“The person we choose to be … automatically creates a dark double
— the person we choose not to be.”
– Thomas Moore in The Care of the Soul
I was the presenter for the Super Blue Blood Moon on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True recently. One of my missions for years has been creating opportunities for the voices and visions of young people to be heard by the world. On the Big Night I was joined by a “surprise co-presenter”: my 13-year old son Brendan, who took the global audience on a journey to a very special place on the The Dark Side of the Moon!
Right now the theme of young people speaking up for themselves and for the world they are going to be Earth Keepers for – long after we older ones leave the planet – is looming very large. I am proud of young people all over the world speaking out against all that is imbalanced or hurting in our world. May we all listen to the wisdom of young voices and bright visions!!
For me personally this winter has truly been a period of sacred Darkness. What I mean by this is that I faced a potentially serious health issue and some dark nights of the soul – in an entirely good way. For me it proved that “the illness IS the soul medicine”, as some authors claim, because the pickings (learnings) have been rich beyond measure.
When the spirits call us, we embark on a spiritual quest. The one thing that is for sure about the journey that unfolds is that there are no end destinations – just the journey. The spirits will always ask us to take the next step (usually “the thing that frightens us most” or “the thing that forces us to leave the comfort zone”). Some people call this finding our True North. For me my True North is literally found in the North.
TRUE NORTH is the North according to the Earth’s axis
as opposed to the Magnetic North (when you use a compass)
My own recent journey has been about owning and recalling many parts of myself that had been pushed away. To find the essence of those things I had to walk “the shadow lands”. I had to own the fact that I cannot discount (for instance) my Roman Catholic upbringing – the saints literally “came marching in”! I had to acknowledge how years of training in core shamanism have only awakened an urge to follow my true (and first) calling: Norse shamanism and the Norse gods. For that reason the focus of my courses is changing: I will continue to teach courses in sacred art and specialist courses (such as shamanic work with children – the Natural Born Shamans material described in my first book – and advanced ancestral healing work), but my main focus will shift to offering courses in Norse shamanism. Courses that reflect the indigenous ancestral path of Northern Europe.
I had the incredible privilege of doing powerful work with two groups in Philadelphia recently. One group came together to study the Anatomy of Soul through the lens of ancient Norse cosmology. They were a dream group and it was a thought-provoking day! I was obviously asked questions about how Norse shamanism is different from core shamanism. Answering those questions it dawned on me that core shamanism presents simplified models for certain things. (One obvious example is the claim that “there is no underworld, only a lower world”. Many of us will know that this is not true: when we move through dark nights of the soul, initiations and periods of dismemberment we make the pilgrimage to the underworld (and the underbelly of our own consciousness). We spend time there – just as the Sumerian goddess Inanna made her Descent to The Great Below!)
In Philadelphia I took my sacred art students through an enactment of this ancient Sumerian myth. You could say that we all participated in a mystery play. It was challenging but it was also eye-opening and life-changing. My own life changes every time I do this work with a committed group!! (And the same thing is true for ancestral healing work, which I taught in London last week, with another dream group: my current Circle of shamanic practitioners).
Another issue that came up in our “Soul” group was the question of black magic and all things dark. Some people translate the word “seidr” as “sorcery”. I do not agree with that translation as I feel the original meaning relates to both the old customs (sed in contemporary Swedish) and spinning the lines of Destiny (here think of the figure of the V?lva or Völva and the Norns).
I look around me today and it is very clear to me that for all of us to truly and effectively counter the shadows being enacted on the world stage – we can no longer study spiritual material without studying its darker applications and manifestations. Not to practice it, NO!! – But to understand its workings and deepest recesses – in order top formulate an adequate response to it.
If we do not personally and collectively embrace the need to do this much-needed shadow work, it seems possible that our shadow taking physical manifestations (in corrupt politicians, greedy corporations, terrorists and so forth) will decide the future of The Human Family on Earth. That cannot be right – let’s wake up, step into our power and dream (co-create) a different outcome together!!
I said to my shamanic practitioner students in London last week: I am not really a “Love and Light teacher”, I teach from a place of profound willingness to find the treasure in darkness: the dark time of the year, my personal darkness, our collective darkness. That is where the treasure is hidden.
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light,
but by making the darkness conscious.”
– C. G. Jung
In Norse shamanism the forces of Chaos are often linked to the Giants. The god Thor is always busy in the East fighting the Giants and keeping them at bay. Yet the ancient texts also inform us that the giants walked the Earth long before human beings did. That makes them our ancestors, especially the primordial giant Ymir from whose body our world was created!
For more information I invite you to watch my brand new art video,
Ymir and Orion, First Ancestor, First Shaman
My own allies are urging me to drop ever deeper into my connection to the goddess Skaði – The Winter Goddess – and her (our!) giant lineage. They have also asked me to state publicly where my spiritual home is and from what place within myself I teach. Just so people who believe that all we need is “love and light” will not choose me for their teacher. This article meets their request.
May you too find your True North!
About the Author:
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Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books in 2016. She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit 2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. Her second book SACRED ART, A Hollow Bone for Spirit : Where Art Meets Shamanism will be published in December 2018.
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https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist (Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)