Feeling the Feelings

I resisted today’s exercise from Janelle, so much that it’s four days ago’s exercise. I like the exercises that I can be very cerebral about, that I can reflect on, be clever with words with. Day five’s exercise required none of that. It asked that I listen to a recording of Janelle guiding me through stroking one of my hands with three different objects in order to stimulate my sense of touch, and my ability to receive sensation, and pleasure.  And then to free write for 5 and 15 minutes after. I did it.

I loved the exercise. But I know I did it because I told her in a Facebook comment that I was doing it today, and because I had signed up for this short course.  If there was no accountability, I probably wouldn’t have.

The first object (a metal cup) made me aware of my hand and the exercise. The second object (a pen) woke me up. I felt turned on, alive, pleasured. My mind went off in search of a project with this new found experience, how could I “use” it. But I was reminded by Janelle to simply allow it to be. How could I receive.  The third object (some wool) I felt comforted and embodied.

One of my favourite pieces of writing is The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente.  This exercise reminded me of it, in particular, the lines:

Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth, for behold: all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. And therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honour and humility, mirth and reverence within you

This post is day five of my personal responses to ‘Honouring the Darkness’, a ten day reflective period leading up to the winter solstice, facilitated by daily emails from Janelle Hardy at http://www.janellehardy.com/hearthome/


When I moved to Belfast earlier this year, I imagined that as I was moving to a bigger city, I would spend more time socialising, going out to gay bars, dancing until late, engaging in the party. I didn’t. I was lucky to find a house with a room on the top floor, that is big enough to almost be a small apartment. I have grown to love my introverted nature, and that part of me (a very big part) loves solitude, and blankets, and unscheduled time.

I need my sanctuary, my safe space, to feel fully alive.

If I were to imagine my ideal sanctuary, my ideal safe space, it would be a room with a view of the sea and mountains. It would be warm. I would have my altar space there, and a writing desk. I would drink tea, and read, and write and be still. It would be large enough that I could hold small ceremonies. I would be private so that I can be as physically and emotionally naked there as I like.

I would have music there sometimes. And sometimes silence.

Often I would simply nap there or stare into space.

My sanctuary is my place sit under a blanket and to rest, and day dream, and create and be inspired.

My partner’s company is sanctuary too. We’re both very introverted. Sanctuary with him is the soft warmth of long cuddles, and no agenda other than to simply be present together. Often times, we sit side by side in bed, both of us reading or on our laptops working on individual personal projects.

Wherever I live, I try to make sure that I have some space that is simply for being. The older I get, the more I want my whole life to be a space of sanctuary with occasional forays into the world for food, socialising, and events.

I hope your life has a place where you feel warm and safe, loved and free to simply be.

This post is day four of my personal responses to ‘Honouring the Darkness’, a ten day reflective period leading up to the winter solstice, facilitated by daily emails from Janelle Hardy at http://www.janellehardy.com/hearthome/


Timed selfie sent to my partner showing one of my ‘introvert sanctuary’ days – headphones, tea, blanket, kindle, private room, day off. 


Entranced by Sematron

Today’s task in Honouring the Darkness was to listen to the music in the video below and to write about the the experience though a series of questions.

Listening to the sematron brought me feelings of deep rest and a lightness. I’m listening to the extended youtube playlist as I write this. I feel a kind of light inner smile.

I scanned my body as I listened and I noticed that for a while the percussion seemed to come from my throat as though the board was there. Then it was in my feet. My belly.

What it brought up for me most of all was a sense of the luxuriousness of lying down listening to beautiful sounds and how that in itself is a good and worthwhile thing to do. I notice that often when I listen to music it is whilst I am doing something else (walking, reading, tidying). The other times in the week that I may sit or lie down is usually to do a meditation as part of my druid course. But rarely, if every, do I lie down, with my eyes closed to listen to music for an extended period of time. I’d like to. I would, but I get distracted by the internet or feeling like I should be doing something else. Of course, that “something else” is usually some sort of external stimulus. I’m noticing that doing this, makes me feel alive, in the same way that being intimate with my lover makes me feel alive. I am conscious, in the moment, completely in my body, doing it for no other intended purpose than it feels good.

