The Wheel of the year is of great significance to Wiccans, and is one of the principle keys to understanding the religion. As we said earlier, Wicca sees a profound relationship between humanity and the environment. For a Wiccan, all of nature is a manifestation of the divine and so we celebrate the turning seasons as the changing faces of our Gods.
The Wheel of the Year is a continuing cycle of life, death and rebirth. Thus the Wheel reflects both the natural passage of life in the world around us, as well as revealing our own connection with the greater world. To a Wiccan, all of creation is divine, and by realizing how we are connected to the turning if the seasons and to the natural world, we come to a deeper understanding to the ways in which we are connected to the God and Goddess. o when we celebrate our seasonal rites, we draw the symbolism that we use from the natural world and from our own lives, thus attempting to unite the essential identity that underlies all things.
Undoubtedly the significance of the Festivals has changed over the centuries, and it is very difficult for us today to imagine the joy and relief that must have accompanied the successful grain harvest. What with factory-farming, fast freezing and world wide distribution, our lives no longer depend upon such things and as a consequence, our respect for the land has diminished in proportion to our personal contact with it.
Wiccans believe that we can re-affirm this contact by our observance of the passage of the seasons, in which we see reflected our own lives, and the lives of our gods. Whether we choose to contact those forces through silent and solitary meditation, or experience the time of year in a wild place, or gather with friends in a suburban living room, we are all performing our own ritual to the Old Ones, reaching out once more towards the hidden forces which surround us all.
What is of the utmost importance with the Wheel of the Year is that we understand what we hope to achieve through our festival celebrations, and avoid the trap of going through empty motions, repeating words from a book which may sound dramatic, but have no relevance in our everyday lives. That simply leads to the creation of a dogma, and not a living breathing religion. It is not enough to stand in a circle on a specific day, and "invoke' forces of nature, those forces are currents which flow continuously through- out our lives, not just eight times a year, and if we choose not to acknowledge them in our everyday lives, there is no point in calling upon them for one day.
By following the Wiccan religion you are affirming your belief in the sanctity of the Earth, and acknowledging that you depend upon the Earth for your very life. Although modern lifestyles do not encourage awareness of our personal relationship with the turning seasons, or the patterns of life, growth, death and decay, that does not mean that they no longer exist. The ebb and flow of the Earth's energies may be hidden beneath a physical shell of tarmac and concrete, and a psychic one of human indifference, but they are nevertheless there for those who wish to acknowledge them once more.
We do this by observing the changes of the seasons, and feeling the changes reflected in our innermost selves, and in our everyday lives. In our rituals we focus upon different aspects of the God and Goddess, and participate in the celebration of their mysteries; thus we re-affirm our connections on the most profound levels.
The Wiccan Wheel has two great inspirations; it is both a wheel of celebration, and a wheel of initiation. As a wheel of initiation it hopes to guide those who tread its pathway towards an understanding of the mysteries of life and the universe, expressed through the teachings of the Old Ones made manifest in the turning of the seasons. For a Wiccan, the gods and nature are one. In exploring the mysteries of the seasons we are seeking to penetrate more deeply the mysteries of the God and Goddess.
As a wheel of celebration, Wiccans accord to the words of the Charge of the Goddess, where She says, "Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth, for behold, all acts of Love and Pleasure are my rituals"; and that, "Ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in my praise". Anyone can celebrate the turning of the seasons, in their own way, and in their own time. Wiccan covens will commonly gather together, and make the Festivals times of joyful merrymaking, but you can just as easily make the celebration a solitary one, or with just one or two friends. The principles do not alter; just the way in which you acknowledge them.
Wiccans generally celebrate eight Festivals, roughly six weeks apart, which are pivotal points in the solar (seasonal) cycle. Four of the Festivals are called the Lesser Sabbats: these are the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, and the Winter and Summer Solstices. The other four Festivals are called the Greater Sabbats, and relate to particular seasons when in bygone days, certain activities would have been undertaken, usually followed by a party of some kind. There are variations upon the names by which these Greater Sabbats are known, but the simple ones are Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas and Samhain. Candlemas is also known as Imbolg, Oimelc, or Brigid; Lammas is sometimes called Lughnassadh.
