Soul Questions for the Balsamic Moon


In our monthly journey with the Moon, we are now in the return journey… coming back home, toward the New Moon and the beginning of a new journey.

The next New Moon arrives Thursday, September 1st @ 2:03 AM Pacific Time (9:03 UTC). September brings us two New Moons, depending on your time zone. Here in Vancouver, in the Pacific Time zone, the second New Moon arrives on Friday, September 30th @ 5:11 PM, which is Saturday, October 1st @ 00:11 UTC. Some call the second New Moon in a month a “Black Moon”, as opposed to a “Blue Moon” which is the second Full Moon in a month.

The Moon is now in the Waning Crescent, also known as the Balsamic Moon. As the darkness of the Moon increases, so does its Yin qualities. You may find that you rest or meditate more. You may find that your intuition is stronger, that you are more contemplative, that you are connecting more to your Inner World of authentic Self, spirituality and dreams.

Through this contemplation, you can complete any release you began at the Full Moon. And because much of this work is subconscious, you may not know exactly what is processing… but you will feel the effect.

Some Soul Questions for your meditations under the Balsamic Moon (or create your own based on your intentions for this month’s journey):

  • As the Moon becomes less visible, what in my life has also lost visibility?
  • What might I need to shine a light on?
  • What is the lesson that is “coming home” this month?
  • With what I now know, what intentions might I set for my next lunar journey?
  • How will I manifest them, starting from this place of new insight and wisdom?

This is also a great time to write in your journal, noting what you are grateful for this month.



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Animal Allies: Embrace your Dingo!



I love working with my Animal Allies, an important part of my team of Allies which includes life guide(s), spirit messengers, ancestors, crystals, journey guides and so on.

I learn from all the Animal Allies that show up for me… creatures of the land, sea, air, extinct animals, and those of myth and legend. All are powerful. All have medicine for us.

Lynx has been with me for a long time and often guides my journeys into non-ordinary reality. She is a Life Guide for me, what some people might call a Totem Animal. For me, however, that term is more closely aligned with clans and kinship, and the animals of the various Medicine Wheels and zodiacs…. but we can each have our own terminology.

I have other Animal Allies too, and I am often both surprised and intrigued by who shows up in life and in dreams or meditation. Often we get quick doses of wisdom from what many call Animal Messengers: Hummingbird reminding us to be joyful or agile, Spider reminding us to connect with our creativity, Mouse reminding us to look at the small details. Messengers disappear once we have received the Medicine or learned the lesson… although they can reappear when we need to be reminded!

We can also work with the spirits of animals that have passed. Very recently, my childhood cat Ginger showed in a dream with some lovely wisdom and messages. I know many people receive messages for years from their companion animals.

Connect with the wisdom of your Animal Ally

I have participated in many Animal Ally workshops, early on as a participant but most often leading workshops (alone or with co-leaders such as Roz Shakespeare, and Sharron Basanti of The School of Gypsy Arts) so that others can connect with their personal animal allies.

I love that moment of discovery, that moment when people make a connection and start to form a relationship with their Ally.


When first discovering their Allies, many want “powerful” animals such as Horse, Bear, Lion, Whale, Butterfly or Eagle. Or they hope to “choose” an Ally that is somewhat like them… a gentle deer, a busy beaver, a beautiful songbird.

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But here’s the thing: we do not choose our Allies. They choose us. We can discover our Life Guide Animal Allies (and other allies) through meditation or through a journey to non-ordinary reality, where we connect with them and are accepted by them.

And, of course, some may know intuitively what their Animal Ally is because of messages they have already received.

Myths about Animal Allies

Myth # 1: One Medicine Only
People often believe there is only one type of Medicine for each Animal Ally species, but their wisdom can differ from others in their species as much as we as humans differ from each other. Although, as Maya Angelou says “We are more alike than we are unalike”.

IMG_6460Each Ally carries different Medicine and has its own personality. And each culture may have different insights into the Ally, based on their history or culture and geography. Spider means one thing to me in my Anglo-Irish culture, but something very different to my husband in his Jamaican culture.

