spirit

Finding Your Own Way

August, 2018

Chapter 5

Setting Boundaries

Not every adult believes in the existence of the spirit worlds, but almost every child does.

That we still have that child within us and are influenced by forgotten beliefs, has a major impact on the results of our meditation. If we wish to ensure that our journeys are positive and uplifting, it is best to set boundaries before we begin. The poems and art in this book will naturally tend to lead to the areas mentioned and always have a positive aspect. However, as we forge our own path to mental and emotional balance, it is best to have this ability completely under our own control.

Keep an open mind about the imagery and words used. This is not a book which favours any belief system. I have witnessed many different beliefs helping people who needed to make a change of perspective at that point in their lives. I am a pragmatist. I have only included those things which I know to be helpful. I leave it to others to argue as much as they wish about “absolute truth”.

The Auric Egg

This exercise has many applications apart from setting boundaries during meditation It will help the reader in stressful situations and in dealing with those who would try to overpower our emotions and sensitivities. Once mastered, I would advise using it in any situation in which we feel anxious or threatened.

I once had a student who believed he had to enter some type of bird’s egg and complained about the yoke being in his way, so I will try to describe the auric egg in as great a detail as possible.

Before you start the exercise, take a few moments to peer at a fine mesh colander or a flour sieve.

Try to picture the fine mesh in the shape of an egg with the wide part at the bottom. If you find it easier to do so, – just imagine it as a sphere around you.

It is best to start this meditation with the treeing exercise. (section 5)

Feel the light from the sun pouring in through the crown of your head.

As you picture the light from the sun filling your body, begin to push it out from your solar plexus.

As you breathe in, push the light out until it forms the shape of an egg around your body.

See the light turn to gold and form a shell around you made from fine golden filaments.

Tell yourself that this light will let nothing negative or dark enter your mind. Only positive thoughts and feelings are allowed through it. All else is filtered out.

Take your time. Spend as much time as you need to master this.

If you have trouble in visualizing, then think of yourself in a warm, safe bubble. Feel the warmth around you. Tell yourself that you are loved and protected.

If there are any smells or sounds that you associate with comfort and safety, then take the time to remember them.

Remember… there is no rush and no pressure. It may take a few attempts for some people to get this exercise flowing smoothly.

Was there a special place where you felt safe? Remember that.

Was there someone in your childhood who was a protector? Remember them. Say their name. Remember how you felt when they were around. Fictional characters will work too!

Even if you visualize well, adding these memories will make what you are doing easier and even more effective in setting a safe boundary for your meditations.

Then allow your mind to wander.

Now might be a good time to start keeping a record of your thoughts and feelings.

Paint the Sky with Summers Hues

Paint the sky with the deepest blue,

Paint your world with all the brightest colours and the lightest hues,

Golden corn and buttercups, a gleaming yellow sun,

Silver streams that sparkle, – cool and clean as when the world began.

Sweet green grass and roses of the deepest red,

Shady fern-filled forests with the softest, mossy pillows where you rest your weary head.

Why imagine gloom and doom,

when you can paint your future with your brightest hopes instead.

The ocean beckons us with promises of warm dry sand that trickles through our hands,

A bucket and a spade create a fairy castle or a soldier’s keep with turrets and a moat.

The simple joy of lying on the beach and listening to the waves,

and love hearts on the sand, that wash away as quickly as we write.

Long mild days to trek, to travel, to explore,

or lay and bask; – I dare to question, who could ask for more,

The heaviest of hearts can find that on a summer’s day it lifts.

The rich and poor alike can both enjoy the summer’s gifts.

Summer is a season and a place deep in your heart.

Summer lasts forever when our final winter thaws,

Even in this fleeting, fickle world of pain and flaws,

Summer is the journey of a heart that needs no laws.

Summer is that secret place of calm within the storm,

Summer is the goal of those who seek to live beyond the norm,

Even as the icy grip of winter howls, and swirls around our homes,

Summer is the warmth within our hearts and hope of better things to come.

Just take a few minutes to absorb the images from the text and the art.

 

This meditation will help boost optimism and courage. It will help us to see beyond present difficulties and start to manifest more positive and helpful responses to challenging situations. Nothing material lasts forever in this fleeting world, especially not hardship or misfortune. What does last are the valuable lessons that we learn, and the joy in our hearts from happy times. The wheel of life will turn. Winter thaws into spring and then the summer comes.

Now is the time to remember all the good in your life and all the times that you felt loved and protected. This will help to release the energy from your subconscious mind and free you to find the best solutions to any obstacles in your journey to a happier and more balanced life.

Take the time to compile a short list of your successes in the past and present. Remember books and films where the main character won through after many difficulties. Concentrate on the positive things in your life and only on actions you can perform immediately to help the situation. Then tell yourself that you have done all you can for the moment and relax until a solution comes to you from within.

This meditation is very helpful for increasing the effectiveness of the Auric Egg exercise.

***

About the Author:

Patrick W Kavanagh, Featuring the inspirational art of Bill Oliver

Writer, poet, Patrick W Kavanagh was born in Dublin and now lives and works in Lincolnshire in a small rural town. Patrick became fascinated by the strange abilities of the human mind from watching his mother give psychic readings using tea-leaves and playing cards. With a lifelong interest in metaphysics and parapsychology, he has given tarot and spirit readings for over 40 years. He travels to many events with his wife Tina, exploring the power of shamanic drumming to heal, and induce therapeutic trance states. They also hold a regular drumming circle in the picturesque Lincolnshire Wolds.

