children

GoodGod!

June, 2018

Meet the Gods: Bes

 

 

Merry meet.

Bes was an Egyptian god who brought comfort and protection to mothers and children. The somewhat comical, somewhat sinister-looking bearded dwarf looks human but is often also portrayed as part animal – generally a lion with a mane and tail, or with wings. He has a plump body, bow legs, prominent genitals and is sticking out his tongue. He is always shown facing forwards, unlike most Egyptian Gods who are shown in profile. On occasion, Bes is wearing a plumed headdress or a crown, and carrying a rattle, drum, tambourine or knife.

 

 

Also known as Bisu and Aha, he was a deity and a demonic fighter. A god of war, “he was also a patron of childbirth and the home, and was associated with sexuality, humour, music and dancing,” according to ancientegyptonline.co.uk. “Although he began as a protector of the pharaoh, he became very popular with every day Egyptian people because he protected women and children above all others. He had no temples and there were no priests ordained in his name. However, he was one of the most popular gods of ancient Egypt and was often depicted on household items such as furniture, mirrors and cosmetics containers and applicators as well as magical wands and knives.”

Apparently, he got the name Aha, meaning fighter, because he could kill lions, bears and snakes with his hands. Although labeled a demon, there he was not considered evil, but rather, drove evil spirits away.

Laboring mothers would call on Bes for help. It is said he would stay on after birth to protect and entertain the child, and that when a baby smiled for no apparent reason, it was because Bes was making funny faces for them.

 

 

Using dance and music, he would also chase away bad spirits during sex and sleep. That’s why he could be found carved into the legs of beds – to protect people during the night when they were most vulnerable.

Egyptians would put a statue of him near the door to protect their home from evil spirits wanting to cause harm. He appeared on the walls of temples and homes, and was on thousands of amulets and charms, protecting people from the dangers of everyday life such as menacing animals and food going bad.

 

 

Bes is the first subject to be identified in early Egyptian tattoos, according to “Tattoo: Symbol and Meanings,” by Jack Watkins.

Performers often had tattoos of Bes because of his association with dancing and music. It is also thought that sacred prostitutes may have had a tattoo of Bes placed near their pubic area in order to prevent venereal diseases, but it is also possible that the tattoos related to fertility,” Watkins wrote.

Bes’ wife, Beset, was the female version of himself. Images of them naked were painted on walls.

Merry part. And merry meet again

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

 

Book Review: Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life by Imelda Almqvist

April, 2018

Book Review: Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life: Using Shamanism Creatively with Young People of All Ages by Imelda Almqvist

In 2008 when I set out with my co-authors to write a book about doing shamanic ceremony with children and families, there was almost no literature on the topic–save Starhawk’s landmark “Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions.” Since our book was published in 2012, many more authors have been responding to the immense need for these resources, thankfully. When I discovered Imelda’s book “Natural Born Shamans,” I was thrilled to see another shamanic practitioner working with children and youth who was also dedicated to adding to this body of knowledge responsibly. Throughout the book, readers are warned of some of the pitfalls in doing shamanic work with children, as well as, how to work around those thoughtfully and with respect for both the child’s sensibilities and the family culture. Indeed, I use Imelda’s book as a reference today for my own work with children and families. This book achieves its stated intent:

All existing societies and cultures were preceded by shamanic cultures, where people lived in close relationship with the Earth, the ancestors, and the Spirits of Place. Connecting with Spirit is our own birthright and the birthright of our children. As I hope this book will demonstrate, it can give young people an exceptional spiritual toolkit for life in the 21st Century.”

Imelda explores key spiritual concepts and tools in ways that children and families can understand. Some of these include: shadow work, death and change, shapeshifting, dreaming, forgiveness, divination, and taking one’s power– learning to wield it responsibly. Imelda brings her substantial experience working with children of all ages to this book. I’ve worked as an educator for two decades; it’s easy to see how certain activities can be adapted to children at different developmental stages. Parents who have raised children through different stages will, also, likely find this easy to do. In addition, Almqvist speaks at length about the importance of offering rites of passage ceremonies to children to support them in the many transitions they make during childhood. She, also, describes the adult’s role in guiding children on their spiritual path:

If we do not offer Rites of Passage, children will either fail to complete crucial developmental stages or they will place themselves in risky situations trying to create communities and initiations for themselves, such as through street gangs, joyriding, drugs, crime or alcohol.”

This book provides a compassionate and extensive look at issues facing parents and children in today’s world. It offers ideas for how to look at these challenges through a shamanic lens, introducing new possibilities for transformation that are holistic, healthy, and healing. Imelda’s approach enrols children in their own healing and shows them how to become more confident in who they are at their essence. Through Imelda’s personal stories, parents receive understanding and wisdom from someone who has guided her own children through spiritual and developmental transitions. If you are a shamanic practitioner interested in working with children and families, this book is a “must have” for your resource collection! It is full of great ideas and links to the work of other shamanic authors that inspire her work. It will spark your own imagination and creative juices! “Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life” is published by Moon and widely available online. International shamanic teacher, Sandra Ingerman provides a wonderful foreword to this important book.

For Amazon Information Click Image

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing

For Amazon Information Click Image

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Does My Life Belong to Me?!

April, 2018

DOES MY LIFE BELONG TO ME?!

 

We are on Easter Break. My 17-year old son needs to do revisions for his upcoming A Levels in Physics and Further Maths. He works best alongside someone so we divide up the kitchen table between us. I decided to write this piece because I had been pondering the question for some time. My son decides to play some music to help things along. “Is that Shakira?!” – “No Mum, it is Fat Rat! That is a DJ by the way. I doubt you know anyone I listen too…” I adore silence when I am writing but, as usual, it was not to be!

 

This may sound like a weird question with an obvious answer! Of course my life belongs to me, right?!

In theory it does yes, but being alive means making choices and choices bring commitments. The moment I choose to have children, those children are entitled to a large chunk of my time, energy and life force. The moment I choose to get married, a new unit with an overarching spirit all of its own comes into being: The Marriage (as well as two separate individuals). This is why the sum is always more than the parts combined. The dynamic multiplies again once a couple has children: there is now a Family, as well as two, three, four or five individuals…. There are now five people having relationships with four rather significant others.

