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karem barratt

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Workshop: A Life By Design. Clarify. Visualise. Programme. Affirm

Description: Do you feel uninspired? Do you feel that you seem to lose track of your resolutions, sight of your dreams, and just go through life without clear goals to go after? Or may you would like to learn how to use the tools that would help you achieve the life-style you have always wanted for yourself.

If the answer is yes, then a Life By Design is for you.

 

In this workshop you will learn how to:

  • Let go of limiting attitudes stopping you from achieving dreams.
  • Visualise your goals effectively to fuel your passion and inspiration
  • Create affirmations that empower and support your purpose.
  • Set true, life-enhancing goals and programme them.

Investment: £40 

Venue: Atlantics Business Centre, Chelmsford

Offer: book by Friday and have a £5 discount. Or bring two paying frees and you go for free!

To book contact Karem Barratt at karem@journeyingsoul.com/www.journeyingsoul.com/ call at 01245-280495

A Spring Poem

@KaremIBarratt

In the Spring a breath
Of hope and light
Brakes through the clouds
Harbouring storms in my heart.

In the Spring
I can be six again,
Run wild over meadows,
Kick legs high on swings.

In the Spring.

Rainbows fly across my mind,
And my arms are kites
Dancing with the air.

And Fairies, those old friends,
And Angles, those firm hands,
And Dreams, so long forgotten.

Come out and play with me.

In the Spring.
The breath of love and life.
I can be anything.

The Easter Bunny -A Legend

@KaremIBarratt

Although for Pagans Easter or Ostara was a few weeks ago, I though it would be nice to share a legend about the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs.

The tale says that one day, the beautiful goddess of Spring, Ostara, was walking by a meadow, making sure that all the arrangement for the new season were ready, when a group of children came to her. The children knew about the goddess kindness and her great love for animals, so they felt confident that she could help them. They had found a little wounded bird who had been attacked by a fox. It was barely alive, and lay motionless in one of the kid’s hands.

‘Please save her, Ostara’ the children begged.

The goddess examined the bird and saw that its little body was beyond repair. Then she remember that a bunny had just passed on to the Summer Lands, leaving behind a still healthy body. So, using her powers, Ostara moved the bird’s spirit into the bunny’s body.

The children cheered when they saw what had happened, But soon realized that the animal was not happy -quite the contrary. Ostara asked the little bunny what was wrong.

‘Well, although I am happy to be alive, I am also very sad because I will never lay eggs again; I won’t be able to make the children happy with my song; and if the fox comes again, I won’t be able to fly to the top of a tree,” said the sobbing bunny.

‘Oh please Ostara, do something,’ asked the children, ‘help the bunny to be happy.’

Ostara was silent for a moment, and then, holding the bunny in her arms, she said: ‘from now on you will lay eggs once a year, on this date, to celebrate the re-birth of earth, life and hope. And we will call the celebration Easter. To thank the children, your true saviours, these will be special eggs, colourful, sweet and beautiful, just like children are. And in between each Easter, you shall live on the moon, where no fox can harm you and where the children can see you once a month and say hello.’

And so it was that a little wounded bird became the magical Easter Bunny.

If the Flower Fails

@KaremIBarratt

And if the flower fails,

to caress your core with its perfume,

let the sweet morning dew

wash away the darkness

from your eyes. Let sunrise

draw open the curtains of your fear,

so its gold can paint your spirit bright.

And if the light fails,

to warm the coldness in your heart,

let the little bird’s song serenade

a note of hope, deep in your soul,

so it too can fly.

And if your soul fails,

to find its wings and soar high,

let the gentle earth support

your steps, as you find your way

to the temple of life, hidden, somewhere,

behind the vines of your mind.

And if the temple fails,

to reveal itself in a glorious sunset,

and astound you with murals of

emerald and bronze, let the silence

guide you inside, to that lily pond within,

to the lotus throne where the One,

who loves you beyond error and time,

smiling awaits for you to dress

in the magnificent garments of the Divine.

