opinion

Book Review – Naked Tarot: Sassy, Stripped-Down Advice by Janet Boyer

November, 2018

Book Review

Naked Tarot: Sassy, Stripped-Down advice

by Janet Boyer

 

 

I am so excited to share Naked Tarot: Sassy, Stripped-Down advice by Janet Boyer with you all. Naked Tarot is published by Dodona , Winchester, UK and Washington, USA, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing LTD., NO 3 East Street, Alresford, Hampshire S024 9EE, UK. It is available in paperback and digitally, and since I am reviewing a digital version, I can’t describe the physical book. But no worries, Naked Tarot has 451 pages chock-full of valuable insights into the Tarot cards, all presented in an easy-on-the-eye typeface in a style that is irreverent and fun!

I read the Forward, written by Craig Conley, author and creator of the Tarot Of Portmeirion, and instantly smiled. Eight Implications of Nakedness lets us know what we are in for, and it’s all good, even if you are squeamish about getting nekkid. The Introduction, written by Boyer, gives the framework of the book and some biographical information. Boyer, who also has an incredible amount of Tarot knowledge and experience, holds true to the title of this book and presents herself and her life experiences without shields, and with naked honesty. The book continues with an overview of the Tarot and of divination. Boyer also talks about ways to use the Tarot, methods for reading the Tarot, reversals, correspondences, Tarot suits/elements, and even things to consider when choosing a deck. I love her description of the Tarot as offering Who (the Court Cards), What/How (the Minor Arcana), and Why (the Major Arcana) with regard to our readings and the messages of the cards. All of this information without a single image, just lots of easy-to-read and understand text.

The section devoted to each card contains a Stripped Down Overview (describing the personality of the card), a whole paragraph of Keywords, several Personifications and Embodiments (OMG, one suggested personification for the Page of Wands is Tigger; how perfect is that?!), as well as a Quote, a Challenge, a Gift, suggested Occupations/Vocations, a list of correspondences, a Writing Prompt, and on and on. Then there is the Naked section, which contains Career, Romance, Parenting and Spirituality interpretations, as well as a list of Recommended Resources, and a suggested spread. In her card descriptions and extensive correspondence lists, Boyer uses current and up-to-date movie and book references and people, both real-life and imagined, who we all know well.

I particularly like Boyer’s treatment of the Court Cards. She treats each of the 16 Court Cards like individual persons, and even offers Nicknames for each, and the way to His/Her Hearts and MBTI/Keirsey personality descriptions.

At the end of over 400 pages of useful and fun information about each of the 78 cards of the Tarot, Boyer offers six sample spreads with interpretations, as well input and comments from some of the seekers. The book ends with an extensive bibliography, and a list of recent bestsellers from Donona .

Naked Tarot is a must-have, whether you are a new reader just dipping your toe into the Tarot ocean, or an experienced reader with a lot of esoteric information and reading experience in your tool box, or if you fall somewhere in between those extremes. This is not a dry list of correspondences and brief descriptions of interpretations that don’t seem to relate to current life. There is nothing stuffy or intimidating about this book; it is accessible to all and full of lots and lots and lots of useful information offered in a manner that is easy to connect with and remember, even though there are no card images.

I never expected to recommend a digital book on the Tarot, but this is one that you absolutely must have on your e-reader. Get the paperback too if you need to work with paper; you won’t be sorry. You will use this book, again and again, and the thoughtful insights and reader-friendly card descriptions and information will bring a new spark to your work with the Tarot, whether professionally or personally.

Naked Tarot: Sassy, Stripped-Down advice on Amazon

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About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding 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

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

October, 2018

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times October 2018

Bright Blessings,

This is the end of the growing season for me due to the kinds of plants I grow, and I’ve already started fall cleanup. It’s also the time I begin planning what I will plant in fall, and I decide what I might like to consider growing come next Spring. I am busily reading bulb catalogs and selecting next years seeds.

Pulling the zinnias is always heartbreaking, but we had such heavy rains earlier in the month, they had been knocked over onto the sidewalk so badly, and I had no choice. They wouldn’t have been left another week even, however, as they were spent. The stems and roots were packaged up as yard waste, and the flower heads given to a neighbor friend who dotes on the neighborhood birds. The birds just love to munch on zinnia seeds in the flower heads!

Also, we are rolling towards Samhain, the final harvest, and in Westerville, the town just North of Columbus where I live, that means we are having pumpkin patch trips, apple picking days at orchards, and the last of our tomatoes we proudly grew all Summer are blessing us with abundant bounty.

It also means poison ivy for those of us doing cleanup. BAH! A neighbor told me to vinegar spray the heck out of them, and I am going to do that today.

I also did not plant as much this year and I’m glad I didn’t. My back has taken a turn for the worse, and although I am in physical therapy now, it’s been getting progressively worse for about five years now. I may have to accept downsizing the amount of plants I do from now on, and I am not happy about it.

The Good and the Bad

Like in the garden, there is good and bad in all things. Everybody wants the good, but facing the ugly realities happen to be something few care to do.

Instead of the typical Sabbat based article, I will be reviewing a couple of things that came up in pop culture that has a lot of feathers ruffled in our communities, discuss some things from a generation ago, and why we ought not to be so quick to fly off all angry or offended.

The Box

The first thing that made so many Witches, Wiccans, and Pagans angry was the Witch Starter Kit Sephora was about to release.

Various individuals blew up all over social media calling it theft, appropriation, offensive, infuriating, intolerable, and what have you. Many bloggers condemned it as sacrilege, and disrespectful of Witchcraft and Wicca, and there was such a public outcry, Sephora pulled the product, and they apologized.

Apparently, I am the only Wiccan/Witch/Pagan who was not in any way upset by this product.

Before you boycott me, or burn effigies of me, hear me out.

I am going to number the reasons why it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to be upset about this product.

