August 2015 Flower Bowl/Let Your Humanity Sing

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I am finally learning at age 45, to accept life in all its forms.  I struggle with anger and anxiety, but can hold myself in these spaces with grace.  I can be present with my friends and family without feeling like I need to flee.  I can breathe through the moments of grief and pain like I would comfort a small child who wants only to be held.  I can acknowledge myself with all my flaws, beauty and complexity, and honor the individual that I am.

All of this I accomplished in small, slow, baby steps.

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I have come to understand the inherent wisdom that is gained through walking and surviving the dark sides of life.  Without darkness, there is no light, without pain there is no love.  We all long for peace, love and serenity, but until we’ve danced and held our own shadow, the avoidance of these experiences will forever be a road block to cultivating inner light.

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Walking on the earth, hugging a tree, sitting in my garden with the plants I care for, smelling essential oils that life my spirit, these are all the ways I sooth my soul.  Reaching out to others for love and support, a milestone that has been daunting, is also essential to my soothing.  For without this, I am just a lonely person surrounding by a planet full of people.

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We are meant to be kind and compassionate to the parts of ourselves we do not like.  We are meant to live in love, together as one community.  I’m not sure which comes first, community or self-love, but it really doesn’t matter.  Start with one and then move on to the other.  Learn to love and adore who you are.  Learn to share your shining light with those around you.  Take a baby step each day towards your own self-acceptance.  And in doing so, feel your heart with all its pain and beauty.

Let your humanity sing.

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April Aronoff

Photography by April Aronoff

Elixer for Grief, Elixer for Love

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This morning was rough.  After spending time yesterday with a very ill friend, I found myself last eve surrounded by grief.  This grief wove its way around my heart and into my sleep, where I slept fitfully and without rest.  I awoke feeling stressed and teary.

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I took a walk in the woods and let nature do its magic.  The heaviness of the trees, rocks and plants held me in a cocoon of love and connection with spirit, its moist presence reminding me of the Starfish who appeared in a recent shamanic journey.  The Starfish is an emblem of moving through life with a heightened sense of touch, as they do not see or hear, but merely feel their way through the world.  This is my medicine, my gift for both myself and others.  Through feeling, whether it be pain or joy, healing and transformation can alchemize.

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As I took my walk I thought about the ways I am expanding and changing my beloved garden.  I have planted many Roses, with the intention of making my own Rose Essential Oil.  More plantings of Roses are to come.  As I walked, full of grief for my friend and joy for my own ways of stepping into my role as Priestess and Shaman, I realized that Roses are not enough.  I must do more, cultivate more, for the purposes of healing and bringing joy.  Both Jasmine (I have 4) and Lavender (I have 3) will join be joining Rose, in the future of my garden as a generator of sight, smell, healing and touch.

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I am excited to share my journey with you as a Scent Priestess who both grows and creates her own oil to use on the Beloveds that cross my path.  I become charged and impassioned just thinking about it!  What began as a walk with grief ended with fervor for the flowers and oils that will be entrusted to my care.  I am truly a witness to my own evolution. 

Blessings 🙂

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April Aronoff

Photography by April Aronoff  

June Flower Bowl 2015/Soothing the Soul

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English lavender, Spanish lavender, fuchsia, azalea, osteospermum, pansy, viola, nasturtium, wallflower, white nemesia, lavender nemesia, clary sage, abutilon, dianthus, salvia, linaria reticulata, tobacco plant

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So I find myself of late, in a familiar place, one that challenges my striving towards inner peace, love and laughter.  I am dancing with low frequency energy and emotions, ones that require me to be attentive and grounded to my own inner light.

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It’s rough now, and a lot of work. But its deep, soulful work if I keep my connection to spirit clear and strong.

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To go through ritual each day, to pray for love and guidance from spirit, this is giving me the power (thank you Rebecca Riyana Sang!) to not only make it through this day, but transmute it.

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To take the time for myself, to be grounded with both Earth and Spirit, to call in my ancestors for help and guidance, that is what I honor today.

