awakening to the Spirit World, “Ceremonies and rituals are performed to honor the spirits, to celebrate life and changes in Nature, to acknowledge rites of passage, to give thanks, and to create change. Performing a ceremony or ritual creates transformation.”

Indeed it does. When a ritual encompasses an entire group, transformation happens on a much larger scale. How it affects individuals will vary, depending on their openness and receptivity, but the point is that everyone experiences some degree of change on both a personal and transpersonal level. The energy that is raised collectively is always stronger; therefore, the responsibility for working with that energy both during and after a group ritual is even greater.

With that in mind, I believe there are four key elements that can help establish and maintain a women’s circle when the focus is ritual and self-improvement:

  • Purpose: Never lose sight of why the group formed in the first place. What do you hope to accomplish together? If the purpose doesn’t remain at the forefront, then the circle can quickly dissolve into nothing more than a social hour or a venting session.
  • Sacred Space: Creating a space that feels safe is absolutely essential. It requires more than just wafting around some white sage, ringing a bell, or chanting a mantra. All of those things are lovely, but they are useless if those inside the circle don’t feel free to speak openly and straight from the heart without being judged. Many of us carry scars. Many of us are fighting hard battles right now. Sharing our stories makes us both vulnerable and courageous at the same time, and it’s vital that we honor that by refraining from gossip or anything that would compromise the integrity of the circle.
  • Leadership: Good leaders set the direction of the group and keep the support of the whole in mind while doing so. Leadership can remain with one person, or it can rotate so that all experience having that responsibility for a time. Anyone leading a women’s circle should understand that it’s much more about service and much less about power and ego. An article from Forbes on The Most Undervalued Leadership Traits in Women highlights the following: “Looking for respect more than recognition, the most successful women leaders don’t seek to become the star of the show — but they enable others to create a great show.  In other words, being in the spotlight is not what drives them – but rather it’s the ability to influence positive outcomes with maximum impact.” I believe this holds true, whether you are running a business or serving as a High Priestess.
  • Flexibility: Circles tend to change and evolve. People come and go for different reasons. Some move away. Some decide they need to follow a different path. Some attend for a while, disappear to do their own solitary work, and then return later. It’s all perfectly fine. As long as the core purpose of the group stays in tact through the guidance of inspired, heart-centered leaders, the circle can still flourish even as it changes. Strength and flexibility don’t cancel each other out—they support each other, as any athlete knows very well.

The dawn of the Aquarian Age marked the beginning of many positive shifts for women. We are still waking up to our inner Shakti. We are tapping into the Divine Feminine in new ways, as we seek greater equality and balance in the world within and around us. We have spent a lot of time and energy examining how we relate to men in the quest for greater understanding and equality. Maybe it’s time women looked just as deeply into how we relate to each other and how we can best move forward in our sacred circles, our sisterhoods, our communities, and our world.

Blessed Be.

© 2015 Jennifer R. Miller

Works Cited:

A Pagan View of Death and Dying


I was raised in rural Appalachia where Georgia meets Tennessee, so let’s just say that I’ve endured a goodly number of Southern Baptist funerals. I’ve heard my share of sermons on how the deceased had been redeemed by the blood of Jesus and would therefore be assured of eternal peace in heaven. These are my family’s beliefs, so when one of them passes to the other side, I have no choice but to honor their wishes. After the flowers, hymns, Bible verses, stories, and personal anecdotes, the body is lowered into the ground. According to the officiating minister, the soul ascends to the Baptist version of heaven, leaving behind photographs and keepsakes and a lifetime of memories for those of us who are still topside of the dirt.

I wasn’t with my maternal grandmother when she passed, but I had a dream a few weeks later in which it felt like we were in a busy airport. Lots of people were passing through, but she found me in the crowd and held me tightly. It was her way of giving me the closure I had not received at her funeral. I spoke of the dream to my mother, who dismissed it completely, saying that it wasn’t really my grandmother at all. “You just miss her, so you had a dream about her. That’s all it was. It doesn’t mean anything,” she told me.

It meant everything, though, and I have maintained a connection with my grandmother ever since. She was, after all, the first to introduce me to the concept of astrology and how to plant a garden by the signs and phases of the moon. I would not be the witch I am today without her early influence and her guidance even after she left this plane of existence back in 1996. Sadly, my mother did not share her views and ruled such practices as mere superstition and foolishness.

