True North

Finding Our True North

April, 2018

“The person we choose to be … automatically creates a dark double
— the person we choose not to be.”
– Thomas Moore in The Care of the Soul

I was the presenter for the Super Blue Blood Moon on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True recently. One of my missions for years has been creating opportunities for the voices and visions of young people to be heard by the world. On the Big Night I was joined by a “surprise co-presenter”: my 13-year old son Brendan, who took the global audience on a journey to a very special place on the The Dark Side of the Moon!

Right now the theme of young people speaking up for themselves and for the world they are going to be Earth Keepers for – long after we older ones leave the planet – is looming very large. I am proud of young people all over the world speaking out against all that is imbalanced or hurting in our world. May we all listen to the wisdom of young voices and bright visions!!

For me personally this winter has truly been a period of sacred Darkness. What I mean by this is that I faced a potentially serious health issue and some dark nights of the soul – in an entirely good way. For me it proved that “the illness IS the soul medicine”, as some authors claim, because the pickings (learnings) have been rich beyond measure.


When the spirits call us, we embark on a spiritual quest. The one thing that is for sure about the journey that unfolds is that there are no end destinations – just the journey. The spirits will always ask us to take the next step (usually “the thing that frightens us most” or  “the thing that forces us to leave the comfort zone”).  Some people call this finding our True North. For me my True North 
is literally found in the North.

TRUE NORTH is the North according to the Earth’s axis
as opposed to the Magnetic North (when you use a compass)


My own recent journey has been about owning and recalling many parts of myself that had been pushed away. To find the essence of those things I had to walk “the shadow lands”. I had to own the fact that I cannot discount (for instance) my Roman Catholic upbringing – the saints literally “came marching in”! I had to acknowledge how years of training in core shamanism have only awakened an urge to follow my true (and first) calling: Norse shamanism and the Norse gods. For that reason the focus of my courses is changing: I will continue to teach courses in sacred art and specialist courses (such as shamanic work with children – the Natural Born Shamans material described in my first book – and advanced ancestral healing work), but my main focus will shift to offering courses in Norse shamanism. Courses that reflect the indigenous ancestral path of Northern Europe.

I had the incredible privilege of doing powerful work with two groups in Philadelphia recently. One group came together to study the Anatomy of Soul through the lens of ancient Norse cosmology. They were a dream group and it was a thought-provoking day! I was obviously asked questions about how Norse shamanism is different from core shamanism. Answering those questions it dawned on me that core shamanism presents simplified models for certain things. (One obvious example is the claim that “there is no underworld, only a lower world”. Many of us will know that this is not true: when we move through dark nights of the soul, initiations and periods of dismemberment we make the pilgrimage to the underworld (and the underbelly of our own consciousness). We spend time there – just as the Sumerian goddess Inanna made her Descent to The Great Below!)

In Philadelphia I took my sacred art students through an enactment of this ancient Sumerian myth. You could say that we all participated in a mystery play. It was challenging but it was also eye-opening and life-changing. My own life changes every time I do this work with a committed group!! (And the same thing is true for ancestral healing work, which I taught in London last week, with another dream group: my current Circle of shamanic practitioners).

Another issue that came up in our “Soul” group was the question of black magic and all things dark. Some people translate the word “seidr” as “sorcery”. I do not agree with that translation as I feel the original meaning relates to both the old customs (sed in contemporary Swedish)  and spinning the lines of Destiny (here think of the figure of the V?lva or Völva and the Norns).

I look around me today and it is very clear to me that for all of us to truly and effectively counter the shadows being enacted on the world stage – we can no longer study spiritual material without studying its darker applications and manifestations. Not to practice it, NO!! – But to understand its workings and deepest recesses –  in order top formulate an adequate response to it.

If we do not personally and collectively embrace the need to do this much-needed shadow work, it seems possible that our shadow taking physical manifestations (in corrupt politicians, greedy corporations, terrorists and so forth) will decide the future of The Human Family on Earth. That cannot be right –  let’s wake up, step into our power and dream (co-create) a different outcome together!!

I said to my shamanic practitioner students in London last week: I am not really a “Love and Light teacher”, I teach from a place of profound willingness to find the treasure in darkness: the dark time of the year, my personal darkness, our collective darkness. That is where the treasure is hidden.

 

 “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light,
but by making the darkness conscious.”
– C. G. Jung

In Norse shamanism the forces of Chaos are often linked to the Giants. The god Thor is always busy in the East fighting the Giants and keeping them at bay. Yet the ancient texts also inform us that the giants walked the Earth long before human beings did. That makes them our ancestors, especially the primordial giant Ymir from whose body our world was created!

For more information I invite you to watch my brand  new art video,

Ymir and Orion, First Ancestor, First Shaman

 

My own allies are urging me to drop ever deeper into my connection to the goddess Skaði – The Winter Goddess – and her (our!) giant lineage. They have also asked me to state publicly where my spiritual home is and from what place within myself I teach. Just so people who believe that all we need is “love and light” will not choose me for their teacher. This article meets their request.

