Hallelujah 

The final day of Honouring The Darkness invited me to listen to KD Lang’s wonderful rendition of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. 

I have enjoyed this song for many years. I’ve danced to it, sung along to it. A month ago I toyed with the idea of including it in my public Winter Solstice ceremony. I didn’t but I love that it has come back to me in this way.  

Janelle asked me to reflect on several of the lines from the song… This is going to be personal, and also a rambling of thoughts forming and constellating. 
1 – “The minor fall, the major lift”
When I look back over the last few years, I have been on a wonderful and challenging journey to fully inhabit my Self in the world. It’s been about growing up, becoming the adult I need in my life, relishing my quirks and giving myself permission to fully indulge myself. And at the same time it’s been about coming out into the world, more vulnerable, more open, more connected. Some of that journey has been really uncomfortable, painful even. But every hurt has gifted me the chance to learn how to grow, to heal. 
2 – “The baffled king composing hallelujah”
This blog has been an interesting study in humility. I am sharing my thoughts and feelings about my self and the world, knowing that I will have changed my mind at some point in the future. I am always not quite well informed enough, which reminds me of Ken Wilber’s phrase “true, but partial”. Something I learned in Toastmasters is you are never completely ready or fully prepared and it is more important to take a risk, and try something new, than to be completely secure and prepared. Inspiration and creativity comes when I’m trying something potentially silly, foolish, or amateur. Knowing that gives me great freedom. I have more adventure in my life because of it.  
3 – “Your faith was strong but you needed proof”
All the time. And I’m fine with that. I think reality checks are important. We all need support, reassurance about our worth, about our safety. I think this is part of the self care I mentioned earlier. I continue to read inspiring and soul nourishing books even though I’ve heard it all before. They support me and give me “proof” of ideas by showing me them through another’s words and life experience. Just as some days it is perfectly fine and good to occasionally spend all day at home watching funny videos on YouTube, looking for reassurance and proof is fine too. In fact, I would say that proof inspires and supports further faith. 
4 – “And from your lips she drew the hallelujah”
For some reason, I am drawn to the She of this phrase, and to the women who have taught me. In particular, the female 5Rhythms teachers I have had: Barbara, Sarena, Gillian, Caitriona. They held spaces, made magic, and on their dance floors, I have experienced joy, moaned in pleasure and deep sadness, and I have melted, burned, broken open, dissolved, cried in agony and in ecstasy. And I love these women eternally for it. I am the man I am because of their magic.  
5 – “There’s a blaze of light in every word”
I’m a words man. I love words. My teachers are usually authors. When listening to songs it’s the lyrics that fire me. I journal, I blog. I love scripted ceremonies with beautiful words. And yet, the times I have felt the awen burn bright in me have been moments beyond words, before words, when I am fully and wholly embodied. In a deep, erotic dance in 5Rhythms. In the passion of all-shields-down, eyes locked love making. In the simplicity of time with my family. A blaze of light Words so bright and loud I cannot see them, but I burn with love by them. 
6 – “With nothing on my tongue but hallelujah”

Hallelujah.  

As the light returns and the days lengthen and the calendar reads 2017 and onwards, I hope your body is blessed with radiant health, and your heart is blessed with radiant love. 

This post is day ten 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/ 

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Pilgrimage

This morning is the winter solstice.  This is the mid point.  It is an hour before sunrise.  It is very dark. 

My boyfriend and I are planning to drive up to the top of the nearest hill to watch the sunrise. The view up there on a sunny day is amazing.  The photo attached is of me on that hill a few months ago, standing beside Cloughmore  (The ‘great stone’ in Irish).  This is a pilgrimage.  We don’t know if we’ll make it, or if the sky will clear, if we’ll see anything at all.  But still we start with the intention.  

Walking is a profound spiritual practice.  In 2017, I want to walk some of Ireland’s ancient pilgrimage routes.  There’s a new listing of them here. http://www.pilgrimpath.ie/

Blessings of the greatest darkness and of the returning light to you. 

This post is day eight 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/

Shadows Everywhere

Today’s task asks me to describe my shadows. 

It’s funny how it can seem like I’ve dealt with my stuff and then someone can say something or something can happen and I’m back in an old familiar mental place I thought I’d left behind.  For example,  last night when a colleague tried to describe me when saying why he’d miss me and he ran out of adjectives after “nice” and “quiet”. A part of me became a teenager again, feeling boring and inadequate. But just for a moment, and just a part. Quiet is something I have owned and love now but  I have so many other traits, patterns, and habits that I wish I could leave behind. 
In 5Rhythms practice I learn to move exactly with what is, exactly how I’m feeling now. The way my body feels, the way my limbs move. There’s no point in being embarrassed or ashamed. This is now, this is what’s here. I am here and I am enough.  Whatever I do or don’t do here, is enough.  

I experience the same in my Toastmasters journey. I learn through doing. I stand and speak. Sometimes what I said makes sense. Sometimes I rehearsed enough, but usually there’s an awkward performance, some evidence of growth, and plenty of material for feedback. It’s not comfortable. It’s enjoyable, but when I’m growing and developing, it’s not comfortable. 

I spent a year in therapy. None of it was comfortable. I shone light on my behaviour and not all of it was good and responsible. I sat with my self doubts and fears, and learned tools and skills to move forward in life. But I also learned more about the parts of me that I never wanted to sit and be with. They became familiar.  

My shadows are the parts of myself I turn from. The bits I don’t want to know about. It’s not all shame and regret. There’s some really useful treasure there in the dark recesses. Things I didn’t know would be valuable to me one day. 

I don’t intend to list my wounds and inadequancies. I intend on holding myself safely on this journey. I move with curiousity. This is a journey of gentle discovery, not of fixing myself. I move with my psyche exactly as it is. I wonder what happens when I journal, do morning pages, set myself a 10 day writing challenge, and so on.  

I have learned in this life, through all my journeys, that I am enough, and that I might not always feel it. That I have a right to be here just as I am, and that this journey will continue for only as long as it does. 

This post is day seven 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/

Winter’s Cloak

Today’s exercise began with a poem that I heard a year ago for the first time, at the Winter Assembly of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I loved it on first hearing. It is Winter’s Cloak by Joyce Rupp. Here is a recording of me reading it aloud.

Winter's Cloak by Joyce Rupp. Recorded as part of #honouringthedarkness #poetry

A post shared by Pól (@cosnochta) on

I love Winter.

I live in Ireland, temperate land where Winter means darkness and short days. It rarely snows here, we are too close to the seas. Winter here means cold and damp, but the contrast with the summer is the lack of light. In the Summer, I feel guilty about spending time indoors reading and resting. In the Summer, a sunny day means I have to go out and enjoy it. Sunny days are a rarity even in Summer.

In Winter, however, I am allowed to be as introverted as I like. I can lie under a blanket reading a book, writing or just being, and it is a day well spent.

I am fortunate to live in a place where hunger and starvation are no longer common. I have hot showers and a warm house and food that is transported around the world to huge supermarkets so that even in the late months of winter/early spring, I always have food. I do not hunger. Most of the world is not so fortunate. I try not to forget how fortunate I am, and I am grateful for my own well being.

I love the darkness, and I welcome the returning light at solstice and throughout the year. And yet, I do not always give myself the darkness of winter’s cloak. I blind myself with the bluescreen light of facebook, of netflix. Perhaps a little more, I would like to wrap myself in the darkness and stillness of winter’s cloak, and rest, just being. Just being.

This post is day six 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/

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/

Sanctuary

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/

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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/