courage

Notes from the Apothecary

December, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Christmas Cactus

 Oh no, not the C-Word! That’s right, my fellow Pagans, I said it. Christmas. Love it or loathe it, come December the 25th, possible birthday of Dionysus and Mithras (but unlikely to be the birthday of Jesus) the nation, nay, the world goes Christmas mad and we shake our heads. Don’t they know it’s just another solstice celebration? Or at the very most, an adoption of the festivities of Roman Saturnalia? Well, it might surprise you to know that I love Christmas. Yeah, it’s a touch annoying when people deny the Pagan roots, but I’m a sucker for seeing other people happy. And Christmas makes people happy! It also gives its name to some amazing things: Christmas Island, Christmas Jones and of course, the beautiful and exotic Christmas Cactus.

The botanical name is Schlumbergera, chosen by botanist Charles Lemaire (1801-1871) in honour of Frédéric Schlumberger (1823-1893) who was a renowned collector of cacti and succulents.

 

The Kitchen Garden

 Christmas Cacti are generally kept as houseplants as they are native to Brazil and used to this type of climate. In the wild they grow attached to rocks and trees, but they are happy in some well-drained, good quality compost with a bit of grit or sand.

The cacti are normally grown from cuttings and their spikes are barely there, making them resemble a succulent more than a traditional cactus. The leaves are flattish pads and they form chains which eventually erupt into bright and beautiful flowers. They are normally quite happy sharing a large pot with other succulents and cacti as long as it doesn’t become too crowded.

Don’t let them have too much direct sunlight. It can damage the leaves. But too little light, and they may never flower. Many schlumbergera flower in winter, making them a wonderful addition to natural holiday decorations, whatever you celebrate.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

Cacti in general are associated with fire and the south. They are also associated with the zodiac sign of Aries, but Christmas cactus is specifically associated with Sagittarius. Unsurprisingly this plant is associated with the month of December and the festival of Yule or the Winter Solstice. Christmas cacti make a great altar decoration for any festive period, and ones with pink or red flowers are particularly appropriate for the south of your sacred space.

The association with the zodiac sign of Aries can be expanded to include the god Aries, and Mars, Aries’ Roman Equivalent. This lends the Christmas cactus the power of strength, courage but also of conflict and success in battles.

Sagittarius is another fire sign, but one particularly associated with November and December, the signs time in the zodiac ending around the winter solstice. Sagittarius is the archer, and associated with prophecy and divination. The Christmas cactus, therefore, could be a great tool in meditative divination or prophetic spellwork.

Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, so the Christmas Cacti could also be a great addition to expansion magic, and lawfully aligned magic.

 

Home and Hearth

Collect the flowers of your Christmas Cacti before they begin to fade. Let them dry; laying them on some paper in an airing cupboard or a sunny windowsill away from damp is good for this. Place the dried and hopefully colourful flowers in a small, clear jar. Either hang the jar on a thong or chain, or keep it in a pocket when you are going into situations where you need a little more courage. This could be confrontations with friends or family that you are nervous about, or perhaps raising a grievance in the workplace. The energy of Mars will walk with you, and the balance of a very hardy plant.

 

I Never Knew…

For those who enjoy growing succulents and cacti, the adorable name for baby succulents is pups!

All images from Wikipedia.

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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: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

 

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

Sexual Harassment on the Energetic Level

November, 2018

The week I wrote this article  the case  of Christine Blasey Ford was headlining. She is a university professor from California who has accused supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a sexual assault that occurred when they were both teenagers (in the 1980’s). Dr Blasey Ford has been forced to go into hiding since the story went viral and her life has been turned upside down completely. Yesterday many people close to me were glued to their screens as she gave her opening testimony and explained how  the sexual attack has changed her life.

 

I am acutely aware that her story is upsetting and triggering many other women who have had similar experiences and are now experiencing flash backs or nightmares. (It certainly brought up some memories and issues for me personally). These women (as well as some men) may not have found the courage (or place of personal safety/support from loved ones/enough confidence or indeed faith in the public justice system etc.) to speak out. Or they may have spoken out (as I once did) and been hammered into the role of perpetrator for making allegations.

My shamanic teacher colleague Caroline Kenner helpfully shared a link about the concept “DARVO” yesterday:

DARVO refers to a reaction perpetrators of wrong doing, particularly sexual offenders, may display in response to being held accountable for their behavior. DARVO stands for “Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.” The perpetrator or offender may Deny the behavior, Attack the individual doing the confronting, and Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender such that the perpetrator assumes the victim role and turns the true victim — or the whistle blower — into an alleged offender. This occurs, for instance, when an actually guilty perpetrator assumes the role of “falsely accused” and attacks the accuser’s credibility and blames the accuser of being the perpetrator of a false accusation.

