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Does My Life Belong to Me?!

April 1st, 2018

DOES MY LIFE BELONG TO ME?!

 

We are on Easter Break. My 17-year old son needs to do revisions for his upcoming A Levels in Physics and Further Maths. He works best alongside someone so we divide up the kitchen table between us. I decided to write this piece because I had been pondering the question for some time. My son decides to play some music to help things along. “Is that Shakira?!” – “No Mum, it is Fat Rat! That is a DJ by the way. I doubt you know anyone I listen too…” I adore silence when I am writing but, as usual, it was not to be!

 

This may sound like a weird question with an obvious answer! Of course my life belongs to me, right?!

In theory it does yes, but being alive means making choices and choices bring commitments. The moment I choose to have children, those children are entitled to a large chunk of my time, energy and life force. The moment I choose to get married, a new unit with an overarching spirit all of its own comes into being: The Marriage (as well as two separate individuals). This is why the sum is always more than the parts combined. The dynamic multiplies again once a couple has children: there is now a Family, as well as two, three, four or five individuals…. There are now five people having relationships with four rather significant others.

The moment I choose a profession and invest in training in that profession I need to accept the demands and boundaries of that profession. Being a medical doctor, nurse or midwife will mean working night shifts in hospitals. Even a plumber will get phone calls about emergencies at all hours. An undertaker cannot so easily take time off either as people will not stop dying over major holidays.

As a shamanic practitioner I, too, used to get emergency phone calls at all hours. As a mother of young children working from home (with no hospital and no team to divide the workload) I eventually learned to take my home phone number off-line and to make an agreement with myself regarding what “opening hours” I operated and how many emergencies a week I can fit in at short notice (if any!) This is called drawing lines and operating healthy boundaries! (By now I also have a team of three people dividing up work in my practice).

So yes my life belongs to me but for my life to belong to ‘me and me alone’ I would need to stay single, not have children (or elderly parents) and perhaps embark on a life as a self-sufficient recluse in a very inaccessible area. (And when emergencies occurred I would have to deal with those on my own – or not be able deal with them and perhaps suffer serious illness or injury without receiving medical attention or loving care from another person). Yet, these are choices some people make to get away from the maddening demands of modern life. (A percentage of people have always done this, long before “modern” times, they have become trappers, sailors or “desert saints” and walked away from their communities). My own husband has one brother who went to sea at age 16 and reappeared years later with a Japanese wife (he then abandoned to raise three children completely on her own in Sweden). Today we call this commitment-phobia and yes, commitment is scary!

Yet, there is a level even beyond this web of social interactions, beyond being a member of a family and community. This is the point where people who follow a spiritual path may well see things differently from what is considered the norm in our society. Since western society embraced science as ‘our new religion’, the Church and priests have lost the control they exerted for many centuries. We no longer believe in Hell or live in sin. We don’t go to confession either. Only few people today believe that a male fearsome god will judge our souls once we die. In many ways this has liberated us and allowed a much higher level of individual expression, which can only be a good thing (to my mind). Having said, that: collectively speaking we have also lost the concept that we owe gratitude to our Maker and that we did not incarnate on this planet just to please ourselves and inflate our egos…

It is my personal belief, shared by many people following a committed spiritual path (of any description and not necessarily a religion!) that we come to Earth to be of service. That we all have unique gifts, our own unique energy, that is required at this time. This is because we all vibrate and operate in a larger Web of Life where all sentient beings are connected and together create (co-create) both reality and the future, the world our children’s children are to inherit.

Therefore I believe that I am here to serve and to evolve (meaning to learn, to grow in awareness) but I am also here to play my part in a larger whole. This means that I am currently wearing a human coat here on Earth for reasons beyond the personal level of relationships and raising children and so forth.

