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imelda almqvist

ÁLFABLÓT (The Sacrifice to the Elves)

November, 2018

Brief description

International teacher of sacred art and Northern European Tradition shamanism Imelda Almqvist describes the small Álfablót (Sacrifice to the Elves) Ceremony she performed on her land in Sweden on October 31st in 2018. This is the indigenous Scandinavian version of (or closest thing to) Samhain/Halloween.

 

ÁLFABLÓT (THE SACRIFICE TO THE ELVES)

One day even our children (and their children) will be ancestors…

Today Halloween is celebrated in many English-speaking countries. It originated with the Celtic festival of Samhain.

I was in a large supermarket, here in Sweden, yesterday and the first thing I saw upon entering the shop, was an abundance of shelves stacked with Halloween decorations and sweets. That is a relatively new development!  Halloween is not indigenous to Sweden and the phenomenon only arrived in the 1990s. For good for bad, we live in a global village…

In the car on the way home there was a story on Swedish radio titled “Bus eller frukt” (meaning “trick-or-fruit”) Apparently some children had gone trick-or-treating over the weekend (a bit early by British standards!) and received mandarins for their efforts – they were not at all pleased and they had responded with trickery!

As a mother of three I understand that children yearn for scary costumes and collecting candy but, actually, Scandinavia has a perfect valid tradition of its own, for this period. It is shame that this has (largely) dropped into collective oblivion – though Heathen people have always kept the tradition alive and many Pagan people have rediscovered it today).

My students of Norse Shamanism often ask: “Did the Old Norse people have a festival or ritual comparable to the Day of the Dead, at this time of year?” The answer is yes, the Álfablót, The name literally means “The Sacrifice (or offerings) to the Elves”. This requires a bit of explanation.

The Elves (or Alfar) in the Northern European Tradition are not “fairies” but the souls of male dead ancestors who live on as nature spirits. They often live in burial mounds, though we also find them under big rocks, in caves or in the mountains. We can still communicate with them and making offerings is a respectful way of doing so.

By making offerings we acknowledge that they too once walked the land and that they have now become part of the spiritual Weave of the land. They do not (necessarily or automatically) fit a term often heard in core shamanism: “helping spirits”, though they can choose to be helpful. By honouring them we ensure that they are “on our side” and that we have their cooperation and protection during the harsh winter months (remember that Scandinavian winters are harsh and severe).

In the Old Norse way of thinking every gift (gåva) required a return gift (gengåva). There is nothing cynical about this, it follows the spiritual law of keeping all exchanges balanced. (Today we often speak of the principle of fair energy exchange).

In the past on farms animals would have been sacrificed and their blood poured out as a sacred offering (the word blót is the old Old Norse word for blood) but today many practitioners feel that alternative offerings are acceptable (seasonal foods, drink, the favourite food or drink of ancestors we used to know in real life, or other – as guided by the gods and spirits).

Let me also explain that the Alfar are the male ancestors. The female ancestors (Disir) have their own special day in the Yule period (Modranatt or Ancestral Mothers’ Night) as well as a Disablott (Offering ritual to the female ancestors) in the Spring.

The fertility god Freyr (twin brother of the goddess Freyja) is known as the Lord of the Elves and his otherworld domain is called Alfheimr (the Realm of the Elves)

When we bought our house in Sweden I promised the landvaettir (spirits of the land) and the “tomte of our tomt ” (the spirit of our property, not to be confused with Father Christmas – who also goes by the name of Tomte in Sweden!) that I would observe the ancient festivals and traditions as faithfully as my own understanding allows.

Over the summer I was guided to build a small cairn on our property. I carved a Bone Woman from antler bone and dedicated the cairn to her. (This was inspired by the Icelandic phenomenon of the Beinakerling

https://guidetoiceland.is/connect-with-locals/regina/laufskalavarda-add-a-stone-for-good-luck-before-entering-the-skeidararsandur-glacial-outwash

Today I waited for nightfall (which came at 4 p.m.) and made a small pilgrimage to this cairn. I brought my Rune Drum, a candle and offerings of ale and meat (the traditional offerings for an Alfablót).

I drummed and called in the Deep Ancestors (whose names we do not remember), the Ancestors of Place, the Landvaettir, the animals ancestors of all local animal species and the ancestors that live on in local memory and stories.

