About Sophia

Sophia facilitates inner change and spiritual depth via workshops, formal coven work and through private one on one sessions helping people to develop spiritual depth and access their own connection to Divinity, their ancestors and the Sacred Land.   She teaches the resacredization of the human spirit, broadening of the spiritual interior, mindfulness and presence work, and methods of self empowerment through reconnection to the soul. Michaela holds a Masters Degree in Theology with a concentration in interfaith spiritual development. She is co-founder of the House of Brigh Seership Institute and is a Mantle Carrier for an Alexandrian BTW Line.  She was co-founder of the People of the Ancient Ways, a complex network of eco-spirituality practitioners from various traditions in the Northwest States.  She is a certified Reiki practitioner and Western Astrologer. Michaela grew up in the Pacific Northwest in the shadow of Mount St. Helens.  She spent her formative years on the farm and in the wilderness barefoot as often as possible, reveling in the natural world around her, its holiness imprinting and teaching her spirit. 

The Scythe

harvest_sceneThe Lammas story, they say, begins with John Barleycorn, a scythe, and the hand of the Goddess.

“They’ve hired a man with a knife so sharp
For to cut him through the knees
And they’ve pitched Barleycorn
and tied him down with thorn
And served him barbarously”

Our senses want to run immediately to the pain of the situation and say, “Why does there even need to be a loss?” We hear this deeply in the Gaia Consort song “The Scythe”:

“In some flinch of your shoulder,
some look in your eye
I see the fear of disorder,
the fear of the scythe – comin’ down”

When we experience deep loss, we might even feel the rage along with our Goddess, as in the myth, The Descent if Innana. She ventures into the Underworld to challenge Death directly, demanding of him, “Why do you cause everything I love to die?” I’d like to think that, at that moment, she might have felt as grouchy as I can.

Death replies that Old Fate, one of the gods of traditional witchcraft, is out of even his jurisdiction. He gently reminds her that he does bring comfort and peace through reunion after death.

Lammas is a ritual crystallization of that very moment of questioning. As in all things, we want to place a value on our experiences, calling one experience good, and another evil. In the story of Caw! Or, That Poor Bastard, we see how events are not so simple as we might think they are.

Once upon a time, a kindly witch had an apprentice, whom she loved like a son. One day, he dropped her cauldron on his foot, and broke it. And, her Raven friend in the tree said, “Caw!” Which is Raven for, “That sorry bastard. Bad karma!” And, the witch said, “Maybe yes, maybe no. We will wait and see.”

Finally, his foot healed, but left him with a limp. Time passed, and war broke out. Every man in the village was drafted, except the apprentice, because his injury excluded him. And, opinionated Raven on her rooftop said, “Caw!” Which is Raven for, “That lucky bastard! The gods are looking out for him.” And, the witch said, “Maybe yes, maybe no. We will wait and see.”

In the meantime, the apprentice wanted to marry. Being gay, he had no boyfriends to choose from. And, the noisy Raven on her shoulder commented, “Caw!” Which is Raven for, “That sorry bastard. Bad karma!” And, the witch said, “Maybe yes, maybe no. We will wait and see.”

Time passed, and all wars end. But, when sickness comes, it takes a wise healer to defeat it. The apprentice had learned well from his teacher, and he stewed that obnoxious raven with healing herbs, and saved everyone. And he said, “Ha!” Which is human for, “That poor bastard.” (Humorously retold by L. Barshana Kyraphia)

And so we can that only in the fullness of time can we truly see fortune as good or illl… and sometimes, not even then.

The scythe is merciful. It removes the things that distract us, lock us into place, and leave us feeling stranded, far away from even our own feelings. As witches, we can use the Lammas energy to ritually cull those overgrown bits that induce separation, or to harvest the completed work we have so carefully tended. Finally, Lammas is the invocation of rest, the first time in the Wheel of the Year where we can catch our breath and relax. The scythe can cull, can harvest, or can set aside, but in all cases, the scythe is the mercy of the Goddess.