So that is how it goes sometimes for pagans with family members who don’t share our views on death and the afterlife. We are often advised to accept the notion that the connection between the living and the dead is severed like a limb from a tree. We are supposed to be happy for the soul that has broken free from the chains of this “wretched” body. We are bombarded with casseroles from well-meaning church ladies. We are counseled to simply move on with life. We are expected to get on with our grief and resume our daily routines for everyone who needs us to be “normal” again.

The truth is that grief takes as long as it takes—and it can’t be remedied with pills or booze or anything other than time.

As a pagan, I have come to view death as both the end and the beginning of a cycle. We let go of the life we led, with all of its challenges and triumphs, all the lessons learned and the pain endured, and our consciousness returns to the source from which it came. After a resting period, perhaps we come back to give it another try, to execute another life plan to continue on with our soul’s evolution. Birth and death are one and the same to me. From the minute we exit the womb and sound our first importunate cry to the world, we are dying. Every single minute we are living, we are simultaneously dying.

Seeing it all as an infinite loop has made me much more comfortable with death, like an old friend I would invite over for tea. We can sit across from each other in an easy silence, sipping our Earl Gray, each in full awareness of the other’s function. I know I will have a final date with death someday, and that’s perfectly okay. I know I won’t get to choose when that date happens, and that’s just fine, too. I’d rather not know. I can only strive for a life well lived until then.

I have several friends who are nurses, and all of them have said that death can truly be kind, especially when the body is wracked with pain and there is no hope of recovery. They have all emphasized the importance of dying with dignity, of giving death as much reverence and honor as birth.

I’ve witnessed this firsthand, as my mother is now in the last stages of a rare illness called Multiple Symptom Atrophy. She can no longer walk or move anything other than her head at this point. Her speech is all but gone as well, and it is only a matter of time before the rest of her physical body shuts down completely. I’ve had a long time to prepare for her death, mentally and emotionally. I’ve had to think about how I will honor her life in my own way, knowing that her funeral will certainly be in accordance with her Baptist beliefs. I know that any ritual I do to honor her will have to be carried out privately, after all the formalities are said and done.

Although she may have never honored the Goddess within herself, I do, as I do in all women. So when the time comes, I will carry a remembrance of hers to the sea. I will release it as the tide goes out, celebrating her life with this final blessing:

I bless your womb that carried me,
and the scar on your belly
that marked my entrance
into this wide, magical world.

I bless your arms that held me
the chair that rocked me
the hands that soothed me
the stories you read to me.

I bless all the fond memories
of planting vegetable gardens
and canning strawberry preserves
and baking apple turnovers in the fall.

I bless that beaten up 8-track tape
of John Denver singing “Country Roads”
because we played it on every road trip
and it still reminds me of you.

I bless all that you taught me
and how you released me
so I would learn and grow
even when it broke your heart.

I bless your bright spirit
now free and boundless
as the wide expanse of the sky
and the gentle caress of the wind.

May you rest and be comforted.
May you know that you raised me well.
May all mysteries be revealed to you, and
may you always feel my love.

So Mote It Be


Wisdom of the Womb: A Healing Journey


The womb first awakens as we bring her the gifts of Presence, devotion, deep respect, appreciation, and the feeling qualities of love and adoration…The womb will then begin to speak of her needs and desires. Only the purified heart will hear, only the courageous will respond. –Padma Aon Prakasha, “The Power of Shakti: 18 Pathways to Ignite the Energy of the Divine Woman”

Much of Goddess spirituality focuses on the inherent power of the womb, the center of a woman’s creativity, her chalice, her Holy Grail, her sacred blood, her life force. When women seek to know the Goddess, they begin to reclaim this power for themselves—and it always shakes their foundations, no matter how solid and carefully constructed. Old modes of thinking, being, and doing simply will not work anymore. Relationships break apart or become refined into something truer and deeper. Careers take a different and often very unexpected direction. Sometimes, even the physical body will react with illness to protest the changes occurring internally and externally. It is all just a process of realigning with something far more ancient and mysterious than any religious text or philosophy could ever describe—the creative force behind the tiniest microbe on our planet to the furthest reaches of space. The womb is a gateway to higher consciousness for both women and men if we choose to honor it in this way. Sadly, most of us don’t here in the West, because we haven’t been taught to do so.