I have an on-going dialogue with my helping spirits about this and they say that I am here to be a spiritual teacher and teach others about living from a place of profound creativity and joyful creation. Along the way I also turned out to have a bit of a “freak talent” for healing work – but personally I see that as the journey back to creativity and living in joy. Being ill or dis-eased is the flip side of that coin. Once people re-discover their innate ability to create they can create healthy vibrant reality (as well as art, poetry or music etc.) and this will trigger the process of self-healing (activating the Inner Healer). Once I became aware of this key principle I switched my focus from offering one-to-one healing sessions to teaching larger groups.

The spirits making my life purpose crystal clear has been helpful because it has allowed me to focus and drop many things that are not my cup of tea in this lifetime. Out with dinner parties but roll on classes and powerful ceremonies!

The fly in the ointment is that “the hermit gene” runs strong in me. Before I fall asleep I fantasize about retreating to place far (FAR) from civilization and turning my back on the world. I am a profoundly solitary person, happiest alone in my studio or alone in the Forest. My idea of heaven is to be dropped in a completely inaccessible place with enough food supplies, fire wood and art materials for months – so I can immerse myself in creative process without distractions. It is when we are truly alone, without company, without internet, without external noise that we hear the voices of the spirits more clearly. So yeah, that is my dirty secret! I find it hard to always be on call. As a mother of three teenagers this is and will remain my reality – and I actively (happily!) chose it! The contradiction runs deep in me and this solitary trait runs in my family. My middle son has got a bad case of this “affliction” as well!

Having many students (and some clients) as well as children means working long hours every day again (often including weekends). I often look around me at people I perceive to have “easier lives”. Hang on! Let me rephrase this: lives with less pressure and way more leisure time. Here I am thinking of women who call themselves a “full time mother” of two teens aged 16 and 18 (with one about to leave home!) Or a woman whose children left home 20 years ago but she never returned to work (in the conventional sense). She shuttles between her garden and her yoga lessons. To my mind these are ladies of leisure. You may of course disagree.

On one level you could say: they raised their babies and their husband earns good money (so there is no financial need to work) – why not settle into a life of gardening and coffee mornings? Or another level I think: but aren’t they uniquely positioned to really make contribution to larger society? They have good health, many skills and financial security… they HAVE IT ALL! Why not use these things for the larger good of others than themselves?

Am I being judgemental here?? I know this is and remains one of my shadow aspects, (the flip side of being visionary) so it is a definite possibility. Not everyone has my driven personality and (what some have called) a supernatural energy level). Not everyone feels called to grapple with the bigger issues in our world (such as clearing family lines of centuries worth of accumulated trauma or contributing to paradigm shifts – or at least imagining that one is doing so!)

Cycling back to where I started, I think the question this article poses can only be answered by individuals in a very individual way. We all have different personalities, different star signs and different circumstances and dreams too. What I do know is that in my own life I continue to learn (fast and furiously) because I am a teacher, because I am in constant interactions with students and teens from a place of holding responsibility. It has been said that we teach what we most need to learn and probably my greatest passion in life is learning and becoming the best person I can possibly be, by the time I die. (And what I am in the process of becoming is not going to please everyone!)

I also truly believe that if everyone embraced life in this way – the world would be a better place. I am not going to apologise for thinking that! So… to answer my own question: my life force belongs to me (meaning I choose what – and whom! – I spend time and energy on) but my life ultimately belongs to Mother Earth and Spirit as much as it belongs to me personally. I am in service to Life – not the other way around. I would not have it any other way…

 

My son has decided to go on break. He says: “Mum, could you please take over as my dragon slayer for a moment because I need to nip out for a moment?!” Fat Rat has gone silent. Outside the window snow is falling upwards…

*Imelda Almqvist, Sweden, Easter Sunday 2017

***

About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of Norseshamanism 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 December 2018.

Click Image for Amazon Information

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)

 

 

 

I am writing this article on Boxing Day or Annandag Jul in Swedish (our family is in Sweden).

I always pay close attention to dreams and my dreams last night were full of children.