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April Aronoff

Photography By April Aronoff

My Temple Garden/Invocation II

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This is what I did today.  I created this.  Before today, this section of the garden looked dramatically different.  I wanted to plant roses, in the hopes that I will one day make my own essential oils.  The flagstone pieces wove their way in, due to my love of stone and art as part of the garden.  I am drawn, each and every moment that I commune with my garden, to the deepest level of Earth connection that I can embrace that day.  Today was a big day of connection.  I am being called deeply, more deeply perhaps than I have ever been called, to expand my spiritual world.  Everything is incredibly rich and expansive and at some moments downright challenging, as this often involves holding a higher frequency when parts of me wish to give in to anger and pain.  I have been full of daily meditation and sometimes ritual for many weeks.  It has been amazing what I can accomplish, what I can transmute, when I move towards opening, towards healing, towards connection with my highest level guides. The veils are thinning, clearly.IMG_3173

I wish for continued stillness within myself, to surrender and hold balance as I sit in the fast moving waters that are my life.  I declare this July 15, the day of the new moon, the day of sowing seeds and intentions, to cast rituals and speak invocation’s, that I will move towards stillness despite the chaos that is present in my live.

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I wish for passion and love to overtake me, my body, spirit and soul.

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To hold both stillness and passion in the widest embrace.

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To hear each other’s heartbeat and recognize that we are the same.

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To finally fly.

April Aronoff

May 2015 Flower Bowl/Bringing On Beltane

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Fertility-Sexuality- Creativity- Healing- Life

 Beltane is the pagan holiday that falls each April 30/May 1 in the Western Hemisphere.  It is the halfway point between the spring equinox and summer solstice, the height of spring, a time of celebration, of fertility, of letting your juices flow.  As I begin to deepen into how I may honor and celebrate Beltane in my own life, I cannot help but recognize all that I have accomplished.  I have let go of addiction, and am feeling good.  I am deeply connected with spirit, and am reveling in how alive and energetic the Earth appears; every tree, flower, bird and rock speaks to me in ways that are beyond words.  The green energy of the Earth and golden light of the cosmos feed me each day as I sit in meditation.  I am blessed 🙂

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Yet there is still more. More to open, shed, compost and seed.  My second chakra is ragingly closed, something I am acutely aware of this year, as Beltane is a celebration of pleasure and sexuality, two energies that reside in the second chakra, and ones I have difficulty embodying.  And while the road may be long and steep (I deal with issues of incest and molestation), my intention this Beltane is to open my arms as wide as I can comfort, and embrace pleasure and sensuality with as much acceptance as my nervous system will allow.  To venture even past the point of comfort to discomfort, for in my discomfort I know there is healing.

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Happy Beltane!

April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

April Flower Bowl/What We Pass On

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In recent months I have been reflecting on what I will pass to my children when I am gone.  Having come from a long line of pain and dysfunction passed down through the generations, I take these reflections seriously, knowing that if change is going to happen, it must begin with me.  I am a deeply spiritual person, and openly worship the Goddess in my household.  I am a Priestess, on the path of the Shaman, and an Earth Keeper.  I have an enormous garden that I am deeply devoted too.  I consider myself in service to others, and find I have much to offer when one is willing to receive.  I openly express love and affection among my family members and community.

Last week-end I attended a day long ceremony in honor of the Priestess, The Lady of the Lake.  We spent the day anointing ourselves with holy essential oils, working alone or in pairs.  It was a delicious, divine experience that Ieft me overflowing with watery love.

There was a range of ages at this gathering, from 20’s to 70’s.  So many women on paths that were both different and familiar, the commonality of serving the Goddess making us instant Sisters, able to sit in deep comfort with one another, despite many of us having met just that day.

During lunch I sat outside with a group of women, some my age, some quiet older.  During conversation I learned that two of the women were mother and daughter, having attended other ceremonies and workshops together.  I was instantly touched to the core of my heart, which began to fill with a mixture of adoration, awe and grief.  The adoration came from a willingness to take in what these two women shared, a deep bond that went beyond simply enjoying each other’s company, to that of sharing in what was considered sacred to both of them.  The awe and grief were different reflections of the same mirror; awe that such relationships exist between parent and child, and grief that such connection does not exist between me and my own parents.

At the end of the ceremony the daughter got up, and said she had a gift to give, not knowing until that moment whom it was meant for.  The gift was a beautiful staff, crowned with the head of Horus, a sun/sky God who was worshipped in ancient Egypt.  The Head of Horus is that of a falcon, whose totem meanings are associated with soul healing, opportunity, change, focus, freedom, and rising above a situation with the understanding that it is you that has the ability to create change with grace.

The staff is also the tool of the Wise Woman.  The Wise Woman is the Crone with wisdom, one who touches the Earth and the divine simultaneously, one who can see larger patterns within life.  She is the union of the intuitive, rational and instinctive.  She also has a wicked cheeky sense of humor.

The daughter anointed Horus with Holy oil as she spoke, and then presented this glorious tool to the person she knew only moments before whom it was meant for.

