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My Final Word on 2018

2018 was everything it was supposed to be. It was everything I had expected, in ways I wasn’t expecting. It was my year of lessons, of new beginnings and transformation. It was my year to turn 30 years old and joyfully say goodbye to my turbulent twenties.
 
I thought I knew what was coming, and yes, I did “know”, but I was looking in the wrong direction entirely.
 
I looked for stories and labels. Looked for an identity to attach to myself that would show everybody I’m the “success” I was “supposed to be”.
 
Ironic, when my all time favourite quote from any book is “to define is to limit”.
 
But I’d felt like a failure. How could I not, having grown up hearing all about who I was going to be and what I would become? They said I could be anything and I would definitely be SOMETHING. Definitely no less than a star!
 
Writer. Actor. Lawyer. Politician. Musician. Doctor. Prime Minister. Psychologist. Label. Label. Label.
 
I started trying to do what I thought I was “supposed to do”. And lot of this stuff I tried to fill myself up with just made me feel empty.
 

I tried parties and reconnecting with old friends. I tried making new friends. I enjoyed amazing music. I threw myself violently out of my comfort zone. I took part in various workshops and programs. I started exercising. I started eating well. I started figuring out what suits me and what doesn’t, what works and what doesn’t.

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Athena, by Pui Che
 
Nothing works, not even the stuff that’s supposed to, when you’re doing it all for the wrong reasons. Attachment to stories and ideas, attachment to expectations and avoidance of your whole, true self in the here and now is some of the dumbest things you can inflict on yourself.
 
I knew by the middle of the year I was heading for something BIG and unavoidable: A neck-breaking twist, that would force my head and eyes to look the right way.
 
That tower I’d only just started to build, already crumbling down.
 
This year, I got the all-clear for one cancer and then found out I need tests for another cancer. I’ll find out sooner or later.
 
I started university, doing what I always wanted and was “supposed to do” and then found out everything I thought I’m “supposed to do” is a lie.
 
I had never felt closer to someone in my life, someone who has often been a source of a lot of upset for me, and just as I felt we had reached the point of unbreakable, our relationship was severed. It’s both sad and a weight off my shoulders.
 
I worked hard, studied hard and began training myself up to remake my life, to break away from the shackles of the DWP. I put all my time, money and stock into this “transformation”, to be told by my landlord I can’t run my business from home.
 
And I got this new home, away from the trauma of the old and it kept falling apart around me. It ceased to be the “thing that I needed to feel better” faster than you can say April Fools.
 
The year rolled in like a steamroller, squashing everything that I am out of me until there wasn’t much left. I tried to keep turning my head back to where it was most comfortable, looking outside for something to make things better.
 
Distracting myself with social media. Attaching to stories. Assuming that if I get the things I want, then things will be alright
 
And all year, it’s like a greater force has been with me all along saying “Stop looking. Start seeing. I’m here. I’m real. I have all these wonderful things waiting for you, if only you’d just notice me.”
 
My neck “broke”. My head turned. I sat here in darkness for the longest time, finally beginning to ask the right questions and look for the real answers.
 
So, 2018 is both the start of a new cycle and the ending of an old one. Everything it was “supposed to be”. I’m going on a new journey, full speed ahead, transforming more and calmly going to war with everything in my way, including myself.
 
I am ready for a brand new year. I’m not becoming something new or old. I’m getting real.
Personal, Review

Opening to 5 Feminine Archetypes with ReWilding for Women

I wasn’t sure whether to write this blog and before beginning to type anything at all, I found myself staring at a blank screen, taking in deep breaths all the way to my root, as I do at the beginning of any ReWilding workshop or gathering. I am sure I want to share my experiences with different therapies and healing modalities with the world, just as I have already done so once on this blog already. I’m also massively unsure about sharing my super personal experience with ReWilding’s free workshop, for very good reason.

I took part in the 5 Faces of the Feminine, and it got a little bit mad.

I discovered ReWilding when I was added to their phenomenally large Facebook group by a healer from Manchester I’ve yet to work with. This group is home to over 30,000 women, making it the largest social media group I’ve ever been in and these numbers alone certainly got my attention.

