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Book Review – The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within

March 1st, 2018

THE MAGIC CIRCLE

Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within

A year ago I wrote a brief review of this book on Amazon but in this review I will expand on what I wrote in February 2017:

This is an amazing source book for families, schools, grandparents and youth leaders in different capacities. It offers a breath-taking range of ideas and ceremonies – ranging from fast and simple to more complex. These ceremonies can help children and young people navigate life transitions and events. From losing a loved one, taking courage, the magic of our own body, the weather, animals, ancestral sleuthing and so forth the possibilities are endless and very inspiring! The future of our Earth depends on young people staying attuned to the Web of Life and honoring all different life forms. This book is a must have for anyone raising such children or hoping to raise such children one day! It has given me ideas for the children and teenagers I myself work with!”

This book was co-authored by a team of three people: Ann Dickie, Jennifer Engracio and Katherine Inksetter. As parent, shamanic teacher and author of a book about shamanic parenting it always makes my heart sing to find high quality resources about shamanism for families, teachers and youth leaders!

Essentially this book provides ceremonies for every conceivable occasion, following the Medicine Wheel (starting in the Center: the Land of Void and from there moving South, than West and so forth).

All this material has been tried and tested extensively and a lot of reflection has gone into the way that activities are introduced and structured. This is important because it reduces the risk of misunderstandings or things “going wrong”. – Having said that: when proper preparations are made, things going “wrong” usually means that the spirits are playing with us and getting creative. In a sense you cannot go “wrong” in ceremony when you work from the heart! – Still, some people feel a little nervous about using shamanism with children, which is understandable, so using properly tested material takes some of that anxiety away.

The authors also point out – very correctly! – that any deep spiritual work or personal growth work will flush out issues needing attention. As a shamanic teacher just want to echo how true this is but, I will also say how those things are ultimately the ingredients of life-changing adventures, they open portals and rewire us on the level of soul. Don’t let that put you off.

Working your way through the whole book can certainly be done but it is a big commitment. It might be better to use the book intuitively – do what calls out to you or what resonates with an issue your child (or grandchild, or youth group etc.) is facing right now.

The Medicine Wheel is a wheel in a very literal sense: one could start anywhere and a journey will unfold. Wheels per definition do not have a beginning or end.

Another good thing about this book is that it includes a suggested age range for every activity. If you are going to be working with younger or older children – no problem, but you may need to simplify things a little or add some complexity. Any parent or teacher (or person who spends time around children) will do this very naturally.

Ceremony is a key-concept in shamanism because it opens the door to our soul and allows us to step outside time. Powerful work is done in the place where the spirits, ancestors and sacred dreams of our collective reside. Healing occurs naturally when we perform ceremonies.

This book gives families tools and high quality activities. Following those encourages children to stay tuned and – most importantly – to keep the connection to their own spirit allies alive and strong as they grow older and face the challenges life will throw at human beings. I truly believe that this is one of the greatest gifts we can give a child.

This book encourages creativity, time spent outdoors, connecting to ancestors, knowing that (as my eldest son once put it when he was just four years old) that “everything is medicine” – or can be, when used or embraced the right way.

I invite you to take this journey around the Medicine Wheel and discover what your own calling and unique medicine is – so you can fully embody and birth this in our world. – Our world in great turmoil and transition (paradigm shift) needs every person alive right now to activate their divinely granted talents and medicine. If we all do that – our world can change overnight!

Thank you Ann, Jennifer and Katherine for this magical book!

Essentially a book like this is spiritual dynamite (and the authors may quote me on that!)

Imelda Almqvist, 22 February 2018, London UK

For Book’s Website Click Image

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About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and SACRED ART. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books 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 ART Meets Shamanism will be published in the Autumn of 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)

 

Children and Ceremony

In many cultures in the world, rituals are built into daily life as a continual way of renewing the individual and community spirit: celebrating, giving gratitude, grieving, and letting go of that which no longer serves the health and well-being of the village. Ritual is a kind of glue that helps us to remember who we are and how we are related to everything in the universe–something we humans tend to forget unless we build times to experience this connection consciously into our busy lives.

