parenting

Bringing Up the Next Generation of Witches

November, 2018

October is quickly coming to an end, and I have never been more thankful. October brought sickness and trials. It was a difficult month to say the least.

But with October coming to a close, Samhain is fast approaching.

Samhain (or Halloween as Little Bear calls it) has always been one of my favorite holidays. Even when it was banned from my childhood home life.

The veil is thinning, the days grow darker, and the nights become almost black.

Living in the Midwest means the weather is unpredictable at the end of October. It could be sunny and hot, or rainy and wet. As a child, “Halloween” meant snow. I can remember more snowy Halloweens than not.

Little Bear and I will make the best of it regardless of the weather. He has his costume picked out. He is going as a zombie SWAT guy. He’s talked me into being a zombie also. He’s a bit obsessed with The Walking Dead right now.

This year, I let Little Bear go wild and decorate the whole house. We put up window clings, black garland, laid out fake spiders, decorated foam pumpkins, and hung up door covers.

Yesterday, we visited the local pumpkin field/corn maze. They have so many activities and it’s a must every year. They have goats, chickens, rabbits, long horn cattle, corn boxes, corn mazes, pumpkin guns, tug a war ropes, inflatables, wooden trains, etc. It is a full day.

Tonight, is pumpkin carving time. I’m sure that my excitement is at a way higher level than Little Bear’s because of the pumpkin seeds. I have dug out some recipes from Pinterest and plan on trying at least three. I have to do normal salt pumpkin seeds. But I’m going to try a sweet version with cinnamon and brown sugar. The other one I haven’t decided on because there is so many variations that can be done. However, I’m leaning towards a savory that uses sea salt and white vinegar. Not sure how it’ll turn out, but we shall see!

One of my favorite traditions for Samhain is the dinner. Eating dinner at the table is something that rarely happens in our home because of scheduling. But when Samhain rolls around, I take the day off. I plan a meal as if it were Thanksgiving and I set the table. I always set a spot for my sister who we lost back in 2015. It helps to bring her close. Little Bear gets excited and will start talking to her spot as if she never left.

Little Bear started asking questions again about “God” last week. This is a conversation that we have quite frequently as he has a hard time understanding something that he cannot see. So, I go into the explanation again. We have talked about the many different religions of the world. Although I am raising him in a Pagan home, I understand that the Pagan path may not be for him.

I found a wonderful series that touches on the spiritual side without focusing on one certain religion. It’s the The Giggles and Joy series. A three-part series that focuses on positive poems. It’s a neat series that I recommend. You can check out my review on them in this same issue!

Book Review: The Giggles and Joy Children’s Series

November, 2018

Book Review

The Giggles and Joy Children’s Series

 

The Giggles and Joy Children’s books are a series of three books that focus on spiritual life lessons for kids. Each book consists of 8 poems that cover a variety of different topics. The books are written by Ariane de Bonvoisin with Carlie Sutcliffe. They are beautifully and creatively illustrated by Ellie Cross.

These books are amazing and now a personal favorite in my home. They teach kids that positivity, joy and happiness are something to experience every day.

 

 

Giggles and Joy

Giggles and Joy: Spiritual Life Lessons for Kids is the first book in the Giggles and Joy series. It features 8 poems on topics of “kindness, gratitude, having a bad day, home, prayer, planet Earth, self-belief and the physical body”.

One of my favorite features is that even though Giggles and Joy talks about prayer, it is in a universal way, that does not align prayer with a certain religion. For a home like mine, where I’m Pagan, my mother is Christian, and my son is undecided, this is a perfect fit.

Planet Earth is one of my son’s favorites. He loves saying “thank you” to our planet Earth. He also enjoys the illustrations that accompany not only planet Earth but all of the poems in Giggles and Joy.

 

You Are Loved

You are Loved: Spiritual Life Lessons for Kids is the second book in the Giggles and Joy series. It also features 8 poems. These poems cover “love, navigating change, this beautiful life, courage, grown-ups, self-confidence, and adventure”.

