Workshops

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Upcoming Appearances, Workshops, etc

Published November 20, 2014 by ireneglasse

The cold wind blows, but light and warmth glow brightly within!  I have a few upcoming events you should know about, all available to brighten the long, cold darkness of winter.

Wednesday, November 26th (Thanksgiving Eve), 7 pm
Harmonious Healing at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio

Relax and Re-Center before the Holiday Weekend with a special offering from studio owner Aimee McBride! Harmonious Healing incorporates Yoga Nidra, Somatic Yoga and Reiki (provided by Reiki Master Irene Jericho during the class). Find release in mind, body and spirit as Aimee guides you through gentle movement and meditation while you receive light healing energy work. Yoga Nidra, or ‘yogi sleep’ is among the deepest possible states of relaxation one can attain while still maintaining full consciousness. Lucid dreaming is the Western term used to denote a practice similar to yoga nidra. Somatic Yoga offers exercises that reprogram muscles to dissolve chronic pain, dramatically improve flexibility, regain strength, and leave you with an overall sense of peace and wellbeing. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by a laying on of hands. A treatment feels like a wonderful glowing radiance that flows through and around you. Reiki treats body, emotions, mind and spirit. creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and wellbeing.  Facebook event here.
 Cost: $20, click here to register
Saturday, November 29th, 9 am and 11 am
Thanksgiving Recovery Yoga at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio
Come work off the calories and release any stress from Thanksgiving and Black Friday!  The 9 am class is an All Levels Prana Flow Yoga Class lasting an hour and a half.  I plan to do a lot of detox-supporting asana to help return our bodies to homeostasis after the Thanksgiving feasting.  The 11 am class is a Level One–perfect for those beginning their practice or simply looking for a more gentle flow.
Click here to register
Sunday, December 7th at 7 pm
Full Moon Labyrinth Walk at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick
Need a chance to recenter in the midst of the holiday crush?  Come enjoy the beauty and peace of the Labyrinth by the light of the full moon! The labyrinth will be illuminated from 7:00 pm till 9:00 pm. Everyone is welcome. During the cooler months, we take our Labyrinth practice indoors, and will be walking the Rainbow Seed Labyrinth, a canvas Classical-pattern Labyrinth. Please remember clean socks or slippers to walk the Labyrinth in.  If you haven’t walked a Labyrinth before, there is no ceremony or ritual. We put out the little flickering LED tealights and just keep the space open 🙂  Please bring a small contribution for the UUCF.  Facebook event here.
Friday, December 12th, 7 pm
Mala Circle/Mala Making Workshop at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio
The yogic answer to the Stitch’n’Bitch!  Join our Mala Circle to learn and relax while you create your very own mala!  Free for those who already  know how to make a mala and bring their own supplies, $20 for those needing the workshop instruction. Ananda Shala Instructor Irene Jericho will share her method for creating a Mala, a strand of 108 beads used for meditation.Create one for yourself or as a beautiful gift for a special person in your life.  A mala is a necklace of 108 beads commonly worn and used by yogis for for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra. This practice is known in Sanskrit as “japa.” Malas are as personal as the yogis who wear them–let your creativity shine in this fun, interactive workshop. Irene will provide good beading thread to string your mala, instruction, a handout detailing the technique we will use, examples of mantras, and other tips and tricks for getting the most out of your mala.  Facebook event and supply list here, click here to register if you plan to take the workshop portion.
Thursday, January 1st, 7 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick
New Year’s Day Purification Ritual
Enter 2015 from a centered place of peace. Release the energies of the last year, and set a harmonious tone for the year to come. Sacred Space will be held from 7 to 9 pm in the Sanctuary of the UUCF.  Attendees are invited to move through the Elements, releasing the shadows of 2014 as they go. Elemental Guides will be available at each Quarter to offer a way to move into the energy of a new year. End your Purification journey with a walk to the center of the Labyrinth to receive any messages for the new year. All are welcome to attend.  Free will donations are welcome.
Friday, January 16th, 7 pm
Darkest Yoga at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio
Inspired by Black Yo)))ga in Pittsburgh and Tough Love Yoga in Atlanta while paying homage to our area’s own Darkest Hour, Darkest Yoga combines flow yoga and atmospheric heavy metal to serve the greater Washington, D.C. community.  Irene Jericho (RYT 200) will be guiding you through your 75-minute moving meditation with some killer tunes over the PA. Enjoy a stripped-down, alignment-focused, no-fluffy-stuff yoga class with Ananda Shala’s own Heavy Metal Yogini.  Cost: $15 in advance/ $20 at the door
Sunday, February 1st, 7 pm
Kindling the Fire Within: An Imbolc Yoga Practice at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio
Winter’s darkness lingers with us still. Naked branches scrape the sky and night falls early. We crave the warmth of summer while we navigate an often snow-covered landscape. Yet in the midst of night, there is a glimmer of brightness–a tangible reminder of the sun-filled days yet to come. This light in the cold winter stillness is Imbolc. The word Imbolc is derived from the Gaelic word “oimelc” which means “ewes milk”. Herd animals have either given birth to the first offspring of the year or are expecting new life very soon. Join Irene Jericho for a transformative Imbolc yoga practice as we ignite the fire within and find warmth from the heart out. Live hand drumming will accompany the journey from darkness to light, from stillness to asana, from silence to music. Ignite your own Winter Fire, and allow the light to carry your practice into spring.  Participants are encouraged to wear white or light-colored clothing to practice in.  Cost: $20
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Reflections on Sacred Space