 

A Reflection on Jesus

@KaremIBarratt

In spite of all the changes in my spiritual life, to this day I am fascinated by Jesus’ story. To be honest, the Divine Jesus really doesn’t connect with me. It’s the man who moves me deeply. Seeing Jesus as a human (and very special) being allows me to understand and empathize with his agony in the Gethsemane gardens. I can see a man struggling with what he believes to be his destiny, while facing the very natural fear to pain and death. I get his grumpy moments (and there are several in the Bible that did not make it to the movies); I enjoy his subtle sarcasm; I wince at some of his statements and I smile when he does the unexpected, like letting the mothers bring their children to him, although the disciples had pretty much sent them away seconds before

In a way (and I say this with all due respect) Jesus’ story is a bit like the Tarot cards. It reflects almost all human experience possible, taken away perhaps the romantic one (and there are debates about that). The refugee can see himself in the escape to Egypt episode; the young person having problems with his family concerning a future career can see herself in the 12-year-old Jesus, claiming to be doing what really is important to him (his father’s business). The poor can find inspiration in this wise man, who needed very little to live a good, meaningful life. The mystic can identify with his forty days in the wilderness. Those who know that have erred the mark find hope in the Father as presented by Jesus, a God of second chances. To the mother who lost a child Jesus provides the comfort and hope of an afterlife. And for those who sometimes feel disheartened at the state of the world, Jesus comes as a man of deep faith, not only in the reality of the Divine and its profound love for the world, but faith in people’s own light and potentiality for goodness.

Personally, I think Jesus represents the man that is true to himself, no matter what. There is one particular moment in the story that I find to be the most significant and powerful of all, one that summarises Jesus’ teaching. He is in pain, he is about to die, he has been betrayed and mocked. And yet he asks the Divine of his understanding to forgive his tormentors, because he knows that they are acting out of spiritual ignorance more than out sheer evilness.

To me, this could have well been the end of the story. In my eyes, nowhere else in the narrative is Jesus more loving, compassionate and mighty that at that instant. Because here his proving that he really meant all that he said: that we should, care for each other, forgive each other, seek peace and goodness in this lifetime. He forfeits what we could consider the natural excuses (anger, fear, pain, desperation, disappointment) that many give ourselves to not live and act by our values and beliefs, and instant of sublime love, asks for the well-being of those who are hurting him.

Yes, the crucifixion is very sad and relevant to his story. It is a clear symbol how good people be a victim of injustice. The fear of the men, compared to the courage of the women who visited the tomb in spite of their very real concerns, makes my inner feminist smile. I can see how the resurrection is a symbol of hope, although is not one that I particularly identify with. But those words, “forgive them Father that they know not what they do” are a banner to all that Jesus means to me: a call for compassion, humbleness, understanding, empathy and love so we can see in the other not only a spiritual siblings, but a reflection of ourselves, and all that makes us one in God. And in spite all my differences with the Christian theology, those words to me are enough to lower my head, and call Jesus “master.”

A Samson Moment -or the Dangers of Giving Away Your Power

@KaremIBarratt

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As I prepared a funeral for a Rastafari musician, I came across the story of Samson in the Old Testament. To be honest, I had never actually read the story, but seen Hollywood’s version of the hairy guy, including a very strange 1960s one called Hercules, Samson and Ulysses. Now, I’m sorry to say for those who have not read Judge 16, that the Biblical Samson is not quite the nice hero and his relationship with Delilah is hardly a heart-felt romance. I like to think that he is playing the fool with her to get his satisfaction, for she keeps on asking where his power resides, he keeps giving her false clues, he’s somehow attacked in the way he said he would be defeat it, and yet, he still with the woman. But eventually, he gets fed up with all the nagging (oh, if you love me you would trust and tell me what is your weak point) and tells her about the hair. Which, as events later proved, was a really silly thing to do.

Yet, how many of us have our Samson moment in our everyday life, and out of tiredness, anger or desperation give our personal power to others? I think it was Eckhart Tolle who said: if you think you are enlightened, spend a weekend with your parents. Either because of conditioning or lack of self-discipline, many of us pass through life been manipulated like a puppet, part if not all of the time.

Many a times, we let people’s opinion take us away from a path or stop acting in a certain way. Sometimes we let anger get the best of us and we react before thinking about the consequences of such reaction. If we are in a confrontational situation, the Samson in us make us waste time answering back to the adversary’s petty comments, instead of focusing in what needs to be done to achieve victory -hence allowing our foe to decide the agenda of the day.

It’s is not only anger that can become our Delilah, but also pride and imprudence. So we boast about advantages, projects or opportunities before we have achieve our goal, opening the gateway for those who like to take credit for other people’s ideas or efforts. Or we awake envy in certain kind of people, which may translate in ill-wishes or open sabotage. And then, of course, we have weariness. Sometimes we are so tired of trying, of fighting for our goals, that we simply give up, and like Samson-sans-hair, become weak, feeble, even blind to any opportunity to grow and be our full, powerful selves.

