Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Somerset Starlings

Although I didn't take this picture (you can find it and others here on the BBC web site) this is the amazing experience I encountered on my way home from work this evening. As I was leaving Glastonbury, the Tor behind me, the skies above me simply filled with what must have been millions of Starlings - and I don't exaggerate! The sky was black with them as the swooped and soared through the evening sky. It was beautiful, incredible, spectacular and awe inspiring. I've experienced this before, but only with the birds in the distance, this time they were directly above me and I almost drove the car off the road as I just had to bend my neck and keep watching them. I just wanted to fly up there and join in with them!

Apparently up to 10 million Starlings can be roosting at Westhay, Glastonbury this time of year, before they head off to eastern Europe. When I saw them this evening, just before dusk, they would have been heading back to the marshlands to roost.

What a blessing it was to witness this incredible sight this evening!

Monday, 16 February 2009

A Confused Ramble

I know I've written about this before, but I am constantly aware of how attached I am to this physical world. It's all I've known for the past 46 years and as I touch and feel and smell and see and hear all that is about me it's reality and substance are undeniable, but then, as I buy into that seeming truth I become aware of my own bodies mortality. This body is temporal, transient, passing through this reality, this dimension, this plane. A vehicle, a tent, housing my immortal spirit, a spiritual evolution.

Lately I have been wondering where the three strands of my path: (1) pagan, (2) spiritual mystic and (3) magick, dovetail, and sometimes I wonder if they come together at all! However, in my heart, I know they do. To me the 3 make sense and work together very well, but at other times, as in my opening paragraph, there appears to be conflict, and it is this conflict that I am trying to resolve at the moment.

My pagan self tells me this world is to be honoured and respected, celebrated and enjoyed, for it is the Divine manifest. My body is also to be enjoyed and my senses are the tools I have to understand, explore and enjoy this world. My spiritual mystic self tells me that this is a one dimensional experience and I can travel beyond this plane, both in my mind and in my spirit, to higher and greater realms and that to buy solely into this plane is to limit and hinder myself and will result in my not fulfilling all that I am capable of. My magickal self tells me that I can steer the chariot, that in finding my own true will and in living my life in accordance with the One Divine Mind I am capable of more than I can appreciate because I am more than flesh and blood. I am one with The All, part of the mystery. Here is conflict, but also here is unity and somewhere here is balance, and it is this balance that I am currently seeking within what feels like a patch of confusion at the moment.

I'm growing out of something and growing into something else and I don't quite get it at the moment. I'm shedding a skin, moving on, taking the next step, and me being me I need a framework to hang all of this upon, a philosophy, something upon which I can build, but at the moment I feel more like I'm walking into a new area that is unknown to me, unfamiliar, and I feel a little more spiritually unsure, less confident. Not questioning, as I know I'm where I need to be . . . I guess I'm just a little more unsure of where it is I actually am!

Right now I'm more aware of what I don't know than what I do. I'm not entirely sure I like that feeling, but here, once again, is a call for me to relinquish control and, not go with the flow as such, because as it was once put to me 'only dead fish go with the flow', but rather to understand just where I am and to slowly steer the ship through this part of the journey until the next destination becomes a little clearer for me.

I guess I'm also wanting to be sure that I do indeed have it right, so there's some introspection and a testing of myself going on as well. Never a bad thing, but not always a comfortable place to be!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

The Lesson of the Mole

I can't believe that it's been a week since I posted here, but sure enough, it is indeed a week since I've updated this blog. I'm not happy about that, but it's simply a sign of the times. Last week was a tough week work-wise, seeing me starting early and finishing late most days, and even with the additional hours put in, there is still a pile of work waiting to be done, with more being added all the time.

So today, I took myself out for a quiet pilgrimage to two of my most favourite places - Glastonbury Tor and Chalice Well. Regular readers of this blog will know that I visit these places often; living so close is a blessing of which I never become complacent. For me, today was about pursuing the movement that I spoke about in my blog of last week, testing it out, seeing what it means, where I need to place my feet. I didn't expect revelations, what I was looking for was some kind of inner knowledge of what needs to happen next to make this movement possible.