By Patrick W Kavanagh available at most retailers:

Finding Your Own Way: Personal Meditations for Mastery and Self-knowledge.

Gael Song

August, 2018

Lughnasa


Lughnasa is my very favorite spirit time of year. The solstice/equinox and cross-quarter days mark the cosmic openings of the eight basic aspects of spirit in all things, shifts that are quite powerful. If you are into feeling energy or spirit, these can easily be felt. The masculine openings occur at sunrise, the feminine at sunset on the eve of each holy day. Early in each year, at Imbolc, this spirit opening feels like a baby, a little Girl. Then comes the Boy of the Vernal Equinox, the Virgin Girl and Boy of Bealtaine and Midsummer, the mother and father of Lughnasa and the Autumnal Equinox, the Grandmother at Samhein, until finally, the Grandfather opens on Midwinter. And all these cosmic aspects of spirit are quite different, with very varied directives in life, plus they open the six-week phase of growth for that inner aspect of the self until the next solstice/equinox portal for everyone. All of us, men and women alike, the cosmos and the earth, too, have these eight parts of our spirits, for this sacred structure interfaces all things. We are not so different after all.

So, on the evening before Aug. 5th, the cosmic Mother spirit opens; within each person, across the globe, and in all the planes of existence. And it is a dramatic change from the world server, strong-willed, action oriented Virgin Male of the preceding six weeks. Everything suddenly slows down. There is a nurturing, comforting presence billowing through the wind and clouds. I often feel the impulse to lie down and rest on the earth’s body, a mother herself. This is Lughnasa. Divine Mother can be particularly felt in the first fruits of the harvest. For this holy day also marks the opening of the action ethers within, which means manifestation into the physical, the specialty of the harvest father, Lugh, for whom even this feminine festival is named. This cosmic mother loves to nourish all her children with foods that delight, manifesting the tastiest blueberries or corn or cucumbers from her soil. The fruits of all the inner work of the previous nine moons of walking one’s path begin to appear at this time as well (the Apple moon is the tenth of the druid year), not just the outer harvest of grains and fruits, for the cosmic Mother wants to manifest all our dreams as well! (Though I have the distinct feeling that foods and recipes that simply cannot be resisted might be her personal favorite.) In my meditations into past lives as a Celt in Scotland over 2,000 years ago, I recalled large tribal celebrations at Lughnasa in honor of the earth mother, with extravagant expressions of gratitude for all the natural resources the earth mother had provided over the passing year, each tribe trying to outdo the others. I saw all priestesses who were mothers circled inside the groves in my visions, too, priestesses in divination meditations, calling out anything they saw that might lay ahead for the tribes, blessings and challenges both. And there were always swans on the lochs, too, the mother totem.

But more than this, Lughnasa falls during the Apple Moon, moon of the Goddess, the White Tara, July 27th-Aug. 19th. And when I do my own Lughnasa ceremony at my altar, calling in my druid guides to facilitate the opening of the mother part of my spirit, I always feel the gentle Presence of the White Tara come in around me as well. “Let Me come very close”,” She says, “I miss you so much, child of My Heart!” And I can sense spirit arms around my shoulders or a gentle head laid, very lightly, on my own with that strong eternal Mother Love pouring into me. And I remember the same thing happening in those ancient lifetimes, too, a personal encounter with the Goddess around the time of Lughnasa in those great tribal crowds, a sweet message of mother love to each and every person there. For myself, I need a space of silence for this intimate interface, not the loud, talking on and on, ceremonies that many prefer. And it’s when I fall asleep later that evening when I often feel Her most closely, spirit fingertips brushing across my temples. Oh, She can become very insistent about learning distressing wisdom lesson of the mother aspect at times across the next six weeks, I’ll grant you that, but not on this one holy day. It brings mother comfort and sweet abiding love, stronger in ways than any other. And then on Aug. 8th, three days past Lughnasa, there is always another personal Goddess message, but this time not a visitation, no, a physical gift of some sort that signifies what else will soon be manifesting during the harvest season. Lughnasa, mother comfort, peace, sweet rest, delicious things to eat, and the hint of fulfillment soon to come. No wonder I love it more than all the rest!

***

About the Author:

Jill Rose Frew, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, energy healer, workshop leader, and author. She will be opening a school teaching light healing and the Celtic path of enlightenment in 2019. For information, please see www.CelticHeaven.com

She is author of Guardians of the Celtic Way: The Path to arthurian Fulfillment (her name was Jill Kelly then), and Alba RebornAlba Reborn, Book One, RevisedAlba Reborn, Book Two, and Alba Reborn, Book Three.

Guardians of the Celtic Way: The Path to hurian Fulfillment

Book Review: The Smudging and Blessing Book – Inspirational Rituals to Cleanse and Heal by Jane Alexander

July, 2018

Book Review

The Smudging and Blessing Book

Inspirational Rituals to Cleanse and Heal

by Jane Alexander

Jane Alexander has written a good introductory book for those interested in exploring the basics of working with Spirit on the physical plane. In this accessible little manual, she weaves the concepts of working with the energies of physical allies like planets, crystals and essential oils, meeting and working with spirit energies like the Guardians of the Directions, the elements and totem animals and cleansing and blessing your physical spaces, events and ceremonies.