Published March 17, 2014 by ireneglasse

I can’t live where I can’t see my mountains.  It’s a funny and a strange thing.  I moved to Frederick, MD, when I was about seven.  You could see the beautiful, rolling green of the Appalachians from my house, from the tree I loved to sit in.  ‘I’m bored’ in the warmer months was usually answered with a trip into the leaf and stone of the local hiking paths, or perhaps to the lake or waterfall at Cunningham Falls.  I spent my early summers building forts in the thickets nearest where we lived, riding my bike on the bike paths in the woods behind the college, making little stone dams in the local streams.

I ran screaming from this country when I was 18.  I lived in Okinawa, Japan, for three years.  It was beautiful, but I longed for the smell of leaves and moss, the shifting wind through the branches, the changing colors as the Wheel progresses.  The strangest thing is that I had problems with time.  My memories of Okinawa are out of order.  As though without that green to gold to brown to bare leaf cycle, I am somehow left without a way to know when in my life there an event occurred.

I came home.  We began in Northern Virgina and moved.  And moved.  And moved.  Until we found a home where I can see the mountains.  The Gambrill trail head is a five minute drive from my door.  This is no accident.

The mountains are still where I take my pain.  When I am broken open, bleeding tears and agony, I go to Cunningham Falls.  I climb the waterfall, and find ‘my’ boulder, and it’s there that I pour out the poison in my soul, watering the stone with tears.  And quietly, so gently, it’s there that the torrent of tears calms, ceases.  Somehow, in that place that does not change, in that space that was there before me, and will be there long after I am gone, I remember myself.  I find my center.

And I always considered this little quirk to be yet another one of those oddish things about me that I’ve come to accept rather than question overmuch.  I’m weird.  I’m wyrd.  And I know it, and I don’t fight it anymore.  So the pieces that don’t make logical sense just are.

I tell you this because that wyrd part of my nature seems to have found a prism in which to hang, an ah-ha moment that explains not only that practice, but reveals a much deeper well feeding that little curling green tendril of Other that runs rampant in my nature.

Robin, Orion Foxwood and I

Robin, Orion Foxwood and I

The Sacred Space Conference, an amazing gathering of Tribe intended for intermediate to advanced Practitioners, has a focus every year, and every year that focus, that theme, is different.  If I could give you this year’s theme in a single word, it would be ‘Heritage.’  This year’s conference featured Appalachian root workers, carriers of the only magickal tradition that is truly American.  Orion Foxwood, Byron Ballard and Linda Ours Rago brimmed with the green pulse of the mountains, deep as the caves, dark as the dreaming stones, yet shining with life, with magick, with depth.  And the overall message was one of deep love of and connection to the land, and to our blood.

