Friday 4 April 2014

Celtx Non-Fiction Winner: The Essence of Ritual

The following essay by Romany Rivers won 1st place in the fifth week of our 2014 Celtx Competition

The Essence of Ritual by Romany Rivers

“It’s experiential. A profoundly personal act even when shared, ritual reconditions our perspective. It is the practice of reminding ourselves of the value and power of living. It is that moment in which we stop and, looking around, understand that life is sacred.” 
Emma Restall Orr ‘Ritual - A Guide to Love, Life and Inspiration’

There is an abundance of books and resources available in this day and age that can share the step by step process of ritual. We are told where to stand, what actions to take, when to speak, when to be silent. With the greatest will in the world, without the experiential essence of ritual, these words remain words. The actions remain actions. The silence remains silence. This book you hold in your hands is filled with such words, hundreds of words, thousands of words, and the combination of these words holds power. Each sound, each word, each phrase holds power. Yet they do not hold THE power. Without you and your conscious energetic connection to the Divine they remain vibrant, inspiring, thought provoking, energetic, but devoid of Divinity, unable to manifest change beyond their natural environmental impact. You are the power. You are part of the Divine, of the all that is, of the all that was, of the all that will be. You are the essence of ritual. 

Ritual comes in three main forms, celebrations of nature, magical rites, and rites of passage. Celebrations of nature include the traditional Sabbats that mark the passage of the Wheel of the Year, as well as any celebration of the Divine within seasonal cycles, planting and harvesting blessings, and communing with natures deep mysteries. Since Witches see the Divine as immanent within nature, such celebrations allow for a glimpse of the Gods as they manifest within our world and offer a chance to connect with the Gods energetic journeys so visibly reflected within the seasons. 

Magical rites are usually held to coincide with lunar phases, and involve a deep connection with the power of consciousness, the energetic systems of the universe, divine and spiritual powers. Most often these rites are used to manifest positive change and healing, although magical rites can and do cover a wide range of subjects. 

Rites of passage are very important in most Pagan paths and cover a wide range of acknowledgements for life transitions and milestones. Hatches, matches and dispatches – Baby Blessings, Marriages and Funerals  are most commonly understood as a Rite of Passage, but many other transitions are marked within the Witchcraft community, including traditional initiation ceremonies, spiritual transitions and life transitions from one phase to another, such as maiden to mother and mother to crone. 

Pagans as a rule are very creative, and many rituals and celebrations are formed by weaving these threads together. For many, any ritual act is a magical act, any celebration of life transition is also a celebration of seasonal cycles, any celebration of nature is also a celebration of the Divine in many forms, and any connection with the Divine is a magical act. 

How does one describe not the steps, actions and words of ritual, but that almost intangible connection that separates theatre and performance from the sacred play? It is as unique as each practitioner. I stand solitary in my home based ritual room, surrounded by the objects of my creativity and learning. I stand in the loosely formed circle of my peers, still buzzing and chatting prior to the nights rite. I stand under the moon and gaze up at her impassive face as the breeze chills and thrills my warm skin. I stand. I breathe in. I breathe out. I breathe in deeply. I breathe out the days stress, and worry, and anxieties. I breathe in the stillness. And then, I can feel it. The otherworldly sensation of falling away, falling out of myself, out of the world, out of time, out of space and yet feeling more rooted into my own body and spirit, deeply rooted in the earth beneath me, rooted into the web of connectivity. I relax into it. I revel in the deep abundant well of joy I can feel. The mundane slips away, yet also falls into sharp relief for all that it is. I accept it all and then let it go. In this space that is no place, and at this time outside of linear time, I simply am who I am. And who I am is Divine.

To me, this is the true essence of ritual. The pure undiluted connection to all that is sacred. The understanding of Divinity and our own Divine spirit. The ability to consciously connect and affect the web of energy around us and within us. The words we speak, the techniques we employ, the practices we use are all powerful in their own way, but this deep rooted connection is what gives our rituals true meaning. Some of the words within these pages are designed to help affirm that connection, to wake up our own sleepy spirits, and to access the energy all around us. Some of these words need that connection with divine energy to give them life and meaning. Only you can know what works for you as a spiritual practitioner. I humbly offer my own experiences and inspirations to you, and by doing so I extend my connection to the earth beneath my feet and to my kith and kin who honour her. 

Weaving Words of Power 

“To bind the spell every time `
Let the spell be spoke in rhyme” 
- The Wiccan Rede 

The use of language in ritual is an often undervalued or misunderstood technique. Much attention is placed upon intention and Will, without which our magic fails to be effective or affective. Energy follows thought, and as such we focus on refining, honing and harnessing our thoughts, threading our thoughts with clear intention and strength of Will. Mahatma Gandhi said “Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words. Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions.” Words become thought, and thought becomes word, the two are interlinked and both greatly impact our actions. When we disregard the importance of verbal or written language within ritual, we do a great disservice to ourselves and to the Divine. Spoken language is not just a method of communicating our intention, desires or Will, it is by its very nature an energetic technique. When your mother told you ‘It is not what you said, it is how you said it’, she was tapping into the importance of tone, key, inflection, and energetic influence of your speech. Words can hurt or heal, and the way we communicate with others can shape our present and future relationships. It is a lesson we learn as children, and a lesson that many practitioners are relearning on their magical path. Adding depth to the idea of tone and inflection, we can also observe how each individual syllable is a distinct sound and the combination of sounds within a sentence creates a unique energetic signature. Spoken language is at its core, sound vibration. These vibrations carry energetic influence into the world around us. When we are conscious not only of what we say, but how we say it, we add to our magic by creating a deliberate weaving of energy expressed through sound. We create words of power. 