The moment I choose a profession and invest in training in that profession I need to accept the demands and boundaries of that profession. Being a medical doctor, nurse or midwife will mean working night shifts in hospitals. Even a plumber will get phone calls about emergencies at all hours. An undertaker cannot so easily take time off either as people will not stop dying over major holidays.

As a shamanic practitioner I, too, used to get emergency phone calls at all hours. As a mother of young children working from home (with no hospital and no team to divide the workload) I eventually learned to take my home phone number off-line and to make an agreement with myself regarding what “opening hours” I operated and how many emergencies a week I can fit in at short notice (if any!) This is called drawing lines and operating healthy boundaries! (By now I also have a team of three people dividing up work in my practice).

So yes my life belongs to me but for my life to belong to ‘me and me alone’ I would need to stay single, not have children (or elderly parents) and perhaps embark on a life as a self-sufficient recluse in a very inaccessible area. (And when emergencies occurred I would have to deal with those on my own – or not be able deal with them and perhaps suffer serious illness or injury without receiving medical attention or loving care from another person). Yet, these are choices some people make to get away from the maddening demands of modern life. (A percentage of people have always done this, long before “modern” times, they have become trappers, sailors or “desert saints” and walked away from their communities). My own husband has one brother who went to sea at age 16 and reappeared years later with a Japanese wife (he then abandoned to raise three children completely on her own in Sweden). Today we call this commitment-phobia and yes, commitment is scary!

Yet, there is a level even beyond this web of social interactions, beyond being a member of a family and community. This is the point where people who follow a spiritual path may well see things differently from what is considered the norm in our society. Since western society embraced science as ‘our new religion’, the Church and priests have lost the control they exerted for many centuries. We no longer believe in Hell or live in sin. We don’t go to confession either. Only few people today believe that a male fearsome god will judge our souls once we die. In many ways this has liberated us and allowed a much higher level of individual expression, which can only be a good thing (to my mind). Having said, that: collectively speaking we have also lost the concept that we owe gratitude to our Maker and that we did not incarnate on this planet just to please ourselves and inflate our egos…

It is my personal belief, shared by many people following a committed spiritual path (of any description and not necessarily a religion!) that we come to Earth to be of service. That we all have unique gifts, our own unique energy, that is required at this time. This is because we all vibrate and operate in a larger Web of Life where all sentient beings are connected and together create (co-create) both reality and the future, the world our children’s children are to inherit.

Therefore I believe that I am here to serve and to evolve (meaning to learn, to grow in awareness) but I am also here to play my part in a larger whole. This means that I am currently wearing a human coat here on Earth for reasons beyond the personal level of relationships and raising children and so forth.

I have an on-going dialogue with my helping spirits about this and they say that I am here to be a spiritual teacher and teach others about living from a place of profound creativity and joyful creation. Along the way I also turned out to have a bit of a “freak talent” for healing work – but personally I see that as the journey back to creativity and living in joy. Being ill or dis-eased is the flip side of that coin. Once people re-discover their innate ability to create they can create healthy vibrant reality (as well as art, poetry or music etc.) and this will trigger the process of self-healing (activating the Inner Healer). Once I became aware of this key principle I switched my focus from offering one-to-one healing sessions to teaching larger groups.

The spirits making my life purpose crystal clear has been helpful because it has allowed me to focus and drop many things that are not my cup of tea in this lifetime. Out with dinner parties but roll on classes and powerful ceremonies!

The fly in the ointment is that “the hermit gene” runs strong in me. Before I fall asleep I fantasize about retreating to place far (FAR) from civilization and turning my back on the world. I am a profoundly solitary person, happiest alone in my studio or alone in the Forest. My idea of heaven is to be dropped in a completely inaccessible place with enough food supplies, fire wood and art materials for months – so I can immerse myself in creative process without distractions. It is when we are truly alone, without company, without internet, without external noise that we hear the voices of the spirits more clearly. So yeah, that is my dirty secret! I find it hard to always be on call. As a mother of three teenagers this is and will remain my reality – and I actively (happily!) chose it! The contradiction runs deep in me and this solitary trait runs in my family. My middle son has got a bad case of this “affliction” as well!

Having many students (and some clients) as well as children means working long hours every day again (often including weekends). I often look around me at people I perceive to have “easier lives”. Hang on! Let me rephrase this: lives with less pressure and way more leisure time. Here I am thinking of women who call themselves a “full time mother” of two teens aged 16 and 18 (with one about to leave home!) Or a woman whose children left home 20 years ago but she never returned to work (in the conventional sense). She shuttles between her garden and her yoga lessons. To my mind these are ladies of leisure. You may of course disagree.

On one level you could say: they raised their babies and their husband earns good money (so there is no financial need to work) – why not settle into a life of gardening and coffee mornings? Or another level I think: but aren’t they uniquely positioned to really make contribution to larger society? They have good health, many skills and financial security… they HAVE IT ALL! Why not use these things for the larger good of others than themselves?

Am I being judgemental here?? I know this is and remains one of my shadow aspects, (the flip side of being visionary) so it is a definite possibility. Not everyone has my driven personality and (what some have called) a supernatural energy level). Not everyone feels called to grapple with the bigger issues in our world (such as clearing family lines of centuries worth of accumulated trauma or contributing to paradigm shifts – or at least imagining that one is doing so!)

Cycling back to where I started, I think the question this article poses can only be answered by individuals in a very individual way. We all have different personalities, different star signs and different circumstances and dreams too. What I do know is that in my own life I continue to learn (fast and furiously) because I am a teacher, because I am in constant interactions with students and teens from a place of holding responsibility. It has been said that we teach what we most need to learn and probably my greatest passion in life is learning and becoming the best person I can possibly be, by the time I die. (And what I am in the process of becoming is not going to please everyone!)

I also truly believe that if everyone embraced life in this way – the world would be a better place. I am not going to apologise for thinking that! So… to answer my own question: my life force belongs to me (meaning I choose what – and whom! – I spend time and energy on) but my life ultimately belongs to Mother Earth and Spirit as much as it belongs to me personally. I am in service to Life – not the other way around. I would not have it any other way…

 

My son has decided to go on break. He says: “Mum, could you please take over as my dragon slayer for a moment because I need to nip out for a moment?!” Fat Rat has gone silent. Outside the window snow is falling upwards…

*Imelda Almqvist, Sweden, Easter Sunday 2017

***

About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of Norseshamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in 2016.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit  2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. Her second book SACRED ART, A Hollow Bone for Spirit : Where Meets Shamanism will be published in December 2018.