Still, all is not lost. Unlike the film version where Samson’s hair seems to grow back miraculously, the Bible says the his hair simple grew naturally, so by the time he was chained in the temple, he had some of his strenght back. And then, he prayed. True, he prayed to be strong again to kill a lot of people, but the fact is that he trusted the God of his understanding to help him, to strengthen him, so he could fulfil his mission. This speaks to me of the perfect marriage between our given gifts and the power of the Divine, which today I will call simply Love. Samson’s growing hair is to me a symbol of all the strength we have inside; all resourcefulness and talents, that at times appear to be lost, and yet there they are, deep within, finding their way out.

It’s true that in life we need self-mastery, inner discipline and a great deal of courage and humility. But like Samson, sometimes the Delilahs of our live will push the button one time too many, and we will fall into their laps, to be left as weak as a bold-headed baby. And in a way, that’s okay. It’s part of the learning process and the human experience -as long as we don’t chain ourselves to despair, inactive remorse and the victim mentality. Given time, our power will grow back, our wounds will heal and out faith will be restored, as long as we remember that in this adventure, we are never, ever, left alone by Love. And once we connect to It and let Love infuse our inner power, we are truly invincible.

Bespoke Ceremonies: Celebrating Life's Stages Your Way

@KaremIBarratt

Marcus and Jenna are having a wedding blessing in a beautiful grove: as part of the ceremony, they bless and plant a small tree, symbolising their commitment both to each other and to the environmental health of the planet. Mary and John are presenting their new baby to family and friends: as part of the Naming ceremony, they have had a star named after Dylan and people write and hang wishes in a "star tree".  Rob and Charlie are having their civil partnership blessed: on the altar are two "rescue bottles" where they have written what they most love and like about each other. They will take it home with them, to open in those challenging moments when they make ask themselves "what did I ever see in him? Sarah and Tom, newly married, are in their back garden, celebrating a "bonding" ceremony, where they and their children from previous relationships express their desire and commitment to work together and accept each other as family. Bob and Rachel are enjoying a big wedding blessing, where they combine aspects of Rachel's Jewish tradition and Bob's Buddhism. Logan is at Grandpa Taylor's funeral: Mr Taylor was an agnostic who loved poetry and rock & roll and he's being sent off with the words of Constantine O. Cavafy's Ithaca and the music of Stairway to Heaven.

What do all these ceremonies have in common? They are bespoke ceremonies,  crafted and delivered by an Interfaith Minister. In the world of both spirituality and celebrants, Interfaith Ministers are the new kids on the block - a cutting-edge alternative that offers the best of both worlds. Interfaith Ministers work with an individual's spiritual and personal beliefs, without themselves imposing any particular ideology or dogma. Hence, they are able to serve people who see themselves as spiritual, people of any religion or path, and people who have no particular spiritual beliefs at all.  Part of the two-year course with the One Spirit Interfaith Foundation includes deep, open hearted listening. This means that Interfaith Ministers truly pay attention to people's ideas and vision for their special occasion, without judgement and with a great deal of respect.

Interfaith Ministers are also trained as celebrants and if there is one rule we could say about this training, it is that the client comes first. Our ceremonies are truly bespoke, tailored to people's needs and wants. They can be as spiritual or secular as people wish; as quirky or traditional as desired. As Ministers, we use a lot of creativity and knowledge to make each ceremony a unique affair, that truly expresses who the client is and what he or she wants to  share with loved ones and friends. Everything in an Interfaith ceremony has purpose and meaning; every word, ritual, symbol is there as a reflection of the client. We also make ceremonies as friendly and inclusive as possible.

Interfaith Ministers truly believe that each stage of life is precious, and should be celebrated. Hence, we not only craft the "usual" ceremonies, such as wedding blessings, funerals and baby namings. Interfaith Ministers create ceremonies to honour granny's 80th birthday and to send a child off to university; to mark the start of adolescence or menopause and to bring positivity to a home or business; to handfast for a "year and a day" or forever. Acknowledging that for many people pets are truly part of the family, some ministers also conduct pet blessings and funerals. Others create ceremonies for more challenging times in life, such as a miscarriage or divorce. Some others create healing ceremonies to let go of or embrace certain events, whereas others give inspirational talks to bring hope and encouragement. In my case, I do all of the above.

