Before my Teen Yoga Teacher Training I stayed with a second cousin (on my Dad’s side of the family) I had never met before, we both decided she’d rather be an Aunt as she has never been called Auntie before and most likely never will since her older sister opted not to have children. So I visited Aunt Ami for 3 days in Calne, Wiltshire as a mini break before the intensive training in Bath. My Aunt is a pretty amazing person and I am so glad that there is family out there who are like me, it’s so wonderful to find a bohemian relative in the family, someone to have deep conversations with and not feel strange or judged for being ‘spiritual’. Aunt Ami is adorned with meaningful tattoos, is a yoga teacher and in her earlier years trained as a contemporary Laban dancer. One of her daughters is currently training as a dancer in Barcelona and the other is living in India, all three women are wonderfully independent and quirky in their own right. I find this discovery about this part of my family very enriching and comforting to know who I am is quite normal, being bohemian is not weird or wrong but very beautiful. It was truly an awakening experience especially when Aunt Ami’s friends and neighbors thought I was part of her immediate family, which is something I never get with my own immediate family- most people upon seeing me around my sister & mum, can’t seem to place me, many people say I look like my Dad but I think that is because of the curly hair. So it felt good to fit in and be seen as normal or simply cherished for just being me.
So upon spending three days in Calne, my Aunt took me on a day trip to Avebury stone circle and I was in awe of the mysticism of the place. Having a love for ancient Pagan traditions and ceremonies plus my thirst to learn more about the yogic way of life I’ve come to realize a lot of crossovers between Paganism and Yoga Philosophy. Both lifestyles have the utmost respect for nature, both have ceremonies or blessings to mother earth and the divinity around us and both are quite grounded in earth based medicines such as plant medicine or Ayurveda (which is the sister science to Yoga).
For ages I was considering converting to Hinduism as I felt drawn to that way of life but after giving it a lot of thought, I feel even more connected to the Pagan way, it just feels right and I also feel I can bring Pagan ideas into my yoga teaching and be that mystical, witchy yoga teacher who has a statue of the Green man next to her Ganesh on her alter, why not?
Upon seeing the stone circles we came across these gorgeous cluster of ancient trees, sat on a hill and covered in ribbons! I knew instantly this was a very special site and these were very sacred trees. These ribbons represent prayers or wishes to the spirits in the trees and you could really feel the magic flowing around the area, so much so people were coming to sit and stare at the trees, not knowing the meaning behind the ribbons but felt something special pulsating from them. One man with his little girl, whilst holding a small guidebook asked me what it all means and I explained “They are wishing trees, kind of like a wishing well. It’s a Pagan tradition or ritual where you tie a ribbon on it’s branches and make a wish or prayer to a loved one who might be sick for example.” and the man replied “Oh wow, that’s amazing, nothing is written about wishing trees in the guidebook!”
Ribbon trees are also used in Hand-fasting (Pagan Wedding) ceremonies, where the soon to be wedded couple stand under the tree with a priest or High priestess and have a huge plaited ribbon gently tied around their hands and those attending the ceremony can tie more ribbons around the couple’s writsts and on the sacred tree to offer a blessed marriage and I find that so much more beautiful than a church wedding!
This is the project I am going to be working on soon- alongside my dream-catchers I will be making some sample Hand Fasting Cords! I am really excited to be making them and very soon will open an etsy shop! So many more couples these days are opting for a non-traditional, bohemian wedding in nature with dream-catchers hung on branches with lanterns and using old Pagan ideas like Hand-Fasting and I love the idea of one day seeing my creations in a wedding like that.
After sitting under the sacred trees we ventured to one of the stones considered to be the stone dedicated to the goddess of fertility so I serenaded her with Dancer pose and asked for support in making my yoga teaching business fertile so it grows to fruition.
I love sites like this, I have yet to visit Stonehenge but it really does make me think about the magic and mysticism of our ancient ways and even around the world. I remember when visiting Nepal we saw numerous shrines in the middle of nowhere dedicated to a deity of the forest or mountain and even in Portugal so many nautical themed alters were dedicated to sea deities and water spirits and it brings me joy to see the magic in the mundane, its all around us and within us, you only need to look for the signs and feel its presence.