Institutional DARVO occurs when the DARVO is committed by an institution (or with institutional complicity) as when police charge rape victims with lying. Institutional DARVO is a pernicious form of institutional betrayal.

-https://dynamic.uoregon.edu/jjf/defineDARVO.html

I would like to take a moment of silence and contemplation to acknowledge the experiences of all people (women, children, men) who have lived through sexual abuse of any kind. Tragically this makes up a large percentage of the world population (the #Metoo phenomenon has certainly flushed that fact into our collective awareness, beyond any reasonable doubt).

Many authors have written beautifully and courageously about sexual harassment and sexual abuse. It is not my call to add to their words and testimonies. Instead, by means of this blog, I feel called to explore a more hidden dimension of this phenomenon. What seems to escape our collective awareness is the impact of sexual abuse or harassment that occurs on the energetic or astral (if you prefer) plane.

Now you may say: “What?! You mean sexual abuse that never actually happened?!”

Let’s take a step back and please allow me to explain what I mean.

As a shamanic practitioner (and teacher) I have heard more than my fair share of stories from people (not exclusively women) who woke up in a night sweat to the sensation of someone climbing into bed with them. From people who started to dread falling asleep because the same character would show up night after night tormenting them or interfering with them.

Let’s be very clear: I am speaking about a sexual/emotional/psychological/spiritual interference that does not take physical form, here. By this I mean that the perpetrator is not physically present in the room – but nevertheless there is an undeniable sensation of being touched, intruded on, violated or abused in some other way.

I am aware that victims of sexual abuse may well have flash backs due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Indeed, this could be one explanation for the phenomenon I am trying to describe, as trauma dissolves a person’s sense of time and space, meaning that past events appear to recur in the Here and Now.

I am also aware that many (if not most) people will experience dreams with uncomfortable or unwelcome sexual content from time to time (such as having sexual interaction with a person other than their current partner). Again, that may just explain some of this. After all we cannot really control our dreams the way we control our waking actions and choices.

There may be other explanations as well. It has been said that the human body does not forget and that our body holds the memories that our conscious mind represses or denies. I have certainly found evidence of this in my own body.

Therefore… yes… to all those possibilities. But still, my mind is not at ease.

Let me approach this issue from a different angle. I am aware that in some circles or circumstances (let’s say a group of friends out clubbing) it is considered acceptable to talk freely about other people’s physical attributes. E.g. “I would never consider dating her, she is way too fat!” – While the person thus discussed wouldn’t never even contemplate a date with the speaker. But that side of the story is not being acknowledged. There is the illusion that a physical characteristic allows us to make arrogant and severely imbalanced assumptions about someone: “I wouldn’t dream of dating her – but she would date me if she could!”

Recently I have found myself in a situation where one person keen to find a life partner has been eyeing up every possible “candidate” moving into their line of vision (here I mean walking into a public area), endlessly running a commentary on their physical attributes – while the person thus being commented on was engaged in a different task altogether (doing some gardening and her focus completely on her plants). I could spot absolutely no flicker of reciprocity in response to the obsessive interest and (for lack of a better word) “meat market approach”. This process has, I believe, also been called “undressing with the eyes”.

People commonly masturbate while calling up in their mind’s eye images of people they fancy. Pornography actively invites that – and to my mind there is no problem (and here I am only speaking regarding this specific issue, not other dimensions of the phenomenon) if the actors (or photo models) willingly participated and received a fee for their work. They then agree to, and actively invite that kind of attention. In other words: they are paid to carry the projections or obsessions of others.

I think that we all have understanding and compassion for a lovesick teenage boy or girl obsessing about their “love object”. Having said that, in my opinion there is more of an issue when mature people do this to others (in graphic detail!) without even stopping to meditate on the energetic ramifications of this. During half a century on this planet I have had three stalkers and I know how utterly unpleasant it is to be followed or obsessed about in unwelcome ways.

The suggestion I am posing by means of this blog is that all adults (certainly those with a degree of spiritual and emotional maturity!) need to do some shadow work (read serious soul-searching) on the role we ourselves all play in this larger phenomenon. It is easy and natural to get outraged by cases we follow in the global news – and I am horrified by the fact by some of the responses that Dr Blasey Ford has received for her courage to speak out and potentially protect other women from a man in a position of great power – what else could she have done?!

When I use my imagination and try to place myself in her shoes I sense I would speak out to mainly protect other women, knowing what this man is capable of. I would be acting from a place of knowing that no apologies or amends were ever made – therefore there is no evidence the man has changed.