I Need Some Asbestos Skis

My spirit might as well be in hell right now.  When I say this, I don’t mean my butt is on fire and I’m skiing across the lake of fire on my asbestos skis.  I mean, things are rough on very subtle and not so subtle levels.  Yesterday, I was working in the garden and there were some leftover items in our garden cart that needed to move out of the way to get to the compost.  Pushing the cart didn’t move it very far (how odd), and then without considering why I pushed it further and over it tipped.  I got determined and I pushed the cart sideways out of the way with my hip on my way through, congratulating myself on not “even getting mad” at this turn of events.  I will return to this story in a moment.

Astrologically, things are rough right now.  They are damn rough.  A close friend came by this morning asking what was up: “at least 3 friends were in serious crisis.”  The planet is experiencing the 3rd of 7 Pluto Uranus squares and people be hatin’.  When Uranus comes through the scene we find deep changes, new inventions, revolution, and higher awareness.  We just LOVE changes right?  We always embrace changes with open arms and a big smile.  Well, if it comes bearing cheesecake that is.   Most of the time our conditioning has us utterly panicking as change arrives.  Depending on its house placement in our chart its effect often is felt as shocking, unpredictable, and erratic. Pluto brings destruction, transformation, and renewal.  Its effect on our life (once again based upon its placement in our chart) is grinding, ruthless and extreme.  And what happens when these two rogue cowboys are running amok on the planet at odds with each other? Look around.  Who are we praying for right now?

makingdueSo the real question is, we have 4 more of these, how do we get through?   By educating our soul.  Kabir Helminski says, “this education of the soul…is a process of awakening a presence that can initiate and sustain the activation of our latent human faculties.”  We need ALL our faculties to be functioning folks, not latent.  These transits through various aspects of our life educate our soul about our true relationship with the larger Reality (God, Universe, Divine Presence) and are a benevolent universe’s systematic removal of those obstacles to that knowledge.  We get to become more real, more human!! This removal and re-creation process is essentially a process of deconditioning, reconditioning, and unconditioning.

Back to the garden cart (I didn’t forget!) On some level,  I was moving forward trying to DO something that I set out to do (get through an obstacle course), making my yard look a certain way (cause that’s what responsible people do), interacting with the things in my care, all without pausing to figure out why perhaps the cart didn’t move.   When I observe myself energetically and psychologically I discovered that I have conditioned myself to push myself through situations who qualities do not include that didn’t checking in and make changes to my trajectory based upon the truth of the situation vs my perceived understanding.  Later I found out through my Father that my garden cart tires need to be filled and if they HAD moved very far I would have to replace my tires.   My lack of presence into the situation then would have created more damage, facilitating more stress, and locking me into a pattern that I would then have to also respond to.  And then I could congratulate myself about my mature response to the situation then too! (God bless my ego)

At the end of the day, my interaction with my garden cart is a metaphor, and it is also the physical reality.  My actions with it and towards it is an indicator of the way in which I can often be unaware of what I am doing and why, the unexamined way in which I follow my inner programming assuming that my instinct or thoughts are the right or best way.    It is this zombie response that shapes interactions and ultimately the direction of our friendships, our relationship to possessions, and the raising of our loved children.  Right now, in this transit, this is the liability.

So, to get through this transit, we need to get real practiced at stepping back from the obstacles we are trying to push through.  Examine that cart with our inner eye, use our reason and intuition around what we are trying to do and take to task the “whys” that formed those.  Then, pray for guidance from the Higher Power (as you see it) since that Power sees farther than we do and then surrender to the outcome.

The control freak in all of us gets all medieval about surrender. 

That desire to control and manipulate the outcome is oft directly related TO our social and cultural conditioning.  While Pluto and Uranus might be impersonal in their systematic removal of those things that we sedimentally hold, the Universe does have our backs.  Every single person on this planet is held and guided.  The pain we are in, are coming out of, or might be coming, while difficult and not our idea of a good time, often has a noble purpose.

 So if my heart can offer a prayer for you out of my own experience of pain and loss:

 I pray that you receive guidance in a way that you can see it, the capacity to follow it, that it is easier than those that went before you, and protection from the blessing as it unfolds. 