Movement and change surround me. Work-wise there is structural change taking place once again, with a plan of massive service change that will be take place in about 18months to 2 years, which will, of necessity, result in further structural change. Within 24 hours of hanging the picture I show in my post of last week I was confronted with the need to make an important work related decision, one that has the potential to affect my future in a number of ways.

Driving to Glastonbury this morning I was pleased to be alone. My work is all about people, be them staff or service users, and as such voices surround me all the time. Much as I enjoy working with people, today was very much about much needed time for me, away from noise, chatter, and clutter. I was making sacred space. As I turned a corner and the Tor, shrouded by mist with the tower just visible, came into view, the first of a number of experiences occurred - I cried! I wasn't expecting that and I can't say that I was feeling particularly sad, but clearly there was emotion there that needed expression and tears flowed freely as I smiled at the familiar and beautiful Somerset Levels, with the Tor standing tall and majestic. The energy from this sacred site was such that it drew emotion from me, releasing pent up feelings of frustration and confusion, cleansing and throwing out useless emotional clutter that wasn't serving me and that was hindering renewal. This was a deeper work of space clearing.

Climbing the Tor was harder work, physically, than normal. I don’t know why, perhaps it had something to do with the vegan chocolate cake I made yesterday in which I omitted to put enough baking soda! (note to self: read recipes thoroughly)!

As I reached the top of the Tor I walked to my favourite spot, stood, closed my eyes and became aware of my inner immortal spirit. I focused upon my true reality, the fact that I am spirit incarnated in flesh. I called to Source and saw my spirit intertwined with Source, like a huge silver cord travelling to the very heavens, bound together, wrapped up in one another, inseparable, and connected, one and the same. I’ve never seen this picture quite like this before, but it was clear, the cord was huge, massive, and it twisted and turned its way from the very core of me to the very highest heavens. I was aware of voices and movement of people around me, but nothing could break the power of this moment. This was a reminder of the strength, the power, and the unbreakable nature of my connection with Source.

Freedom was also a theme of my quiet meditation. In my minds eye I saw a huge bird flying toward me, expecting this to be an owl, my usual magickal bird, I was surprised to notice that it was, in fact, a Peregrine Falcon, swooping at great speed, revelling in the freedom of the wide open space that it enjoyed. I was conscious of my spirit longing for this same sense of freedom and aware that my own physical tent, this body that houses my immortal spirit can feel like something of a trap at times.

My consciousness was then taken to the little mole hills that were appearing around the Tor and here was the final lesson of today. These little hills of fresh soil were testimony of a huge amount of work going on, underground. Little, insignificant piles of soil concealing an industry of energy and effort taking place below by such a small creature. Here was the lesson in my stepping toward this need for movement – preparation. So much of our pagan world can be lost is show. The best robes, being seen in the right places, knowing the right people, the outer show, yet what is vital is the work that is happening within, and sometimes the outer evidence of this may be a simple little hill of soil, but underneath the personality is being prepared for that on-going process of initiation, whereby huge and significant changes are taking place, all in preparation for a new and dynamic phase of being. Encounters with Spirit, with Source, have to affect change, if they are real and genuine, and true freedom, true liberation, and true initiation are result.

The snow of recent weeks has had the effect of bringing the nation to a standstill, and we could be forgiven for thinking that in the face of Nature, we are powerless. Indeed, this was my first thought, but again today I have seen that this is not the case, because we are as much part of Nature as the snow itself, and that when the human mind, in true connection with its inner self, connects with the Divine Mind and picks up the message from the Divine Mind, we can bring anything into being. It may take some considerable time, but we are not powerless, we are more powerful that we may care to realise. Just like the little Mole, who builds tunnels and makes an incredible world beneath the soil, so we, when we connect with the Divine Will, can also bring into being things that are truly amazing.

So, as I walk towards this next phase of being, my call is to prepare, to put in the spadework, to strengthen and deepen my connection with Source and to step into my true calling.