  1. There are tons of similar kits out on shelves and have been for quite some time. What, you think the “Starter Voodoo Kit” you nabbed at Barnes and Noble or Half Priced when you were 17 were authentic and written by a real Voodoo priestess? Think again. You think the “Crystal Pack” you nabbed at a similar shop, or even a metaphysical store were by a real elder of the craft? Not necessarily. Both mainstream shops, and metaphysical shops sell such items on a daily basis and have for quite some time. Nobody who is raising hell and crying that Sephora’s kit is a great injustice to our sacred traditions seems upset about the other kits at all. This is no different.
  2. Look what is in it.
  1. A tarot deck, which you can get almost anyplace these days.
  2. A rose quartz crystal, which again, gets sold in kits constantly. We had a stash of different ‘crystals’ at a cavern where I was a tour guide, and you can nab then at various trendy shops at malls these days. Many non-metaphysical stores carry magical crystals, and nobody complains.
  3. White sage- which, I am sorry is not in any way European. It is Native to the American Southwest, and South America. So don’t tell me that was misappropriated by this company from European based Pagan and Witch traditions. WE took it from Native Americans. We take a LOT from their practices, and that is a proven fact. Witches use white sage, and don’t think twice about the fact we got it from somebody else. If we are allowed to incorporate practices from others, then others are allowed to incorporate our practices into theirs as well.
  4. Various good smelling tubes of something something.

Each of these products is sold to, sold by, and used by Pagans, Wiccans, and Witches on a daily basis. They are also sold by non-magical practitioners who want to earn money. Even some mainstream groceries carry essential oils these days, and I know of more than one organic market that has nag champa, white sage, and tons of essential oils for sale. Nobody bats an eye about that. Sephora is just one of many companies creating a product that the magical public uses.

Furthermore, in the apology they released, they said “Our intention for the product was to create something that celebrates wellness, personal ceremony, and intention setting with focus on using fragrance as a beauty ritual.” That is magic folks. And glamour. Witches are well-known for using certain looks, and scents to illicit responses, and beauty and making others find us pleasant smelling will draw more people to us. Rose quartz also initiates love and affection. It’s just another magic kit.

  1. Not everybody in our communities who sells to us belong to the tradition of merch they are selling. I will reword that to make sure people understand what I am saying. Every metaphysical shop where I have ever entered was ran by somebody who practiced a particular path, but sold things for members of many other paths besides their own. Some shop owners are not initiated, and just self-educated, and are very good at running a store. At no time in the 13 years I have been active in the Pagan/New Age/Metaphysical community have I ever heard one individual remark on this fact, let alone refuse to by merch for Wicca from a Druid, for example. It would make no sense because how would we be able to buy anything if we were so picky? Sephora’s product is no different.
  2. Furthermore, not everybody in our community who is either a business person or clergyperson has any education, training, or affiliation outside of their own thing. Don’t believe me? I have met more than one self-initiated, self-ordained “Priestess” who recognizes no elders, and put herself in charge because she wanted to be the boss. They have no issue finding followers. I have also known non-clergy who read a few books, and declare titles for themselves they swear was bestowed celestially, and everybody else is just too unenlightened to understand. There are always a number of them at every large gathering, and they slip in and out of our circles seamlessly. We “don’t judge” and we “are inclusive” and put up with a lot of bullshit because we are terrified of somebody getting mad at us for questioning them. Why do we accept this at face value from people who come to our gatherings who are not one of us, yet we raise hell over a product that is actually usable? Furthermore- who is the actual person who designed the kit? Are they Pagan or not? Would it matter if they were?
  3. The people who make tarot cards are not always practitioners. Some are just good at art, got a deal, and have bills to pay. Furthermore, the people who do the assembly line work cannot possibly all practice magic or be Pagan. Nobody seems to mind about that. The people selling you the merch at a non-Pagan shop may or may not practice magic or one of our religions. Again, nobody seems to care. How do you handpick your tarot cards? Do you research the manufacturer and artist and pick over a deck because they do not adhere to your tradition? Nobody does this. It would make no sense. So why are we mad at this manufacturer but none of the other ones? It is not possible to buy all things for our religious or magical practice only from others who practice just as we do.
  4. Is it because it’s more mainstream? Well, how many times have Pagans. Wiccans, and Witches decried the fact the mainstream often rejects us? Now that we are “socially acceptable” enough for things we use to be saleable in a mainstream shop, as we swear up and down we deserve to be, we are insulted. I am sorry, but we cannot have it both ways. “It’s a corporation so they have no right to take our money” some have said. Really? I will mention Barnes and Noble and Half Priced again. I am not sure which of the three companies I mentioned makes more money, but all of them are pretty large, successful businesses.
  5. Our practices are derived from other practices. Period. I have already mentioned our use of white sage. But let’s talk about Wicca in general. An excellent publication that is one of the most controversial in our history is Aiden Kelly’s Inventing Witchcraft. In it, he published parts of Gerald Gardner’s Book of Shadows. The entire Book of Shadows is now available for free online at Sacred Texts. Here is the link- http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/gbos/index.htm Nobody was supposed to see that except initiates, as it was secret, and for members only. Some Wiccans were very angry with Kelly for this. Oh yeah?
    Well, Kelly demonstrated line by line just WHERE Gardner got certain things from. Some from Crowley, some from Rudyard Kipling, some from varied other sources, some on his own. But Gardner and early Wiccans swore Wicca was ancient, from an unbroken tradition, and unchanged for centuries, even thousands of years. My question was- if it was all SO secret, why did Gardner and others put ads in the newspapers, contact journalists to do interviews, write books for publication, and generally put Wicca in the public immediately? Because nothing was secret, nothing was ancient, and they wanted to attract as many as possible. That is fine, it being a small, secret tradition for the few, and it is now readily available for anybody who will buy a book cannot both be true at the same time. Furthermore, Doreen Valiente, a true High Priestess, took one look at some of Gardner’s ritual writings, and said “No way.” She rewrote quite a bit herself. Kelly’s book can be had from Amazon.com, and here is the link.
    Wicca is not an ethnocentric ancient religion that went underground and reemerged when Gerald Gardner decided to publish books. It’s Gardner’s creation. It’s one I am thankful for, but it’s something that was pulled together and created from the many things that inspired Gardner. We, those who practice that have no business criticizing others for doing the same things we, ourselves do.
  6. We do not own the practices we utilize, and are not allowed to tell other people they cannot practice what we do unless we give them permission. Many other religious traditions, including atheists who believe in energy and spirits use the things we use, and follow some of the same practices. We do not have the right to dictate they are not allowed. Even somebody who thinks a kit at a shop is pretty or interesting or looks fun has the right to buy it and use the things without our guidance, permission, or approval.
  7. Nobody is making fun of us. Nobody makes us look bad but ourselves. I could list all the things I have seen and the people who I have met in the community who have driven me to tears of frustration over the years with their bullshit, but I know good and well the rest of you have seen pretty much the same things, so I won’t bore you. We also almost never call people on their shit in our communities unless it is childish arguing online over some discussion topic. I would really like to see us focus more on the condition of our own community instead of pitching fits about how some people who don’t belong in our circles views us.
  8. It is not the mainstream’s job or responsibility to portray us correctly. That is up to us. I am so over the people crying over Charmed or the latest horror flick’s wrongful use of the pentacle. I am sick to death of hearing people passionately declare Hollywood makes us look like devil worshipers and is to blame for misconceptions about us. No. Again, that’s us. And that did not come from Hollywood originally. It came out of the fact we use terminology the Xtains have used for centuries to denote devil worship. The word “witch” was never used to indicate something good until Gardner “reclaimed “ the word, swearing up and down the Inquisitors misunderstood the indigenous religions and demonized them. If you read what the witch trials looked for, you will not find one damned thing about Mother Earth, the goddess, blessing babies, handfastings, honoring elders, or blessing the garden. You will find sex with the devil, killing innocent people, enslaving people, poisoning neighbors they had a disagreement with, turning into rabbits to eat all their neighbors vegetables, causing crop blights, and insect infestations, peeing in a hole to create a hailstorm, making epidemic illnesses, etc. The word Coven, the number 13, the black hats, a horned man all in black, and brooms were all things “confessed” to during torture during witch trials. Nobody ever did those things. So Christians were taught there were evil people worshiping the devil doing all the awful things you could think of, and we are a new religion of people using the language set by the Inquisitors having “reclaimed” the terms? Likewise, the terms “Pagan “ and “Heathen” was used in the Bible to denote terrible people, and yet we call ourselves these things and demand to immediately be identified as the good people we actually are as opposed to the horrible people the words have been used by Xtians to describe. I think this is unfair of us.

