The online version of our seasonal Tree of Life Cycles newsletter for First Fruits 2020.
First Fruits | Lughnassad | Lammas | Second cross-quarter
(Click here to read about the names we chose for the annual cycle of traditional festivals throughout the year, and why we chose them).
Welcome to my SoulSchool newsletter for First Fruits. In the Northern Hemisphere, this is the time when we acknowledge the bounty and glory of Mother Nature. All the eight seasons we celebrate at SoulSchool follow the time-honoured cycles of life, particularly as we see them in the yearly changes in nature, and especially in trees. Our ancestors celebrated these seasons according to the agricultural year and these became popular religious festivals.
First Fruits is the August cross-quarter at 15° of the fixed sign Leo. All the cross-quarters happen in the fixed signs. This one is half-way between Golden Boughs (the Summer Solstice at 0° Cancer) and Falling Leaves (the Autumn Equinox at 0° Libra).
The Celtic festival at this time was called Lughnassad, named after the god Lugh, and the Christians celebrate it as Lammas, from the Anglo-Saxon, meaning ‘Loaf Mass Day’. One Celtic tradition is to create corn dollies, either as symbolic patterns, or to represent Lugh himself (left).
This is a time to celebrate our personal creativity and, whatever we call this festival, we give thanks for the abundance of Nature – the blessings of life.
First Fruits – Second Cross-Quarter
ABUNDANCE: JOY: WEALTH: GENEROSITY
When we take time to see what Mother Nature has been nurturing, even without our human help, we begin to realise the immense power and abundance that arises, year after year, as sustenance for our lives. The hedgerows, trees, fields and woodlands are filling with abundant goodness. As Divine creatures living in the Earthly plane, we are stewards for the land, and we can tend and encourage the best opportunities for growth. Our efforts support the abundance of Nature and we gather the First Fruits as our reward. All ancient wisdom advises us to be caring and thankful, warning us not to be careless or greedy.
Mother Nature responds to our behaviour. Perhaps, when harvests fail, we should not blame our loving Mother, but ask ourselves where we might have neglected Her. Perhaps we have not been thankful. Perhaps we have taken too much, not allowing for the natural cycle to regenerate. Perhaps we have abused the land, due to our greed, which is fuelled by anxiety and fear of lack.
When we are in a true relationship with Mother Nature, we know we will be provided for. We know the First Fruits will come around as a glorious season, if we are respectful and loving, and when the time is right.
Seasonal things to do
Here are two suggestions:
A Soul Journey
Give yourself some time for an inner journey to meet Mother Nature. You are deeply connected to her loving power – after all, every cell in your body is living evidence of Her constant presence.
If you are home baker, then making a special loaf would be ideal for a celebration at this time. A plaited loaf is beautiful! If you do make a loaf, don’t cut it until after this meditation. Gather some fresh fruit into a bowl and sit with the fruit (and bread, if you have some) nearby in your usual meditation place. Have your Journal to hand, with a pen. Light a candle. Imagine yourself in any landscape that feels good for such a meeting. By the seashore, in woodland, on a mountain. Sit quietly, visualising your favourite landscape and ask Mother Nature to make Her presence felt.
When you feel the Mother is close by, perhaps seeing Her in the form of a beautiful woman, tell Her how thankful you are for all the bounty in your life. Ask Her what spiritual and practical duties you can undertake that will encourage abundance to keep flowing in your life.
Take as much time as you need. Record your experience in your Journal, with the date and any wisdom you have received.
Collect the fruit you used for your meditation, together with a loaf of bread, and set them up beautifully on your dining table. You might also like to dress up your table with a nice cloth, as though you are preparing for Harvest Festival.
Find more fruit and make a generous fruit salad to share with anyone who can visit your house. If you are alone or have limited opportunities for sharing your fruit salad and bread, then eat your food ceremoniously, as a sacred meal in honour of Mother Nature.
First Fruits video
When I first started offering metaphysical wisdom classes twenty-seven years ago, we were living in a large house in Oxfordshire and every season we invited local seekers around for a potluck event to celebrate. Everyone brought food. We built a fire, and we all shared poems and stories. Nowadays, those social gatherings are not possible, even for people living in the same area, so making a video for each season gives me the opportunity to welcome new subscribers and old friends, reminding us all we can work together as a tribe, even if we are separated by many miles!
I am quite sure there will be opportunities to meet and meditate together again – the time will come around and we will share seasonal food and drink once more!
Guided Journey: Archangel Sandalphon – The Guardian
The Archangel who acts as a reliable steward for planet Earth is Sandalphon. In my image from the Angels Script cards, Sandalphon is walking – in his sandals – in a pastoral landscape with a lamb beside him. The lamb tells us Sandalphon has a soft, gentle presence, even though he offers us the masculine quality of reliability, and a getting-it-done approach to the practicalities we must deal with. In the distance we can see a temple, or sacred building, on a hill. This represents the Kingdom of Heaven being manifested on Earth.