It is important to understand that the Festivals are celebrating a time of year: a season, not a date. Most books written about Wicca have been written by an author living and working in the northern hemisphere, who may quite rightly say that "Beltane is celebrated on May Eve." Northern hemisphere readers will automatically interpret this as, "Beltane is at the end of spring, just before summer gets underway." IN the Wiccan Book of Shadows, the poem by Kipling is used at this Festival which says, "O do not tell the Priests of our art, for they would call it sin; but we've been out in the woods all night, a'conjurin' summer in..."
Of course, "May eve" in the southern hemisphere is autumn heading into winter, entirely the wrong time of year to celebrate the portent of summer. In much the same way, Christmas and Easter are celebrated at the wrong time of year here. In the Christian calendar, Christmas coincides with the Winter Solstice - and the growing popularity of the June Yule Fest in the Blue Mountains in NSW each year suggests an awareness of this, even if it is, in this case, expressed in a commercial sense. The date of Easter changes each year, because it is the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox, (And they try to tell us that Easter wasn't originally a Pagan Festival!) So in the southern hemisphere, according to the rules by which the date of Easter is determined, it should fall sometime in late September or early October each year. However, Christianity is not a religion which sees a particular connection between humanity and the environment, and therefore has no problem in celebrating Easter in autumn, and Christmas at the Summer Solstice. Wicca is different, and it IS important to us to attune ourselves to the passage of the seasons, hence we follow the natural cycle wherever we live. In the southern hemisphere this means celebrating Beltane at the start of summer, i.e., the beginning of November, not the beginning of May.
The Wiccan year starts and ends with Samhain, which is also known as Hallowe'en, or All Saints Eve. It is the celebration which falls just before the dark nights of winter take hold. The Winter Solstice comes next, where Wiccans celebrate the rebirth of the Sun; at Candlemas about six weeks later, we celebrate the first signs of the growing light (longer days,) and of spring beginning to show itself. The Spring Equinox (around 21 September - it varies from year to year) is the time when day and night are equal in length, and the Sun is on its increase. Next is Beltane, the Festival where Wiccans celebrate the union of the young man and woman, and everyone dances around a tree, crowned with a garland of flowers, and decked with red and white ribbons.
About six weeks after Beltane we come to the Summer Solstice, when the Sun reaches its greatest height. It is the longest day/shortest night, and in the southern hemisphere, falls around 21 December. Then the Sun begins its way back down towards winter, but we are still in summer. Six weeks after the Solstice is Lammas, when in agricultural societies, the harvest is reaped, and we receive the benefits from our hard work. The Sun at Lammas still has great strength, for it is the ripening time, rather than the growing time which ceases around the Summer Solstice. The Autumn Equinox follows this, usually around 21 March (again, it varies from year to year), which is often celebrated as a Harvest Festival. The next Festival, some six weeks after the Equinox, is Samhain, which is the time just before the winter really sets in, and when food is stored, and we remember those who have passed away. In many countries this is the time when the Lord of the Wild Hunt rides, which is mirrored in the way that the winds are often wild at this time of year, and the clouds ragged and wind-torn.
In parts of Australia you will find that some of these seasonal aspects are a little different, but generally speaking, you should be able to feel the change from winter to spring; spring to summer; summer to autumn and then autumn to winter. The specifics will change, but the general trend is very similar - one season leading to another. You have only to become aware of the natural changes in your own environment to realize that the concepts of the Wheel of the Year are valid wherever you may be.
As a Wheel of initiation, the Wheel of the Year is the path which leads us through the experiences of our gods towards that point which Jungian psychologists call individuation, and which Wiccans call knowledge of the Old Ones. As with all mystical experiences, these mysteries are not communicated in an academic or intellectual manner; they are direct experiences which each individual shares with the Old Gods. Different traditions have developed different ways of traveling the Wheel, but all ways have a common purpose, and all are equally valid, provided the basic principles are sound.
We gave a very brief description of the cycle of the Wheel of the Year above. Now we can have a look at this in more detail, using for our framework a mythology which is used by our own Coven. It is based upon the Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions in which we were initiated, but has evolved over several years, and has been greatly modified to reflect our own understanding of the turning wheel of the seasons. We should say at this point that we use the terms "King" and "Queen" to refer to the principle characters in the mythology. It is important to understand that we are not referring to a modern monarchy, but to the ancient pagan principles those titles infer. The King is the priest/king of the forest: his tale is told in many forms in many lands. He is the essential male that lies within all men, and is the animus (in it Jungian sense) of all women. The Queen is Sovereignty: she is the mysterious soul of nature; the essential woman that lies within all women, and is the anima of all men.