From the Hermetic philosophers who taught that one of the seven principles of the universe is vibration, ‘Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates’; to Buddhist teachings of sound, prayers and mantras creating both internal and external effects; and all the way to modern principles of string theory, we can see the potential impact of spoken language. When language is broken into its simplest interpretation of pure sound, the greatest minds all point to the deep mystery of energetic and physical effect created by the unique vibration of sound. The complexities we add to this root vibration by combining sounds and attributing meaning to every combination, gives us the beauty and magic of language. 

Sound Influencing Matter 

Dr. Hans Jenny, a Swiss medical doctor and scientist, completed some fascinating experiments on the study of wave phenomena, which he called Cymatics (from the Greek Kyma, meaning ‘wave’). The importance and influence of vibration and sound on physical matter can be clearly seen in these simple and elegant experiments. In the 1960’s Dr. Jenny placed sand, fluid and powders on metal plates which were then vibrated with a frequency generator and speaker. Different frequencies produced beautiful and often intricate geometric images and patterns that were unique to each individual vibration. When the sound vibration stopped pulsing through the substance, the images collapsed back into their original state. For many practitioners of magic and for practitioners of science, these experiments show that there is a clear impact of sound on matter, that different frequencies produce different results, that sound can alter form, that sound can maintain form, and that sound can create form. 

The Written Word Influencing Matter 

Dr. Masaru Emoto is well known for his experimentation with water crystals, and his book series Messages from Water are filled with stunning images of water crystals affected by sound vibration, spoken word and positive prayer. Dr. Emoto carried the concept of sound vibration further, by looking at the energy of the written word as a harnessed thought and how that thought would impact water crystals. He placed labels on bottles of water that expressed human emotions and ideas, some positive and some negative such as ‘Thank you’, ‘Love’, ‘You make me sick’, and ‘I will kill you’. There is no measurable physical action in these experiments, and yet the water crystals responded to the words –  positive messages created beautiful geometric crystals, whilst negative messages created malformed or chaotic crystals. Dr. Emoto’s experiments have been repeated by many research groups in more controlled circumstances, often with statistically significant results. These experiments show the power of the written word over reality, for each word contains the vibrational frequency of our consciousness. 


Within Pagan practice the most common understanding of sound vibration is likely to come from the field of numerology. Within numerology we learn that each letter is a set symbol for a sound, that each sound has a set rate of vibration that can be scientifically measured, and that each vibrational measurement uses a number to represent it. Every letters numbered place in the alphabet is its rate of vibration. By using numerology we learn to uncover the vibration and energetic influence of particular words. This can be an excellent tool for the practitioner to harness a particular rate of vibration or to invoke a certain energy during ritual. 

Through conscious awareness of the words that we use and the vibrational frequency they contain, we can tailor our words to better reflect our intent and Will. However the Pagan practitioner may not have, nor need, a full understanding of the many and varied theories regarding sound and vibration, and yet can still appreciate the importance of language during ritual. Experimentation with tone, pitch, rhyme, alliteration, inflection, tempo, harmony and song, can all yield some interesting energetic results. Starting with simple chants we can easily feel the difference between a short, sharp chant that increases our heart rate and sends blood rushing around our body, and a gentle, flowing chant that lowers our blood pressure and clears our mind. Both styles may raise energy, but they do so in very different ways and have very different influences on our physical form. Speeches that have gone down in history do so because of the incredible impact they have on the mental and emotional state of the listeners, and may also have tapped into magical techniques that create resonance with the energy of the crowd. Matching the tempo and rhythm of such speeches, as well as utilising changes in pitch and tone, may replicate the impact felt by the listeners. Using melody and harmony can create gentle but definite physical and emotional response for the magical practitioner, one only has to listen to Gregorian chanting or pitch perfect unaccompanied singing and witness the physical reaction of goosebumps arising on your skin or tears welling in your eyes to understand the power of sound affecting the physical. With the ever increasing literacy within our world, language both written and verbal may have lost its sense of magic and secrecy, but as practitioners who seek the deeper mysteries we will uncover and understand the essence of language as an expression of intent, Will, and creation. 

Techniques for weaving words of power 


Repetition in ritual is a common technique for raising awareness and energy, either by repeating particular sounds or words, or by repeating entire chants. Repetition is a unifying device used in all poetry, either with repetition of sound, syllable, word, phrase, line, stanza, or metrical pattern, and can be found in religious chants of many cultures. In fact, repetition can often reinforce or even replace the meter in poetry, creating a rhythm that develops into cadence or song. Repeating a particular word or phrase implies importance to the conscious mind and builds upon the ideal or concept the repeating phrase or word portrays. 