Alexander starts with the basics: becoming aware of subtle energies in your body and in your physical environment. As she points out, smudging can clear away “spiritual garbage.” It is important to remember that it is not just the physical act of lighting the smudge, though, that creates the cleansing effect and invites in blessing. Intention and reverence are key aspects of all the ceremonies and rituals that she describes. When we light a flame to burn the smudge, we ask the spirit of Fire to transform and transmute that which does not serve us. By lighting the flame, we signal to Spirit that something important is happening here and we ask for assistance. There are many aspects to a “simple” smudging that we begin to sense the more we work with the rituals as Alexander describes them. Her book is a doorway in to this deeper sensing and partnership with plants, crystals and Spirit!

One of the true gifts of this book is the reminder of the many opportunities in our daily lives to work with Spirit to cleanse and bless. Focusing on our homes, Alexander invites us to bless our new homes and to speak to the spirit of your old home as you move into a new. She reminds us to cleanse sick rooms and spaces in which arguments have occurred. She describes one method for shielding your home and a ritual for consecrating your bedroom as a space for rest and retreat. I would add to her suggestions, remove the television or laptop!!

Alexander invites us to work energetically with family occasions: births, birthdays, deaths, divorce and even setting the subtle stage before a party! She reminds us to reclaim the turning points of the wheel of the year, as we release the lessons of the departing season and create intentions for the incoming seasonal energy. We can mark these turnings with our families, too, creating rituals that connect our children with their lineages and traditions! And most importantly, Alexander encourages us to remember our energetic connections to Spirit on a daily basis – on waking up and greeting the day, bathing, and at bedtime. We can invoke our energetic protections and boundaries when leaving the house, traveling and for most human activity.

Alexander provides suggestions for herbs, crystals and essential oils for specific cleansing and blessing uses. If you have ever wanted to learn to make your own smudge stick, she gives detailed instructions. This is a useful and practical book, especially for a child or teenager interested in starting to work with subtle energies in the physical realm.

The Smudging and Blessings Book: Inspirational Rituals to Cleanse and Heal

***

About the Author:

Susan Rossi is a Practitioner and Teacher of Shamanism. She is a long-time explorer of The Mysteries – the connections between mind, body, spirit and how to live in right relationship to all of the energies streaming through the cosmos. She works with clients as an astrologer, coach, ceremonialist and guide to the wisdom that each of us has the capacity to access. Her focus is on guiding clients to unblock and rediscover their inner wisdom. , exploration of the birth chart, ceremony, legacy writing, hypnotherapy, energetic healing practice and creation of sacred tools are integral pieces of her practice.

Susan trained in Soul Level Astrology with master astrologer Mark Borax. She delights in exploring with individuals the planetary pattern under which their soul choose to incarnate.

Flying to the Heart www.flyingtotheheart.com

Rune Activism for Fallen Trees

June, 2018

Rune Activism for Fallen Trees

In Germanic regions, it was believed that mankind was created from tree trunks, echoing the perception that people and trees have much in common.

In Sweden, some trees were considered ‘wardens’ and could guard a home from bad luck. The warden was usually a very old tree growing on the lot near the home. The family living there had such great respect for the tree that they would often adopt a surname related to the name of the tree.

A well-known sacred tree in Norse mythology was Yggdrasil, a giant ash tree that was said to link and shelter the nine worlds that were believed to exist.

https://blog.pachamama.org/people-and-trees-intimately-connected-through-the-ages

Earlier this year I wrote a blog titled Novena for Fallen Trees. This blog follows on from that article.

My (Swedish) surname is Almqvist: it means branch of an Elm tree.

My maiden name is Berendsen : it means son or child of a bear.

A few days ago I walked up the forest track right next to our house. I was looking for large smooth rocks that might volunteer themselves as spiritual boundary markers for our property (I am collecting 24 of them and painting the 24 runes of the Elder Futhark on them).

In horror movies there often is a scene where an unsuspecting person is walking in the forest and feeling completely relaxed, but ominous music starts playing (obviously not heard by this person!) – the viewer grips their seat and fears the worst…

As I saw one particularly suitable rock and started making my way to it I heard a roaring noise and saw a massive machine rolling out of the forest towards me. I took another leap aside but it veered too and continued to come directly at me.

I am all alone in the forest in a pretty remote place. What now?!

The machine stopped. A set of green metallic steps was lowered and a large man climbed out. We were face to face, the Logger and I. He offered me his hand and said: I am Sten – who are you? (The name Sten means Stone!) I stood there cradling one large rock like a baby and said: “I am Imelda, I am collecting large rocks”. He nodded as if a woman holding a big rock as if it is new born baby was a normal event in his life. He then proceeded to tell me that he had not seen a human being for four days. He had been working 14-hour days logging away, all on his own. He was desperate for some conversation and a human face.

This encounter reminded me of coming face to face with a pack of hunters in the same forest, in October last year. This was after waking up to a gunshot outside my window and then finding a dead young deer on the track in front of our house. I set with this deer for a while and spoke some prayers.

The forest that surrounds our house is owned by two large local country estates (essentially two aristocratic families). Everyone who owns forest land must file a plan with the forest authorities (a family friend who owns forest land has explained this to us). Sten is just doing his job. He works for the logging company that was hired to turn mature trees into logs. Those logs might then become buildings (or IKEA furniture).

There exist many myths throughout the world that say human beings are descended from trees, and these are particularly prevalent among Indo-European cultures. In Völuspá the first humans, Askr and Embla, are created from pieces of wood, and in Gylfaginning Askr and Embla are created from driftwood logs found on land by the sea. The three gods credited with their creation include Odin, and either his brothers Vili and Ve or companions Hœnir and Lóðurr (believed by some to be Loki or, by others, Frey). Each god endowed the first man and woman with different attributes.

http://www.thesoulofbones.com/blog/the-world-tree

I had briefly contemplated doing something heroic, like dramatically throwing myself in front of his death-machine. However, Sten doesn’t call the shots, he does not have the power to reverse any decisions. He is only doing his job….