Picking a favorite from this series is difficult. The poems are beautifully written in terms that are easy for children of all ages to understand. I will say that “The Moon Loves You” and “Change” are two of our most read poems. My son has always had a special attachment to the moon so this one gets read almost nightly.

Change quickly became one of our other most read poems when we had a situation shake up the home. It was nice to have a poem that could be read to my son to help him. It taught him that change can be scary, but change can also be fun and exciting.

 

Being You

Being You: Spiritual Life Lessons for Kids is the final book in the Giggles and Joy series. The topics for these last 8 poems are “what many kids are facing in the world today, what is true self-worth and how to nurture it, the importance of telling the truth, how to feel safe inside oneself, the magical effect of deep breathing and the adventure of being free to really be yourself”.

Take a Deep Breath” is one of my son’s favorite poems from Being You. It incorporated the deep breathing technique that he learned in school. It also has illustrations of dragons, which is his favorite beast.

 

All in all, I give the Giggles and Joy series a double thumbs up. By far, one of my favorite poem series for children. If you are looking for a positive series full of lessons, look no further. These poems are fun to read and listen to no matter the age.

 

Amazon Links to :

The Giggles and Joy Gift Set on Amazon

Giggles and Joy: Spiritual Life Lessons for Kids on Amazon

You are Loved: Spiritual Life Lessons for Kids on Amazon

Being You: Spiritual Life Lessons for Kids on Amazon

 

 

 

Bringing up the Next Generation of Witches

August, 2018

Is it just me or did July fly by?

July was a month of learning with Little Bear. We spent time at the zoo, started making our favorite foods from scratch, and spent time in the Full Moon.

Little Bear shows signs of intolerance to food coloring and preservatives, so I am working on eating a more natural diet with the family. This has been tough because Little Bear loves colorful foods…think popsicles! I’ve also learned that Little Bear will eat almost anything if I let him help make it. This made me so happy! Kitchen Witch Learning Time!

First, we always start by adding lemon essential oil to the kitchen diffuser. It gives the kitchen a clean and fresh scent. It puts us in the mindset of starting fresh.

We always stir clockwise (deosil) to bring positive (or happiness as Little Bear calls it) to the dish and every one that eats it.

I made it a point to discuss the food that we use in every dish. I wanted him to be aware of how each ingredient grows, how it helps our bodies, and what the properties are. Some of Little Bear’s favorite foods are green peppers (high in vitamin C), black olives (bring good luck) and apples (promotes love).

In July, we made pizza twice from scratch and a batch of pickled eggs. Little Bear was amazed that we could create pizza at home. We also made a batch of breadsticks that he claimed were better than Little Caesar’s! While making the pickled eggs, it was fun to see his eyes grow large as he watched the white eggs change to purplish/pink. We decided that the pickled eggs had a bit too much vinegar for us and plan on trying a different recipe in August.

The zoo is always a tough place for me. On one hand, I hate that all these beautiful creatures are locked up but on the other, I am so grateful that the zoo can help these animals rise back from extinction. Little Bear pulls me from exhibit to exhibit, chattering about each animal. We discuss the animal’s markings, homes, and food they eat. As always there is a teaching moment to be found here. Totem/spirit animals have always held a special place in my heart. I love to teach about the strengths each animal has. At every animal exhibit, I would ask Little Bear what he thought made this animal strong. Some of the answers crack me up.

Lion = strong

Monkey = funny

Flamingo = balance

Tiger = playful

Goats = knows good food

Turtles = good at naps

After the zoo, we were able to celebrate the full moon. We started the night off with a bonfire, tinfoil dinner packets and s’mores. I was able to write down things I wanted to release and burned the papers. Little Bear was too young for this part, but he enjoyed finding sticks for the fire and helping me keep the fire going. Once the night turned dark and the moon shined bright, we turned on the music and danced in the moonlight. It felt amazing to be able to let go and just have fun. Little Bear’s laughter was contagious, and I didn’t want the night to end.

