Web of Life Connections – Adventure

For those of you working with ‘Web of Life’ or who are starting to search for and looking at ways to connect with your own teachers here is this week’s connection – Adventure.

Please remember that this is only my connection with this teacher within the web of life and the message here is what was given to me. Some of it may resonate with you, some of it not which is how it should be. You might like to sit for a few minutes, focus on this teacher and see what messages you are given.

As I sit with Adventure the first thing I get is an image of hang gliding, flying free over the hills. This isn’t the message though, it’s not a call to go and hang glide although that would be fun as it’s something I have never done but quite fancy. Instead the message is….

Stretch yourself, don’t sit back and be complacent. You will never know what you are capable of unless you try. Don’t be afraid of anything, just leap in and have a go no matter what others think or say.

Snapshot of My Life

I’ve been thinking that some of you might like an insight into what a week for me is like after all my life can be more than a little varied as I don’t have a normal 9-5 job.

Looking back through the diary for the last week this is what my week was like…..

I began the day with a Fire Ritual as part of my Bard training with the Order of the Bards, Ovids and Druids. This meant setting up my fire pit, opening a circle and then fully connecting with the element Fire. I can’t say any more than this or I’d have to kill you 🙂 The day then continued with me working on a client who is recovering from a stroke. The real delight of seeing her face as her hand which had been stone cold began to warm up was a real pleasure.

Day off 🙂 Reading the Sunday papers, hanging out, normal stuff really

Shopping as I needed to get in food for a course over the next two days. Decisions, decisions about how much to get, what people might want to eat and how long it will keep if we don’t get through it all. Then it was home to prepare my healing space for the next two days.

Day one of passing on the nine rites of the Munay Ki. I so love giving these and seeing how things open up for those I am working with. Today was the four Foundation Rites; the Healer’s Rite, Bands of Power, Harmony Rite and Seer’s Rite.

Day two of the Munay Ki. Today it’s the turn of the five Lineage Rites; Daykeeper’s Rite, Wisdom Keeper’s Rite, Earthkeeper’s Rite, Starkeepers Rite and the Creator’s Rite. So much fire around over the two days as the seeds of each rite are fed with fire. It all fits in beautifully with my beginning to work with Fire for the Bardic work too.

The beauty of passing on the rites is that I also get to receive them as being able to pass them on once students have worked with the archetypes of the Harmony Rite is a big part of receiving them. Every time I receive them it deepens my connection with them and the way I work with them in my life.

I took today off from clients to do a bit of catching up with paper work, a little housework and time for my own studies where I continued working with the current Gwers of my Bard training.

I am a member of our local art group which is on it’s summer holidays at the moment but one of our members organised a painting day at her house. This really meant we met up, chatted for a good hour or so, had lunch, chatted a bit more, a few people decided to do little drawing but a few of us didn’t get round to it.

To keep developing my art work, now and again I will do a distance learning course. This year it is in colour pencil work and I have been putting off starting it but our art day yesterday seemed to have inspired me for today I began to work on the first set of exercises. My day was interrupted though, first of all by the baby rabbit that got spooked by my husband and ran into our conservatory looking for sanctuary, then the Irish Stoat that entertained us by running around outside, including on the ledge around the conservatory and finally by the larger rabbit that was hopping around outside the front of the conservatory.

So that was my week 🙂 and looking at the diary for this coming week I have clients for past life regression and shamanic healing booked in and I have a distance reading to do. It’s also our wedding anniversary which means a meal out somewhere lovely and as it’s Lughnasa on the 1st August Friday will see me holding a solitary ceremony.

No week is ever the same and it’s this variety that I really enjoy. I really do love my life.

Pagan Blog Project – Offerings

imageIn shamanism it is usual to make an offering to the spirit allies as a way of giving thanks. These offerings can take the form of prayers or ritual but can also for example; be fruit, vegetables, flowers, tobacco, sage, honey, milk, coins, incense or food. The important thing is to ask the spirt allies what they would like and to make an offering that is in relation to the deed.

In South America offerings are made by way of prayer bundles called Despachos.

I first became aware of despacho ceremony a few years ago whilst on holiday in Boliva, where, visiting Copacabana on route to Lake Titicaca, we witnessed the extraordinary sight of flower covered cars and trucks parked outside the church, being sprayed with beer and champagne. Our guide explained that a year before, offerings had been made to Pachamama (Mother Earth) and the Apus (Mountain spirits) to ask for new vehicles. Now a priest, as a way of giving thanks, was blessing these manifested vehicles. Colourful stalls surrounded the church selling flowers and miniature vehicles, houses, money, people, diplomas and so on. We were told that a miniature, of whatever you wanted to obtain, could be purchased, added to a purchased despacho. After this the despacho would be taken home and buried or burnt.