The other things that are bothering me at the moment will then fall into place and become clear. I just need to shift my attention to that which is truly important.

Sunday, 8 February 2009


I'm just coming to the end of what has been a week of annual leave, it's been lovely! I had lots of plans, including sorting the allotment out among other things, but the snow arrived, in droves, and put pay to all my plans! That was a good thing really, as I had to adapt and change in light of the new circumstances and it actually forced me to rest and relax - which was probably something I needed above all else. I have so many lessons to learn about 'chilling' and 'being' and just letting go and trusting. This week I had a lesson in this first hand!

One thing I did this week was to treat myself to a framed photograph that I've been eyeing up for quite some time. It's been on display in the window of Dicketts (the stationers in Glastonbury High Street) for weeks, and I've never been able to simply walk by it, I've always been forced to stop, stare and journey with all the photograph conveys and contains. Photographs of pictures or photos never really work that well, but here it is, I hope this helps, in part, to explain why I love it so:

For me this photograph is all about change, about transition. It talks to me of moving from one phase of life to another. Perhaps from this physical plane to the heavenly realm through the death of this physical body. Perhaps the transition of initiation, with all the profound changes this brings, or perhaps through moving through another rite of passage. It's a photograph that for me captures wonder, excitement, joy and promise and it exudes trust; placing ones trust in Deity, in the Unseen. Behind is black and white, a one dimensional existence, ahead is the colour of wonder. It also calls for action, for the initiate to actually step forward, to step out in trust, to act according to ones firm belief. To me this picture is totally awe inspiring because it contains all this, and then some!

I guess this speaks powerfully to me because this is where I feel I stand at the moment. I am convinced that in some way, shape or form the calendar year of 2009 will be demanding a step of some kind from me. I don't know at this stage exactly what form this step may take, but it will be a step of transition, a step that requires me to move from one place to another, the opening of a new phase in my life, a new phase of growth, of development, of existence. This may relate to my working life or my spiritual life, I don't know, perhaps both, but movement definitely feels as like a theme for this year, whatever the nature of that change may be. Somehow I will be travelling into a new place, moving way from what may transpire to have been rather one dimensional into a multi dimensional and multi faceted experience.

My meditations and rituals for the early part of this year will, I am sure, focus around a kind of preparation for me, building upon the preparatory work that has gone before, and that has been recorded in this blog.

As well as this picture there is a place in Glastonbury that also has this kind of impact upon me. It's the area of the two great Yew trees at Chalice Well, captured perfectly and beautifully in this photograph, not taken by me, but by Morgana, of the Glastonbury Pilgrim Centre:

As I stand in this space in the gardens I am again powerfully reminded of my calling to 'stand between' as though I hold the tension between life and death, light and dark, heaven and earth. I don't know how that sounds to you, and I can see how it may sound pompous, but it really is a real and dramatic sensation and, just as I found it impossible to walk past the photograph, so I find it impossible to walk past the two great Yew trees. I've been fortunate enough to conduct ritual in this part of Chalice Well, working with this powerful energy. I consider that a great privilege.

The immediate challenge for me is to move forward in this revelation, using the energy I describe, deepening my relationship with Deity and stepping into this new phase, this next part of my calling. What I can't afford to do is simply tread water . . . this is a time of movement and change, that much is perfectly clear!

Friday, 6 February 2009

Twenty Five Things About Me.

I have a page on a social networking site, as I find this a good way of keeping in touch with friends who are 'far flung.' Recently I've been 'tagged' to write 25 things about me that others might now know. Whilst I don't like the 'tagging' aspect, and am not doing this here, I thought I would post my '25 Things' here, as they will provide an insight into me as a person, and sharing me with you is all part of my spiritual journey. So here goes!

1. I was engaged once! Yes! That might surprise some people who have always known me as gay ‘out and proud’ Andy, but I was engaged to a woman and 3 months from the wedding day I realised what a terrible mistake this would have been, for her as well as for me! It was all part of me giving into intense pressure from the Christian community I once lived within to conform to their vision of what was ‘right’ and ‘normal’ for me, as opposed to me taking time to listen to myself and discover who I actually was. I learned a great deal from this experience, but I do feel bad for the woman I was engaged too, as I didn’t handle it very well at all at the time.