The Commercial

Now I come to a commercial that is making people mad as hell also, and to me, it’s not infuriating either. Here is the video:

 

 

It’s about a 15 second commercial for Constant Contact marketing. It shows women sitting in a room of their business products, one meditating, the other playing a digeridoo. I will add both are white girls who look like they are about to run to Starbucks for their Pumpkin Spice Latte on the way to yoga. That sounds good right now!

They click on the page to see how many folks have looked at their listing through Constant Contact, and there are a lot! The girls are tickled pink, and one says “Oh, my goddess!” and then resumes her digeridoo playing.

And people are losing their minds about this also.

Here’s the thing. I know a LOT of New Agers and Pagans and Witches and Wiccans who look, act, talk JUST LIKE the actresses in the commercial.

I am sorry if you have not had the pleasure of meeting such delightful people, and if you find these people insulting or infuriating somehow, but this commercial in no way makes fun of or misrepresents these types of folks in our communities. There are a lot of folks just like these gals in our communities, and it was a realistic representation.

So, on one hand, we throw a fit about Hollywood not portraying us just as we are, but if somebody portrays us just as we are, we are also very angry. Then again, if they do not mention us at all, we feel left out.

The upset reactions by so many to these things says a lot about how much growing up a lot of us have to do, and I have no sympathy about how offended some people are.

Just because you are offended does not mean that you are right.

The Working

I had thought of doing a dispelling anger working for people who find it so necessary to get upset and offended over things like this, but I have a better idea. I want to make you laugh. One of the people I studied with utilized laughter as banishing, and I have found it to always be very effective.

I am not making fun or ridiculing. I want to show how silly we can be sometimes. I get mad sometimes too, but getting offended, and assuming people are trying to harm us or disrespect us every time they mention magical practice does nothing but make our day and life negative. It’s important to stop when we have a knee jerk reaction, take a step back, breathe, and really look objectively at things.

Or consider this- There are now so very many of us, and we have become so much a part of the mainstream – we are now portrayed by the mainstream, and products for our personal use and for those who aspire to join us have made it into mainstream stores.

This is SO good.

Enjoy this lighthearted take on being offended by one of our funniest practitioners.

Blessed Be.

 

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About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel.

Witch & Popcorn

October, 2018

American Mystic

I was gifted a copy of American Mystic, and I am so glad. Here is the trailer.

Released in 2010, it is an intimate portrait of three non- mainstream devotees. One is Pagan, one is a Lakota Sundancer, and one is an Xtian Spiritualist.

The stories of each person’s faith/path are explored from their gatherings to their personal mundane home life, and their individual personal practices.

Chuck, the Sundancer, welcomes the crew into the parts of the ceremony, teaching, and explaining different things that go into it. He shows years worth of scars gotten during Sundances, and he and friends open their hearts, and sacred spaces to anybody who wants to learn and understand.