Holding a position or office of power in society needs to be matched by exercising the muscle of moral integrity.

However, speaking on another level I also believe that an issue has now come to public attention and to my mind it extends well beyond the specifics of the Blasey-Kavanaugh case. All of us have inner work to do on this…None of us, who claim a degree of awareness or “evolved consciousness” can escape doing shadow work on this… To resolve this we need to “own” the fact that we are participants, not observers.

Imelda Almqvist, London UK, 29 September 2018

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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 and her second book Sacred art: A Hollow Bone for Spirit (Where art Meets Shamanism) will be published in March 2019.  She was a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit in both 2016 and 2017 and is a presenter on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. She is currently in the editing stages of her third book “Medicine of the Imagination” and has started her fourth book “Evolving Gods: The Sacred Marriage of Tradition and Innovation”

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)

 

Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life: Using Shamanism Creatively with Young People of All Ages on Amazon

Coming Out of The Psychic Closet

October, 2018

Are You Afraid to Share Your Experiences with Others?

It is certainly encouraging that modern society is beginning to allow people to come out of their unique closets of personal truth and be accepted for who they are. 

Those people are finding the courage to reveal the true nature of their individual life choices and experiences. But what if you don’t understand the nature of your life experiences and don’t remember making choices to be psychic? How do you share such a thing with your friends and family? Will they reject you, laugh at you, or call you ‘crazy’ and force you back to the safety of your secret closet? And if so, how long might you remain alone there until you try again?

We asked medium and mentor, Sheri Engler, author of The Pearls of Wisdom: A Fairytale Guide to Life’s Magic Secrets For All Ages for advice to help one cope with burgeoning psychic skills, while finding balance between personal and social realities. She says, “It is important to first identify what your fears actually are. Then simply replace them with something more comfortable.” 

Here are a few typical questions and fears with some possible solutions to help get you started:

Does using the word “psychic” conjure foolish images of fortune tellers with crystal balls; spiritualists raising tables in shadowy séances; greedy scammers on psychic hotlines; or even new age, “airy-fairy” wannabe’s? —If so, consider using other words such as “intuition” or “high sensitivity to energies”. Try enlisting support from others by confiding that you are experiencing “metaphysical events” that you do not yet fully understand yourself. Ignite their interest and compassion, as opposed to judgment, by researching together the many resources online. Treat it as light and fun, and it will likely be less fear-provoking for all concerned. It is important to avoid trying to prove anything to anyone, as that quickly develops into a negative debate instead of the positive support you are seeking.

If you were to accept that you do indeed have “psychic ability”, could it suddenly take you over or invite dark energies? —The short answer is “No”. The longer answer is that having a fear of anything is the surest way to attract that exact thing to you. So don’t. Know that you have complete control over your own mind and your own personal space. You have a sovereign right to declare your space to be free of all negativity. It is as simple as that. Consider this… by the act of driving your car down the road, are you risking that your vehicle may suddenly take over your ability to control it?—Or could driving be construed as an invitation for someone to crash into you?… Of course not. You simply drive safely and go about your business, right? 

What about the reaction your religious acquaintances or your partner might have once you reveal your “psychic self”? Might they reject you? —It needs to be said here that not all relationships are supportive to one’s own growth. Inner and outer change and expansion are opportunities to houseclean not only your own belief systems but those of others as well. True love will accept you as you are. This may be a providential litmus test for your highest good. If you stick to the rule of “keep what serves and leave what hurts,” you will rarely if ever go wrong.

Ms. Engler advises those who are having unexplainable experiences to “Be calm and go with the flow. Don’t be afraid to discover who you are, but use discernment when choosing with whom you wish to share your exciting journey. Frequently, you’ll find that they are grateful to you for coming out of your psychic closet, because it offers them courage to come out of their own! This increase in energetic awareness is happening on a massive scale. Statistically speaking, it is more unusual to not have had some sort of psychic experiences than it is to have them. Survey your friends and see for yourself.

The truth is we are all born into this world as psychic beings. This heightened sensory ability is greatly revered in indigenous cultures. Modern society, however, begins at childhood to systematically shame away this basic component of our natural birthright to the extent that we have forgotten that the “supernatural” is natural and the “paranormal” is normal.

Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with you—in fact, there is something very right with you. You are just as you were born to be, so be who you are.

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About the Author:

Sheri D. Engler is the author/illustrator of The Pearls of Wisdom: A Fairy Tale Guide to Life’s Magic Secrets for All Ages(www.ThePearlsOfWisdomBook .com). She is an experienced mentor, medium, and metaphysicist with a background in psychology, counseling and research. She received a BA in Clinical Psychology at San Francisco State University.