It should be noted that although we can legally marry people in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Eire, in England and Wales (for now) Interfaith Ministers can only conduct wedding blessings. This has its own advantages, since it frees us to perform blessings anywhere, anytime, although couples would still need to undergo the Register Office ceremony, either before or after, for the marriage to be considered legal. All the other ceremonies do not have legal status, so, again, they can be celebrated where and when desired.

There are around 500 Interfaith Ministers in England.  I am based in Chelmsford and there are several other ministers in the surrounding areas, including Harlow. To learn more, please visit my web site at www.journeyingsoul.com and the One Spirit Interfaith Foundation at www.interfaithfoundation.org.

As corny as it may sound, let me just finish by saying that Interfaith Ministers truly act from a place of service and acceptance. And for that special day, the one person we really want to please is you.

The Beauty of the Imperfect Mum

@KaremIBarratt

Some people think mothers are perfect. I disagree. I believe Mothers are divinely and wonderfully imperfect and I for one, am thankful that it is so. For there is nothing to admire in perfection; there is nothing to learn from it, nothing to be inspired by it, nothing to relate to it. It is in that beautiful, quirky and at times painful imperfection, that mothers become a beacon of light to her children.  They teach us that there is something about motherhood, about loving and caring for a child, that makes you work hard to  be your best, even if sometimes you fail at this endeavour.

Every day, everywhere, we see our very human and imperfect Mums, trying not to lose their temper at the muddy boot marks over a recently cleaned floor; smiling as they tell a story, although the day at the office was horrible and they truly feel like crying. We see them listening with wide eyes and sweet smiles stories about imaginary friends and invisible fairies, as they hold their tongue not to say that they are pragmatist and agnostics and that the chances of anyone seeing a fairy are far less than that of winning the national lottery.

We also see Mums wiping away a tear when exhaustion and frustration did allow a shout, a harsh word, a sour comment escape their lips and they saw the pain reflected on their children's eyes.  We see them sitting at the kitchen table, doing impossible maths, asking what they should give up for while so there's enough money for that afterschool programme, that book, that game, that dress that will bring forth a smile of joy. We see them saying that they are not hungry, so their children can have a little bit more of food on their plates. We see them, deciding between voicing concern or staying silent about the new boyfriend, a career change, a life style or choice. They don't always get it right.  And yet, in the middle of the discussion or communication breakdown, we now, although it can take years to admit it, that they are acting from a place of unconditional love, although the good intentions may get lost in translation.

No, Mums are not perfect. But by God, are they brave. They get up each day to face a world that is not always friendly and they do their best to offer their children all that there is in them to offer. They know they will make mistakes, but that doesn't stop them from trying, from learning, from hoping. Because mothers are not perfect, we know that when they say, "been there, done that" they mean it. They know the taste of tears and the sound of laughter. They know the chill of defeat and the basking glory of triumph. And they teach all this, through words, through  silence, through action or omission. And all these lessons, in love, in life, in giving and receiving, we take with us, no matter where we go, how close or far we are from them, or even if we choose to become -or not- parents ourselves.

Our mothers are our first loves and they plant a rose garden in our hearts from the moment we are born. There are thorns and there are flowers, because you can't have the one without the other. Now wherever you decide to press the thorns or smell the roses, is entirely up to you. In any case, the garden will always there, in you and for you.

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The Seven Veils Visualisation

@KaremIBarratt

I created the following visualization as a tool to identify and let go of worries and limiting beliefs, but it could be adapted for other spiritual and emotional needs. I suggest you read it several times before trying it. It would also be a good idea to record it or have someone read it to you. If you do, remember to leave some pauses, to allow time to visualise the images. Have paper and pen handy to write ideas and reflections after you have done the visualisation. You may choose to identify the worries/attitudes/beliefs before starting the visualisation or open up to what your unconscious may show.

Find a quite place where you can be undisturbed for at least 15 minutes. You may want to have a light blanket with you, as the body  can turn a bit cold during visualisations. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Make sure that your back is straight and, if seating, that your feet are firmly planted on the floor. Close your eyes. Breathe in deeply, bringing the air all the way to your stomach, until it pops out a bit. As you exhale, press the abdomen muscles a bit, to make sure all the air goes out. When inhaling, focus on the top of your head. When exhaling, focus on your abdomen. Breathe deeply like this nine times.