Of course, Morpheus Ravenna, the Pagan is the one who most resonated with me. She welcomed the crew into her home and into her rituals. She sang, shared writings, and showed her amazing property where she has a permanent Pagan sanctuary set up. She can be found on Facebook at this link.

Kublai is a young New York Christian Spiritualist who is very involved in his community, and the film finds him working to develop his gifts to work towards helping others. Xtian Spiritualism, a non mainstream denomination, believes in the power of faith healing, angles, and psychic gifts. In the film, many mediums and clergy persons in Kublai’s community welcome the crew to film their meetings and classes.

It’s hard to keep a dry eye watching the devotion of these three beautiful souls, and their openness to share is exactly what we need today. The more people know about those who are perceived as different, the closer we can move towards full acceptance despite differences.

All around, this is a very moving and beautiful film.

 

American Mystic

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel.

Spirituality Without Religion

October, 2018

Spoiler alert: this piece is not really about Spirituality without Religion. The way of the shaman is certainly not exempt from paradoxes and miracles.

It was August 5, 2018. My Chinese calendar predicted it would be an auspicious day for rituals but a bad one to embark on a long journey. Rituals it was. I went to my favorite café in Bangkok, the city where I was living, and put fingers to keyboard.

It had not been a good week; I had submitted a piece commissioned by a website that receives nine million unique visitors a month, and it had been turned down. My agent pitched the site for an article about living in intentional communities. I was happy to write about that topic, since I had lived in a spiritual, environmentally friendly community in Scotland and had first-hand knowledge of what the experience of communal living was about. Moreover, my first steps in shamanic practice took place during that stay, so it was a subject dear to me.

However, the editor of the website had understood that the piece would go over actionable strategies for people to create more intentional and meaningful relationships in their own communities, like setting aside time to walk around their neighborhood, join new groups, etc. Would I be open to pivoting the piece to touch on this idea?

It had not been an easy piece for me to write; the website preferred articles written in third person, very much “news you can use” and tips with quick, easy takeaways about how to improve the lives of their millions of unique visitors. About 700 words was best. Which was exactly the opposite of what I do: I write long articles, in the first person, reflecting on the perplexing circumstances of modern life, concluding in general that the world is a very confusing place and that most of the questions we ask ourselves are probably wrong. I wish I had easy takeaways to offer; I would be the first one to benefit from them. It is a happy day when the unique visitors to my site reach two digits.

Still, I wrote the piece, but it was turned down. Of course, I was open to pivoting the piece. I was in the middle of the promotion of the recently published Shaman Express, a novel I cowrote that had sold less than one hundred copies in its first month. Any chance to promote the novel was welcome. Take every opportunity you can to post your writing to different platforms was the advice of a blogger writing about how to make a living as a writer. When you first set out to freelance, you’ll have to stomach crummy pay, cantankerous editors, and take on all assignments that come your way. Let’s be honest, in the beginning, you can’t afford to be picky was the more radical advice of another blogger writing about going freelance. I spent the following week honestly trying to pivot the piece to touch on this idea of the neighborhood.

I started by reviewing my most recent experience walking around my neighborhood, which at the time was funky Banglamphu in Bangkok. I spent the first month in a cheap, murky, no “chocolate on the pillow” hotel. I divided my time between writing at a the café downstairs and attending a spiritual group that had me absorbed to the point of firmly believing that everything that surrounded me was a transient, repetitive cycle of suffering based on attachment. Why generate additional suffering by creating attachment to my neighborhood? Then I moved to a condo for the following two months, apparently built for the sole purpose of sheltering young and fleeting Airbnb travelers. After a few days I started recognizing some faces at the next-door Family Mart where I did my late-night shopping. Still, we would not greet each other in the elevator. And I did not use the gym; that alone qualified me as an outcast. No good luck in drawing from my experience here either.

Before setting out on this trip, I lived in a house in Buenos Aires for several years. I could think of only two times in which I had connected with the neighborhood. The first one was a failed attempt at bribing the neighbors with bottles of wine on the eve of my fortieth birthday party. The strategy did not prevent the neighbors from calling the police, in fact repeatedly, with a noise complaint. It was a loud party. The next occasion that I reached out to them was when the Armenian church across the street installed a cellular antenna the size of the Eiffel Tower in their backyard. I attempted to gather signatures to file a robust complaint against the cellphone company that owned the antenna, with the hope that the lucrative agreement between church and big business would be terminated. I asked my pious neighbors to choose between brain cancer hazard, the naughty neighbor I had been, and the powerful grip of the Armenian patriarch. Naturally, I ended up filing the complaint alone. This did not make me any more popular in the neighborhood and killed my chances of being admitted to the Armenian kitchen supper club.

The harder I tried to pivot the original piece, the more evident it became that more than a pivot, I had been asked to perform a quadruple somersault. If you have nothing to say, there’s no point in singing it was the advice of yet another blogger who writes about tech, culture, and startups. To make matters worse, or perhaps better, I had started to study The Tibetan Book of the Dead. I learned that, surprisingly, once we get accustomed to the omnipresent possibility of death in life, we feel greatly liberated. So I resolved the article conundrum by deciding that no matter how strongly I wanted to promote Shaman Express, I had to be honest and not write that piece. The sense of immediacy of freedom was exhilarating.

Then came the possibility of writing about Spirituality without Religion for PaganPagesOrg. My initial idea was an inflammatory article against the Roman Catholic church. I gathered all sorts of evidence and set to reading Catherine Nixey’s The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World and Betthany Hughes’ “Ruination in the Name of Jesus.” Simultaneously, I reread the Vatican documents A Christian Reflection on the New Age and Aspects of Christian Meditation, where the Vatican sternly warns its adepts against mixing Christian practice with Eastern approaches to spirituality.

