I’ve been feeling kinda strange lately.
A little… fragmented. Not all here.
I seem to be going through a period of writers’ block, or something similar. I have lists in my mind – and on paper – of things I’d like to talk about, write about… yet somehow, each time I sit down with a big mug of tea… the words dry up. I find that I have nothing to say. I find that I want to go outside, or stare into space, or take photos, or do something mundane like clearing out my inbox.
Meanwhile summer rolls on. Often, I’m glued to the news, or remembering the sad events of last year, grieving the sad direction in which our world moves. The hawthorn blossom arrives, then the rowan, and now the elderflower.
Around the summer solstice we hear a lot about activity.
Elementally, it’s ‘fire season’, the movement towards midsummer typically characterised by ever-increasing activity. Seeds sown in spring are now established plants bearing flowers and soon fruit; a period of harvest is beginning. There is abundance everywhere – windflowers, green trees, grasses and vegetables in the garden. New colours arising in the hedgerow each day, the bracken unfurling, nettles and hemlock and hogweed and docks rising like sudden forests. The days are longer, bringing more ‘useable hours’.
I began observing the wheel of the year some years ago, because I had started to notice how the changing of seasons and the historic activities associated with those seasons (speaking from a white European point of view) reflected the energetic shifts I felt inside myself. I don’t consider myself a pagan and my practice is solitary, or carried out with my partner or close friends, and usually guided by whim – made-up rituals to celebrate whatever is happening, to mark the turning seasons of our lives. It’s given me a way of observing and marking the passage of time that feels natural, cyclical. I feel able to express my spirituality in a way that is purely mine, but I also feel connected, both backwards and forwards, to folks who came before me and those who will come after.
This year feels a little different. The wheel turns as it does, yet nothing feels predictable. More than ever, I want to ground. I don’t wish to pause time as such, but only to allow myself space to close my eyes, feel my feelings, think my thoughts, and integrate. I find my activity level, rather than gaining speed as summer heats up, is reduced. I’ve become dreamy, a little absent. I’m unable to talk clearly about what I feel.
Earlier this week, I wrote the following to my newsletter readers:
Do you ever have the feeling that you exist on more than one plane? That there are a number of different realities – your own, personal realities – co-existing alongside each other? There might be the plane on which you experience ambitions, hopes and dreams, and perhaps ponder or work towards those. There might be another, upon which you’re a good friend, parent, or partner. Perhaps another that is your working self. Another that is good at ‘life admin’. Another that connects deeply to spirit or nature. A political self. An artist self. And so on.
When I’m least aware of these different planes, it’s because my life feels the most ‘integrated’. Like I’m existing on every plane at the same time. I don’t slip from one to the next, like taking off and putting on different hats, because I am all things at once; an integrated whole. It feels seamless. It feels natural. There is one hat – my hat – not many.
Right now, though, I feel a heightened awareness of each plane. Moving from one to another feels like moving through treacle – stressful, tricky, possibly even a little dangerous. Rather than integrated and whole, I feel fragmented. I see parts of me here, parts of me over there. Some parts, I can’t see at all.
And I feel myself react to all of this. Sometimes anxious and sleepless, sometimes giving in without a care. Sometimes apologising for not being this or that, sometimes righteous or defiant.
I’m trying to be with this feeling, observing it rather than judging. Trying not to see it as something to be ‘fixed’, but simply part of a cycle. Because it’s natural, isn’t it, to go through phases like this? I don’t think I’m alone, and I don’t think there’s something ‘wrong’. Sometimes we feel all whole and integrated, confident and steady, existing on many planes at once, expressing many aspects of ourselves. And other times, things jangle and jar. It’s an effort to be all that we want to be.
Which is a long-winded way of saying: Hi! Gosh, it’s been a while! The part of me that is usually so chatty, so happy to be vulnerable and open with you (you who are both distant strangers and deeply-appreciated friends) has been taking a week break. I couldn’t force her back, couldn’t coax her or bribe her. I had to let her rest. I am resisting the urge to apologise.
