Omens Part Three

Right now I am revelling in solitude and rest. So this will be a quick one, I have a sofa to get back to.

Day before yesterday, December 29, corresponds to April of 2014, and I spent the day feeling ill. It was somewhat self-induced, as I allowed myself to become pulled into one of those pointless Facebook arguments where everyone claims to want input from an “expert” but as soon as that arrives, they get defensive and start attacking.I’m not going into details but the topic was, sigh, turmeric (you know that one herb every dog should be taking copious amounts of all the time, as it cures cancer? yeah, that one)… I then felt pretty “jaundiced” (too much fatty food and sugar, too much beer and wine, I never ever drink daily anymore) and so I came to understand the  significant factor as the colour yellow. I am hoping this points to early arrival of dandelions this year, but it carries a huge range of potential meaning, and the one message I take away from that day is, don’t do things that make you ill..engage in Internet arguments, eat and drink too much.

No signs in nature but I was not feeling up to a walk that day anyway!

Yesterday kicked off with my driving Alex to the airport at 8 am – driving back, still feeling a little “yellow” and certainly not used to driving! I went from the airport to Westboro via Kanata, losing my way in a city I’ve known well for two decades.(Ottawa people will appreciate this remarkable idiocy).I got home about 11 or so, and got straight to work cleaning up. (Alex cleans the kitty litters, but he is a real kitchen-pig, and we just had a week or so of more cooking than I normally do in a month or more). I realized we have extra bread from the stuffing and decided to take it out back for the birds (mostly starlings, blue jays, crows and the occasional black cap right now, feed on the bread). I had thrown out some chicken parts the previous day, after making Dan’s food, without paying a lot of attention to where they landed, there is too much snow to walk very far. And what greeted me when I arrived with the stale bread, was a perfect circle of bird tracks, all the way around the rowan tree I had planted in memory of my brother. I didn’t take a picture, and today the nonstop light snowfall has covered it up. But in the bright sunny morning, the track of little bird feet around this symbol of so much love, was very stirring. For May, I look forward to something magical indeed – haven’t nailed it yet, but it is connected to love of place (I planted several rowans for my beloved waxwings to feast on) love of one’s family, generosity(I do give every day to my birds and other familiars) and safety..the circle. No need to rush meaning – taking note is what counts in this exercise.

Spent the rest of the day at rest, in this deep cold, surrounded by dogs, cats, books and music,  and I think I will do that again right now.

Omen December 28

Yesterday was the third day of my Omen-alert, and I did get out, well out, into the bush yesterday. I have not walked my beloved  Danny as much usual recently; yesterday was mostly for him, but also, of course, for me – as I am looking…opening to…whatever March’s message may be.

Walking that line between calm, open acceptance.. and “goddammit I want an Omen!”.

Yesterday made it kind of easy.

First let me say that there are trails and wooded areas and lakes and streams all around this little nexus, my house, here in the wilds of Rupert. <g> Dan and I wander them all, we have done for 7years now – although sadly – some are sprayed with herbicides, some are being developed, some are now hunting retreats (for the Native American wannabe’s in our midst, and there are many) and so I do not have the same freedom here as I once had. This trek we took yesterday, it is still pretty wild, stirring and unaffected by humans.


I brought a camera, but it didn’t hold up. I need new batteries.

Dan was ecstatic, and I was therefore happy; his joy is my joy.(Note gratuitous picture of my beautiful dog, above).

I looked for things; Y-shaped trees and odd snow patterns and, you know, the white hart and all.I know it doesn’t work this way, quite, but this is a new exercise..

squirrel tracks..many rabbits…white tails…a coyote…

Well, I found something of great power, to me anyway – deep into our trek, I found a long, long row of white spruce and balsam fir that had had their lower branches cut off, and were offering a HUGE amount of resin – probably more  than I can even use ( and I can use a lot). In years past I have looked and looked and not found anything even close to this. Yesterday I was looking only for an augury and then…there it all was.

I left a gift of seeds and prayer; I kept my eyes open (somewhat)on the way back, and then I flopped on the sofa and watched movies and slept the day away.

Was spruce the omen? Conifers? Get yourself geared to the gifts of the earth? Respiratory flu on the horizon?

