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BROOMSTICKS!

August 1st, 2017

(Apprentice of the Wind.  Original Piece by Imelda Almqvist)

Here is last night’s conversation in the Almqvist family (I wrote it down verbatim as it unfolded)

Youngest Son: “Mum, I know you fly around on your broomstick but I can’t see it anywhere!”

 

Me: “I have made my broomstick invisible – so no one borrows it without asking first. For instance Middle Son when he runs with elks in the Forest at midnight…

 

My husband: “I want a GPS on my broomstick so don’t end up having a full frontal collision with somebody else flying around in complete darkness…”

 

Middle Son: “I just want a normal broom for cleaning with no magical purposes…”

 

Eldest Son: “I want one that works!”

 

Youngest son: “And I want one with a special seat for a jaguar, my familiar!”

 

 

Middle Son: “And I want a secret locker on my broomstick for a special supply of crisps and treats!”

 

Maybe I should explain that Middle Son (15) really does go running in the Forest (here in remote rural Sweden) at midnight, often accompanied (or closely observed) by an elk or a herd of deer. After “women we run with wolves” it seems the next big thing is “teenagers who run with elks” – and never in the daytime. (His power animal is a wolf. I hope that those deer are safe!)

 

 

 

To me this is what it means to raise a family who keeps the innate gift for magic alive. Practising magic requires imagination and a good sense of humour!

 

Imelda Almqvist, Sweden, July 2017

 

***

 

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 Books in August 2016.  

 

 

She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit 2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True.

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

http://shamanismsummit.com/

 

 

Kids (Especially) Need to Believe


Children start off with an innate belief in magic. They see the things that their parents have generally forgotten how to see. Children look at the world with wonder in their eyes, and they see wonder everywhere. Nature is alive and magical to them.


As we grow up, we tend to stop believing in “childish” things. We take a more and more rationalistic view of our world, and our society encourages us to do so. As we grow older we become more jaded to beauty and wonder, and we too often lose the ability to see those things at all. Our world stops being alive, and fills with inanimate objects.


As a shamanic practitioner and a parent, I have tried to keep my children connected to nature and to wonder. Some of their favorite “treasures,” as they call them, are the interesting rocks they find outside. They’ll watch, fascinated, as a spider spins a web. When they wake to frost on the grass later into spring they’ll joke about that “mischievous Jack Frost.” It isn’t that they imagine some character running around overnight spraying frost around, but they see their world as alive.


I can’t help but contrast that to children who grow up getting nothing but scientific explanations of things from the start. To children whose toys play by themselves, moving and speaking in computerized voices using fixed dialog.


I watch my children bring their Lego creations to life, enacting scenes sown from their own imaginations. I’ve sat with other children whose imaginations were already dying. Where a doll could only be Snow White because that was the last movie the girl had watched. And I could only be the Queen in the little girl’s playing, because who else would Snow White talk to other than the Dwarves?


If we can’t imagine things, then how can we innovate? If we can’t look at the world with a sense of wonder, the world goes from being full of life to full of things. If we are only surrounded by unliving, inanimate objects, we ourselves become less alive.


Belief is about being able to have confidence in an idea without having proof. It requires imagination. The less alive our imaginations are, the less ability we have to believe. If everything in our lives is cause-and-effect, if everything has a rational explanation that can be empirically proven, we don’t learn how to believe in things without proof.


Isn’t hope basically the belief that good things will happen? Can we have hope without belief? Otherwise all we have is a theory that good things can happen because we’ve seen them happen before. But we also see bad things happen. If we only have empirical evidence to work with then we have to acknowledge that any action might have a positive or a negative result. While that is true, it means we can’t simply choose to believe that good will come out of our actions. We can’t hope. Being without hope is hopelessness–a powerful word and a dreadful way to live.


You can choose to live with imagination and belief and hope and live in a world where good, wonderful and magical things happen. Or you can choose to live a jaded life of hard, cold fact, where there is no magic, no wonder, no hope or excitement. One of those choices is being alive. The other is existing. Which do you choose?

Children in our Magickal Lives

Many of us, Pagan, Wiccan and Witch have children. Again many of us hide what we believe from our children, whether to protect them, avoid drama, difficult spouses or whatever. But there are those of us that have been teaching our children since they were babies and for us it can be very hard to include our children in anything outside of our homes. The Pagan Community at large is often negative about children in group rituals.  Now after asking I have found out that this is not because they do not want children in the circle, but that they do not want the rude, loud, bratty grabby children in circle. You know the ones I mean. The ones who dance around, play with the altar, talk to everyone and the parent says nothing. They are very disruptive. And since we cannot tell what kind of child is entering the circle it can often come across as negative.

There are some things you can do to make sure your family has a good ritual experience.

First- find out if it a child friendly ritual or group- you would not want to have to explain “skyclad” to your 5 yr old.  Although my son at 5yrs old would have been ecstatic with being able to be naked in public, there are some legal ramifications to that. Also you will want to know if Children are welcome before you show up with them. There are many more “family” covens and groups no than there ever were.

