Grab Bag for the Holiday Season Or, Survival Tips for the Homeward Bound

Grab Bag for the Holiday Season

Or, Survival Tips for the Homeward Bound

by Erika Ginnis

 

I thought that for this article I would  touch on a couple of ideas and techniques that I have found useful during  the holiday season. This is the time of  year when the light seems like a  memory (even as it begins to change  and return), and the dark is ever around  us. It is a powerful time for inner  searching and deep magick. It is a time  of cycles both within us and outside  of us. In some ways, this is the time of  year when it seems like everyone, pagan or not, is bound up in the cyclic  sweep of the turning of the year and  the seasons.

Whatever your own personal opinions about the many traditions that  are celebrated during this time of year  (I personally love the holidays regardless of the name they go by — but  then again I have also been told I am  rather strange!) it is hard to dismiss  all that it brings up in us. All our childhood experiences good or bad are  there with us. All the hopes and  dreams, realized or not, come crowding back on us at this time of year. We  get together with family members  (many of which have little understanding of our particular spirituality), and  sometimes it seems like we become  someone we once were, or never were  but thought we were supposed to be.  It can also be that we love the festivities at this time of year, but those  around us are glum and depressed.  Perhaps we ourselves like this dark  time of inner reflection and long for  its quiet wisdom, but are annoyed by  all the revelers around us and feel the  need to go hibernate under a rock till  spring.

Anything sound familiar yet? Well,  you are not alone. I have personally  found that this period of time right  around Yule to be a great opportunity  for growth and change. The way I look  at it, “If my stuff is going to be up and  strewn all around me anyway, I might  as well take this opportunity to work  on some of it!”

One of the things that I become  increasingly aware of in relation to all  of this, is something that I call a “growth  period.” To define this very simply: “A  growth period is the time it takes the  body to adjust and process the  changes that we make as spirit.” The  holiday season is a time ripe for periods of accelerated growth. We are  confronted with our pasts, with family  issues, with the cyclic and therefore  mortal aspects of ourselves. Adding  this to the fact that it is already a time  of darkness and cold (at least in this  part of the world) can inspire some  pretty intense stuff.

Have you ever taken a class in  some kind of personal development  or spiritual work, and felt like you were  riding an amazing high, only to find  yourself a week or two later getting  sick, or wanting to hide from the world?  This is an example of a growth period. First of all, you make some kind  of change or work on something as  spirit. This happens very quickly, since  spirit isn’t bound by time and space.  Great, no problem, you can make all  these changes and wheeeee! Right?  Well, only partially; you are spirit, you  can change in an instant; however, you  have a body, and that body has to  operate in time and space. So what  happens is that your body needs to  integrate what you have changed. It  needs time to process the new energy.

While you are in this process, it  can feel a little odd. I think of it sometimes like a plant getting a new leaf.  When the leaf is just beginning to unfold, it is a lighter green and is a lot  more tender, more easily bruised. It  hasn’t developed the more waxy finish that the other leaves have.

This is analogous to how we can  feel when we are in a state of flux.  Over time, the leaf grows out and unfolds and becomes just like the others, and the plant is that much larger.  It is the process by which growth occurs. We are not so very different from  the plants. We don’t normally sprout  leaves, but our changes are just as  real and every bit as observable if you  know how to look.

Growth periods can be experienced in a number of ways. You may  want to sleep much more than usual  or not need as much sleep as you are  used to. You may want to have a lot  of sex or want to go out dancing a lot,  or maybe want to hibernate at home  all of a sudden. Maybe you want to  eat a lot of chocolate, or you may  catch a cold, or just feel generally unsettled. It may also be that you feel  better than you ever have and you feel  like the whole world is opening up to  you. These are all growth periods. A  growth period does not have to be  uncomfortable! It is simply the time it  takes the body to process the  changes that you make as spirit.

What is important, especially when  it feels more challenging, is to remember “This is a normal, natural and necessary part of learning and growing.”  Many of us like to try and skip this  part, or try and ignore it. We may feel  more fragile at this time and want to  protect ourselves by denying our  changes. Unfortunately, one of the  things that denial can do is to prolong  the process. If you acknowledge your  growth period, you can then begin to  communicate with your body about  what’s happening and what your body  needs. This will make it all go more  smoothly.

Sometimes all it takes is that conscious recognition that you are indeed  in a growth period. It can make it all  make more sense. Another thing to  remember is that  growth periods are  cyclic…. they have a  beginning, a middle  and an end! They  don’t go on forever; you  will adjust to the changes,  and you will have grown. A  former teacher of mine  used to use the adage: “When  you are up to your ass in alligators,  it’s hard to remember that you set out  to drain the swamp!”

As long as you are in a body, you  will have growth periods; it’s part of  the package. If you are into growing  spiritually, well, guess what, you will go  out of your way to have growth periods! I find that meditation really helps  to keep everything flowing. It may be  that the time that you want to meditate the least is when you need it the  most.

So this brings me back to this particular season. This would be a fabulous time to commit to meditating  daily. This is one of the times of the  year when we all are aware of the cyclic nature of our lives. It is coming up  on the New Year, we are running headlong into our childhood memories, we  are seeing people we might not have  seen since last year. We become very  aware of our own changes or lack  thereof, and it can be pretty intense.  It will very likely put us into a growth  period.

One of the techniques that I suggest people use for getting a handle  on where they are, in their growth, is  as follows: Find a quiet place where  you won’t be disturbed for a few minutes. (Sure, you say, with all my relatives in my house, how will this happen? If all else fails, go into the bathroom, lock the door and say you’re  taking a bath.) Take a few minutes to  ground and center.