As a teacher (and lifelong student) of Norse Cosmology I also called in the great skalds and the writers of the Eddic poetry (including Snorri Sturlason, who gave us the Prose Edda!)

I drummed and chanted. I poured ale over the cairn and offered the food.

Odinn’s name literally means “The Spirit” (Odr + the definite article “inn”) and he is associated with the wind, sacred breath and The Wild Hunt.

The most powerful thing about my small blót was that every time I called in a round of ancestors – the wind responded by making a howling noise and curling around me.

I felt that my Álfablót was well-received!

Imelda Almqvist, Kärrshagen, Sweden 31 October 2018

***

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 and her second book Sacred art: A Hollow Bone for Spirit (Where art Meets Shamanism) will be published in March 2019.  She was a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit in both 2016 and 2017 and is a presenter on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. She is currently in the editing stages of her third book “Medicine of the Imagination” and has started her fourth book “Evolving Gods: The Sacred Marriage of Tradition and Innovation”

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist (YouTube Channel with art videos and Rune Drum videos)

Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life: Using Shamanism Creatively with Young People of All Ages on Amazon

 

 

Book Review: Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life by Imelda Almqvist

April, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Amazon Information Click Image

***

About the Author:

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

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

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

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

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

For Amazon Information Click Image

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Imelda Almqvist About Painting

September, 2017

Imelda Almqvist About Painting

People often ask me about painting. I teach courses in making art internationally and do a fair amount of public speaking, as well, so I am often asked questions about my own process and my relationship to my own paintings.

Over the years, as paintings have gone off to exhibitions and galleries and I have hosted many Open Studio Days, I have written my artist’s statement on many occasions, as artists are supposed to do. I observe constant shifts in my own consciousness bringing fresh insights. I doubt this journey will ever end! (it will probably continue beyond my departure from the earthly realm!) This means that I am always engaged in re-writing and trying to find even better words for processes that happen in the place beyond words! Today those earlier artists statements are interesting artifacts because they track and map my personal creative journey over a period of three decades.

(Sadness, monoprint 1997)

The Encounter with White Canvas

For me every painting starts with an encounter with a blank canvas or white sheet of paper.. There is a seed concept: an idea, a colour, a shape, a piece of music, a sudden insight, often a possible marriage of two unlikely things.

Once I start the process of painting I am in dialogue with the spirit of the painting I am working on. That which seeks coming into form and embodiment through art actually guides the process. 

In shamanism we call this hollowing out or being a hollow bone for Spirit, for luminous beings from other realms. Beings more evolved than myself come forward offer a higher perspective on events on Earth and a glimpses of other worlds behind the Veil.

( UNDERTAKING Oil Painting 1994)

About Selling Paintings

Do I sell paintings? Yes. Will I sell any painting to absolutely anyone who expresses interest in it? No!

In our culture we often rate artists (and authors!) by their sales The selling of work means that other people put value on what we do. To be “successful” we need to regularly sell paintings or sell many copies of a book. My younger self, fresh out of art school, “bought into this”. Art School instils a very particular idea of what it means to be a professional (and commercially successful) artist!

Over the years my own helping spirits have taught me many powerful lessons and my perception has shifted completely.

Once someone got in touch about buying a painting. The spirits said  no, it is a piece of your soul they are trying to buy, don’t do it!  

Another time I promised someone a painting of a very powerful goddess. This painting went missing for two years and only reappeared recently. She was not willing to go and she was angry that I had not consulted her before making the promise. Rightly so! Lesson learned!! OUCH!

However, most of the time when people get in touch about buying a painting, the spirit of the painting is thrilled and very excited. Everything flows very smoothly and all arrangements fall into place easily. Then I say my goodbyes and the painting starts a new life in a new home. 

(While I was at art school the teachers warned us against people “choosing a painting to go with the colours of their sofa”. In truth I have not seen too much of this over 30 years of selling art!)

(DADDY IS A BALLOON  1997 Oil.

Painting title inspired by a paper on Art Therapy)

Paintings as Trusted Allies and Teachers

In November 2016 I gave a presentation at “Threshold“, the annual conference of The Gatekeeper Trust. There was a beautiful audience of about 100 people. I had a made a power point presentation in which many of my own paintings (inspired by spiritual work done all over the world) appeared.