Each of us authors noticed several years ago that many children we met wanted and needed ritual in their lives. The children were interested in what we were doing as shamanic practitioners and some children started asking us to work with them by creating healing ceremonies either with them or for them. This was particularly true of those brought up in the Western world without ties to ancestral traditions of their particular lineage.

With the growing secularization of society in the 20th Century, mainstream Western culture gained more freedom of spiritual discovery and expression. Unfortunately, some of us also lost our conscious tie with the sacred both inside and outside of us. This has created a generation of kids who seem to feel a bit in limbo; many want ways to walk their spiritual paths and make a difference in the world but do not feel comfortable in either secularization or organized religions. We find that many kids have instinctively discovered a relationship with the cosmos in a consistent way through spending time out in nature.

Indeed, ritual seems to come naturally to many children already. For example, when a pet dies, kids intuitively give them a burial and a formal farewell. Grandmother Ann (our co-author) wrote a little about her experience of doing ceremony with children in 2011:

I was fortunate, several years ago, to work with a group of children whose parents were also studying shamanism.  These children and I played games, did ceremonies and had discussions about their joys, fears, hopes and dreams.  We talked about how the ceremonies related to their lives in all aspects: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and life force energy.  We discussed the natural world and our connections to the Earth.  Doing ceremony together, I got to know the children’s needs and the gifts they brought to life.  For a parent, grandparent or other caregiver this sharing can bring increased joy and deepen your connection and love for the child.  That is a wonderful gift.”

The following is an excerpt from the book “The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within:”

A few years ago, one of our teachers shared her dream of creating a book of ceremonies for children.  She and our other teacher were working on their own book of ceremonies for adults at the time.  A few of us expressed passion for this project.  Each of us (Ann, Jen and Kat) have a deep devotion to children; serving them is part of our pathway in life.  Ann is a grandmother with five children of her own and two grandchildren.  Katherine (Kat) is a published children’s author and an aunt to two little girls.  Jennifer (Jen) is a BC-certified teacher and an aunt to a boy and a girl.  We share a love of children and passion for their welfare and empowerment.  Each of us has done so much healing through ceremonies.  We know how powerful they are.  Our dream for this book is that children everywhere will experience the magic of self-discovery as they do these ceremonies. 

 

Shamanism is a term to describe a general practice of using the wisdom of the natural world and the earth’s energies to heal oneself and add beauty to one’s life. Shamanism includes many spiritual practices and does not have one doctrine of belief to follow.  

The ceremonies we have created are earth-based and draw upon the wisdom in nature (and in each of you as parts of nature) in order to bring healing into your lives.  With the natural world as a point of connection, we hope that children (and parents) of all faiths, beliefs and cultures find these ceremonies accessible and healing.  Children who live in urban areas can connect with nature around and within their human-made environments.  Most kids will have access to trees, even if they are small ones that line the concrete streets.  Most kids will find insects, birds and other animals in their cities to observe and connect with.  All of us have access to the sun, the wind, the water and the earth…

Ceremonies can teach us how to use magical tools (altars, medicine wheels, wands) to call something we want or need into our lives, for protection, for working with life’s challenges and for calling forth our gifts, so that we can live the best life we can while we are here on Earth.  Ceremonies can help change our inner worlds so that our lives work better and we are happier people.  I don’t know about you, but in my life, it can be so hard to hear my own voice among people telling me what I should do, what I should think and how I should act.  So many “shoulds” can drive a person crazy!  As Grandmother Ann states, spending time doing ceremony can help people to hear their own voice so that they can follow their own inner wise magician in their lives: 

Why do I do ceremony?  By doing ceremonies, I clear away all of the monkey noise in my head so I can discover my gifts to the world.  I discover magical mysterious me.  I hear the magician that is my higher self, who knows what I need to do and how to do it.  When I do ceremonies, I hear the song of the Universe and its vibrations so that I can vibrate in time with the Universe’s rhythms.  Ceremony sets me free to be me.”