Alliteration is a form of repetition using a singular sound at the beginning of several words within a sentence, and is also known as ‘front rhyme’. This form of repetition can be very catchy, and serves as a great method of remembering a chant or invocation. It is a technique often employed by marketing and advertising companies, because quite honestly it works. Aside from the practical application of assisting us in remembering our ritual words, alliteration also offers us the opportunity to harness the energetic influence of a particular sound by layering that sound over and over. This technique can be tied into others, such as numerology, by searching for a single letter or sound that encompasses some aspect of your ritual or magical working and then using that to create the words of your ritual. Consciously harnessing the energy you desire by starting each word or phrase with that energy and repeating it throughout your ritual. 


Rhyme is one of the most commonly used techniques in ritual writing, although in some sense that can be unfortunate. I have seen practitioners attempt to work within rhyming couplets and as a result their desire to ‘make it fit’ actually harms the content of their work. It is, in my honest opinion, a far better thing to write with conscious awareness of what you say and how you say it than to try and use words that offer you a rhyme and no more. Of course, for those who have a natural ability with language, rhyming beautifully and also conveying the exact message they wish to may seem an easy task – but it is not for everyone. Rhyming is a fantastic tool for oral traditions to pass on information, as the mind more easily remembers and recalls the repetition of rhyme than of plain prose. Rhyming couplets have often been used in theatre to bind or end a scene or an act, as a way of signifying the completion, importance or release of the actions previously portrayed. Within magic, rhymes are often used in spellcraft in a similar manner of binding and completing the energy. Again, rhyme is a form of repetition, although more commonly found in the words or syllables at the end of a sentence. This sound then becomes your end note, the final point of reference for the energy you are raising. As such, it is important that the repetition of your final sound be relevant to your magical workings. 


Tempo is usually considered a musical term, but it also relates to the speed or pace evident in your ritual words. Chanting is a prime example of tempo in action. Many chants will start slowly, with clear and evenly paced words. The pace may increase gradually, or with each round of the chant becoming more rapid, and may also be accompanied by vigorous hand clapping, stamping, dancing or drumming. The tempo increases to the point of impossibility, when it is no longer possible to maintain the speed of the chant with speech, and the frenetic energy raised is released in a crescendo of sound or a sudden silence. Pay close attention to the tempo of your words, for it will greatly affect the emotional state and energy levels of ritual participants. Be practical too, a long winded chant will not work well if you intend to increase the tempo to raise energy. Tempo can be measured by beats per minute, the same way your heart rate is measured, and the two are linked. The faster paced chants will increase your heart rate as your body seeks to match the tempo of your chant, and conversely you can create a calming effect upon the body if you consciously design a slow paced chant. Reading your words aloud is a good way of discovering the natural tempo of your text, and if you seek to increase or decrease the tempo you can experiment by reading aloud, changing the pace and listening to how your own body reacts. 


Rhythm is the pattern of speech and silence, the dance of ebb and flow within your words. In language, rhythm is all about timing. Using techniques of rhyme and alliteration can produce a particular rhythm naturally, but you can also use a conscious method of pausing at intervals to invoke an ebb and flow of energy. A good rhythm can be very hypnotic, and can bring about a sense of trance or otherworldliness to both the speaker and the listener. Rhythm and tempo both play important roles in guided meditation, allowing the body to relax and the mind to alter its state of awareness comfortably. If a meditation lacks rhythm, the mind constantly jumps back into conscious awareness, but a gentle rhythm acts like a lullaby to a baby and soothes the soul with safety and security. 

The Sound of Silence 

Vocalisation of our intent and Will is very important within ritual, but so is silence. Silence allows the sound vibrations you produce to hang in the air, to be accepted and absorbed by nature, or to be returned in echoed frequency. Silence gives us the chance to connect with and release the energy we are raising, and offers us the opportunity of hearing and feeling the Divine response to our energetic influence. Silence is also impossible. Even when we stop speaking, our body and spirit hum with the billions of vibrations that make up the cells of our physical and spiritual existence. With or without speech, we are a symphony of sound. Silencing our words allows us time to focus on the energy that we are sharing with the world through our very act of being, and gives us a better understanding of our thoughts and the interaction of our consciousness with the universe around us. 

Song (tone, pitch, key) 

Singing, with or without musical accompaniment, is a fabulous method of combining many different sound techniques in one form. The art of singing as a connection to the Divine can be found in many cultures throughout history, and it is easy to see how the Divine inspires such beautiful, enduring and uplifting melodies. If you have an aptitude for music, I would strongly suggest that you explore the possibility of creating a ritual of sound, music and song. Song allows us to utilise different vibrational frequencies at the same time, by harnessing the sound vibration created by the tone and pitch of the singer, and by harnessing the sound vibration of the word itself. With song, there is endless variation and combination of sound vibration, and an opportunity of layering frequencies through the art of harmonising with others. 