Emma and I have been living on Skye since March last year (me a little longer). We came here to volunteer long-term, and though that didn’t work out, in those first few months we came to love this place and the people we met. We had no other home, no ‘plan’, so we thought: why not here? We were both ready to put down roots, to invest ourselves in a place and call it home.
We’ve moved four times since then, and though we’ve searched, we’ve really struggled to find a realistic permanent home here in south Skye, or further afield. In many ways it’s been a wonderful time, all this exploring, but the sense of having no home, no space in which to ground and feel held, has been difficult and is getting harder. I don’t consider myself stressed, until I notice the ever-present, low-level anxiety that sits below my surface. I know that I have an unmet need.
As things have turned out, the place we’re going to call home is a long way from here. A small town in mid-Wales, a town we both know and love, close to the coast and nestled in hills. A vibrant town with a market and growing projects and green-thinkers and music and a train line. It was as though it called us home, we remembered it, we visited, we found our home.
So now we are here, working towards that goal. It’s a lot of paperwork. A lot of privilege. A lot of hopes and dreams, too.
Now it’s solstice.
Emma and I didn’t do anything spectacular, no fire on the beach this year, no party, no ritual. My energy was low and the weather wasn’t great, but we walked out to the shore and climbed out on some rocks, and talked there for a while about the solstice as a turning point in the year. We acknowledged that we, too, had been sowing our own spring seeds and nurturing them – all our work to find and buy this home – and talked about our hopes for harvesting this dream in late summer.
I wonder about my lack of connection to this land, here.
I’ve put energy into exploring and learning, and I am undeniably in love with the Highlands’ uncompromising, fierce beauty. Yet I have not yet managed to feel welcomed by this landscape. In December 2015, when I visited and determined to return, I described the Isle of Skye as cold and indifferent, but beautiful. I found it somehow answering my conflicting needs for something wildly different, and also a place to ground. Though I knew even then that this land was not ‘for me’, I was driven to come here and learn something.
I’m not yet sure what that ‘thing’ is.
It’s something about the meaning of ‘home’, to me.
I feel as though I’m here to do some healing work, but it’s not the pretty kind. I’ve found the past 18 months difficult, shadowy, anxious and a little scary at times. Far from grounding (despite many attempts) I’ve felt the need to challenge every idea I held about ‘home’, about ‘connection’, about ‘community’ and most of all ‘belonging’. I feel like I’ve been broken into pieces so that I can put them back together again, perhaps in a different shape this time. I’ve heard others use a similar metaphor for times of transition. It feels powerful and difficult and good.
That brings me back to this ‘fragmented’ feeling.
As I wrote in my newsletter, I’m trying to observe this experience without judgement. Trying to simply ‘be with it’, whatever that means. I am in parts, right now. Though the sun reached her peak this week and the language surrounding this typically concerns abundance and activity, I’m taking things slowly. I’m watching these fragmented parts of myself drift towards and then away from me, as though they’re bobbing on waves just out of reach and I’m standing on the sand, watching the tide come in. And it does feel like the tide has turned – that it’s coming in, finally, now.
Tonight’s new moon is in Cancer.
Watery, wonderful Cancer, who makes all feelings inescapable, who brings forth shadows so they might be understood and healed.
Cancer is concerned with creating security. It does this, in part, by making sure you understand that it feels you. Feels your hunger. Feels your loneliness. Feels the emotions you are yet to make sense of.
Cancer’s waters hold the memories of every important event. Our creation, gestation and birth. Cancer knows how to bond, not break up. It’s a sign that feels the feelings that have been left unfelt.
“Every important event.” That’s quite a statement. “The feelings that have been left unfelt.” There is rain lashing down on the kitchen roof of the friends’ place where I’m house-sitting. I can’t decide whether to stay in and try to bring these feelings forth…or brave the rain and head out into nature.
I know that herbs and wildflowers should be harvested on bright, warm days. Days when the sunshine is pouring down on petals and plants, encouraging them to open wide and glow with all of their colour and magic and wisdom. But I feel a craving for some rose medicine, and wild roses are blooming all around me just now. My new moon in cancer celebration will be a gathering of wild rose petals and the creation of an elixir to support my heart. A solstice, new moon medicine for strength over the coming months.