I might have moved from the murky hotel to the Airbnb condo, but I was still attending the same spiritual group in Bangkok and studying The Tibetan Book of the Dead with renewed energy. I was being taught about such spiritually edifying principles as belief means reliance, not defiance. I had sat in meditation to be rid of negative thinking, intolerance, and cynicism. My spiritual teacher showed me money, fame, food, Facebook, fantasy, series, social media, sugar, gaming, gossip, love, lust, work, war, pain, power. The list is without end — and so is the condition. I had even tweeted, We realize that all compulsion is only based on the illusion of substantial continuation, enduring substance, binding essence. Hence, I could not respond to the opportunity of writing about Spirituality without Religion with the cheap line of debasing the world’s oldest continually functioning bureaucracy.

Cornered, I asked for guidance in meditation. I reflected on how to bridge the infinite void of separation. Bob Thurman, in his translation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, explains that there are no boundaries to our interconnectedness with limitless dimensions and universes. Buddhism can only have drawn this from shamanism, the earliest form of spirituality in the planet. Later that day, my spiritual teacher talked about a God, not in a religious dimension, but as a form of spirituality that was different from the one I had departed. It implied a connection with the Universe. It was about a psychospiritual change and awakening. He talked about a higher force that we can all plug into, nothing at all like a human relation in the Judeo-Christian system of belief. Not an out-of-body experience either, but a practice that needed training to be perfected. We could find it where we thought there was no possibility of anything to exist. The spiritual part is rather the absence, the space around it, not the object itself, he taught.

He then proposed I should create a balance sheet. On one side I was to list all the reasons I could for believing in such higher force, and on the other side a list of all the reasons for disbelieving. I came up with this:

Reasons for believing:

1. The direct experience of the divine in meditation, yogic practice, and shamanic journeying.

2. The guidance of Helping Spirits that present themselves as friends, fellows, and teachers, recognizable from previous lives.

3. The intuitive knowledge of previous lives in such encounters and thus of the fallacy of separation.

Reasons for not believing:

1. Playing the atheist as an intellectual stance.

2. Scientific information.

3. The toxic political play of major religions, namely Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

My teacher nodded and explained that religions are man’s attempt to organize the spiritual experience. Organized religions, even if organized in an honest, earnest, well-meaning attempt, are always corrupt, because they are about men. A futile attempt indeed, because we know that the spiritual part is rather the absence, the space around it, not the object itself, he insisted. In this quest for spirituality, what we need is to have no escape, so we can experience what happens. Time, then, acquires a different dimension. Space has a different dimension. There arises a new possibility in Spirituality, where before it was just a necessity.

“Very well,” he concluded after reviewing my notes, “your first column is Spirituality, the second column is Religion. That is how you can have Spirituality without Religion.” I was speechless; my teacher had just written the article for me. Spirituality, not Religion, is the faster road to that greater freedom we all seek. The way of the shaman is certainly not exempt from paradoxes and miracles: he who is blessed with the guidance of a wise teacher shall learn to perform formidable pivots.

***

About the Author:

Omar Beretta is the co-author with Bénédicte Rousseau of Shaman Express. A former lawyer, yoga instructor and publishing company owner who – after a near-death experience – left his corporate career to practice yoga and shamanism, Beretta is now a traveling writer. For more information, see www.yacarevolador.com

 

Shaman Express

Book Review: Tarot For Your Self, A Workbook for Personal Transformation (Second Edition) by Mary K. Greer

June, 2018

Book Review

Tarot For Your Self, A Workbook for Personal Transformation (Second Edition)

by Mary K. Greer

To me, any Tarot book written by Mary K. Greer needs attention, and Tarot for Your Self, 2nd Edition: A Workbook for Personal Transformation is no exception. Tarot For Your Self is published by New Page , a division of The Career Press, Inc, Pompton Plains, NJ; it is a 7”by 10” paperback with a glossy color cover and contains 298 pages of nicely-sized typeface printed on white paper.

This is not a typical how-to-read-the-Tarot book. Tarot For Your Self does not only present card images, keywords and sample interpretations. Not that there are no correspondences or meanings offered at all (Appendix A has all that great Little White Book information, with upright and reversed meanings, an affirmation, and questions to be answered for each card), but rather the meat of Greer’s workbook offers great suggestions, explanations, and exercises focused on learning to integrate crystals, pendulums, visualizations, affirmations, numerology, astrology, self-exploration, rituals and meditations into our Tarot practices.

There is a chapter that offers new ways to get to know the cards of the Tarot, and new ways to use the cards for personal exploration. There is a chapter that focuses on getting to know and understand the personalities of the Court Cards. Another chapter takes familiar spreads and breaks them down so that a Tarot reader can make use of useful variations of even a simple three card spread. Greer even addresses yes-no and either-or questions in this chapter.

Throughout the book, along with the many charts and correspondence lists, meditations and visualizations, images and descriptions of a myriad of spreads to fit any circumstance imaginable, are valuable exercises that help a reader to see the cards in new ways and experience how the meanings of the cards can directly connect to and explain our own life experiences. Like any workbook, there is space within each of those exercises for us to record results and descriptions of experiences we may have while doing the exercises. At the end of each chapter is a list of suggested reading connected to the information provided in that chapter.

Besides the information about the individual cards in the Appendix, there is also a history of the Tarot and some theories regarding its origin, and a very useful correspondences chart.

What I like about Tarot For Your Self is that it offers many useful tools that allow us to use our Tarot cards for self-discovery and self-healing. There are exercises for dealing with depression, clarifying relationships, and clarifying money issues. There are meditations for relaxing and grounding. There are descriptions of rituals for purifying your cards, and descriptions of how to formulate a question and how to interpret reversed cards within a spread.

In Tarot For Your Self, Mary K. Greer has created a book that can help new readers to get a glimpse of how much information a Tarot card can offer, and that can help more seasoned readers to tap into the personalities of the cards in order to tell the story of a spread. Here is a workbook that does not require us to memorize keywords but rather encourages us to do the exercises and journal our own unique experiences in order to become personally acquainted with the cards of the Tarot. This is a classic that has stood the test of time, and has something to offer to new readers and longtime Tarot enthusiasts alike.