Yes, there may be “general” Medicine from Bear or Lynx  or Deer, but it’s important to connect to YOUR specific Bear or Lynx or Deer. Is your Bear male? Female? Young? Well nourished? Ailing? Scarred? Wounded? Mature? Hunting for salmon? Stuck on a lonely ice flow? Polar Bear? Grizzly Bear? Spirit Bear? Yogi Bear? (seriously, that happened in one workshop!)

Myth # 2: Good-Better-Best
I also find it interesting that for many folks — especially when they first start working with Animal Allies — there may be some sort of perceived hierarchy of “good-better-best” Allies in their mind.

But truly, their medicine is equally powerful. We receive the Medicine we need, not the Medicine or Ally that we want or think we need. The power is in how the Medicine can transform our life and our Self, not in how big or small, “good” or “bad” the Ally is.

How we see the Allies may also be a reflection of how we see the world, a powerful indication of shadow work at play.

Animal Allies come to us with Medicine that may be lifelong or may be just for that moment, that crossroad, that experience. And all are equal. Following their Medicine can be life-changing, whether it comes from Elephant or Butterly or Stink Bug.

The Power of the Shadow Animal Ally

There is a very special type of Ally that can also come to us in Animal form: the Shadow Guide. We all have a shadow side, those traits or qualities that we keep out of sight, under the surface of our consciousness, in the dark. The Shadow is often associated with undesirable qualities such as anger, fear, jealousy and other things we don’t like to acknowledge.

But the Shadow can also hold wonderful positive qualities waiting to emerge. By embracing the shadow side of our Self, we can shine light on it and transform/release the negative and allow the positive to bloom.

Raise your awareness for those messages about your Shadow. Do not fear them. Embrace them. They may appear in your dreams, a journey or in real life. I’ve heard some wonderful examples in workshops, such as folks connecting with an Ally in real life but not “getting” the message… and then the Ally getting their attention in a dream by a (painless) bite… the sting of a bee, a spider bite on their heart chakra, a nip from a dog or cat, etc.

When an Animal Ally brings a lesson about our Shadow side to us, it is a powerful opportunity for self-learning and self-development. And in that lovely duality of Yin-Yang, it can carry the Medicine of both Light and Shadow.

Embrace Your Dingo!

I had an experience at a workshop several years ago that both illuminated the “good-better-best” idea of Animal Allies and the power of the Shadow messenger guide.

As we sat in Circle as participants, our workshop leader started with messages for each of us from the Animal Allies she saw around us. This was essentially an icebreaker before we started digging into the main part of the workshop but ended up as a very powerful opportunity for transformation for one participant.

By the way… Seeing Animal Allies is an ability many of us have, including me, and it’s worth exploring as a form of clairvoyance. When I meet new clients, shamans, empaths and intuitives, and lightworkers, I often see the Guides or Allies accompanying them. It can be a great ice-breaker to share messages, with permission, from an Ally folks may not have known they had!

As the workshop leader began to share messages, the woman beside me (who had a very “big” and dominating personality!) leaned toward me and loudly said, “I already know mine will be something very powerful. It must be Bear or Lion. My personal motto is “Hear Me Roar!””

The workshop leader continued to share her insights, eventually coming to the woman beside me and gently said, “Dingo walks with you.”

The woman’s reaction was very strong and totally unexpected. It turned out she was originally from Australia, so was very familiar with that animal. She burst into tears when she heard this.

I am the Dingo“, she said.
“Nobody understands me and nobody likes me.
I scare everyone


It was a stunning heart-felt moment and insight that allowed her to start acknowledging and exploring her shadow side and start being authentic. The surface bravado (Hear Me Roar!) concealed her deeper fears and her lack of connection to others, her fear of being unloved.

“I am the Dingo”. Knowing that helped her to find a new way to connect that didn’t dominate, overpower or instil fear. She could choose Love over Fear. She could love her Self. She didn’t have to “roar”. She could speak quietly and gently from her heart in future, with assertion rather than intimidation. She didn’t have to worry about being judged as “not good enough” as she reclaimed her confidence. She worked with this insight throughout the workshop, dropping her shields to allow others to see her authentic self and describe her fears.