Yesterday evening I decided it was time to check how far the destruction had reached. I brought a candle, red paint and a huge drum with 24 runes painted on it.

Things were even worse than I thought. My youngest son has a favourite hang-out in the forest that he calls Lynx Rock. – Lynx Rock is no more – it has been raised to the ground.

This week I had a dream where I was painting the rune Eoh (Eihwaz in the Anglo-Saxon system) on the tree stumps of fallen trees. Eoh represents the world tree and world pillar or axis mundi. So I used my red paint to do this. I turned one large tree stump into an altar where I had my candle burning while drummed loudly enough to raise the dead. I half expected the loggers (holed up in their caravan) to come running and investigate what was going on – but they stayed away.

I drummed. I chanted. I prayed. I asked the spirit of the world tree for regeneration and healing of this land. I apologised to all the animals, plants and creatures that had just lost their homes.

I took a moment to connect to tribal peoples all over the world who have lost their trees and way of life to loggers and deforestation.

As the world axis, the World Tree runs vertically through the centre of the cosmos and links the heavens, earth and underworld together. Holding the many worlds within its boughs, it is the connecting point between all realms. Its branches (or, in some cases of inverted world trees, the roots) stretch into the realm of the gods while its roots reach into the depths of the world of the dead. It also functions as an anchoring point – a sort of “world nail” or “spike” (Old Norse veraldar nagli) – around which the firmaments revolve. It is sometimes represented by the Pole Star, or North Star, since the skies do appear to revolve around this central, fixed point. As Åke Hultkrantz mentions in a discussion about world trees and pillars in shamanic cultures, the world tree and world pillar/nail were probably two distinct concepts initially which eventually merged together.

http://www.thesoulofbones.com/blog/the-world-tree

When all that was done, I made my way home down the forest track. The daylight was going. I was still extremely upset but I felt better for having performed my vigil and “rune activism”.

In Old Europe there were many ancestor cults involving trees. It was believed that after death the souls of the ancestors took up residence in trees. This is why many forests and groves were so sacred and there were severe penalties and punishments for messing with trees.

What if the Old Europeans were right? What if Heaven does not exist or Heaven turns out to be a forest in this world where our souls take up residence in trees after death so we can continue to watch over the living (and pray that they pay attention to our loving guidance)?! Do we give this ancient belief any thought before we decide to decimate forest land?!!

Today I will take my son to where Lynx Rock used to sit in a forest glade and where he would tune into Forest Magic and Lynx Medicine teachings. You can see him in action here and hear him explain what he is doing here:

I am not looking forward to seeing his face…

***

About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of Northern Tradition shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life: Using Shamanism Creatively with Young People of All Ages (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon 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 : A Hollow Bone for Spirit (Where Meets Shamanism) will be published in March 2019. She is currently working on her third book: Medicine of the Imagination.

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)

 

Multiple Souls

June, 2018

(Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash)

 

This document is intended as a commentary on, and companion to, Wendy’s Division of the Soul class. I have called my text ‘Multiple Souls,’ because I believe it is equally valid to say our identity is closely associated with inner spirits. Where we draw the boundary of identity depends on the circumstances. On spirit journeys we encounter deeper levels of ourselves, but we also have to deal with other entities in passing. Some of these are completely independent, others are partly integrated with the soul, partly independent of it.

Please bear in mind that this is lore, not information. It isn’t necessary to agree or disagree with all or part of it. Lore is like ore; you must dig it out for yourself, melt it down, refine it, and shape it into the tools you particularly need. This is, in fact, my lore, my ore. It fits my needs, but it goes without saying that it will not and cannot fit all of yours. If you can make use of it, do so; for the rest, take it as entertainment.

The rest of this text serves as commentary on Wendy’s document.

Many Hindu and Buddhist traditions teach that the everyday personality dissolves when Brahman or nirvana is realized. The Craft attitude to this, I believe, is that it doesn’t explain why we find ourselves in phenomenal existence, on this plane, at all. What is it for? When a witch has an experience of the deep self, with access to memories of past lives and a sudden understanding of this life and its limitations, this seems to be a living, growing entity, absorbing the lucid experiences it receives from life after life. This we call the root soul. Each life begins when the root soul sends a shoot up to Middle-earth. A baby is born. The extension of the root soul that comes awake at this moment is called the bud soul. The bud soul looks out on its outer world. But behind it, looking on silently from the inner trunk, is the dream soul. The dream soul can go down and up the trunk, down to the root soul, and in fact does so at death. It is usually quiet during waking, but helps us weave our dreams at night, providing access to inner spirits in the field of the sleeper’s imagination.

The dream soul is in communication with the root soul. It is called the dream soul (by Michael York) because its journeys up and down the inner pillar generally start from dreams, in particular lucid dreams, when we know we are asleep and dreaming. The bud soul (called by York the life soul) watches over the body during these journeys. But it can also travel from the waking state, from a peculiar state of awareness called lucid waking. At such times, the experience of Middle-earth continues but additional senses are added to it, so that other levels of the inner pillar shine through, as it were, our ordinary perceptions. Journeys down the inner pillar frequently contact old, forgotten memories and bring some of these to the surface of consciousness when the dream soul returns.

