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Self-Love: The Gift of Living Aloha

August 1st, 2018

Love is the only emotion that expands intelligence.”

-Humberto Maturana

Recently, my partner and I went to see the new documentary about one of my childhood heroes, Fred Rogers. The film “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” touched me at a deep, universal soul level; I am rarely affected this way by movies so this experience had my attention. I wept through the film wondering what words I could use to describe what I was feeling. When I was a kid, I used to watch “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood” every weekday on television. At some point in the show, he would say the healing words that made me feel truly seen and accepted for who I was: “I like you just as you are.” In a society that is always telling us that we are not good enough, this was–and remains–a radical statement. If people love themselves, that love can’t help but extend out to others. From a shamanic perspective, the dark energies of the universe cannot exist in such blazing light. This is the way we use our personal power as humans to transform hate into love, as this quote by Adebe DeRango-Adem alludes to: Loving who you are means giving yourself permission to cherish your authenticity, and forgive the times you forgot your own power.” In Traditional Hawaiian Medicine, this is the way to maintain our personal sovereignty. Freedom starts with how we treat ourselves on the inside.

As an adult, I can see that Mr. Rogers was expressing a world view that I too held as truth and have been able to articulate better recently. I was invited to speak to mental health nursing students at a university from the point of view of a recovering addict who healed using shamanic medicine. In my sharing, I pointed out that some addicts are not able to heal without including the spiritual aspect of life, so often times mainstream medicine alone won’t cut if for folks like me. We also talked a lot about self-acceptance and how vital it is to the healing process. Many students were confused by this: “Why would you accept something that is causing harm like addiction?” In shamanic practice, we say that life is the greatest teacher. Our practice is in learning from every situation life throws at us. With each new challenge, we have a chance to grow our characters while becoming more content living in the present. We live in the present so we can see life as it is–not as we’d like it to be. If we don’t acknowledge the truth of our situations, we have no chance to transform our lives into ones that are aligned with our individual values and sacred dreams.

Like many of you, I was taught implicitly that I had to earn approval and acceptance by what I contributed and how I acted. It wasn’t enough to just “be.” Growing up Catholic, I was taught that I was a flawed being who had to prove my worthiness. I could understand how it was hard for the students at the university to grok how we could improve our characters by loving ourselves just as we are in this moment when many of them grew up with this belief too: If we don’t work hard to change the things we don’t like about ourselves, then we will never improve ourselves. It was hard initially for me to understand this, too. I learned that acceptance means being honest with ourselves about what is so and we can do that without applying negative self-talk and cruelty to the mix. Contrary to what many of us were taught, violence does not in and of itself inspire positive change. As Uncle Harry Uhane Jim says, “Love doesn’t prevent trauma; it prevails it.” If we really want to create positive change in our lives, the journey may involve endeavoring to learn to love ourselves the way the Creator/Creatrix does. In my experience, the universe doesn’t punish us for our actions; it merely gives us many opportunities to remember that we come from light and aloha. We can change course at any time as sovereign beings.

There is a saying I’ve heard that we are each a cell in the body of the Great Spirit. Christians express a similar sentiment when they say that we are all children of God. If we follow that out, it only makes sense that self-love is important because how we treat ourselves says something about our relationship with the energy of creation. It wasn’t until I started studying Traditional Hawaiian Medicine and practicing lomilomi that I began to understand the importance of maintaining this energy flow of aloha between me and Great Spirit. Simply put, aloha is the unconditional love of Spirit that moves through us with every breath we take. Lomilomi teaches the receiver and giver both how to live in a state of aloha where the energy of Spirit moves through the body with ease and grace. Richard Gunderman said that [w]hen Rogers encouraged children to be kinder and more loving, he believed that he was not only promoting public health, but also nurturing the most important part of a human being—the part that exhibits a divine spark.” Remembering that we come from aloha is vitally important to our healing as spirit beings in human form.

Often, people tell me that they didn’t come to a group ceremony because they weren’t “fit for human consumption”– or to say it more neutrally, they weren’t at their best. To that, I say: “That is exactly when we need to come together in healing–when we are not feeling great. This simply means that we have forgotten that we are made of light and need a reminder.” Over the years, I’ve adopted Mr. Roger’s statement and encouraged people to come as they are. Emotional expression is a valid way of communicating with the world. We don’t always feel bright or cheerful and expressing this authentically is truthful. If ceremonies are to be effective, there must be space for this. I may not always like the way people choose to express themselves, but I’ve trained myself to stay open to listening to the unmet universal needs they are revealing through their words and actions. I believe loving and being loved in return is a universal human need. Validating others as legitimate beings however they appear in the moment opens the door to greater healing. By holding space and healthy boundaries, we can support each other in figuring out new ways to heal, grow, communicate, and learn.