This book is an invitation to ceremony for adults and kids. It can be used in a random and intuitive way. We invite each child and adult’s inner child to listen to the ceremonial descriptions and choose ones that feel/sound interesting. It is okay for parents to make suggestions, as long as they are not attached to the outcome.  It is important that the child participate willingly.  Each one of us has our own path to walk in life and making self-governed choices is a vital part of that journey.  We have included age groups that each ceremony is best suited for.  However, this is only a guideline.  Kids who are outside the age range are welcome to do any ceremony that calls to them. 

It is important to note that this is not a book “for” kids as much as a guide that will allow adults to connect with their playful, lighthearted selves while they participate in the ceremonies with their children. It is not intended to be a book where kids are left on their own to do these ceremonies…

Each one of you has special gifts you brought to the world when you were born that you carry around inside.  Our deepest wish as the authors of this book is that doing these ceremonies supports each one of you to shine more of your inner light into the world.  Discover your mysterious magical self!   What magic will you bring to the planet?

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Author Bio:

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 coach, 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 more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

To purchase “The Magic Circle,” visit: www.ceremoniesforkids.com

Book Review: Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life: Using Shamanism Creatively with Young People of All Ages by Imelda Almqvist

In 2008 when I set out with my co-authors to write a book about doing shamanic ceremony with children and families, there was almost no literature on the topic–save Starhawk’s landmark “Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions.” Since our book was published in 2012, many more authors have been responding to the immense need for these resources, thankfully. When I discovered Imelda’s book “Natural Born Shamans,” I was thrilled to see another shamanic practitioner working with children and youth who was also dedicated to adding to this body of knowledge responsibly. Throughout the book, readers are warned of some of the pitfalls in doing shamanic work with children, as well as, how to work around those thoughtfully and with respect for both the child’s sensibilities and the family culture. Indeed, I use Imelda’s book as a reference today for my own work with children and families. This book achieves its stated intent:

All existing societies and cultures were preceded by shamanic cultures, where people lived in close relationship with the Earth, the ancestors, and the Spirits of Place. Connecting with Spirit is our own birthright and the birthright of our children. As I hope this book will demonstrate, it can give young people an exceptional spiritual toolkit for life in the 21st Century.”

Imelda explores key spiritual concepts and tools in ways that children and families can understand. Some of these include: shadow work, death and change, shapeshifting, dreaming, forgiveness, divination, and taking one’s power– learning to wield it responsibly. Imelda brings her substantial experience working with children of all ages to this book. I’ve worked as an educator for two decades; it’s easy to see how certain activities can be adapted to children at different developmental stages. Parents who have raised children through different stages will, also, likely find this easy to do. In addition, Almqvist speaks at length about the importance of offering rites of passage ceremonies to children to support them in the many transitions they make during childhood. She, also, describes the adult’s role in guiding children on their spiritual path:

If we do not offer Rites of Passage, children will either fail to complete crucial developmental stages or they will place themselves in risky situations trying to create communities and initiations for themselves, such as through street gangs, joyriding, drugs, crime or alcohol.”

This book provides a compassionate and extensive look at issues facing parents and children in today’s world. It offers ideas for how to look at these challenges through a shamanic lens, introducing new possibilities for transformation that are holistic, healthy, and healing. Imelda’s approach enrols children in their own healing and shows them how to become more confident in who they are at their essence. Through Imelda’s personal stories, parents receive understanding and wisdom from someone who has guided her own children through spiritual and developmental transitions. If you are a shamanic practitioner interested in working with children and families, this book is a “must have” for your resource collection! It is full of great ideas and links to the work of other shamanic authors that inspire her work. It will spark your own imagination and creative juices! “Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life” is published by Moon Books and widely available online. International shamanic teacher, Sandra Ingerman provides a wonderful foreword to this important book.

For Amazon Information Click Image

***

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 coach, 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

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

PaganMagicBook

 

 

This is a brilliant book and an absolute treasure trove of esoteric information you will not easily find elsewhere! I was pleased to be asked to review it as I had already set the intention to post a review – because this author deserves more readers.