August is almost here, meaning that Lammas is coming. I have a lot of hours to work in August, but I am planning on making at least one loaf of bread and a batch of brownies. Little Bear has been begging for brownies, so now is a great time to make them. I am hoping to fit in a walk along a local Riverwalk. I also need to get my hands-on corn! This is the perfect time for sweet corn and living among farmers means we are able to get some of the best tasting corn!

Here’s to hoping that August doesn’t fly by like July did!

Bringing Up the Next Generation of Witches

July, 2018

As a child, I led such a weird childhood. I was known for seeing things that weren’t there and knowing things before they happened. I felt like a sin in my parent’s household as I was being raised in a Christian church. As I aged, I found solace in Wicca. Life and the things going on finally made sense.

When I was pregnant with my son (Little Bear), I made the decision to raise him in a Pagan household and support him, no matter what religion he decided on. Little Bear is now 4 years old and this has proven to be the best decision. He has shown signs of experiencing the same things that I went through as a child. Little Bear is a natural born healer, empath, and animal lover. He has to sleep with a light on because the dark brings weird things with it. While I cannot confirm it yet, it sounds like he is seeing people that have crossed over.

One of the major things that Little Bear and I have started doing is celebrating the Sabbats. Any reason to celebrate, right?

June 21st was Litha or the Summer Solstice. This is the longest day of the year and Little Bear and I took full advantage.

Every Sabbat, we discuss the Wheel of the Year. This helps remind us where we are on the Wheel and where we are headed. Because this follows the seasons, it is easy for Little Bear to understand. We discussed how Litha falls in the summer and some of our favorite summer activities. Little Bear loves grilling out, riding his bike and playing in the water.

The day started before sunrise. I poured out orange juice and we headed to the porch to watch the sun. It was a warm, quiet morning. I explained to Little Bear that we should be grateful for everything we have. I asked him what he was happy to have. “My bike, my mom, my bed, my dog” and the list went on and on. I smiled at his innocence and gave my own thanks internally. As the sun rose above the horizon, the world started coming alive. The birds started singing, the neighborhood stray cat came to visit, and we watched a herd of deer in the field across the street. We ended the morning with a barefoot walk around the property. We stopped at the outside altar and poured orange juice into the fairy dish as an offering. This is one of Little Bear’s favorite parts. We actually had to make a fairy altar closer to the house so he could easily access it without supervision.

After work, I had Little Bear help with dinner. We were preparing Grilled Chicken Salads. As we pulled the vegetables out, we talked about each one. Where they came from, how they grow, what the health benefits are, and what kind of super powers the vegetables might give us (This was Little Bears idea). I feel that knowing the health benefits of each vegetable will help Little Bear develop his Kitchen Witch side as he grows.

While making the salad, I noticed Little Bear had made a pile that contained a piece of each vegetable that went into the salad. It was his offering for the fairies.

We ended the night with a bonfire and watching the sunset. The longest day of the year had officially ended.

It may seem like I do a LOT of talking with Little Bear and I do. Little Bear is at the age where he is like a little sponge. He is asking tons of questions and curious about everything.

The next Sabbat is Lammas and I’m excited about it. This has always been a personal favorite because I love to bake bread. Lammas is the start of the harvest season. So breads, wheats, grains, grapes, apples, corn and wild berries are great foods. While I don’t have recipes pulled together yet, corn dollies and bonfires are part of the ritual for sure!

Some ideas to do with children are:

-Corn Dollies

-Magical Picnics (Make sure to leave an offering!)

-Collect berries for jams or jellies

-Time to harvest the garden

-Create a Witches Bottle (smaller children will need help with this since you will be working with sharp objects!)

-Time to redecorate the altar

-Visit an apple orchard (bring some home if the apples are ready!)

