The Great Work: Holding the Space

Gouache on paper by Heron Michelle

Gouache on paper by Heron Michelle

As part of my spiritual practice each year I choose an area of study or devotion to which I will dedicate myself for the course of that turning of the wheel. I call this year-long working, that is furthered through 8 sabbats and many esbats, the Great Work.

Beginning sometime after Samhain, which is the end of the cycle, and beginning in earnest during the Yule rites, which is the beginning of the cycle, I use various means of meditation and divination, to open my heart, mind and eyes to the Awen (divine inspiration) about what that next Great Work should be. Then I make the dedication at Imbolc like the planting of the seeds. Throughout the remaining year the work is fertilized at Ostara, empowered at Beltane, cultivated at Litha, harvested at Lammas, and the fruits of those labors applied and integrated at Mabon, before laying to rest at Samhain what aspects of my life and process no longer serve my highest good, in light of the new development.

That time of rest between Samhain and Imbolc becomes a very wide open, reflective and intuitive time. Without fail, once I broadcast to the Universe that I seek their guidance and I am open to their messages, the synchronicity, signs, symbols, and omens blaze and sizzle into my awareness like fireworks. It becomes almost comically clear what threads I’m meant to begin weaving into the tapestry of my evolving consciousness through the next cycle of the Great Work.

The way that I utilize the energies of the solar cycle that we call “The Wheel of the Year”  allows for a time to “hold the space” during that dark time of late fall, early winter, when we celebrate the mythos of the God/dess descending into the underworld and arriving at Samhain. For me, the waning Samhaintides, are a time of rest and reflection. It is a time when the lessons of the previous harvest are taken into account with gratitude, and in the silence I find conclusion to what the year taught me. Then I turn my eyes to the future, into the birth of the new cycle, to begin a new vision.

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Gouache on paper by Heron Michelle

It takes this time of metaphorical “darkness,” to refocus one’s inner vision.  Just as when one sits in the dark back yard, when there is no moon, nor glare of artificial light, and your eyes can relax into the low light. Perception expands, deepens, and points of starlight previously imperceptible, now come into our view; the patterns of the stars take on new clarity and meaning.

“Hold the Space” is the term I use more frequently than “be silent” when referring to the active principle of the elemental earth mysteries of the Witches’ Pyramid of Power, the foundation principles of my magickal practice.  To hold the space means that I hold open the void of potential, like playing midwife to a birth, and deliver into the world whatever my Divine Will deems appropriate for me at that time. Meanwhile, I withhold any sort of critical analysis, judgement, or action.  I merely PAY ATTENTION, gather the strands of data, and SHUT UP for a while (that is the be silent part.)

“Speak ye little, listen much.” ~The Wiccan Rede.

As Imbolc approaches and  I begin to formulate the new dedication, all those strands of data begin forming a pattern, like a big arrow pointing in a direction, that I can discern.  But its for the best that I still withhold judgement and just begin that journey with the first step, since there are no guarantees to be had, anyway. Truth be told, even if I think I have an idea where Spirit is leading me, I’m always amazed by the journey. I may THINK I have a map, but I’m not going where I’ve been before, that is behind me, and every person’s journey is unique, so other people’s maps would do me no good anyway. You know what is said about the difference between Religion and Spirituality, don’t you?

“Religion is belief in someone else’s experience.
Spirituality is having your own experience.”
-Deepak Chopra

I’ve been consciously traveling this river of Wyrd, this flow of Spirit, or my fate or personal destiny, as my Anglo-Saxon ancestors may have called it, now for over a decade. I can trust that the boat I’ve made for myself is well-crafted and strong, because I built it myself, one bit of praxis at a time. I can trust that my Wyrd is flowing in accordance to Divine Will, and that the wisdom, skills and experience I’ve gained through my spiritual practice will be sufficient to navigate whatever rocks, eddies and rapids may lie ahead. I also know that as a sovereign being with free-will, I have choices:

  1. Do I cling to the edge in terror of the unknown before me; paralyzed by my fear? Am I so powerless and dependent on anything or anyone else to allow my personal destiny to unfold? I’m no sheep.
  2. Do I turn my boat around and paddle feverishly and pointlessly against the current, attempting to cling to the past or to old ideas, and outmoded ways?  We know that is an exhausting, frustrating, pointless endeavor at best, and is seething fundamentalism at worst, getting you no where; I am no fool.
  3. Do I allow myself to become diverted and mired in some murky bog of avoidance, self-loathing, addictions, heart-break, disillusionment, or entrapment in old ideas, or systems that no longer serve me? I’m no slave.
  4. Or might I have the courage and open mindedness to take responsibility for my own evolution by pointing the prow of my boat into the future, flowing with the current of wyrd, my Divine Will, and using all the tools I’ve honed and wisdom I’ve mapped for myself, to tackle what new vistas and lessons are out there waiting for me? Yes. I am the Witch; I am the Magickian.
Gouache on Paper by Heron Michelle

Gouache on Paper by Heron Michelle

With gratitude to the mystery teachings and techniques I weave through the Wheel of the Year, I have a praxis through which I can build the strong boat, map the wyrd through my own wisdom, and learn the skills of navigation through magick.  I will not let fear paralyze me, nor will I waste my energy on the pointless avoidance of change. I will not be blinded by personal ego, misdirected by personal will, nor will I let despair nor hatred bind me.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” ― Frank Herbert, Dune

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One thought on “The Great Work: Holding the Space

  1. Pingback: Witchin’ in the Kitchen: Yule Recipes | Heron's Rook

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