Second- start young teaching them to know that although they may be able to touch or play with YOUR altar stuff… other people do not feel as good about it.

Third- Teach them to sit quietly with you. And if they cannot then it is YOUR responsibility to remove yourself and your child from the circle. It is very disruptive to be meditating and have a small child scream in frustration or anger. Make sure they have either napped before or are willing to rest during the ritual.

Something that you can do is get together with other parents and have a “child friendly” ritual where the children have a chance to run and jump and sing to help raise energy and that there is a small snack to “bribe “ them with to quiet down when you need them too. But if the children are included in the entire ritual they will be less likely to scream and fuss.

Fourth- You can start the training for ritual courtesy at home. Have regular ritual in the house so you child can learn in the comfort of the familiar. DO NOT expect the child who has NEVER been exposed to a ritual to be well behaved in one.  This will also show them by routine where the elements are. How they are to behave during quarter calls. What to do during meditation (crayons and books work well during this time.).

Remember to raise your child in Love and joy. Let them know that you do not think poorly of them if they do not behave perfectly. But that other will want them to behave better if they want to come with Mommy and Daddy to the Big Ritual.

Next, teach them some of the fundamentals of our beliefs that are less likely
to change.

The Earth is our Mother as well as our Home. The more we do to protect Her, the better our future will be. Some may call Her Gaia or Mother Earth, but She is a constant in nearly all Pagan belief systems.
Teach them the Wheel of the Year as a beautiful, never ending
dance that celebrates nature in all its phases. It does not matter whether we
call it Beltane or someone else calls it May Day; it is the principles behind
the holidays that are important: a celebration of life, a celebration of
change, and a celebration of the natural world.

Show them how the Moon an how we all share the experience of going
through waxing, mature, waning and dark phases in our lives, and She is our
nightly reminder of this fact. Her monthly journey mirrors our own.

Encourage them to do Magick on their own. The skills we initially strive to
learn when we start out on the Path (meditation and visualization) , children
have not yet forgotten – they just call it daydreaming and imagination.
Children are naturally more creative and Magickal than adults. They may
surprise you by their ability. Teach them to cast spells in a very natural way.
There is no need for ritual even as an adult, so teach them simple chants and
spells.

Let your children figure out who the Gods are for themselves. Even in our own Pagan
culture we call Divinity by many different names and we see many different
faces.

Give to them that love of all things natural. Show them the magic of sitting
under a tree, watching the clouds, and growing things in the ground, by the
first crisp fall morning or the first sweet drops of snow in winter, the smell
of the ocean breeze or the brilliant colors of the first spring flowers

Now another issue that is important is to not force your child to follow just your religion. Teach them that there are other belief systems out there and that all paths lead to Deity (God/dess) That you are ok if they find God/dess in another venue as they grow. I had this rear its ugly head in a weird way. My then 16 yr old son decided he was going to be an Atheist. After a while he wandered back, but after time we found out that he was rebelling against my belief. And wow… where do Pagan/Wiccan/Witchy children rebel to…  I mean really… Most Christian children go Gothy and look at Satanism, Paganism and other “darker” beliefs. So where do Pagan Children rebel too. LOL.. but if you teach them about the different ways to look at God/dess then they will feel more in control as they will be better informed.

An interfaith household does have special problems, and paganism seems to present more than some other faiths. Many Christians especially have been taught that paganism is the antithesis of their beliefs, and most people of any religion will want the children brought up in their own religion… The solution could be exposing the child/ren to both religions and any questions they have are answered honestly. Respect is a big part of a healthy marriage and that includes respect for each other’s beliefs.

If your family has problems with your religion, respect will play a big part here too. Explain your beliefs to your parents, but be sure to explain their beliefs to your children as well. Make sure your children know that Grandma and Grandpa are not bad because their beliefs are different, and ask your parents to avoid denigrating your beliefs. If they have trouble with this, remember that they are scared. For most of them, paganism goes against everything they have ever been taught, and they may be truly concerned for your safety, or the safety of your “soul.” They may perceive a Wiccan lifestyle as a devaluation of their whole lives, of everything they worked for, everything they tried to teach you.

If your child is older( maybe 10 and up) when you find your way to Paganism/Wicca or Witchcraft. Then I recommend honesty with them. Let them know that you( as a person) are ever learning and that you recently learned about Paganism/ Wicca or Witchcraft and that it made you feel really good. So you learned more. And when you did it made you look at things differently. You know.. Explain it to them the same way you would a stranger.. To help them understand that you had a life changing moment and that this will be a part of their world from now on. And that you would like them to learn more about it as well so that they will understand better what You are doing.

Don’t try to make your children into little miniature versions of you. Remember that your children are individuals with their own needs and desires. They need your wisdom and guidance, but ultimately they need the power to make their own decisions and have you respect those decisions.

Until next time

Blessed Home and Hearth

The Hearthkeeper

PS. If there is anything you would like to see here.. please email me at  [email protected]

Blessed be…

Being a Hereditary

A Hereditary tradition does not have to be transferred from parent to child. Often it can skip a generation and be passed from a grandparent or an aunt, uncle or other family member. A Linage tradition is passed directly from parent to child and so forth down the generations. Of course, I am speaking from my family’s understanding within our own tradition.