Click Image for Amazon Information

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist  (Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)

 

 

A Woman’s Place…

March, 2018

Not all women are mothers; but, all mothers are women.

In the wake of yet another mass shooting of children, by a young man who, for all intents and purposes, was also a child, what do we do?

As women, as mothers, who carried these children within us, and birthed them into life, each death is a pang in our hearts. They are not our children, and yet, they are our children, each and every one of them – the children who were and are murdered. The child who is the murderer, is also our child as he, too, has suffered. This includes the adults who have been killed, as they, too, are someone’s child.

Help for those who are mentally and emotionally ill is almost non-existent in this country. Ask any parent who has tried to get help for their child. They know, they can tell you. Mental health care is a joke, and help is hard to come by and they wash their hands of your problem as quickly as they can. If you do, by some chance, find someone to help, your insurance may or may not cover it, and then where do you turn?

Yet, are these all cases of mental or emotional illness? Each time this happens, that is what we are told and the government speaks about making it harder for those who are mentally ill to get guns (never happens). While some of them may actually be mentally ill, as I don’t believe someone without issues of some sort would deliberately go out and murder; yet, this is still not a full answer. Most of these shooters are young, white and male, again something the government downplays. Imagine the outcry if one of these senseless acts was perpetrated by a young man of color. We would never hear the end of it. So, we have young, white males committing these murders and it always is “he’s mentally ill”. Yet, there are women out there who have mental illness, white women and women of color and yet, they do not commit these violent murders of innocent people. So, blaming it completely on mental illness is missing a large part of this picture. We may never really know the missing piece, as they so often take their own lives.

Past tragedies such as this have taught us that the Republicans will do nothing to control the sale of weapons in this country. Too much money flows into their greedy, little pockets; money that they are loath to give up. The Republican base sees “liberals” and “progressives” and worst yet, “democratic socialists” coming to take their guns. They don’t listen to what is said. No on wants to take your damn guns, just tighten the controls on them so it is harder to purchase them and eliminate the purchase of assault weapons. Why does anyone *need* an assault weapon? I admit that I am anti-gun, but I still would not be in favor of taking guns away from those who have them. I am very anti-hunting for the killing of animals – vegetarian-vegan here – but I know those who do and enjoy it. That is their choice to make. I also know those who own guns but are in favor of stricter gun controls; one immediately comes to mind. Why does he understand and others do not?

A couple of years ago, as things began to go downhill in this country with the campaign of the current person in the White House, I wondered, where were the young people? I remember the 1960’s well. Teenagers, and young adults were out there in the forefront of the protests against the war, the marches for women’s equality, civil rights marches where human beings were beaten and hit with water from forceful hoses, just because they were people of color. If I close my eyes, I can still see the clip that was on the news. They were beaten and brutalized by the police and the National Guard, who were there for their “protection”. They were arrested. But they persisted.

Children died then, too, at Ohio State and during lynchings in the South.

Now, finally, out of this tragedy in FL, come the children, these teenagers who lived through and survived a shooting at their school, a place where they should feel safe, a place where their friends were brutally murdered.

These kids are fighting the good fight, and I hope they do not get discouraged because they have a hard journey ahead. But journey on they must, and in the process, encourage and support other kids all over the country, and the world to stand up for their principles, for what they think is right. If they get suspended for walking out of school during a protest day, as Texas has said they would do, don’t let that deter you. Continue your fight.

Those politicians who have accused these children of being actors, or shills for the Democrats, or doing it for attention are digging their own political graves. These children, these teenagers, these American citizens, will one day, in the very near future, be voting, and guess who will be voted out. We won’t say good bye, but good riddance and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

So, as women, as mothers, we must support these children in what they are doing, march and protest along side of them, encourage them to stand up for their beliefs, what they know in their hears to be the right thing. What they are doing may deter future tragedies, future cold-blooded murders and even more parents having to bury their child.

*(ADDENDUM: The opinions and feelings in this article are those of the author only and do not in any way represent the opinion of PaganPagesOrg.)

***

About the Author:

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess, as well as Mago Publications She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Womens Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis, the Egyptian Goddess”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is MysticalShores@gmail.com

For Amazon information Click Image

Book Review – The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within

March, 2018

THE MAGIC CIRCLE

Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within

A year ago I wrote a brief review of this book on Amazon but in this review I will expand on what I wrote in February 2017:

This is an amazing source book for families, schools, grandparents and youth leaders in different capacities. It offers a breath-taking range of ideas and ceremonies – ranging from fast and simple to more complex. These ceremonies can help children and young people navigate life transitions and events. From losing a loved one, taking courage, the magic of our own body, the weather, animals, ancestral sleuthing and so forth the possibilities are endless and very inspiring! The future of our Earth depends on young people staying attuned to the Web of Life and honoring all different life forms. This book is a must have for anyone raising such children or hoping to raise such children one day! It has given me ideas for the children and teenagers I myself work with!”

This book was co-authored by a team of three people: Ann Dickie, Jennifer Engracio and Katherine Inksetter. As parent, shamanic teacher and author of a book about shamanic parenting it always makes my heart sing to find high quality resources about shamanism for families, teachers and youth leaders!

Essentially this book provides ceremonies for every conceivable occasion, following the Medicine Wheel (starting in the Center: the Land of Void and from there moving South, than West and so forth).

All this material has been tried and tested extensively and a lot of reflection has gone into the way that activities are introduced and structured. This is important because it reduces the risk of misunderstandings or things “going wrong”. – Having said that: when proper preparations are made, things going “wrong” usually means that the spirits are playing with us and getting creative. In a sense you cannot go “wrong” in ceremony when you work from the heart! – Still, some people feel a little nervous about using shamanism with children, which is understandable, so using properly tested material takes some of that anxiety away.