Like a tree, our inner trunk has tree-rings, containing memories, feelings and viewpoints from past experiences in this life. When we journey inwardly, we acquire the freedom to experience the world as we once did, at different ages. We also recover the freshness of early experience, along with early enthusiasms. In the course of his or her inner journeys, the witch begins to live life from all the experiences of this lifetime, and even, in time, from far memories of past lives. This anticipates the work of integration of this lifetime’s experiences into the root-soul which is largely accomplished in the period of rest and recuperation between lives.

The dream-soul is that portion of the root-soul that is projected into Middle-earth at the start of a new incarnation. It is not the whole root-soul, but is the part chosen to deal with the circumstances of the new life. It selects its new bud-soul from the elementals round about, and the latter serves as the elemental of the new body, much as a dryad is the elemental of a tree or stand of trees. It interacts with the bud-soul from time to time, especially when returning from a spirit journey, and the part of the bud-soul so affected will accompany it back down to the root-soul at death, leaving only the original body-elemental to stand by the grave. In pagan times offerings were made to this elemental, and it still retained some connection with the dream-soul, sending the etheric portions of the offerings down to the Summerland. As graveyard offerings have largely ceased, the connections between the two souls are not kept up, and in time the bud-soul forgets its incarnation as a human and goes into nature as a local genius. The Buryat Mongols say it takes about ten years for such an elemental (called by them the suld) to forget its once-human existence.

The bud-soul also serves to relate the dream-soul to the physical and social environment in Middle-earth. The bud-soul employs language and engages in audible as well as mental talking. The dream-soul communicates in images and feelings but is usually silent, looking out on Middle-earth through the eyes of the bud-soul.

The ancient Balts and other peoples assigned a special tree to each person throughout life. The tree had to be tended with care, for if it died, it was believed the person would die also.

Between lives the root-soul enjoys the company of its generic family, as well as a special family of souls, called in this tradition the witch-family, who have agreed to reincarnate together and help each other to evolve. Some of these souls are reborn at the same time, while others stay in the Summerland and help their witch brothers and sisters from the Other Side. When we encounter one of these witch brothers or sisters we feel especially close to them, perhaps closer than to many generic family members. Eventually the root-souls of a witch family have absorbed all the experiences and lessons necessary, and are ready for transmutation. As a group, the witch family travels to the Sun and there receives a body of light. This is described in both Tuscan witch tradition and in the Prasna Upanishad. This concludes the tutelary relationship with the Watchers and elementals. Thenceforth, the soul of the witch will be a special sort of elemental that is balanced in all four etheric substances, air, fire, water and earth, and their attendant powers. One can still visit Middle-earth on occasion, but it is no longer necessary to reincarnate. The bud-soul is carried within the body of light and can be used to generate a temporary material body for this purpose.

This is as far as I can see, or imagine, our future. We want to grow, develop to the point where we will be of use to the gods, or, probably, the daimones or demigods. Many ancient initiatory systems describe our ultimate destiny as becoming a daimon or demigod ourselves. I don’t think this is particularly important; for myself, I am more interested in what work I will be doing. Perhaps I will pay back the help I have gotten along the way by guiding a mortal after me, or by guarding his or her home. Or perhaps I am being trained, through various lives, to do some special work for the gods. This is where I stop speculating; I am content to wait and find out.

Finding Your Spot

October, 2017

Indoors or out of doors, the witch must find her spot. This is the place where she feels grounded and centered, and for her it is therefore the center, either of her dwelling or of the world. If you have an easy chair set up somewhere in your living room, this may be your spot, provided it is not placed against a wall. Mark your spot with a piece of tape or something similar if you must, though it is enough to note how you feel there and let that be your marker. Now, standing on your spot, use your magnetic compass 1 to face the four directions. Gaze into each direction rather than looking. This means to let your eyes face north, east, south, west in turn but do not track on any object in those directions; instead, see everything there is to see equally in each quarter.

The associations with the four cardinal directions, in many witchcraft traditions, are as follows:

North – Earth, the power to be still, silent, steadfast.

East – Air, the power to know, understand, express your knowledge.

South – Fire, the power to will, enthusiasm, sacrifice.

West – Water, the power to dare, seek new life, the unknown, initiation.

Each morning, stand on your spot and mentally salute each of the directions in turn, beginning in either the north or east, and finishing with the direction you started with. Ask for help during the day to embody the powers of north, east, south and west. You can pray “Help me to know, help me to will, help me to dare, help me to be still” as you face each direction, ending with “Help me to know” again as you face east; or you can begin “Help me to be still,” and so forth, ending with that same prayer, as you finish by facing north.

Take your magnetic compass with you and use it to face in the appropriate direction and ask for help from the elementals of a particular quarter when you feel the need.

As with all rites, observe a period of silence right afterward, open yourself to your feelings. The direction in which you began and ended this first rite is your new primal direction.

1 What? You don’t have one? Get one.

 

*Graphic from Pinterest.

Sacred Art

April, 2017

wind

 

 

APPRENTICE OF THE WIND

I made this painting in the year 2012 after being told by my helping spirits that I am an Apprentice of the Wind.

Crow is one of my power animals. When I undertake shamanic journeys (soul flight) I often fly with crows. For that reason I have painted a segment of this vision on my shamanic drum.

I find it very interesting that the Hebrew word ruach means wind but also breath and spirit.

As a teacher of Norse Shamanism and Seidr I have a particular affinity with the North Wind.

Being an Apprentice of the Wind is a journey, always bringing me new leads and new discoveries.

