The online version of our seasonal Tree of Life Cycles newsletter for Golden Boughs 2021.
Golden Boughs | Midsummer | Corpus Christi | Shavuot
(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 our Golden Boughs Newsletter!
On our recent drive down to the West Country, on a family visit, we saw the magnificent Stonehenge monument on the crown of the hill ahead of us. This ancient megalithic construction reminds us that, since time immemorial, our ancestors have created rituals to celebrate the glory of the Sun.
‘Golden Boughs’ is the SoulSchool name for the Summer Solstice and, here in northern climes at this time of year, gold seems to be all around us as the Summer Sun streams through green leafy canopies, scattering pools of wealth that can sometimes look like heaps of gold, worthy of a dragon’s hoard.
The word solstice means ‘sun still’. There are two solstice events in every calendar year – winter and summer. Both of them mark significant turning points for our experience of light and dark, and now, at this high point for the Sun in its annual travels, we can take great joy in basking in warmth and sunlight. However, this marker tells us that from now onwards, the Sun will begin to decline in its power, leading us in a few weeks time to the Autumn Equinox (Falling Leaves) when light and dark are in equal relationship. As the Sun descends, we experience the festival of First Fruits in early August – called ‘loaf mass’ in the Christian church, because this is when the harvest is gathered in.
At Golden Boughs we acknowledge the actual radiant power of the Sun as centre of our solar system – it is the Sun that truly gives us life as we know it on this planet. But we also consider the radiant power of our inner ‘sol’, which never stands still. Our spiritual life can also be imagined as a golden ball of light. We can enter into a dialogue with the magnificent Archangel Michael as a representation of the god-like potency of our individual Soul, which is a spark from the divine Anima Mundi – the Soul of the World.
RADIANT SUNSHINE | GLORY | SPLENDOUR
The full heart of Mother Nature is expanding to show you her greatest glory. Across the land, gardens, fields and orchards are shimmering in the summer haze. This is a time for laziness, resting in a hammock and allowing the energy of Nature to support you. Fruit and barley are beginning to ripen, but there will be no need to go gathering – there are a few weeks before you need to start work, storing and preserving for the Winter months. So, take time to enjoy this splendid holiday!
Things to consider at Golden Boughs
Take time out review what has been developing over the last six months since Yule, the Winter Solstice, when you set intentions for the present year. How are you doing, against your vision? Have you given yourself a mountain to climb, or have you set yourself realistic targets which have been easy to meet? Can you stop to play croquet, eat strawberries and cream, and feel satisfied with progress so far? Recognise what you have achieved so far this year – and congratulate yourself.
Make inner preparations for the next quarter: the height of summer will gradually pass over the next few weeks, but you can still keep your mind on progress. Between now and Falling Leaves (the Autumn Equinox) there will be time enough for reordering, managing and collating your creative options, or making new choices before the cooler weather arrives later in the year’s cycle.
Golden Boughs Ritual
- Set your clock for dawn on the Solstice. Keep a coat (or dressing gown) and shoes close to your bed.
- Get up promptly, dress warmly and go outside to watch the Sun rising.
- Give thanks for the glory of the Sun that gives you physical vitality.
- Give thanks for the spiritual Light of the Divine within your heart that brings courage and wisdom.
- If you need to go back to bed… well that’s a choice! But perhaps make a cup of tea and a slice of toast, then take a creative exploration that will help you make wise choices for the your activities during the coming months:
- Use a very large sheet of paper and draw a big tree.
- Sketch in some circles to represent fruit, as many as feels good – one for each of your most significant creative desires. You can include holidays you want to take, cupboards you want to declutter, a new window box, a club you want to join… any notions that have been feeling significant, but maybe you haven’t yet taken action.
- Label each circle by writing outside the circle. Then you write inside the circle, identifying any action you could take that will make a difference. For example: calculate the cost of a holiday and check travel options; get cardboard box to take clutter to charity shop; buy plants for a window box; call local club and find out what night they meet.