Having been raised in a very patriarchal religious system, I never thought of my womb as anything very remarkable or even very sacred when I was a younger woman. I was mostly concerned with preventing a new life from gestating inside of it, because nothing was going to screw up my plans to finish graduate school and do something with my life. I would not make the same “mistakes” as all the other women in my family. I would not be chained to anyone or anything that could get in my way, least of all a needy, wailing infant with a loaded diaper. I seemed to have no maternal instincts whatsoever. I never held babies or made a fuss over them. They were cute…from a distance. I never even played with dolls other than Barbie (and yes, I know all about her unrealistic 18” waist). I understood animals very well and related to them easily, but tiny, wrinkled humans? Not so much.

The house with the white picket fence and the 2.5 kids looked like the gray walls of a prison to me. I didn’t judge other women for wanting to be mothers, but I felt continually judged by them for my choice to remain childless, as though my fertility were being wasted somehow. In my view, I was being quite noble for sparing a child from a life of misery with a mother who had way too many childhood issues of her own. I never felt that I was financially stable enough, either, so I was also preventing that potential child from experiencing the poverty I had known growing up. Why couldn’t anyone else see that? Why weren’t they handing out medals to women like me?

So, my womb felt much more like an enemy than a friend for most of my adult life. I saw it as this wild, unpredictable thing that had to be managed, controlled, and subdued somehow. It annoyed me. I was quite envious of the sexual freedom men seemed to enjoy with such ease. I resented the birth control pills I swallowed dutifully, despite the nausea and depression they caused, and then later, the IUD that made me anemic every month from heavy bleeding. My womb was costing me a lot, and I didn’t like it one bit.

Somewhere around age 30, it even grew a polyp that had to be removed through dilation and curettage. Having the entire contents of my womb scraped out was a horrid, bloody, painful experience, and I was quite furious about the whole thing. I didn’t have time to be dealing with this unruly part of my anatomy that seemed hell bent on hurting me.

Even so, I still loved the idea of honoring my womb. I had read plenty of texts on the Goddess movement, Wicca, and pretty much anything having to do with female empowerment by this point. I understood it all in theory. I even experienced what many of those authors wrote about when I gathered in circles with other women. The Goddess in her many phases was something I could relate to emotionally and intuitively, especially her carefree Maiden aspect. But on a deeper level, I knew I was still missing something. I still felt completely disconnected from this pear-shaped organ in my pelvis; yet, it seemed so very central to female selfhood and to the older, shamanistic practices to which I was drawn. I knew I wasn’t going to get a hall pass on this. I would have to deal with it one way or another, but I wasn’t sure how.

The irony is that I didn’t feel any creative blocks at all as an artist. My second chakra seemed to be humming right along, as I churned out poetry, wrote songs, blogged, got published a few times, and worked magic with yarn and crochet hooks. Anyone who knows me well enough would easily describe me as “artsy” or maybe just a bit left of center. I felt like I lived through my ability to write and create, but I was plagued with pelvic pain at the same time. None of it made sense to me. Right after my 40th birthday, I finally surrendered to whatever my body was trying to tell me.

First, I had my IUD yanked out (and I do mean yanked—the removal of the wretched thing was just as bad as the insertion). Then, I started paying attention to my cycle…really trying to understand it for once…charting it every month, getting in sync with the moon, and noticing the alternating fluctuations of activity and introspection that occurred in conjunction with the ovulatory and luteal phases. I thought this would fix things—and it did result in much easier cycles—but my lesson wasn’t over yet.

Years of stress and pain had resulted in a hypertonic pelvic floor, which could only be treated with months of physical therapy, rest, and conscious relaxation of those muscles. After enduring medical tests that revealed nothing, and listening to doctors say that sometimes there is no identifiable cause for pelvic pain, I am inclined to believe that the real source goes even deeper than muscle tissue.

What I now understand about the womb is that it has a tremendous capacity to store love, hope, and renewal…and an equal capacity to store self-loathing, despair, and desolation if it is ignored, denied, and untended. It has its own intelligence and its own emotional center. It remembers everything and everyone who has “entered your inner kingdom without love” as Wayne Dyer would say.