2. I went to Bible College. And this was no ordinary Bible College! This was a place where Christian leaders felt they had an absolute right as ‘Shepherds’ to access the very core of your life and literally control your life. I saw people move house, sell property and hand it over to the leaders, as well as marry, when they were told to do so. This was a place of absolute control, little short of a cult, and as you can imagine, I saw many people break under this pressure. I have to say that I consider this phase in my life as one of the most destructive I have experienced and following my time at this place I wasn’t well. Again, I’ve learned many life lessons from this and am a stronger person as a result. The experience was enough to send me into a ten year agnostic phase, but perhaps this was necessary in order for my new path to open before me. This Bible College was a clone making factory, nothing to do with people finding their One True Self at all.

3. My spiritual life is the central core of me and everything else revolves around this and exists because of this. I consider myself a Magickal Being, my eternal soul inhabits this physical body for this incarnation and I am learning that I am able to commune with my ancestors, my Gods and All Nature as I stand as one with The All. Magick is about changing consciousness through will, and this is becoming more of a reality in my life.

4. I have no sight in my left eye. I lost the sight in my left eye when was 23 following a detached retina. This happened as a result of myopia. So, if I walk past you in the street, it’s not me being pompous and rude, I’ve simply not seen you!

5. I want to write a book! My story, one of coming from a strict evangelical background, the Bible College, being gay, finding my own true path, losing the sight in my eye, I think all these things combine to make a powerful story that people could take inspiration from. I just need to get on and do it!

6. I am proud to be gay! I don’t lecture people about it, being gay is an aspect of me, it’s not all of me, but neither is it something that I apologise for. I am who I am and more than this, I have every right to be who I am. My sexuality is not a second class sexuality, I am a unique individual, beloved of the God’s. Gay people do not seek better or more rights than others, we simply look for a level playing field where all people in this world share an equal opportunity at life chances. This world is still rife with inequality of all kinds, and this both angers and drives me.

7. I do not eat meat or dairy products. This is because I refuse to take the life of another sentient being and I am appalled at the way humanity ‘farms’ animals. We bring suffering and pain upon our fellow creatures based upon some kind of superior standpoint, in the way we intensively farm, slaughter and transport animals and it’s just plain wrong. Even organic farming of animals mistreats them and perpetuates cruel practices.

8. I manage services to adults with learning disabilities as part of the Local Authority.

9. I have been in a relationship with my partner for almost 20 years (although we had a little break from each other in the middle of this!)

10. I have 3 Nephews, aged 13, 10 and 8.

11. I adore cats. Cats are so intelligent, loyal, friendly, sensual, social and loving animals. I share my life with 3 cats.

12. I have just been lucky enough to secure an allotment and look forward to growing my own veggies! First, however, I have to clear the land and, as it’s full of couch grass, I have my work cut out for me!

13. I am increasingly frustrated by the way that ‘life’ stops me pursuing the things that are really important, but as yet I can’t see a way around this!

14. I love the music of Rufus Wainwright – and I just love him as well!

15. Music is really important to me, and I have a very eclectic taste, incorporating many genres.

16. I get angry when people sound off about the ‘politically correct’ culture of today. Whilst I see what frustrates people about this, I feel that people often miss the crucial issue, and this is one of respecting and valuing others and their individuality. Why people don’t get that is beyond me.

17. I cried watching Barack Obama’s inauguration.

18. I love living in this rural part of South West of the UK and would not want to live anywhere else. I’ve lived in towns and cities and I know where I am happiest – it’s here, in the country and I aint moving for anyone!

19. I hate flying. I’ll do it, when pushed, but I absolutely loathe and detest it and would be quite happy never to get on a plane ever again. Ever!

20. I am increasingly aware of the mortality and frailty of this flesh my spirit inhabits and of the urgency to get on and do what I was sent here to do. My working life feels less important, and the outworking of my spiritual practice more so.