In markets and small towns across Bolivia, we saw witches shops. and in La Paz, the witches market, in all of these you could purchase ready-made despachos or have one made for you. We were told that the quality of the despacho depended on how good the ‘witch’ was.

I have since learnt that it is powerful Andean practice in Peru, Bolivia and Equador, to make offerings in the form of despachos to Pachamama, the Apus and to other spirits such as the stars or sun, in reciprocity, reverence and thanksgiving as well as for manifesting. An Andean or Q’ero Shaman known as a Pampa Mesayoq, a keeper of earth-based ritual and knowledge i.e. a healer with knowledge of herbs and divination who is an expert in constructing despachos and in ceremonial offerings, would perform the despacho ceremonies.

A despacho at it’s most basic is a prayer bundle or Mandela into which are put offerings and prayers but it is also far more than this. It is an exchange of energy through providing beauty, power and energy in return for the desired result. It is also an act of love, a way of giving back, a reminder of the connection with all living things, a way of bringing balance and right relationship with Pachamama and a bridge between ordinary and non-ordinary reality.

Despachos are constructed not from the head but from the heart and the despcaho ceremony brings participants into alignment with the ‘three bands’ or levels of consciousness, physical (yankay), feeling and heart (munay) and spirit or energetic wisdom (yachay). This alignment is said to be comparable to aligning the chakras or energy centres.

There are over 200 recorded types of despacho and the content is determined by the purpose. They contain symbols of everything, elements, weather, the directions, clouds, mountains, rainbows, emotions, ideas, earth, stars, fruits of labour and so on, along with, flowers, incense, wine, sweets, fruits of the earth sugar and a shell, all filled with prayers and intent.

Some examples of despacho are:
Pachamama despacho – an offering to the earth
Apu despacho – an offering to the mountain
Chaska despacho – an offering to the sun
Anyi despacho – Anyi is the operating principle of Andean Shamanism and relates to reciprocity and divine exchange, so this is a thanksgiving despacho
Aya despacho – to aid the spirit of the recently dead to pass from the physical body gracefully
Cuti despacho – for protection

Q’ero Shaman say they understand that their cosmology and symbols differ from ours but that they wish others to share the intent of the despacho. Whilst not attempting to replicate Andean despacho ceremony we are able to construct contemporary despacho to honour sacred teachings and give thanks to the universe, our ancestors, guides and to all living things, thus creating our own Anyi, from our hearts.



Web of Life Connections – Bumble Bees

With so many Bumble Bees around me at the moment I have realised it is time to stop and speak with them. The Bumble Bee that was buzzing in my ear last night and the one that flew close as if coming for a conversation this morning have made it patently clear that they have something to say…..

Busy, busy, busy, no time to stop and do what I’d really important. Go and see friends, pick up the phone, generate a social life. It’s too hot, too sunny and life is to short to forget the importance of these things

Saving One Bee At A Time

imageIn our garden we have loads of plants that the bees absolutely love. At the moment as I write this there are pots full of bedding plants, the remains of our foxgloves, a bright yellow sedum which they seem to spend their time hovering over, and evening primrose. We also have a blue Ceanothus bush which is outside my healing room and on some days the whole bush quivers with bees and it sounds as if the bush itself is buzzing. There is nothing better than sitting in the garden and watching the bees, dip into one flower then another and another.

There are apparently 101 native species of bee in Ireland where I live, 20 species of bumble bee and 80 solitary bee species plus the honey bee. The bees that visit us seem to change as the summer slips by. Sometimes there is more than one species here at a time with each having their favourite flowers to feast on. The ones we are quite happily spending so much of our time trying to save at the moment though are one of the species of fat bumble bees.

The problem is that they like the plants in the back garden and the front. This would normally not be any problem except for the fact that in between back and front gardens is our conservatory. When it’s hot the door is wide open as well as the windows opposite. The bees fly in through the door and then fly straight into the non opening windows where they wear themselves out bumping off the glass. They seem totally oblivious to air movement and so are unable to work out how to escape even if they are within centimetres of escape. If we see them quickly then swooping them up in a tea towel and helping them back outside works well, until they fly back in that is. We are never sure if it’s the same bee or not so we try and put them out the window rather than the door to help them reach their destination. There us something amazing about holding a tiny buzzing mass in your hand, safely inside the tea towel of course.

When they are too worn out to put straight outside though we have found that a teaspoon of sugary water seems to perk them up quickly and they are soon ready to be helped on their way. I read somewhere recently that bees get dehydrated quickly and that putting a shallow bowl filled with stones and water gives them somewhere to rehydrate. We haven’t yet tried this mainly because the only bees that seem to be having problems are the ones who come inside, but it is something that we will sort out soon.