The authors also point out – very correctly! – that any deep spiritual work or personal growth work will flush out issues needing attention. As a shamanic teacher just want to echo how true this is but, I will also say how those things are ultimately the ingredients of life-changing adventures, they open portals and rewire us on the level of soul. Don’t let that put you off.

Working your way through the whole book can certainly be done but it is a big commitment. It might be better to use the book intuitively – do what calls out to you or what resonates with an issue your child (or grandchild, or youth group etc.) is facing right now.

The Medicine Wheel is a wheel in a very literal sense: one could start anywhere and a journey will unfold. Wheels per definition do not have a beginning or end.

Another good thing about this book is that it includes a suggested age range for every activity. If you are going to be working with younger or older children – no problem, but you may need to simplify things a little or add some complexity. Any parent or teacher (or person who spends time around children) will do this very naturally.

Ceremony is a key-concept in shamanism because it opens the door to our soul and allows us to step outside time. Powerful work is done in the place where the spirits, ancestors and sacred dreams of our collective reside. Healing occurs naturally when we perform ceremonies.

This book gives families tools and high quality activities. Following those encourages children to stay tuned and – most importantly – to keep the connection to their own spirit allies alive and strong as they grow older and face the challenges life will throw at human beings. I truly believe that this is one of the greatest gifts we can give a child.

This book encourages creativity, time spent outdoors, connecting to ancestors, knowing that (as my eldest son once put it when he was just four years old) that “everything is medicine” – or can be, when used or embraced the right way.

I invite you to take this journey around the Medicine Wheel and discover what your own calling and unique medicine is – so you can fully embody and birth this in our world. – Our world in great turmoil and transition (paradigm shift) needs every person alive right now to activate their divinely granted talents and medicine. If we all do that – our world can change overnight!

Thank you Ann, Jennifer and Katherine for this magical book!

Essentially a book like this is spiritual dynamite (and the authors may quote me on that!)

Imelda Almqvist, 22 February 2018, London UK

For Book’s Website Click Image

***

About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and SACRED ART. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in 2016.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit  2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. Her second book SACRED ART, A Hollow Bone for Spirit : Where ART Meets Shamanism will be published in the Autumn of 2018.

For Amazon Information Click Image

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist  (Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)

http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/aff_c?offer_id=124&aff_id=2260&url_id=86  (Year of Ceremony)

 

Never Again: School Shootings

March, 2018

About five years ago a man with a gun was arrested outside the inner city primary (US equivalent elementary) London school two of my three children attended at the time. I am a European. To put a very fine point on things: I am Dutch. Like most European people I have not grown up in a “gun culture”. The only people carrying guns I encountered during the first 20 years of my life were policemen and soldiers. People who carried a gun for professional reasons. It was understood that those guns would be used only by those trained professionals in truly exceptional (read emergency) situations.

Here are the facts about the most recent school massacre:

On Valentine’s Day 2018 a mass shooting took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in the Miami metropolitan area. Seventeen people were killed and in addition fourteen people were taken to hospitals, making this one of the deadliest school shootings or massacres the world has seen.

The perpetrator, a 19 year old young man called Nikolas Jacob Cruz was arrested shortly afterwards. He confessed and was subsequently charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He purchased his rifle legally from a nearby store.

It appears that Cruz made death threats on social media many months before he committed his crime. Some of the students who survived this shooting have become advocates for stricter gun control legislation and they have founded the advocacy group Never Again MSD (also a hashtag phenomenon on social media).

As a mother of three teenagers my heart goes out to all people affected by this tragedy (students, teachers, emergency workers, police offers, their families and communities and so forth). Taking one step back from the incomprehensible horror of this, I believe that we urgently need to ask ourselves some very uncomfortable questions indeed.

Uncomfortable Questions:

1. What makes a 19 year old walk into a school with a rifle and shoot indiscriminately?

In part because he had legal and easy access to a weapon – but that is not the whole story (every family keeps knives in a kitchen drawer…)

Because he was troubled – but most profoundly troubled people do not go out and shoot other people. We need to dig deeper…

Because the authentic person Cruz was born to become was abused, bullied and violated for years to the point where he felt others “killed him” and he felt compelled to express his rage at this death no one stopped, no one observed and no one honoured. To me this feels like a possibility.

Before reading further I strongly suggest that you watch this video:

“I was almost a school shooter” with Kyle Clark – about a school shooting that never happened at Denver’s North High School:

https://www.facebook.com/Nexton9NEWS/videos/544982175885521/

2. What creates the phenomenon of repeat school shootings?

At least partly the massive publicity they receive. This follows the same principle as terrorist attacks – school shootings essentially are terror attacks. Knowing that a media circus will unfold gets others (read “future shooters”) hooked on the idea of committing the heinous deed. I have read research indicating that such people read all the media coverage and actively plan to kill even more people or add some shocking twist.

Now I am not advocating that the media stop reporting such events but I am trying to raise awareness of the fact that all of us (as viewers and people who buy the newspapers) carry a (small!) part of responsibility for this phenomenon. We need to give this more thought, collectively speaking. If we do not, the issue will keep coming to attention. Brutal fact: we are all co-creating that outcome by not doing our shadow work on this and not owning our part culpability in this.

There is a sick kind of overnight fame in becoming the next school shooter. For some young people – who feel that there are absolutely no positive opportunities open to them – this may appeal. We live in a world that rates fame and mass media attention.

3. Will the Never Again MSD initiative change things?

Starting an advocacy group called Never Again is a wonderful positive move. This is much needed and our young people are leading the world in a revolutionary way here and I applaud them. I thank them wholeheartedly for holding up a mirror for politicians making decisions about gun control. Will this really stop anything similar happening in the future?

This remains to be seen. Many survivors (of other traumatic mass events or private tragedies) have started charitable organisations to raise awareness – but their campaigns have not stopped such events recurring because we do not seem to have reached “critical mass” when it comes to collective awareness of the larger picture.

I have written many blogs attempting to raise awareness about the shadow manifestations of various phenomena in our world – offering a shamanic perspective – but there has always been another occurrence of the same thing.

***

Humankind cannot bear very much reality.”
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Today I would like to paraphrase T.S. Eliot’s famous words:

“Humankind cannot bear to do much shadow work”.