So to begin our journey: how do we set out to explore the mysteries of existence? Well, the journey begins with a question - we have first to be aware that there is a mystery to explore! And that most basic of questions is: "where did life come from? how did it all begin?" For a Wiccan there is an underlying spiritual intuition that the answer to that question is quite simply that the universe was created by deity. So we celebrate the beginning of the Wheel of the Year as a being the creation of all life by the God and the Goddess; we begin with a creation myth.
The Wheel of the Year starts with Samhain; at this time we celebrate the Great Rite - the joyful union of the God and Goddess in the Otherworld. This touches the very depths of the mystery. We celebrate at this time the conception that will lead to the birth of all creation.
Wiccans celebrate all life as a manifestation of the mystery of the gods, but do not pretend to understand how such life came into being. Nor do we claim to fully understand our gods; to the Wicca they are a mystery, and when describing our vision of deity we use symbols to express as best we can the vision we have seen. We do not know how the universe was created and this remains essentially mysterious. However, by choosing to take the path of initiation - that is, by following the Wheel of the Year - we can learn to commune more deeply with the gods, and experience visions which can reveal a little of the mystery.
The vision that we have of Samhain is of the creation. In the Wicca the inexpressible mystery of the deity is symbolized in the form of the God and Goddess. Thus at Samhain we celebrate their love as the root of all creation. Samhain is the time of creation: the moment when life is conceived in the womb of the Great Mother.
As we proceed to the next of the festivals - Yule - it should not be surprising to find that following the moment of conception we should seek to understand the moment of birth. The conception, the moment of creation deep within the mystery, took place at Samhain. The seed planted at this time gestates in the womb of the Goddess until the child of the gods - in essence, the whole of creation - emerges from the womb of the Great Mother. This is celebrated at Yule, which is symbolized by the birth of the Sun. In pre-Christian times, this time was called "Giuli," and followed "Modra Necht" - the Night of the Mothers.
Yule is celebrated at the time of the Midwinter Solstice. This is the time of the longest night, and of the shortest day. The Sun is seen to be symbolically born anew, as the Great Mother gives birth at the time of the darkest night. The Sun is a vitally important symbol to us, for it has been long known that all life on Earth is dependent upon the Sun. The Wheel of the Year itself is based upon the solar cycle, and the Sun is seen as symbolic of the life force which we worship as the God and the Goddess. The Sun is the dominant force in all our lives. Without its light and heat, life as we understand it is impossible. The passage of the Sun through the heavens regulates the passage of the seasons we experience upon the Earth, and is therefore the foundation of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year.
At the Midwinter Solstice we celebrate the rebirth of the Sun. Many Wiccan covens follow the old pagan tradition of enacting this as the Goddess giving birth to the Child of Promise. It was at the Midwinter Solstice in the northern hemisphere that the birth of Mithras was celebrated. For the same reason it was decided in 273 AD to appoint this date to celebrate the birth of Christ; the "son" of God.
In the world of nature, Yule signifies the moment of the rebirth of the Sun. In our own lives we can take it to represent the moment of physical birth. Thus in our ritual cycle, we enact the rebirth of the Sun by the lighting of candles, and especially the lighting of a flame within the cauldron to represent the emergence of new life from the darkness of the womb of the Goddess. We ritually invoke the Great Mother and All-Father, and we symbolically enact the Goddess giving birth to the new year. In human terms the child represents all the potential for life, as yet unaware that all the mysteries of the universe lies hidden deep within. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the child is born in innocence, created in the image of the gods.
We have taken the second step upon our journey. From now on the days continue to lengthen as the Sun climbs toward its height at the Summer Solstice. In response to the greater heat of the Sun, the land begins to awaken as we start the journey from winter towards spring. The next festival is Candlemas. As we might guess from the name (given to it by the Christians), it is a festival of lights which celebrates the growth of the Sun. By Candlemas, the days are appreciably longer. Our understanding of this festival has been guided by ancient pagan tradition and our own inspiration. We see this as a time of purification and most especially a time of initiation into the female mysteries. At Candlemas we observe in nature the awakening potential for the fullness of summer. In human terms we represent this by the first female menstruation. This is the virgin aspect of the Goddess, marking the awakening of her potential to become the mother.
