The day of my solitary Full Moon acknowledgment I decided to draw a mandala designed to be similar to the traditional one shown in Anodea's book, "Wheels of Life", which is available from her website. This fire mandala for the 3rd chakra has a circle with a triangle inside it. On each side of the triangle is a small structure like a t with an elongated cross bar. This makes a nice little platform for a figure. During the ritual I laid tarot cards for each side of the triangle, 1 for the center, and 2 to represent the deities typically found in this style of mandala. I chose the three selves: lower, middle, and higher for the three sides with the center representing the unifying force that binds them together.

The next day as Tom and I relaxed in the hot tub together (a rare moment as I am supposed to avoid the heat as it increases lymph fluid movement and can precipitate a lymphedema flare up) we discussed the meaning of the cards I had drawn. For the lower self I received the 8 of swords -- the traditional figure bound, blindfolded, and surrounded by swords. I understood the message of feeling trapped. That was nothing new. It goes along with my health situation. However, Tom pointed out the connection of swords to pain, and that my lower self was afraid of the pain I had experienced. So as most traps, at least some of it, is created by my fears of renewed pain. I underwent a period of substantial pain in my feet and calves until after several months we found a medication that slowly rolled back the levels. But it took a toll in that my body still reacts with anxiety to pain in my legs and feet. A few nights ago I had a severe calf cramp, one that still hurt for two days afterward. My stomach and chest were tight and fluttery when I laid down to sleep, waiting, I presume, for the next attack of pain.

Middle self was represented by the King of Wands, which suggests to me that my rational ego and mind is in a good place. Here is where fire is working. But without the help and support of the lower self little action can be achieved.

The 5 of swords was drawn for the Higher self. This card is often hard for me to interpret -- it is chaos and change and often seems to represent unpleasant situations. This deck, like many, show two people who have been defeated, their swords littering the ground, and a third figure, robed, a bit mysterious is gathering swords. Sometimes this is read as defeat. In the current situation I could see the three people representing the 3 selves. Where the lower and middle selves have found themselves defeated, the higher self is slowly cleaning up the mess, picking up the swords.

The center position is the 10 of pentacles -- in some decks this is shown as the happy family life, a patriarch surrounded by his family. Instead this deck shows a man and a woman in front of a window in a room, looking at each other. This seems to fit my physical situation rather well, isolated but in a comfortable home with my partner to care for me. I conclude that I draw strength and stability from this, and that helps me to hold my parts together :)

The two deity cards were God -- 7 Swords, and Goddess -- 5 of pentacles. I need to do some research to see what deities catch my attention and fit the symbolism. The 7 of swords shows a man with 5 swords across his shoulder leaving 2 swords behind. In some decks this refers to stealing, deceit, taking credit for someone else, etc. My deck shows the 5 swords being taken as more like shadows of swords. In combination with the above sword imagery it suggests to me a God that takes away pain, or removes problems, but leaves something behind or perhaps one of the trickster gods. The 5 of pentacles in this deck shows a nun-like figure caring for an injured person in front of a large pentacle. From that I get compassion and healing.

So those are the symbols I am working with for this mandala and a bit of self-knowledge gained from this process of contemplating through the lens of fire.
The experiential task I chose to do for Self-knowledge through the lens of fire is chakra meditations and running energy with an eye to where there might be blockages or excesses and how that relates to personal issues. I have not done this everyday though I had hoped I would as my energies are often chancy at best. However, I have managed at least twice a week so far.

In the first week I thought that there was an excess of energy in the first chakra leading to lack of movement. The root chakra is related to earth with a downward movement of energy and the feel of gravity. This can bring stability and grounding or inertia and difficulty moving.

This last week I began to feel that it wasn't so much the root chakra but instead the solar plexus chakra, the fire chakra. Here is where get-up-and-go is found, will, direction, motivation. These are definitely things I have lacked since the bout with breast cancer. So I have been doing a meditation found in Anodea Judith's book, Wheels of Life: A User's Guide to the Chakra. The focus is on the heat. Starting with the 3rd chakra and reaching down to the hot molten core of Earth's energy and drawing it up to fill the body from the ground up then reaching up into the sky and bringing down the flaming heat of the life giving energy of the Sun I fill my body with both these energies and hopefully stimulate movement.

During my New Moon meditations two tasks came to mind and I decided to do them before the Full Moon. One was to mail my mother's book back to her -- one that I had for something like 2 years so well past the time it should have been returned. The other was to clean off my altar as it had gotten dusty. It took me 3 days to finish with my altar, taking everything off it, dusting the table, washing the wood, re-oiling it, dusting each of the items that had been on the altar and rearranging them, reorganizing everything on the table shelf and on the floor under the altar. It used to take a few hours of one day but nowadays everything takes more effort than it once did. I recognize that these are small tasks but I am happy that I completed them by the Full Moon as was my goal.

Last week I started walking again and made it to the mailbox (a mile there and back) twice. I also used the exercycle one day. More intimate means of exercise also happened. This seems to me to be good results and I can only hope it continues.

Coincidentally I read a book with a main character called "Firekeeper" by Jane Lindskold, an author I only recently discovered but have been immersed in for a number of weeks. This person has a lot of identity issues and learns about herself and grows through the series.
Well at least for now. I am working through the Deepening Program, Sweetwood Temenos' training program and I am going to try and follow my progress or lack there of here. The pilot program began with the last new moon and is intended to move to a new section every new moon. We are looking at our 5 values through the 7 perspectives of earth, air, fire, water, ancestors, descendants, and community. This gives 35 sections and 3 years to finish the program. The order of the 7 perspectives was determined during the Freedom Fest main ritual, in which the Lady of Fate draws runes to select the order that they are called. Fire was the first element drawn and so we begin with the value of Self-Knowledge. The program has books to read, meditations, and actions to perform, journal entries to write, and discussions to have.

The August New Moon falls in Leo most often, which seemed to me an appropriate astrological sign for beginning with Self-Knowledge through the lens of fire. I drew a full circle, calling on the elements and asking for their aid in my endeavor and particularly that of fire. As it was a new moon I invited both the God and Goddess, and the Lady of the Dark Moon to my circle. I lit a red candle to enhance my connection with fire and to aid my fire meditation.

As I watched the candle words floated up to my awareness.

Fire dance, incense snaking through the air,
curling over the lip of the candle and down,
drawn to the flame.
Flickering in response to the caress of sweet smelling tendril.
Energy
Passion consumes as it passes through
leaving ash in the form of a painting,
a poem...a love...a life.
Form, fire condensed into matter.

We know ourselves through our creations, projecting ourselves outward. Mirroring self in the writhing dance between energy and matter. A flickering flame joins with air and accepts earth's sweet sacrifice to create beauty, however fleeting. One of the lessons of fire -- that it changes what it touches and is changed itself. Everything ends and dies, a bright flame dims and goes out.

What can reawaken passion? How can enthusiasm be coaxed to burn again? Where is the dance of light and heat and smoke and ash?

It is my wont to draw a tarot card during a new moon meditation to illumine something about the coming month, and in this case, in regard to this section of the program. The two of wands came to my hand. The deck I use has a person holding a globe of light in the right hand and a rod in the left. There is another hand with a rod implying another person though they are not shown. In the bottom right corner is a shield with a fully open rose and rosebud crossed with a white lily which also has both a fully opened flower and a bud. It seemed appropriate that it be rods, symbolizing fire, and include a globe of light. I will think about it this month and draw out my sense of its voice speaking upon this matter.

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oakwind

July 2011

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