***

Now before we all sink into powerlessness and despondency, let us ask another tricky question:

Is there anything we can do to prevent these things?

All of us face a loss when so many people lose their lives prematurely, in an act of senseless violence. Their talents and unique gifts are now lost to the world. Incidents like this also feed the Demon of Fear: do we feel entirely safe going anywhere, with so many threats hanging in the air? The thought occurs that many of the young people  killed recently would have seen footage of previous school shootings and thought: “I am so grateful this was not me”. So this issue truly concerns all of us. Life on Earth is not meant to be a game of Russian Roulette.

In my first book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (published by Moon in 2016) there is a chapter titled “Spiritual Warriors With Water Pistols”. I appreciate that the title may sound a bit frivolous in the context of today’s events but in that piece of writing I attempt to provide a serious spiritual perspective on war, terrorism and the innate human need for fighting. I am not going repeat myself here but I will make a few points:

Take a step back from the shock and outrage you feel seeing the footage and hearing the reports. Observe the vibration of your response exactly right now: is the reporting moving you into anger, fear or even hate? Is that going to help the situation in any way? When we respond to any violent situation on the same level of consciousness, we add to the reservoir of violence held in our collective human consciousness. Take a moment to choose your response: what vibration (my youngest son would say: “What colour of the rainbow?”) do you wish to anchor and embody in this world? What response is this situation calling for? Are we as powerless as we (perhaps) feel right now??

The more people beam compassion at this situation, the more this place is held in light and the more it receives an energetic invitation to shift mass consciousness. People with the right shamanic training could undertake to do psycho pomp work, once an appropriate interval of time has passed. The families affected by this will need loving support, a listening ear and quite possibly financial support long after a new tragedy takes center stage in the world press. (Yes, I will call a spade a spade!) The land and building also hold trauma and will need healing work.

Now take another big step back. In the Western world we have freedom of speech and opinion and we have the free press. This is one of the reasons we feel so threatened by fundamentalist regimes. Observe how much attention this shooting gets. It is all over the papers, internet and TV. Beyond the need to know – what other energies do we detect in this mix? Are all of them honorable and in service to the situation?

Read for yourself how much is made of the fact that there were more victims than in any other school shooting so far. (so far?!) That makes this the worst school massacre (of this kind) in American history. Let’s read that again…. Is there some competition in progress? Well, we don’t like admitting it, but of course there is! Future gunmen and suicide bombers follow the media just as we do.– This is not a comfortable thought. Neither is the reflection is that people with jobs in journalism make money from disasters (and only rarely from happy events).  We are so much part of this that we choose to NOT see that every single one of us is a cog in a larger industry: the reporting industry, the media industry, the newspaper industry. This means that all of us together hold some collective responsibility for the next massacre that occurs. This is a sobering thought… I know.. perhaps it feels like a physical punch in the gut…. and it should.

While I am at it, another uncomfortable question: do we still think of the people who died in the recent plane crash in Moscow, on that beach in Tunisia, in Paris and Brussels a few years ago? I think that perhaps we do, because those tragedies received huge coverage. Do we think of the children dying in war zones right now, of 14 year old soldiers and 12 year old prostitutes all over the planet this moment? Of the people dying in floods in Bangladesh or of famine in Somalia? Often it is tempting not to think too much about these things but something is desperately trying coming to attention. If we won’t look, it will find other ways.

My first book is about using shamanism in creative and empowering ways with a group for children. I once did a session with my London group (The Time Travellers) titled Meet The Monster – All About Shadow Work. That title was chosen months in advance, but the session happened to be on the day of the Sandy Hook shooting. I took the children through many exercises owning their own shadow (the hidden parts of ourselves we all have but only few of us admit to). The children went on a tough ride finding many shadowy aspects lurking in their own psyche. Ultimately this work is liberating: what becomes conscious loses the power to “bite our bottom unexpectedly, like a rabid dog”. By the end of the session I asked the group: “This session is called Meet The Monster: WHO IS THE MONSTER?!” All of them shouted ME! No one shouted the name of the school shooter. –Result! Proud teacher!! If children as young as 7 years old can do this (and passionately so) – all of us can do this inner work. If all of us do this – a huge paradigm shift will occur because of it.

I think we have all read about the young girl on holiday in Thailand who had studied tsunamis in school and recognized the signs when a very serious one was on the approach. This dramatic example illustrates something I wish to hammer home relentlessly: incidents like this are an invitation to all of us collectively to pay far closer intention to our intuition. This is not generally encouraged in our culture. Our focus is on science, rational thinking, evidence and so forth. We almost “beat” this natural function out of children by constantly asking them to focus on the dominant mode of perceiving reality.

We send our children and teenagers to school assuming they are going be safe, that they are going to be taught be people who have their best interests at heart. However, we may be living in a world in such great turmoil and transition that we cannot afford to live like that just now. 

One evening many years ago I went for an evening walk in Stockholm, where I lived at the time. I stopped to look at the window of a jewellery store. A man stopped, too. He was doing absolutely nothing other than looking at rings and watches. Yet… my alarm bells started screeching: “This man has killed before and he is looking to kill again. GET MOVING!!” I have absolutely no evidence that I was right about this. There was no point alerting the police either. I made the quickest exit I could manage without showing fear and actually running. Nothing happened … yet … until today I remain convinced that I was in danger that evening.

We all have an internal alarm system. It is perhaps more finely honed in some of us than in others. I know that growing up in a family where I never felt physically safe did hone and fine-tune my “physical danger radar”. So perhaps a childhood spent living with violence now saved my life? (Quite a thought that!) Or maybe it attracted that man in the first place. – Both scenarios are perfectly possible. They may also be perfectly wrong!

Long before this young man, Cruz, committed this massacre, he may well have had friends/neighbors/colleagues/parents/siblings, who could have chosen to “read the signs”. Children who are brought up with a well-tuned spiritual compass and focus on listening to their instincts and intuition will be much better at reading such signs – but our society does not currently encourage this. My eldest son says that some YouTube personalities claim that one young man did contact the FBI about Cruz month ago. I have no way of knowing if this is true or not.