Her mother.

Her mother did not know what to say.  She was overwhelmed, as we all were, by the deep love that went into this exchange.

Later I spoke with the mother about what she did with her children when they were small, yearning so deeply to learn as a mother of two boys myself.  “I took my children out into nature,” she told me, “We looked for the Hidden People in the hollowed out trees and in the tall grass.  I wanted to turn their realities upside down, to teach them to see more than what was in front of them.”

What a gift.

She also told me that as a young mother with a family, she and all her extended family were traditionally Christian.  Looking for the Hidden People was not part of that agenda, but she knew to do it anyway.  “I can’t talk to any of them about this,” she told me, her voice tinged with a bit of longing.  “You can talk to her,” I said smiling and gesturing to her daughter.

Again, what a gift.

So I take from this the deep commitment that I will live my life with love.  That I will attempt to the best of my ability, to show my children how to live authentically, with courage instead of fear, with love instead of anger.  Much of this means being willing to honor that which brings me joy, creativity and connection, outside of my role as mother.  To be willing to hold the wounds within myself and my ancestral line with compassion, instead of rage.  I want my children to learn that through the exploration of self, of knowing what moves them and gives them meaning, that much of life magically falls into alignment.

This I hope, they will cherish.

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April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

Love Letter Remembered

IMG_2949I wrote this last July, when I found myself sitting with depression.  I am posting it again, to remind myself there is always tomorrow, always a do-over, always an opportunity to embrace your shadow with compassion, vs. fester in self-criticism.  

Dearest Beloved,

Let me be your ground, your deep and winding roots that are so established, there is no fear you will fall.  I am flowing water, washing away anything that is less than compassion, less than love.  You are a beautiful creature, created perfectly in My image; nurturing, fierce, full of love.  Why does your heart-break so?  Why does it feel like the highest of frequencies, one that is capable of breaking glass with one long, sustained note?  I can feel the anger, pain and fear that has settled in the path you walk as wife, mother and teacher.  Unplug, empty, and let it wash away.  Fill yourself with Me.  You are a chalice that is meant to hold greatness, a container for the many faces and layers of the One True Being Of Light, a Being that is nothing less than utter perfection, exactly as you are.  Lay yourself down and surrender.  Let Me cleanse all that does not serve the true nature of your heart; pure, unconditional love that is meant to not only give, but to receive.  You have bound yourself, cut yourself free.  You are no longer an abandoned, loveless child hiding in fear from an ancestry of hatred and pain.  You are the Goddess incarnate:  A Living, Breathing Beacon of Blessedness that wishes to wrap you up and hold you tight, fly you beyond anything that has been less than love.  Did you not know you had wings?  They are wet and wishing to open; like a long-awaited stretch let them carry you to the place you call home.  Sit in open-eyed wonder at the beauty of the world around you.  If you cannot find it, shift your gaze, turn you head, empty yourself.  Empty and fill with Me again and again, as many times in a minute, in an hour, in a day as you need.  Feel the love that is not just Me but You, as we are One.

Dearest beloved, put your hand over your heart and just feel.  Let the painful feelings flow.  I will take them, transmute them, free them to evolve into something bold and beautiful.  Creating space to allow more light, more joy, more love.  Sit in your garden as you sit in the light, and bask in the beauty.  And if this is the only place that beauty resides (at this time), sit in this space and let yourself be held.  Do it often and frequent, and let yourself be healed.  And if you feel that pull, that pull into darkness where there is no joy, no light, no love, sit with the darkness and hold it tight.  Soothe it and tell it it’s going to be ok.  Give it the love it does not want you to have, and let it experience the healing that comes from such tenderness.  Imagine that it is a little girl, and you a nurturing, loving mother.  I am the veins in your body, carrying away with ease the heaviness in your soul, bringing in pure, nourishing light.  Lay on my Earth and imagine a thousand fairies sprinkling their healing, magic dust all over your body.  Release and release and release into Me.  Give me your pain, it is mine to transform.

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April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography By Diana Ray

Mother Of The Flame

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Oh Violet Mother, Mother of the flame,

I blow air on your heated presence,

become entranced as you grow.

Help me to stoke your embered breath,

feel your moistened hands on my skin,

so I may stand in the middle,

the center of your lotus flames,

and just melt.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

Ode To Oliver and Company

IMG_28632/8/15   There is still so much pain when I remember these experiences.  I am deeply appreciative of the two beautiful creatures that have come into my life, Asia and Tiny.  Through them I am able to heal.