Heritage of place called us to wake up to the land on which we live.  To embrace the spirit in the very earth we tread.  To love our homes, and the practical matters of day to day life.  What if where you live isn’t an accident?  What if my need to live in visual range of the mountains, my best friend’s need to live in the desert, your need to be where you are…what if those things mean more than a proclivity toward a certain aesthetic?  What if we’ve just forgotten?  What if that quiet resonance got covered up with Work and Obligation and Hyperstimulation?  Byron told us to go out and lie on the ground, to feel, to breathe.  Orion told us to seek, to build, to connect.  Linda told us to love, to honor, to learn.  And my bones resonated with the message.  That little piece of oddness in me isn’t so strange, as it turns out.  These ARE my mountains.  This IS my land.  And I am a part of it.

Heritage of blood called us to wake up to the River of Blood that brought our drifting vessels of flesh to this moment.  Try to imagine, for a second, the thousand thousand generations that fought so desperately, survived against such incredible odds, to bring you here.  Just a few hundred years ago, to sit in a room and speak our truths would have seen us all hanged, or burned at the stake.  Our ancestors fought for us to survive in a better world–they set their hopes as flickering lights into the River of Blood.  We are the vessels now, but that River runs long behind us, and long ahead of us.  We’re just ancestors enfleshed, navigating the hopes, dreams and sacrifices of thousands of souls.

You are intentional.  There is no accident here.  And even if your mind and memory do not know the names of relatives, or countries your ancestors come from, your blood knows.  Honor the River.  Let your soul guide you into remembering who you are.  We all return to the River eventually, leaving our vessel to the good earth, to help push the other boats along.  Lives are strung pearls.  The River is the string.

Robin, Selena Fox and I

Robin, Selena Fox and I

The other Path weaving its theme through the Conference was of the navigation through death.  Our people do not have churches or synagogues, and our Tribe is young.  Pagan Death Passages are still new territory for us, one being bravely explored.  M. Macha Nightmare and Selena Fox led these deep explorations into the mysteries of our last mortal transition.  The most important pieces?  If you are Pagan, and have a vision for the care of your mortal remains, write it down and tell multiple people where that information is.  Make the plan.  Have the discussion.  Death is hardest on the living–TELL the people you love what you want for yourself.  The other piece is for us as mourners.  Grief takes as long as it takes, and it is different for everyone.  Be patient, listen, and love.  Seek out the voices of those who have explored this territory.  There ARE rituals.  There are prayers, meditations, practices, songs and stories to help us on our way.  Go buy the Pagan Book of Living and Dying.  That way you’ll have it should you need it.  And remember that you are not alone.  Our Tribe is beginning to include Death Midwives and other practitioners of the Veil.  Reach out.  There’s a hand on the other side.

Just like last year, I’ve returned home almost overwhelmed with new ideas, perspectives and techniques.  I feel like I’m carting around a treasure chest filled to the brim with brilliant gems.  Simply sorting through them all and finding homes for them will take time.  There’s a new stack of books beside my bed, an expanded design for the next focus of my main altar forming in my mind and a deep hum of connection pulsing with every beat of my heart.  I am renewed, exactly at the point when I needed it most.  Gratitude is not a strong enough word for how I feel about the wonderful people who make Sacred Space possible.  I can’t recommend the Conference highly enough. 

To briefly borrow the parlance of our Appalachian presenters, y’all gotta try this shit.

 

 

 

(P.S. I am a note-taker.  Let me know if you’d like the notes from the workshops and rituals I attended and I’ll email them to you)

Twilight Covening

Published July 16, 2013 by ireneglasse

I try not to push my own ideas and experiences on other people.  Don’t get me wrong–if you ask me what I think of something, I’ll tell you the truth.  But I don’t like telling other people what to do.  We’re all so different, so varied, so unique in our needs and perspectives, that pushing my solutions on another person could be as useful as trying to put out a fire with a can of gasoline.

That said, I do have one full endorsement for those of you on the Earth-centered-spirituality Path.  Go to Twilight Covening.  Don’t worry, it has nothing to do with sparkly vampires.  The name refers to the transition between light and darkness, and has been the title of the festival since 1986.  Twilight Covening is a retreat in Massachusetts, and a beautifully intense one.  I’m going again this year, and it will be my fourth year attending.  I’ve pasted my reflections from previous years below.  Read them.  And then go register.  It’ll do you a world of good.