I am wearing a warm furry silver cloak and walking around a forest. There is a spectacular night sky overhead. The stars are reflected by the ice crystals trapped in my cloak meaning that I myself am sparkling with star light (not unlike a Christmas tree!) I am Mother Winter! All around me child spirits are darting around and playing in trees: luminous, joyful but also “ghostly”, as-yet-unborn. I open my cloak and give them all a place to gestate safely, in the Womb of Mother Winter…

The central event at Christmas is, of course, the birth of a Divine Child. For Christians this is a very particular child: Jesus Christ. However, the concept of a Divine Child exists in other cultures and belief systems as well. Here is a blog that provides a good overview:

http://mythicspiral.blogspot.se/2013/02/gods-divine-birth-in-religion-and-myth.html

It explains how many of our world’s myths and religions start with the birth of a Divine Child who grows up and becomes a Saviour God as an adult. This Divine Child or god, incarnated on Earth, usually does not have an easy time of it. Often it comes close to being murdered and faces an evil ruler (sometimes its own human father). Miraculously, this child does survive and becomes a revolutionary who plants the seeds for a new paradigm and new ways of collective thinking and dreaming.

The Divine Child exists in alchemy as well. It is often seen as the offspring of the alchemical marriage of opposites or opposing forces: sun and moon, light and dark. You could say that the whole sacred art of alchemy is contained within the image of a magical or divine child because it holds the key to processes of transformation and transmutation.

What if some of the children leading tough lives today are here to become our future world leaders?!

Christmas is a good time to reflect on the fate of children in today’s world. My husband got our three children up before dawn this morning to perform a pagan family ceremony by the nearby lake. They considered themselves hard done by, being lifted from their warm beds before sunrise!

Many children all over the world face serious (real) hardship today as well as every day and night of the year. They grow up in war zones, politically unstable regimes or places of extreme poverty and deprivation. They are at risk of losing their lives, their parents, families, homes or livelihood.

Even in the more affluent Western world many children suffer abuse at the hands of the very people who are supposed to love and protect them: their own parents. The so called “festive season” tends to increase family tensions meaning that for many children Christmas is not a happy time. Instead it is a time of increased physical and emotional abuse. Alcohol use increases too and that is never good news for children.

So today I invite everyone reading this article to spare a thought for the children facing hardship almost beyond human comprehension. Also for the spirits of children who died young or where aborted, who live on as spirit children in other worlds. For more about this I invite you to watch my 2014 art video:

 

SPIRIT CHILDREN

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpSLQLHN2B4

 

 

I am a presenter Year of Ceremony with Sounds True and the title of my Full Moon Ceremony) on January 31st is Drawing Down the Divine Child. I invite everyone to check out this wonderful program!

 

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

 

In a way all children are divine children because a divine spark glows in their heart (as it does in adults). Might it be the case that some children choose to come to Earth to hold up mirrors for all of us and expose injustice?

Might it be the case that soul groups of children incarnate collectively to bring specific issues to global attention? If so, could we find ways of honouring this sacrifice?!

Our word sacrifice is derived from Latin and literally means: making sacred by offering to the gods.

We are all on Earth for a relatively short time before we become ancestors for those who come after us. Do we give enough thought to those future generations, the children of our children’s children and beyond? Do we actively try to create the right conditions on Earth for their arrival?

Shamanism teaches that we can step Outside Time. Once we do so we can work with both Past and Future. Many spiritual schools of thought teach that Time is an illusion and that Past and Future co-exists in parallel dimensions. (Personally speaking I think of Time as an organising dimension on Earth, not as an ultimate reality). If this is so, it means that we can already connect with the children waiting to be born. We can communicate with those souls and find out what they need from us, what seeds they need us to plant for their future existence.

These are some of the issues we will engage with during my Full Moon Ceremony for 31 January 2018!