May you too find your True North!

 

***

About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist

If you’d like to be added to Imelda’s mailing list and receive soul food and updates on courses and events, please drop her a message through her website!

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)

Meditation: Healing the Scars from Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, PTSD and More

September, 2014

Meditation: Healing the Scars from Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, PTSD and More   

  

By Tom North, author of True North: The Shocking Truth About “Yours, Mine and Ours”

Meditation saved my life.  

 

My father, Richard North, died in a Navy jet test flight crash when I was six years old.   Fifteen months after his death, my mother, Helen North who had eight children, re-married a man named Frank Beardsley who had ten, making us one of the largest families in the country. We became famous, and our story was featured in the movie, Yours, Mine and Ours. But it wasn’t one big happy family. We had to hide the fact that we were living a lie.

My stepfather was abusive on every level; physically, emotionally and sexually. His constant rage, disapproval and controlling personality left deep emotional scars. And, to make matters worse, our family hid this from the outside world, so we each suffered in silence. The toll I paid was enormous. Lacking any sense of self-worth, it drove me to depression and drugs. I imagine many people will identify with the feelings, even if their home life was not as extreme as mine. But trauma is trauma–whether suffered in a living room or the theatre of war.      

As a young adult I discovered meditation. It was my passage out of a deep depression and emotional despair, and I’m here to recommend it as a powerful and effective solution if you cannot get out of the mental patterns that keep you stuck, feeling a victim of past trauma.

Meditation was and still is a vital therapy for my continued survival and healing from a life of child abuse and domestic violence. I still practice it every day, having begun more than 38 years ago.  

 

Meditation is indeed a powerful tool for health and healing on all levels. Research shows that group meditation can produce a radiating influence of peace in society. Recently, Dr. Deepak Chopra sponsored and conducted an online Global Group Meditation for Peace with over 100,000 people participating from around the world.  I was happy to be a part of this important event.

 

This was a tremendous service Dr. Chopra was delivering to the audience, for as he explained, meditation is the key to our connection with ourselves: Our Divine Selves. It is also our connection to the collective consciousness. Studies show that everything in the universe is connected and it is possible to unite people in heart-focused care and intention to facilitate the shift in global consciousness from instability and discord to balance, cooperation and enduring peace.

 

The Health Benefits of Daily Meditation are Many

The scientific evidence documenting the benefits of Transcendental Meditation, especially for PTSD, which includes child abuse, is conclusive. While there may always be skeptics, it is irrefutable that meditation delivers improvements on every level of life, from stress management to emotional, physical and spiritual balance. 

 

Dr. Norman Rosenthal, senior research scientist at the National Institute of Health (NIH), has published his studies of over 300 experiments that prove the importance and benefits of meditation. This is in addition to the many thousands of published reports that have become available over the last 40 years that have come out of Maharishi University of Management, Harvard University and many others.

 

In my own experience, and in the experience of many meditators who have been culturing a daily meditation practice over time, the ongoing result has been a steadily growing expansion of awareness and appreciation for all of life. This takes the form of improved relationships with those around me, connection with the entire human race and seeing the divine intelligence in the simplest life forms. 

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t include experiencing an overwhelming sense of love for everyone and everything I encounter.  As one friend and former college classmate of mine said, “I was stopped in commuter traffic on the 405 freeway in L.A.  I looked around me at the thousands of cars and people and was feeling an unbounded love for all of them!” 

 

If this is the outcome of consistent meditation, then it certainly is worth trying for anyone whose long-ago trauma-related or trauma-triggered emotions frequently get the better of them. For those who simply cannot see their way out of their own personal darkness, meditation is even more important. I encourage you to make the commitment.

 

8 Steps to Help You Develop Your Daily Meditation Practice for Trauma Healing

  1. Give yourself permission to get better, understanding that meditation can provide healing and relief.
  2. Seek out a meditation teacher. Meditation is like walking in an unfamiliar forest. It is best to have a guide.
  3. Commit to regularity. Research shows that 20 minutes twice a day is optimal.
  4. Create a space that is just for you to meditate each day. Unplug the phone(s) and put your silenced cell phone where you cannot see it. No cheating!
  5. Get your mediation checked regularly by your teacher. This is very important.
  6. If you absolutely have to miss a session, do not be hard on yourself – it is OK to renegotiate with yourself, recommit and pick up where you left off.
  7. Wait two months, and then check in on your memories of pain and trauma…do you feel better able to just let them go, to allow them to NOT MATTER anymore?
  8. Congratulate yourself for staying with it! You’re on your way to true healing.

*Disclaimer: Please remember that meditation is not a substitute for professional care or psychiatric help if that is what is needed.  Many physicians and psychologists recommend meditation in conjunction with standard therapies.

You can find more information on Tom North or purchase his book from his site http://truenorthbytomnorth.com/