By Mary Swanson
Dear, Steadfast and True Children of the Earth,
It’s time for the Autumnal Equinox! On Friday, September 22nd at 4:02 pm e.s.t., Day and Night are of equal length. We are turning toward the “darkening of the light” as days grow shorter and nights longer.
Throughout human history, this has been a time of sharing and thanksgiving. The harvest is in, our storehouses are full and it’s time to take a moment and reflect on what is asked of us.
Everywhere we look, we can see that the Earth is giving away her abundance. Apples and pumpkins are ripening, seed husks are falling open as the leaves turn brilliant colors and begin to fall. All of Nature seems to be giving itself away.
Mother Nature is showing us what to do when we face a darkening of the light. Whether that’s in the physical environmental sense or in our own, personal, emotional lives. When we face fear or uncertainty, the thing to do is connect with others and give what we have to give.
In this time of upheaval, the ancient ways are solid and reliable. Giving thanks for what we have and giving what we can is a path we can all walk. It will take us where we need to go.
I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane.
The news would pour out of various devices
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
to construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake.
I lived in the first century of these wars.
- Muriel Rukeyser
Read on for announcements and more information about the Equinox
It's been a while since you've heard from me. During the interim I've moved from Vermont to Evanston, IL. ( I love it here so much I've started calling it Heavenston).
You can always find my current address and phone number under the "Contact" button on my website (maryswanson.net) and...
here are the new numbers:
My website has been rebuilt and I'm excited to let you know that you can now download classes directly from my site!
And speaking of classes... I'm so happy to announce a new, year-long class I've developed with my dear friends and amazing co-teachers, Jena Owen and Laura Tabet:
Sky Magic: http://www.inspiredinquiries
In this 12 month class we approach the cycle of the year through the astrological archetypes. Each month I introduce a new archetype through lecture and guided mediation, Laura takes us deeper into the psychological meanings and Jena shows us how to let our unconscious play through easy and fun journaling and art projects.
You can jump on the cycle at any time. You’ll have access to the whole year at any time. We start with the Autumnal Equinox and the archetype of Venus. Love, balance, and knowing what you’re in affinity with.
By Mary Swanson
Here we are again…Winter Solstice: the shortest day, the longest night of the year. Winter Solstice: a moment of stillness before the light of our Sun begins its long return. All life on this planet takes note of this unavoidable physical fact: the darkest time heralds the return of the light.
Everywhere in the northern hemisphere there are celebrations. Family and friends are coming together to express appreciation and love, to share what they have and to offer their wishes for peace and prosperity. As long as there have been people, there have been celebrations of the Sun’s return.
In the Pagan world, the longest night of the year is also a time to step out of our routines and acknowledge the Great Mystery: that we are held by something much bigger than we can ever understand.
It’s a time of letting go of Fear, a time of stepping into Trust. Faith. Belief.
It’s a Sacred time in the old sense of the word: Sacred has its roots in the idea of being set apart from the everyday. Every culture has a way to make this time of the year Sacred, of taking a break from the material world and renewing our Faith in what really does hold life together: Love, Compassion, Kindness.
If that’s not a reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is.
May your Solstice take you where you need to be.
The Peace of Wild Things
By Mary Swanson
The Autumnal Equinox is here! The first day of Fall is here! This is the time when Night and Day are of equal length. The long, hot summer is coming to an end. In the Northern hemisphere, we’re turning toward the longer nights and shorter days.
We feel this change strongly in our bodies at this time. We’re all aware the sun is setting a little earlier than it did a month ago, there’s a little nip in the air, leaves are beginning to change, apples are ripening and children are back in school.
This is the time of year when we take stock of what we have and make decisions about how we want to go forward. It’s a time or sorting, planning and preparing. But most of all, it’s a time of sharing.