It was hard to say goodby to this painting when it sold. It lives in Vienna today.

 

wind2

 

Imelda Almqvist

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/

Imelda Almqvist teaches shamanism, sacred art and internationally. 

 

Imelda’s 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. 

Process & Spirit

January, 2017

There is an old Chinese proverb: “When the wrong man uses the right means, the right means work in the wrong way.” This saying reveals the missing element in spiritual disciplines that do not bear fruit. You may read all the manuals of shamanism and witchcraft, and so forth, that you like, and you may try practicing one particular discipline consistently, following the steps laid out for you in the manual, and yet achieve only weak, spotty results at best. These disciplines all seem to require a commitment greater than one is willing to make in order to be effective.

We are living in a mechanistic age, a time when all problems are approached as though they are engineering problems and can be solved by the correct application of skill and discipline. We think that by learning a certain technique, and applying it efficiently, we can surmount difficulties in any field, including the realm of spiritual effort.

I once knew a young man who was socially backward and asked me to describe the “right approach” to women, in order to “get some action.” I said that the right approach is to genuinely like them; they really appreciate being liked. He was nonplussed at this advice, recognizing immediately that no technique could make him like women if he instinctively distrusted them, which he did.

The same thing applies to the religious or spiritual realm, and this was recognized in the pre-mechanistic age when the “technique” followed was interaction with spirits. Spirits are persons, not processes. You can switch a computer on and work at it for as long as you like, then save your work, switch it off, and later when you come back it will be ready to resume, whether you had stayed away for an hour or a year. Persons are not like that. If you put in time with a mate and then stay away for a year, you will not find that person very willing to resume where you left off if you come back to him or her. The same is true of spirits.

Another difference already alluded to involves the emotions. Your computer doesn’t care if you like it or not, but a person will care. You must not only like someone, but must show it as well; even in friendship, a certain amount of devotion must be paid. To some extent this follows upon effort, that is, if you make a great personal sacrifice of time and energy for the sake of a person, that person will acquire a measure of importance in your eyes, and vice versa. However, it is never a matter of mere investment on your part. You must dedicate yourself past the point where you forget profit and loss.

In the same way, a religion cannot be a mere hobby, one activity among many. Witchcraft comes to mind in this connection. For many, witchcraft is a hobby, something that can be taken up or laid down at will without consequences. There are no spirits in hobbies; you may lick and paste all the stamps you like into an album, but the album will remain unaware of you, and thus you can relax and simply enjoy yourself.

If that is all witchcraft or some other mystery religion means to you, that is all right, but realize that you will remain in the outer court of the mysteries and never pass through the gates into the inner sanctum. The gates of mysteries are guarded by spirits, and spirits are persons, and if you are to pass within, you must initiate, and keep up, a personal relationship with those guardians. When your efforts begin to bear fruit, instead of thinking “it’s starting to work,” think instead “the spirit is responding to me.” This will follow in the unpredictable nature of results, which come in their own time and way, seemingly incommensurate with the amount of effort put out; and this is another reason for regarding them as the behavior of a spirit, rather than the automatic results of an impersonal technique.

In our tradition, which might be described as Celtic-eclectic (that is, focused on Celtic lore but open to borrowings from related traditions), three initiations are held, preceded by a dedication. When a student is ready, he or she may request a dedication ceremony, at which a promise is made to study the Craft and the coven tradition for a year and a day. This is a promise to the coven, not a vow; as yet, no spirits are involved.

At the end of the dedication period, the dedicated one may request actual initiation into the coven. This ceremony, which naturally must remain secret, includes a vow and personal “introductions” of the initiate to the Watchers, the “great ones” or gods of the four quarters. The Watchers each govern a kingdom of elementals, and one elemental from each kingdom passes into the appropriate elemental tool of the initiate. In our tradition, a sylph passes into the wand, a salamander into the athame, an undine into the chalice, and a gnome into the pentacle. An initiate should have all four tools on hand for an initiation, though sometimes this is deferred until a particular tool is acquired. But in any case, the first degree initiation marks the beginning of a personal relationship for the witch with each of the four spirits known as “Watchers”.

The Watcher of the East is the elemental spirit of Air, and governs knowledge. The Watcher of the South is the elemental spirit of Fire, and governs will. The Watcher of the West is the elemental spirit of Water, and governs daring (that is, devotion or dedication); and the Watcher of the North is the elemental spirit of Earth, and governs inner (and outer) silence.

One’s relationship with the Watchers and their respective spheres must be personal, and this applies also to the elemental tools, for these must not be thought of as tools in the mechanistic sense, but rather as fetishes, each housing a spirit. The association of the tool with the elemental quality should be reinforced by having the wand at hand while learning, the athame while exerting the will in disciplined action, the chalice while going beyond one’s limits in a super-effort, and the pentacle while going within in inner silence. Traditionally the witch will name his or her tools, as it seems; but actually the name is for the indwelling elemental.

The philosopher Nietzsche, in his book Thus Spake Zarathustra, describes the “last man” and contrasts him with the “overman” (by which he meant the self-overcoming man). The last man is the product of mechanization, he (or she is understood) who seeks to cut corners at all costs, he who never gives himself in commitment, he who is unable to despise himself. The world of the last man is one in which one hears “a fool, who still stumbles over stones or human beings!” For in the mechanistic, measured-out world, stones and human beings are alike regarded as mere obstacles to one’s goals.