On my personal healing journey, I’ve tried healing by beating myself up and also by practicing realigning myself with the energy of aloha. What I’ve found is that starting from the belief that I come from aloha is an easier road to healing than staying with the belief that I am inherently bad and in need of fixing. I found that feeding this false belief took up a lot of precious energy that could have been going towards living my life purpose. Treating myself as a sacred being has helped me to enjoy the gift of being alive in a human body. Whatever happens, I can be present and practice new ways to move through challenges. I also catch more of the joyful moments because I am not so wrapped up in how I think things should go. I am not so caught up in presenting the perfect “me” that I think people want to see. Surprising things bring me pleasure when I can stay in this place of self-love. How can you practice living aloha to support your healing today? How might this help you enjoy your life more? When your container is filled with aloha, how will you actively allow that to spill over into your community?

I leave you with Mr. Roger’s words just before his death: “I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger. I like you just the way you are. And what’s more, I’m so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you’ll do everything you can to keep them safe. And to help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods. It’s such a good feeling to know that we’re lifelong friends.” I send my heartfelt gratitude and blessings to your spirit, Fred Rogers.

Resources:

article: Self-Care Is a Radical Act, But Not in the Way We’re Practising It Right Now

https://www.flare.com/living/self-care-is-a-radical-act/

article: Mr. Roger’s Message of Love

http://www.dailygood.org/story/2062/mister-roger-s-message-of-love-richard-gunderman/

about Lomilomi:

http://spiraldanceshamanics.com/lomilomi/

***

About the Author:

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

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

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’S Shamanic Journey into Healing

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

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.

What Parents Can Learn From Angelina Jolie

I stumbled across this article recently and I must admit that I was very encouraged by the comments Angelina Jolie made about her daughter Shiloh’s choice of clothing.

Apparently Shiloh prefers to dress “like a boy” and that has media critics blasting a 4 year old and calling her a transsexual.  While it is beyond shameful to take jabs at a child in such a manner no matter who her parents are I think that Jolie handled the situation with honesty and integrity:

“Children should be allowed to express themselves in whatever way they wish without anybody judging them because it is an important part of their growth. Society always has something to learn when it comes to the way we judge each other, label each other. We have far to go.”

As parents we too often let our child’s behaviour reflect back our own insecurities.     If Jolie was insecure she may have seen Shiloh’s behaviour as reflecting badly on her parenting skills or on her own sexuality.  Instead she makes the choice to see that it is not about her but about self expression and the magic of childhood.

As pagan parents we tend to encourage “dress up” and mystical play.  Children are naturally drawn to worlds of fantasy and if they say “I’m a dragon” or “I’m the fairy of spring,” wouldn’t we encourage that and be delighted?  I have a sneaking suspicion though, that when it comes to our child crossing gender boundaries many of us may start to get a little uncomfortable.  What will the neighbours think?  He will be judged by other children, so for his own good I’ll make him dress masculine.  All girls want to wear pretty dresses and play tea party, what’s wrong with my child?  Our own embarrassment starts to take over our actions and we let society’s silly rules of sugar and spice or puppy dog’s tails influence our parenting.  Instead of unconditional love and space to explore themselves children learn to tow the line, not ruffle feathers and suppress their inner creativity.   That doesn’t sound like a very pagan way of growing up to me.

I realize that it is not as simple as the last paragraph makes it out to be.  There are people out there who are so afraid of gender bending that they become violent.  Our first instinct is to protect our child from harm, so our perception of how others may judge them is an important tool that we need to keep our kid safe.   If you have concerns that your child may be judged or harmed that is something that you need to work through with them.  When they are young you can perhaps encourage them to dress in their special outfits only at home or in a predetermined safe place.  As they grow older you may find that it was a phase that they leave behind them or you may encounter a more serious need within them.  If you do encounter this need I encourage being open minded.  This is your child; they are still whole and wonderful.  There are resources out there for parents to use for support if your child is transgender or confused about their sex.