-Collect rain or storm water

-Bake bread, cakes, or muffins (cookies could be substituted so the little ones can decorate)

The biggest thing to remember, “It’s not about the action you are doing but the intent you are putting into it”.

What are some fun ways you are celebrating the Sabbats with your child/ren?

Blessed Be!

Can We Bear It?!

March, 2018

Peculiar things can happen when you raise teenagers…

Our middle son, born on Halloween, is a bit of a dark horse, a deeply introverted child. As he entered the teenage years (he is 16) he turned monosyllabic. This is not uncommon in teenage boys. Some only grunt so I am fortunate that my son still uses words.

However, he has turned dealing with parents into, what I have come to think of as, a multiple choice exercise. Whenever I ask him a question, he has a repertoire of five standard responses he selects from. Those responses are (in order of preference at his end):

  1. Uh-oh!!
  2. Oh-I-Dunno
  3. It wasn’t me!!
  4. Shifty!!
  5. Word puns and jokes (“Which Witch?! ” or “The Snow Moon/There’s No Moon” – yesterday’s invention)

When he is forced to engage in longer communication with me, he resorts to word puns and jokes wherever possible. (“Where did you park your broomstick today Mum?!”)

When he is in an exceptionally good mood his vocabulary stretches to “deez” (short for decent).

At parent evenings we are told that he is an A star student – but he is too chatty in class.

Chatty??!

Recently (“reez”?!) one even stranger thing occurred. One day he “abducted” my teddy bear. Yes, I am the kind of grown-up who has (and travels with) a teddy bear. Her name is Anastasia and she wears a pink dress. A friend of mine made her a magical cape so she now wears a star-studded black flying cape over her pink dress. This makes her look like a cross between a wizard and a crow (and a bear obviously).

Anastasia started disappearing for considerable periods (lasting from a weekend up to about two weeks). I thought: either she has really cracked the use of her magical cape now and she is off on adventures – or there is something else going on…

After her initial disappearance she was spotted one evening seated on the sofa next to my son. They were watching TV together. I scooped her up and said: “So there you are!!!” She replied (with voice assistance from my son) that she loves hanging out with Son #2, that they have become close friends.

I explained that she is still my bear and after a long dialogue (yes a long dialogue, many words!!) she told me that Son #2 and I need arrive at a time-share arrangement. Not unlike divorced parents she added: a custody arrangement.

Divorced parents???

His Dad and I have made great efforts to keep our marriage solid. Where does (s)he get this idea from??

Anastasia explained that this could be very informal: I can have her for a few days and then he can have her for a few days. When I need to travel she can accompany me (today I am off to the U.S. for 10 days – I am writing this at the airport waiting for my flight) but when he needs extra support (for instance in exam periods or when he is ill) I will gracefully let him have her for days (or even weeks) on end.

Anastasia happily flies and shuttles between the two of us on her invisible broomstick.

When I need to know what is going on in my son’s life I ask Anastasia (with him within hearing distance to provide voice support). She tells me that she knows everything that goes on in his life (and mind) but she only has clearance to tell me a few selected things…

After two years where most replies to my questions are “Shifty!!!!!!” I consider that a major lucky break.

Anastasia will also answer questions about his emotional states. When I ask how Son #2 is she will say: upset, or happy, or annoyed…. and so forth.

What Mum of teenagers would not agree to a “time share” on her teddy bear to know what is going on with her son?!

The bear herself loves it. She views herself as a great explorer, a travel writer. She writes a Bear Blog on the Bear Web that humans cannot access.

I have often wondered if middle son, around age 18 or so, will decide to engage in regular communication again (perhaps he will need some help sorting out study finance for university?!)

My fear is that he will walk out the door, saying “bye” (or possibly “uh oh!!”) and forget to call for months at a time. My husband says: that is fine, we will make the phone calls or initiate the Skypes…. He may need money sometimes….