After that talk (and the reactions I received from many people) I could put into words something I have always known, on some level: the spirits embodied by my own paintings are my trusted allies and teachers. They go wherever I go. They will often go on missions too, performing healing work for a person, family or location or appearing in someone’s dream to provide important guidance on a big decision or career move.

In that moment I realised that for me painting is about a life led by and dedicated to Spirit. It is about an intimate relationship with powerful beings that come forward  to help those on Earth – but they can only do so if we invite them and welcome their help.

It was not just me giving a presentation: it was me and my whole team, all of us doing this! It was not nervous, only overjoyed. You can watch this presentation on Youtube:

“Gods of Portals, Life Transitions and Liminal Spaces”

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzxmXAJiPLc[/embedyt]

I feel I need to write this article (as adapted from the About Painting page on my website) as it might be a powerful message for other artists: moving beyond this paradigm of measuring success by sales and paintings sold! It has given me an immense sense of peace and soul purpose, working this way. And this is the way of working I teach my own sacred art students on different continents!

(GUARDIAN ANGEL   1997  Oil painting)

FAQ – A few more answers to questions I am asked very often

 

What materials do you use?

Before I had children I loved using oil paint on canvas (though, also, made mono prints and mixed media artwork on paper). However, oil paint is quite toxic because metallic resins are used to create the different hues (Cadmium Orange and Yellow, Zinc White etc.) and so is turpentine. For that reason I switched to acrylic paints months before even trying to for a baby as I did not want my unborn children to be exposed to these resins and fumes.

In recent years I have developed a particular fondness for making short art films because this allows me to blend paintings, digital photographs, myths poems and stories as well as music and moving images all at the same time to arrive at one seamless creation. 

ART VIDEO: SEVEN DESERT MAIDENS

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlPVEVdw5d0[/embedyt]

This process has also brought a revival of working in black and white to create print-like stark images. I am greatly enjoying the multi-media experience that new technology makes possible!

Do you undertake a shamanic journey before you make a painting?

No, the process of painting IS the journey! Only better because I get to stay “in the zone” for a whole working day! (Say 8 hours rather than 30 minutes!) A journey can easily be the starting point of a painting. For instance in 2014 I did one journey where I was told that I “am an Apprentice of the Waning Moon” and that led to a painting by that title. 

(Apprentice of the Waning Moon)

How do you work with dreams?

For me keeping a dream journal is a daily practice. My husband risks his life if he talks to me in the mornings before I have written up my dream notes! I do oneiric work (shamanic dreamwork) with all my students as well.  Many of my paintings were inspired by dreams.

(The Mother of Dreams 2013)

I hope that this article will inspire you to get out some art materials!

Imelda Almqvist, 23 August 2017, London UK

***

About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books on 26th August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally. 

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

FORNSED IN SWEDEN

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

2 YEAR PRACTITIONER OF NORSE SHAMANISM PROGRAM

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

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

YEAR OF CEREMONY

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

FREE “HARNESS YOUR CREATIVE POWER SUMMIT” WITH GUNHILD LORENZEN

http://www.gunhildlorenzen.com/imelda-almqvist-speaking-at-harness-your-creative-power-online-summit

 

 

There Are No Creative Blocks

September, 2017

 

THERE ARE NO CREATIVE BLOCKS

I am a shamanic teacher, painter and author. In this article I am going to explain why, viewed from a shamanic perspective, there is no such thing as a creative block.

This may sound a bit controversial or flippant as creative blocks can feel very real to people who are on deadline for a book, article, film or other creation. For that reason I will start by acknowledging just how soul destroying such times are, when the flow appears to dry up. If you are self-employed this may also mean that your income dries up. In its most severe form it can bring on depression. (I am not a complete monster and I spent years doing shamanic healing sessions with a focus on helping people access their creativity. Before you start sending me hate mail: I DO UNDERSTAND!!)

The thing is that many people love being creative without ever reflecting on where this “flow” originates. Before I undertook intensive training in shamanism I had a vague idea that I had a very lively imagination (I was painting and writing already in childhood) and that the creative flow originated in some mysterious part of my own brain/mind/psyche/imagination.

I have experienced plenty of struggles in my life – due to my “hyperactive imagination” I have a hard time simply falling asleep at night – everything has its downside!! However, one thing I have never experienced is creative block. Full stop. I may have times where painting is not going well but then I switch to writing, poetry, film making or making music.