In the Pagan tradition, we look at Nature to teach us. Right now, Nature is giving it all away. Everywhere you look, seed pods are breaking open, root crops have matured, the fruit is hanging off the vine. Every earthly thing is Sharing. It’s Harvest Time, a time of gratitude, thanks giving and sharing.
This Fall Equinox is followed quickly by the Harvest Moon. This year it will be Full on September 27-28th. It is a “Super Moon” which means it looks like it’s really big. (Giving us lots of light to bring in the Harvest)
This year the full harvest moon will also be a full Lunar Eclipse. (at 4 degrees 40 minutes of Aries) We’ll be able to see it in its entirety in the eastern half of the US.
In the language of Astrology, Lunar Eclipses signify an intensification of whatever’s happening. A lunar eclipse in Aries signifies an intensification of our own need to take right action.
I can’t look at the news reports of the refugees pouring into Europe or the refugees fleeing the fires up and down the west coast without remembering how important it is to share. Fear is a normal emotion…but so is the desire to share and take care of.
Whatever your circumstances, there’s always someone who’s living more precariously. Here’s an easy link to Unicef. https://www.unicefusa.org
Or, you can look up your state and country participation in refugee resettlement. People right near you need blankets, coats, anything you have too much of, there’s a need for.
Or, you can simply share your love.
Here is calm so deep, grasses cease waving.Everything in wild nature fits into us, as if truly part and parent of us.
The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, Making them glide and sing.
The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls,and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song,our very own, and sings our love…John Muir
Read on for more information about the Equinox:
By Mary Swanson
Summer Solstice 2015 Sunday June 21st at 12:38 pm edt
Dear, Adaptable and Ever-Changing Children of the Earth,
Summer Solstice is here! The longest day and shortest night of the year. The Great Wheel is turning and it’s the perfect time to step out of your routine. All work and no play does serious harm to your nervous system and this Solstice is perfect for creating some new neurological pathways. Expand your brain by looking at something you’ve never seen before. Cleanse your endocrine system by laughing at something silly. It’s Summer! Time to fill up with light!
For as long as we humans have been standing up on our own two feet, Summer Solstice has been a time of Celebration. Visiting friends, cooking outside, participating in large gatherings… all the fun activities of Summer take us out of our ordinary routine, relax us and allow us to make new connections.
There are thousands of ancient sites all over the globe that mark the Summer Solstice. Our ancestors created these Sacred Sites as places to connect to Deities, to God, to the Great Mystery. Sacred literally means “set apart for the worship of a deity.” Whatever your relationship with the Mystery is, or how you define God, this is a perfect time to offer your respect and gratitude for this marvelous thing we call Life.
This Solstice, the Cosmos is giving us a beautiful Jupiter (Benevolence) trine to Uranus (Change). Trine aspects are easy flowing and after our long, long Pluto square with Uranus, this can truly feel like a breath of fresh air. With this aspect there’s a kind of trust that starts to happen again, a little bit of hope and sense of possibility is dawning.
Take this time to notice the simple pleasure of being alive.
Namaste, you light-filled being,
Full round apple, peach, pear, blackberry.
Each speaks lie and death into the mouth.
Look at the face of a child eating them.
The tastes come from afar and slowly grow nameless on the tongue.
Where there were words, discoveries flow,released from within the fruit.
What we call apple–dare to say what it is,
this sweetness which first condensed itself so that, in the tasting, it may burst fort and be known in all its meanings of sun and earth and here. How immense, the act and the pleasure of it.
…Rainer Maria Rilke
Check out this link to find more about the SKY MAGIC class I’m teaching this Summer!
and check out these sites for more information about Summer Solstice:
Mystic Mama has some really great rituals
By Mary Swanson
Dear, Amazing and Resilient Children of the Earth,
Spring is here! The Vernal Equinox has arrived. At Equinox, Day and Night are of equal length. Winter is pulling back and from now until the Summer Solstice we’ll feel the warmth and strength of the sun increasing every day.