By contrast, the overman has gone through an overwhelming experience Nietzsche calls “the hour of the great contempt.” “What matters my learning?” asks the overman of himself. “I do not see that I desire knowledge as the lion desires food!” And similarly for the other virtues, the overman sees and rejects his own half-heartedness and disinclination to give himself to his values. This is the atmosphere of the witch dealing with his or her elementals and the Watchers. They are persons, not means to ends.

For pagans in general, the same can be said of one’s relation to one’s patrono or matrona, the personal god or goddess with whom one has a special relationship. Every deity has something to teach, a discipline to impart, and the devotee learns and follows the teaching, the discipline of his or her sponsoring deity. In our witchcraft tradition, the witch will put special effort into his or her relationship with one of the great ones, whether a Watcher of the four quarters, or one of the deities of the height, the center or the deep. In paganism generally, the patrono or matrona can be chosen from any deity in the pantheon of one’s chosen tradition.

Whomever one chooses, the important point is to dedicate oneself, not exclusively to the one spirit, but with the intensity and focus one would have towards a lover or intimate friend. A too exclusive dedication, as in monotheism, leads to spiritual imbalance; nevertheless, one should feel that one’s patrono or matrona is an important person in one’s life, and make continual (though not continuous) efforts in that deity’s discipline.

The benefits accruing from such a relationship will reinforce the efforts of the devotee, but must never eclipse the personal importance of the spirit involved. If this happens, one has fallen back on process and will make only mechanical, half-hearted (at best) efforts; and then the relationship with the spirit will wither and die. The wrong man will have used the right means, and the right means will have worked in the wrong way.

Spiralled Edges

April, 2016

Spiralled Edges – Disconnection

A persistent sinus congestion that has rather overstayed its welcome moved into my middle ears last week. I’m not deaf, I can still hear, but everything is somewhat muted.

It has left me feeling cut off from most of the world around me though, or at least from the sounds in the world. This in turn has caused me to have trouble focusing, and has made following conversations near impossible.

spiralled

 

I tell you this, not to garner sympathy, but because it reminds me of a discussion that I had this week about ways of re-establishing our connection to Spirit when we feel disconnected. For those who follow any deeply spiritual practice, whatever their belief, experiencing this feeling of disconnection can be scary. We can hear a faint buzzing, maybe a few words here and there, but just cannot seem to fit them together well enough to make a full conversation. Sometimes, it just seems to be too much hard work to try to listen.

Those who have either not felt this disconnection, or who are busy projecting an outward mask of spiritual perfection (and so deny ever feeling this disconnection), are quick to place blame back on others. “You just need to have more faith.” “Have you tried doing a better spiritual practice?” “Maybe you’re doing it wrong.” Worse, when we feel this disconnection, we tell ourselves these things! Some people call this the “Dark Night of the Soul”, for good reason.

I do not know of any person, of any faith, who has not at some time or another experienced this feeling of disconnection. Spiritual and religious leaders are not miraculously immune either. Actually, they are even more likely to experience this sense of disconnection at some time.

Expectations of spiritual perfection that we place on ourselves, or have placed upon us by others, make it more difficult to admit to ourselves that we sometimes have doubts, that we sometimes don’t feel connected to Spirit. Sometimes, we feel like our Gods have forsaken us, that they have left us, or maybe, we drove Them away.

Sometimes, this disconnect comes about because we have gotten ourselves in a rut. We are doing the same old ritual, the same old way, using the same old words. They have become meaningless. Words we say but do not hear. Actions we do but do not notice. Rituals we perform but do not feel.

If everyone goes through this, then how do we fix it? How do we re-establish that connection?

We can find it by remembering that the connection was not lost in the first place.

This is our call to let go of the need to control the outcome and force a feeling of connection. We need to spend time looking inwards, connecting with the Spirit that is within us. We need to trust, and to have faith, that the connection is still there. Even if we do not feel it in the same ways that we felt it before.

Sounds of people speaking, of music, and of the world seem muted because my middle ears are congested. The sounds have not ceased to exist. They are still all around me. Once the congestion clears, I will be able to hear clearly once again.

Image in public domain: Hildegard of Bingen, Liber Divinorum Operum

Finding the Pagan Way

June, 2015

Many people start their exploration of the various neopagan beliefs by looking online or reading books. This may well open up our minds to new ideas and outlooks, but I would advise visiting some Mind, Body and Spirit events to get to know people in the various pagan movements

One of the things I have come to love most about the Pagan movement, is the sense of community

that exists, despite a huge divergence in beliefs and cultures. In the last five years I have met and befriended many amazing and wonderful people. Tina and I have been to many events. Sometimes as participants and sometimes as visitors. The atmosphere is usually amazing, and we have had free readings and advice from so many people in so many different places, that it is impossible to claim that these people are money orientated in any real sense. Some of the larger events may seem more commercial because of the financial pressure of high fees for the use of the larger venues,, and the resultant higher stall fees. I would recommend finding local events at smaller venues to really get a taste of the variety and integrity of those who follow the various pagan paths. I have mentioned Cabourne Parva in the past. I have been to many of the larger events there, but the lovely Kirke family, who run the events, often donate the use of their facilities to smaller groups who could not afford to pay a commercial fee for the use of the venue. Because there are no pagan churches as such, these many events are an important way for pagans to share their knowledge and and get together to celebrate nature.

I have a story to tell about one such event, which starts about three years ago. It was my second time to attend the Lin Dhu Festival at Cabourne Parva. The opening ceremony was conducted by a local druid, and a lovely gentleman, called Kevin Guy,- who was aided by a local pagan group called Abus Coritani. Tina and I were there as stall holders, and we did tarot and Spirit readings. Mainly, we chilled out and enjoyed the marvellous atmosphere.

