The Alder Tree
The alder is the perfect tree to begin your journey because it’s thought to have deeply protective qualities specifically for spiritual warriors who boldly go forth into the unknown. The alder helps and supports us in taking up new challenges and situations which we may have previously avoided. It offers us balanced energy, because it is associated with the elements of both fire and water. This offers us the balance of fiery masculine energy and the feminine receptive qualities of water.
In ancient times, alder wood was used to build ships and shields because when this wood is submerged in water, it actually becomes stronger. The alder is also said to be a catalyst for changes and challenges in our lives, which will ultimately bring us healing and a deeper understanding of ourselves, even if the change/challenge feels difficult at the time. Alder offers us the necessary protection to aid us when we are called on to make changes and step out of our comfort zone.
The Celts believed that the alder tree secretly held the sacred flame of fire within its flesh and they soon discovered that it made the most perfect kind of charcoal for steadily hot conditions — the kind that can be used to make steel weapons! The alder also contains a rather unique and beautiful characteristic that binds it to the Divine Feminine — the alder bleeds! From a feminine perspective, the red blood of the alder tree serves as an ancient reminder of the goddess and her resources. Weavers would use the dye from the alder tree in spinning, weaving, and in clothing. A powerful method for weaving in protection. I can just picture women sitting in circle weaving and spinning wearable protection into the blankets that warm their children and themselves and into the armor worn in battles. It is said that the alder tree allowed access to the faery realms, to those deemed worthy, and this made the tree sacred to the druids as well. So you might see how carrying a small piece of alder wood as a talisman might feel deeply protective—much like having a shield around us.
In the end though, alder serves as a strong reminder that, although we may have deep associations with sacred objects that offer protection and warrior-ship, we first need to rely on our own deeply rooted instincts when our boundaries are being threatened. If we overlook taking practical steps to support our personal needs and fall instead into a reactionary realm, then we’ve dishonored ourselves by giving away our power. The alder is a deep reminder of this lesson.
If you can find an alder tree in your area, ask for a small piece of it to carry as a talisman of protection to fortify your own inner shield from negative energies.
The Amazon lives within us always; she is a part of our psyche and inner soul. But sometimes we become disconnected from her power. Let’s revisit her qualities.
The Amazon woman knows how to show up for herself and for those she cares deeply for. She keeps her commitments and knows how to set and maintain healthy boundaries. Some of these boundaries are surrounding food, money, time, energy etc. She challenges us to do our own inner work as a bigger part of reclaiming her within ourselves. Amazon energy calls us to action and strengthens us to be able to meet our fears, our wounds and the shadow parts of ourselves – to make a plan and carry it out. She supports us to be clear, assertive, decisive, honest, responsible, and courageous.
Some might say that to be a warrior is to stand for those who cannot stand for themselves. This warrior is the strongest of all — the true friend who tells the truth to those she loves. Those invested in patterns of domination might try to belittle this warrior. But remember this, when one is threatened, the Amazon warriors’ sisters gather and protect.
Creating Boundaries, access your Amazon
Amazon based boundaries are essential to creating healthy friendships and intimate relationships. Often our greatest Amazon challenges are to be faithful to the truth as we know it, especially when our ego disagrees. If we can try to stay present within ourselves then our own personal truth will bubble up and demand that we speak it.
Sometimes that truth leads to anger. Ideally we are able to understand the role that anger plays within us. It is necessary, at times, in order for healing to happen. In our Amazon archetype, our anger is processed, not through aggression, but rather through love and compassion. This is where the strength of the spiritual warrior and Amazon comes from.
Each of us will have our weak spots when it comes to boundary making, perhaps it’s with our mothers, siblings or lovers, or perhaps it’s within our relationships with friends. We all have an achilles’ heel when it comes to having our boundaries challenged at some point.
The trick here is to be able to deal with these challenges with grace and maturity. And more critically, being able to recognize when we ourselves are our own undoing by crossing our own boundaries—working late, skipping lunch for a client, volunteering when we actually should be directing that time and energy into our own home or health, pushing ourselves when we are on our moon-time, or sick, or emotionally unwell, and on and on.