A passage from “Circle of Stones” by Judith Duerk reminded me that answers do not always glide down from above like a feather. Sometimes they wait until you are ready to dive down into very murky waters to find them:

To discover who she is, a woman must trust the places of darkness where she can meet her own deepest nature and give it voice…weaving the threads of her life into a fabric to be named and given…sharing it with the women around her as she comes to a true and certain sense of herself.

I plunged headlong into the velvety blackness, because there was no other place to go.

I began engaging in conversations with my womb while in deep trance, and I was often shocked, saddened, and sometimes in awe of what she had to say. Much of it was like watching a slide show of suppressed memories that came back in full Technicolor detail. One journal entry in particular captures some of her dialogue with me:

You went from one unsatisfying relationship to another…You gave your power away, over and over again, but you kept your heart out of the equation. You kept that precious part of you locked away, and yet you exposed me to these assaults, as if I never mattered at all…

My eyes became tidal pools of tears…for the girl I had been, for the young woman who had cast her pearls before swine, for the scars I still carried. I felt like my entire body would become saltwater and that I could just merge with the sea, becoming nothing and everything all at once…drifting somewhere far beyond the ninth wave.

My beloved became my fortress, holding space for me while I healed physically and emotionally. This is what a consciously awake man does for a woman he loves. He shelters her until the wounds heal, however long it takes. Such men are rare, and should you find one, I humbly suggest that you love him fiercely, with your whole heart, and with every fiber of your being—and he will return it back to you immeasurably.

The final phase of my healing culminated with the Rite of the Womb, the 13th Rite of the Munay-Ki. It is a sacred lineage passed from woman to woman, a reminder of the truth that has been there within the core of our being all along: The womb is not a place to store fear and pain. The womb is to create and give birth to life.

 And so it is. And so creation and birth and life take many forms, and all are so very sacred, so vital, so transcendent.

The many sisterhoods forming now in the blossoming of this new consciousness have the power to reawaken this birthright. I see them all around me, bright souls radiating their light and love to a weary world. As we heal each other, we heal our relationships, our broken but beating hearts, and our resplendent Gaia, first Mother of us all.

Blessed Be


In addition to a wonderful pelvic floor therapist, the following books were also helpful in my healing process:

  • “Ending Female Pain: The Ultimate Self-Help Guide for Women Suffering from Chronic Pelvic and Sexual Pain” 2nd Edition by Isa Herrera, MSPT, CSCS
  • “The Path of Energy: Awaken Your Personal Power and Expand Your Consciousness” by Dr. Synthia Andrews, ND
  • “The Women’s Book of Healing” by Diane Stein

Ostara Meditation: Into the Labyrinth

Ostara Eggs

The Spring Equinox, a Total Solar Eclipse, and a New Moon all occur on the 20th of March this year. We shift from dreams to action with the transition of the sun from Pisces to Aries. The New Moon also enters the fiery sign of Aries, so the energy will be high, intense, and quite beneficial if we’re ready to act on all those plans we’ve been making. All the eggs we decorate at this time of year are really just symbols for what we hope to accomplish. They also represent the Cosmic Egg or the primordial beginnings of all that exists. Everything about Ostara is loaded with potential on the verge of being realized. This meditation takes you into the labyrinth to find your own unique “egg” and to contemplate what it means for you, as we prepare ourselves for the next cycle in the Wheel of the Year.  


Let’s begin by finding a quiet place where you can relax, close your eyes, and go within. Take a slow, cleansing breath…making the inhalation match the exhalation…just breathing very slowly and rhythmically…in and out…letting your belly and chest expand with the in-breath…and then letting it all go with the out-breath…slow, easy breathing. Each time you breathe in this way, your mind and body comes back to center…where there is nowhere to go, nothing to do, and you simply allow yourself to BE. Let your muscles become loose and relaxed, starting with your feet…your ankles…lower legs…knees…upper legs…pelvis…torso… back…shoulders…arms…hands…face…and head.