21. I love collecting antiques, especially items from the arts and craft movement.

22. I value and treasure my friends and trust is pivotal in all my friendships. It’s crucial to me.

23. I’m tactile and sensual. I think I must have lived as a cat at sometime!

24. I think fundamentalism of any kind is dangerous.

25. I love red wine and drink too much of it!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Snow Thoughts

Today I spent sometime walking around the village in the snow and I took my camera with me, just to make a little video of my home village looking both romantic and magickal, I hope you like it!

As I was walking I was reminded of the wise words The Green Witch posted recently when she spoke of the need for silence. It’s something I’ve been mindful of for some time, and I think I’ve written of it in the past. It’s crucial that I stop and listen to myself, to my own inner voice. Remember;

if that which you seek,
you find not within yourself,
you will never find it without

So I need to take time to stop, to look, and to listen to that voice within, that voice which is the voice of my own immortal soul, the voice of my own divinity, my voice that is of Source and is Source for;

We are stardust, we are golden

Know ye not that ye are gods

And therefore this is the truth within which I must walk.

The voice that I listen to is the voice of the One Divine Mind, that voice that resonates from the starry heavens to my very soul, for we are One. I just need to take time to listen and to step into the truth of that reality – a truth and reality that already exists.

Walking in the snow seems to bring with it such a profound silence. All is still, and this was so evident today. Occasionally I happened upon children playing, and this only served to show me that the distractions in life may often appear innocent and enjoyable, but if they cut off that connection, if they provide a blockage as opposed to an open channel, then they are of little use.

In recent days I have taken stock of how far I have travelled. I can look back and see my own footprints in the snow and I can see just how far back they go. I have travelled a long way indeed. At times such as these, however, I wonder just how much I have actually learned during the course of such a journey! Right now as I feel myself moving into a new phase I feel the need for a teacher as I have a sense of needing signposts for this next phase upon my journey.

Perhaps that’s just sense of apprehension as I move into a new phase. Most of my spiritual revelation and learning has come from my own time alone with the Divine, and perhaps this is how it is meant to be. We’ll see, whatever happens and whatever my course, I know I’m turning a new and fresh corner, and my footprints in the snow lie behind me, not ahead.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Imbolc Blessings

I went to a couple of Imbolc ceremonies this morning as opposed to conducting my own ceremony at home. Although I went on my own, I had a need to connect with others. I’m not always the most sociable of people, I like my own space and my own company, but today I had a need to connect, and I felt that the two separate, although connected ceremonies, would support that. I will still have my own private ritual this week, building upon some of the things that have come into place for me in recent weeks.

The two ceremonies were good – but they left me wanting more. I really don’t mean to sound pompous or arrogant when I say they showed me how far I have come over the years. I guess they were geared with the very new ‘seeker’ in mind, whereas I’ve been walking my path for many years and would have loved to have been presented with something a little more challenging and powerful. I guess that’s for my own solitary practice, and perhaps I can’t expect something quite so ‘full on’ in an open ritual of this nature. The ceremonies took place at The White Spring and Chalice Well, both in Glastonbury, two places that are very dear to my heart.

However, I found the reason for my needing to be there today in one reading that was given. It’s been credited to a number of people, and in truth I am not sure of its origin (hopefully someone will enlighten me!) but it goes like this:

Mother, Father, God, Goddess, Universal Power
Remind us daily of the sanctity of all life.
Touch our hearts with the glorious oneness of all creation.
As we strive to respect all the living beings on this planet.
Penetrate our souls with the beauty of this earth, as we attune ourselves to the rhythm and flow of the seasons.
Awaken our minds with the knowledge to achieve a world in perfect harmony.
Grant us the wisdom to realise that we can have heaven on earth.

This prayer struck me powerfully and spoke to me deeply. In the ceremony it was read out and as soon as it was read, the ceremony moved on, but I remained with it. I couldn’t move on. This was the reason I had to be there today and for me a new foundation was laid for my journey this year. It’s as though this prayer summarised all that my Path means to me and reflects where I have been, where I am now and where I am going. I was meant to hear this. I need to take one line at a time for the purpose of my Imbolc blog entry, forgive me if this sounds a little like a sermon!