Just as the birds are sending out their songs again, we humans feel like doing a bit of crowing! Just as the little green shoots are breaking through the soil, we’re wanting to get outside, breathe deep and feel the sun on our skin. Life is coming up fresh and new at Equinox and each of us can participate in that.
Our ancestors celebrated the first day of Spring with feasts and bonfires, symbols of fertility and praise for the resurrection of life. In every culture on earth there is a celebration of rebirth at this time of year.
This has been a long winter in Vermont. Months of sub-zero temperatures have been wearing everybody down. Now, everywhere you look you can see life coming back to the trees and bushes, rivulets of water cascade down hillsides. Birdsong is nearly miraculous after the silence of deep snow.
In the language of Astrology, this is a time of great change. As we step through the portal of this Spring Equinox we’re being guided by a spectacular Pisces New Moon/Solar Eclipse about 13 hours before the exact moment of equinox.
The next time a solar eclipse happens on the same day as the Spring Equinox is on March 20, 2034. After that, this combination of events will occur only twice more in this century.
On March 16th, we came through the final Uranus/Pluto square. For the past three years we have all been experiencing a kind of revolution. In the macrocosm of world events and in the microcosm of our own lives, we have been experiencing the tumult & chaos of established power (Pluto) being challenged by the need for change and growth (Uranus).
As we celebrate this first day of Spring, we do so with a strong wind at our backs.
During these past three years of turmoil we have all gone through our own personal meat grinders– letting go of what we thought we needed to survive, in order to enter into our new lives. Solar eclipses tend to reveal things that have been hidden & signal deep and profound change. The completion of this Pluto/Uranus transit signals a new world order, whether we’re talking about the world out there or the world inside.
May you be experiencing a resurrection.
Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.
May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease.
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.
May the forms of your belonging- in love, creativity, and friendship
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.
May the one you long for long for you.
May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.
May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.
May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.
May your heart never be haunted by ghost structures of old damage.
May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.
May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.
John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us~All rights reserved."
“Robin” oil on canvasboard by Mary Swanson
check out these links for more information about Equinox and the Solar Eclipse:
By Mary Swanson
A Creative Exploration into the Art & Magic of Archetypes through Mythology, Psychology, Astrology, Visualization, Neurobiology and the Natural Flow of Energy.
Magic is a word we use to name all the ways we shape and play with life. Magic is what we call it when we use Intention and Imagination to inspire shifts of perception.
In astrology, the planets are personifications of our inner patterns. Each planet is alive and active in the psyche, in myths, stories, dreams and the deep imagination. And each planet has particular ways it wants to teach us magic! SkyMagic that is.
When we create and collaborate with these astrological myths, dance with the characters in the sky and honor the richly nuanced patterns of the soul, our inner and outer life magically and irrefutably changes…
Join Laura, Jena & me for Sky Magic: A Creative Exploration into the Art & Magic of the Astrology.
Connect with your imagination and intuition.
Play with the mythic figures of your inner world and cultivate a deeper relationship to the archetypes that form the deepest patterns of human experience.
Increase your astrological education. Because truly, if you know the planets you know all the musical notes of astrology.
Learn through playful art prompts, meditations, mythic journeys and community learning.
Make more magic through ritual, art, and creative intention!
Jump in and Join us! $75/mo. Cancel at any time.
(3/24) Mars, our most Sacred Selfishness, our deepest most true Desires.
(4/21) Venus, our capacity for thorough enjoyment and satisfaction.
(5/26) Mercury, our need for stimulation, new information and cross-pollination…
In this yearlong course we:
Greet, honor, feed, and enliven the core archetypes of the soul
Evoke each planet and place them on our altar for a month
Connect to the genius of our inner worlds through active visualization
Clear out the cultural and personal beliefs that limit. Explore and expand your experience through playful art prompts
Understand how these mythic patterns express (and want to express) uniquely through you. Identify where the magic lives in your life and in your astrology chart.
