Becoming Sovereign

 

A quiet has settled over these hills in the past few weeks. A hush that rises from the fading amber of the landscape and its open-limbed winds. The ebb of everything speaking to a deep need to withdraw and rest; an ache to refind one’s inner space.

For the Celts, the time following Samhain marked the waning of work, and the waxing of winter’s magics. Traditionally, harvesting ceased after Samhain. The squashes in the field left as food for the unseen. As life drains back to the roots, many of us are feeling this call to cease the ceaseless doing and reclaim the quietude of our inner terrain. And at the center of our ache to create this space is the desire for something that looks so very much like sovereignty.

I’ve been having a bit of a love affair with this word recently. Samhain, in the Celtic calendar, marks the beginning of the new year. With each new turn of the wheel, I like to choose a word as my personal emblem and yearly theme. For this new year my word is: Sovereignty.

Wikipedia defines sovereignty as “the full right and power of a governing body over itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies.” To be sovereign means that you imbue yourself with the full right to take care of yourself, your energy, your needs. It means crowning yourself as the maker and maintainer of your own destiny. Claiming your power as well as your responsibility, and acknowledging that the two are one in the same.

Sovereignty creates boundaries where there were none, marking the outlines of where everything else ends and you begin. Sovereignty is about tending the borders of your own fields. Curating what you welcome into your space (including news and social media) and deciding, once and for all, that you are willing to take care of your own inner landscape. Sovereignty gives you back to yourself in a time when you feel scattered to the winds.

Lately, I’ve been pouring over Sharon Blackie’s book If Women Rose Rooted and was struck by one of the old Arthurian tales she recounts. As the story goes, one day King Arthur is walking in the woods when he is captured by a powerful knight. The knight agrees to release King Arthur under one condition, he must answer this most-puzzling riddle— “what do women truly desire?” Arthur has one year to find the answer, otherwise the fearsome knight will take his life. After almost twelve months of seeking King Arthur is no closer to the truth, until he encounters the knight’s own sister who tells King Arthur the answer he’s been seeking (in exchange for a wedding to Sir Gawain, of course, which had its own unexpectedly empowering ending). The answer is: Sovereignty. What women desire above all else is sovereignty. And with that, the King wins back his life.

 

 

It reminds me of a historical truth I heard long ago about Celtic peoples and their governance. Traditional Celtic male rulers were very literally wedded to the land in a ceremony called banais ríghi. In their crowning, they agreed to uphold a sacred covenant between human culture and the more-than human world. And it was from the land, the bride who contained all the powers of the fertile and feminine unseen, that they were given their sovereignty. Their right to protect, guard, rule, govern and decide all came from their ability to commit themselves to the power, potency and desires of the unseen.

Our personal sovereignty lies within our ability to connect to our own inner landscapes, the fertility of what lies in the terrain of our personal unseen. When we take a step away from the outer world, we can access the regenerative soil of our connection to Otherworlds and sow the seeds of our own sovereignty.

 

So how does it feel to put on the crown of your own being? To know that you have the ability to claim the throne at the center of your own existence? That you can chose yes or no? That you can decide how to feel, or where you want to give your energy? That you are the ruler of your own destiny? This is self-sovereignty. And it is how we protect the chalice of our days.

In a time where the subtle come in quick as dusk the land itself is asking us to reclaim our own sovereignty by connecting to the unseen. To learn how to listen to the terrain inside of our own being and recommit ourselves in a sacred marriage to our inner fields.

So, take this time before we enter into the holidays to ground, center, and become sovereign. Decide where your boundaries lie. Mark the corners of your fields, with time spent in quiet solace and warm solitude. Take time to listen to your deeper needs. Time in the bath or with your hands in well-kneaded dough. Time to brush out your hair or massage your feet with sesame oil. Time to realize what you truly crave, so that you can stand strong in your own crowning, and be at peace.