Remind us daily of the sanctity of all life

All life is sacred. Nothing new there, you might think – but how real is that truth to you? What do you see as you walk this earth? That’s what struck me today. As I rush through life (and I am conscious that I tend to march and run as opposed to walk through each day!) The One Divine Life is made manifest in All Nature. The glory and wonder of Source is evident all around me each and every day I live my life. Why do I often seek and cry out for guidance, for a word, for a sign, when the wonder of the Divine surrounds me – more than that, is within and is part of me – each and every day of my life? There is also a call to action here, and I think this is something of the message for me this year – it’s as much about doing as it is about being. Both are required, both are necessary, both are needed. If all life is scared, then this demands that I not only notice it, but that I respect it and treat it as such. This is about walking the walk, living the life, responding to that clear call not just in word, but in the way I actually lead and live my life. It’s easy to write words on a blog, it’s easy to present something to others, to pull on the mask, to play the part, but just how real is it? I hunger for that reality.

Touch our hearts with the glorious oneness of all creation.

I’m increasingly aware of the journey my soul has made over many lifetimes and of my oneness with The All, with all creation, with all things. But now I find myself moving into a place where I am aware not only aware of this incredible oneness, but also of the wonder of my connection with all things. I can reach out and touch and feel and be one with The All because I am at one with The All and part of The All. This ‘glorious oneness’ this true and powerful connection is something that I want to move deeper into, to truly experience this and know this, to feel and hear the message from the Divine Mind and glory and revel in the dynamic of this interconnectedness.

As we strive to respect all the living beings on this planet.

For me this followed the theme of my own personal responsibility. It can’t be all about me seeking this and seeking that – it’s also about what I give to others, to the planet and how I embrace the sanctity of all things. It’s about my personal response to the love and power of the One Divine Life. It’s about my hearing the message from the One Divine Mind and acting accordingly. It’s the responsibility that follows the blessing; it’s the call to action. It’s not all about what I can get; it’s also about what I can give.

Penetrate our souls with the beauty of this earth, as we attune ourselves to the rhythm and flow of the seasons.

This is a deep and powerful attunement. It’s not just about dressing up in the correct seasonal colours, singing the correct songs and putting the correct things on our altar at the right time, it’s about a deep and inner attunement. It’s about a coming into oneness with the natural energy of the Earth and of the One Divine Life and living as One. It’s about stepping onto the ray beaming from Source. As we do this, our spiritual sensitivity grows, and with it our empathy. This is all part of the process of continual initiation, of spiralling ever deeper into the heart of Source and finding home there.

Awaken our minds with the knowledge to achieve a world in perfect harmony.

I think as magickal, spiritual beings, we have a role to play in ‘bringing things in.’ I don’t know how to express it in any other way, but I see myself as a Gatekeeper, as someone who ‘stands between’. As a Magickal Being, I hold that tension and I bring into being that which is required both in my life, and in the lives of others, those things that are needed to further and deepen ones progress and the reaching of ones spiritual potential. It’s all part of the discovery of my own spiritual journey and the acquiring of the knowledge we each need to move on, to progress and to bring that real, lasting and genuine harmony into our own lives and the experience of others. It’s about bringing into reality that which the Divine Mind sends deep into our own spirit.

Grant us the wisdom to realise that we can have heaven on earth.

And for me, at the moment, this is all about relationship with Source. Of enjoying that deep relationship, that dynamic relationship, with Spirit. Of recognising my own divinity, my own roots, my own place in The All and as part of The All, and glorying in that and celebrating that truth. It’s all about the balance of joy, celebration and personal responsibility, it’s the natural outworking of a personal relationship with The One Divine Life.

So it is this I move into this new calendar year, using this prayer as my blueprint. This blog will no doubt continue to record my journey, including my trips and falls, as I seek to make this a reality in my life.