Week One: Introduction and Meditation to Meet the Archetype with Mary Swanson
Week Two: Art Journaling on the themes with Jenafer Joy
Week Three: Go Deeper Exploration and Meditation with Laura Tabet
Week Four: Summary and Buffet of options.
Curious? See a sample week four email: here.
Hope you’ll join us! Click here to register…
By Mary Swanson
Dear, Gentle and Resilient Children of the Earth,Winter Solstice is here again!
The longest night of the year is here. There is cause for great celebration and rejoicing: the Sun will come back just a little earlier the day after Solstice and nights begin to shorten.Here, in the great pause (Solstice literally means “the-sun-stands-still”) is a perfect time to take a deep breath and reorient yourself. It’s time to make “Sacred Time” which is time out of your ordinary routine. In Sacred time we have the ability to look at a larger picture, to literally look up & connect with the great Mystery in which we exist.
Throughout all of time, people have taken Sacred time at the Winter Solstice to take care of each other, to rejoice in Life itself and to give thanks for all that supports us.
On December 15th we had the seventh and next to last Pluto/Uranus “Gate”. For three years now, Pluto (Power and abuses of Power) has been challenged by the need for freedom and change (Uranus). Whether we’re looking at the world stage or our own belief system, pressures are nearly unbearable.
But if you look closely, there are little break-throughs happening everywhere… and what is breaking through is the light of new ways & new ideas that can solve the tensions created by change.
All we have to do is notice them.
More Information on the Solstice:
Longing And Belonging
by Jon Jackson
There is something which longs for me,
Longs to belong to me.
A life which enters with each breath,
Yearning to absorb the splendor
Into my soul.This lover pursues me, sustains me.
This lover knows that I still cannot see,
And, so, pursues me with smell, and taste, and sound.
Anything, to get my attention,
To wake me up.To dance with my heart,
Surrounding me with healing arms.There is something so close to all that I am,
Which sings a love song when I can’t sleep.
There are messages in the rain, in the sun.
The moon reflects it’s glowing light,
And spins around, saying, “Look at me!
Here I am! And now you can see your way!”And, of course, I take those steps,
Accepting the rose that appears in my hand,
And hoping the doorbell is going to ring.
While something waits patiently by my side,
Keeping me warm, and knowing the beauty.- Jon Jackson
Enjoy my reading of a Winter Solstice Story: Singebiss and the North Wind
This story was found at: http://healingstory.org as retold by Fran Stalling.
JOIN US (online) for the Winter Quarter of SKYMAGIC – starts December 23rd
I am so excited about this class!! If I weren’t teaching it, I’d be taking it. My dear friends and collaborators, Jena Owen & Laura Tabet have me dancing in the aisles. All the ways I love to connect deeply into life are in this class: learning about mythology, astrology & psychology and how they intertwine, group meditations and sharing, art journaling, shifting my own energy and perspective. Each month is a ritual that takes us out of our stuck places! I really, really hope you’ll join us!!
Find out More and Register at: http://artandmagicclub.ning.com/skymagic
By Mary Swanson
In Astrology, opposition is not so much conflict as it is Complimentary, each side has something the other needs. Both sides need to understand each other and come into balance. We invoke Venus at this point of a cycle because Venus, (love, grace, beauty, balance, harmony, all the arts… ) Venus is the collective human experience, the Archetype, that shows us how to OPEN and RECEIVE.
Venus Aphrodite is the Alchemical Goddess. This archetype holds our collective understanding of how to deal with opposition, contraction, fear. This archetypes CHANGES FEAR INTO CREATIVITY. She accepts the energy of the Other, of Mars(Desire) because she authentically finds it beautiful and pleasing.
Venus SHOWS US HOW TO MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE.