All of us collectively have a responsibility here: not to be too wrapped up in our own concerns, not to habitually ignore our instincts and intuitions, to find the courage to act on such hunches/hints and premonitions when they do occur, and to do our shadow work – so other people out there do not need to embody and express our shadow material for us.

So… are there things we can learn from this? I think so. We are all powerless and powerful both – but not always in the way our society has us believe we are.

Are there things all of us can do in response to this? Very much so! Start by asking yourself: when was the last time I thought (or said, even jokingly): “I could kill that person…”

When was the last time your teenager logged on to a computer game and tried to shoot as many “people” (characters) as possible in the shortest span time? The dark truth is that our young people are becoming addicted to those kinds of games.

When was the last time one teenager messaged another teenager GKY (Go Kill Yourself). I have been told the abbreviation has become almost a term of affection in some teen circles…

Are young people, our (grand) children, given a wide berth and not included in parties and social events because they are awkward or difficult to be around? Do we give those same people a wide berth when we see them walking down the street? Do we exclude them from community events, make them feel unwelcome? – This is normal human behavior in the 21st century but it actively contributes to tragedies like this.

This problem is not only “out there” in society, it is deep within all of us. And the problem will not go away until we realise that and make a commitment to working on this, all of us. – Are we willing to look in the mirror Cruz holds up?!

Imelda Almqvist

*Please note that I used an earlier blog as a starting point for this article. You can find the original blog here:

The Orlando Shooting: Blog About Shadow and Intuition

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/the-orlando-shooting-blog-about-shadow-and-intuition/

***

About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in 2016.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit  2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. Her second book SACRED ART, A Hollow Bone for Spirit : Where Meets Shamanism will be published in December 2018.

For Amazon Information Click Image

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist  (Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)

http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/aff_c?offer_id=124&aff_id=2260&url_id=86  (Year of Ceremony)

Review: Headspace, the App

March, 2018

Headspace: Everyday Mindfulness

I decided to continue on my mindfulness mission by having a go with Headspace, an app with the tagline ‘A few minutes could change your whole day.’ This app focuses on the practical benefits of short meditations: reducing stress, improving focus and sleeping better. Just like with my Calm review, I’ve only reviewed what content I could get for free. The financial commitment for Headspace is pretty hefty. UK prices, you’re looking at £9.99 a month, or a one-off cost of £71.88 for the year. Want to unlock all features permanently? That will be £299.99 please. I just think these prices are very off-putting, and will stop people even trying the app for free in some cases, as they know that if they like it, and it works for them, they are going to be shelling out a huge amount of money.

Actually using the app is a doddle. It starts with a ‘meditation basics’ program, which is actually really useful. The speaker is male, British, with a calming and down-to earth tone. He speaks about meditation as if it’s a daily requirement like brushing your teeth, and makes it seem easy and accessible for all. For the first time in guided meditation like this, I am told to start with my eyes open. Each meditation session can be tweaked to reflect how much free time you have in your day. You can meditate for as little as three minutes, and as much as ten in one go. I found the ten-minute sessions were useful at the end of the day for relaxing me before sleep time.

As well as the basics program, there are other freebies, which seem to change from day to day. Today’s was an exploration of stillness and silence. Before the meditation started, the guide spoke of the nature of silence, and whether it is passive or not. He explored the usefulness of stillness, and how it helps us to be present in the moment, not wrapped up solely in our own thoughts. This aids us in listening to others.

Silence is the foundation of calm and clarity that allows us to hear what others have to say.”

There are also some mini meditations, but for free, you only get access to the ‘Breathe’ mini, which as the title suggests, gives you 60 seconds of exploring the sensation and mechanics of your breathing.

One of my favourite things about Headspace is that it can easily be linked to the ‘Health’ app on your iPhone, and I presume there will be a similar option on Android devices and similar. So, when I look at my ‘Health’ stats, if I have meditated with Headspace that day, the phone will describe how many ‘mindful minutes’ I’ve taken. I like the sense of achievement that comes with this, and recognising that I’ve been good to myself and my mind for at least a few minutes each day. The app itself also records some data for you, and shows you how many minutes and on what days you’ve meditated.

There’s also a kids’ section, split into ages 5 and under, ages 6-8, and ages 9-12. These have titles such as ‘Appreciation’ and ‘Kindness’; good at any age! But particularly useful for young, developing minds. Sadly, as far as I could tell, none of the kids’ stuff was available on the free version.

I’m going to keep the app on my phone, as even just having the basics package has been really useful. It’s so easy to use, there’s no set-up, you just download it and start meditating. An absolute beginner could use this, even if they had zero experience of mindfulness or meditation. I really hope the prices reduce at some point though, as at the moment, they are just far too high to consider a full subscription. Perhaps one day, when I’m a bit more flush with cash! But all in all, an excellent user experience; very relaxing and very unique in its informal and easy-going style.

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

Click Images for Amazon Information

 

The Divine Child

January, 2018

 

I am writing this article on Boxing Day or Annandag Jul in Swedish (our family is in Sweden).

I always pay close attention to dreams and my dreams last night were full of children.

I am wearing a warm furry silver cloak and walking around a forest. There is a spectacular night sky overhead. The stars are reflected by the ice crystals trapped in my cloak meaning that I myself am sparkling with star light (not unlike a Christmas tree!) I am Mother Winter! All around me child spirits are darting around and playing in trees: luminous, joyful but also “ghostly”, as-yet-unborn. I open my cloak and give them all a place to gestate safely, in the Womb of Mother Winter…

The central event at Christmas is, of course, the birth of a Divine Child. For Christians this is a very particular child: Jesus Christ. However, the concept of a Divine Child exists in other cultures and belief systems as well. Here is a blog that provides a good overview:

http://mythicspiral.blogspot.se/2013/02/gods-divine-birth-in-religion-and-myth.html

It explains how many of our world’s myths and religions start with the birth of a Divine Child who grows up and becomes a Saviour God as an adult. This Divine Child or god, incarnated on Earth, usually does not have an easy time of it. Often it comes close to being murdered and faces an evil ruler (sometimes its own human father). Miraculously, this child does survive and becomes a revolutionary who plants the seeds for a new paradigm and new ways of collective thinking and dreaming.