My own line of hereditary witchcraft began with my great, great aunt who was adopted into a hereditary line of witchcraft. Often entrance into a family tradition was through birth, marriage or adoption. My great, great aunt then passed on the tradition to my grandmother and from that time it has been passed on directly from parent to child. I am the fourth generation and my children carry the path forward with my granddaughter being the sixth generation. All in all we have a hereditary path spanning over 125 years. We are by far not the oldest hereditary family path, nor are we the youngest.

I know that I am very fortunate to have grown up in a family tradition as opposed to seeking one out later in life. I am often asked what it was like growing up with a path already set in place. It was magical, like living within warm earth and it was lived every day. My family raises cattle for a living and every day we were surrounded with the cycle of birth, life and death. We grew our own food and butchered our own animals. It was hard work.

While my mother worked a day job, I lived with my grandparents. Grandma was the local healer and a semi-self taught veterinarian. Someone was always bringing a sick or injured animal, domestic or wild, to the house. Sometimes grandma would go to administer healing at someone’s home. There was always some sick person or animal she was tending too. Family and non-family referred to my grandma as ‘aunt’.

We are an oral tradition. The closest thing to a Book of Shadows would have been the Old Farmer’s Almanac. We do not adhere to the tenets of the new religion of Wicca; we have our own codes of conduct and honor. We do not take magical names, let’s face it, we are family and everyone knows who we are. We do not use terms such as Priest or Priestess, but we do have an Elder who is elected by the family. We do not wear special clothing for our rituals; as long as we were clean, pants and shirts were fine. Of course today I can afford to wear something more to my liking for ritual.

Growing up, there wasn’t a local metaphysical shop to drop into to pick up supplies. We either made what we needed or used what we found in nature. Candles were made from canning paraffin and oil lamp wicking. We were lucky to get colored birthday candles on occasion. We grew our own herbs, made our own teas, tinctures, salves. Sometimes we found quartz, serpentine, arrowheads and sea shells in the creek, washed down from the mountain.

Our rituals are rooted in our family land. We work with the land children and the guardian who watches over our land. We differ from some traditions by not calling quarters, casting circles, or worshiping gods & goddesses. Well, that’s not quite so, because the gods & goddesses of my dad’s family claimed me when I was young, but that is for another column. The ritual tools we use are the cauldron, knife, staff, broom, stone, and antler. Our rituals may include healing work, gratitude, communion with the land, journey work, learning a new skill, divination and sharing what portents & signs we observed. We work with folk/sympathetic magic which may include workings for justification.

We celebrate the seasonal shifts and moon tides; however seasonal shifts do not necessarily coincide with a date on the calendar, but rather with the physical shift of the season on the land. We do a spring cleaning and a fall cleansing. We have rituals for honoring the steers before slaughter and when we drive the cattle from the winter pastures to the summer ones.

This is but a small glimpse into my family tradition.

fox2

On Easter Monday 2017 I had a long and rather complex dream about a fox costume. (I had this dream during the night following the day where I had been running around a snowy forest in my bear suit while my husband filmed me, eating snow and sleeping in my cave. This actually happened, in ordinary reality! (The footage is part of an art film I am currently working on).

However, in my dream I had a very beautiful and realistic fox costume. The head was separate and fitted my head perfectly, like a helmet. It was also very life-like. I really BECAME A FOX wearing it. I decided to walk from the forest behind our house to the nearest town and enjoy the spring sunshine.

As I was strolling around a small market by the harbour, I got so hot that I took the fox costume off and put it down for a moment. Next thing I knew one of the stall holders was offering it for sale on her trestle table. I found myself faced with a dilemma: confront her? Buy my own costume back?! – At that point I woke up.

My husband served me a cup of tea in bed and I told him the dream. He makes daily phone calls to his elderly mother who lives about 400 km south of where I had the dream (in Sweden). Lo and behold : that day she too insisted on telling him her dream from the night before she lives in a small town (in real life) where she was running a market stall and looking for things to sell (something she does not do in real life!)

 

fox1

 

My husband said: “AHA! So now we can find out what happened to Imelda’s Fox Costume! Was there a fox costume for sale on your table? She said: “Yes there was, but it didn’t sell so Imelda can have it back!!”

To me this Family Magic! It is not just living with a husband who tolerates my “wyrd ways” (pun intended!) or raising three natural born shamans (which became the title of my first book). It is bringing a playful awareness to all we do.

It is setting out dinner plates for invisible but “not-so-imaginary” friends and companions. It is offering some food and drink to the ancestors as well on special occasions. It is asking the Spirit of our House to help all of us in our everyday endeavours and to provide safe space for all we do.

It is sharing our dreams over breakfast (and many days there is not much to share or we have more urgent thing to discuss, such as: did anyone borrow my calculator? I have a physics exam this morning!!

But sometimes we hit the jackpot!!

Imelda Almqvist

 

fox3

 

 

***

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 Books in August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.  She was a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit in July 2016.

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

http://shamanismsummit.com/

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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