I do not know yet if Anastasia wishes to go to university or continue her life with me here in London. However, I am confident that she will be willing to liaise and mediate either way.

We can bear it – thank goodness for bears!!!

 

Imelda Almqvist, London Gatwick Airport, 3 February 2018

 

***

About the Author:

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

For Amazon Information Click Image

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

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

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

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

 

Death as a Teacher

December, 2017

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

-Hyemeyohsts Storm? from “Lightningbolt” 


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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

 

About the Author:

 

 

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

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

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

For Amazon information, click image below.

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

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

December, 2017

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

From Angry Ant to Zestless Zebra

by Susan Perrow

Illustrated by Almut French

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Amazon information, click image below.

 

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

Imelda Almqvist, 4 November 2017, London UK

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About the author:

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

For Amazon information, click image below.

 

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

YEAR OF CEREMONY

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

The Voices and Visions of Young People for Personal and Planetary Healing

August, 2017

 

This year I was asked to appear on the Shamanism Global Summit, July 2017. The Shift Network requested especially that I speak about my shamanic work with young people again, as I did last year. My shamanic group for children, The Time Travellers, has grown “older and wiser” since 2012, when we started this work. They are all teenagers now and acutely concerned about what is happening in our world

One thing is clear: young people MIND not being asked for their opinions and visions. They will outlive us and inherit the consequences of many decisions we are making right now. Decisions about the environment and global warming, political and financial decisions and so forth.

Children have not been on the planet as long as we have. They have absorbed fewer layers of conditioning and “old energy”, the old paradigm. They have a talent for seeing to the very heart of the matter (many urgent matters) and we would do well to listen to them and take their voices and dreams into account.

To hear what young people are actually seeing and saying, please listen to this recording. I have tried to use their own words where possible. You will also hear me “campaign” for a Summit for young people – but I am not sure if The Shift Network is ready for that just yet. However, I will keep on repeating my message!!

The last thing I will say is that when children are encouraged to listen to their own spirit allies, they have the power to transcend the divisions that exist even within shamanism today (core shamanism, Western shamanism, various schools of thought). All existing cultures (including those of Europe) were preceded by earlier shamanic cultures. Shamanism is our birth right!

If this work calls you and you are looking for practical ideas and sessions plans to help you get started – please read my book!

 

 

This interview was part of the Shamanism Global Summit a free online event helping you discover ancient shamanic practices from diverse traditions to apply to your daily life and our world! For more information, please visit http://shamanismsummit.com. This recording is a copyright of The Shift Network. All rights reserved.

 

Imelda Almqvist, 29 July 2017

 

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Imelda Almqvist is the author of Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life, (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) published by Moon in 2016. She teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally. Imelda pioneered a shamanic program for young people called The Time Travellers. This offers safe group space for children and teenagers to develop a viable spiritual toolkit and her first book describes this work and why young people are our greatest spiritual teachers! She is currently working on her second book (about sacred art).

 

 

 

 

Imelda’s otherworld paintings can be found in art collections all over the world. Her courses take place in the fertile place where art meets shamanism. The focus is on engaging in innovative ways with both mystery school material and on creating healthy vibrant reality rather than continuing to create reality from wounded or distorted old blueprints. Our ability to do this lies at the heart of navigating the current paradigm shift successfully.

Imelda is starting a school of Norse shamanism  based in Sweden called True North. She has three teenage sons and loves making art videos. The most extreme thing she has ever done is assisting with eye surgery in a field hospital in Bangladesh. One of the most life-changing things she has ever done is teaching art and design to under-privileged children and teenagers in Lima, Peru!

 

Fun as a Foreign Language

August, 2017

Before I had children people often said to me that children learn foreign languages by osmosis, they “pick up a foreign language as easily as adults pick up a common cold”. I am Dutch, married to a Swede but our family is living in London, UK. To my mind that meant three languages ready to be absorbed by osmosis!