When shamanism found me and called me, the first few introduction courses made me feel like someone had held a shotgun to my head and blown off the back of my head. Suddenly my imagination was the whole cosmos, stretched across all worlds, including other worlds, the spirit world. The only word for this is revelation! I discovered that the beings I had given form and colour on canvas were not just imaginary, they were spirit allies, otherworld inhabitants, divine beings, who had come forward to work with me and others.

I discovered that inspiration flows through us but does not necessarily originate with us. The key principle in shamanism is hollowing out, becoming a hollow bone for spirit. Once we do so, we are in flow (if perhaps not the exact flow we were planning without conscious mind, but FLOW!) For me that flow is creativity.

At that point my relationship to my own paintings changed completely. In the “regular art world” artists often judge their worldly success by the number of painting sales. Now I do sell paintings – there is a steady flow of them leaving my studio – but the moment you realise that your paintings are powerful beings given a home/body/physical presence on canvas – you can’t just sell them to anyone who asks. Some tough experiences and wild rides have taught me consult the spirit of the painting about where it wants to live – not just sell it to the first person who expresses interest. This has also meant I am sometimes giving paintings away following a dream or message from spirit that instructs me in no uncertain terms that a specific painting was to help a person in their lives.

Decades of daily encounters with creativity have taught me that the creative flow ultimately originates elsewhere – it ultimately connects to the very Heart of Creation itself. It certainly passes through our imagination and the filter of our own experiences/memories/talents but it is a trans-personal force. The creative force is closely related to Life Force and Spirit. – This also means we need to re-think any egoic attachments to what we create, arrive at a more humble attitude. These days I use phrases like “received from spirit” more often and more comfortably than I CREATE….

When blocks in creativity occur a number of things might be going on:

– We may be too focussed on the “ownership of the creative flow” and it not flowing the way our conscious mind wants. The moment we step back and open ourselves to whatever desires to take form – the block dissolves pretty quickly.

– We do not distinguish between internal and external creativity. Meaning that people easily see the outward expression of creativity: paintings, architecture, book, music, films etc. But there is also internal creativity: some people have an amazing talent for problem-solving, for giving creative legal advice, for turning a very dense and complex text into a lucid summary others can actually absorb Surgeons may display great creativity in the way their operate and sew up wounds (minimizing discomfort recovery time for the patient – and so forth! Rather than saying “I am not creative” ask yourself : “What is my unique area of creativity?!” It could be giving other people relationship advice, it could be having conversation with young children that they will remember long after you yourself die….

– Everything that exists in the human and earthly realm has a beginning, middle and end. We cannot escape death and endings. They give events meaning. We do not have “forever” to do things or get them right – we have only the NOW. Often people get into creative blocks (or even depressive states) when they are not willing to surrender to symbolic death and dark nights of the soul. Sometimes it is Autumn, not Spring, even in our personal or internal lives. Sometimes we need Cave Time and Darkness, not light. Sometimes we need to be calmed so something can gestate. The moment we can surrender to this process it takes on a movement of its own and one day people will move “out of the tunnel”. Fighting and resisting the process can stall it – meaning remaining stuck in the tunnel for prolonged amount of time.

I could go on and on – and then this would turn into a book! (Maybe one day I will write that book – but I am busy writing a book about Sacred Art just now). If you would like to know more and also hear other people (shamans, artists, entrepreneurs and experts in different fields) speaking about harnessing creative power, I invite you all to register for the following

FREE Summit

HARNESS YOUR CREATIVE POWER

with Gunhild Lorenzen

Learn To Cultivate Your Creative Genius, Deepen Your Courage, Find Your Confidence and Blissful Passion!

http://www.gunhildlorenzen.com/harness-your-creative-power-free-online-summit/

I also invite you to check out the following

FREE class

THE HEART OF THE CREATIVE PROCESS

https://www.learnitlive.com/class/9334/The-Heart-of-the-Creative-Process

See you there!

Imelda Almqvist, 23 August 2017, London UK

***

About the author:

Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books on 26th August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally. 

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

FORNSED IN SWEDEN

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

2 YEAR PRACTITIONER OF NORSE SHAMANISM PROGRAM

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

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

YEAR OF CEREMONY

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