Let yourself become aware of what  your current growth period is; let the  information flow to you from your stillness. Ask yourself the question: “What  are the spiritual changes I have recently made, and how am I responding to them?” Let the answers flow.  Maybe you have been feeling odd and  unsettled and not wanted to look at  it, so have been on the run as much  as possible to avoid it all. Take this  opportunity to stop running and simply look at what’s happening and why,  and give yourself permission to not  take it all so seriously. Laugh a little at  the huge growth period you are in (if  this is the case) and realize that it will  pass and you will have grown. Even if  the issue that you are working on is  serious, treating it with just a little  amusement can help the energy move  and change more easily.

The next exercise can give you  more insight into what you are working on and can also be a wonderful  way to get in touch with your own  changes.

Take two sheets of paper and a  pen. On the first sheet, start the heading of a letter that  says “Dear  Spirit…”  and at the  end of the  sheet of  paper write  “… love, Body.”  Next, take  the other  sheet of  paper and at the top write “Dear  Body….” and at the end of the paper  write “…love, Spirit.”

If you haven’t already guessed,  you are going to write two letters. Let  your mind relax and let your body have  a voice; let it talk to you and let you  know what’s up, what it feels, what it  needs. Write it down in the first letter.  This is your body communicating to  you, the spiritual being. Don’t judge  what you write, just write. It may say  things like, “Dear Spirit, you haven’t  been paying any attention to me, I need  more exercise, I need more sleep,  please buy me some flowers.” Or perhaps, “I am trying as best as I can, but  I don’t know what we are doing or  where we are going, so I am afraid;  please let me know what’s going on.”  Or even, “I am starting to get a cold,  please  drink a lot  of water so  I won’t be  sick for the  holidays.”

Whatever the  communication, it is  a valuable  tool for staying in touch with the wisdom of the body and for knowing how  your body actually feels in this sometimes hectic season. Now realize you  don’t have to do everything the body  asks for. It may say, “I want to go escape to Hawaii until February,” but  what you as Spirit may decide to do is  go spend 10 minutes tanning and take  a walk in a conservatory of tropical  plants. What you may find is that the  very act of being listened to is enough  to totally change how your body feels.

Next up is the second letter. This  is a letter from you as Spirit to your  body. Take a minute and breathe and  relax. Get in touch with yourself and  you own inner voice. I highly recommend meditating as part of writing  both these letters if it is at all possible. This is the letter that begins  “Dear Body….” You may be surprised  at what you write. Let go of your expectations as you write and let it flow.  It may sound like, “Dear Body, I love  you, but I am not always good at communicating, but I am working on changing that. I want to work on prosperity  for the holidays, and so I have stimulated all the memories from our childhood so I can put them to rest. Sorry  I didn’t mention this to you before I  started….” Or, “I am really proud of  the way you didn’t get enough sleep  for a few days so that I could create  that wonderful holiday dinner. I am  going to make sure there is time now  to relax and enjoy the next week.”

It may also sound totally different than these examples, which is the  point. It is your own voice as spirit  communicating into this physical reality to your body so that you can begin  to work in harmony with each other. It  is all part of the same thing, but it has  different aspects and different voices,  which are each valid and valuable. I  often say that one of our most important relationships, one that colors all  our others, is the one we have as spirit  with our body. If we can begin to harmonize that one, the others are much  more likely to be successful.

Hopefully now that you have some  tools to use during this time of change  and renewal, you can let yourself enjoy what comes to you and be able to  learn from it. If nothing else, you can  know  what  is going on  when  you want nothing  better than  to  stay in  bed and eat chocolate until Spring  Equinox. It is just a growth period! Next  week, most likely, you’ll be planning  what new plants you want to add to  your garden when it thaws out, or beginning that new class you wanted to  take.

I will end with another saying I  heard a lot when I was a student. “Running your energy will get you into a  growth period, and running your energy will get you out!” Meditate, meditate, meditate, and I’ll see you next  year.

Blessed be.

Review of Grounding and Centering

Close your eyes, and turn within.

Take three nice, deep breaths,  breathe down into your belly and  soften it  as you  breathe.  Notice  how you  feel, how  your body  feels.

Be  aware of  your first  chakra. This is simply an energy center (vortex) that is located in the general area near the base of the spine.  For women, the center (vortex) that is  located in the general area near the  base of the spine. For women the center is usually near the area between  the ovaries (note: the chakra positioning doesn’t change if you have had to  have your ovaries removed for any reason). For men the location is slightly  lower in the body because the chakra  placement is associated with the testicles.

Be aware of this area, and allow a  cord of energy to flow downward  from your body…

through the chair you are sitting  in…

through the floor and  down through  the building you  are in…

through the  foundation and  into the deep  earth beneath.

Allow your grounding to flow down  into the earth past all the rocks and  layers of the planet, past the water,  deep into the earth into the heart of  the Mother. Until it reaches the center  of the earth.

Allow your grounding cord to connect securely into the center of  the planet.

Be aware of your grounding  cord being securely connected  also to your first chakra. Allow this  connection, breathe and release energy and tension down your grounding.

Now that you are grounded you  can take the next step and center yourself. Take a nice deep breath and bring  your awareness into the center of your  head. That safe neutral place behind  your eyes and back a bit.

Notice how you body responds. It  might have a reaction to you being centered. Let that reaction simply be, notice it. If you experience any discomfort, release it down your grounding.

Be aware of what the center of  your head is like right now. Is it light?  Is it dark? Is it crowded, or empty?  Cold or warm, big or small? Are you  aware of sensations, sounds, images,  scents? Relax and breathe yourself  into the center of your head. Get comfortable and begin to own this safe  neutral place.

Continue to use your grounding to  release energy from this space so that  you can make more room for you to  focus there in the present moment.