For today I invite you to do a meditation (or shamanic journey) and seek guidance from spirit on how you can reach out to one child (or several children, (or even a group of children) today and make a difference. Could you be a mentor, provide a listening ear or a sanctuary? Could you be an ambassador working in a different way: speaking, writing or campaigning? Is there some unique contribution only you can make? The lives of many children have been turned around by having access to that one crucial person who was there for them and provided unconditional support. That person is not always a parent, often this is a neighbour, teacher, aunt/uncle, youth leader or grandparent.

If you are a holistic or spiritual practitioner already working with children I invite you to join a closed Facebook group I recently created (and there is some lively thought-provoking sharing going on there!) The idea is to connect people and map where everyone is, so referrals can be made and experiences can be exchanged.

 

GLOBAL GRID OF SPIRITUAL PRACTITIONERS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1084444561692912/

 

All of us grown-ups are ex-children. Somewhere within all of us lives the Divine Child!

I will close with a beautiful poem that friend and fellow author Laura Perry brought to my attention:

 

For So The Children Come

By Sophia Lyon Fahs

For so the children come
And so they have been coming.
Always in the same way they come
Born of the seed of man and woman.

No angels herald their beginnings.
No prophets predict their future courses.
No wise men see a star to show where to find the babe that will save humankind.

Yet each night a child is born is a holy night,
Fathers and mothers–sitting beside their children’s cribs feel glory in the sight of a new life beginning
They ask “Where and how will this new life end?
Or will it ever end?”

Each night a child is born is a holy night–
A time for singing,
A time for wondering,
A time for worshipping.

 

***

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. She is currently working on her second book Sacred Art: A Hollow Bone for Spirit (Where Art Meets Shamanism)

 

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)

 

 

Kids are a problem.  No, no, I’m not talking about the trials of parenthood; I’m referring to the problem of teaching minors about Paganism.  Though there aren’t any laws that specifically say to teach somebody’s child about a religion is unlawful, there exist community and cultural customs that condemn the teaching if it is done without parental permission.  In the case of Paganism, the problem is just as big as it would be if a Jewish family was to find their child being taught Islam… maybe bigger.  The problem is complex and I don’t intend to cover every facet here, but I will put forth some ideas about it in the hope that it will stir the cauldron a little and cause some discussion.The age of majority in the USA is generally considered to be eighteen for most everything.  When a person reaches that age, they can be held legally responsible for their public and private decisions.  That is, they can legally be bound by contracts, sued in a court of law, hold a driver’s license, get married, join the armed services, be able to vote, and generally be treated as an adult in most social and legal things.  If anyone of that age or older comes to us and asks for teaching or initiation, there isn’t anything that can be done by parents or relatives to legally prevent it.  But if they are under that age, there are a lot of legal avenues a parent or guardian can pursue to make it a problem for anyone who accepts the child for studentship without parental permission.

Beside the possible legal trouble, a parent who doesn’t understand our spirituality is often afraid of it and will react in a violent way when they find out we have been teaching their child about ‘witchcraft.’  It doesn’t matter what we might call our brand of spirituality, what most parents will immediately think is that ‘devil worshipers’ are indoctrinating their child!  No amount of quiet reasoning will work against their panic, and the facts have nothing to do with their perceptions.  In case you forgot: perception is reality.  The determination and ferocity of a parent who believes their child is in danger should never be underestimated.  And even if you have parental permission, you should still be aware of how your teachings might be misinterpreted by society and attract the unwanted attentions of any number of governmental groups.  This can be true even if the child you are teaching is your own!

There is a great deal of information that can be passed on to the next generation but you should be conscious of four considerations whenever you go about teaching anyone about our faith:

