Wednesday, 16 February 2011


As the days grow longer and warmth returns, that which has been frozen begins to thaw and feeling returns to the Earth. 

The month of February begins with the ancient festival of Imbolc. Meaning ‘in the belly’, Imbolc marks the first stirring of life in the womb of the Earth. Dedicated to the goddess Bride, it is the first fire festival of the year. 

Bride, or Bridie, is the virgin goddess and all brides represent her as they walk towards union with the solar masculine. Hers is the new, soft body of the Earth as the water begins to flow again and the soil becomes the womb, dark, moist and enveloping. As she nurses the seed within, it begins to reach out to her.

As feeling returns we too find ourselves again in a womb, but one of our own making. The life that has contained and sustained us until now becomes the soil from which we must spring

The tree that the Celts associated with the month of February is willow. Known as the Queen of the waters, the willow is the most feminine of trees. Its Celtic name Saile, means to leap or let go, which is why the leap year falls in February. Willow calls upon us to make this leap, but the only way is to release feeling, to grieve for all that has passed and so cut the ties that bind us to the past. As we do so, life changes and we surge ahead.

To go willingly into grief, to learn and develop its ways as a practice for life, is a great gift to ourselves and to our children who then learn not to fear it as we did. Once the practice of active grief is learnt, we can feel our way all the way back to our beginnings seeking out the grief that was held there and releasing it now. Letting go, letting go, letting go. Each time we cut the strings that hold us back and bind us into familiar patterns and self-fulfilling prophecies, we take a leap. We leap into the unknown, into a place where anything is possible and long forbidden dreams can manifest themselves at last.

Ian Siddons Heginworth is an environmental arts therapist, founder of the Devon-based Wild Things community programme and author of Environmental Arts Therapy and the Tree of Life, Spirit’s Rest Books.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Are you a good guy or bad guy?

Almost nobody likes to think of themselves as a bad guy. Whether an embezzling politician, a soldier in Rowanda, a Japanese dolphin hunter or just the average person on the street, we fool ourselves with stories of necessity to justify and cover up any of our less noble acts. But where does a clear-eyed look at the role we play in this world leave us? A few questions to ask yourself:

Are you in it for the money? 
Is your job, or whatever takes up the majority of your days, something you are doing out of love, care or compassion, or is it simply something to pay the bills?

How much and how often do you give?
What do you offer the world, or those in need, free of any charge? This could mean time, effort, skills or support that is monetary, spiritual, physical or emotional.
Is this once a year? Once a month? Once a week? Every day?

How aware are you of the potentially harmful impact of your daily actions on other people, animals and the environment and how much do you care?

For many, honest answers may start to paint a less than pretty picture.
Example: I know a geologist working for a mining company. He enjoys his time in the remote, rugged pristine places, examining rock samples for traces of precious minerals. He writes songs about the beauty he beholds and he makes a lot of money at this job. He has a young family to feed. But when, and if, the desired deposits are found, the company moves in and utterly despoils the once beautiful wilderness to claim these ‘natural resources’.  But by then, this geologist is already far away at the next site….

In the eyes of the world, in the eyes of the Earth, is he a good guy or a bad guy?

If we cannot view Nature with the same concerned care we extend to our own families and loved ones, if we cannot make this change, we have no future. 

Leah Lemieux is an author and lecturer who works on dolphin protection, education and conservation initiatives.