If possible I actually put most creatures that arrive in our house by accident back outside rather than let anything die but it is the bees that I am very mindful of. Like everywhere in the world many of our native bees are under threat so it feels even more important to help them in any way possible and if a teaspoon of sugared water and a hand to find their way out hopes them it is fine by me. I can’t save the entire bee population but I can help save them – one bee at a time.

Pagan Blog Project – Omens

imageLooking omens up on line or in a dictionary gives us the information that omens are portents or presage, phenomena believe to tell a good or evil event in the future. They are prophetic signs as it were. Here we also find that the word omen is most often used in the foreboding sense.

In my world I have a completely different understanding of omens, what they are and what they do and think of them in connection with signs. They are part of my every day life, a great source of information and insight for me and in no way foreboding.

As a shamanic healer and someone who believes that everything that exists is interconnected, I look for omens and signs to bring me messages and insights as I move through my day. If I have a problem or need to make a decision I will consciously ask for omens or signs from the world around me, not to foretell the future but to bring me guidance.

Making a conscious decision to watch out for omens and signs is a good way of being aware of how the web of life ‘speaks’ to us, supports us and helps us. These omens and signs may come in the form of something in nature that catches our attention, perhaps an animal we would not usually see for example, or a song on the radio, someone we meet, a book that falls open before us, an overheard conversation, the list is endless. Our difficulty as with so many things is how to interpret what we are being shown if course.

The best way to explain how omens and signs work for me perhaps, is to give an example.

In 2013, following an operation I had to walk. I knew it was for my own good but found myself resenting every minute of it, there was no joy or pleasure in it at all. A week into my enforced exercise routine I decided I needed to change how I felt about it all if I was to make it through. This got me thinking about how when I walk by choice I wander, being aware of what is around me, connecting with the energies that abound wherever I am walking, listening and watching out for any messages that are there for me. In other words enjoying being in nature. At this time I was doing none of these things but was totally focused on the mechanics of walking and of the length of time I had to walk for.

The following day before I went out I made the decision to do it differently, to walk with consciousness and awareness, so as I left the house I held the intention to look for omens and signs as I walked.

The first thing I became aware of was that I was walking more slowly and having slowed down was looking around me and listening to the sounds of water running in the stream by the road and rustling in the hedgerow. I then heard the caw, caw of crows and looking up noticed two of them sitting on an overhead wire some way ahead of me. Crow for me is an important spirit helper and one to which I always pay attention so as I walked towards them I waited to see what message they might bring. As I reached them they flew off still calling as if asking me to follow them and so I did.

At that point the road turned and the winter sun shone directly in my face effectively blinding me. I now had to trust that my feet and ears would guide me and so focused only on the sound of my footsteps. After a short time I lost this sound and instead heard only the swish, swish of my coat as I walked which lulled me into an almost meditative state. For the first time walking, there I was in each and every moment, not thinking of anything else and certainly not focused on how much further I had to go or for how long.

I reached a point where the road changed direction again and the sun now shifted behind me meaning I could see once more. As I looked down I saw how the slate at the edge of the road had formed in layers and marvelled at how wonderful nature is. This brought my focus to the earth beneath my feet and allowed me to breathe in the energy and as I walked I asked Mother Earth to feed and nourish my leg to help it heal, something I had completely been forgetting I could do.

My gaze then settled on a small yellow flower peeking out of the grass in all its glory. Stopping to look I realised it was a buttercup and the sight of the bright colour on this wintery day brought a smile to my face. I then wondered at the resistance and determination of this tiny flower still there defiant after the recent snap of cold weather and overnight frosts. If it could survive that and still be there head held high then I could surely survive walking which was nothing in comparison. As I walked on I was attracted to the greenery at the side of the road and noticed prickly brambles intertwined with soft ferns, both growing happily side by side. This reminded me that even those who do not seem to be natural bedfellows can make things work if they choose to.

Two good message for me at this time from the buttercup, brambles and ferns. I am not an enthusiastic walker, I don’t enjoy walking for walking’s sake nor for exercise, but by making my walk work for me, by working with the energies, looking for omens and signs and then being aware I could not only survive this but find a way that walking and I could coexist.
(Excerpt from my Shaman Corner Blog Post for Moon Books 2013)

So if you wish to be aware of the omens and signs around you
1. Set an intention or hold a question
2. Be aware of what you hear, see and who you meet for the rest of the day
3. Make a mental note of any ‘coincidences’ for example if you hear a story about an elephant on the news, read about an elephant in the paper, pick up a book and see a picture of an elephant then it is a good idea to explore what elephant means to you, what thoughts you hold about them, how they behave and so on to decipher what messages elephant might be trying to give you.
4. Be aware that if something comes to you three times it is a message trying to get through.
5. Take your own meaning from the omens and signs you discover for your meaning is the only one that makes sense and is of any value.