It was a beautiful and inspiring moment to see her transformation begin.

Each Animal Ally has both the Shadow and the Light within their medicine. Dingo too also has very positive wisdom/medicine. For instance, like Coyote it adapts easily to new environments. It is a messenger with Spirit, a survivor, and carries ancient wisdom. This woman truly was powerful but had to learn to stand in her power authentically. Dingo helped her with both her Light and her Shadow.

What Animal Allies do you connect with?

How have they influenced and guided your journey?

Many of the photographs in this post were used with permission of Sue Ratcliffe Photography, an award-winning and gifted wildlife photographer (and yes, my sister), who has photographed animals that inspire her across Canada, America, France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Ireland, Tanzania, India, Iceland and likely many other places I haven’t mentioned!

You can follow her work on Facebook at @Sue Ratcliffe Photography and on Red Bubble.

The images of Dingo, Rat Babies, Stink Bug and Mosquito were sourced from Pixabay under a Creative Commons License.


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Finding your tribe


Tribe. Home. Community. Family.

Whatever you call it, it’s essential for your spirit, soul and well-being to find a place of acceptance, love and nurturing, a place where you can express yourself freely …. even when (or especially when!) opinions differ… Where you can be you.

In the words of Starhawk,

“We are all longing to go home to some place we have never been – a place half-remembered and half-envisioned we can only catch glimpses of from time to time. Community.”

Have you found your tribe?

You are welcome here ❤️


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Releasing hoocha in the Waning Gibbous Moon

We have now moved from the Full Moon to the Waning Gibbous Moon, and the Moon’s energy is becoming more Yin and less Yang. It is moving inwards, releasing.

This is a time for organizing, consolidating, conserving…. and yes, completion. It is during the Waning Moon that I focus on decluttering. This is always good for the soul and for clearing hoocha, stagnant energy (hoocha is Quechuan for “heavy energy” and part of Andean shamanism), from one’s space and person.

But how do you know when you’re done?

In many ways this quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry describes it best, talking about perfection:

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

I guess I’ll keep at it… There is still plenty to take away!



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The landscape of Inner Beauty

I often write about connecting with our beauty and to the beauty of Nature around us, of which we are a part.

The beauty of Nature can take many forms… the voice of a loved one, the cherry blossoms emerging in spring, a shimmering and fragile spider web, a lush forest, the vibrancy of fall leaves, the song of a bird, the smell of a flower, a sunset, an ocean wave.

But what of Inner Beauty… how do we define that?

In a radio interview a few years ago, John O’ Donohue —author of “Anam Cara” and one of my favourite writers — talked about the inner landscape of beauty and gives us a clear and insightful definition.

“Beauty isn’t all about just nice, loveliness like. Beauty is about more rounded substantial becoming. So I think beauty in that sense is about an emerging fullness, a greater sense of grace and elegance, a deeper sense of depth, and also a kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life.”

Le grá (with love, in Irish Gaelic)❤️



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Releasing with Fire in the Blackberry Moon

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There are so many names for the Full Moon in August ranging from the names of First Nations people — Fruit Moon (Cherokee) and Sturgeon Moon (Algonquian) — to those of England (the Grain Moon and the Corn Moon), and the Lightning Moon as named by some Neopagans.

Whatever we call it, I love these Moon names. They mean so much more than just “the August Full Moon” because they relate to the people who named them, to their environment, to their culture, to what they are growing or harvesting.

I often think of August as the Abundance Moon or the Canning Moon. The first of the three Celtic harvest feasts was celebrated in early August (Lughnasadh, aka Lammas). The fields and trees are ripe with fruits, grains, vegetables, and herbs. There is the abundance of Mother Earth everywhere, and it’s time to start harvesting that bounty and start preparing it to last until the next spring: canning and preserving, making jams, and creating medicinal tinctures and infusions to combat our winter ailments.