Nah, I think it was subtler, much as I love spruce tip elixir and fir-scented…everything.

I think March’s omen is slanted towards the healing recovery we can find even in situations that look so hurtful, like the conifers all along the snowshoe trail I trekked yesterday.
It’s about wild medicine, and the power of the immediate and the underestimated.
It’s about following one’s biss and not what keeps the bills paid(can I still indulge myself, at this ripe advanced age?)

It’s about breathing into the mystery, not being bought, living simply and restoring the Old Ways and ancient knowledge.

It’s about hope.

That’s March – and we shall see…what will today bring, and what news for April?

Omen December 27 – February

I know, I know, I am always going on about “containment” and being careful with too much disclosure and so on. All this sharing doesn’t negate any of that. I simply want to show that augury is NOT superstition, much as it may appear to be so –  and that looking deeply into the holy interface between the spiritual and the material(where signs and portents appear)  is a valid and powerful practise for all us esotericists. I want to explore this accompanied by the ones who Get It. That’s about all, really, as a preface to yesterdays Omen.

First let me say, I used to think that taking pictures of food was kind of hokey. Much like sharing 4863729 pictures of your face on FB  might just indicate a bit of self-importance (or maybe, working out some personal stuff? but then one day it has to stop or slow down…doesn’t it?) I felt – judgemental, I know – that photographing your breakfast and sharing it with the world might incline to narcissism (LOOK! EGGS!!TOAST!! ) but then, the Jupiter in Libra that defines so much of who I am (in a good way) considers the opposite; what if it’s not narcissism but a deeply joyful revelry in life?
Ah, I can never make my mind up about stuff. (Gemini…Gemini…Libra.)

Back to topic – yesterday was all about wheat – wheat on Caitlin Matthew’s page, wheatfields all over a movie I watched (Prairie Giant) and wheat in the sticky toffee pudding and dinner biscuits I made for us(and did not take a picture of). Everyone these days hates wheat! Well, more of a love/hate relationship – we continue to rely on bread, pasta and baked goods to sustain us daily, at the same time many of us can’t really cope with so much gluten. Taken out of the modern role, wheat is sacred stuff indeed:

“Wheat – In the Old Testament wheat and bread re symbols of the fecundity of the earth. The New Testament associates the fruits of the earth – a gift of God to humankind—with the symbolism of wheat and associates the gift sof God with the hearts of humans (grace), especially in the parable of the good seed and the bad seed. Bread becomes the symbol  of the supreme gift  from God to humankind—eternal life, the body of Christ in the Eucharist: “Take this and eat, for this is my body”.

In Shakespeare’s time, sheaves of wheat were carried in the wedding procession and sometimes tucked into the Bride’s veil.  Wheat, while synonymous with Fall and all its bounty, is also a symbol of fertility.  It is referred to as the “Giving Grain”, and because wheat was historically a sign  of bounty and prosperity,it was also the incubus for the advent of the Wedding Cake.”

Okay – prosperity works for me, at least the more superficial me. In Pagan symbolism, we find Demeter/Ceres, the Graeco/Roman goddess of agriculture, and the power of the life-giving earth is probably nowhere better expressed than this image:

So, gluten be damned, I am taking the reiteration of wheat on Day Two as indicating that sustenance and prosperity become forefront issues in February. It can indicate many aspects but I am thinking that prosperity shines here… and let me finesse my remarks on augury a bit – this ins;t New Age tarot, where a symbol *might* mean this or it *might* mean that – in this discipline, a thing MEANS SOMETHING or it doesn’t.
So, I am going to say,it means February is a month of prosperity, not without drawbacks(damn, all that gluten).

Is money making hazardous to my health? I’ve thought so for a very long time.

Points to ponder, February.

On to March and the power of conifer resin, in a moment or so.

I am off to the forest. Let’s see what March will bring, need me to know, offer, take away.