Within our traditions there are many interpretations of masculine and feminine energies.  Some choose to see the traits in a more black and white sense because it makes them feel safe and ordered.  In my world view though there is a lot of grey area.  We all have male and female traits, energies and tendencies.  When we are children those traits are much less rigid because we have less conditioning.  I do not encourage my son to be masculine or feminine those tendencies are just there for him to act on as he comes across them.

Angelina Jolie is taking the same approach with her daughter Shiloh.  She doesn’t want to judge her daughter and so she is being open to Shiloh’s desires and guiding her towards finding her true self.

Please search out help if you or someone you love is dealing with gender difficulties.  Silence, shame and secrets are not the way to help your child or your family process these complex issues.

The pagan community seems to me to be a perfect example of an arena for openness regarding sexuality and gender.  Being open minded and non-judgemental goes way beyond religion in this day and age and as a burgeoning community we are poised to lead the way towards a healthy relationship with our sexual identities.

TransActive: Supporting children & youth of all genders

Transgender Family Resources

Gender: Gender Roles and Stereotypes

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

 

 

 

Bright Blessings! I am thrilled to be doing a tv show & film review column. I DO sometimes luck into a film review and interview in a current film or book, but this column is different.

I will be selecting films and shows that have Pagan, supernatural, sacred, or witchy themes, and doing a review. No interviews involved, and I will be doing reviews of things that are not new releases.

How fun is that?

For my first review, I selected The Last Witch Hunter, a 2015 film starring Vin Diesel, the immortal Michael Caine, and Elijah Wood.

 

(The Last Witch Hunter Movie Trailer on YouTube.com.)

 

Filmed in blockbuster style, complete with the good versus evil theme, strong, muscle bound heroes, and soft beautiful starlet ladies, this is pure Hollywood, non-intellectual entertainment, and translates into a lot of relaxing fun.

The plot is a simple one. An ancient diabolical witch was thought to be defeated by Kaulder (Vin Diesel) centuries ago, during which time she has cursed him with immortality. He uses his limitless lifetime to hunt down other diabolical witches, and keep more benevolent ones in check. Unfortunately for him, said diabolical witch was secretly kept alive, and centuries after he thought he’d slain her, the devotees of said witch resurrect her in what will be the biggest battle of Kaulder’s career.

I liked and recommend this film for its good action scenes, dazzling special effects and costumes, and satisfying ending.

No spoilers!

I will say, though, leave it to Hollywood to keep the theme of the especially heroic good guy who is beyond perfect, who has to break all the rules to save the world.

Don’t expect accuracy in portraying what witches of today do. This is unapologetic fiction, not meant to be educational in any way. Use of sacred symbols such as the pentacle, runes, and discussion of the four elements, herbalism, and psychic gifts are nowhere near the real thing, but make for juicy good fiction.

Wood seems to have a knack for playing innocent faced characters with a trick up their sleeves, as he has in most films I’ve seen him in. As Gollum would have said “He’s tricksy!”

Caine is well…Michael fucking Caine, and is, as always a smooth, refined film god.

Vin Diesel stays mostly clothed throughout the film for a change. Sorry ladies, but as usual, he is cast as the romantic lead, with precious few intimacy scenes.

Although this is a fun movie as opposed to one offering pointers for social change, there are some lessons we can gather from it.

  1. Magic can be used for good or evil, depending on the magical practitioner.
  2. Intention is everything.
  3. You cannot run from what you are. Accept your gifts, and be thankful for them, because one day, they will save you.
  4. A witch is born, not made.
  5. People can be very good at illusions, lies, and betrayal can be absolutely anywhere.
  6. Similarly, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised about who you CAN trust after all.
  7. Not all witches or people in general are good, and not all are bad. Pay attention and learn before deciding to trust or not.
  8. The dead watch over the living. Always.
  9. In your weakest moment, the people who truly care about you can help you find the last reserve of strength you had no idea you had.
  10. Where there is life, there is hope. Never give up for as long as you are alive.

 

I recommend the film for good, fun, supernatural fiction. I’m sure there are those who would be upset fiction portrays witches inaccurately, but truthfully, anybody who believes witches can live forever, can set fire to things with our minds, and are out to destroy the world are not going to listen to the truth anyways.

So, grab the popcorn, and enjoy The Last Witch Hunter.

Blessed be.

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some ideas to do with children are:

-Corn Dollies

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

-Collect berries for jams or jellies

-Time to harvest the garden

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

-Time to redecorate the altar

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

-Collect rain or storm water

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

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

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

Blessed Be!

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