Tarot for Your Self, 2nd Edition: A Workbook for Personal Transformation

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

 

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding

Multiple Souls

June, 2018

(Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash)

 

This document is intended as a commentary on, and companion to, Wendy’s Division of the Soul class. I have called my text ‘Multiple Souls,’ because I believe it is equally valid to say our identity is closely associated with inner spirits. Where we draw the boundary of identity depends on the circumstances. On spirit journeys we encounter deeper levels of ourselves, but we also have to deal with other entities in passing. Some of these are completely independent, others are partly integrated with the soul, partly independent of it.

Please bear in mind that this is lore, not information. It isn’t necessary to agree or disagree with all or part of it. Lore is like ore; you must dig it out for yourself, melt it down, refine it, and shape it into the tools you particularly need. This is, in fact, my lore, my ore. It fits my needs, but it goes without saying that it will not and cannot fit all of yours. If you can make use of it, do so; for the rest, take it as entertainment.

The rest of this text serves as commentary on Wendy’s document.

Many Hindu and Buddhist traditions teach that the everyday personality dissolves when Brahman or nirvana is realized. The Craft attitude to this, I believe, is that it doesn’t explain why we find ourselves in phenomenal existence, on this plane, at all. What is it for? When a witch has an experience of the deep self, with access to memories of past lives and a sudden understanding of this life and its limitations, this seems to be a living, growing entity, absorbing the lucid experiences it receives from life after life. This we call the root soul. Each life begins when the root soul sends a shoot up to Middle-earth. A baby is born. The extension of the root soul that comes awake at this moment is called the bud soul. The bud soul looks out on its outer world. But behind it, looking on silently from the inner trunk, is the dream soul. The dream soul can go down and up the trunk, down to the root soul, and in fact does so at death. It is usually quiet during waking, but helps us weave our dreams at night, providing access to inner spirits in the field of the sleeper’s imagination.

The dream soul is in communication with the root soul. It is called the dream soul (by Michael York) because its journeys up and down the inner pillar generally start from dreams, in particular lucid dreams, when we know we are asleep and dreaming. The bud soul (called by York the life soul) watches over the body during these journeys. But it can also travel from the waking state, from a peculiar state of awareness called lucid waking. At such times, the experience of Middle-earth continues but additional senses are added to it, so that other levels of the inner pillar shine through, as it were, our ordinary perceptions. Journeys down the inner pillar frequently contact old, forgotten memories and bring some of these to the surface of consciousness when the dream soul returns.

Like a tree, our inner trunk has tree-rings, containing memories, feelings and viewpoints from past experiences in this life. When we journey inwardly, we acquire the freedom to experience the world as we once did, at different ages. We also recover the freshness of early experience, along with early enthusiasms. In the course of his or her inner journeys, the witch begins to live life from all the experiences of this lifetime, and even, in time, from far memories of past lives. This anticipates the work of integration of this lifetime’s experiences into the root-soul which is largely accomplished in the period of rest and recuperation between lives.

The dream-soul is that portion of the root-soul that is projected into Middle-earth at the start of a new incarnation. It is not the whole root-soul, but is the part chosen to deal with the circumstances of the new life. It selects its new bud-soul from the elementals round about, and the latter serves as the elemental of the new body, much as a dryad is the elemental of a tree or stand of trees. It interacts with the bud-soul from time to time, especially when returning from a spirit journey, and the part of the bud-soul so affected will accompany it back down to the root-soul at death, leaving only the original body-elemental to stand by the grave. In pagan times offerings were made to this elemental, and it still retained some connection with the dream-soul, sending the etheric portions of the offerings down to the Summerland. As graveyard offerings have largely ceased, the connections between the two souls are not kept up, and in time the bud-soul forgets its incarnation as a human and goes into nature as a local genius. The Buryat Mongols say it takes about ten years for such an elemental (called by them the suld) to forget its once-human existence.

The bud-soul also serves to relate the dream-soul to the physical and social environment in Middle-earth. The bud-soul employs language and engages in audible as well as mental talking. The dream-soul communicates in images and feelings but is usually silent, looking out on Middle-earth through the eyes of the bud-soul.

The ancient Balts and other peoples assigned a special tree to each person throughout life. The tree had to be tended with care, for if it died, it was believed the person would die also.

Between lives the root-soul enjoys the company of its generic family, as well as a special family of souls, called in this tradition the witch-family, who have agreed to reincarnate together and help each other to evolve. Some of these souls are reborn at the same time, while others stay in the Summerland and help their witch brothers and sisters from the Other Side. When we encounter one of these witch brothers or sisters we feel especially close to them, perhaps closer than to many generic family members. Eventually the root-souls of a witch family have absorbed all the experiences and lessons necessary, and are ready for transmutation. As a group, the witch family travels to the Sun and there receives a body of light. This is described in both Tuscan witch tradition and in the Prasna Upanishad. This concludes the tutelary relationship with the Watchers and elementals. Thenceforth, the soul of the witch will be a special sort of elemental that is balanced in all four etheric substances, air, fire, water and earth, and their attendant powers. One can still visit Middle-earth on occasion, but it is no longer necessary to reincarnate. The bud-soul is carried within the body of light and can be used to generate a temporary material body for this purpose.

This is as far as I can see, or imagine, our future. We want to grow, develop to the point where we will be of use to the gods, or, probably, the daimones or demigods. Many ancient initiatory systems describe our ultimate destiny as becoming a daimon or demigod ourselves. I don’t think this is particularly important; for myself, I am more interested in what work I will be doing. Perhaps I will pay back the help I have gotten along the way by guiding a mortal after me, or by guarding his or her home. Or perhaps I am being trained, through various lives, to do some special work for the gods. This is where I stop speculating; I am content to wait and find out.

