The World Tree Holds Me Safe—Yearwheel Rituals for Dark Months
Am I a Nomad Shaman?
The Tree of Life, also known as the World Tree, symbolizes the entire cosmos as one organic whole. This is not just a belief for me but an experience I have on the mystical and mundane planes.
The World Tree holds me in safety and love. This too is more than a belief. It is my experience.
This post consists of five separate but related pieces. They are kind of journal entries, kind of personal essays. Not all my musings herein are about the dark time of the year and its Pagan holidays. This time of year, many of us go deep within to contemplate our entire lives. And I hoped some of the thoughts and experiences I had that were important to me might be useful to you.
… Hah, no sooner had I finished writing the above paragraph than I realized that everything in this post is relevant to the autumn and winter. E.g., when I wrote about my ancestors, I was pursuing a traditional Pagan winter activity. In many Witch traditions, more time is spent with ancestors during the winter months.
The entries began early in November 2022 and ended right before the Winter Solstice in December 2022. I edited a bit for continuity.
1) My Home Is Within Me
& Within Loving Care From Fairy Gods
I’ve been growing paperwhites. The above photo shows some of their roots starting to grow in water.
Growing paperwhites during the dark months of the year has become one of my annual yearwheel rituals. I discuss what the rite means to me in this blog: The Year’s Dark Months Are a Magic Cauldron.
The paperwhites ritual unfolds new meanings for me every year. Here’s how one came about this year:
Moving twice last year, and knowing I may move again soon, taught me once again that I need a home other than a physical place. My true home has to be within myself and within care from my Gods. My sense of a home, including the safety, serenity, and hygge thereof, cannot depend on circumstances. (Hygge describes a home that feels cozy and helps people within it feel content, vital, and whole).
This is giving me freedom from worry. It’s also providing hope and the sense that going on adventures is possible even at my late age. In other words, I know that I cannot root in a false sense of safety but that I carry safety with me, so I can go wherever I want, to do what I want.
Paperwhites are generally considered an annual. My paperwhite bulbs are growing inside, their roots going down into water in a vase. This brings me to the new meaning these flowers gave me this year. Nurturing them to live their brief glorious lives, as their roots settle into the water in my probably temporary housing, affirms that my roots can grow into the moment and place I currently reside.
Feeling rooted has always been important to me. Now I root in a new way.
In recent months, I’ve thought that I might be becoming a nomad. If so, it’s more important than ever that my roots be deep within Gaia as a whole, instead of confined to a single location.
2) Do I Have Nomad Ancestors?
The more I dwell on the idea that I might be becoming a nomad, the more I suspect I have always been one but didn’t give my nomadic spirit license.
I spent so many years focused on finding a home to settle down in and never did, for one reason or another.
I finally bought my “forever home.” I describe the tragedy that drove me out of that house—which I’d worked decades to have—in a blog on my other site: Italian Ancestors, Prejudice, Life’s Cycles, & Useful Magic.
Regardless of that trauma and the suffering it caused me, there’s always a reason things happen. I had to come to believe in this synchronicity. Otherwise, my pain, rage, and grief would have destroyed me.
Accepting life as is does not mean I don’t stand up for my rights or that I suppress my emotions. But everything it took to come to acceptance is too large a topic for this post. I achieve acceptance through a series of Shamanic disciplines that I teach to my students. I teach it over time because it is part of the larger whole of Shamanism. If you’re interested, enroll in any of my classes. They’re all relevant. Quite relevant, even if I do not mention acceptance when I describe the class.
I’ve finally come to see that perhaps I’m not meant to settle down.
Perhaps it’s in my blood. Good chance my father was Middle Eastern. … Middle Eastern culture drew me long before I knew about my dad. … Oh, one of the first Shamanic stories I ever channeled to put on paper (as opposed to those I channeled during an oral lesson and never repeated) was set in a Middle Eastern desert. … Oh, and it was a story of a man traveling, searching for God. A wandering pilgrim.
Are my ancestors calling me? Guiding me?
3) A Wee Plant Can Be The Tree of Life
I was thrilled last summer when I opened an avocado and saw its seed had grown roots.
I nurtured that root system tenderly, and now the baby tree is doing very well. Here’s a photo that shows the seed after I had it in water for a while so its roots could grow more before I planted the seed in soil.
I’m thinking about moving to Italy.
Important sidebar: if you are a student of mine, or want to be one, you are a top priority in my life, even if I move to Europe. I will continue to teach long-distance, give spiritual transmissions and psychic readings, and provide my other services. I will remain available if you need to talk by phone—for example about an upcoming class. I commit to my students. I researched to find free and inexpensive technology that will allow a shared Shamanic journey. I feel confident about an in-depth vital experience together no matter where I live. End of sidebar.
The idea of growing this plant from seed for months but not getting to know it as a big tree because I’d have to leave it behind to move to Italy made me very sad. I’m not surprised at my reaction even though it’s “just” a plant. I have had so much loss in my life that it all combines in my belly and heart.
Plus, it is not “just a plant.” This plant is my friend. And if I move to Europe, I must relinquish plant friends who accompanied me for decades through moves across the country and across town and through life’s up and downs. These plant friends have consoled me, nurtured me, and uplifted me.
I try not to run from my grief but to feel it. It’s hard because I’ve lost so much in this lifetime—far bigger losses than plants, life-shattering losses from childhood on.
When I allow myself to feel my grief, renewal follows shortly thereafter. Soon, my eyes open to a positive view. I see the benefits of my losses. Almost always, even the worst losses have constituted equally wonderful gains. These are not groundless theories. The gains of which I speak are quantitative, tangible benefits, as well as inner shifts such as peace and joy.