Resonance is the physics effect of periodic intervals of a frequency matching and amplifying the frequency of oscillation of a structure. The energy is stored within the structure and increases the rate of vibration. This effect can be seen in the dramatic examples of opera singers producing vocals that exactly replicate the frequency of a glass, causing the glass to vibrate at an ever increasing rate until the structure collapses and shatters. Resonance is taken into account during the building of structures such as bridges, for important reasons. The dramatic and terrifying collapse of the Takoma Bridge is an example of large scale resonance in action, with a simple shift in air current causing a seemly solid and stable structure to ripple and bend. Resonance in ritual can be used to increase and amplify the energy you are raising, and can be as simple as the use of a single sound such as ‘Om’ repeated in tone and duration to build and increase the energy, or the layering of sounds from singing bowls that resonate in varying frequencies. The art of effectively using resonance can build powerful spirals of energy that deeply affect both the physical and spiritual forms. The word resonance has also slipped into modern usage to explain the deep connection we feel with a concept or idea. This too is an energetic concept. As Dr. Emoto shows us through his experiments with water, a concept or idea carries its own energetic vibration and as such it is perfectly reasonable that we can resonate with it and feel its truth, when we recognise, accept and amplify the energy. 

Language as Creation 

In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Many creation myths begin with the word, a sound, a vibration that sparks the creation of all things. Even the scientific principle starts with a Big Bang, the sound impact of which we are still discovering and learning about in our amazing universe. We too are creators of reality, and it is our words, our sound vibrations, that manifest change. We, as magical practitioners, must be aware of both the definition and meaning of our chosen words and their root energy to shape our spells or rituals, and understand that the act of combining words to create our rituals is an act of magic in itself. Words are sounds, sounds are vibration, vibration is energy, energy is magic. The language of ritual is the art of creation through vibration.


Romany Rivers is a British Witch, Reiki Master and artist currently residing in Nova Scotia, pursuing dreams of a family-focused and creative life. A resident poet with Moon Books, Romany has just published her first books: Poison Pen Letters to Myself is released on 30th May 2014 (currently available to preorder) and The Woven Word: A Book of Invocations and Inspirations is due to be released later in the year. Romany is a contributor to several Pagan anthologies and magazines. When not writing, creating or running around after two energetic children, Romany turns her hand to community projects that provide family support. You can find hr online and on Facebook.

Thursday 3 April 2014

Celtx Non-Fiction Winner: The Returning Light and Harvesting the Happiness Bowl

The following essay by Sophia Bonnie Wodin won joint 2nd place in the fifth week of our 2014 Celtx Competition

The Returning Light and Harvesting the Happiness Bowl 
by Sophia Bonnie Wodin

Each morning brings a dusting of new fallen snow, just enough to make the world look sparkling and lovely all over again. Soup bubbles on the back of the stove. We fill bird feeders regularly and are rewarded by crowds of grateful sparrows and chickadees, goldfinches in their olive plumage and the redheaded woodpecker who lives next door. As well as the intrepid squirrel population. 

We have settled in for winter. During a recent surprisingly-warm-for-the-season midnight, unable to sleep we crept downstairs to watch the stars. The neighbors’ holiday lights were turned off. Even the streetlights seemed far away while the clear velvet star studded sky drew close and we felt held. And then we were greeted by a shooting star blazing across the skies. 

The Solstice has come and been well celebrated. Imperceptibly at first, the light begins to return. Slowly, ever so slowly, a minute in the morning, one in the afternoon and the day begins to expand. Time as we humans measure it moves onwards. And our thoughts turn towards the gratitude. Gratitude for the seasons past and the parts we have been able to play within them. Gratitude for gathering together and then moving apart and the hope of coming together once again. The past, present and future all rolled into one. 

At the beginning of this year we embarked on a project that we called Our Blessing Bowl. We chose a bowl of surpassing beauty that had been stashed away in a corner. Even bringing it out into the light was a blessing. We set it in a special spot and gave it a couple of pens and a stack of slips of paper. Our intention was to write a short note about each happy experience, any time we felt blessed during the year. We expected to read them at the end of the year ….. or when things got tough. 

At the beginning of the year, we noticed joy in so many things, we constantly found ourselves recording the moment and placing it in the bowl. And then there were times that we completely forgot about our Blessing Bowl. Sometimes one of us would remember the bowl and go back in our memories and record a time or place that needed remembering. I wish I could say that our bowl was crammed full with happy memories, but this has been a real year and some of our memories though tender and true s got lost in the rush of life. 

Checking out the bowl I sometimes wondered if we had chosen a bowl that was too large for our special moments. But, mixing around the notes we left each other to mark these special times, I glance at the dates running through my hands and see that every month is well represented. And I breathe a sigh of relief. Our lives are real and our harvest of good times is abundant. 

Soon, as the year turns towards tomorrow, we will unpack this past year and relive the hopes and joys as they unfolded.