We celebrate this ritual by arming the young virgin with the powers of the elements. We celebrate her initiation into the mysteries of her sex. To reflect this essential female mystery, we enact the young girl being instructed by her mother and grandmother into the mysteries of being a woman. Thus we reveal that the mystery of the virgin is also found within the mother crone as well.
It is at Candlemas in many parts of Britain that the women of the house dress a sheaf of oats in woman's clothing, and lay it in a basket called "Brighid's bed." They also place a small phallic club in the bed and then call out three times, "Brighid is come, Brighid is welcome!", and leave candles burning all night beside the bed. Behind all this we catch glimpses of deeper mysteries that can only be grasped by passing beyond a mere intellectual appreciation of the symbolism.
To continue our journey we now come to the Spring Equinox. It might seem that celebrating Candlemas as a female mystery is rather unbalanced in a religion which is based upon polarity of male and female; but no; for reasons of tradition, and because woman reach puberty before men, it is not until the Spring Equinox that the initiatory male rite is enacted. In this we arm the young god with the knowledge of his own creative power; he is initiated into the mysteries of sex, just as the young girl was armed with the powers of her potential. This ritual expresses the mystery that he contains within his young life; the potential to become a father and wise old man.
This continues to reflect the turning tide of the seasons. We are now in the spring. New life is awakening on all sides. The sap is rising in the trees, and both the young man and young girl have awakened to the mysteries of their sexuality. The Spring Equinox is a vital moment in the passage of the solar cycle. Day and night now stand equal, and from this point onwards the light will dominate the darkness. The long dark nights of winter have at last been overthrown.
Between the Spring Equinox and Beltane the young man and woman pursue one another, each becoming more aware of the other sex. Thus the man understands that there is more to the mystery of life than pure masculinity, and the woman sees that there is more to life than her femininity. Having found this vision, they express it in their desire to be joined as one.
We arrive now at Beltane. This is the time of the sacred marriage when the young man and woman are joined together as husband and wife. With their wish to be married, they have glimpsed that the mysteries of love may lead to a deeper union still - in essence, to a union with the gods. By going beyond their sense of individual self to embrace one another, they have taken a profound step toward the God and Goddess. They have discovered that deep within themselves they are both male and female, and the experience of this brings a new sense of joy and wholeness.
Beltane is a time of joy and celebration; the dark of winter is forgotten, and summer is coming. It is a time of fertility and fire. We dance the ancient mystery of the Maypole, celebrating our understanding our understanding of the mystery of the love of a man for a woman. The pole is crowned with a garland of flowers to symbolize their joining; the ribbons are red and white, reminding us of blood and sperm. The dance is the sexual fire, as we dance about the pole winding the ribbons in the pattern of the spiral, which reveals the mystery of the serpent; that ancient awakener who slumbers until warmed by the rising Sun.
This is the time of the sacred marriage. It is a moment when human consciousness has grasped the powers of nature, joined with those powers and shared in the mystery of life. The land and our lives are married as one. For those that are able to see it, there is a vision of the creation of all life by the God and the Goddess. For the mystery is now revealed for all to see - the woman conceives of her husband. She is pregnant and will bear a child.
Through their union they discover their deeper selves, which we symbolize as the King and Queen of the land. The man and woman now take up their new roles, and rule the kingdom of their new found lives. At Candlemas and the Spring Equinox a man and a woman were instructed in the powers of nature. Now at Beltane that knowledge is transformed into understanding. For in joining together they have understood that their lives and the land are one.
The land continues to bring forth life in an ever greater profusion. The woman who is now the Queen begins to show the first signs of the Beltane seed planted in her womb by her husband, the King. She is pregnant; the mirror image of the maturing crops.
Now we come to Midsummer, the height of the solar Wheel. This is the time of the longest day and shortest night, and a time of maturity, both in the agricultural cycle and the lives of the man and woman. They rule now as King and Queen; just as the Sun is at its height, so too they are at the height of their creative powers. The woman's mature power is reflected in her approaching mother- hood. The man's power is reflected in his kingship, and in his mastery of nature and rule of the kingdom. Together the King and Queen preside over the kingdom of their lives, celebrating the vision of creative light.