The Divine Child exists in alchemy as well. It is often seen as the offspring of the alchemical marriage of opposites or opposing forces: sun and moon, light and dark. You could say that the whole sacred art of alchemy is contained within the image of a magical or divine child because it holds the key to processes of transformation and transmutation.

What if some of the children leading tough lives today are here to become our future world leaders?!

Christmas is a good time to reflect on the fate of children in today’s world. My husband got our three children up before dawn this morning to perform a pagan family ceremony by the nearby lake. They considered themselves hard done by, being lifted from their warm beds before sunrise!

Many children all over the world face serious (real) hardship today as well as every day and night of the year. They grow up in war zones, politically unstable regimes or places of extreme poverty and deprivation. They are at risk of losing their lives, their parents, families, homes or livelihood.

Even in the more affluent Western world many children suffer abuse at the hands of the very people who are supposed to love and protect them: their own parents. The so called “festive season” tends to increase family tensions meaning that for many children Christmas is not a happy time. Instead it is a time of increased physical and emotional abuse. Alcohol use increases too and that is never good news for children.

So today I invite everyone reading this article to spare a thought for the children facing hardship almost beyond human comprehension. Also for the spirits of children who died young or where aborted, who live on as spirit children in other worlds. For more about this I invite you to watch my 2014 art video:

 

SPIRIT CHILDREN

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpSLQLHN2B4

 

 

I am a presenter Year of Ceremony with Sounds True and the title of my Full Moon Ceremony) on January 31st is Drawing Down the Divine Child. I invite everyone to check out this wonderful program!

 

http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/aff_c?offer_id=124&aff_id=2260&url_id=86

 

In a way all children are divine children because a divine spark glows in their heart (as it does in adults). Might it be the case that some children choose to come to Earth to hold up mirrors for all of us and expose injustice?

Might it be the case that soul groups of children incarnate collectively to bring specific issues to global attention? If so, could we find ways of honouring this sacrifice?!

Our word sacrifice is derived from Latin and literally means: making sacred by offering to the gods.

We are all on Earth for a relatively short time before we become ancestors for those who come after us. Do we give enough thought to those future generations, the children of our children’s children and beyond? Do we actively try to create the right conditions on Earth for their arrival?

Shamanism teaches that we can step Outside Time. Once we do so we can work with both Past and Future. Many spiritual schools of thought teach that Time is an illusion and that Past and Future co-exists in parallel dimensions. (Personally speaking I think of Time as an organising dimension on Earth, not as an ultimate reality). If this is so, it means that we can already connect with the children waiting to be born. We can communicate with those souls and find out what they need from us, what seeds they need us to plant for their future existence.

These are some of the issues we will engage with during my Full Moon Ceremony for 31 January 2018!

For today I invite you to do a meditation (or shamanic journey) and seek guidance from spirit on how you can reach out to one child (or several children, (or even a group of children) today and make a difference. Could you be a mentor, provide a listening ear or a sanctuary? Could you be an ambassador working in a different way: speaking, writing or campaigning? Is there some unique contribution only you can make? The lives of many children have been turned around by having access to that one crucial person who was there for them and provided unconditional support. That person is not always a parent, often this is a neighbour, teacher, aunt/uncle, youth leader or grandparent.

If you are a holistic or spiritual practitioner already working with children I invite you to join a closed Facebook group I recently created (and there is some lively thought-provoking sharing going on there!) The idea is to connect people and map where everyone is, so referrals can be made and experiences can be exchanged.

 

GLOBAL GRID OF SPIRITUAL PRACTITIONERS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1084444561692912/

 

All of us grown-ups are ex-children. Somewhere within all of us lives the Divine Child!

I will close with a beautiful poem that friend and fellow author Laura Perry brought to my attention:

 

For So The Children Come

By Sophia Lyon Fahs

For so the children come
And so they have been coming.
Always in the same way they come
Born of the seed of man and woman.

No angels herald their beginnings.
No prophets predict their future courses.
No wise men see a star to show where to find the babe that will save humankind.

Yet each night a child is born is a holy night,
Fathers and mothers–sitting beside their children’s cribs feel glory in the sight of a new life beginning
They ask “Where and how will this new life end?
Or will it ever end?”

Each night a child is born is a holy night–
A time for singing,
A time for wondering,
A time for worshipping.

 

***

About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in 2016.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit  2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. She is currently working on her second book Sacred : A Hollow Bone for Spirit (Where Meets Shamanism)

 

For Amazon information Click Image

 

 

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist  (Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)

http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/aff_c?offer_id=124&aff_id=2260&url_id=86 (Year of Ceremony)

 

 

Death as a Teacher

December, 2017

Death is a life teacher because it is unavoidable.  It makes life that much more precious to know that your death is around the corner.  It can teach you about what is important and what is not.  It can jolt you into an understanding of how each moment is fleeting.  It destroys the illusion that things remain the same forever.  Death is also present in every experience of change that you have because there are always losses associated with it.  Whether the change is good or bad, self initiated or a surprise, it creates a hole in the reality you have constructed.

-Hyemeyohsts Storm? from “Lightningbolt” 


Death is considered one of the “20 Great Teachers of Life” in indigenous teachings shared by Hyemeyohsts Storm. Most shamanic practitioners believe that our spirits are everlasting; they remain in energy form when we die and we are reincarnated into a new life. In traditions that connect with past lives for healing purposes, it is imperative to see life, death, and rebirth on a circular continuum that has no beginning or end. I believe we come to earth with a mission each time we are reborn. It is our job as humans to remember what the mission is and learn and grow while we are here. Though death is a natural part of life, most of us in North American society are taught from a very young age to fear and even fight death–as if such a thing were possible!  At some point in all our journeys, our illusion that we are immortal starts to crumble. But what if we raised children from the very beginning to see death as an ally?  

In my experience working with children, they are natural psychopomps in a lot of ways.  Psychopomps have been present in all shamanic traditions since ancient times. These people know how to guide departed souls through the spirit world to merge back into the Great Mystery we all originally came from. I am not necessarily suggesting that children be encouraged do this work without guidance from knowledgeable adults, but in a world that is so death phobic, many children with the ability to commune with spirits are unfortunately left to figure this out on their own. This need not be so: There are many shamanic practitioners that can train children properly if parents remain open-minded and are willing to seek these people out.