The healthy Amazon holds her sense of boundary close. She ideally understands what she can and can not take on in her life in any given moment and she sticks to this. Which opens the door to the question: what does the Shadow Amazon look like?
On the flip side, when our inner Amazon is in shadow, we may feel completely ineffectual, unassertive, and incapable of speaking our truth. A woman with a passive shadow Amazon may not be able to create healthy boundaries for herself, so people invade her space or walk all over her. She does not know how to defend herself, nor know how to protect her inner child. Conversely, an Amazon woman who is expressing herself in an unhealthy way may assume that others need her to protect them, and so she is always willing to protect others, regardless of her own needs. This way of thinking comes from a place of ego. Ego tells her that she is always needed to serve and protect others, to the detriment of her own needs which results in the complete neglect of herself. Having said that, it is wise to remember that ego plays an important role in the Spiritual Warrior archetype (which I’ll discuss more below) as it is our ego that drives us to protect in general and this includes protecting ourselves. A Spiritual Warrior, has come to a place of being able to recognize healthy and unhealthy ways of moving from our ego space. Let’s take a look.
Spiritual Warrior Archetype
The Spiritual Warrior is a person who challenges the dreams of fear, lies, false beliefs, and judgments, that create suffering and unhappiness in his or her life. The quest of the Spiritual Warrior is the same as that of spiritual seekers around the world. In fact, this is a war that takes place in the heart and mind of every person. The Spiritual Warrior faces this challenge with the clarity and awareness that this war is fought within herself and that truth and unconditional love are on the other side of these battles. This is what the Toltecs refer to as Personal Freedom. You can find this referenced in the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. To win the war against fear requires awareness, courage, discipline, and commitment to transform the emotional body.
Awareness of the Spiritual Warrior
The first and most vital tool of the Spiritual Warrior is awareness. Pure awareness is to perceive with clarity the truth of what is happening, without interpretation or opinion. In a moment of awareness the dialogue in the mind stops. We are “seeing” from a point of view separate from the reasoning part of our mind.
Practiced seers live in this awareness in every moment. Awareness is essential because it is the state of consciousness that allows us to discern between the facts and the Truth, and between the stories and the lies inside our minds. The realm of our mind is filled with false perceptions and false beliefs. While the mind can be very clever with stories and lies, it is the consciousness of awareness that is the discerning intelligence. We may use very intelligent reasoning to make a decision that is not good for ourselves, only to look back in hindsight and realize that we discounted indicators that told us this truth. The mind is clever, but it is also full of assumptions and limited paradigms of perception. Conscious awareness allows us to see clearly, instead of be blinded by these false belief paradigms.
To go one step further, self-awareness is the clarity to know who and what you are, and not get caught up in self- important images of ourselves. These self-important images in our mind distort our sense of who we are. False images can lead us to low self-esteem and self-confidence, or they can take us into being self-centered. If you have an idea of who you are, then consider that you are not that idea of your mind. You are the one creating the idea, and observing it. Self-awareness that you are not any of the images in your mind is essential to becoming free of self-importance.
Courage of the Spiritual Warrior
The Spiritual Warrior has the courage to question and challenge his or her own beliefs. By challenging our own beliefs we can dissolve the lies that cause our suffering. To challenge our own beliefs requires courage because it means the end of our illusion of safety. In this way, we are able to sort out the truth from the illusion.
Discipline of the Spiritual Warrior
A soldier has to have discipline to follow orders and continue on when faced with challenges. The Spiritual Warrior’s discipline allows them to continue on with their path even when faced with challenges. A soldier has the motivation of consequences or rewards from an authority figure. A spiritual warrior must have the discipline to follow their own heart, even when tempted by another person’s opinion. You as a Warrior on this journey must have the discipline to deal with the battles that arise within your own mind, without threat or reward.