Sophia Bonnie Wodin works with people of all ages, genders and traditions to support each individual’s journey to wholeness. Woven throughout Sophia’s work are diverse strands including psychotherapeutic training, Buddhist mindfulness practice, Goddess-oriented and Earth-centered spiritual practices. Sophia’s background includes Reiki, conscious communication training, and conflict resolution. Gathering the strands of these varied teachings and practices, Sophia has arrived at a continually unfolding, unique relationship with spirit. Her writing circles, which open to new participants in January, April and September, focus on aspects of spirituality. You can find her on Facebook.

Wednesday 2 April 2014

Celtx Non-Fiction Winner: The Web Of Life

The following essay by Yvonne Ryves won joint 2nd place in the fifth week of our 2014 Celtx Competition

The Web Of Life: The Interconnectedness of All Things 
by Yvonne Ryves

"I see the solution in each problem as being detectable in the pattern and web of the whole. The connections between causes and effects are often more subtle and complex than our rough and ready understanding of the physical world might naturally suppose." - Adams D (1988) Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

In general we have a very limited view of the world around us and so are only aware of a fraction of what exists, what we have access to, what we impact on and what impacts on us. Due to this we are really only scratching the surface of what is around us and what we can use to help and support us in our lives, if only we knew how to connect with it all. 

The late science fiction writer Douglas Adams used his awareness of the fundamental interconnectedness of all things to help his fictional 'holistic detective' to solve cases, if we also develop our awareness and understanding of the connections that exist we too can use them to help us find answers to where we are, what is happening and where we are going. 

So what is this 'web of life', this 'interconnectedness of all things'? 

Many cultures and belief systems, both scientific and esoteric, have an understanding of threads and connections that connect not only human to human but to every living thing. Although they may come from differing viewpoints and with varying explanations there is a general consensus that these threads or connection and the communication between everything that exists is real and that all life forms on the planet communicate and interact in some way. 

In Buddhism, enlightenment is seen as an awakening to the the true nature of life, which includes the realisation that all things are interconnected. Buddists believe that there is an inseparable relationship between the individual and the environment. 

In Shamanism it is also believed that we are not separate from nature but a part of it. 

"Shamanism teaches us that everything that exists is alive and has a spirit. Shamans speak of a web of life that connects all of life and the spirit that lives in all things. Everything on earth is interconnected and any belief that we are separate from other life forms including the earth, stars, wind, etc is purely an illusion." - Ingerman S (2011) Shamanism: Healing of Individuals and the Planet (abstract on shamanism)

Dennis Meehan, Eagle Soaring, lecturer and Medicine Wheel Artist, is one of many individuals around the world who works with humans to help them develop an understanding that there is no separation between mankind, the animal kingdom, the plants and rocks: 

"All things on Earth have a common bond. When Earth Mother speaks to you, or the animals come to you, this is a message from the Great Spirit. Learn this simple wisdom and you can break down barriers that keep you stuck." 

Wiccan's also believe that everything that exists is connected and is part of a circle of vibrating energy like a spider's web or electronic grid and that this can be spoken of as the web of life or nature's web. 

Pagans have in fact, always held the beliefs that everything is connected and shares consciousness, that humans are a part of this consciousness not above it or separate from it, and that all parts of the web of life are equal in value. 

In terms of science, Quantum Physics when speaking about the subatomic particles that make up all forms of life can only describe them in terms of how they interconnect and act with one another. In String Theory these particles are described as containing vibrating, dancing strings with each sending out different vibrations or notes. This therefore can be seen as supporting the view that all life is interconnected and communicates, even at subatomic level. 

Robert Lanza and Bob Berman writing about Biocentrism speak about humans lying at the "heart of a great web of space and time whose threads are connected according to laws that dwell in our minds."

In their article 'The Web of Life', writing in relation to how connected we are, Harry Massey and David R Hamilton PH.D encourage us to.

"Think of a spider's web. Now imagine that every person on the planet is a node on that web, with its strands connecting them. Then imagine that this web is so big that it connects not just all of us, but everything in the universe. If such a thing existed, then every choice that each of us made would create vibrations - ripples or waves- on the web that would be felt everywhere and by everyone. In this way we would be in constant communication with the whole universe exchanging information and energy through the vibrations we create, and also those that we feel. Each choice we made would be information that would ripple outward, interacting with the rest of the web." 

They also cite Professor of Quantum Information Theory at Oxford University, Vlatko Vedral who believes that we constantly exchange information with the universe as a whole and that because of this, it is impossible to think of ourselves as separate from either our surroundings or each other. 

Vedral also states that "The point is, we are intimately connected in a deeper and much more fundamental way than we ever imagined, and that as we exchange information with reality, it's as if we 'speak' with it."

Ecopsychology, the science of healing, counselling and healing with nature encourages us to recognise that we are part of the web of life and so part of the balance of life. Only by being aware of the connections we have with everything can we find balance in our own lives. 

One way of finding this balance is to learn not only to speak with reality, but to listen to it and learn from it. In this way you may also learn to move through your life both with a clearer understanding of the interconnectedness of everything and of how you can harness some of these connections to help and support you. 

