eight

Finding Your Own Way

December, 2018

Chapter 8

The Shamanistic Path

I add this section for those who are interested in the spiritualistic or shamanistic aspect of meditation. This is simply an introduction to the world of the shaman. For those who wish to delve further, I would advise finding a reliable teacher to help them. In the last twenty years, there has been a widening of interest in the healing and spiritual practices of our ancestors and many have found a pathway back to a more earth-centred method of teaching and healing.

As always, trust your own instincts. Find out as much as you can before becoming too closely involved with any particular individual. We all go through challenging times, – but if this person is not handling the important aspects of their lives very well, then perhaps they are not for you.

If they care more about money than the work they are doing, then they are most likely not the right person to teach you. If they take on too many students, then they may not be able to give the support needed. Many shamans offer healing and counseling. If you are interested in learning from someone, then this may be a good way to find out if your paths are compatible. Even a good shaman may not be suited to you personally. Be prepared to take the time needed to find a way forward. A good friend who is a powerful shaman told me that the teacher will find you when you are ready. We work on ourselves and the universe guides us to where we need to be. I am always suspicious of weekend courses which promise to turn someone into an instant healer /shaman/counsellor with a nice shiny certificate.

What we know of the early religious practices of mankind is based largely on cave paintings and a few archaeological discoveries. Most anthropologists base their conjectures loosely on the tribal cultures which still existed in remote places up until quite recently, – before becoming overrun by modern society.

It is widely believed that shamans have existed as a separate class for at least 30,000 years.

It is my own belief that many men who were unsuited to hunting became shamans. In many ways, their initiation was as tough as that of the warriors in many cultures. Often they were buried for several days to symbolise a journey to the underworld.

Those with minor disabilities which would have made them unfit for hunting were able to help their tribe by performing rituals for success and journeying inward to help find the best places to hunt for game. They would then be on hand to protect the camp during the hunt and use divination to resolve any disputes. Contacting the ancestors may have been an important part of their duties and healing diseases by the use of herbs, and in serious cases, ‘soul retrieval’

In soul retrieval, the shaman enters the underworld to find the lost soul of a tribal member. The afflicted may have a mental illness or a fever or be near death.

The shaman must be confident and courageous, or he too may become lost in the vast realms of the underworld and perhaps never return.

I would find this idea quaint, – apart from having witnessed the effects on what could easily be called “loss of soul” on a good friend. He became lost during a badly constructed ritual for past life journeying which was popular in the 1970’s. Something rather nasty returned in his stead.

It took most of the night to evict the ‘entity’ and return this young man and he was never quite the same again. I am aware of the theory of disassociated personality complexes, but it is hard to call them that when they read minds and try to tear your throat out. This is why it is best to get a teacher before tackling more advanced work. Always set your boundaries and your intent. Use whatever help is available to you and meditate in a safe and a sane way. Take things slowly and easily.

My own ideas on how early shamanism was structured, are based more on my own experiences than on the little that is known of early man. Because a group of people may live a nomadic lifestyle or exist in buildings suited to their locality, made of straw and mud, – it hardly proves that their culture has not advanced in 30.000 years.

In 1980, I went to see a small collection of artifacts, taken from Newgrange, Ireland, which were on display in a private library in Dublin. I went with a friend, who I will call Susan. We were invited to go there by the leader of a Rosicrucian group we were involved in. All we were told was to look for an item listed as a ceremonial mace head and see what connection we could make with the object. It was an egg-shaped stone with spiral patterns and a hole through it, large enough to fill a man’s hand.

As I gazed at the object, I found myself back in Newgrange, sometime around the building of the passage tomb. A young man dressed in furs sat in front of a fire using the object to grind something in a bowl. He had a clubbed foot. When I commented on it, he laughed and told me it was why he was chosen to be a shaman. When I compared notes with Susan, it turned out that we had shared the same experience. Our accounts of the vision matched perfectly. Oddly, I forgot about this experience for many years until the memory came back to me one day. I wrote the poem below to remind myself of the journey.

Trance is a powerful tool for spiritual exploration.

It can be triggered by many methods.

Hypnotism is the least trustworthy and most dangerous method.

Wounded Heart

Do only fools and cripples live in longing for the light?

Are wounded hearts the only ones who venture deep into the dark to draw aside the veil?

They, who wander aimlessly in woods and fields, to search for wisdom long before the dawn,

Have pity for the poets and the artists who have felt this sense of exile since the day that they were born.

A simple, egg-shaped stone, small enough to fit inside my palm, became the key.

I gazed upon the spirals on this artifact and little did I realise the tale it had to tell.

My friend and I transported back in space and time to when it last was used.

At Newgrange barrow, we both stood, amazed, astounded and bemused.

The shaman sat before a fire, with robes of fur, and mischief in his eyes.

Grinding herbs with stone and bowl, our sudden apparitions seemed to cause him no surprise.

It happened forty, and five thousand years ago, I scarce remember all he had to say.

But one thing stood so clearly in my mind, it stayed with me until this very day.

He seemed quite young for one so wise, with a boyish face and long dark hair,

But, when I gazed upon his crippled foot, he quickly picked up on my stare.

I commented upon the injury at which he saw me glance,

He laughed as if I was a clumsy child, and asked how else would he have had his chance?

The wounded walk the lonely path, and fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

The blind can see the things which normally are hidden by the light, – their vision knows no end.