I decided I needed to write a prayer to help me live the lesson.
Prayer of a Shamanic Pilgrim
and all my Fairy Gods,
open my wild heart to my grief
that my sadness may ring out fully in its tragedy,
and that my passionate heart
may ring out in all its beauty.
Hold me as I grieve for all I’ve lost.
Always remind me that
home is within me,
and in care from You.
Yours is the loving embrace of the World Tree.
Every flower, stone, and moment
is Your love and protection.
The smallest plant is the Tree of Life
taking care of me.
This is the ultimate root magic—
the World Tree’s roots
taking care of me.
remind me that it frees me
to be an explorer,
adventurer who journeys
wherever the heart road leads.
with your company when I travel.
So mote it be!
Do you think there is an additional lesson for me about temporary roots? Please share it in the comment field below to help me and visitors to this site. Thank you.
4) Ritual Is an Instinct:
A Yule Tree for a Nomad
There’s no room for even a small Yule tree in my current home, which is tiny.
But there’s room for a vase of greenery.
I was walking along, longing for Yule greenery in my home. The longing didn’t seem like I’d bought into holiday hype. I felt a primal, instinctual need for a ritual of greenery at my hearth. Ritual is innate to humans, or at least some of us.
My longing was physical.
So, there I was with this tremendous ritual hunger, and I saw a Christmas tree lot across the street. Hah! My life runs on synchronicity.
I ran over to the lot and asked to buy some greens. They said I could have as much as I wanted for free.
The only place in my tiny apartment where I could squeeze in a vase was the kitchen counter, right by the bottle of olive oil.
I’ll have to move my vase when I need to plug in a kitchen appliance or wash dishes. Maybe that’s just part of my nomadic life right now. Movement. Movement instead of rigidity.
Recent moves, long story short, necessitated getting rid of 5/6s of what I own. It was rough. But it taught me that I do not want the rigidity of what I supposedly must own and what I am “supposed” to be. I want freedom and movement—being what I truly am and owning solely what I truly want. Movement instead of rigidity is freedom.
It can be scary—if not terrifying—to let go of possessions, because of what they represent. And what if I don’t have the money to replace some things? But I refuse to be tied down by fear any more than I will be tied down by possessions. … Being tied down by possessions is being tied down by fear. And fear makes us rigid.
I want movement instead of rigidity.
I decorated the Yule greens with talismans I made a few years ago. Each talisman is a wish I am making, giving my wish to the care of the World Tree. The Yule tree is the Tree of Life.
The photo that kicked off this post shows one of the talismans, and here are two more:
The World Tree is so huge and loving that I can honor it with some small greens in a vase. The greenery becomes my wee yet endlessly huge Tree of Life.
Life’s glories are not always big noticeable items and events. They can be small but subtly huge and glorious. This truth is part of my path as a Faerie Shaman.
Later: This December 19 picture shows the paperwhites in bloom, gloriously celebrating the Solstice season. They rejoice with me. Together we will enjoy the Winter Solstice day that comes soon:
Also later: My above poem (aka prayer) has the phrase the ultimate root magic. The following photo of my paperwhites somehow affirmed to me that the ultimate root magic is in the smallest plants.
5) Shamanism Is a Winding Path
That Brings Us Home
I decided to move to Italy.
The tragedy of losing a home that I’d worked so hard to have eventually taught me that the house and my many possessions were weighing me down.
I will relieve myself of even more possessions before I make the move to Europe. If something feels like a physical burden, I will probably leave it behind.
I feel freer than I have ever felt.
I’ve never wanted to do anything so badly in my entire life as I want to move to Italy. Thank you, my sweet fairy Goddess and all my fairy Gods.
It’s been a circuitous route to making this transition to the other side of the pond. For example, needing to relinquish so many possessions that I worked years to be able to acquire was painful and puzzling. But I’m a spiritual wanderer sometimes. That’s one of the way I learn things and find my destination. I needed to let go of a lot of items because shipping to Italy is expensive. And all my emotional meanderings, some of which were devastating, were my route to realizing I really want to go to Italy.
I suspect all magically inclined humans—even if they live in one place physically—are sometimes spiritual wanders who perambulate tangled roads toward realizations, abundance, and other life goals.
Shamanic Witches like me do not travel a straight path but explore a glorious meandering of highways and byways. The winding road is perhaps one of the truest routes home.
Home might mean someone’s ideal physical home. Or it might mean escape from abuse into the arms of people who help you. Or home might mean a sense of safety in the world. Or a sense of purpose. Or home could be a mystical experience of a home in the cosmos. Home has a million meanings.
I worked hard to find my right place in the world. I found that it is, among other things, my work in the community as a Shaman. I continue to find new ways to come home, such as the move to Italy.
All the work on my personal homecoming equipped me to teach my students how to do the same. I am good at helping you find your home, with all the meanings that home might have.
All my classes, Shamanic counseling, and direct spiritual transmissions help you find your true home, true center. This happens even when the description of an event doesn’t mention it. To stay in the loop about upcoming classes and other events, click the banner below.
Francesca De Grandis, best-selling author of Be a Goddess!, trained from birth in a European Shamanic family tradition of Celtic and Italian Witchcraft. She has lived this lesser known Faerie Shamanism for 72 years. She teaches Faerie magic—Goddess Witch spells—that is practical and improves your whole life. She helps you choose joy, express yourself, and serve community.