If you think about the myriad of connections that exist within the web of life and the fact that through these connections we may obtain information, knowledge, support, help and guidance, you may start to see how disconnected and isolated humans have become. 

Everything that exists can communicate with us in some way as explained in the vibrations or notes of String Theory. If we then follow the belief that in this communication there are messages for us then it may follow that all we need to do is to learn how to listen to and utilise these connections. 

To do this it important to find ways to reconnect with the world around you and the connections within it, not through books, the Internet or television but through experiential interaction.


Yvonne is a practicing shamanic healer, shamanic drum maker, holistic therapist and trainer living in West Cork, Ireland, where she runs workshops and courses on a variety of aspects of energy healing and shamanic work including Reiki, Chios, Munay-Ki, Shamanic Journeying, Pendulum Dowsing and self-development. She is currently studying with OBOD. Yvonne has had numerous articles published in Indie Shaman Magazine and is the author of Web of Life. You can find her online, on Facebook (here and here), on Twitter and on her blog.

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Celtx Non-Fiction Winner: Exploring the Dark Side of the Moon

The following essay by Lidia Adaman Tremblay won 3rd place in the fifth week of our 2014 Celtx Competition

Exploring the Dark Side of the Moon 
by Lidia Adaman Tremblay

The following is based on a workshop I presented in 2012 


Hello and welcome to the workshop. No, the next hour will not be spent in discussing Pink Floyd! Today, we shall explore the mysteries that are linked with the Dark of Moon, the Dark Goddesses associated with that moon phase. 

It is appropriate that this topic should be brought out right now, because we have just had the Dark of Moon about a week ago. In my view, the Dark of Moon is different from what we call New Moon – the Dark of Moon is the time when the moon is not visible at all, because it is directly between the Earth and Sun, which, ironically, means that what we know as the Dark Side of the Moon is completely lit up. Confused yet? 

Anyways, the Dark of Moon phase lasts about three nights, after which time, we see a thin crescent emerge and that is what I consider The New Moon. 

The Moon is the only natural satellite our planet has – that we know of – and it’s just a lifeless hunk of rock floating around and around, approximately 250,000 miles away from us. Earth’s gravity holds it in place, but the Moon’s gravity is responsible for the twice-daily tides that keep our oceans aerated and habitable by so many species. 

Lifeless though it is, the Moon has held us in thrall for millennia, inspiring wonder and fear, tales of werewolves, vampires, and lunacy, romance and mystery. But most of all, in spite of some cultures associating the Moon with male energies, the Moon became associated with the women’s mysteries and cycles. 


Many people fear the Dark. It’s a place of evil, demons and other nasties. We talk of Bright blessings, being Light healers, Shining Goddesses, sunshine, lollipops and rainbows – ooops, sorry, another musical band, no, not going there. Anyways, darkness is something to be avoided, shunned, and not to be discussed, let alone explored.

On the other hand, we all love to look up at the dark sky full of stars, and watch the Full Moon overhead. Beautiful beyond words is that panoramic view, inspiring dreams of star flight Getting into bed after a long day, we welcome the darkness that envelopes us as we turn out the lights. 

Darkness isn’t all evil and to be avoided, is it. In this workshop, I would like to share with you the extraordinary journey I embarked on some ten years ago, and what it taught me. It is my hope that by the end of this workshop, you will all have a new appreciation for what the Darkness, and especially the Dark of Moon can bring into your life.

As I said, this happened about ten years ago, during a full moon eclipse, and I decided to do a ritual designed not to honour the full moon, but to see what the darkness of the eclipse would bring. At that time, I was living in a very spacious apartment with a full attic. More to the point, I lived in that attic, while my son, his wife and daughter lived in the actual apartment. Yeah, the old woman in the attic – let your minds run rampant with that scenario!! 

The attic was very dark to begin with. I made an altar very close to the floor, and settled myself comfortably on cushions before it, leaving only one small tea light burning in a glass container. I wrapped myself in a black hooded cloak, blindfolded myself, and as the Shadow was drawn across the bright face of our Lady, I asked Her to show me the mysteries that lay in that shadow. 

Here is the first-hand account of that event, as I wrote it in my journal: 