The 12 Omens of Christmas

Last week I came across Caitlin Matthew’s wonderful blog, on the newsfeed at Facebook. (You see, there are good things about FB!) Caitlin is an authour and Tarot deck creator whose work I have admired for many years. I’ll share some links at the end of this post; anyone interested in Celtic magic, GrailMysteries, Goddess spirituality, tarot and more will want to check this blog. I’ve been there many times too, over this past  year or so, but as is often the case, with so many blogs and sites of interest, I can lose touch. When I connected with Caitlin’s post a couple of days ago, I was delighted by her latest offering; as a longtime practitioner of augury ( and I mean longtime, I started, without knowing what I was doing, in childhood) this idea is right up my alley. The title of her blog entry is”The Omen Days: The Twelve Days of Christmas” and here is a very brief summary of the idea:

  “….you treat each day of Christmas as the opportunity for an augury for the month it represents in coming year.  This might be experienced during a daily walk, or perceived in the nature of the day itself and how it falls out. Personally, I like to make a frame for each Omen Day, by asking to be shown an augury from nature and allowing the next thing I experience, see or hear to be the sign I am expecting.  It helps to find the right place to do this on a walk, to close your eyes, to spin around on the spot and then be attentive.

Many of my students have been doing this for a while and last year I shared it with an online group of Lenormand Card readers, who are now using the Omen Days to divine for the year ahead, choosing one or more cards each day to discover the nature of the months of the year.  There is no right way to do this, only by the unique interaction you have between the world that is seen and the world that is unseen, but just as real.



So I decided to try this, and blog about it here. It will be interested to see what appears to me as an omen, and then how each sign manifests in the corresponding month.

The first Omen, which was yesterday, was really a plethora of signs that challenged me a little to sort out what was what. It’s been snowing and very cold here all December and Dan and I have subsequently missed a lot of our walks. We headed out yesterday, fueled in part by my commitment to get outside and see what I might see. It was colder than I thought at first! By the time we made it to the edge of the forest(on the Eastern side) Dan was already holding up a paw (a little bit of drama, but not entirely). The air was still and heavy with fat, white snowflakes, falling on us, the pines and cedars, the deep uneven trail left by the farmer’s last foray into the woods. Walking was not entirely comfortable. I looked at a pale, soft sun showing faintly through the thick covering of grey cloud and thought, hhmm, beauty even in the cold, maybe that’s my sign. But I wanted to practise on the first day as I always do; simply to walk through the woods with awareness, centered deep into my body, and listen. No assumptions, and no urgency to figure it all out right away. You know, unless a white hart leaped put of the woods, or a snowy owl flew down and sat on my shoulder.

Or maybe a wild boar? (Especially as we don’t actually have wild boars up here..)


But no, nothing life-altering out there yesterday. Stillness, conifers, the stream almost frozen over and no one around for miles and miles, but nothing out of the usual. 🙂

Reaching the woods, I was on higher alert than usual, although trying not to be. The first thing I noticed was a noisy white breasted nuthatch, cavorting around the entrance to the woods. Not exactly uncommon! but there were no other birds. So I took note. Later a black cap or two..and lastly the nearby  croak of “my” solitary raven,  of whom I will write more later. None of this felt especially inspiring. “hhmm” I thought “pale sun means January will be a month to hold onto faint hopes”.

As we left the woods to head back to our warm house and hearth, Danny cold even in his super cozy Chillydogs coat, something caused me to stop abruptly and look North. A large tree branch had fallen – not certain what type – and formed a perfect, oversize(maybe 12 feet high) letter Y, leaning against two very old  and almost dead white cedars. It was a startling image, for some reason. I thought at once of the many prayer wands (shaped in a large Y, following something I read once and felt called to do) I have started to make and not completed over the years – birch, elm, beech, maple, wild cherry, hawthorn, willow. Something right there grasped my senses – that’s often how it works. I had said I wasn’t going to hunt my omen, but I had done so anyway; letting go, the song of the forest pitched me one clear note and I turned to see something that I was sure, was significant. No maybes, no guessing. Yeah, that’s often how it works, for me.


It’s too easy to allow the day to get away from me; happens all the time. I wound up not writing anything down at all when I got home…it’s the holidays, I’m distracted, you know the drill. Somewhere around 7 pm or so I flopped down to watch a movie, and let myself drift.Now I can’t even say which film, or even what significance the scene actually had – that’s how tired I am these days – but I recall sharply, a similar image in one of the films – a large fallen branch that formed the letter Y,  clear as a bell. So, evidently, this wanted to be seen.