  1. WHAT is being taught?  There is more to a myth besides a fun story, for instance.  The traditions and lore of any faith group reflect its values and perspectives as well as customs and culture.  Information about any aspect of magic or spirituality always contains a subtext that you need to explore fully before trying try to pass it on.
  2. WHO is being taught?  Information that would be appropriate for a person who is 20 is not likely to be suitable for a youngster of 10.  A child probably won’t be interested in the complexities of western religious and political history.  Similarly, an adult isn’t likely to want to draw pictures of Isis for an hour.  And, in case you didn’t know, boys learn differently than girls.  They pick up information and use it in different ways, even if it is the same information.  It is not just a cultural prejudice; male and female brains work differently.  And, as any parent of teenagers will confirm, there sometimes isn’t any way to figure out how a pubescent child will react to anything!  Even they don’t have a clue.  There’s a good reason that the most common answer to the perennial question, “What were you thinking?” is a blank look and a mumbled, “I don’t know.” They really don’t.
  3. HOW is it being taught?  You can teach the information about incense making by the book.  But to get down and dirty with the actual making of a particular compound, to use it for an actual purpose, or to present it to others with, “I made this,” will make the learning more powerful and meaningful by far.  Learning is more than memorizing information; it’s about making a change in the learner.
  4. WHY is it being taught?  There must be a purpose and a plan to your teaching.  Simply to spout information is not the same as teaching.  Information needs to be related to real life as well as everything else that the student has or will encounter.  Any teacher worth their salt will transcend their own agendas and look to the needs and visions of their students.  If you teach because you think it will make you look important, you will only be seen that way by yourself.  Think back to the teachers in your life that have had the most impact on you and you will see the truth of this.

Our ideas and ways of looking at life are especially appealing to people in their late teens.  Our freedom of spirit and joy of living are much like their own youthful enthusiasm.  And, at least on the surface, our belief in magic seems to answer their wish for simple solutions to the complex problems they are becoming aware of all around them.  We will always have those who think of magic as a quick fix for all the ills in the world. They come with stars in their eyes, blinded to the fact that all true magic workers are hard workers.  Their naivety might be a source of amusement but it also makes them extremely vulnerable.  They so much want to believe there are easy ways to overcome large problems they will do almost anything to prove themselves ‘worthy’ of such fantastical powers.  Instead of allowing them to be victimized, we need to find ways of educating them about the real powers of magic.  Simply trying to burst their bubble of fantasy will not work.  They will reject our discouraging words and go looking for someone who will reinforce their dreams.  We must translate their visions into actions that allow them to find their own truths and powers.  Putting them to work on real projects, giving them an opportunity to figure out how to make something work and make a change is the greatest teacher of all.  Yes, they will make mistakes; who doesn’t?  But let’s be frank, isn’t that the way we learned?  Celebrate their successes and don’t ever be too busy to offer help.

Because we don’t have ‘all the answers’ written down, our beliefs are centered on individual experiences.  We call them ‘the mysteries’ because that best describes the role these have for us.  We ‘solve’ these mysteries by living the moment and discovering who and what we are in relation to the reality of our experiences.

Providing opportunities for the young to encounter their own mysteries needs to be tailored to the abilities of the student.  Most school systems use a three-tiered structure for teaching youngsters.  The youngest group usually covers from age six to eleven or twelve.  The next learning group is the so-called ‘tweens,’ ages twelve to fifteen.  Last, there is the sixteen to eighteen group.  There are sound reasons behind splitting up the learning in this way.  Each age group learns in different ways.

The brain functions of the youngest group are nothing like the oldest.  Though they absorb prodigious amounts of information at an astounding pace, the information is in its least complex form.  Very little associative thinking goes on in this age group.  For instance, a child in this group might easily learn the names for every town in their state but not be able to understand a map.  Complex relationships between one thing and another are difficult for them to understand.  That’s why stories for this age group are written in such black-and-white terms; heroes are all-good and villains are all-bad.  No explanation is necessary about why the kiss from a charming prince is required to awaken Sleeping Beauty, it simply does.  As any parent who has had a child go through this age knows, explaining why a certain rule is established doesn’t mean anything to these kids.  That’s why, “Because I said so,” really is the best explanation in many cases.  Teaching this group about Paganism requires information that is not subtle:  Pan is the god of wild things… period.  The more you explain, in some cases, the less they will understand.