- Any ‘piece of fruit’ you would like to nurture before the Autumn will need your attention, so make sure you know what needs to be done, but don’t forget to spend time lounging in the garden or on the beach. This isn’t the time for really hard work – just a few gentle nudges along the way to success. Easy does it!
Archangel Michael – The Leader
Keywords – Courage, commitment, honour, faith, protection
Heavenly Body – The Sun
Colours – Gold, sunshine, yellow, red
Festival – Summer Solstice, Michaelmas
Angel, king of streaming morn;
Cherub, call’d by Heav’n to shine;
Guide aetherial, power divine;
Thou Lord of all within!
HENRY ROWE (1754–1819)
Michael’s name means ‘he who is like God’. In ancient Persian lore, Michael was called Beshtar, meaning ‘One who provides sustenance for mankind’, and he is usually described as the Archangel of the Sun. Another name for him is Shabbatiel, meaning ‘Rest of God’ (Shabbat is the Jewish Day of rest). Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions all hold him in the highest esteem.
In many paintings, Michael is depicting wearing a cloak lined with red because he was considered to be a seraph. Although some occult writers give Michael the colour blue, I suggest that blue is too cool for this shining Archangel, who radiates the glory of God into the world. Michael represents the best in leadership; he is a protective Archangel and is the patron saint of policemen.
He is also often shown holding a pair of scales in which to weigh the souls of the dead. He has been called the Herald of Death because he was sent by God to warn both Abraham and Mary, the mother of Jesus, that they would have to leave their earthly lives. In one of the Aggadah stories, Michael is the Angel who appears in the burning bush.
Muslim lore says that Michael lives in the Seventh Heaven, surrounded by an ‘innumerable array of Angels’, his wings are the colour of emerald and ‘He is covered with saffron hairs, each of them containing a million faces and mouths and as many tongues which, in a million dialects, implore the pardon of Allah.’ (Gustav Davidson, A Dictionary of Angels, 1967).
Watch my video about Michael to find out more about this great Archangel…
Calling on Michael
When would you want to call on this splendid Archangel? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you feel in charge of your own life?
- Does fear prevent you from creating a life that you love?
- Do you believe you have a right to be your true self?
- Do you honour the divine monarch within yourself and others?
Michael will be your ally when you need the courage to face difficulties. He provides a psychic ‘breastplate’ and helps you polish your golden armour – the inner armour that strengthens your commitment and faith.
Michael helps you take charge of your life purpose, gives your spirit courage, and confirms your right to self-expression so that you become the commander of your own life.
Your journey to meet Archangel Michael
A few days before your session, look out for objects, stones, jewellery and fabrics that remind you of sunshine – anything golden or sunset red will encourage Michael’s energy in your life – and put them on your table. Look for images of Michael. Some ancient icons show him sitting on a splendid throne with scales in his hand – personally, I prefer these to the mediaeval images of him in armour, slaying a devil. Look for images, too, of contemporary or historical people who have drawn on Michael’s leadership energy. Use an extra large golden or yellow candle for Michael, one that makes you think of sunshine.
Here’s my guided journey to make contact with Michael. To get the best out of it, please also take a little time preparing, as suggested in this guide.
At the end of your journey, recite the following invocation, then send the light to people around the world who may need angelic help, before blowing out the candle.
During the past few weeks we have been offering our flagship course, The Shefa Method, for free. We made this really special offer so we could get feedback from plenty of people and also check that all our systems are running smoothly.
Now that our launch period has come to an end, all SoulSchool prices have been adjusted to their retail prices. We noticed some students didn’t actually begin the course, even though they signed up for it, while others started but gave up part way. We know The Shefa Method has a profound affect on the lives of individuals and communities, providing they engage with the extensive course materials and follow the system but, now the free period has (necessarily) come to an end, we don’t want cost to be an excuse not to be engaged! So there will always be an opportunity to apply for a bursary towards The Shefa Method and the follow-up course, Shefa Expansion.