SANDALPHON – The Guardian
Traditional name – The Messiah
Keywords – Trust, Reliability, Stewardship
Heavenly Body – The Earth
Sandalphon represents the Divine presence in the Kingdom of the created world. He maintains a constant presence within the material reality, which we perceive with our senses, holding the divine, and the material as one.
In a Talmudic story, Moses describes Sandalphon as ‘the tall angel’ : his head reaches to heaven. The mystics tell us that the crown at the top and the kingdom at the bottom are reflections of each other, so the Archangels at the top will also be present at the foot. Sandalphon is said to be the twin brother of Metatron, who is at the top of the Tree.
We may picture Sandalphon wearing sandals, walking on our own landscape; he appears as a very physical being, but he towers above us, haloed with colours and vibrations from the cosmic regions. The divine energy is present in every molecule in the created world, in the natural order and in everything humans create as well.
Sandalphon will support you when you wish to create anything of lasting value; he asks you to be considerate and responsible when using natural resources – he is a very ecological Archangel! He teaches you how to trust in the goodness and boundless energy of creation and reminds you that you are a divine child.
Here’s a guided journey to make contact with Sandalphon. To get the best out of it, please take a little time preparing, as suggested in this guide.
After coming out of your visualisation, speak the following Invocation to Sandalphon:
Invocation to Sandalphon
Sandalphon, Archangel and Guardian of this planet I live on, help me to trust in the natural processes of Creation, and to be well grounded and responsible in the work I do here. In my daily life I wish to balance the spiritual with the material, I seek only to create harmony and ask you to support me in my efforts.
As we have no idea when it will be safe to invite you to join a face-to-face workshop, Will and I have been busy planning a range of courses for you to follow at home.
After designing the Shefa Method self-study course and knowing some of you would be keen to move on to the next level, I developed Shefa Expansion as a follow-on course, enabling you to work with all twenty-two of the Shefa characters at home. Previously, the complete rosta of Shefa characters had only been offered to students at workshops, but I do want you to have the opportunity to experience their awesome effects, virus or not. Students who works with Shefa characters report life-changing results.
Grounding Your Life Purpose
My first new SoulSchool self-study course will be available later in August – we will email everyone as soon as it is launched in the shop. Grounding your Life Purpose is one of a series of three ‘Gateway Grades’ that you can follow in any order. You don’t need to follow The Shefa Method and Shefa Expansion in order to take a Gateway Grade, although meditating using a zera, as taught in The Shefa Method, will greatly enhance your experiences when you follow one of the Gateway Grades.
Grounding Your Life Purpose will take you on a deep journey to explore the twelve life-areas available to every human being that are marked out in astrology as ‘mansions’, or ‘houses’. You don’t need any astrological knowledge at all for this course – it isn’t about predicting your future, it’s about discovering what areas of life feel significant for you and how you can get into action to make your Soul’s desire manifest in the world. A programme of self-questioning and meditating will help you discover the ‘mansions’ that are going to be most important for your unique life purpose.
And more Gateway Grades on the way…
Soon you will see announcements for the other Gateway Grade courses: Accessing Angelic Realms and Creating Abundance.
We are keeping our eye on the quarantine situation for travellers to Europe. Anyone who booked for the trip in March, or has expressed interest in coming to Chartres, will be updated with news before the end of August.
The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire – Deepak Chopra.
Deepak Chopra is a very important author for anyone on the spiritual journey. He has written dozens of books and I’ve got a few treasures by him on my shelves. I already reviewed Ageless Body, Timeless Mind in an earlier newsletter, but this is another really helpful title. The sub-title is Harnessing the infinite power of coincidences.
Deepak was a close colleague of the Maharishi and was trained as a Transcendental Meditation teacher. At the time Deepak met the Maharishi, he was already an experienced medical doctor and their work together was driven by a mutually satisfying goal – to demonstrate how health could be positively enhanced by a regular meditation. Good physical health naturally brings with it more joy, delight and happiness.
Deepak didn’t find it comfortable, in the long term, to be locked in with the TM movement and parted from his guru – to become a guru himself! We could describe him as a more secular kind of guru. He started to teach the very same mantra meditation that he learned with Maharishi, but called it ‘Primordial Sound Meditation’. I guess some people might accuse Deepak of plagiarism, that he was stealing the master’s teaching and reworking it for his own ambition. My own take on this would be that Deepak was able to popularise an ancient wisdom for a much wider audience. People who might have seen Maharishi as a ‘cult’ leader were attracted by Deepak’s less religious, more everyday descriptions of the possibilities available for meditators. Being recognised as a medical man also allowed him to reach out to people who wanted to understand meditation as a practice that would benefit their health, mental and physical.
The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire is a brilliant description of how events we call ‘coincidence’ or ‘synchronicity’ are actually arising all the time, and it is our state of consciousness that magnetises positive or negative ‘coincidences’ into our lives. He demonstrates how we can step through a doorway, into the realm of Divine Intelligence, where the past, present and future are one. Effective meditation gives you a passport to this realm, where you can consciously create your own ‘good luck’, in all areas of your life.