At first glance, reading through posts, I couldn’t really be sure what ReWilding was all about. It’s a group for spiritual women, that much was immediately obvious, but I didn’t know if I’d find any use for it. I decided to dive in and get to know the community by making my first post in the group. I then, out of curiosity, signed up to receive ReWilding newsletters from the main website, where I received my free gift; the workshop.

I found myself too busy to get stuck into the workshop right away, but in early November, I sat in a restaurant in London, dating myself as I’ve grown accustomed to in recent months, plugged in my headphones and watched the first 15 minutes of the first module as I waited on my food. I couldn’t deny that I was sceptical of the whole thing, while being unexpectedly excited as I watched ReWilding’s founder Sabrina Lynn talk about what I could expect from this workshop.

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Sabrina Lynn Domenosky

Some people just captivate you. Some people seem to speak to directly to your soul. Sometimes, people appear in your life that you just feel are absolutely meant for you, in ways you can’t really explain. You just feel it, with every fibre of your being. Down to every last cell in my body, I had fallen head over heels in (platonic) love with Sabrina Lynn. It was suddenly easily to see how she’d built such a large community and I knew I was going to be staying.

It took me over a month to get on with completing the workshop and when I was done, I sat staring at my journal wide-eyed, calculating when would be the right time to buy access to a workshop that takes me deeper into the ReWilding method.

The workshop consists of 3 short modules and is a very brief, introductory experience into opening up to feminine archetypes or Goddesses. This is about invoking deities and opening up to and stepping into your “wholeness” as a woman. This is spiritual healing and all about reclaiming your power. It’s re-wilding!

It doesn’t matter how many extraordinary experiences I’ve had throughout my life and how much I believe in the extraordinary, my experiences with cold reader psychics alone is enough to make me cautious when approaching anything out of the ordinary. I began the first practice, not so much not knowing what to expect, but not really expecting anything at all to happen!

And then something did happen. And it was a mental struggle to keep myself detached from stories and ideas about what I was experiencing, and just let myself experience it. It was important to me to not attach to the stories I wrote to describe what was happening, but I certainly made note of the ideas that came up. I tried to approach this workshop mindfully, just observing the results of each invocation, and then writing it down in my journal, without judgement.

If you haven’t ever taken the workshop and think you’d like to try it, stop reading my blog now. I have concerns that describing my own experiences will then influence yours and that’s what you don’t need. You want to experience something authentic and get the best of this very brief workshop. You can come back later to read about how I got on and compare your experience to my own.

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Hekate

1. Opening up to the Medicine Woman: Hekate

In the first module, I’m called to invite Hekate and take in her energy. As the exercise began, it was time to let go of scepticism and just do as I was told. After all, as a witch, this isn’t entirely new to me, so why all the scepticism?

This particular exercise however, was not something I’d done before. Sure, I’ve called on Hekate, but in the past I called with different intentions. This time, I was calling for Hekate to nourish me, standing in my living room, picturing roots growing from my feet and focusing on my ritual. This time, I was trying to merge with her energy so I could be my true, whole self. And this was where things got rather immediately, unexpectedly bizarre.

I became insufferably hot. I was absolutely boiling in my perfectly cool, comfortable living room. I felt breathless. I was suffering! I felt like I couldn’t stand up. I just wanted to drop to the floor. My instant reaction, of course, was panic. My mind raced with questions such as “why can’t I breathe?” and “why can’t I stand up?”

Almost amusingly, I forgot for a moment that I am, for the most part, perfectly able-bodied and normally can stand up. I forgot this doesn’t usually happen in any meditations I ever do. I’d only been stood there a minute, but for some reason instead of thinking that what was happening was a result of the ritual, I actually thought for a second that there was something seriously wrong with me. I thought I’d became ill. I thought that maybe I was dying.

I continued burning up and struggling to breathe. I was keeling over and all I wanted to do was drop to the ground, when suddenly a thought popped into my head that it was perfectly okay to drop to the ground and that in fact, that’s what she wanted. A weird thought, I noted, but I thought “yes! I need to connect my root (chakra) to the ground and get closer to her.”

