Week of February 2, 2016 - Candlemas ...

Monday, February 01, 2016 8:36 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

What was I doing standing in the snow on a cold February night surrounded by candles? I was in the midst of a ceremony of commitment. It was just before my birthday and a few days past Candlemas, and it seemed to me to be an auspicious time to make a commitment. That's why I was standing in the snow (yes, fully clothed!) with a few friends and lot of candles while the stars twinkled overhead and the ice in the pond boomed and creaked.

Commitment is a word of power, for commitment is a path of power. Making a commitment, and keeping it, is one of the most ancient, most effective, and most dependable ways to build personal power (which you can then use for healing, magic, creativity . . .).

When I was first asked to make a commitment on my magical path, I was scared. I thought of commitment as Life and Death! Monumental! Extravagant! I viewed commitment as a prison, a punishment, a narrowing of my field of play. I viewed myself as unworthy of such lofty promises, and unwilling to be locked up. Since I know my Aquarius self to be very changeable, I knew I was unlikely to keep a "forever" promises, so why bother making a commitment at all?

Gradually I began to perceive the truth that my finest teacher -- Nature -- brought (and constantly brings) to my attention: There is more power in completing a small commitment than there is in failing at a large one. Plants that can grow very slowly are able to live in marginal situations where flashy, fast-growing plants can't manage. The power of the commitment is not in making a grandiose promise -- not even Nature promises forever -- but in deciding just how much you are really willing to do -- and for how long -- and then doing it. Nature chooses not to make leaves during the winter when food and sunlight are scarce; her commitment to leaf- making covers only half of each year, when resources are abundant.

I realized I did not have to commit to anything unless I chose it and that I could also choose the length of my commitment. The most compelling, life-changing commitments are those that have a time frame, a time limit, a specific endpoint that invites contemplation, retrospection, and perhaps recommitment.

The power of the commitment comes from completing the task you set for yourself, not in doing what others expect of you. The power of the commitment comes from being true to your aspirations and visions, not from following the fantasies of a loved one or the culture.

The power of the commitment grows when you maintain it through adversity and pain, through pleasure and distraction. The power of the commitment grows when you marry yourself to it, husband it, cherish it. The power of the commitment grows when you to become its willing student, following where it leads you. The power of the commitment grows when you yield to it and let it carry you.

The power of the commitment is in you, day by day, decision by decision, not in one fireworks display of potency, but in the invisible threads that weave you into your life, in the spaces in between the in-breath and the out-breath. In this way, commitment nourishes us, sustains us, deepens us, expands us.

I needed that power. I needed that sustenance, that expansion. My life had changed radically as I became an herbalist and a landowner. And I knew by the trembling in my psyche that more change was on the way. I envisioned my commitment as a way to create a sacred space within my self and my life. One where I could safely ride out the changes that I suspected were waiting for me.

I stood in a circle of candles. I gazed at the circle of my friends, my magical sisters. I felt the intense sacredness of the place itself beginning to shift my consciousness. The glaciers that had scoured these massive stones under my feet made themselves known in frissons of chill shivers, ripples of energy vibrating my spine. The stillness of the ancient ocean bottom settled over us, stilling conversation.

We cast our magical circle, there in that vortex of Earth energy. We called the directions, all seven of them (east, south, west, north, above/those of the future, below/those of the past, and the center, the within the within the within). We invited our spirit guides, the Ancestors, our beloved ones, and all our plant and animal totems to come and be with us. All the preliminaries were done. We were ready for the juicy middle: my commitment.

With my heart beating in my throat, I committed myself: "I will devote the next twenty years of my life (between the ages of forty and sixty) to the Wise Woman Tradition. I will speak about, write about, and promote the Wise Woman Way. In whatever ways I am needed, I will make myself available to introduce and maintain interest in the Wise Woman Way. I will be the voice of the Wise Woman Tradition."

My words rang in the freezing air like some strange chant from a hidden valley high in the Himalayas. One by one the candles went out, and the silence thickened in our ears. Lit only by the glow from the snow, we released our helpers, bade the directions farewell, and opened the circle. And then we walked through the dark, single file, down from our high place, singing a song. For life is often like a walk in the dark, and singing helps in many ways. It sets a rhythm and tells a story and helps us get along the road that takes us to our teachers and our next adventures.

Of course I knew my commitment would change my life, but I had no idea how much, or how quickly.

Green Blessings, Susun Weed

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