In this book Pennick describes how magic was deeply embedded in the everyday life of pre-Christian societies in Northern Europe. People believed in magic both because it worked and because their whole worldview was inherently magical. In this book Pennick examines the underlying principles of this work and how different forms of magic are powered and used.

When we speak of the Northern Tradition many people think of Scandinavia and perhaps Iceland but this book also explains the local expressions the Northern Tradition took in e.g..England and other Germanic countries. It has a far wider range than some books I have read on the subject and I love the way he explains local differences and “flavour” in such detail. He must have done a lot of research! He also appears to personally interview people who know about “the old ways” wherever possible, meaning that I find references and material in his books that I not have encountered in other texts. I would buy his book for that reason alone and since reading it I have recommended it to shamanic teacher colleagues with an interest in Norse shamanism or The Northern Tradition.

My favourite chapter is Chapter 4: Astronomy and the Winds because it is very difficult to find quality information about the way the ancient Norse peoples viewed the night sky. In most books this is dealt with by making reference to only about two asterisms (or single planets) and myths (usually the goddess Frigga’s spindle and the giant Aurvandil’s Toe) but Pennick goes way beyond that and I was thrilled to find the information – even if some it might be highly speculative and reconstructed (according to the author), it helped me see my beloved night sky through a Norse lens of perception.

Another thing I love about Pennick’s writing (not only this book) is his immense knowledge about ancient time keeping, feast days and special occasions and so forth. Reading his books I feel a compulsion to reinstate some of those ancient holidays (holy days) in my own life and celebrate them again.

As a matter of fact I myself wrote a number of contributions about Scandinavian festials and feast days for a book that will be published later this year, edited by Lucya Starza. The title is Every Day Magic – A Pagan Book of Days: 366 Magical Ways to Observe the Cycle of the Year. Here is the link if you want to reserve your copy:

fullsizeoutput_a37

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Every-Day-Magic-Magical-Observe/dp/1785355678/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1495121612&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=everyday+magic+Lycya+Starza

Pennick’s book has a glossary at the end which is immensely useful for people who are new to this tradition and allows reader to flick back the pages for a quick refresher on what certain words or phrases mean.

All in all this book is a treat and a book I will dip into over and over as a source for inspiration and information for classes I teach or answers to questions my students ask.

Highly recommended and it will go on the reading list for my students of Norse Shamanism in both Sweden and the US!

Imelda Almqvist, London, 18 May 2017

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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 on 26th August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally. 

For her courses in Norse Shamanism (in both Europe and soon coming to the US as well) please visit the following webpages

FORNSED IN SWEDEN

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/info2.cfm?info_id=211324

2 YEAR PRACTITIONER OF NORSE SHAMANISM PROGRAM

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

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

Baldr’s Magic –

The Power of Norse Shamanism and Ecstatic Trance

By Nicholas Brink

 

 

 

I agreed to review this book because Baldr (or Balder/Baldur) is a Norse god I have a strong personal connection to.

 

On the positive side I will say that anyone seeking a strong connection to their ancestors and ancestral faith and traditions needs encouragement – in whatever way they decide to do this. The author certainly describes a very personal quest and invites others to make a similar journey into the past (even the ancient undocumented past of Early Europe).

 

He works for the Cuyamunge Institute which promotes the original research and findings of Dr. Felicitas Goodman. The core of this body of work evolves around the use of certain postures and practices for deep trance meditation. So far so good! I am always open to learning and exploring something new and trance postures certainly are not part of my own repertoire as an international teacher of shamanism.

 

Where this book “nose dives” in my perception is that the author commits sins of both commission and omission to use a concept from my Roman Catholic upbringing – and my Roman Catholic period ended at age 19 when the god Baldr took me in hand and changed my life forever.

 

Using trance postures to map your personal past (leaving open whether that is personal previous lifetimes on earth or lifetimes of personal ancestors whose memories of events remain preserved in the morphogenetic or knowing field) – OK! Great!!

 

However, to then take it upon yourself to publish certain “Lays” that do not appear in the ancient texts of the Nordic Tradition (meaning The Poetic Edda or Prose Edda) is taking matters quite far – by contemporary Neo-Pagan or shamanic standards.