Feeling calm and peaceful now, imagine there is a magnificent old tree there before you. Its trunk is so wide that you can’t even wrap your arms around it, and its thick branches reach up so far into the sky that you can’t see the top of this wise, ancient tree. Just take some time here…feeling the tree’s gentle, supportive energy…letting its roots teach you how to be grounded and centered as they reach way down into Mother Earth.

At the base of your tree, you notice a hollow space that calls to you, inviting you to take a journey. Following your curiosity, you step inside and find yourself in a brightly lit stairwell. The polished wooden steps spiral downward, and you follow them, one by one, freely descending this lovely old staircase until you reach the bottom. There is a door in front of you, and you notice that it is carved with many symbols. Some of them are runes, some are zodiac signs and symbols of the elements, and others represent the Goddess and her consort. As you turn the well-worn handle, the symbols glow, and you step forward into the light and sounds of a lush, enchanted forest.

You begin walking along a path that winds between moss-covered rocks and friendly old trees. Signs of spring are all around you. Purple crocuses are pushing up through the ground, along with bright yellow daffodils. Wisteria vines sway gently in the breeze, and the air is clean and sweet, filled with possibility. The winding trail opens up into a clearing. A spiral labyrinth of stones has been carefully created here in this sacred grove. The spiral invites you to go deeper within to see what mysteries may be revealed, and so you begin…one step at a time…walking mindfully and gently toward the center.

Every step through the spiral path creates more balance within as day and night are now in equal measure. Every step reminds you that there is always a way back to wholeness and alignment on the physical, mental, and spiritual levels.

As you reach the center of the labyrinth, you find a basket full of brightly colored eggs. Each one is unique with its own pattern and design. One egg in particular stands out for you. Take it out of the basket and hold it against your heart center. What color is your egg? How is it decorated? Feel the energy of the egg and all the potential it contains inside. Take some time here to really listen to your higher self. What have you nurtured through the long winter? What are you ready to bring forth?

Return your egg to the basket, trusting that it will soon become all that you wish to manifest. Begin to retrace your steps back through the labyrinth, walking easily and freely around the circular path of stones until you reach the beginning. See the path through the forest, and begin walking back the way you came, through the budding spring flowers, beneath the fragrant vines and around the moss-covered stones until you reach the doorway of the ancient tree. As you turn the handle, the symbols glow again, and you step inside. The wooden staircase is before you, and you begin to ascend step by step, gradually returning to conscious awareness.

Slowly begin to reawaken…and turn your attention to your breathing. Notice your calm, smooth breaths…in and out…allowing your awareness to turn now to your body…calm and relaxed. Sit quietly for a moment with your eyes open…reflecting upon your journey into the labyrinth. You may want to record anything you wish to remember in your journal. When you’re ready, wiggle your fingers and toes, roll your shoulders, and stretch if you like. Have a blessed Ostara.

© 2015 Jennifer R. Miller

Imbolc Meditation: A Journey to Brigid’s Forge


Imbolc has several themes worth contemplating…the first stirrings of life under the sleeping earth, the Goddess as she changes from Crone to Maiden, cleansing and purification, the growing power of the Sun, the lengthening days, the germination of seeds both literal and metaphorical…all of these add to the magic of this cross-quarter sabbat. We honor Brigid at Imbolc, the Celtic goddess of healing, smithcraft, poetry, and midwifery. This year, I was drawn to the flames of Her forge as a catalyst for change and transformation, so I wrote a meditation to share with you. Enjoy and Blessed Be.  


Begin by taking a deep breath…inhaling slowly for a count of five and exhaling…making the in breath match the out breath…and one more time…inhaling slowly and exhaling…breathing in perfect rhythm. With each breath that comes in and goes out, you feel your body begin to let go and relax. You feel the tension washing away from your forehead, your eyes and your jaws, as though someone were pouring a warm, cleansing libation over you. The tightness in your shoulders falls away, and this wonderful healing waterfall works its way down through your arms, your chest, your belly, your sacral chakra and on down into your hips and your lower back, your sit bones, feeling all tightness and tension drain away…down through your legs and feet…down through your toes…into the rich, black soil of Mother Earth.