I’ve had a lot of experience with 5Rhtyhms in workshops and classes. This exercise reminds me of that practice, becoming more and more conscious of my body and it’s rhythms and motions and following that into ecstasy. Often times, in the past, when I have listened to drum beats and rhythms decided to induce trance states, I have judged it along the way, trying to see if I can “get there”. I have experienced many altered states in my life, some of them chemical induced, but the most powerful and the simplest have been through dance and ritual ceremony. More and more though, I want my experience of trance to be gentle, a taste of eternity, nourishing in the way that hugs and sleep are food for my soul body.

Whilst listening, my breath become deeper, slower, my pleasurable. Yes, my breath because a pleasurable thing in and of itself. Listening, for the pleasure of hearing. Breathing for the pleasure of breathing.

This music soothed me. I don’t enjoy high-stim environments. I do best and feel happiest with low-stim spaces, intimate conversations, books, rest, and time in nature. Listening to this music, resting, reminded me that I can do the same in my daily life. I do often listen to relaxing ambient music, to rest before or after a tiring event. This practice has reminded me that I can listen to my body and breath deeply at the same time for its own sake, because it a pleasurable thing to do.

This post is Day three of my personal responses to ‘Honouring the Darkness’, a ten day reflective period leading up to the winter solstice. Facilitated by daily emails from Janelle Hardy at http://www.janellehardy.com/hearthome/

The Art of Losing

I lose things. I lose hours from my day in mindless distraction. I lose photographs and books. I misplace things. Over the years, I’ve been good at losing places and finding places and losing places. I live in new cities and try things on. I never have much difficulty in leaving a job. However, I’ve been bad at letting go of the idea of what kind of job I do. I hold on to that. That’s something I could lose now and then.

I have had many casual friendships, in places I have lived, meeting interesting and new people, having deep and meaningful conversations, and then we both walked on. Something was had and lost there. Something was exchanged. Something was gained. Sometimes I have felt guilty for not maintaining all of my friendships but it would be simply impossible. I have spent years couch surfing and moving in large social circles and yet, often, at the same time, spending much of my time alone, with myself. I can look back on those friendships with the sense that I am glad to have known this or that person.

A part of me is hungry for a different type of friendship now, one that is more long lasting. I have many friends that I love dearly and in recent years I find myself wanting to hold on to them, to invest in them, to not lose these ones.

And yet, all things are lost eventually.

I remember when I did my first Reiki course, there was a sign in the hallway of the holistic centre that said everything you love will fall apart, or words to that effect. And inside that is the paradox, too. This moment in time is lost and gone forever. And yet, eternity, every present, is not. This friendship, is for this place and time, but its effect and the warmth of the connection and memory are with me always. When I hold circle, I like to remind those present that this circle exists just once in time, and can never be repeated. There is magic in the specialness of it.

So, if things can be lost and yet not lost, what can I lose (and yet not lose) every day? I can lose my habits. They change. And yet they don’t. I scold myself and at the same time I smile at the predictability of my self. I can lose my posessions. I can buy more things. I can lose my awkward self consciousness but not my self awareness. I could die and lose my body and my life. That could happen any day at any time.

I don’t fear dying but I fear losing my family and my loved ones. I don’t want to be denied their presence and love in my life. I don’t want to feel the pain of loss and the grief that follows.

There is much I could happily lose. I could lose my addictions, my hesitations, my guilt and shame at my past, my fears, my possessions.

I would not like to lose my mind, my wits, my sight or hearing. I do not want to lose my lover or my friends. And yet, I cannot cling to them. I can love them. I can lose my ideas of them and my taking them for granted. I cannot control their presence in my life.