The middle group, the ‘tweens,’  is in the transitional stage from one method of learning to the other.  Their comfort zone in learning is still back with the black and white, childhood model.  But their world is steadily growing and they’re becoming more independent every day.  Relationships are now more apparent and reasons are becoming necessary to explain them.  This is the age of reason for these people so what is taught to them needs to be accompanied with more in-depth information.  Motivations behind actions and beliefs begin to play an increasingly important role in their understanding and they will question boundaries and limitations more.  Because their bodies are going through an accelerated growth time, they will often physically test themselves against many of these limitations and dare the universe to slap them down.

The oldest group is making its entrance into adulthood and the methods by which they learn are pretty much the same for the rest of their life.  Associative or relational thinking has become more comfortable and its value to the student has been steadily growing for several years by now.  From here on, the student will question relative value structures, relying less on quantitative and more on qualitative information.  Though their decision-making abilities are relatively immature, they nevertheless feel the need for independence and freedom to act.  Lessons must relate to this urge or the importance of the information will not be perceived.  Now, not only does the information about Pan being a god of wild things become a part of their overall consideration, but background information that makes Pan a more interesting and complete god-form must accompany it.

Our rituals allow the primary school child to enjoy the fantasy and wonder of our beliefs.  For the middle school aged, they also teach something about the complexities of those beliefs.  For the young adults, the fullness of meaning is a feast for their minds and hearts.  It is the same demarcation as the teaching levels.

Teaching about our beliefs is quite different from exercising them on circle.  Nothing we do, with the exception of where we meet and with whom, is a secret.  When you teach others about our beliefs, our lore and practices, you should be mindful of how your words will be interpreted.  Your students or audience need to understand what is meant, not just hear the words.  For instance, “to make a spell,” will undoubtedly be interpreted as some sort of supernatural hocus-pocus by any who are not aware of the processes involved.  Far better you should forego the term and explain the process.  Then you can tell them that that process is called spell craft.  The same goes for many other words and phrases we commonly use in Paganism.  All specialized knowledge has its jargon and we aren’t any exception.  Educating others requires us to explain things without the confusion of language that can be easily misinterpreted.

Teaching others is also a way of learning.  Every teacher is a student and every student is a teacher.  The Pagan faiths have grown and will continue to grow because its people have had the courage to teach and train others.  It is one way we can help our faith group become better, both because we will refine our own knowledge and because we will gain new perspectives with each person who comes to us.  We must take this challenge seriously and never allow charlatans or abusers to rule over people whom the gods have sent our way.

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

 

(Leather Bound, Pentacle Journal by Samantha & Jason of Earthwork’s Journals, Home of the Handmade Journal on Etsy.)

 

My mum was a music teacher. A strict one at that. She had this way of showing her immense disapproval with a slight tut and a look away. You ask any music teacher, any teacher at all really if they know that their student has been practicing or not, and they can tell a mile away.


“And you practiced every day?”


Maybe that’s where I get it from.


I’m a pretty good student. I take anything I study seriously (I make Hermione Granger look like a slacker) and I love to learn. Yet even as young as 18 I was already teaching my peers. I was good at encouraging and explaining. I was pretty fearless (but not reckless). It just kept happening really.
My last year of 6th form college (high school) I was sitting as a medium with psychic circles between three or four times a week on equal footing as some who had been practicing some 50 years (Glenis was lovely). I was doing card readings every lunch and break every day. I started reading cards at 14 (playing cards) from my friend’s mum who was a real gypsy.


It didn’t think of it as “work” back then.


Back then it was like finding out you’re are a prodigy at something and going full tilt.


This means I don’t get it.


I just don’t understand the excuses. I’ve heard a lot over the years.


“I didn’t have time.”


“I have a lot on at work.”


“My husband/boyfriend/girlfriend was…”


“My parents were around.”


“I didn’t understand it.”


I mean I could go on and on and on. The only excuse I allow is sickness. It’s damn hard to work on a breathing technique if you’ve been throwing your guts up!