Feeling calm and free, you find yourself walking on a path through a lush pine forest. You breathe in the invigorating scent of the evergreens on this late winter’s day. The sky is clear and blue as a robin’s egg, and the sunlight filters down through the trees, warming your shoulders and lifting your spirits. The birds are chirping happily overhead, and you hear the faint rustlings of squirrels and other little forest creatures as you pass by. Being in this natural place puts you at ease, and you feel perfectly safe as you walk along the trail. You know that you are part of this woodland, and it is also part of you. The path widens up ahead and you can see that it opens up into a grassy, rolling meadow. A thin trail of smoke is rising from just over the next hill, and you begin to walk in that direction. As you crest the hilltop, you see that the smoke is coming from a blacksmith’s forge.

Something about the place calls to you, as if you had been there before in some other time, so you make your way down the grassy hill. As you get closer to the forge, you can feel the heat from the glowing embers of the hearth. You look around and see all of the blacksmith’s tools—the anvil, the bellows, and various sets of tongs and hammers. You sense that someone is near, and then you see her: she seems to glow and shine from within, a soft white light illuminates her face, and her long red hair cascades down in waves over her emerald green dress. You know her at once. She is Brigid, the ancient Celtic goddess of the forge, and she welcomes you.

She hands you a scrap piece of metal and asks you to think about what it could become as you place it in the red-hot coals of the hearth. What will you create with your own unique gifts and talents? Can you take something rough and plain and make something of beauty? Can you make something useful and practical? How will the fire from Brigid’s forge shape and mold your dreams? How will the fire transform you?

Brigid takes the metal from the hearth and begins to shape it. Sparks fly as she wields her hammer, and when she is finished, you see that she has created a symbol just for you to remind you of your divine purpose. When the metal has cooled, she places the symbol in your hands and tells you that it will give you strength and courage to pursue your destiny. You give thanks to the goddess as you leave the forge and make your way back up the grassy hill and into the forest. The sun is lower in the sky now, and his healing rays are glowing in brilliant shades of orange, just like the fire in Brigid’s forge. You walk out of the forest and back into your own sacred space, feeling grounded in your body again as the energy returns to your arms, your legs, your hands, and your feet. Take a few deep breaths…and then open your eyes, feeling grateful for the symbol you have received and the lighter days ahead as winter begins to recede. So Mote It Be.

© 2015 Jennifer R. Miller

Quarterly Themes for 2015

It’s that glorious time when everyone starts making predictions for the upcoming year, and I am no exception. I used to do a 12-card Tarot spread for the New Year to gain insight into each month’s blessings and challenges. Frankly, that seemed a little too overwhelming this time around. The Year of the Horse just galloped right over me, leaving some hoof prints in my back side that still hurt. So, rather than looking at each month, I decided to look at each quarter for the overarching themes we’ll see in 2015. I worked with the lovely and enchanting Gaia Oracle by Toni Carmine Salerno.

First Quarter (January – March)

HealingWe begin the year with some much needed HEALING after all the turmoil we endured last year. This card is all about working on physical and emotional pain through the art of surrender. We will be retreating to the inner sanctuary of the heart and reconnecting with who we truly are and what we’re here to do. It’s an ideal time to seek help from energy workers to get ourselves in balance and back on the path of our soul’s highest calling. Daily mediation, exercise, and clean eating are typical New Year’s resolutions, so this card is a gentle reminder to keep honoring mind, body and spirit all year long.

Second Quarter (April – June) 

102_1926We move into the second quarter with a continuation and completion of the healing process through PURIFICATION. The card shows a woman wading into the water, so we can look forward to a deep emotional cleansing. Unresolved feelings may surface, but they are bubbling up so that we can clear these issues for good. Whatever has not been addressed in the first quarter will certainly come up in the second. This card is all about shedding old baggage and truly moving forward with new strength and clarity.

Third Quarter (July – September)

After the profound healing in the first half of the year, we become the JEWEL102_1927 WITHIN A TEARDROP. We feel even more connected to our spiritual families, to our higher power, and to the universe because of our experiences and lessons learned. This card reveals a strengthening of common bonds and true friendships after all we’ve been through together. The hard work we’ve done has paid off, and we now enter a sacred time of deep reverence and gratitude.

Fourth Quarter (October – December)

102_1929The last quarter of the year brings us a much higher perspective. We are RISING ABOVE the past and all of those worn out tapes we’ve been playing for so long. Our spiritual transformation has elevated us to a new level of understanding. All the patterns are crystal clear–we know why we had to go through this or that, we have learned, and now we see it all from the viewpoint of a bird soaring high into the heavens.