I wrote this piece in my early 20’s, about my childhood experience of owning and giving away many beloved dogs. The picture I am referring to was sent to me by my mother, while at sleep away camp for 8 weeks.

In this picture you are my pal.

It says, “April, I love you and miss you!

Your pal, Oliver.”

Woof!

Oliver, where did you go?

I miss your shaggy presence,

the way you chased

cars down the street,

growled at the wall

while you ate,

licked my face

with long strands of goo,

and loved me

so unconditionally.

Oliver, where did you go?

Oh yes, I remember:

You were dog #2

in a long line of dogs

that were given away,

6 to be exact,

not including the one

we got and returned

the very same day.

Dogs that ran with me in the woods,

and let me lay on them watching TV.

Dogs I grew to love intensely,

each and every one

as if they were mine forever.

Until one day they were taken away,

leaving nothing but a hole in my heart

with a note stuck inside,

“Tough luck kid, dogs don’t last forever!”

And the story goes

that when it came to dogs #5 & 6,

I gave them away,

told them to go,

never quite learning

that something soft and fuzzy

and feeling so, so good,

can indeed be

more than just a memory.

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I am proud to say that I did finally get it.  I have 2 amazing dogs, Asia and Tiny.   It has been a conscious decision to have dogs, as a way of helping center our family around something positive and loving. And it worked 🙂 Asia arrived in June of 2012, Tiny in May of 2013.  Our family both glows and thrives in their presence.

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I now understand that abandoning those poor dogs was a mirror for how dysfunctional my childhood family was.  Parts of me are still integrating these painful memories.  Yet it is through the dance with Shadow that true compassion and self-love are embraced.

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Forever breathing deep,

April Aronoff/Diana Ray

Photography by Diana Ray

 

 

Freedom

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It has been there for decades.

This feeling of raw and weeping,

buried so deep

beneath a scab

so old,

I have no memory

of its original pain.

l know the younger me

needed that scab to survive,

hadn’t wanted to touch

it’s rawness inside,

and I honor Her for that.

But the me today

is ready to heal,

and it’s okay

that I’m raw and weeping.

I’m ready to surrender

to the Great Mother’s Arms,

let Her wash me,

melt my pain.

It’s going to hurt like hell,

taking this giant scab off,

all that newborn skin

exposed to the world.

But I’m weary

and it’s so heavy,

this ancient,

dead weight scab!

I want to heal,

grow my skin back,

feel the delicious air

as it blows across nerves

that have been numb

and sedated

for years.

I am ready

to finally

feel.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

I Wish

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I wrote this poem more than a year ago.  Parts of this poem are no longer true for me.  Parts still are.  Felt good to work on it again and re-publish 🙂

 

I wish I didn’t feel like shit.

I wish that talking to my spouse

was an exchange of something good,

instead of The Battle Of Personal Issues

brought on by children

and stressful jobs

and buying houses.

 

I wish I could detach myself

from the constant barrage

of foul language

and horrible insults,

thrown around

by my very own children,

as if they were blowing bubbles

that pop quickly,

one after the other.

 

I wish addiction didn’t exist,

that the line you cross

was wide,

like the Grand Canyon,

instead of thin

and frail

and unstable.

 

I wish I didn’t have to dive deep,

to go where No Mans Gone Before.

Hidden treasures they tell me,

if only I dive deep.

But the Demon of Irritability

lives there too,

and to be quite honest,

I can’t stand his guts.

 

I wish I felt more inspired

like I do when I think of Her,

Mother Earth,

and the Little Girl

who rides the Elephant

wearing a sparkly pink tutu.

I smile from my bones

every time I see her,

this darling girl,

who blew into my life

one day

during a soul retrieval.*

 

I wish I were a spider

spinning my own

web of support,

and instead of

eating my prey,

I would invite them

to stay,

offering friendship

and comfort

and nurturance.

 

I wish I had more courage,

more faith.

My back is weak,

but what about my mind,

my heart,

my soul?

“You can do it,” I tell myself,

“You can do it.”

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

*Soul Retrieval refers to forms of shamanic practice that aim to reintegrate various parts of the soul that might have become disconnected, trapped or lost through trauma. (paraphrased from bodyspiritawareness.com)

Healing With Birds

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As I was about to plunge into my darkest hour, that place of utter self-deprecation and fear, a flock of birds began to fly in and out of my garden.  It was quite a sight!  They flew to and from the bare branches of my apricot tree, and the feeling of watching them come and go was nothing short of grace.  They were beautiful; flying away from the tree individually or in pairs, flying back to the tree as a flock, a giant wave made of bird instead of water, landing almost simultaneously on each branch.  It took my breath away.