Love of the Spiritual Warrior
The Spiritual Warrior must have the commitment to love him/her self; this love is then extended to humanity. It can be easy to love some people, particularly those who like us or treat us well. However, it requires a tremendous commitment to love those who reject us. We must be committed to love beyond our own self-serving interests, beyond what it will bring us. A commitment is required, because in our journey we will certainly fumble and fall many times. It is when we have a strong commitment that we get back up again. This is how we will become happy beyond our current paradigm of beliefs. In time, we become committed to love for the sheer enjoyment of expressing it!
Athena, much like her sister Artemis, is one of the virgin goddesses, "a woman unto herself". However, Athena is different from Artemis, for her ability to identify with men – so much so, that she presented more traditionally masculine in thought and deed. Whereas Artemis was simply ambivalent to men and their attentions, Athena became the “father’s daughter”, valuing rational thinking and warfare above all else. Athena identified very much with her father. And this makes sense because mythology states she was born out of her father, Zeus’ head, giving her a “mind for logical things”. She kept her head in the heat of emotional situations and avoided emotional or sexual entanglements with men with whom she worked closely. Athena was the protector, advisor, patron, and ally of heroic men, and it is said that she ruled by her head rather than her heart. She thrived in political and academic areas, and was known for her practical and pragmatic ways. Athena is also known as the Goddess of Wisdom, and as such she is often depicted with an owl on her shoulder.
Every once in a while, I come across a site that just moves me. This month as I was researching Women Warriors, I came across this sweet page. It includes the story of a few real live women warriors. My favorite is the story of Lozen, an Apache woman warrior who’s contributions to her tribe will knock your socks off. I only regret I was unable to find clear pictures of her.
Take note of the traits of the Warrior Goddess within yourself. Bring them forward this month as you delve into the next layer of this month’s journey work.
You will begin this journey by connecting with your Animal Spirit Guide. Begin in your sacred spot and look for the entry to the lower realm. Journey through the entry into the lower realm and call to your Guide. Ask your Guide to lead you to the sacred grove where you might connect with the Alder tree. The sacred grove on the whole is a circle of twelve trees. You will sit with each one of these trees over the course of thirteen moons.
Journey to the Alder Tree
Today, you will sit under the Alder. Once you’re situated in your journey you may proceed. Be very clear in your intent and ask the Alder Tree:
What aspect of the warrior do I need a lesson in at this time?
Where in my life do I need protection or a shield at this time?
As you sit, keep your heart open to whatever will come to you. Remember, the message may not necessarily be words. Your Guide may show you images or sing a song, or anything really.
Take note of everything you see, hear, feel or even smell, as it is “all important”. Jot down your feelings and muse in your journal around this journey. Give yourself a few days to process.
Write a letter from your Amazon self to a younger you (child, teen, or older) at a time when you really needed this Amazon to take up for you. Tell this younger you what you most needed to hear at that moment in your life but didn’t. Tell her that you are there for her now, prepared to protect her, stand up for her, and to help her face her fears. Tell her you will help her face the Truth, whatever that is.
Wait a few days, and then either mail the letter to yourself, or just simply sit and take some time to read it as if you are that younger person. Take it in; feel the love and protection of your bright Amazon.
Once you have had a chance to do and process this healing ritual, you will be ready to move onto asking for your power object, the one that will represent the Amazon aspect of yourself in your medicine bundle.
Journey for your Sacred Object
Journey again into the lower realm, meet your Guide and ask that you be shown the sacred object that represents your inner warrior, your strength as a woman, and your ability to stand up for yourself and speak your fierce truth. Once this object is revealed to you. It’s time to retrieve it in the real world. This might takes days, weeks, or even months to finally secure your sacred object. If you have not found your object but know what it is, select a ‘placeholder’ to work with until your truth power object is secured.
Once you have your object in hand, journey with the object to ask for any additional information you need at this time regarding yourself as an Amazon/Warrior.
In a separate journey (let’s not confuse our Guides), ask for a ritual you can do to serve as protection. Allow this ritual and this object, together, to ground you and protect you when you need. Continue to journey with your object as much as you feel called to this month. Remember that you have the whole month to make a sacred bond with your object before it goes into your medicine bundle, so take that time and sit with it as much as possible.