In your imagination see yourself on a beach. It is a sunny, blue day. Listen to the waves and the wind. Smell the salt. Feel the sun over you, the breeze moving your hair, the sand under your feet. See all the different colours: blue, green, brown, white.

Again, using the power of your imagination, see yourself from the back. You are standing where the water meets the sand. You are bent by the weight of the heavy cloak over you. So bent in fact that you need a staff to keep your balance. Now see this cloak carefully. Imprinted on it, drawn as in a heavy tapestry, is an image that represents one of your current worries, something out of your control that doesn't seem to leave your mind, no matter where you are or what you are doing. It may also be and old feeling, a fear, a resentment, a memory or belief that somehow is stopping you from being the person you know you can and desire to be.

The cloak is very heavy, but using your strenght and  will power you shake off you. See it fall into the water and dissolve. Hear the hiss sound as it turns into salt, foam, nothing. You feel a bit lighter and stand up a bit straighter, There are six more cloaks to go: six thoughts, memories, attitudes, beliefs or feelings that are limiting your potential. One by one, see them as a tapestry, shake them off and see them dissolve to nothing. By the time you are finish, you are standing straight, naked or dressed in a very light tunic, enjoying the sense of lightness.

Walk now into the ocean. Float freely there. See the blue sky over you. Feel the water supporting you. Breathe in deeply and just enjoy the sensation. Thanks the sea for purifying all those worries and beliefs, for holding you, for the sensation of lightness and freedom that is providing. Leave the water and sit comfortably on the sand. Feel the sun over your head. Feel its light entering you, going down from the top of your head; down your neck, shoulders, arms torso. As the light touches the different parts of your body, feel a revitalizing, healing energy. The lights keeps on travelling within you. Down your abdomen, hips, buttocks, legs. Down. Your knees, ankles, feet, toes. Your whole self is covered in light, within and without.

Look around you. You are going to see seven very light veils, each depicting a hope, an idea, a positive alternative to what was shown on the cloaks. Put them over you one by one and see them become part of the light that cocoons you and them penetrate your body. Know that they are part of you now; that you  explore and use  any time. They are there to inspire and support you in your process of self-knowledge and growth.

When you are ready, wiggle your toes and fingers. Breathe in deeply three times. Feel the chair or floor under you. Open your eyes. Give thanks for all the insights. And write down any idea or inspiration that may have come to you

Peace Within

@KaremIBarratt


Inspired by the Metta Meditation:

May there be peace within me.
May there be peace within my family and friends.
May there be peace within my adversaries....
May there be peace within my community.
May there be peace within my country.
May there be peace within all beings.
May there be peace within the world.
May there be peace within all there is,
Today and always.
So be it.
 

Three Life Lessons From Tyranny

One of the many anti-government protest in Venezuela

One of the many anti-government protest in Venezuela

For the past 20 days, events in my home country, Venezuela, has put me in touch with a level of oppression and violence I have never experienced before. The on-going situation has awaken a lot questions and reflections within my soul, some of which I'd like to share as lessons.

1) There is nothing pretty about violence. In a world where movies, TV and games show fights and battles as synchronized ballets, danced under beautiful, epic music and embellished with slow motion effects that make a drop of blood look like a flying, liquid ruby, there is a tendency to glamorize violence. Actually, the real thing is rather messy. People scream, shout and curse with no sense of aesthetics; they fall on the ground with all the grace of a running toddler and they die in a terribly straight forward way. There is nothing particularly musical about gun shots, and there is no beauty in the cold, red blood coagulating on the grey pavement. In the here and in the now, violence is nothing but ugliness: tragic, brutal and jagged ugliness.

2) True strength lies not so much in how hard you can hit, but how hard you can be hit, wipe the dust of your knees and stand up again. The battle Venezuelans are fighting is one of rocks against bullets. In these 20 days, people have been killed (18), arrested (1000), wounded (200+) and disappeared (20). They are being suffocated with clouds of tear gas; they are being render unconscious with stunt bombs; they are being shot at with pellets and bullets; ; neighbourhoods are being attacked by government militia almost daily ; students have given up their semesters; families have given up their holidays, and yet they keep on marching, on protesting, on demanding a change for a better country. At this point I cannot say if they will win at the end, but my gods, are they showing true strength.

Which takes me to lesson number three.