This year, I’m calling it the Blackberry Full Moon, because I am now foraging that luscious fruit and delicious leaves and starting all kinds of blackberry preparations – tinctures, infused brandies, jams, teas, and using the vines for basket-making.

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The Full Moon Elements

The Full Moon, which arrived at 2:26 AM Pacific Time this morning, and was in Aquarius on arrival, an Air sign. Our Sun is in Leo and those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are definitely feeling the summer heat as well! But, the Moon moved very quickly into a new energy, Pisces, at 9:34 Pacific Time and will be there for the remainder of the Full Moon period.

The Full Moon is at its peak of Yang energy, fully emerged and expansive, reflecting the light of the Leo Sun.

Bask in the Moon Light!

Stand up for who you are!

And connect with that Fire, that passion, that energy, to help you finalize and manifest your projects for the month.

Fire needs Air to thrive and burn, but you may feel somewhat out of balance with this energetic elements, and with the Air and Fire pulling you in different ways.

The Air/Aquarius element can show up in many ways….I’ve been chatting like mad in this Air energy (literally, filling the Air with words and laughter). Air can be inventive, curious, heady but also restless… Air drives us to find answers, get data, solve problems. Air might need the balance of Earth to convert those brilliant Air ideas into something solid, to manifest and ground them.

The Fire/Leo element is also very Yang… outward energy, inspiring, emotional, dramatic, and at times extreme. Fire is transforming. Fire is passion… and sometimes does not a very strong filter or tact!

If both your Air and Fire elements are excessive, consider bringing a little Water energy or Earth energy into your Full Moon ritual for balance. But if you truly want to release, use that Air and Fire energy to consume that which no longer serves you…. convert it to ash and blow its particles to the wind.

Soul Questions for the Full Moon in Week 3

In the Medicine Wheel reading that we began on the New Moon, we have now reached the Direction of The West and now ask the question “What is transforming?”… How perfect for that Fire energy of Leo!

Correspondences For Week Three 
Direction: West
Element: Water
Soul Question: What is flourishing?

At this Full Moon, I also invite you to really connect with your own elements – the Air, Fire, Water and Earth within you – because they are all strongly influencing this part of the journey. Look at each element separately and then how they relate together, by asking further Soul Questions such as:

  • What is in balance?
  • Which element(s) might need a little calming influence?
  • How can you use those elemental energies best this month, as you continue the journey you started with Grandmother Moon?
  • What do you have to address as we move forward towards Mabon (the Autumn Equinox) with brings us to a balance point in the year: the Equinox, where Day and Night are equal, where the Yin and the Yang of the Earth are in balance?

For this Full Moon, I would suggest using Air and Fire in your release ceremony – smudging with sage or incense followed by a release ritual using the Fire element.

Your Fire Release Ritual

Last year, I shared a simple Full Moon Fire Release ritual on this blog, and you can find it here.

This ritual can be done in Circle with others, or as a solitary practitioner.

The image used in the Full Moon in Aquarius photo is titled
One More Gift For The Full Moon” and was created by LadyNevada
and shared for the public on DeskTopNexus.


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Dreaming with the Stars


What do you see when you look up at the night sky? What do you dream about when you see the stars, the moon, a comet or a shooting star?

When I was a child, I dreamt of being an astronaut or an astronomer…or both. I loved the night sky… identifying the planets and constellations, reading the stories of how the constellations were named, watching the phases of the moon, seeing a shooting star. I wanted to travel to far-off moons and planets and stars.

I remember learning about the speed of light and how much of what we see in the sky is millions of years old, and may look very different now… or may not even exist at all!

I was awestruck by that! My child’s mind realized that I was gazing up at Time itself …. Light from millions and thousands and fractions of light years away, touching me now … I was looking simultaneously into the deep and recent past of the Universe all at the same time.

I still want to travel through the Universe…. But now I can do it from home… in a dream, in a meditation, in a shamanic journey….

“I don’t know anything with certainty, but seeing the stars makes me dream.”
– Vincent Van Gogh

Dream on, Star Child!


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