In my work with children and families, I openly explore death and dying most commonly from three different angles: moving through grief and loss of a loved one, moving through transitions and changes in life with more grace and acceptance, and helping the spirits of departed souls move on to the great round.  Children often speak to me of seeing spirits because they know I will take them seriously.  Other times, children are naturals at creating rituals to support grieving and loss. I notice that healthy, well-adjusted children often move through life transitions with ease.  Many children are curious about death–even if they are afraid to talk to most adults about the topic. One of the reasons we created grieving ceremonies in our book, “The Magic Circle,” was to address this gap in guidance that is out there for children.  In the book, we introduce the topic in simple terms children can understand and then we offer a ceremony that involves building a descansos.  This excerpt is from that book:

We all experience loss in life. Sometimes a pet or a loved human dies. It is often hard to lose someone we love and with his/her death can come many feelings that are maybe new and hard to go through. Emotions such as: sadness, anger, loneliness, confusion, denial, fear and anxiety are all normal during the grieving process.  Grief is a word that describes the emotion of deep sorrow someone feels at the loss of something or someone. Those feelings of missing the person are natural. Grief sometimes feels like it will go on forever when we are in it. Grieving is important because it helps us to transition into the next phase of life without the person we love. People grieve in different ways; there is no one right way.  Although it is healthy to go through the grieving process, holding onto grief long-term is not good for us.  Many people don’t allow themselves to grieve because they are afraid of all the feelings that come with it.  Some people are uncomfortable with death.  Other people feel that ending their grief means they will forget the person they love.

 

It can be helpful to remember that letting go of someone or something that is important to us is not the same as forgetting; we can still keep their memory our hearts even as we carry on living. Letting go bit by bit in an honouring way as a part of our grieving process can bring peace.

 

This ceremony may help you to answer some of these questions as you work with your descansos.  A descansos is a memorial put up by mourners when someone dies.  In Mexico, it is common to see ones like this by the side of the road with objects that remind mourners of the person they love.

Thankfully, society is now beginning to see the need to discuss death and dying practices.  Death Cafés are cropping up in cities all over the world and people want to know how to live, die, and grieve well; in fact, people are often surprised to learn that the three are all interconnected.  Unsatisfied with the big business of pharmaceutical and funeral companies and what they have to offer, more people are looking to cross over in ways that are reflective of the way they lived.  They want to be able to talk about death and dying in intimate, meaningful ways.


A lot of shamanic practitioners (myself included) are working in the realm of death midwifery. Reach out for support. If death makes you feel uncomfortable, I recommend reflecting on the following questions for some time to work through these issues:

Do you fear or embrace death and death as change? How come?

Have you ever held onto something that actually causes you pain because of this fear? If so, what is the cost of this in your life?

What has death shown you to be of greatest importance in life?

Have you learned to trust death? Why? Why not?

If you knew you were going to die in a year, what would you do now that you are not currently doing?

How does the natural world embrace death and change?  How is it a part of natural cycles?

What has grieving losses fully taught you about moving through transitions in life?

***

 

About the Author:

 

 

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic practitioner, reiki master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”
“Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”
“Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing”

For Amazon information, click image below.

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Children’s Book Review: An A-Z collection of Behaviour Tales From Angry Ant to Zestless Zebra – by Susan Perrow Illustrated by Almut French

December, 2017

Children’s Book Review: An A-Z collection of Behaviour Tales

From Angry Ant to Zestless Zebra

by Susan Perrow

Illustrated by Almut French

This charming and beautifully illustrated book essentially offers something called “story medicine” as a creative strategy for parenting, teaching and even counselling.

The key concept of story medicine or healing stories is that the right story, told at the right time, can unlock something within a child and eventually bring about desired (or much needed) change.

One example would be of a child deliberately annoying other children and destroying the peace in the classroom for the whole group. The teacher might then read the story about Obnoxious Octopus so the whole class is presented with a template for solving the problem and behaving or responding differently. The child concerned might now receive positive attention (without having to act annoying to get it) and the other children are inspired to try different ways of behaving around this particular child. When everyone is receptive – the dynamic might just shift!

The teacher in me whispers that some stories may well need to be told repeatedly – say every day for a week (or weekly for several months) – but presented in the right way, an improvement may occur given time, given patience and a positive (constructive) attitude.

These stories are written for an audience aged 3 – 9 years – but of course they could be used too with another audience (say adults in a teamwork seminar) or adapted for older children.

And of course we can do more than just telling: we can create our own picture books, act the stories out with puppets, dolls or teddy bears. We can use them as a starting point for writing and telling our own tales.

When my own children were much younger (they are all teenagers now) I remember how I could really get their attention by inserting their names in to stories and adding extra (personal) details that were not in the original story. A portal opened where they were not only listening – they became participants. And often that would come out in their play later. While cooking their dinner I would overhear their teddy bears quoting lines from the story and running wild with the storyline (and many new storylines exploded onto the scene!)

A related idea that became very popular in the primary school my own children attended was of making Story Sackis. They would contain book plus toys and props to actually act out the whole story. This is any idea that would work well with this book too. Parents or teachers might get a stuffed octopus (to stay with that example) as well as some toy fishes and involve a group of children in enacting the whole story – first what went wrong and then a much better outcome where everyone is having fun.

https://literacytrust.org.uk/resources/how-make-and-use-story-sack/

As a teacher and mother both I think this book is lovely and based on sound therapeutic and healing principles. The author has really done her research and found positive inspiration in situations where children struggled or something negative occurred. To look within yourself for an innovative way to proceed (as a teacher) is an attitude that can help transform real life situations.

On the back cover she is quoted as saying that the stories may not be “magical pills” but they can be a wonderful alternative to nagging or lecturing. Now any parent, teacher or counselor is going to appreciate that!!

For Amazon information, click image below.

 

(Full disclosure: I was asked by HawthornPress to review this book as a teacher and author of a book about innovative work with children myself).

Imelda Almqvist, 4 November 2017, London UK

**

About the author:

Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon on 26th August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.

For Amazon information, click image below.

 

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

YEAR OF CEREMONY

http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/aff_c?offer_id=124&aff_id=2260&url_id=86

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