Week 19: Prepare for Winter

Dear Friends,
(c) Snapped by Derek
Valley Forge, PA

I begin writing this newsletter sitting and looking out onto a beautiful Philadelphian street.

People walk down the narrow street with their parcels and bags in hand. There are flowers to be delivered, letters and mail waiting to be opened.
Voices echo off of stone and mortared walls. The sky is gloom today, the smell of hurricane on the air, but there behind the clouds, the sun still shines.
I have just received some flowers from the local florist, and the room is filled with the subtle scent of white & red tulips mixed with fern and baby’s breath.
Favourite flowers are favourite flowers. <<Smiles>>
The other day, I walked through fields of Valley Forge with flowers and plants in seed. The natural rhythm of the year turning inward, and making ready for the Spring time to regenerate. There I spoke to ravens, sleepy yellow jackets, and grazing deer. I discovered milk-pods bursting with white-silk seedlings, riders on horseback, and a very friendly tour-guide on an off day who was glad to share the bloody history of the land. After speaking to what he had to say, and petting his greyhound head, I walked to the massive stone archway built by Freemasons. I walked with an intention, and listened to what the land itself had to say about itself. Walking towards a birch tree around the circle, I meditated and heard the sound of great cold moans, felt the hot breath of horses passing me by, smelled sulfur fill the air, and tasted the bland foods that were provided for traveling soldiers. Gazing at Mount Joy and Misery, I pondered the great dualism of the Season of All Hallows and of war, of the thirst for “Freedom & Peace” and the insatiable appetite we seem to have for blood.  It seems funny, how things have evolved since the time of muskets and cannons, yet still much has remained the same. We all fight our own wars, proverbial or no. We all know, or have known someone who has been touched by the horrors of bloodshed and the kind lying on of hands by a care giver. It comes in equal measure, every time. And it seems it is always the case, even if we don’t see it right away.
“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” 
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
If you haven’t had the chance to read or watch the new movie Cloud Atlas, originally written by David Mitchell, I strongly recommend it. It spans several lifetimes where we as people, regardless of race, religion, or creed affect and shape events that ultimately affect us all. Each of our acts ripples outward through the course of history and is truly touched by destiny. It actually has inspired the Tarot Spread for this week.
Now, granted it is a long one: almost 3 hours, but my dears, it will make you cry, it will make you laugh. It will shock you, it will keep you on the edge of your seat, and it will melt your heart.
So, I have been driving back and forth all month to this city of Philadelphia not simply out of curiosity, but for truer reasons of the heart most of all.
(c) Snapped by Derek
Philadelphia Art Museum
See, come Spring my dears, I may just end up moving to this centuries old city.
I am nervous though, and the decision does not come without some hesitation. I have done this before, move for love, and I have to say it was not for ill. I made tremendous friends, some of which I would consider second family. Who is to tell what the next few months will bring? But I remain optimistic, and my heart is filled with love and hope for the future.
I am finishing up the last of my friend Joanna’s Seasonal Practices ending with Hallowmas. I this season of saying good-bye and beginning a new year, holds a duality stronger than any other seasonal tide of the year. I believe more than ever through the new skills I have learned, and the ever burning creative spirit that runs in my veins that things will bode well. And of course, you will all have to come and visit at some point or another!
But that is the future, here in the present, a giant 1000-mile wide hurricane is bombarding our shores. It is late, this Monday night, and half of the Northeastern shoreline is flooded under several feet of water. Great Mama Ocean is swelling with the Full Moon, and several homes have been evacuated.
My blessings and heart go out to those who have been hurt and disheartened during this time. Here in Albany, the winds have been picking up and slowing down, and the clouds seem to be confused as to what they want to do. I just hope and ask you all to light a candle as I have had and send your good tidings out to those most of need.
Soon, the storm shall pass and the sun shall break through those clouds. 
But, winter storms are fast in their wake, and we all know how the snows can be fiercer than any sort of rain.
Warmest wishes my dears, and stay safe!
So, I will begin as always as asking you to ask yourself: how are you as you are entering this time for yourself? Have a heart-to-heart with yourself and reflect on your week past.
Were you able to incorporate last week’s challenge with your busy Life? If so, GREAT!
If not, that is okay too.
The whole point is to go at your own pace. You shouldn’t have to struggle to have fun, it should come naturally and on its own time.
Practices for the Winter quarter of Samhain (1 Nov~ 31 Jan) by Caitlin Matthews:
1.  Practice introspection, meditation, contemplation, drawing upon the peaceful sanctuary of this season.
2. Shift burdens by doing something about them (e.g. make your will) or by giving up unnecessary patterns.
3. Remember your Ancestors and celebrate their wisdom.
4. In this deep season of darkness and introspection, seek the sun at midnight, the rich treasures that lie in the lap of Winter.
5. Be aware of the Ancestral Teachers, the grandparents and elders of the spiritual traditions, whose footsteps have kept the pathways open.
6. Cut back old growth in the garden and burn or compost it. Dig over the soil in preparation for the Spring.
7. Walk and meditate outdoors for at least en minutes daily.
8. Identify the nature of the soil and rock-forms in your locality and how this affects the life-forms who live upon the land.
9. Be active, with like-minded others, in recording, preserving, living and learning about the ancient wisdom of indigenous peoples, especially those in your own land.
10. As you travel through the land of Winter, relate your spiritual journey to the wisdom of this season.
So, how will you incorporate the challenge for this week, hmmmmm? I would love to hear. Feel free to reply or comment on my facebook or website page, or if you want to be a bit more private shoot me an email, or simply right your musings down in your journal. The point is to reflect, and learn from yourself.

Affirmations for the Mind!

Here are this week’s mantras. Don’t forget, you can tweak them to your liking. In order to make them yours, you must believe them, and affirm them to yourself. So switch ’em up if the inspiration strikes!
Today’s Affirmation: “Protect them from the cold and wet of despair. May their inner fires sustain them.”
 “My life affects so much. Like a butterfly’s wings, my presence affects great leaps of destiny.”
“May my wits preserve me and may my heart guide me.”
“I am an old soul on a journey of great importance and influence.”
“As I sit and listen I make new goals for myself. Concrete, allowable goals. Goals which I will not shy away from, nor put aside. The time is now, the time is here.”
“Before I speak, I should stop and ask myself: is this truly what should be said at this time?”
And lastly: “In seeking the sun at midnight, I will look to the sky and make a blessing on each of the stars that will be caught once upon a time.”

So, how will you incorporate the challenge for this week, hmmmmm? I would love to hear. Feel free to reply or comment on my facebook or website page, or if you want to be a bit more private shoot me an email, or simply right your musings down in your journal. The point is to reflect, and learn from yourself.

With Love,

Derek

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