I need a bigger basket

Easter is a complex time of year for me.  With the American culture’s propensity towards marketing, often times it is hard for me to see past the campy plastic eggs and our bright colorfully dressed bunny hiding them.  I also intellectually know that this holiday is a remnant of old agrarian beliefs around the ever important fertility (even today!) and significant events that are happening around us to mark that we have indeed crossed a line in nature telling us that there is going to be more sun than shadow, and that the hard line that we had to hold to make sure that we didn’t freeze or starve to death is starting to fade.

 

To say that fertility, light and the turning of the seasons are not important anymore is just not correct.  I found out that I cannot have children and made a choice not to do fertility treatments, and I discovered that many hurting people faced this alongside of me this year.  We have more people doing fertility treatments than ever before to have children, men or women leaving partners who are barren or cannot conceive, Martha Stewart in the last twenty years single handedly made gardening into a mainstream obsession (which is GREAT for the environment)  and eco-spirituality followed mainstream consciousness since the 1900’s and later when we watched Emerson go to live deliberately in the woods.  While many of outpourings of Easter might be considered to be shallow outpourings from a unexamined soul, they are still fostered through something deeper.

 

I have heard more times this spring that hearts that have been embedded in winter blues were so glad that spring was here.  I have heard that it was a hard winter and when we started seeing daffodils and crocus’ our little hearts skipped a beat.  These little beauties signaled to us that the light had come back and our soul was in for a treat!  In Oregon where I live, we get very little sun, and have gotten less sun as time has gone on.  We joke about Juneuary, and the coldness that exists when it should be 65 degrees.  If we look at the deeper conversation that we are having, we are really saying that we have been in a struggle with darkness and our soul feeling the loss is ready for some help with this with the insertion of joy!

 

Spring is this insertion of joy as medicine… Easter personifies this!    In Christianity, the belief is that there is a personified gift of God that opened a bridge for all of humanity to come into the light and reunite with the Life.  This gift was viewed as the bridge to the higher reality and on this day he offered this bridge to all of humanity to come out of darkness and embrace joy as a lifestyle, a birthright of sorts and to step back into the original plan for humanity which was to live in wholeness in the presence of divinity.

 

In paganism we see the same thing with a different telling of it where [the] physical part of our selves (symbolically represented by the God) finally finds what He has been looking for and decides to step into his birthright and claim that he truly is eternal (Goddess is symbolic of the eternal part of humanity).  He agrees to step into full sun, and to move out of the selfish and self seeking ways that he has followed until that point and anchor himself into something deeper.  He is enticed by eternity to embrace his eternal soul as being a worthwhile enough venture to commit.  Jesus committed with his soul and brought life into the world, and the God of paganism commits with his soul and brought forth life with the Child of Promise being birthed.  Both agree to let a part of themselves die in order to have something larger.

 

And this bunny, in all of his caricatured glory is the representation of this fertility inserting joy into hidden places!  The eggs are personifications of the eternal truth that our Maker gives us gifts that are beautiful and full of surprises, and that after our death there is life.

 

This Easter my hope is that we are looking for the hidden joys with a basket that is big enough to carry them!   I challenge you increase your inner capacity and allow joy to be part of your spiritual make up, to allow the divine  gifts to be present in our lives.  Divinity is benevolent, and wants the best for us.  The presence of pain and darkness is not an indicator of the way that god does not care, but instead is a unique opportunity to become closer to that which is Real, to find the hidden gems. Sometimes God has to stop talking so we can learn to listen better, to strengthen our spirit and ultimately realign in a real way instead of being led along by the nose like a pack animal.

 

This year I am going to get a bigger basket!  In that basket I am going to place the hidden gifts in my life, bring them forward and celebrate them!  By doing this, I realize that I can allow the light to overcome the darkness and heal my spirit.  It is then, when we get brave and open our hearts we allow our gifts to be seen and discovered by divinity!

 

For the kingdom of God is within you!

 

 

© 2012 By Terradon Iler