3) The power of your strength is proportionate to the power of your belief. The Venezuelans protesting on the streets are honestly convinced that they are in the right side of history. They sincerely think that the country needs an urgent change and the present government cannot provided. They believe, beyond any doubt, that protesting is the only way to have their voices heard. And these beliefs are motivating students, mums and dads, grannies and grandpas to go out, to risk physical integrity and incarceration, to march for hours, go home and then march again the next day. The more the government represses them, the more it fuels and prove their beliefs right, and the stronger it seems to make them. What started as a student protest in one city has spread around the country, in big cities and small towns. One placard said best: "They have taken everything away from us, including fear." The more they tell themselves that they have no fear, the more fearlessly they act. And the more fearlessly they act, the more people join and supports their cause.

Giving Yourself A Break From Negativity -Part 2

@KaremIBarratt

 

Here are a few more idea on how to gift yourself a holiday from the negativity around you.

1) Focus on enhancing your strengths instead than trying to eradicate your weaknesses. Find alternatives for those things you are not so good at (hire, employ, delegate) and hone your talents to the max. Stop comparing yourself to others. Einstein said: 'Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.'

2) Take a breather to just be. Literally, just breathe, deeply. Be aware of the journey of the air through your body. Let it fill your belly and when exhaling, press your abdominal muscles to make sure that all of the air is out. Sit and breath like this for a  minute or two, several times a day.

3) Alice's six impossible things. When feeling that you can't do something, make a list of five things that seemed very difficult to achieve or obtained at a time, but that you have done so. Now add to the list the thing you are trying to achieve right now. Say them all together as in a mantra, as if everything have passed: I did this, I did that -including what you have not yet done. 

4) Have a news fast and if possible a technology fast. Don't see or read news for at least a day. If possible, read good news: you can find some in good news network, such as the huffingtonpost.cm/goodnews  or DailyGood (www.dailygood.org) Try also reading  inspirational stories or messages. Comedy and feel good movies are also a  good idea.

 5) Walk away from negative people. Don't be part of gossip, don't spread rumours, don't add fuel by commenting about a person or situation, don't take things personally.

6) Be in the Moment. Do an activity that helps clear your mind. This can be anything that you are so focus on that you forget the rest of the world: sports, arts. crafts. gardening, DIY, hiking etc.

7) Use spiritual tools. Consider different spiritual techniques such as meditation, affirmations, visualizations, yoga, chanting, affirmative prayer, forgiveness, going to talks by spiritual teachers, journaling, getting involved with a charity and so forth.

8) Live a life worth living. Go out in nature. Share with friends. Take time to spend it with your loved ones. Have fun. Be part of the community. Get involved in a cause. Learn something new. Invest in relationships (sometimes is worth to pay for have something done to have the free time for one's self and one's relationships.) Create beautiful memories for the future.

9) Keep a positive outlook. It takes the same energy to be positive than negative. We see as we are. You can see the obstacle as something that stops you from moving forwards or a step to climb in the ladder of your life experiences. It really is up to you.

What Are Gods Good For?

@KaremIBarratt

Independently on how you envision the Divine -or not- there is much to learn from the goddesses and gods of old, those eternal echoes of Spirit's qualities that, just when you thought they have given out their last breath, are popping out like Spring daisies in the modern world. One can discuss for hours, days or years on what benefit is there to worship, connect or at least find out about the gods. But to me, the main one is that they, are us. And when you realize that, you never walk alone.

The gods and goddess show us the full spectrum of possibilities, within and without, that comes with the human experience. They can initially chart our path or inspire us in our quest. Moreover,  they remind us that, in spite of evidence to the contrary, we are not on our own. As personal as the experience of our path may be, the gods have gone into our wilderness and crossed our creaky hanging bridges over swelling angry rivers, ages before us. They have hidden in caves with just scorpions for company; they have known lose and desperation; they have been chained to rocks and tortured for doing what's right; they have had doubts in gardens and wilderness; they have lived knowing that Ragnarök will come and they will pass, no matter what; they have shed their skins and old lives, burned in pyres and hang on the pegs of hell, and come back to life again.

The goddesses and gods are teachers, either by action or omission. I can't think  a better example of loyalty and dignity than Rama; as a mother, I can see myself in Demeter's pain, in her search, in her anger, in her grief at the lost child to the point of not caring for the fate of any other child; I bow in humbleness at Odin hanging on the Yggdrasil tree in search of wisdom and hold my breath in awe at Jesus forgiving those who are hurting him. Because there will times in my life when I will be asked to show my loyalty to my family, let go of my child, sacrifice something important to knowledge and forgive those who have made me cry. I can look at these aspects of the Divine and find inspiration and strenght in them, to be able to do or refrain from doing what is needed to keep re-discovering the power, wisdom and beauty of my soul and remember my Divine Self.