App Review: Simple Habit – Meditation for Busy People

May, 2018

App Review

Simple Habit – Meditation for Busy People

Once more into the world of meditation apps I wander! This time I’m exploring the benefits of Simple Habit, an app I’ve had for a while but only used very sporadically. Again, I started with the free version then looked to upgrade for more features. The app is normally about $6 a month for the full version, but you can invite friends to get limited time access to premium content, so I bugged my friends and family in order to get access to the good stuff. Just for you guys. Because I loves ya.

The interface is less showy than the other apps I’ve looked at. It’s a dark gray background, with ‘windows’ style blocks displaying the title of each meditation. It’s very easy to navigate, and the lack of ‘flashiness’ lends itself well to a tool that’s designed to be calming and soothing. There’s a search function that allows you to look for key words. It even suggests things you may be looking for help with, such as ‘stress’ or ‘sleep’.

On the home page, there’s a larger block that simply says, ‘Play Next’, which shows the next meditation that’s either been recommended or lined up based on what you’ve already listened to. Clicking on this today opens ‘Simple Habit Starter’. The block disappears, and the screen shows a podcast style interface with the round circle showing how much audio remains, a pause/play function and before you start, a friendly reminder to ‘Take a deep breath’. Again, the colors are very muted, there is no clutter on the screen. It’s as if the app has been designed specifically to avoid distracting you from examining the recesses of your mind, by being as unobtrusive as possible.

Simple Habit Starter’ is subtitled ‘Introducing Mindfulness’. Many of the meditations (possibly all, I haven’t listened to them all so can’t say for sure!) start with ‘You’re listening to Simple Habit; a daily vacation for your mind.’ What a nice idea, that meditation is taking your brain on a little break. Someone called Cory Muscara tells me to get comfy; either sit or lie down. Close my eyes if it feels comfortable. Give myself permission to be here; stopping can feel foreign. There’s nothing I need to achieve. I’m encouraged to focus on my breathing, and the short starter session is over before I know it, leaving me oddly refreshed and keen to explore the other features. Before I do anything else, I’m encouraged to aim for small meditation goals, like a 3 day streak.

What I particularly liked was once the meditation was over, the app doesn’t fling you right back to the home screen, but lists other meditations you may be interested in, to add to your play list. Some are on the same or a similar theme and others are by the same guide. This is a great feature as if you are picking meditations that appeal to you, you’re more likely to be excited about meditation and see it as something to look forward to, rather than something you ‘should’ be making time for.

I did seven ‘sleep better’ sessions, and believe me, I have listened to *many* guided meditations promising a great night’s sleep, so wasn’t expecting anything special. I was pleasantly surprised. Each of the first six sessions taught you a different technique to help you fall asleep. What I found most useful about this was the fact that most of these techniques can be used without the need for external audio input. Once you’ve learned the skill and practiced it, you can simply relax and use the power of your own mind to put it into practice, without having to load up the app every time, which can wake you up further.

Simple Habit is perhaps one of the best mediation apps I’ve found so far. Even when I ran out of ‘premium’ time and was flung back to freebies only, I still found plenty of relevant meditations, from really short ones for busy days, to longer ones for after the kids have gone to bed. The guides are positive without being condescending, it’s reasonably priced and it’s easy to tailor the experience to your own needs. Highly recommended.

***

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

 

 

Crystal Connections

May, 2018

Book Review

The Ultimate Guide to Crystals & Stones – A Practical Path to Personal Power, Self-Development, and Healing by Uma Silbey

 

 

Published by Skyhorse Publishing, and written by Uma Silbey, this 314 page book is hands down my favorite crystal book to date. From the moment the author described how the “Stone People” spoke to her, I was hooked. I nearly leapt for joy when she tells her readers to “hear” how the crystals want to be used rather than strictly going by a written definition. This is something I often tell my readers to do and reading that simply validated my own practice.

This book isn’t the common encyclopedia style book but rather a book that teaches you how to connect, feel and listen to crystals, and not just crystals but also ordinary rocks and continuing that affinity to the earth. Packed full of information, techniques and methods, The Ultimate Guide to Crystals & Stones would be useful to any beginner and/or seasoned crystal worker. Uma Silbey’s approach encourages the reader to make these methods a practice rather than a one time or two time use. By using the author’s techniques not only will you never look at rocks or crystals the same way again, but I honestly feel it will give the reader a deeper connection and a new appreciation for them. I could go on and on about this book, as I’ve barely scratched the surface here, but simply put, the Earth is a rock and Uma Silbey is the facilitator of connectivity to it. So, if you have a love for crystals, including the matrix that surrounds them, if you want to heighten your crystal experience and build a profound connection to these earthy gems, then make sure to add this book to your library.

About Uma Silbey:

Uma Silbey has pioneered quartz crystal, gemstone and energy information to the world through her jewelry designs, books and music for more than thirty-five years. While running her successful quartz crystal jewelry company for the past twenty-five years, Uma also authored four books, including the international bestseller The Complete Crystal Guidebook. With a master’s in counseling psychology, she has trained with shamans, indigenous healers, and medicine people. She resides in Haiku, Hawaii.

Click Image for Amazon Information

***

Shiron (Shi) Eddy hails from the Pacific Northwest and shares a home with her husband, a Great Dane and a cat. Her love for crystals and minerals came from her dad who was an avid rock hound in his younger years. Shi happily shares her knowledge of crystals with anyone who is drawn to them, but especially loves to help people connect with minerals that involves their metaphysical properties. When she’s not networking with other crystal and mineral lovers, Shi can be found making jewelry, painting, crocheting Goddess dolls, selling her wares at shows or spending time with family and friends. You can find her jewelry in her shop ShiJewels or follow her on Instagram.