The meditation began with the appearance of The Lady as she once revealed Herself in a dream. In it she was in Her Mother aspect with a young boy. She was dressed in a simple and elegant white dress and a turban-like headpiece. She had a box, silver, and within the bo was a deep blue satin lining, silver threads strung with silver beads. 
She took out the threads in a cats-cradle way and began to change the configurations. With each new formation the threads grew until they became stars and worlds and galaxies.
All this I saw again, and this time She showed me galaxies still forming, stars not yet born. All these were within the darkest blackness beyond imagining. Back in normal space, I watched the galaxies spiral in a stateful joyful dance that took millennia to complete. The Earth came into view and became the most important item in the universe.
I could see how She saw the Universe and all countless dimensions at once, while with only a tiny shift of focus could zero in not only on one world but on one person without the loss of focus on all else. 
Back to darkness and within it I saw light – life and death, death and life. Both are one, and one are both. Shadows exist because of not understanding, to hide and then to reveal. Everything is there for us to understand, but until one is ready to understand that light is a shadow in our sight. Shadows also provide perspective, for without shadows all would be flat white or flat black, equally blinding and nothing would be distinguishable as background or foreground. The darkness, above all, contained ALL the answers to all the questions we will or could ever ask. 
Now on Earth, I’m taken to the four Elements. Air stirs up dust, fog, and snow, but also blows them away. Fire revels but hides what’s just outside its sphere. There are dark depths in the oceans and other waters, and the caverns of earth are full of mysteries.
To understand something is to open more questions. To shed light on something reveals only what the light shines on. Layer by layer the light within the shadows is peeled away until all is revealed, all is One. 
Dark and shadows are restful and needed for Balance. 

Since then, I had started to pay more attention to The Dark of Moon. It was not a time to be shunned and feared, it became a time of looking inward, exploring the heart and soul within. Of And always, I came away refreshed, renewed, a little bit wiser and more understanding of what the nature of Darkness is all about. 


I started a year-long quest to discover what Darkness was. For each Dark of Moon I chose a different Goddess to work with: 

Hakate – She took me through an amazing journey, and taught me that there are always choices, always options when faced with any situation. 

Again, from my journal entry: 

I am in a midst of what appears to be a swirling tunnel. It is very dark, and I feel more than see the spinning passageway. I feel frightened, and I ask Hakate to lead me with her torch, and immediately there is light about me. At the end of the tunnel, I see two young and beautiful women. They are laughing and dancing about in a large golden chamber. The room is empty of furnishings, except for a dais at one end containing a throne of rich burnished wood inlaid with gold and ivory. There are two other doorways leading to other tunnels, making it three in all. 
I do not hear music – only silence beyond their soft voices. Silence as deep and endless as the night sky, and yet, there is no sky here. I do not see any torches or candles, but there is light, soft and rich, emanating from everywhere at once. I know that I have come into the Underworld, the Realm of the Dead, and the two women are Persephone and Hakate, her companion and guide. They are dressed in robes of white and gold, embellished with vines of green. They see me, and wave me forward.
Within one step forward, I find myself in yet another tunnel, richly gleaming with a golden light. It too is empty. Vaulted ceilings and polished floors invite me to walk further. Each room has three doorways, the one I entered and two more, forming a “Y”. Now each tunnel/room/passageway looks the same as the one before, and before long I wonder if I’m progressing or simply seeing the same room over and over again. At this thought I stop in the middle, so I can see all three doors, and say, “My Lady Goddess, why are these rooms empty?” The answer comes clearly to me, “These rooms are you, and are being made ready to receive the glories that are awaiting you.” 
I stand there longer, thinking on what I have seen, and suddenly realize something. “The Realm of the Dead is not at all frightening and gloomy, as the Greek legends made it out to be. It is full of light and enlightenment, of riches and delight – how could it be otherwise, when Persephone here is Queen!” 
At that though, the room grows dark and the walls begin to swirl again. I do not know if I’m moving, or am being propelled through this tunnel, but I am now unafraid. I come back to my own room, lit with candles and fragrant with frankincense and sandalwood, to find Hakate sitting cross-legged before me in the guise of a young girl, no more than 16. She’s smiling and is full of bubbly joy, and I wonder why anyone ever would see Her as an old and frightening Crone. But She changes to that right before my eyes, becomes distant in spirit, the black hood draped closely over Her face. Just as quickly, She’s young and beautiful again. 
She tells me to once again close my eyes and lift my hands. I do so, and see my hands alive with flame, which I pass to and fro, building mystical landscapes from the energies flowing from my fingertips. These energies begin to converge and begin to build yet another tunnel. It envelopes me momentarily, and I lose sight of the fountaining brilliance. I realize then that I’m to build something new from this blackness, and begin to shape – something. It’s not clear what my hands are doing, since they seem to move independently of my thought and guidance, but soon I see massive distant shapes – and am thrilled to see mountains – mountains that I have dreamed of so often in the past, but have not visited for a long time now. They stand against the sky that is just beginning to lighten after a long black night. I continue this act of creation, until I’m surrounded by these huge structures. I’m so deeply contained by them, that although the sky brightens considerably about them, I remain in deep shadows. The air around me is clear, crisp, cool with a hint of refreshing moisture. With a final flinging of my hands, the Sun leaps into the sky, and I’m finally standing fully in the light.
I’m weeping with joy and exhilaration, with love and gratitude, and so I find myself weeping as I once again find myself in my room. 

Pandora – For this Dark of Moon ritual, I was moved to write a poem/chant for Pandora, and in doing so, I learned what “Pandora’s Box” really was. The writing of that chant was like taking dictation – it came to me very suddenly and totally. She taught me the value of the Sacred Feminine.