So, I dropped. And I began to cool down. I began to rock back and forth and then my body naturally began twisting and spiralling. I could hear Sabrina talking to me through the video in the background. I could hear her discussing that we may have “old wounds” attached to the Medicine Woman.

This is the stuff we literally got burned at the stake for.

~ Sabrina Lynn Domenosky

And, “Holy shit,” I thought. “I was experiencing a memory of being burned at the stake for witchcraft?”

It made too much sense. It felt too accurate.

Telling myself again not to attach to this idea, but to simply note it, I ended the practice stunned and shook to my core. I also felt amazing! I was certain I needed to continue these practices and that more is to come from Hekate in the future.

2. The Dark Goddess: Kali

Back to my usual scepticism again, despite my incredibly shocking experience the day before, I stepped into opening up to Kali. This practice once again dictated that I should stand and I couldn’t help but be concerned I was going to get knocked off my feet again.

I simply stood, invited her and waited, observing the experience keenly.

“Nothing’s going to happen.” I thought.

And I certainly didn’t have a crazy experience like I’d had the day before. I had no trouble standing whatsoever and I didn’t burn up or lose my breath. The experience was so subtle and something that could so easily have just been my mind running away with itself, that it was much easier to not attach myself to any stories. However, it was important to make a note of what I did experience and I was still shocked once the practice was over.

I caught a glimpse of a wolf, not a Goddess, in my minds eye. It dived straight at me and tore my throat out. That was rather alarming. Then I weirdly felt that I was being commanded to kneel, so I did so, quite frankly shitting myself at this point. I had no idea if my wonderfully vivid imagination was playing tricks on me, or I was genuinely experiencing something.

As I knelt and waited, eyes closed, I again thought I saw the wolf, wrapping it’s jaws around my head. My head was hurting. I had a genuine headache. Then I either saw, or felt, the wolf inside me and it’s face came tearing out of my own face.

Completely unsure now whether I’d gone mad entirely, I ended the practice realising that I’d now had two experiences that you could in no way describe as pleasant ones. And yet there I was, feeling oddly accomplished with this idea that “that totally needed to happen. I needed that.”

From Sabrina’s description of what Kali may do for me and my own ideas, I sort of felt I was being shown that my mind really needs a good goddamn rewrite.

3. The Mother: Gaia

Finally, with The Mother, an experience that was not terrifying in the moment. I led on the floor, waiting for Gaia’s embrace and I couldn’t deny that I did feel like I was being held, in a very non-physical, non-corporeal sort of way.

As we’d gotten further into November, I seemed to have been slipping further into a very dark, low mood. I’ve never been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder and I’m pretty sure I don’t experience this every year, but it seemed almost like I was suddenly suffering. And through my spiritual Facebook groups, I discovered thousands of people seem to be suffering in the exact same way I am.

All of a sudden, out of nowhere, we have all lost our motivation and something as simple as washing the dishes looks like climbing Mount Everest.

You can call it depression. But, last year I knew this year was going to be a major one for me and I’ve started looking at all of it with suspicion. I started to be less sceptical about this matter and supposed I am experiencing a Dark Night of The Soul that my sister might not even remember she had warned me was coming in her oracle reading for me earlier in the year. My own tarot readings, though I could only translate them vaguely, certainly predicted this and insisted what was coming was out of my control.

It’s a Master Number 11 year, and here I am, writing this post on the winter solstice of 2018. I never strictly believed in astrology and how planetary alignment affected people. I never cared for numerology and I suppose despite practising witchcraft my whole life, I kept my beliefs and ideas as vague and light as possible. But here I am, at the end of this very important year and I feel like everything I’m going through might be one final big push, or shift, to complete whatever it was I’d started in January.

I pleaded with Gaia for some help as I led on the floor. I begged her to take away my pain, my sadness, my despair, my longing and neediness and lack of motivation and I led there waiting.

She didn’t take these things away, but I still ended the practice feeling supported.

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Gaia

4. The Warrior: Athena

My Grandmother is Greek-Cypriot and Greek mythology and the study of Ancient Greece was, without a doubt, among my favourite subjects at school. I step into the practice excited instead of sceptical, but as was my experiences with Gaia and Kali, the whole thing was rather subtle.