Web of Life Connections – Tasting

So what has Tasting got to do with a connection in your life you might be wondering. Absolutely anything can be a connection and bring you a message that has meaning for you or gives you insight. Tasting might be woven into your web of life along with seeing, smelling, and hearing for example.

Anyway, when I sat with the bag of connection cards it was Tasting that leapt into my hand for this week so what can Tasting bring us?

Just sitting here writing this it has brought my attention to the last thing in my mouth which was a cup of fresh coffee. I have realised how, even though I only have one cup a day and make this my treat, I seldom stop to really enjoy the taste. So here I am now, savouring the sweet aftertaste of the coffee I have just drunk, the full flavour of which would have passed me by otherwise. It also makes me realise how often I do put things in my mouth, food and drink, ends of pens, pencils and paintbrushes, my fingers etc without really being aware of the taste of anything. Some of this comes from my being focused on other things of course, being distracted, some of it from familiarity.

Sitting with Tasting for the message for here this is what I got…

Enjoy the sensation of whatever you choose to place on your tongue. Savour it fully. Let tastes explode inside your mouth. Be fully in the moment and completely aware of what your taste buds are telling you’

Sitting here with the taste of a biscotti exploding in my mouth by focusing on what I am doing this feels like a ritual rather than mindless eating which I am now aware I have been guilty of.

It’s Raining!

imageToday it’s raining! I suppose those of you that have realised I live in Ireland are surprised that I’m even mentioning it as sure doesn’t it rain all the time here. Well actually no it doesn’t and for weeks it hasn’t. Ok, there has been rain but it’s very localised so a couple of kilometres away it may have done so, but here close to the coast, nothing.

The fact it is raining means many different things depending on who or what we are and what we are doing. For those in town organising a circus skills workshop as part of the summer festival it means reorganising and relocating indoors, for me it means sitting in the conservatory with a jumper over my T-shirt and shorts and the door closed, for the rivers, ducks, herons, fish and water creatures it means a higher water level, for my garden, all the plants desperate for a good drink and I’m sure my husband who has been out there regularly with the watering can, it means relief.

With the weather, just like everything else in our lives, both ourselves and everything else around us needs a balance. Too much of anything, even if it is something we love, creates problems, if not for us then for someone or something else.

So today, instead of complaining that it isn’t sunny or that it’s overcast and wet, I’m instead feeling gratitude that the plants and garden are getting what they need, that the tiny robin is so obviously enjoying playing in the rain and that our well is, hopefully, getting a bit of a top up.

Book Review – Dancing with Nemetona

imageIn my own practice I have no connection to Goddesses in any shape or form but sometimes it is just the words we use to describe our experiences that separates us. Which is why in Joanna’s writing, even though the way she works is unfamiliar to me, the importance she places on sacred space around us and within us, the need to create these for ourselves and how vital it is that we learn how to do so, resonates strongly.

In this easy to read book you will find guided meditations to help you connect to Nemetona, to find your own nemetona, learn to expand it and much more. Despite having no connection to the Goddess Nemetona I found the book an enjoyable and at times thought provoking read.

I particularly liked the appendix of others exploration of Nementona for they showed clearly what Joanna says in the book, that there is no right way to do this, no right way to meet or envisage Goddess, only the way that works for you.

This is a valuable resource for anyone interested in Druidry who feels drawn to the Goddess Nemetona or who would like to begin working with her and also for those looking for alternative ways of finding, or deepening the connection to their own sacred space.

Pagan Blog Project – New Tools

imageEarlier this week I went for a Shiatsu session and came home not just looser and freer, having let go of things I had been holding in my body and energy, but also with a new rattle. This was both totally unexpected and a delightful surprise.

As soon as the rattle was passed to me it felt as if it belonged and I knew immediately that it was going to be one that I will work with. How this will happen I don’t yet know for there are things I need to do and learn before I begin to use it in my work.

I know the rattle was dedicated by and for the person who gave it to me and so it need to cleanse the rattle before I do anything else. This is not because I believe there to be anything wrong with the energy of it, far from it, but because this separates out what has been, from whatever is to happen from here on in, as tools hold the energy and power of the person who works with them. For this reason too I need to begin to being to build my own energy and power with the rattle.

I also need to meet and get to know the spirit of the rattle. This will either involve me sitting with the rattle and connecting with it or journeying to meet its spirit. Quite probably the latter of these as I feel this is a tool which I will be using a lot. It is important then that I discover how the spirit of the rattle wishes to work with me, what it is able or prepared to do and what it cannot. In other words I need to spend time with the rattle and let it teach me and show me its purpose and capabilities.

I always love to get a new tool, not because I need a lot of tools in order to work, but for the fun of finding out all about them. The meeting of its spirit, the learning of its ways and then the opening up of our working relationship is a journey in itself and one that always brings pleasure and surprise. I am looking forward to our relationship unfolding.