Much has been expressed in New Age and esoteric teachings about letting go of things that no longer serve us: people, material things, a job, our beliefs, etc. But as a creative being, you will manifest, collect, and attract people, things, and ideas worth holding on to, keeping precious, safe, and secure. There is much to value and protect in life, and times will present themselves when you need to stand by who you are. Creating your own emotional fortress to stand your ground is a brilliant way to do this. But building or becoming a fortress is not about locking yourself up in an emotionally impenetrable tower; rather, it is about having the knowledge, the voice, and the practical tools to defend your authentic self.
Psychiatrist Carl Jung said, "The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are." Unfortunately, too many people spend their lives trying to please others, and society at large, at the expense of being themselves, at the cost of their happiness and fulfilment, and at the expense of realising the potential yet to be discovered. Remember, you are not defined by your occupation or by the influences of others. Not taking to heart what others think about you may make you stand out from the crowd, but it is an authentic stance. Cultivating the ability to be true to yourself via your thoughts, words, and deeds is like building yourself up, brick by brick. It may require sacrifices, giving up things that take you away from that task. For example, if you are in a relationship with someone or a job that makes you miserable and depressed or forces you to act or behave differently from who you truly are, you need to remove yourself from it.
To stand this strong takes effort and determination. Without having a "virtual fortress" around our authentic self, we can leave ourselves open to all manner of emotional and energetic invasion. Creating healthy habits to protect against such intrusions is very useful, especially when you might only be starting to build your fortress. The following exercise engages your inner goddess energy with natural elements and universal energy to give you strength and enough protection to start working on your foundations and give you the courage to build on them as you see fit.
Ceremonial Circle Of Protection
You will need:
Begin by preparing the space, do this by clearing or smudging the area in which you will work. Next, take your sage/herbal bundle and light it, putting the lighter etc., back in your pocket (as you will need it to hand for the candle later). Once alight, blow out the flame so it can do its work through the smoke. Next, disperse the smoke as you carefully walk around your space, crisscrossing through the middle of it, ensuring that the smoke has been allowed to cover the whole area. Last but not least, surround yourself in the smoke, too, being sure to waft the smoke under the soles of your feet also. Now extinguish the bundle by pressing the top of the bundle into the shallow dish or abalone shell until you have starved it of air and it stops smoking. Now leaving the bundle in the dish, place it down in a corner of your space.
Next, take the white candle, the oil, and your power object to the centre of your space. When placing these objects down, the candle goes in the middle, the power object is placed to the right of the candle, and the oil is set to the candle's left. Now take your salt and stand in the middle of the space; being sure not to knock over the objects you have just placed there, pour out the salt in a circular rim around you and the object at least five feet in diameter. (I find that this works best for me by simply holding the salt out at arm's length and releasing it as I slowly spin around in a full circle.) To complete the preparation of this circle, we call in the four directions.
Start by facing East, the direction of illumination, of gaining new levels of understanding, and say, "Hail and welcome the energy of the East, protect all that I hold dear by shining your light on the things unseen, and thus remove any fear." Turn now to the South, the direction vigour and fulfilment, and say, "Hail and welcome the energy of the South, protect all I hold true by giving me the strength to face the things that I must do." Turn again to face the West, the direction of contemplation and spiritual realisation, and say, "Hail and welcome energy of the West, protect all that is now me by keeping alive my connection to Nature's great mystery." Finally, turn for the last time to face North, the direction of wisdom and survival (physical and emotional) and say, "Hail and welcome the energy of the North, protect all how have gone before, by taking what no longers and showing it the door."
Looking back down to the centre of your circle, it is time to light the candle; then stand up and declare, either aloud or in your head, that only positive, productive, and progress energy is allowed in your aura. Demand that all other energy leave you now and return to Source. Visualise the room filling with a colour that you associate most with feeling protected and safe; it might be white, dark blues, purple, or black. It must be the colour you feel most comfortable with. Now put a couple of drops of oil on your predominant thumb and anoint yourself. Start by touching the top of your head, then the centre of your forehead, down to your throat, your heart, the base of your spine, the back of your knees, and the bottoms of your feet. Say a prayer of thanksgiving to release the direction, something like, "Sacred Source from which all Directions gain their divine energies, thank you for holding me in your protection as I seek to bring wholeness to my heart and all I touch. I release the energy of the Directions, in gratitude, with thanks and reverence."
Now you can extinguish the candle and clear up your space. (A tip here about using salt: though it is not recommended to reuse salt for multiple exercises or rituals, I would always recommend scattering it in the woods, a field, or into the sea or natural flowing water. Allow nature to recycle it naturally.) You can undertake this exercise as often as you feel necessary, though I would limit it to no more than once a week; otherwise, you will unnecessarily get through a lot of precious sage and oils. But remember, you can visualise yourself standing in the middle of the circle with your energy field surrounded and filled with your protective light at any time.
What would it feel like to be a fortress of your own creation? The process is about becoming closer to yourself, all parts of your life experience. You learn to face and embrace all aspects of yourself, which means extending that ethos to the areas you are not happy with. Love yourself enough to forgive, change, or reject those parts of your life. Your fortress will not be perfect; you may still avoid certain things initially about yourself or the things you have experienced, but over time, brick by brick, the opportunities will come to deal with that. If this is your first experience of "fortifying" your journey, then you may have a few questions, like, "Will I know how to be a strong person? How will I know who or what to let into my fortress? How can I deal with my past? Is happiness a real possibility for me? Does it even exist?"
And there is one Goddess, seldom heard of, that encompasses all the qualities of a strong, authentic self, from whom the likes of Artemis, Diana, Selene, and Hekate are believed to be derived. "Bendis," the ancient Thracian Mother Goddess, expresses her energy in its purest form as the custodian, cultivator, and protector of your most authentic self. Her energy, when called upon, adds a key ingredient to the five key building blocks of our inner fortress, which are our divine self, our needs as individuals, our intimate relationships, our role in the community, and our call to service. She can be called upon to reside with you either whilst you create your fortress or once you have it.
To do this, you will need a plain candle, something to light it with, and a quiet space where you will be undisturbed. The best time for this is at night, preferably during a waxing crescent moon. Sitting comfortably in your space, take three deep breaths, light the candle, and look into the flame for a few moments. Then close your eyes and whilst holding the image of the flame in your mind's eye, ask Bendis to sit with you, to bring her energy into your emotional fortress infusing it with her strength, power, and wisdom. Next, consider one thing you wish to bring into your present-day: clarity, abundance, or a relationship. Now, ask that Bendis aim her spear at that one thing you want to bring into your life, and watch as she throws the spear high and far. Finally, gently open your eyes, blow out the candle and know that what is to come your way is for your higher good.
There was a time when I questioned myself and the sense of trying to reconcile my past, manage my present, and create a better future. I had met plenty of gurus, spiritual practitioners, and mortal people claiming to be "higher" beings, who all seemed to be rather unhappy behind closed doors or, worse, total hypocrites. But then I began to see that the idea of energy, of goddess resolutions, manifested itself in all sorts of people and all kinds of places. So when I interviewed the actor, author and seeker Shirley McLain years ago, I asked her if she actually liked people. She looked at me and smiled, much like my grandmother used to, and then leaned forward and told me what she really liked was the potential in people. And that is what building your fortress allows you to do: to access your potential by helping you manage and cope with your past and present.