And I felt myself soften, my desire to avoid slip away.

Now I could connect, tap in, something that felt almost painful in recent days.  I had gone from feeling completely resonant with my intention to experience deep fulfillment, to feeling like I had crossed all the wrong lines within myself.

But then the birds came and filled me with joy.

And it came to me as I sat in stillness that this wobbling, this going off-center, is all part of the experience of going deep.  Of knowing when we have strayed too far from the path and need to get back on track.

And how I handle getting back on track, as difficult as it is, well that’s just another experience of going deep.

I almost beat myself up.  Instead, I helped myself up.

Thanks to the birds 🙂

Magic is everywhere, even in our darkest hour!  I must remember:  It’s important to look to the light, even when the darkness beckons.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

December 2014 Flower Bowl//Finding Shakti

Featured

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Finding Shakti

Shakti is vital

Shakti is sexual, sovereign and on fire

Shakti is She who declares, *“I Fuel/Consume”

Shakti is “Yes!” to Passion, Creation, and Ecstasis

Shakti consumes anything that is less than pure life force

She is Shakti

Shakti, I yearn for You.

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  In search of Shakti, I find myself in the arms of compassion, rubbing lavender essential oil deeply into my heart and throat chakras.  Spiritually lavender opens one to nurterance and care toward all life beings, the self-included.  I hold myself now in compassion for the way I have been short tempered and outright angry towards my husband and children; I hold myself in compassion for indulging in my addictions, despite that I am on vacation and having a damn good time; I hold myself in compassion, because in doing so, I let the light in further, release old stories and pains with more ease, free up that which has been holding parts of my soul in tight constriction.  And in doing so, I find Shakti.

photo 4 (5)Happy Solstice New Year!

Peace,

Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography by Diana Ray

*From 13 Moon Mystery School

Union

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These are my feet

now I must walk,

These are my hands

now I must create,

These are my eyes

now I must see,

this is my heart

now I must feel,

these are my wings

now I must fly.

Walk

Create

Feel

See

Fly.

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Diana Ray/April Aronoff

Photography By Diana Ray

The River Violet

Running In Water

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The River Violet

I walked upon the River Violet one day and sat down.

Its flow was soft, slow, beckoning,

it’s water catching sunbeams

in a beautiful crystalized purple,

turning everything that ran through

the most luminous shades of periwinkle and lilac,

its violaceous essence pulling and drawing me near,

like a bird song so lovely it tugs at the heart string,

and slowly I step in.

My toes turn to lavender as its waters gently tumble past,

a tingling heat spreading despite the sharp, brisk flow,

and I see ahead an eddy,

its swirls an image of something familiar but can’t recall,

and like a purple blue magnet it summons me,

until I am peering into its deepness.

What I see makes me gasp.

Fire, Violet Fire, beneath this waters depth!

Amythist flames rising and falling,

like its very own breath taking in liquid air,

a lava lamp of…

View original post 132 more words

Me and My Shadow

photo 1 (7) For me the shadow are those aspects of myself that hold me back, keep me in negative patterns, in stagnancy, without growth.  Addiction issues, feeling abandoned, alone, irresponsible, are all biggies for me.  When shadow runs my life, it really stinks.  Life feels oppressive and hopeless.  But if I can have compassion for my shadow, hold those parts of myself that feel less than whole, than perhaps I can heal, grow, move with love.  “I love my shadow as I love myself,” is a new phrase I have learned in my priestess practice.

I am also beginning to understand that shadow comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes shadow is a quiet nagging voice, whose sole purpose is to chip away bit by bit our self-love and self-esteem.  We might not even notice!  Other times shadow means existing in a hell realm, something that seems unbearable to endure. Intense feelings of failure, abandonment or depression.  Sometimes illness or tragedy strikes us or our loved ones, steering us into frustration, helplessness and even anger or rage.   This is where having compassion toward the self is utterly and wholly essential.

It is so easy to give into the dark side of shadow, whose grip can be fierce.  So today I make a choice.  I am going to consciously take shadow’s hand, rub it gently with mine, and then kiss it with love.  The Hawaiian prayer for forgiveness Ho’oponopono, comes to mind:

I’m sorry

Please forgive me

I love you

Thank-you  photo 2 (7) If I cannot love and hold all of myself, include that which I loathe, how can I truly know love?  For me, there is no higher purpose. Diana Ray/April Aronoff Photography By Diana Ray