I’ll begin with the reflections from my first year attending, since this particular missive explains a bit about how Twilight runs.

October 13th, 2010

This is for the Pagans, or those of you who have been curious about some of the Pagan stuff I do.  Everyone else, these are not the droids you’re looking for.

This past weekend (Friday-Monday), I attended Twilight Covening in Massachusetts for the first time.  It’s a four day spiritual retreat for those on the Pagan path and this past Covening was its 25th year.

There are a lot of things from this past weekend that I’m still processing and am not ready to talk about yet.  Maybe I never will be.  Some things there are no words for.  So what I’m going to try to do is tell you about the space, the environment that Twilight creates and envelops you in.  Perhaps that will be enough to give you an idea of what’s happening up North.

Imagine four days of ritual space.  The ritual begins in the evening on Friday, when everyone arrives.  The initial circle is formed, the energy spreads out.  And the energy…  There are around 200 people there.  Every single one is there because they have chosen to devote four days to intense spiritual, emotional and psychological work. Imagine ritual space infused by the focus of our most committed practitioners.  And that those committed practitioners stand to the right and left of you, holding your hands.

Now we add to that.  That ritual space is constantly actively held.  At all times, a Clan (usually 6-18 people) is actively concentrating on maintaining the spiritual connection of the space.  They lend their energy to help your connection, to help you focus, to help you on your path.  At. All. Times.  Night or day, you are energetically guarded, enhanced and protected by a team of dedicated energy workers.  Even while you sleep, they help you stay attuned.

Now we add to that.  Everyone is there because they want to work as hard as you do.  Everyone is there because they are actively trying to improve themselves, to heal, to connect, to grow.  So everyone you talk to is sharing a lot of the same things you are going through.  Everyone there wants you to succeed.  The people you interact with honor your trust.  They listen when you share your insecurities, your fears, your weaknesses, and do not trivialize or brush off.  Instead, they try to find ways to help you.  They pray and laugh and weep with you.  They help you find ways to lower your shields and to reach out in ways you didn’t know you could.

Now we add to that.  Your specific Clan is even closer to your own path.  Clans are small–the largest I saw was maybe 18 people.  They are led by one or two facilitators–some of the most accomplished Priests and Priestesses our tribe has to offer.  The Clan you are in is specific in its focus.  The people closest to you not only share your goal of working on your spirituality, but they share some of the specifics of that goal.  You eat, sleep and work with your Clan.  You share and learn from each other.  You hold each other while you cry, you raise energy together, you joyously witness the steps each Clan member takes forward because you know just how hard they were to take.  You’ve been taking those steps yourself.

Now we add to that.  The space that you are in is breathtaking in natural beauty.  You’re on top of a mountain in the Berkshires.  There is no light pollution, so the sky at night is a sea of stars.  The trees are in a full autumnal riot of color and their vibrant tones are reflected in the lake.  There are boulders and tall pines, towering oaks and birds singing.  There are spaces for quiet reflection, there are spaces for intimate conversation, there are spaces for group work.  There are even spaces for silliness.  Mirth, after all, is the counterpoint to Reverence.

These words can only capture a fragment of what that space feels like.  I wish I could give you the memory of that feeling.  I wish I could cover the world with it.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that you should go.  If you’re on the Pagan path, if you’re working on your spirituality, Go.  Set aside those days for next year now.  Start setting aside the money now.  Go.  Please Go.  You probably need this as much or more than I did.  And I needed it.  I needed it the way a rose needs the sunlight.

Go to Twilight with me next year.  Our tribe has built something beautiful in Massachusetts.  You should feel it, too.

Reflections from my second year: October 11th, 2011

Some days are all about Gratitude.  Today is a day like that.

I got home late last night from Twilight Covening, a four day spiritual retreat for those of us on paths of Earth based spirituality.  It was my second year attending the retreat and as ever, I find myself struggling to put into words the beauty and depth of the experience.  The overriding emotion, the greatest arc and simplest expression I can find within my thoughts, is Gratitude.

