THE EIGHTFOLD PATH Part Three: FASTING

FireHeart 4 Cover for EarthSpiritTHE EIGHTFOLD PATH
Part Three: FASTING
by Inanna Arthen ©1989

Vernal Equinox. I walk slowly through a stand of woods in central Massachusetts, avoiding patches of soft snow, my boots soaked with icy water. I have not eaten food or drunk anything but water for almost ten days, and I have walked for several miles so far this day, up and down hill, over brook and stone. It is cold and cloudy, and from time to time a light drizzle falls. Around me Spirit is immanent, and I am keenly aware of it. Everything I see takes my breath away with wonder, and the sound of water, dripping, trickling, bubbling, rushing, fills the air with a constant song. I stop to rest near a stand of trees and they greet me with interest; I chat casually with them, unconscious of any incongruity. Later, I discuss my life problems with a moss-covered rock. Voices call to me from the distance “Come see! Come see!” but I am reluctant to walk too far down hill. Everything around me seems eager to show me marvels, and all that I see is marvelous. Yet my body holds me firmly to the ground. Despite my increasingly slow step and the aches and twinges of my depleted muscles, my spirit soars. By the simple act of fasting for a few days, I have entered a profoundly altered state of consciousness.

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Rites of Passage: The Aging Pagan

FireHeart 4 Cover for EarthSpiritRites of Passage: The Aging Pagan
Crones and Wise Men
Dancing With Spirit
by Sue Curewitz Arthen ©1989

In 1984, our open Hallows circle began in a slightly unusual way. The darkened room filled slowly as people worked their way through a tunnel into a large ritual space and formed a circle in silence. But just as the circle was about to be cast, there was a ruckus in the tunnel, and a querulous voice demanded, “What the hell is going on here? Who are all these people?” Then, in a more tremulous tone, “Where am I? Why are you all looking at me?” A bag lady, returning for leftovers from the supper for the homeless held in this same hall earlier, entered the circle, and looking around, said, “I know who you are, and I know what you’re afraid of. You’re afraid of me!” I was the Crone. Playing a modern version of this traditional role, I tugged at the threads that people like to keep hidden, the threads of loneliness, alienation, and fear. And I held the cauldron that the threads were thrown into as people worked toward transformation. For the year following that Hallows circle, I thought I knew what it meant to be a Crone. I was wrong.

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THE EIGHTFOLD PATH Part Two: CHANTING

FireHeart 3 Cover for EarthSpiritTHE EIGHTFOLD PATH
Part Two:CHANTING
by Sherry Gamble ©1989

The sound begins as a low hum, tentative at first, hesitant, a quiet growl … uhuhuu. The breath is still slightly too shallow – the sound unsure of its origin, yet wanting to be created. As the breath deepens, the sound deepens, becomes surer, stronger. Centered low in the body, it resonates, emanating from one’s very core. The abdominal muscles vibrate, rhythmically, slowly, in and out, in and out. Thought ceases as the power of the sound changes this process from an intellectual beginning to a purely physical action. The naturally ensuing deep. diaphragmatic breathing makes exhalation seem endless, effortless.

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Rites of Passage Puberty

FireHeart 3 Cover for EarthSpiritRites of Passage: Puberty
by Sue Curewitz Arthen ©1989

Puberty is defined as the age or period at which a person is first capable of sexual reproduction, in other eras of history, a rite or celebration of this landmark event was a part of the culture. This is true of tribal societies that exist today, but for most of us, puberty as a specific event is part of a much more complicated piece of our lives called adolescence.

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Ways To Prepare for a Magickal Birth

FireHeart 3 Cover for EarthSpiritWays To Prepare for a Magickal Birth
by Deirdre Pulgram Arthen ©1989

The following are a few suggested ways to prepare for a magickal birth experience. Preparation is important on three levels: physical, emotional and spiritual. Without serious consideration of the first two levels, it will be nearly impossible to concentrate on the third.

A. It is essential that you enter into the birth process as relaxed as possible. One of the best ways to do that is to know as much as you can about what to expect on a physical plane, and to develop a support system that you trust:

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Toward a Magickal Birth

FireHeart 3 Cover for EarthSpiritToward a Magickal Birth
by Deirdre Pulgram Arthen ©1989

“It comes like the waves in the ocean,” my mother told me. “Powerful, strong and rhythmic. Unceasing. Wave after wave.” She was right. In labor with my son, my first child, he and I are carried over crest and trough, and we let go, freeing ourselves to be swept into birth. I feel and see my body writhing, snakelike and sensual as the waves come, one following the other. My body responds, knowing what to do. I let go. “You can’t fight the waves. Just let them carry you.” I hold her words in my mind, and, for one long holy moment, surrender myself to the magick as I have never done before.

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Reflections on Death and Transformation

FireHeart 2 Cover for EarthSpiritReflections on Death and Transformation
by Sherry Gamble ©1988

I am a Pagan. The last of my crops are in. I’ve preserved, dried, salted and stored every last ounce of food I can find to prepare for what might be a long deadly winter. Many of us will not survive to see the sun return. Everything around me is dying. The colors are fading. I know what lies ahead. I pray to my winter gods for kindness, but it’s hard not to feel fear.

I live in harmony with nature. I know the cycles of the year and the cycles of life. The dead feed my crops. I work toward a better life and I know that I am not alone. The Divine is within me. I am a part of the life force in every living thing, that which has come before and those yet to come.

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THE EIGHTFOLD PATH Part One: MEDITATION

FireHeart 2 Cover for EarthSpiritTHE EIGHTFOLD PATH
Part One: MEDITATION
by Walter Wright Arthen ©1988

To support himself, Nasrudin took a job rowing a ferry across a particularly dangerous river.
One day a famous grammarian came to him for help across the river.
The water was higher and more dangerous than usual.
“T’ain’t been this bad since before I ever was here abouts!” said the Mullah.
The grammarian bristled at Nasrudin’s bad speech. “My good man, have you never learned grammar? Half of your life has been wasted!”
A little later Nasrudin asked his passenger, “C’n you swim?”
“No. Why?”
“Because all of your life has been wasted! The boat is sinking.”

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Rites of Passage Circle Around Death

FireHeart 2 Cover for EarthSpiritRites of Passage
Circle Around Death
by Sue Curewitz Arthen ©1988

Death dances around us constantly. Watching the seasons change, mourning the loss of a familiar four-footed or winged friend, aching for the Maypole tree that once stood tall and green, we honor the death of all living things as part of the wheel of life. Losing a parent, love, child or friend is different. Our sensitivity to human death is heightened by our connection to human energy. And energy, transformation, and life are what we dance with as we circle around death.

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