The gods are the roots who we are. The myths and qualities tell our stories. In Brigit's patronage of smiths, I see the meaning of life. I am the metal rod. I enter into the fire of life; I am hammered loudly and surely; and then I m comforted and cooled in the water, that actually makes me stronger. Is the Divine the water, the hammer or the fire? Or is I? Or is it both? At the end I am mould, no longer a metal rod amid  many, but a sword, a locket,  a nail, a torc, a masterpiece. And yet, I am still a metal rod of sorts.

The true essence of who I am has not being changed with all this weakening and hammering and shaping and strengthening. Instead I have been given a chance to know a possibility of myself, to learn what is like to become a sword, a locket, a nail, a torc. Whatever the outcome, I'm still the silver, I'm still the iron, I'm still the gold. But knowing the process through Brigit's qualities takes me away from victimhood.

Yes, the fire burns. So does passion, energy, the power of thought, creation, art, endeavor. Yes the blow of the hammer probably hurts. So can working your body to achieve a feat or standing up for your beliefs. But the water, call it Spirit, call it Love, call it Self-Compassion, call it Mystery, will cool all down; it will refresh me, it will heal me; it will grant me fortitude and insight, as does the sweet compassion of Kuan Yin and the sacred healing waters of all the Divine Female manifestations, from Danu to Mary. I am not a victim. I am Hercules and his twelve tasks; I am Isis putting Osiris back together; I am Cerriwen, forcing Taliesin to find his power; I am Psyche going to the underworld to prove I am worthy of love.

So what are good are the gods for? That's a question that can generate many answers. Yet for today, I'll answering this way: they are  good to remind us our true nature. They are the holders of sacred mirrors where we find reflections of our divine spark and by connecting to them and their multi-layered stories, we discover a bit more of who we were, who we are and who we are meant to be.

Mental Health Day

@KaremIBarratt

Today is Mental Health Day. Not quite sure what it means, but I think is an invitation for people with mental health issues to feel comfortable to talk about them, just as you would if you suffered from any other chronic problem. So, in the Spirit of the occasion, I would like to open this space for anyone who would like to share how they are doing.

And let's start with me.

I have suffered from clinical depression for about 20 years now. It was diagnosed after I tried (and luckily failed) to kill myself. Honestly to have a logic explanation for the darkness within, that seemed to suck all joy and left me feeling like a worthless rag, was a huge, huge relief. I started therapy and medication. Two years later I decided I did not wanted to keep the medication and that traditional therapy had helped as far as it could. I had lovely professional that agreed with me and ease my off the meds and invited me to find an alternative to regular therapy. That's how I started, for real my spiritual path.

The depression episodes still come, but now that I am aware of the symptoms, they are easier to handle. My family has instructions to let me be sad and moody for three days, and then gently kick my but back into life ;) It has worked, because after that time I can see that the depression and the feelings and thoughts that come with it, are not really me.

All the above said, I can understand why people are hesitant, and even afraid to speak about mental health issues. I suffered from post natal depression after I had my daughter, and I was terrified to go to the doctor. I was sure a health visitor would come, considered me and unfit mother and take my baby away. It took a lot of convincing from my lovely husband but finally I visited the GP. Yes, there was medication (only for a short while) and yes, a very nice lady came to see if I was alright. But that was it.

As the years pass my depressive episodes are shorter and far in between. I don't see myself as a victim,  although I am resign that they are part of my lot and I do try to find the gift of the poison. I guess my main advice it to remember, when  you are feeling really down, unable to see anything by a desperate black wall in front of your eyes, that it will pass. Embrace it in a away, by writing down your or talking about them with someone you trust.  If you are in medication, take it. If you want to stop, talk to your health practitioner and find alternative help. And get your loved ones involved. In my experience, it is best that they know and understand  what is going on, than to leave them wondering what have they don't wrong that makes you act in that manner. Develop with them a strategy of sorts, like leaving you alone, just sitting next to you or, after sometime, try to light you up.

But most of all, remember that this is not your fault. Be gentle with yourself and know that all the steps, whatever convenient or know, are worth it, because you are worthy.