But the light does not continue to rise. The vision of light must once more give way to a growing darkness. As things grow, so too they must wither and die. From Midsummer, the Sun must fall, until reborn once more at the Winter Solstice. Thus Midsummer is a celebration of the King and Queen's power, but must also reflect the returning current of darkness. We symbolize this by the appearance of a challenger who confronts the couple. Until now the King and Queen have ruled supreme; they have imposed their will upon the kingdom without challenge, but now a single dark figure must appear. This is the beginning of the ancient pagan theme of the battle between the brothers; the light and dark kings now begin their conflict.
The challenger seeks to abduct the Queen; the child she bears represents the kingdom. The King must now defend the land. They fight, light against dark, but as yet the sun is still supreme, and the King drives the challenger back. But, the challenger is armed with the power of fate; we know that the Sun must fall. With a single stroke the challenger wounds the King, laying open his thigh; but still the light is the greater power, and the King defeats the challenger. The light still rules supreme, but a shadow has fallen over the kingdom.
Thus Midsummer comes to a close. The King and Queen remain at the height of their power, yet a new force - darkness - is awakening in the world. As the seasons continue to turn, the gods begin to reveal a further mystery: not only are they light, they are also dark as well. Thus the King and Queen have awakened to a deeper mystery; they have seen that not only are they male and female, but they are also light and dark as well.
As we look at the natural world, we see that the Sun is now waning. The days grow shorter, and we sense profound changes in the world around us. After Midsummer, the next festival we come to is Lammas. The crops have matured, and in the way of nature, aged and turned to seed. The days are still longer than the nights; the light still rules in the land, but the powers of darkness are now visibly growing. Summer is coming to an end and we are approaching autumn. To symbolize the theme of the waning light and growing power of darkness, we celebrate Lammas as a Harvest Festival. In cutting the corn (wheat), we celebrate the end of the vision of light. We cut the corn with joy; as we have sown, so now we reap, but in cutting the corn we signal the end of the cycle of growth.
As we gather in the harvest we watch as the power of the Sun wanes. The cutting of the corn is an ancient symbol of death and transformation, and reflects the seasonal changes at work in the land around us. As we look to the King and Queen, who were married to the land at Beltane, we see in their lives a reflection of these themes. Just as the harvest is reaped, so the Queen now births her child.
The mystery of Lammas is that by fulfilling the vision of light in bringing to fruition the seed sown in the spring, we must face the vision of death. For the King bears the wound he received at Midsummer, it is a wasting wound and will not heal. He slowly weakens, his creative power spent. He is still King, but his powers are waning, a reflection of the falling light. But Lammas is also a time of hope, for in the cutting of the corn the seed is gathered in, which is the hope for life to come. As the King looks to his first born son he looks to the heir of the kingdom. We celebrate Lammas as a time of fulfillment; it is a time of joy, when we reap all we have sown.
Both King and Queen have been transformed. The King had to accept the glimpse of the vision of death in his killing of the challenger and taking of a mortal wound; so now the Queen dies to herself, for in giving birth she has given the child a part of her life, passing her power to her son. As the Wheel of the Seasons turns, it reveals that the gods embrace both life and death. Just as the man and woman were born, so too they must die. Lammas brings the vision of mortality, but reveals the hope of the immortal spirit hidden in the new cut grain, made manifest in the new born child, who symbolizes the awakening darkness; he is the power of the waning Sun. He emerges from the womb as the growing darkness appears in the natural world.
We must now move on. Time will stand still for no-one. The wheel must turn, and we must turn with it. This is our fate, as our lives reflect the turning cycle of the seasons. We must now make our way to the Autumn Equinox, where once again the powers of light and darkness stand as equals - but now it is the darkness that is in the ascendant.
It is the nature of human beings to resist the darkness. Humanity fears death above all things. It is the root of all our fears; death is the final initiation. Only through an acceptance and understanding of death can we hope to understand the goods. Only in accepting death can we truly accept life. Life and death are two sides of the same coin; we cannot have one without the other.
By the time we reach the Autumn Equinox, it becomes harder to describe the mysteries that we celebrate. The mystery that can be taught or explained is not, after all, a mystery. At the Autumn Equinox we must face life's greatest mystery: death. This is the hardest trial of all. In the ancient mystery schools, and in shamanic practices, the most important of initiations was - and is - the near death experience.