You could describe this as the science behind the Law of Attraction, although I prefer to call this the Law of Creation. And, remember, you cannot create anything for yourself in this life that wasn’t already a potential when you incarnated.
Awake: the life of Paramahansa Yogananda – Documentary directed by Paolo di Florio and Lisa Leeman. (Released Oct. 2014. Can be rented on Amazon, or if get yourself a 7-day free trial of Gaia TV to watch without paying).
This is a beautiful documentary and great to watch, especially in lockdown!
Yogananda speaks about meditation as a process, not for relaxation, but for recharging the ‘body battery’ with cosmic energy through the brain and spine. He was saying this nearly a hundred years ago! Now ‘mindfulness’ to keep you calm is all the fashion, yoga is followed as a physical keep-fit regime, and many people don’t get the profound metaphysical wisdom behind these traditions. Even ‘guided journeys’, which lots of spiritual seekers rely on for accessing inner guidance, will only take you so far. Guided journeys are powerful tools for opening up your inner kingdom, but by the time you get to a certain stage of exploration, you need a meditation technique that puts the thinking mind to one side and so gives you access to heaven. My courses included guided journeys, but I will always call students back to the absolutely essential practice of meditation. My Shefa Method includes meditating with a zera. This has the same power as a mantra, which is what Yoganda offered his students.
One great thing Yogananda explained — very appropriate news for pandemic lockdowns — is that, if you get your cosmic energy functioning on full voltage, you don’t need to worry about germs… they will just be ‘electrocuted’ if they attempt to invade your energy field! I’m certainly not advocating that you think you are immune from Covid-19, just because you are a spiritual seeker, but this is certainly something to think about. Someone who vibrates at a lively rate – in all four levels of spirit, mind, emotions and body – is much less likely to become ill. If such a person encounters a virus, they are more likely to be able to deal with it and get well again quickly.
The documentary includes very old footage of Yoganda during his many years in the United States, where he established the concept of Self Realisation and set up a ‘Church for all Religions’. Many well-known people who were influenced by his book, Autobiography of a Yogi, are interviewed, including George Harrison. We also hear from followers who joined him when they were young and still follow his path today. There are some lovely scenes in the mountains, so this is visually beautiful. But tuning in to Yogananda’s sense of mission and purpose, and his determination to carry on under some very dire challenges, is truly uplifting. This is quite a special movie to watch, so I do recommend it, even though I do have a very different opinion about the relationship between spirit and matter.
YouTube – Lars Panaro
I recently came across a brilliant American astrologer, Lars Panaro, who combines a wide range of divination skills. He is well grounded in traditional astrology, Vedic astrology – and Uranian astrology. He also uses tarot and introduces mythology into his talks.
I was very impressed by a webinar Lars presented, hosted by another astrologer I follow, where he explains one of the more technical aspects of astrology – the Lots. Sometimes called the ‘Arabic Parts’.
Lars’ website is at www.heavenlybranches.com, where you will find a dropdown labelled ‘Planetarium’, which describes the archetypal qualities of the seven traditional heavenly bodies. I haven’t yet booked in for a reading myself, but I can see his prices are very reasonable, considering what a lot of background knowledge he has under his divinatory belt.
I checked out Lars’ Youtube channel. There are quite a few episodes for tarot enthusiasts. I was especially delighted to discover he has made some Youtube videos with a British astrologer friend of his, Anthony Stevens, where they discuss speculative birth charts for characters in the Harry Potter stories. This was great for me because I’ve set up birth charts for the characters in my upcoming fiction series, The Angel of Secrets. ( I don’t have a publisher yet, but you can find out more about the first novel in the series, The Book of Raziel, here).
Not long ago, I was talking with one of my daughters, who is a fan of The Archers, the long-running British radio soap about ‘everyday country folk’. I’m definitely not a fan, so I didn’t know anything about the characters in advance of our astrological experiment. We set up a horoscope for one of the well-known characters, a female who has some very particular characteristics that any listener would recognise. This woman’s date of birth is fixed in the script. We were amazed to discover how the birth chart of this fictional person actually resonates with her behaviour and activities, as portrayed in the radio series. So I definitely know that, in some mysterious way, a fictitious person can have a horoscope, even though the script or novel writer will almost certainly have no astrological knowledge at all!
If you are a Harry Potter fan and know some astrological language, try this discussion between two expert astrologers, talking about the hypothetical birth chart of a very famous literary character…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xr_yVSymW2o (52 minutes)
The Harry discussion does include some quite technical terms. Another, shorter, discussion about the Harry Potter character Hermione could be easier if you don’t know much astrology…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsbOXBGp5dY (38 minutes) Hermione’s chart is based on a birthdate that J.K.Rowling had chosen for her character – 19 September – so that would make Hermione a Virgo. I haven’t read all the Potter stories, but what little I know about Hermione is that suggesting her Sun sign is Virgo is a good match. Despite this, I don’t think Rowling would be seriously into astrology, somehow – she has always denied she believes in magic!
Look out for my Falling Leaves newsletter 22 September with more ideas and recommendations. But most importantly…