There was live music all weekend, and I even got to do a couple of songs on stage myself,-due to a cancellation. Tina performed her first ever public demonstration and astounded me by manifesting her guide, Nicholas Black Elk. Just to show the diversity amongst pagans, Tina also lead an Angel meditation. One lady, kept the many children entertained making wands and it was a delight to see them running around in a safe friendly environment, despite an attendance of around five hundred people. It was there that I was introduced to the idea of being a member of the “Unsupportable Supposition”, by a friend, Ian. I have found it to be a very useful term for dealing with people who need labels. Some of us congregated around the fire-pit and drummed all night and I met many people who were to become friends.

It was there that I met a lovely lady, now sadly passed over, by the name of Anna Salter. She had a stall nearby and was doing “mini-readings” for charity. At the time, I was writing a book about the Faeries, and she told me of her plans for an event which was to be called “Spirit of the Marsh”.

She was looking for story-tellers, and I found myself agreeing to do a story-telling session, although I did not actually have anything suitable at that time. She assured me that I would do fine! And I walked away, bemused at my agreement, but determined to write some short tales to use by the following year. The winter passed and I had all but forgotten my promise, though I had written some short stories.

I learned the sad news that Anna had passed, but two lovely ladies, Julie Sheppard and Sarah Goodley, had decided to continue with Spirit of the Marsh in her memory.

They contacted me, and I readily agreed to keep faith with my commitment. It was a bitter-sweet weekend. There was a beautiful ritual by a Wiccan priestess and priest and Anna’s ashes were scattered. The weather was lovely. Although the event was not well attended,- it was nevertheless a perfect weekend in many ways. Financial success is seldom at the top of the list of requirements for events like this, although often the proceeds are earmarked for various charities, and failure to meet costs would, in time, have a serious impact on the whole pagan movement.

I have to move forward in time to this years event of the Spirit of the Marsh,- renamed as the Beltane Camp and Gathering. The event was well organised and advertised in advance and we all looked forward to a great weekend. Tina and I went as Spirit of the Drum. We gave drumming workshops and shamanic healing with the drum. I again did a story-telling session, although not originally booked to do one. As we drove our van into the field I was surprised to see a huge circus tent in the centre of the camping area. Tina recognised it immediately as one of the huge tents used at Cabourne Parva. I wondered why it was there, as there were three hospitality tents set up in the entertainments area near the stalls. Also there was another tent in the area near the entrance for workshops. We set up in a really sheltered area and went off to enjoy the opening ritual by Pan’s Grove and the rest of the evening. Despite the unsettled weather, we enjoyed the weekend, but, almost total, disaster struck in the early hours of Sunday morning. A bad storm struck and ripped the entertainment tents from their moorings. Tina and I slept through the commotion, because we were asleep in our van at the far side of the camping field. One of the hospitality tents was totally destroyed and the furnishings and electrical equipment were exposed to the torrential rain as a handful of volunteers rushed to move everything into the circus tent.

Tina and I awoke to find that everything had been moved to the circus tent donated by the lovely people from Cabourne Parva. People had set up, as best as was possible, to continue with the days advertised events. One lovely lady had set up two camping stoves and was handing out mugs of tea and coffee. The atmosphere was warm and friendly as everyone adapted to the circumstances and did their best to support Sarah and Julie in keeping the event on track. The bar, which was an inflatable, building was moved into the large circus tent, and the day began with a display of morris dancing inside the huge tent. The day went well, with many events going to plan despite the lack of electricity and sound equipment. That evening, all of the musical performers carried on with great professionalism, using acoustic equipment and candle light. I spoke to Gary, the stage manager , who confirmed that the tent had been donated by Jayne and Peter Kirke. He told me that Jayne had insisted on them having the tent, “just in case”. He had been slightly reluctant to accept, due to the size of the tent and the skilled manpower needed to erect it, but Jayne had insisted.

Along with a group of entertainers called the Misfits, Jayne, Peter and their sons had delivered and erected the tent at their own expense.

This generosity has a much deeper significance than one might first realise. It was based on a premonition by Jayne that the weather would be much worse than expected, and that the tent would be very much needed.

To put this into perspective,- It needed about ten skilled people to erect the tent safely. It had to be delivered and erected,- then dismantled and collected. That is a lot of confidence in one ladies intuition. The size of the gift is truly admirable, but on a smaller scale I have seen hundreds of examples of similar behaviour over the past five years. I have witnessed many situations where another’s needs and well-being were seen as much more important than either profit or convenience.

In this new community in which I have found myself, which I call “Pagan” but which is really comprised of a much wider circle of beliefs and spirituality, I have found a group of people who are truly seeking to make the world a better place, in whatever small way that they can.

campsite

 

 

The Spirit of the Marsh

The Spirit of the Marsh was gentle,
like the soft white, wispy clouds that scudded by on clear blue skies.
The spirit of the Marsh was warm and welcome
as the smiling sun, that greeted us each morning as we rose with bleary eyes.

The Spirit of the marsh,- A timeless weekend spent adrift,
For many of us,- such a perfect and a timely gift.
A gentle spirit touched our hearts and minds,
As we all shared the dream she left behind.

The Spirit of the Marsh lives on,
As we remember those who loved us and have gone ahead.
A weekend spent away from worldly cares,
A time to drift away and dream beneath the stars.

For Anna Salter

Patrick W Kavanagh.
04/05/2014

« Prev - Next »