 

The Holy Grail

May, 2018

What is the Grail to you?!

The Grail stands as a beacon of hope and wholeness in the midst of the Wasteland created by modern Western materialism.  The potency of this symbol beckoning us back to living in harmony with both ourselves and the land around us is a myth very much of our time.  It speaks directly to wholeness and connection and reminds us that to bring the Wasteland back to fertility and lush abundance we must return to the Source that nourishes it.

Our modern Society and education systems gives us few really useful tools to take with us on the great journey of Life.  We need knowledge and understandings that we can directly apply to the challenges and traumas we face, that enable us to emerge empowered and strong, not weak and victimised. The Lost Wisdom of the Grail telesummit brings together a wide variety of Wisdom Keepers who are working to help humanity overcome the challenges it currently faces and envision a future where all are valued and flourish.

– Saira Salmon, https://www.sairasalmon.com/

Recently I received an invitation to be one of the speakers on a Telesummit in May 2018, titled The Lost Wisdom of the Grail, (https://www.sairasalmon.com/grail/) hosted by Saira Salmon. She has organised this summit from a strong personal connection to the Grail teachings and Grail mythology.

Saira’s question to me was: “How and where does the concept of the Grail appear in your shamanic work and classes?” This was a very exciting question to engage with!  My immediate response was to request a dream on this subject from my spirit team.


The dream that came was about “the wounded masculine” – linking it to the hurian tale of The Fisher King. In the dream I had to make my way to this wounded male figure (first I could not even see if it was a toddler or grown man). When I got there I realized that he was my father/son/husband/male friends all in one. The dream was asking me to reflect on where I need to heal my inner masculine (born a woman) to arrive at a healthier relationship of masculine and feminine in our world. (The external world is always an expression of our internal world!)

Over the centuries many scholars and mystics have arrived at different definitions of what the Holy Grail is or was. For me personally the crucial question is: what is the Holy Grail to you?!


For me, first and last, the Grail is a CRUCIBLE – a sacred container of transformation and transmutation – the big question is: are we willing to make ourselves a crucible (sacred chalice or Holy Grail)?!

For much of 2016 and 2017 I was working intensely with a mysterious figure who called herself The Poison Mother.  She came to me in Sweden and became one of my key allies over time. I made an art video about our work together by the same name:

The Poison Mother


As our work unfolded she told me that was familiar with her under a different name:  Norse goddess Sigyn (wife of the trickster god Loki). Her big question to me (to all of us!) is: am I willing to make myself a crucible for transmutation in the world? This means rather than avoiding “toxic situations” actually choosing to be there and using myself as a chalice (or Holy Grail) to be an agent of change in service to our collective consciousness evolving.


In ancient Sumeria this sacred marriage (or Hieros Gamos) was the central idea at the heart of their religion.  I just finished an art video exploring this mystery today:

The Sacred Marriage in The Great Below


Another Grail in Norse cosmology is the cup that the Valkyrie holds out to the warrior in the moment of death. She is also known as the “The Maiden with the Mead” and she is a supernatural being (a goddess!) and Mistress of Initiation. (I invite you to check out the work of author Maria Kvilhaug (http://freya.theladyofthelabyrinth.com/?page_id=35) who wrote a PhD dissertation on this subject!) This cup is said to hold the mead and her offering accompanies a sacred marriage between the Maiden and the “Hero” of the tale. He faces fierce trials and a descent into the Realm of the Dead to earn this privilege.

It is my belief that profound mystery rites of initiation involving women and feminine power are found at the very heart of Norse cosmology (more commonly perceived as quite a male-god dominated tradition!) The same thing is true for many other cosmologies that map an Other World. The details might be culture-specific but the concept and mystery teachings are very similar.

My personal intention is to call together groups of powerful talented people and harness the group power to retrieve those ancient mysteries and initiations! – If that works speaks to you – please check out my 2-year Seiðmaðr & Seiðkona 2-year program in Sweden (starting Summer 2019):

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/info2.cfm?info_id=224450


For the Celtic peoples this ritual was about the sacred marriage of the king to the goddess of the land (Sovereignty). Without this marriage the land becomes a barren waste land (and look at what we are doing to the Earth and her creatures – we need to revive this mystery teaching!
This is the core of the shamanic teaching I am doing – putting ancient mystery teachings back into practice in the modern world with modern groups of people working in spirit-led ways, using the process of direct revelation).

When we lose these wisdom traditions our inner world becomes barren. Our external world becomes a wasteland, dominated by conflict, pollution and a lack of respect for all sentient beings. This way of being in the world brings dis-ease and disharmony with the great Web of Life (or Web of Wyrd in Norse cosmology).

Another question Saira put to me was: what is the Grail in terms of spiritual work with young people? In this context for me The Holy Grail is the safe sacred space – container – for young people to develop their own spiritual toolkit in partnership with their spirit allies. In our culture we make sure that children are looked after in the physical/social/emotional realm but often we leave them rudderless when it comes to the spiritual dimension. I obviously wrote a whole book about this (Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life) but to sum it up in just a few words… our children and young people need:

  • A viable spiritual toolkit to help them navigate the challenges life throws at them

  • Safe sacred space with kindred spirits – if their innate psychic /healing/shamanic abilities are to be nurtured

  • Rites of Passage offered by the Elders of our Communities – safe experiences of initiation and stepping through developmental portals in order to become fully-fledged adults who do not fear death.

Therefore The Grail is directly linked to a rich inner life, to sacred space held by elders and wisdom keepers, to a sacred marriage within ourselves but also between the archetypal figures of King and Sovereignty (Goddess of the Land)!


Are you willing to be a crucible for change and transmutation in our world?!

If this material speaks to you: please make sure to register for the Grail Summit and tune in. Expert speakers from all over the world will share their unique take on this material! And this summit is FREE!!

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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.  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.

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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)

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