Thank you to all the participants in the free launch cohort and we welcome you to SoulsSchool! Special thanks to some of you where glitches showed up in the system and you had to be patient while these were sorted out. Some of you are still on the course and we hope you will want to continue with Shefa Expansion, so we are offering anyone on the free course a special reduced price of £97 to carry forward after finishing The Shefa Method. Click here and make your payment before 30th June – even if you still have more Shefa Method content coming down the line, Shefa Expansion will be waiting for you, so you can start when you are ready.
Options for personal supervision with Theolyn are now being reserved for students going through to higher Grades, which involve face-to-face meetings, so we are still holding back setting firm dates for these until we see how the issues surrounding Covid restrictions develop over the next few months. Look out for future announcements.
The Luminaries – Directed by Claire McCarthy (2020). Screenplay by Eleanor Catton, based on her book of the same name. Stars Eve Hewson, Eva Green and Himesh Patel. Watch trailer on YouTube here. Available to stream on BBC iPlayer here.
It’s 1865. It’s the Gold Rush. But not that Gold Rush. This is not set in the Wild West of America but in a sumptuously filmed New Zealand. In this convoluted murder-mystery-suspense story, we follow the fortunes – and grave misfortunes – of two would-be prospectors (Anna Wetherell and Emery Staines). They were previously strangers, arriving on the same boat, but discover they are, literally, star-crossed. For this is also a love story, although the path of true love has rarely been so tangled as here.
Eleanor Catton was the youngest ever writer to win the Booker Prize for her novel, at only 27. Her book was also the longest ever to win, at around 800 pages, so you can imagine it was a struggle to cram all that plot into a mere six one-hour episodes. To achieve this feat, Catton (who also wrote the screenplay) apparently changed the story quite a bit. Although I didn’t read the book myself, the result is very satisfying and doesn’t feel to me like it’s overstuffed, although you do need to pay attention to keep up.
An interesting feature of the storytelling is that Catton turned to astrology to spark ideas for her characters, even though she didn’t really know much about the subject before she started writing. The book actually contains birth charts and there are numerous astrological references throughout the TV series. In particular, we are introduced to the idea of two people being born at the same moment being entangled in some way, which of course Anna and Emery are. Whatever obstacles they face – and there are many – somehow they always manage to reconnect. And that connection is so intense it becomes impossible to distinguish their fates from one another, in a quite magical way. Nothing is as you would expect, with twists and surprises leaping out at every turn, but the effect is to guide you to a place of acceptance: just as in real life, unexpected events occur and we just have to roll with them. There’s no point pushing the river.
Some critics have complained about the dark lighting, as they did with Wolf Hall, but this was a deliberate ploy by director Claire McCarthy, who wanted as far as possible to recreate the mainly candle-lit atmosphere of a small prospector’s town on New Zealand’s South Island in the mid-nineteenth century. For me, this adds to the intrigue and mystery, and is a perfect way to show life as it was at that time in a frontier town.
The characters are rich, mostly representing astrological signs and the planets, and the principal three (illustrated above) are magically illuminated. Anna Wetherell (left) is played by Eve Hewson, who I am certain must be fed up by now with always being described as Bono’s daughter. Personally I’m no great fan of Bono, but I would go a long way to see Eve, whose subtlety, poise and inner strength perfectly capture her character. She is no delicate flower and is convincing as a woman trying to make her fortune alone in wild, men’s world. Emery Staines (right) is an unusual male lead, as he demonstrates a feminine side to his character rarely seen on screen these days. It’s good to see a man who doesn’t need to be an action hero, and I give credit to Himesh Patel for the sensitivity and nuance he brings to his role. Eva Green plays Lydia Wells (centre) and she is a particularly tricksy character, though complex. She is the main barrier to the lovers uniting, although there is a twist when Anna finally confronts her.
This story is gripping, and Theolyn and I found it to be a cinematic page-turner, binge watching the whole series in only a few sittings. But it’s more than that. The story has something to say: about deceit, love, revenge and greed, but it also contains a sprinkling of messages about some quite deep spiritual principles. Just look for them, as you would when panning for nuggets of gold. Ten out of ten!