Morrigan – I approached Morrigan in Her aspect of Divination. The entire ritual was based on divination tools – Tarot, Runes, dice, crystals, but the main tool here was the cauldron, filled with hot water and herbs. Gazing through the steam, I learned that it is She who parts the clouds and mists, so that we may indeed see more clearly. Goddess of mysteries, She waits to reveal. 

Cerridwin – Another cauldron ritual. It is through Her cauldron that we are reborn. But for the purposes of this ritual, I tried to recreate the tale of how She brewed a potion for a year and a day to provide wisdom to her son. She taught me that even when things go horribly wrong, they turn out right. 

Nemisis – Ah Nemisis! A Goddess quite misunderstood! To say that “so and so is my Nemisis” means today that he or she is a problem, a difficult person to be around. But that’s not correct. Nemisis is a Goddess who dispenses justice in a swift and timely manner. She heeds the calls, especially of women, and rushes to their aid. She taught me that it is not wrong to crave justice when something is wrong, that one does not need to suffer long at the hands of others. 

Hel – The Norse Goddess Hel is a dark Goddess indeed! From the waist up, she is a beautiful woman, and from the waist down, she is a rotting corpse. Her domain is the Underworld by the same name, Hel, but far from being the fiery place of torture other religions make it out to be, is a place of crystalline beauty and cool reflection. Hel taught me to take my duties seriously, even as She does, She also taught me not to fear the next life. Sometimes it is necessary to suffer a bit of unpleasantness along the road of life.

Sedna – Sedna is an Inuit Goddess who suffered horrible injustice at the hands of her father. While She cried out to be rescued, and clung to the side of the kayak for dear life, her father broke her fingers off so that he could escape the evil which he did not recognize at first in his son-in-law. But even as Her fingers fell off into the cold waters, they were transformed into marine life which has fed the Inuit people in the frozen north – seals, walruses, whales. She taught me that out of the darkest moments new life can be born. She also taught me that it’s alright to weep and wail, to scream in pain, to feel the “negative” emotions to the fullest because, sometimes it’s the only way I could move onto firmer ground. 

Baba Yaga – Ah, Baba Yaga! The Primordial Crone of the Russian forests. She is the untamed spirit beneath the brooding trees, She’s the rushing wind as She rides the skies in her mortar propelled by the broom. She will strike you down and raise you up again. She will frighten you, even as She will show you the way to safety. She taught me that it’s a good thing to let go of convention, to do something unexpected, and to never underestimate the Crone! 

Black Madonna – Isis or Mary? Mary or Isis? Madona and Child by any other name is still Mother and Child. She holds Her Son/Sun proudly before her. Not for her the downcast eyes and submissive posture! She sits, her face blackened by the radiant glory of Her child, Her offspring! From her I learned to walk proudly, and never be ashamed of my motherhood, for no other occupation is more worthy! 

Kali – Black and fierce, dancing upon the head of the demon, red tongue protruding from her mouth, Kali is of fierce countenance. She is adorned with skulls and a sword raised high!! She taught me it is right and fitting to recognize and name one who would be the enemy in my life, one who would cause me harm, that it is not wrong to take steps to make my life better by dealing justly and decisively with the situation. 

Lilith – What can I say about Lilith? Lilith rising, riding, raging, To be set free and unencumbered, Within me, about me, around me, Uncoiling, the serpentine spasms carry me, shake me, thrust me Into rapturous heights!! Need I say more? 

Oya – Goddess of Storms, Goddess of Change. She had no hesitation in charging into my life, demanding I organize a voodoo ritual so that She can work necessary changes in people’s lives. She taught me to take charge of my life, to not be afraid of changes, but rather to embrace them, because it is through these changes that life is advanced. 

All these are counted among the Dark Goddesses. All have incredible lessons to teach us. They’re not all fluffy and gentle and tossing glitter and flower petals along your path. And I ask you – do you have courage to walk through the Dark Woods and meet Her at the crossroads? I can assure you, you will never regret it! 

If I may, I’d like to share with you an invocation I wrote especially for the Dark of Moon phase:

Dark of Moon Invocation 

I honour You, Oh Lady of Shadows and Mysteries 
I honour You in Your time of Darkness 
You shine still behind Your cloak. 

As a blanket covers the sleeping child 
So Your Darkness covers the world 
That we may 
Look inward 
Look deep 
Look within 
Ourselves, and see You 
Shining in our hearts. 

I honour You, Oh Dark of Moon 
I honour You, Oh Crone of Darkness 
I honour You, Oh Lady of Shadows and Mysteries! 

I hope this helps you to see the beauty of The Dark of Moon time, and welcome Her into your life as much as you do when She is in her Full Moon phase.


Since retiring, Lidia Adaman Tremblay has been able to devote her time to writing. She has also been a costume designer, pianist, office administrator, graphic designer, and background actor in movies. She believes that being a mother and grandmother does wonders to stimulate her creative processes, as well as being a 2nd degree Alexandrian High Priestess, deeply involved in The Red Tent Movement for women in Canada. She has written and self-published several books, both fiction and non-fiction. You can fine her on Facebook, on Twitter, on YouTube and via her online store.