I am grateful for the Space.  For the trees as they slip into their autumn colors, for the deep blue of the lake, for the rushing of the streams that race down the mountain to meet it.  I am grateful for the boulders warmed by the sun and silvered in moonlight.  I am grateful for the open fields of soft grass where we stand in circle, create labyrinths in flour, spread out our yoga mats or simply lie down to recharge our solar batteries.  I am grateful for the quiet of the northern forest, and the way it gently reaches out to soothe our senses.

I am grateful for the Community.

For the circle of Elders who somehow felt the call in the wind from those of us who wander.  Pagans do not have Churches.  We do not have sprawling infrastructures to support us.  In many cases, we walk almost totally alone.  If we’re lucky, we have some friends to share the path with.  If we’re lucky, we somehow manage to find our way.  And now I know that we are lucky, for the hearts at the center of EarthSpirit felt the song inside our wandering souls, and made a space in which to sing it.  The love and work and joy and energy our Elders put into the retreat is a palpable force, reaching out to embrace all the drifting leaves the autumn blows in.

For the Clan Leaders who choose to spend four days in service to the Twilight community as a group, and specifically to a small group on a particular, focused path.  These wonderful people, some of the best and brightest Priests, Priestesses, Shamans, Yogis and Pathworkers our community has to offer, wait for us with open arms.  They embrace us as we walk in, help us shed the layers of dust, pain, sorrow and stress we carry.  They wrap us in their attention and guide us.  They hold a lantern to light our way.  They hold our hands as we take the first steps.  They share our triumphs, our baby steps into a better place.  They love us and teach us.  They celebrate and grieve with us.  And they do this out of a desire to serve, to help, to midwife transformation in others.

For all of the attendees of Twilight Covening.  We come from our jobs, from our families and stresses.  We come from places of joy, places of work, places of pain.  We come from all over the country.  And we join hands and hearts.  We raise our voices together in song and chant.  We eat and talk and laugh together.  We share our paths with each other.  We marvel at each other’s stories, and at the lights that come on inside ourselves when we realize that we are not alone.  We travel into ritual together, into altered states.  We journey, we work.  And we become a family through that process.  Whether we smile, grieve, pathwork or meditate, we do it in the spiritual and often physical embrace of our family.  Of the Twilight Tribe.

I am grateful for the Experience.  For the moments that dance in my memory, that illuminate and warm.  They will feed me this winter.  They will carry me into Spring.  They will dance with me in Summer, and they will follow me back to Twilight next year, to collect more threads for the tapestry.

I am grateful for Fires in which we burn the things that hold us back.  I am grateful for the drums that echo, for the flames in the night, for the stars that see our work.  I am grateful to release, and to then turn about and push energy toward the releasing of others.

I am grateful for the soft, sweet chanting in a space for Dreams.  For the music of harp and flute, for a place to come to stillness.  I am grateful for the inner quiet, and for a chance to foster that quiet in others.

I am grateful for Ritual.  For the passage through a waking dream.  For learning, and growing, and flowing.  I am grateful for the transformation of pain into joy.  Of walking in darkness alone to walking toward a fire on a moonlit field where dancers spin, singers weave their voices in song and healing flows like water.

I am grateful for Celebration.  For dancing for hours beneath that almost-full moon.  For feeling so much joy, so much love, so much connection, that the only way to express it is to dance.

I am grateful for Twilight Covening.  For the thousand little and big things that make it what it is.  For the dozens of people who work to create a space of Mystery.  For the light that burns so brightly inside me for having been there.

And so it is with these words that I close.  Come with me next year.  The door that you are seeking exists.  The path beyond it is real and is waiting for you.  And the forest where that path begins?

It’s at Twilight Covening.

And, at last, this past year’s thoughts.  October 10th, 2012

The nights grow longer, and for those of us within Earth-centric spiritual practices, the year is winding down.  Thoughts are of endings–the final gathering of summer’s gifts from the garden, the last outdoor rituals and festivals, the thinning Veil around us.  The voices of the Ancestors and Spirits grow stronger.  We prepare for work, for the inner journey of the dark season.  Walk beneath the open skies to hear the song yourself.

Listen to the trees.  The green world calls out, the pulse of life thumping through the rough cloak of bark at your touch.  Place your hands upon their bodies.  Feel the vibration of the autumn wind passing through upper branches.  Close your eyes and listen.  They hum, sway and sing a song of Time.  Feel that tide pulling you in, pulling toward darkness.  Breathe.  Follow the song down into their roots, spreading out beneath you.  Let the wave wash over you.  The endless current of roots to crown to roots, the slow drawing-in of sap for the winter.  The trees are Centering.  Feel the balance of an inward shift.  Sink.