This is a truly important book for anyone interested in the imagination, in visions, in spiritual wisdom, in prophecy. Any or all of these topics. Because William Blake (1757–1827), the great English poet, painter, songwriter, visionary and prophet, presents us with a powerful example of someone who trusted the wisdom of the inner world. If you are someone who has an angelic conversation and then asks: is this just my imagination? – then you need to find out about William Blake.
There are many books out there about William Blake, but this new offering from John Higgs is quite special, because the author is approaching this remarkable life as it was experienced – by the man himself. He knew he was swimming against the tide of Enlightenment materialism. He realised he was up against the cultural developments of his time, because he could see the world with ‘two-fold vision’ whereas, as he repeatedly pointed out, the science of the day was looking at Creation with ‘single vision’.
To see the world with single vision was…to be robbed of everything that mattered in life…one of the many ways he was in opposition to the spirit of his times.
During his lifetime he was ridiculed and reduced to poverty because his work seemed to have no relevance in the artistic or philosophical culture of the time. He was out of step with the world. That is so often the case with great genius. Sadly, such people, bringing us great gifts, are neglected or overlooked in their lifetime, and only recognised and lauded after death.
Late in 2019, on the anniversary of William’s November birthday, one of his most famous paintings was projected onto the dome of St.Paul’s Cathedral in London. As John Higgs points out, this might have made William turn in his grave – or perhaps chuckle. The painting, of the creator god called ‘Urizen’ in Blake’s mythology, reaches out with a great pair of compasses in order to lay the architectural structures of the world. But Urizen is not a Christian god. He is an archetype of restriction and limitation. He could even be seen as satanic, because he invites humanity to only view the world with single vision. Not quite the right fit for a great Cathedral!
William’s mythology is layered with strange names and concepts that can seem very daunting to get to grips with. But, if you do get into his work, you begin to notice how much overlap there is with the various mystical traditions of the world. For example, what William calls the zoas closely resemble the concept of the elemental qualities – he describes the mind as divided into four zoas: creativity, reason, emotion and sensation. We could equate these with Fire, Air, Water and Earth. Urizen is the personification of ‘reason’, and William didn’t think vey much of this faculty, because it places such limitation on direct experience. Urizen, one scholar has suggested, is the ‘god’ of the left hemisphere of the brain. Urizen is great at planning, measuring and calculating, but is not interested in feelings.
This is a long book – nearly four hundred pages – and very well researched by someone who is clearly passionate to encourage 21st-century people to explore Blake’s work. It is extremely readable and is not an academic book, but designed for general readers. I do encourage you to get hold of a copy. If you are a spiritual seeker and do not already know about William, then you will come away feeling inspired. You will understand that your capacity to have ‘two-fold vision’ when you look at the world is a huge gift. If you don’t already see the world in this way – then you need to start meditating! (Check out The Shefa Method). If you already know William’s work, then this will add more depth and breadth to your understanding of his importance.
Bernardo Kastrup’s Small Theory of Everything on YouTube here (31 minutes)
Bernardo Kastrup is a lively and unusual philosopher who also has an academic background in science. He is a follower of Carl Jung and has a gift for making some deeper philosophical issues easy to get your head round. Bernardo is an ‘idealist’ – he describes materialism as ‘baloney’ and sets out to demonstrate how we can understand reality as a holistic arena with no ‘inside’ and no ‘outside’. The contents of this video are based on his book, Brief Peeks Beyond.
This video is a good, short introduction to Bernardo’s philosophy – and might encourage you find out more about his work.
As the blurb on YouTube goes: This is a brief, idiot-proof, to-the-point overview of Bernardo’s philosophical views; his ‘theory of everything,’ so to speak. It’s ‘small’ because it’s based on one simple, straightforward idea, on the basis of which the whole of reality can be explained without reference to any postulated universe outside mind.
A corresponding essay touching on the same ideas can be found here.
Wishing you golden days and Angel praise,