The beggar and the vagabond have riches that a king will never know.

And when the journey has no maps or charts, the child within us knows which way to go.

***

About the Author:

Patrick W Kavanagh, Featuring the inspirational art of Bill Oliver

Writer, poet, Patrick W Kavanagh was born in Dublin and now lives and works in Lincolnshire in a small rural town. Patrick became fascinated by the strange abilities of the human mind from watching his mother give psychic readings using tea-leaves and playing cards. With a lifelong interest in metaphysics and parapsychology, he has given tarot and spirit readings for over 40 years. He travels to many events with his wife Tina, exploring the power of shamanic drumming to heal, and induce therapeutic trance states. They also hold a regular drumming circle in the picturesque Lincolnshire Wolds.

By Patrick W Kavanagh available at most retailers:

Finding Your Own Way: Personal Meditations for Mastery and Self-knowledge on Amazon

Gael Song

August, 2018

Lughnasa


Lughnasa is my very favorite spirit time of year. The solstice/equinox and cross-quarter days mark the cosmic openings of the eight basic aspects of spirit in all things, shifts that are quite powerful. If you are into feeling energy or spirit, these can easily be felt. The masculine openings occur at sunrise, the feminine at sunset on the eve of each holy day. Early in each year, at Imbolc, this spirit opening feels like a baby, a little Girl. Then comes the Boy of the Vernal Equinox, the Virgin Girl and Boy of Bealtaine and Midsummer, the mother and father of Lughnasa and the Autumnal Equinox, the Grandmother at Samhein, until finally, the Grandfather opens on Midwinter. And all these cosmic aspects of spirit are quite different, with very varied directives in life, plus they open the six-week phase of growth for that inner aspect of the self until the next solstice/equinox portal for everyone. All of us, men and women alike, the cosmos and the earth, too, have these eight parts of our spirits, for this sacred structure interfaces all things. We are not so different after all.

So, on the evening before Aug. 5th, the cosmic Mother spirit opens; within each person, across the globe, and in all the planes of existence. And it is a dramatic change from the world server, strong-willed, action oriented Virgin Male of the preceding six weeks. Everything suddenly slows down. There is a nurturing, comforting presence billowing through the wind and clouds. I often feel the impulse to lie down and rest on the earth’s body, a mother herself. This is Lughnasa. Divine Mother can be particularly felt in the first fruits of the harvest. For this holy day also marks the opening of the action ethers within, which means manifestation into the physical, the specialty of the harvest father, Lugh, for whom even this feminine festival is named. This cosmic mother loves to nourish all her children with foods that delight, manifesting the tastiest blueberries or corn or cucumbers from her soil. The fruits of all the inner work of the previous nine moons of walking one’s path begin to appear at this time as well (the Apple moon is the tenth of the druid year), not just the outer harvest of grains and fruits, for the cosmic Mother wants to manifest all our dreams as well! (Though I have the distinct feeling that foods and recipes that simply cannot be resisted might be her personal favorite.) In my meditations into past lives as a Celt in Scotland over 2,000 years ago, I recalled large tribal celebrations at Lughnasa in honor of the earth mother, with extravagant expressions of gratitude for all the natural resources the earth mother had provided over the passing year, each tribe trying to outdo the others. I saw all priestesses who were mothers circled inside the groves in my visions, too, priestesses in divination meditations, calling out anything they saw that might lay ahead for the tribes, blessings and challenges both. And there were always swans on the lochs, too, the mother totem.

But more than this, Lughnasa falls during the Apple Moon, moon of the Goddess, the White Tara, July 27th-Aug. 19th. And when I do my own Lughnasa ceremony at my altar, calling in my druid guides to facilitate the opening of the mother part of my spirit, I always feel the gentle Presence of the White Tara come in around me as well. “Let Me come very close”,” She says, “I miss you so much, child of My Heart!” And I can sense spirit arms around my shoulders or a gentle head laid, very lightly, on my own with that strong eternal Mother Love pouring into me. And I remember the same thing happening in those ancient lifetimes, too, a personal encounter with the Goddess around the time of Lughnasa in those great tribal crowds, a sweet message of mother love to each and every person there. For myself, I need a space of silence for this intimate interface, not the loud, talking on and on, ceremonies that many prefer. And it’s when I fall asleep later that evening when I often feel Her most closely, spirit fingertips brushing across my temples. Oh, She can become very insistent about learning distressing wisdom lesson of the mother aspect at times across the next six weeks, I’ll grant you that, but not on this one holy day. It brings mother comfort and sweet abiding love, stronger in ways than any other. And then on Aug. 8th, three days past Lughnasa, there is always another personal Goddess message, but this time not a visitation, no, a physical gift of some sort that signifies what else will soon be manifesting during the harvest season. Lughnasa, mother comfort, peace, sweet rest, delicious things to eat, and the hint of fulfillment soon to come. No wonder I love it more than all the rest!

***

About the Author:

Jill Rose Frew, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, energy healer, workshop leader, and author. She will be opening a school teaching light healing and the Celtic path of enlightenment in 2019. For information, please see www.CelticHeaven.com

She is author of Guardians of the Celtic Way: The Path to arthurian Fulfillment (her name was Jill Kelly then), and Alba RebornAlba Reborn, Book One, RevisedAlba Reborn, Book Two, and Alba Reborn, Book Three.

Guardians of the Celtic Way: The Path to hurian Fulfillment