Peace & Blessings

Bless This Home

I’ve been something of a gypsy for most of my life, although not entirely by choice. It seems Fate enjoys bouncing me around, and I just go along for the ride, always believing that the next place will be better somehow. I’m not sure if it’s optimism or a restless spirit that drives me, but I know one thing for sure—I’m damn good at packing and unpacking. I counted up all the times I’ve loaded up my belongings and hit the highway—this latest move makes 13.

The first move happened right before my 16th birthday. My parents had finally decided to call it quits, so my mom and I found ourselves on the hill overlooking our humble abode and saying goodbye to the little white house with brown shutters. As my childhood home, the creek, and my favorite maple tree faded slowly into the distance, somehow I knew that I was headed for a life with many transitions. I would have to get used to shifting sands and shaky foundations.

Sometimes I moved for me—because I wanted to attend college or be closer to my job. Sometimes I moved for others, believing in their promises, wanting the relationship to work, sacrificing too much in the long run, and ultimately moving on to save what was left of me. The last two moves were for love. They took me further away from everything and everyone I knew…and much closer to myself. It is the only time I’ve ever moved toward something real and tangible instead of running like hell to escape the bombs exploding behind me. There is a distinct difference between seeking shelter and seeking sanctuary.

All those years I spent running around like a refugee made the concept of “home” reach mythic proportions. I imagined that someday, somewhere, I was going to really settle down and never move again. I would put books on the shelf, and they would stay there. The rooms would always be familiar. The pots and pans in the kitchen would always be in the same place. I would know every tree, flower, and herb in my garden. I would have bird feeders and a rocking chair on the back porch. I would grow old and die there, and they would bury my ashes beneath a mighty oak.

Well…that magical place hasn’t quite materialized yet. Although I haven’t lost hope that it’s still within reach, I’ve had to accept the fact that I’ll get there in stages, like climbing up a mountain.

At times, I’ve wondered if home is just a fantasy we create to give ourselves the illusion of safety in an uncertain world. Almost everything inside a home can be replaced. The material structure can be rebuilt. People cannot be replaced, though, and memories cannot be rebuilt. We need touchstones to remind us of who we are, where we came from, and what we’re doing here.

As a kid, I was force fed the Christian idea that home is not even in this world at all. The lines from an old hymn came back to me as I was writing this piece:

This world is not my home; I’m just a-passing through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.

On one level, I get what the songwriter was trying to convey. Getting too attached to the material world is a recipe for heartbreak and misery. I think the Buddhists would wholeheartedly agree. Always longing for the other side is just escapism, though. We have to be here and now while we are on this journey. There is pain, yes, but there is so much joy, too.   

As a Wiccan, I see the Earth as a nourishing Mother, and I feel a strong responsibility to take care of Her. All that lives has a purpose, and even the smallest plants and animals can be powerful teachers and allies. The heart of my faith is finding balance in all things, even when the scene around me keeps changing.

So, when you can’t count on the same four walls, you simply take your magic with you—and then anywhere and everywhere is home. Here are a few rituals and practices I’ve picked up along the way to make whatever space I’m occupying a little more sacred.

  • Smudge every room with white sage, especially around doors and windows. This clears the house of negative energy.
  • After smudging with sage, light up some Palo Santo to bless each room. As you waft the smoke around, chant blessings for health, peace, and prosperity.
  • Use a feng shui magic square to locate the power centers in your house. This can help you decide whether a room would function better as a bedroom or an office, for example. It can also help you decide how to decorate so that energy flows freely and harmoniously.
  • Set up a space that is solely dedicated for meditation, and use it often.
  • Use essential oils. It’s ridiculously easy to create your own aromatherapy mists, and just spritzing them around can change the atmosphere in a room instantly.
  • Placing gemstones and crystals in key areas can also bring in positive energy.
  • De-clutter as much as possible. (I’m in the process of doing this now, since my beloved and I have finally merged all our belongings!)

I highly recommend the following books for a more in-depth exploration of creating a happier home (even if it’s temporary!)

Yule blessings to one and all as we welcome the return of the sun!