The child born at Lammas is now a young man. He is the reflection of the growing powers of darkness. The old King of Light bears his mortal wound and is now advancing in years, his powers waning as the days grow shorter, and the Sun falls lower and lower in the sky. The Queen also is no longer young; the flower of her youth is past. The King and Queen are aging with the land, for they and the land are one.
But as is natural in human affairs we none of us want to admit the darkness. We fight against the coming of the night. So the King and Queen each in their own way try to hold onto the kingdom they have been at such pains to build. The King's powers are waning; his son is in the first flush of youth and vigor, and has been initiated into the mysteries of his power. The King grows weak, and must rely upon his son to defend the kingdom. But, the King now fears his son as a potential challenge to the throne. The Queen likewise does not want to relinquish her power. She sees that her husband grows weak and infirm, and is no match for a challenger. To maintain her position in the kingdom she relies on the power of her son.
Finally, in the dead of the night, the old pagan tale replays itself. The battle begun at the Midsummer Solstice between the light and darkness must now be resumed; the King and his son fight as the Equinox comes upon us. Sword against spear the battle rages; the experience of the King against the naked strength of his son's youth. The Queen watches as they fight, torn by hope and fear. But as they fight, there is a great mystery at work. Both the King and Queen now face their fear of death, and as they look death in the eye there is a moment of understanding. The King, the Queen, and the land are one. Thus they are both the light and darkness. In the moment of vision the King looks upon his son, and at last realizes that he is only fighting himself, for all things are one. The King and his son understand the mystery, and they join in love as one. They give up the conflict of light and dark to pass beyond this world, and they become the Lord of the Otherworld. The Queen too has seen both life and death, and knows that they are one. With this realization she becomes the crone, and understands the ancient mystery. The Equinox marks her last menstrual cycle; she can no longer bear children.
So now we must take our last step upon the Wheel; we come at last to Samhain, from where it all began. As we saw at the beginning this is the Wiccan New Year. The Queen has become the crone - the hag, the Witch. She lives alone, for the King is now dead. The Sun is waning toward the Solstice; winter is upon us, and the night is now longer than the day.
If we look to the land, the cycle of growth has come to an end. The kingdom of the old year has symbolically passed away, transformed by the turning of the seasons. The Queen is now a Witch; the ancient hag crone who knows the mysteries of life and death. In making her journey she has discovered the ancient power which lies behind the Wheel of the Year. She has seen the spring, the summer, autumn and winter, and she knows that an ancient mystery lies hidden within it all.
Standing alone, for she is feared by those who have yet to walk the Wheel, she kindles the ancient Samhain fire. As she raises her arms in invocation to the Lord of the Otherworld, a great storm gathers. The veil is opened between the worlds. The storm breaks, and the Wild Hunt is upon us as the spirits of the dead are led from the Otherworld by the ancient Horned God; the Ancient Lord of the Samhain fire. To complete the final turn of the Wheel, the Crone must now join with his mystery, and go with him back into the Otherworld. She and the Horned Lord travel together back into the depths of the mystery. There they join in love as one; the supreme moment of the true Great Rite in which all the mysteries of the male and female, all the mysteries of the light and dark are married together as one as the seed is planted deep within the womb of the Great Mother.
For now in the natural cycle the seeds of nature fall to the ground, the seed of life to come. The seed harvested at Lammas is now planted in the earth, fulfilling the mystery of the return. For a while the land sleeps, and lies fallow. The darkness seems to complete, but of course we know that we will eventually return to the Winter Solstice, and the cycle will continue.
Let us now approach the Wiccan Wheel of the Year as it is meant to be: as a mystery. Forget the intellect, and allow your intuition and emotions to be your guide. What follows is a guided visualization, which you can read onto a tape, or have one person read aloud, as you follow the journey it describes. Allow the images to form naturally in your imagination, and you will find yourself making a magical journey through the mysteries of the gods.
For those who are not used to following a guided visualization, there are a few simple rules to observe. Before starting any meditation work (which includes the kind of altered state that guided visualization encourages), seat yourself comfortably in a quiet room, free from distractions. Take the phone off the hook, and tell anyone who lives with you not to disturb you. You can of course do this out of doors, but if you do, make sure you are well off the beaten track, with no danger of bush walkers stumbling over you, or any other kinds of disturbance. Have a pen and pad handy, and if it helps you to relax and focus, use some incense.
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