Listen to the rocks.  There is a bliss in the quiet stones, gently humming with a sound both bright and low.  A stillness carries up from their secret hearts, passing into the warm hands resting on their craggy surfaces.  Feel them.  An echo touches the human caress, passes into you.  Hear their endless song of dark to light to dark.  Sink in.  Lean against the boulders.  Breathe.  Let the pulse take you deep into the ground.  Feel the turning, the tilting of the Earth.  The song of winter coming, the song of darkness lives in the ore beneath your hands.

Listen to the night.  Let the cloak of the long shadow wrap around you.  Hear the wind sing, the calls of the night animals, the crackle of footsteps on dry leaves.  Lean into the coming quiet and feel your heart beating warmth into the cool air.  Turn within.  You see, you hum as well.  A rhythmic song crackling with both the fire and frailty of our human shells.  Listen.  Let the endless cycle of heart to limbs to heart take you deeper.  Breathe.  Feel your song turning you inward, gathering closer to the light within, the candle in the night.

Listen to the Song.  The eternal hymn of Time.  This is the family we share, these vibrations the language we all speak.  The song of the forest, of the mountains, of the Earth.  Of yourself.

Listen.  Let the music take you deeper.

Dissolve.

Sacred Space Conference

Published March 6, 2013 by ireneglasse

I’ve become a very last-minute addition to the roster at this year’s Sacred Space Conference in Laurel, MD.

“The Sacred Space Conference is a place and time of respectful sharing and thoughtful learning among the many rich and varied traditions, beliefs, paths and organizations found in the DC/Baltimore metropolitan region, the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area, and the world.  It is our hope that through this conference we will increase understanding and religious tolerance between the many traditions within the esoteric community, as well as within the public at large.”

I will be presenting yoga classes Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning at the Conference.  If you’re there, I hope to see you!  If you don’t have anything going on, passes are still available at the door.

Beltane Alchemy

Published May 7, 2012 by ireneglasse

al·che·my

[al-kuh-mee]

noun, plural al·che·mies for 2.

1. a form of chemistry and speculative philosophy practiced in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and concerned principally with discovering methods for transmuting baser metals into gold and with finding a universal solvent and an elixir of life.
2. any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.

It is the nature of life to transform.  Living things are a constant growth process–cells replace themselves, size changes, color shifts.  Our outlines flicker and adapt, grow and diminish.  Slowly to our eyes, of course, but we are always in flux.

It is the nature of matter to transform.  Apply the right forces, and rough ore from the heart of the earth becomes sword or plow.  Sand becomes glass.  Wood becomes coal.

It is the nature of spirit to transform.  We pass through trials and wonders on this path, and each high or low point leaves a mark.  We come through the other side as different people.  Our value systems change.  Our outlook is forever altered.  And when we look back, we do not recognize the past self gazing into our own eyes.

It is a simple thing to create a Labyrinth.  A Labyrinth is a sigil in the truest sense of the word–a drawn design that, once etched, has power independent of the hand that drew it.  Labyrinths can be spray-painted on the ground, drawn in the sand, chalked on the driveway. They can be made to last, or made to be ephemeral.

This past weekend, I had the honor of presenting a Labyrinth and Labyrinth workshop at Fertile Ground Gathering, a Beltane festival in Northern Virginia.  The festival takes place in a State Park, so the Labyrinth needed to easily melt away after the weekend.

Robin (my working partner) and I created ours out of 80 pounds of flour, sprinkled in the timeless design of the 7-circuit Cretan or Seed Labyrinth.

It was easy to lose sight of intention as we sweated in that field, slowly walking the curving arms of the Labyrinth, stooped to pour the flour on the ground.  Easy to forget the purpose of the design while we focused on creation in that hot, humid clearing.  Easy to lose sight of the 5000 years of history as I walked, barefoot, across the design again and again, to find sticks and sharp stones that might distract other walkers.