Still not sure 100% what it meant, but as I live a hermit’s life, more or less, I can take my time.


Some  ideas, at this time; The Y struck me right away as a prayer wand, so the concept of prayer will be important for me to work with in January. I am good at a few things but praying regularly isn’t one of them. I consistently pray a brief psalm of gratitude for Danny every night, I never miss it. Otherwise, I can “forget”…which brings me to, the concept of completing things. Since I have half finished Y-shaped prayer wands all over the house and yard, this symbolism cannot be ignored. I am thinking, January is a good month to  go more deeply into my prayerwork, and also to commit myself to completing all the various loose end projects I’ve started over the past 5 years(and there are many).
Yes, the more I think of it, the more this feels right. If anything else comes to me,  will add it, of course.
And now, on to February..and what I might need to know, be aware of, focus on in that cold quiet month, as well.

More from Caitlin – including her SIXTY books, courses and blogs – here.




Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson

Today, Christmas Day 2013, in the face of both personal and global difficulty, I am wanting to think about, talk about, and replenish my own store of hope.

And yes, I know that can sound corny and cliche. I don’t care, to be perfectly blunt about it all. I believe this is a powerful and necessary thing, this hope the poet writes of. I believe it is no longer a thing of luxury or related in any way to ambition; it’s a signpost of spiritual courage and it is the only thing left to do in so much overwhelming craziness all around us.

I don’t believe in a lot of the things Christians do, but I like their Jesus and I love the power of hope they write of so eloquently. Hope is the thing with feathers. Hope is an act of courage. We hope despite how empty we feel, like we feed the animals and go to work on our darkest days. Hope will, along with beauty, save the world.

Or not, but it was still the right thing to do.

I am not in any way speaking down to depressed people, because too well I know what depression does. But for the rest of us – we just simply cannot give up hope. I know a few still believe technology will save us, or that things “have” to get better, or that if we’re all about to expire, well that’s the way it’s “supposed” to be.But I beg to differ. Courage – real, raw, souldeep courage – is not popular or sexy, and it may well not save anything. It  takes enormous courage to maintain hope, work at it and use it as a spiritual discipline in the face of knowing the truth and the facts about our dire global predicament(not to mention the massive Sodom and Gomorrah the world has turned into).

So, here is what I propose for the year ahead, 2014.

As always, start with kindness. (Yes, I am always harping on this too). ..and move into using hope as a deep offering and discipline. DO NOT SUCCUMB TO FALSE,NARCISSISTIC POSITIVISM ON THE ONE HAND , OR DESPAIR ON THE OTHER. Hope is a subtler thing than these extremes, it is nuanced and powerful and may even carry us beyond the gates of death. Start without expectation, without self-focus, but stay in hope…..and then – all important – act like you believe it is possible. What would you do, how would you behave and live if the constant threat of our extermination was not hanging above you? I remember when it was imminent/probable but not inescapable; I lived in passionate promise, I worked on the inner plane and the outer for a better world. I had not yet reached the inertia point, that horrible moment when you are dead before you are physically dead. I don’t believe in the Christian Satan,not literally anyway –  but if there was one, surely this deadening of human passion and potential would be his signature on this earth.

So, while a large part of my egoic self is in despair, both personally and globally, I will not give in to it. The shape and quality of my hoping is radically, necessarily different from that of my youth, or even ten years ago when I still felt that things were generally going to be ok. It’s a fierce hope, a non-personal hope, maybe even a transpersonal one. It’s the same grit that drives us to work out when we are 60, to start a new business that is more geared to helping others than making a zilllion dollars, or that moves us to go back to school even if we know what we are studying will never make us rich.

It’s defiance, it’s unshakable – and it’s beautiful.

Walk this path with me. Fight for what you believe in even when it’s the hardest – stand your ground, stand in your truth,as the saying goes. Keep believing that we humans CAN behave as stewards of the earth and not destroyers – believe that we can learn from and cherish our differences, believe that your life can matter and make a difference.

Keep the faith – walk in hope, no matter how hard it may be(and I know, believe me, it can be damn hard).

And maybe – just maybe – we will change the world.