 

As a teacher of shamanism I keep reminding my students that much information we receive in shamanic journeys (“the core shamanism version of trance posture meditations”) is profoundly personal. You received it because your spirit allies designed the message for you. It is what you most need to hear at this time!! It is not necessarily of great interest to others (though some selected pieces of it may well be and resonate deeply with others) but you edit down what you share bearing in mind: “is this truly of interest and importance to others than myself?”

 

This author has essentially filled a whole book with what we could call journey work, path-workings, trance posture discoveries – whatever you wish to call it. There is no mention of consulting people known for their innovative work in Norse Shamanism today – and also sharing their take on the material – or indeed following their guidance on what to publish and what to turn into a journal or document for private family use.

 

I do not wish to use the word arrogance – but there is definitely a lot of ignorance here around contemporary standards in publishing new material. Publishing your own Lost of Edda of the Vanir and many Lays (such as the Power of Idunn’s Plants or The Goddess’s Power of Intuition) is breath-taking (audacious). I invite you to view this in the context of contemporary practitioners of Norse (and other) shamanism agonising and debating about the use of what is called UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis) in meetings, ceremonies and publications. I cannot help but wonder what Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera, the authors of Talking To The Spirits – Personal Gnosis in Pagan Religion would say about this book. I‘d certainly recommend you read both books for comparison and serious reflect on such issues!!

 

In my opinion this author ought to have done way more research – what is out there? How do other authors handle the issue of both UPG and PCPG (Peer Corroborated Personal Gnosis). He should have edited down the book to a DIY manual for accessing ancestral information through trance posture work – inviting others to make their own discoveries (as opposed to sharing all and only your own discoveries). At least mentioning and acknowledging the ramifications of UPG would have been welcome. Instead the author states he has a gift for accessing intuitive formation in the now – and then extrapolates that gift right back to Ancient Europe, without providing corroborating (or indeed conflicting) material by others working in the same field.

 

For me this book falls in the gap between 21st century academic standards and contemporary practices for recovering ancient traditions and material.

 

Last but not least – I had hoped to learn more about Baldr in this book but found nothing in this book that I do not know already (as a teacher of Norse Shamanism).

 

By all means do this work and use the techniques (postures) offered by this author. I ask all my students (of shamanism) to use every means available to them to connect with their ancestors and learn about their ancestral traditions – but I do not encourage every student who does this (and many do work of astounding beauty!) to type up all their journey notes and publish them as a book for others to read. If they decided to do so I would recommend heavy editing and asking some very critical questions indeed. I also encourage all my students to seek second (or even third) opinions from others on issues of great importance or emotive issues.

 

Then again, if using trance postures is “your thing” and you have Norse ancestry you have not yet explored – you may well enjoy this book….

 

For Amazon Information Click Image

 

 

 

Imelda Almqvist, Pittsburgh – USA, 29 September 2017

 

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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 Books on 26th August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.

For Amazon Information Click Image

 

For her courses in Norse Shamanism (in both Europe and soon coming to the USA as well) please visit the following webpages

FORNSED IN SWEDEN

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/info2.cfm?info_id=211324

2 YEAR PRACTITIONER OF NORSE SHAMANISM PROGRAM

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

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

Book Review: Circle, Coven and Grove: A Year of Magickal Practice

By: Deborah Blake

© 2007

Circle-Coven-and-Cove


Circle, Coven and Grove is nicely written and informative, great for any practitioner, novice to high priest or priestess. Deborah Blake has put together the basics of successful practice and a wheel of the year schedule that is easy to follow for any magickal seeker wishing to follow the old ways. This book is packed full of hints, tips, suggestion and practical etiquette for a happy and pleasant magick experience. No matter your style or path, this book encompasses all. Easy to follow spells, and holiday celebration rituals are especially beautiful. Circle, Coven and Grove is one of the most cheerful and friendly books I have the pleasure of reading in a long time. A true witch’s hand book; a must for all who seek.

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