The world around me shifts and changes. People change and grow and live and move away and die and change their likes and dislikes. Life moves on. Sometimes it will take people and places from me. Eventually I will lose everything. Everyone I love will die. Everything I own will fall apart or disappear from view. There is only now. There is only this love, this life, this view.

I often reflect on how I would not change anything about my past or my experiences. It would change who I am now, and the life I have now. I would not change the unpleasantness in past relationships, as they have led me to the place I am in now, and to the love I have in my life now.

As this year comes to a close, I know that I have lost something. There are roads I didn’t take. There are second dates I didn’t have. There are choices I made that meant I lived in this house and not that, took this job and not another, and so on. All the potential for something other is gone. And I let it go. Whether I notice or not, it is lost.

As to the world that is coming, the life that is possible, the world that is unfolding, every moment is a loss but also a gain. What could have been, but also what is, what will be. This too shall pass. Something will be.

This post is Day two of my personal responses to ‘Honouring the Darkness’, a ten day reflective period leading up to the winter solstice. Facilitated by daily emails from Janelle Hardy at http://www.janellehardy.com/hearthome/6fb91683-ff6d-4977-b94a-b6dc53ffaef9

Welcoming the Darkness


At this time of greatest darkness in the northern hemisphere, when the light is getting dim, where do I honour the dark? Do I make time for it? I don’t know if I do. I often need time in darkness, with my eyes closed or with curtains drawn, to rest and reset. But I don’t know if I honour it.

Janelle’s email yesterday left me wondering. I welcome silence and solitude in my life, but that’s because the alternative (noise and crowds) makes me anxious and frazzled. If I’m honest, I’m a little bit afraid of the dark. I love sleeping in a darkened room, but only because I can’t sleep in the light. I have been known to reach into a room and switch on the light before fully opening the door. Because I might see, what? Darkness? Or what might be in the darkness? Danger, ghosts, things to trip over, stairs to fall down. And that’s fine and normal. I can invite the darkness in a little more with dimmed lights, a sense of shorter days, more sleep. My life is reasonably care-free, and I can give myself that luxury.

Here, at the darkest time of the year, before the light has been reborn, Janelle asks me to consider this womb time, this darkness, as a place of gestation. Can I rest here? Can I stop here to be nourished by the world? And in the darkness inside me, inside my skin, inside my inner womb, what is waiting to be born? 2017 is coming and I am excited about the plans and dreams waiting to be born. There are many. A move to the west of Ireland with my partner; dreams of a cottage by the sea; training as a celebrant; a driving license; trips away with my druid community; plans for regularly hosting druid events in the west.

So here, and now, in this still time, while the world around me is busying itself with the noise and frantic pace of “Christmas”, I am slowing down, taking time to do nothing, and welcoming and allowing the darkness to be here with me, in me, just as I am.
This post is Day one of my personal responses to ‘Honouring the Darkness’, a ten day reflective period leading up to the winter solstice. Facilitated by daily emails from Janelle Hardy at http://www.janellehardy.com/hearthome/

Solitude and a List

I have had a very sociable few days between work, friends visiting, and spending time with my Mr. 

I spent most of today completely alone in my room. After a good night’s sleep, and whilst drinking a cup of tea, I wrote today’s to do list in my bullet journal. And with this post, I have completed everything on that list. 

I am grateful for my bullet journal, solitude, and tea. 

My Naked Face

I grew a beard for the first time about 10 years ago.  My face hasn’t been clean shaven since then.  I like how I look with a beard.  I like the extra gravitas it gives my appearance, and that it ages me slightly.  

Today, my partner asked if he could see my face, without a beard. I felt some resistance but I happily agreed. I really enjoyed the intimacy of him shaving my face, and going out of my comfort zone, yet feeling even safer in the love I feel for and from him.   
It’s strange to see my naked face.

I’m glad to know what this feels like. I’m going to let my beard grow again, knowing that clean shaven is an option.

Today, I am grateful for the trust I share with my partner and the laughter and mini-adventures we share in that trust.