But no matter the creator, or process of creation. The sigil of the Labyrinth is true.  After we’d finished building the Fertile Ground Labyrinth, showered off the sweat and flour and changed, we came back to the field.  I breathed deeply at the entrance and placed my foot upon the path.  And there it was.  That just-below-hearing hum I’ve come to associate with Labyrinths.  That sense of deepening.  As I walked, I felt the knots of the day slipping away.  I felt my consciousness slipping into a dream state.  The moss on the ground was soft beneath my bare feet and muffled my footsteps.  As ever in walks, I passed through thoughts and emotions as well as the turns marked out in flour on the ground.

As one foot fell after another, I found myself walking other Labyrinths in my mind.  My very first one, so like the Fertile Ground Labyrinth: flour in a field.  My home Labyrinth, laid out in brick and earth.  The canvas Chartres Labyrinth we sometimes roll out at the UUCF.  The Dancing Woman Labyrinth.  The creaking wood floor of the Chartres inside the church in which I became a Labyrinth Apprentice.  The sigil holds true, always.  This pattern, this ancient design, connects to a spiritual practice so old that its original name has been lost to the mists of time.

I knelt in the center, in front of the round altarcloth, cauldron and white flowers, and felt myself sinking into that immense sea of time and space.  The wonder of the Labyrinth, the transformation of design to form to spirit, filled my mind.  Labyrinths humble me.  To be a part of a tradition so much older and greater than myself is more Grace than I know what to do with.

To be able to help others into that Grace by creating the sigil and guiding weary souls onto it is equally humbling.  My part is small.  The transformation of a Labyrinth walk can be breathtaking in its scope.  Some walkers found answers to problems.  Some healed.  Some prayed.  One tearful, grateful whisper; “My Mom is here.”

That is the power in the pattern.  The true alchemy.  It is not just the matter in which the Labyrinth is created.  The alchemy is in the spirits that pass through the pattern.

It is the nature of life to transform.  It is the nature of matter to transform.  It is the nature of spirit to transform.

Alchemy.  Flour into spirit.  A miracle small enough to be overlooked and large enough to change a life.

It is the nature of Labyrinths to transform as well.

Upcoming Appearance

Published March 21, 2012 by ireneglasse

My working partner, Robin, and I will be presenting a Labyrinth workshop and facilitated Full Moon Labyrinth Walk at Fertile Ground Gathering this year.  Fertile Ground is May 3rd – 6th at Prince William Forest Park in Northern Virginia.

The Workshop: Walking In Spirit: Learning to Use a Labyrinth

Join Irene and Robin for a moving and informative Labyrinth workshop.  The Labyrinth is an ancient symbol of transformation, spirituality and connection. Peacefully walking the Labyrinth can be a helpful spiritual tool to quiet the mind, open the heart, and bring new clarity. When we deepen a Labyrinth practice with self-awareness and understanding, new avenues of inspiration, connection and healing spring open.  Discover the history of the Labyrinth, the different techniques and approaches to Labyrinth walks and how to incorporate this incredible tool for growth into your life. Workshop includes a facilitated Labyrinth walk and closing Labyrinth Ritual.

Irene and Robin are working partners within the Creative Eclectic Paganism path. Together, they have led many group rituals and faciliated Labyrinth walks. Irene is an Ordained Minister, a High Priestess of the Tradition of the Witches Circle, and a Labyrinth Apprentice of the New England Labyrinth Guild. She has been reading Tarot for 19 years and practicing Paganism for 16 years. Irene taught Pagan beliefs and practices at Esoterica of Leesburg, VA, from 2005 to 2010. Robin is an accomplished Herbalist and Hedge Witch with a strong background in Ritual and Spellwork. She is a Priestess of the Tradition of the Witches Circle and a skilled Tarot reader.

Robin and I will also be offering Tarot readings on the Commons:

Known for her accurate, practical Tarot readings, Irene always delivers with a touch of humor and a heap of compassion. She offers several different types of readings — A General, a Specific Event/Situation, Specific Person, 6 Month Forecast, and Year Forecast.

Tarot readings by Robin offer insight, guidance, and a glimpse into the near future for those seeking answers. No burning questions? No worries! Robin can perform a general reading and let the cards decide what it is you need to know. Sign up now for your 30 minute session.