Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Entering Twilight: A Place for Personal Growth

I have always been studious and curious by nature. When I found my footing in an earth-centered spirituality, I immediately wanted to immerse myself in it and find the Path to Being a Good Pagan. But where would I find my Yoda? My Gandalf? My Miyagi, Dumbledore and McGonagall? Where would I find my Aughra? I firmly believe in tailoring your spiritual practice to best suit your personal beliefs but I didn’t know where to start. For me, that meant taking a leap of faith and jumping in.
Eleven years ago, I attended an earth-centered gathering in the hopes of growing beyond books and simple meditation. That gathering was Twilight Covening, organized by the EarthSpirit Community in the mountains of Massachusetts. I don’t want to tell you about the experience itself. It’s personal. It’s bigger than me. It’s hard to put into words.
The first year I went, I didn’t know anyone. I barely knew what to expect and it pushed all of my buttons. I was a woman recovering from a physical disability, full of fear of the unknown. But I stepped into that fear. It was easy to be there. It wasn’t easy to stay present when my walls were pushed. But I learned to push back gently, to push back and force my own shape to shift, my own edges to grow larger. I learned there was space to grow within those new boundaries.
Twilight Covening was a safe place where I discovered that I could be whole again. I could walk freely again. I could walk in the unknown dark without fear, because I was the light. And within that light was enlightenment.
Every year, when the leaves turn, I return to Twilight, to the wilds of nature and sit under clear and starry skies, doing deep earth-centered magic with friends I have made over the years, as well as strangers and newcomers. At the end of the weekend, we are bonded by the shared experience of the journey we have travelled together.
I believe there are doors that we can only open for ourselves, but good teachers can lead us to those doorways and hold space as we journey through them. I have found such teachers at Twilight. I carry home tools and exercises to use and practice through the winter months, as well as the memory of a weekend in the woods with others of a like mind seeking to deepen their connection to the natural world below and around us.
There is, of course, magic in the land we live on every day. But the world moves so quickly across it that we seldom notice. We don’t get a lot of experiences that allow and encourage us to explore and listen to our intuitive selves. Twilight gifts me an escape from the everyday fast-paced world so that I can stop and listen. No cell phones. No computers. No traffic. No electrical hum of various appliances and technology. There is just the sound of the water, the wind in the trees and the birds and other wildlife around you.
The magical work is broken up into small groups, called clans, each with focused exercises and intention. You spend the weekend with your clan. You eat with your clan. You do deep work with your clan. It’s a space for those who want to go deeper, whatever that means for you. And you are not alone.
The only question you have to answer, at the threshold, is can you open yourself to the magic that is offered you, that is happening around you? For me, every year, the answer is yes. Some years it is harder for me to let go and dive in. But I always find my way.
We all have walls of resistance. I used to think that when I hit them, that was my safety bumper telling me to stop and not to go any further. But that was me hitting the barriers I had constructed. By not pushing at them, I wasn’t growing. Every day was the same and my spirituality felt stagnant. I assumed it was my spirituality that was wanting. But it was me.
My first year, I walked in the woods with my feet on fire, the longest I had been on them since I lost the use of my left leg and had to retrain my muscles to walk. My nerves were still regenerating and with every step it felt like I was walking on knives. I was sure when I took my shoe off my foot would be hamburger. Every time I wanted to stop, I took a deep breath and told myself it was a nerve misfiring and we had to be near the end. I didn’t give up. I pushed through the pain and at the other end, I discovered my healing was further along than I had thought; it was just fear holding me back.
Another time I sat on a dock over the water, doing my first solo gloaming at sunset. I wasn’t sure I could find the stillness needed to reach a state of trance, but I had spent so much time believing I wasn’t capable of doing some things, I needed to try. I softened my gaze as I was taught, and as the grey light fell, the living breathing things began to glow faintly to me. Filaments of light began to fall from the sky at a diagonal and as they hit the ground, a shuttle slid quickly across the horizon line like a loom. The natural world was weaving and I didn’t ask how. I just watched. It was beautiful. When I came out of it forty minutes later, I realized the filaments of light were raindrops falling. It was pouring and I was soaking wet. But the joy I felt was priceless.
And it was in a meditation on the top of the mountain, that I first heard the voices of my deep ancestors speaking to me. With all of the tools I have brought home from this gathering, I learned to control my spirit sensitivity so that I was no longer afraid. I learned to open and close the door to spirit world. I became comfortable walking between both worlds.

In the everyday world, it is sometimes hard to find those times and moments of stillness and quiet to do the work you need to do, to allow yourself to go deep into trance, into song, into rhythm, into transformation, into divination. Twilight Covening offers a container, snugly built to house deep work, to peer into a world you may not have connected with yet, and to be seen, in return, by that world. And the best gift of the gathering is the magic you take home with you, the new eyes with which to peer into old corners of your known world, with which to watch it shift and change. You cannot return unaltered.

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