The reality was different. Our eldest son had Dutch as his first language until age three (when he started nursery). By then his brother was 18 months old. Between them the boys never spoke another language than English, from day one. A third brother was born and he was slow walking and talking. Mum (that is to say I and I alone) had enthusiastically divided up the day into three parts: speak Dutch all morning, speak Swedish all afternoon and then speak English in the evening when Dad comes home… Our pediatrician said that my ambitious scheme was totally confusing the youngest one who was barely speaking by age two. He told us to choose one language and speak it consistently to all three children. I followed his advice. By the time that Son #3 spoke fluent English there was no way the older boys were going to return to speaking Dutch. I would still try and they would say: “Get off it Mum, speak English!”

 

 

It is hard to say whether my original intention could/or would have paid off eventually. At the time my dream of three children being fluent in three languages was “downsized” to our youngest son speaking one language fluently enough to cope in school. If my husband had been Dutch I guess there would have been a stronger home language. However, he has never spoken anything else than English to the boys, so teaching them Dutch and Swedish fell to me. I even went as far as being involved in starting a small children’s choir at the Swedish Church with two other Swedish mums. I wanted my sons to be able to sing all traditional songs in Swedish. For a time they did.

 

 

Today all three boys are teenagers. Once Son #3 (now 13) started secondary school he showed a remarkable appetite for learning foreign languages. He excelled in German in school (in year 7) and added Mandarin (in year 8). He didn’t sleep the night before his first Mandarin lesson – he was so excited about getting started! However, the language he wants to learn most of all is Russian. A few years ago I bought him a snow leopard (large cuddly toy) and we called him Piotr, We cooked up a complex story about him being from Moscow with a dacha (summer house) in Siberia. To make the story more authentic we make sure he speaks Russian as much as possible! We were soon reaching for my Russian dictionary and on-line vocabularies to expand our range of Russian words and phrases. Things reached a point where my son demands that I ask him about his day in Russian, when he comes home from school. The excitement lies in choosing a few new words to learn every day, usually related to what happens to be going on in our own family life.

 

With Russian “covered” I began to wonder if the same method might work for Swedish. We recently bought a house in Sweden and my husband is interviewing for a job in Stockholm. Our sons may just end up going to school in Sweden in the future.

We expanded our (stuffed) animal family with a Wolf who promptly refused to live in London. And… you guessed right, he will only speak Swedish! We are spending all our school holidays in Sweden now and I am actively trying to get my son speaking Swedish following the same “method” we used for Russian. I cook up exciting stories and hide small treats but he can only unlock and access those by speaking Swedish.

I will admit that we have thrown some additional bargaining tools into the mix. In Sweden children traditionally eat sweets on Saturday. This is called “Lördagsgodis” or Saturday Sweets. Most supermarkets have a section where you can scoop sweets advertised as Lördagsgodis. Our son (and his brothers) quickly learned the names of the other days of the week. After all, it is worth a try asking for Tisdagsgodis (Tuesday Sweets) for instance, isn’t it?!

During our two week Easter break in Sweden my son earned a handful of sweets by extending his Swedish by a collection of new words and phrases. (Don’t tell our dentist!!) The Wolf is heavily involved in this, obviously! We still speak Russian as well but the reward is not needed. My son genuinely wants to add to his Russian vocabulary. So now we will have a conversation in Russian and then run the same conversation in Swedish. By evening my son asks if he has earned his sweets for the day…

 

 

Dutch has fallen by the wayside (for now), which is a shame, but I have a 13-year old on my hands who will converse happily in four languages: English, German, Mandarin and now Swedish. He uses on-line resources as well for three of those languages, self-directed (but he tells me his discoveries).