Let me start with “I didn’t have time”. There is no perfect time to do the work. It’s like doing the dishes or brushing your teeth; it doesn’t care how busy you are and it shows if you do it “only on the weekend”. The magick techniques I give out to students are accumulative and knowing more in the craft means I expect you to do more, not less. Most of my assignments I give take between 10 minutes daily, maybe slightly longer on the weekend or a pilgrimage somewhere. The other thing is the techniques are of for you to use in the world, in your life. They are designed to change how you see, and think and interact with the world. When you give me this excuse I hear one thing: “I couldn’t be bothered”. I don’t care if you do it in the shower, in the car, on the loo, getting your mind in order is important.


“I have a lot on at work.” In truth I don’t really know why this is seen as an excuse. If I am trying to give a tool that helps focus your thinking and mind I am actually trying to help you, not hinder. This reads in a couple of ways. “I’m important in my job so you can’t make me feel bad for not doing what I said I would do.” Or “I am so stressed out that I worry if a take a minute to think about it my head might actually explode.” Either way your clear and clever excuse sounds like what it is to me: fear. I hear the fear and the bluster. Either way you have to show a little faith. Set aside your ego for a few minutes and I promise the world won’t fall apart.


“My boyfriend…” I understand that the drama of some relationships impacts a lot. However this relationship is your choice. If it is damaging, violent or difficult don’t bring it to me. You will not want my honest opinion. Relationships are hard work but they shouldn’t consume your whole life. If things are tense or very emotional maybe the work I’ve given you is supposed to help soothe that? Trust me a little? The truth is you can not (and should not) control other people’s behaviour. What you can control is yourself and I’m guessing that’s what I am trying to teach you.

 

My parents…” I don’t teach kids, except my own. So I am supposed to be talking to a grown ass adult? Most of the work I set is not a big witchy ritual with lots of pagan drumming. If you mean you have to clean your whole house because you are about to be “inspected” I can sort of understand. Yet again I say grown ass adult. If you mean, I must remove all pagan, witchy, spiritual stuff from my judgmental folks because I’m afraid, still in the broom-closet, don’t want to deal with that fight, I say “Oh boy, you need some good therapy”. Families are difficult and hard work and some are even legitimately dangerous for your wellbeing. If you are feeling fear, shame or any combination thereof I would kindly suggest that while they might share your D.N.A. that isn’t family. Family is safety and support. Family is love and trust. If you have to hide such a fundamental part of who you are from these people, then my home work is the least of your problems. I’ve known pagans come out to deeply religious or difficult parents, it tends to go one of two ways. They range from loving and surprising supportive or amazingly indifferent at one end to violent screaming loathing at the other. The truth is they might surprise you. Good parents are usually that, and crappy ones are well, crappy. None of which is about you.

 

I didn’t understand it.” This comes down to the idea that magick and its practice should enlighten and fix things immediately, well, like magick. They try something once and if it doesn’t fix everything at once it can’t be “real” or “special”. It is hard to see the benefit of brushing your teeth if you only do it once. I mean they get dirty again, what’s the point? Spiritual practice is like that. Magickal and mental cleanliness are not just good practice but important foundations. This is a trap more mature or experienced practitioners can fall into. They know the how and the why, and they do other deeper work and neglect the basics. Understanding something doesn’t always happen the first time you try something, or the tenth, or the hundredth. In fact understanding a practice ca be layered and nothing it teaches you is “wrong” or useless. It can’t teach you anything if you don’t do it!

 

In other startling revelations if you’re going to do your “daily journal” in the car before you turn up, park further up the street so I can’t see you! Magickal practice is not difficult. It’s not for only one kind of pagan or witch. It doesn’t care if you are bookish or not, or if you are smart or not. Able bodied or not. It doesn’t care how rich you are or what kind of background you have. It is open to everyone. The only factor is this, will you leave your excuses at the door and do the work? Then magick and knowledge will come. Maybe not easily, maybe not quickly but if you work at it you will be rewarded in ways you can not imagine.

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

***

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)

 

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