I haven’t written in some time. Tonight though, Awen flows.
I just returned from the prison where I volunteer with a pagan group. We celebrated Beltane together this evening, a group of young men, incarcerated, struggling, frustrated, and angry. Rooting into the Earth, feeling the support of our sacred Mother, finding that connection to the land and place, we shifted the energy from prison life to sanctified, the dingy concrete room filling with the presence of the divine. Simple rooting. Simple ritual process. Call to spirit in the four directions. Call to spirit in the heavens and the Earth. Call to the gods, the divine masculine, the divine feminine, and deity in all its endless forms and aspects. Cast a circle to hold our intentions and prayers, crafting a place of safety and sacredness amidst the chaos of prison. These things are simple, yet they make all the difference.
We called the directions holding unlit candles as we aren’t allowed fire per the prison rules. One man called to the spirits of the West. His words sincere. Lacking resources and freedom, he used what he had. Shaking a plastic water bottle half filled, he created a water rattle. It was poignant, powerful, and real.
Each person tonight wrote down on a piece of paper what they wished to sow at the end of this new season of growth. I took these intentions home with me.
This was the last meeting for one man as he is being released in a few days. His time in prison clearing his mind and body from the slavery of addiction. He is ready to join in the outer world again. He stated what he really wished for was strong connection to his family, a good job that allowed him to simple be in a place and find a good life. This was beautiful to hear. His deepest desire was for strong mud roots and strong blood roots, finding the strength of his ancestors and connection to the land allowing him to live well and walk with honor. Again simple things. Powerful things.
There is power in big intense rites, pilgrimages to sacred places, vision quests, extended fasts, rituals in deep snows and bitter cold rivers. Sometimes these powerful rites change the course of our lives. Sometime though, they are just a bubble that burst, leaving us following our familiar patterns. As I grow older, I find it is the simple things that keep us on the good path – waking with gratitude for the day, honoring our food, lighting a candle daily for our ancestors, rooting into the Earth finding presence in our breath, calling to the spirits in all the directions asking to make good relationship. It is these small things that make the difference over time, guiding us to live immersed in the sacred, dwelling in a world that is enchanted and holy.
As I said, I took their intentions home with me tonight. I could have burned them on walk way, but I changed into my sneakers and took my little cauldron down by the river, stepping in the fresh snow that fell today. It was really just a small thing, a little more effort, a simple decision to go to the river. I put each piece of paper into the well used blackened cauldron and burned them, asking the fire to carry these prayers into the spirit world. Once burned, I offered the ashes to the river. Their red glow drifting in the breeze until they were taken by the dark water.
The river tonight was as beautiful a thing as I ever seen. The night sky reflected on its still surface, as mist moved over it dividing the river from the land, the three worlds sliding into one another, earth, sea, and sky. It was simplicity that brought me to this place, the little things guiding my steps. And that made all the difference in the world.
Blessings of Awen,