Venus Aphrodite, aka Isis, Astarte, Sekhmet, Oshun, Freya and thousands of names I haven’t heard yet. What a diminishment to call her the love goddess even though it IS the experience of love in all it’s forms. But it is anything but a kind of I-dream-of-jeannie-martha-stewart…
Venus isn’t passive in the least. She fully faces the strength of Desire. Desire is her sure point, her guiding light. She is the part of us that is curious, engaged, excited and interested. She doesn’t ask anyone’s permission or wait for approval. She doesn’t concern herself with any one else’s measurement of worth. She knows what she finds interesting. Venus is purely subjective, no one tells her who or what she falls in love with.
When beginning to contract, the ancients tell us, be AUTHENTIC about what you love.
We all want permission to give ourselves with complete abandon to the person or experience that interests us. We all want to light up and feel completely engaged with life. Venus is our guide.
She is the part of us that finds itself BY being met. When you feel the freedom to choose what you find beautiful and interesting, you have invoked Venus, your right to love who and what you love. All else is unimportant. This archetype is strong and powerful and it’s selfish. When Venus is present we are having a sensual, sexual, sensory experience. It’s as if we’re in a spell where the other is the only thing that matters. She is the golden sparkle of new love, the grand passion and the all-consuming interest. She is unconcerned with past or future. She is not bound by any law or idealization. She claims the right to give herself with complete abandon to what she is interested in.
By giving Self to the other in that way, by falling in love, we cannot help but create an explosion of energy. To respond to a person or idea with interest and delight allows connection. A chemical exchange happens, both are affected and changed by the experience. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman, Venus is present when something new is created. Her touch opens an avenue of exchange, a cauldron of creativity, a balancing of yearning with expression and something that has never been here before comes into being.
Venus is the sacred, holy and precious ability to meet life and say “yes, I give myself to you completely!”
She guides us to the Spark, the Orgasm, the Creation of new life.
Venus does not barter herself for anything, she doesn’t make deals. She chooses what she wants and gives herself to it. She is the part of us that knows what is personally meaningful. Venus cannot be diverted from her goal. She is the ability in each of us to get in touch with our own true selves by claiming the right to choose, by opening our selves to something, and finding ourselves enlivened by the experience.
In myth, Venus imbues everything with a golden light, with beauty, and a kind of magnetic attraction that is impossible to resist. She is present in all the arts because the arts teach us how to be authentic. They bring us to how we really feel. Relationships are her special field because it is only in relationship to some other that we find out about what we really believe, what we really feel, what we really can say “YES!” to.
When Venus is present we feel vitalized, not drained by our encounter with the Other. Venus is found where ever growth is generated or vision supported or potential developed or creativity encourage. The authentic, alchemical creative spark of interacting with something other than yourself.
The energy of venus is real, no matter what you call it.
In science, Venus would be described as non-coercive bonding energy
like electrostatic attraction, or molecular binding or gravity.
Non-coercive bonding is found in the bonding of subatomic particles into atoms, atoms into molecules, molecules into molecular complex cells, into organisms. It’s how life comes into being.
Unions formed by love (non-coercive bonding) are the most stable because they allow people to express what they are, better than they could if the union were absent. This is a very important principle when you are tempted to contract… we are more ourselves because of our interaction with the other. Saying yes to what you love allows a more authentic expression of yourself.
If you are disconnected from Venus, there’s no harmony, no peace–it’s possible to be so disconnected you’re not aware of wanting anything at all.. An unacknowledged, unintegrated Venus feels like emptiness and apathy. It is the loss of spontaneity and pleasure and simple self-confidence. Denying Venus has us merely surviving, as opposed to deeply enjoying Life.
In all my years of working with people’s energy fields, I’ve noticed that the most difficult thing for any human is to let love in. Not to give it… we’re good with the giving. But to actually, physically have the experience of letting love into our cellular bodies, is not so easy. We all have our stories about betrayal and loss and fear. We all are afraid of the unknown. It is so hard to say “Yes!” to life. Venus stands at the portal to the darkening of the light, at the place where we are tempted to contract in fear and She says “Have no fear, you have only to tell the truth about what you love.”