My eldest son (now 17) is going to do an internship in Amsterdam this Summer, so he’d better brush up on his Dutch (when he is not revising physics or further maths…) Before the exam period he and I made a point of speaking Dutch together for one hour every evening. I have also asked Middle Son about his progress in German. He says learning German is so easy that he secretly switches to the “teach yourself Swahili” option in class, as soon as his on-line German coursework is completed. So Middle Son too has branched out – without my help. He is a more solitary and self-sufficient character than Son #3, so (sadly?!) I am not learning Swahili along with him!

After years of feeling very disillusioned by comments that “children pick up foreign languages as easily as adults pick up a common cold” I am now feeling more optimistic again: did my enthusiasm for languages (and being a speaker of many languages myself) still plant a seed? Or did they end up with some ‘cool linguistic genes’ after all perhaps? Still, I will never say to any prospective parent that children pick up foreign languages by osmosis. There is way more to it than that.

And I just wondered if any other parents had stumbled across this technique of using stuffed animals that will only speak a foreign language?! Maybe I should patent it?!

Imelda Almqvist

Sweden, Monday 9 April 2017

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About Imelda

Imelda Almqvist teaches shamanism, sacred art and internationally. 

Her book “Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life”, Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages was published by Moon in August 2016. 

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

 

Imelda is a presenter on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True

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

 

And she will present on the Shamanism Global Summit with The Shift Network on July 25tth

http://shamanismsummit.com/program/132

 

I LOVE ME TOO!

July, 2017

Middle Son (15) is a bit of a jester and trickster both. Whenever I tell him that I love him, he gives me a lopsided grin and replies: “I love me too!”

 

 

As well as funny I think this is actually brilliant as we are constantly being told that we can only love others in as far as well love ourselves. And if we do not love ourselves (wholeheartedly, sufficiently) our love for others becomes distorted because our own needs and unresolved issues colour the space. Manipulation and unresolved shadow material often comes into play, even if this is unintended and we are not aware of it.

Many of us grew up in families where love is not unconditional but conditional on us behaving a certain way and meeting the expectations of the parent, sometimes even living out the parent’s own unlived dreams. We grew up in families where co-dependency was rife and manipulation (trying to control both situations and people) the norm.

For some people I know being “loved properly” means arriving at a healthy degree of separation. A few months ago I asked the same son if he felt that “he receives enough love”. He shouted: “Too much!!” and ran off, slamming the door to his room shut behind him. After that moment , I have tried to give him more space and to be less openly affectionate with him. The cute blonde toddler that used to clamor : ”Cuddle me! Cuddle me!” has morphed into a young man who needs to leave the realm of home and mother to make his mark in the world.

That lack of “healthy separation” informs many key relationships in my life. I am very much ” my son’s mother”, I thrive in relationships where there is space, where it is OK to retreat and go silent, where it is OK to say that now is not a good time to meet or talk. Where my love for painting, writing, music and wide open space is understood and honoured.

 

 

I love the fact that my son has put both these dynamics into words, that he is aware of them and able to voice his needs. Loving ourselves – it is easier said than done isn’t it?! What does it mean to truly love ourselves?

In my perception of the world, love without a spiritual dimension often nosedives, crashes. There are many self-help books on the market that tell us to change our beliefs, to think positively, to use positive affirmations, to use visualisation to create desired outcomes and so forth. In my experience all those things certainly have their places and uses – but they cannot stand alone, they must be embedded in a personal cosmology and commitment to spirit (as we perceive spirit, a power greater than ourselves), a dedicated spiritual path.

Relationships with members of our family of origin often remain tricky and sticky for life because we are not given the space to change (and the changes we do make are frowned upon or ridiculed) and also because there are unspoken expectations and limits that erect a kind of trip wire between people. “Beyond this point expect hand grenades and landmines…”

Example: my own mother grew up as the child of a very abusive and manipulative mother who actively ‘broke her spirit’ (those were the words she used, her parenting goal) and made my mother her child servant: tending to her every need. This pattern carried on all through adult life. As a young child I observed my mother jumping in the car every time the phone rang with another demand from Oma (grandma).