As I’m not experienced with yoga and have a painful condition with my joints, this practice was actually difficult as I had to maintain a yoga pose that I don’t have the strength to maintain for as long as the practice requires. But the thought arose that it was okay to step in and out of the warrior pose. I’ll never know if I was being reassured by Athena, or by myself, but I felt pulled to step into warrior and then I’d be extending my fists, and then I’d be flexing my muscles.

I was suddenly moving like I was in the middle of a Taekwondo class and it just felt so right. It felt like I was supposed to be doing it. And despite being a little weakling that can’t maintain the most simple of yoga poses for a few minutes, I felt pretty damn good as I moved around.

Several thoughts popped into my mind: I am strong; I am a warrior; I am fine; I am ready and, finally, I am “on path”.

So, I thought, “The Dark Night of The Soul is exactly where I’m supposed to be at right now.” And then I reminded myself that I wasn’t going to be attaching to the stories.

5: The Love Goddess: Lalita

Alright. So, I’d gone from a pretty mind-blowing experience in the first module, to all these subtle ones in the second. I was starting to doubt my first experience as anything special. Was this all a load of rubbish?

I sat disheartened as Sabrina explained this final particular Goddess can be a particularly difficult one to open up to. She said something about the door or window to Lalita being a very narrow one. Slightly pissed off, I shuffled into position to begin the practice and tried to empty myself and open to the experience.

(Sidenote: The meaning of my name, April, is “to open”)

For me, this one was all about breath. I was breathing as deep as I could, intent on sucking in as much energy as possible. I needed to fill my chakras one by one.

And as I did so, my body started to rock. My back began to arch and with each chakra I focused on filling, my back would arch more until I couldn’t go any further. This was me letting go and allowing my body to do what it wanted, instead of telling my body what to do and it felt pretty darn good.

Next thing I know, I’m spinning. I don’t know why, but I am spinning around and waving my arms up and down, certain I am pulling Lalita’s energy up and filling my entire body and aura with her love and light. I felt like I was waving away “bad stuff”. The entire practice felt blissful and even almost sensual. I, of course, ended worrying again for a moment that I might have gone completely mad, but did it really matter if for just a few minutes I felt so bloody good?

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Shiva

6. The Final module: Shiva and Lalita

I was not at all sad to learn my final module involved trying to open to Lalita again, but I was sceptical (how many times can I say this word in one post?). This last module is about opening up to the masculine. It’s important, of course, to balance your feminine and masculine according to spiritual circles.

I realised the last 2 modules felt empowering, but I also realised there was part of me that doubted even my most amazing and undeniably extraordinary life experiences (more on those another time).

Trying to open to Shiva felt difficult at first. I was looking for a stillness I’m completely familiar with thanks to my mindfulness training, but there was a restlessness in me I couldn’t shake off at first. When I finally found it, another one of those weird thoughts jumped into my mind:

“Shiva is holding me.”

A split second later, Sabrina is telling me to invite Lalita, and I’m thinking, “but I’m not ready, I only just found Shiva.”

According to my body, I was completely ready.

I started to move again. I started to feel, as I had done the day before, energy rising in me and I couldn’t help but feel that Shiva continued to hold me throughout. My body started to dance and my hips started to rock. I almost dread admitting this, but my hips rocked as if I was making love to thin air. It was both bizarre and once again, felt pretty darn good.

Then, I startled myself by moaning. And then I did it again. And then I started thinking “what the FUCK is happening?”

This was sexual. There wasn’t really any denying it. I was experiencing sexual energy that had me moaning out loud (pretty damn loudly) twice, and I didn’t even know if I even really believed in this stuff half the time.

The workshops exercise ended very abruptly, thankfully. I think if I’d have gone on for much longer things would have got pretty weirdly heavy in a way I didn’t think was humanly possible.

But my interest in taking Tantra classes, which was already pretty high, has suddenly doubled. Or tripled. In fact, it’s probably increased to infinity amounts and I can’t bloody wait for the New Year. I’ll certainly be signing up to more ReWilding workshops and maybe finally booking into that Tantra class I’ve had my eye on!