My mother had been given a Roman Catholic upbringing (with a determined focus on self –sacrifice, putting others first and admiration for martyrs to the faith etc.) She truly believed that unconditional love meant meeting every single demand that Oma threw at her. Oma had many health problems (at least in part because medical issues were the legitimate road to attention from doctors, priests and her own daughter). I think you get the picture! My mother did not attend higher education. She chose not to work outside the home because “Oma and her three children came first”.

Oma died when I was 19 years old. Today my mother is nearly 79 years old and looking back on her life. One painful lesson I have had to learn is that loving myself means even operating a healthy degree of separation between my mother and me. Healthy boundaries that reflect the person I have become (I turned 50 a few weeks ago). My mother perceives those boundaries as me being a bit cold and distant. She has not done therapy. She has not delved deeply into the forces that shaped her own life and reflected on them. She prefers to think that “Life dealt her a pack of cards and she did her best with those cards”. She chooses not to see that she could have made many different choices along the way. Taking the role of victim (or “done to person”) absolves people from the need to take responsibility.

I myself actively choose to do a lot of work on family stuff. As a shamanic practitioner I am also very much aware of the pull of ancestral forces and unresolved ancestral issues expressing themselves through living members of families (often the most sensitive or psychic member of a family). I have chosen not to follow the “daughter sacrifices herself for her mother” dynamic or script. Even as a young child observing this, it felt all wrong to me. Instead I have worked on releasing and transmuting this from the family field. It is interesting too that I have three sons and no daughter – almost as if the Universe thought: “Enough of mother-daughter agony destroying lives. Let’s skip a generation….”

For my mother this is all very puzzling. After a lifetime of making sacrifices for others – who is going to do it for her as she navigates old age? An eldest and only daughter who lives abroad and works full-time is incomprehensible to her. And don’t worry, my brothers and I keep a very close eye on things, my mother is very far from abandoned and surrounded by wonderful neighbours and friends who also help her in many ways.

My mother is very affectionate. She tells me every phone call that she loves me. There are moments I feel like taking a leaf out of my son’s book and saying: “Yes, I love you and I love me too!” Meaning: if you truly love me, release me to my own dreams and calling, release me from the martyr archetype that runs so strong in you. Spare me your never-ending diatribes on working mothers (as the root cause of all evil in our society – in your perception) and take joy in my achievements.

This is all true, yet is also a simplification. Last year I published my first book (Natural Born Shamans, in English) and my mother has spent many hours with an English-Dutch dictionary, slowly reading many chapters of it. She does take pride in my creations – the ones that do not clash with her needs and values anyway.

 

 

Essentially I have two families. My family of origin with whom I am in relationship but operate healthy distance and boundaries. Then there is my spiritual family: the people I am thrilled to share the Web of Life with. These are the people who give me space, who encourage me to make choices that are good for my soul (not the easy choices that keep me stuck in my personal comfort zone). They are the people who truly rejoice in the things that make my heart sing – and this is mutual, I also give them both space and undivided attention in the right measure. I delight in their achievements, I will actively encourage them and cheer them on when they try new ways of being in the world. I feel no envy at their achievements – when they do something amazing I think: Road sign! If they can do it, maybe I too will try and succeed at something new. They are showing others the way!

It is only when we love ourselves that we learn that only very little other people do and say (even if they are talking about us) reflects on us. It reflects on who they are, where they are and the people they surround themselves with. These days I only take to heart feedback and constructive criticism from people who come from a place of love and wanting the very best for me. Not people who have not done any work on themselves.

I love you but I love me too!

 

***

 

About Imelda

Imelda Almqvist teaches shamanism, sacred art and internationally. 

Her book “Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life”, Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages was published by Moon in August 2016. 

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

 

Imelda is a presenter on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True

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

 

And she will present on the Shamanism Global Summit with The Shift Network on July 25tth

http://shamanismsummit.com/program/132

 

 

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