Oak

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For as long as I can remember I have been draw to the Oak tree. I have, over the years, collected leaves, twigs, windfall wood and two years ago was gifted three tiny oak saplings. When I say tiny I really do mean tiny as none measured more than six inches.

The saplings were planted in pots and nurtured over the last two winters. Sadly one didn’t make it and so I now have two. They haven’t grown much but are producing new leaves which I hope is a good sign.

Last year I was told they grow best with company and as they are in individual pots I may now move them to a larger pot, all together and with a holly sapling for company. In the wild they grow alongside holly so I figure this is worth a go. I have space in the garden but they are too tiny to plant out and as we have rabbits I wouldn’t rate their chances very highly if I did.

There is a lot of tree lore related to trees and much can be found online but I want to share this with you: OBOD Tree Lore Oak

Familiars and Allies

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A ‘Familiar’ is according to the definitions, a traditional term used for an animal, often a pet, who assists a witch in their spiritual and magical workings and with whom the witch can communicate. I also read today that many modern witches call any animal that lives with them their familiar. I am not a witch so I actually have no idea whether any of this is true or not but for nearly thirteen years I had a cat who I would happily have described as my familiar had I been so.

My cat used to hang around in my workspace at any given chance. This was fine when I was alone but difficult when I had clients coming for Reiki or students training with me. I used to have to brush down chairs and remove it from the space before anyone arrived yet many was the time it crept back in to sit alongside students being attuned to Reiki or laid under the treatment table whilst I was working on someone.

It was though around the time I began working with my guides that I noticed a change in my cat. I had promised my guides that I would spend ten minutes a day working with them, something I found difficult to make myself do. My cat would take itself off every morning, sit on the step of the log cabin that is my treatment space and wait for me to go out there to work. This used to make me feel very guilty and so I would take my coffee out, open the door and then my cat and I would go in and work with my guides. Once I was finished my cat would take itself off and only come back if I was working on anything it felt was interesting. In this way my cat worked alongside me making flower essences, building my labyrinth, making shamanic drums, giving and during healing sessions. It would be by my side when I was studying, on my lap when I journeyed and nagging me if there was something I was supposed to be doing but was avoiding.

As a shamanic healer I have allies, some of whom are animal, who I work with in non ordinary reality, these I suppose are my equivalent of a familiar in many ways as they assist me in my work, work on my behalf, guide me and communicate with me. In this reality though, although I consider crow to be one of my allies, there has yet to be a replacement for my cat.

And as promised when I began working through the alphabet again a link to my first ‘F is for’ post.

F is for Flower Essences and if you are into flower essences I also found a past post on working with the essences

 

 

 

Cleansing and Purifcation

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I have blogged before about how I used to really dislike the month of February, how after the Winter Solstice, the seasonal celebrations, the period of recovery, of getting back to normal, it always felt a bit flat, a bit nothing in particular and that I was always relieved when it was over. I then discovered that historically February was the month of cleansing and purification and it all felt a bit better. Yet here I am on Imbolc itself, the first day of spring with the wind howling and the rain lashing, if ever it felt a time for closing down and hibernating, today, and if the forecast is right, the next couple of days are it, never mind a spring clean and a purification of home and of body. This is a good reminder for me of why I am usually delighted and not a small bit relieved for it to be March with its promise of better things to come. Mind I have until 15th February before the historical period of Purification began so there is still time…..she says hopefully.

This does seem a good time for me to share two of my past blogs which contain information about February, pagan rituals and ideas for cleansing and purification, again this should save you trawling back through the archives for them:

Cleansing 

Spring Cleaning 

This year, on the whole so far, the winter has been mild, the winds often slack and our windows have been wide open more than they have been closed so the need I usually have to open them wide and allow the element of air to move through and do its work is needed less than usual it seems. The garden is not covered in bits of windfall from the ash and hawthorn and so I have no need to go gathering kindling, at the moment anyway. So unless anything changes as the month unfolds, this February my cleansing and purification is going to focus on ME 🙂

Since the summer I have been working in a gym again, the first time for six of seven years. I am discovering muscles I hadn’t seen for a long time and a physical strength that I had thought was lost forever. My 2017 cleansing and purification rituals then are going to be used to get to know it again, how it is now, to deeply cleanse by spending time with it rather than the quick in and out of the shower it is used to. The purification will be through what I eat which will be as healthy and light as I can make it during the winter. So lots of fresh fish, vegetables, salads, meals made from scratch and of course the odd bar of chocolate and glass of wine 🙂

 

 

Brigid and Brigid’s Cross

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One of the first things that I learnt to do when I moved to Ireland was to make a St Brigid’s cross. I hadn’t heard of them at all before I moved and had to be taught not only how to make it but also what to do with it when it was made.

Describing how to make one is complicated without diagrams so having found this online today I thought I would share it in case anyone else is drawn to make one. This link includes a nice video if a child making one, it’s not difficult 🙂 I like that the instructions say to use straws or reeds for there are a special type of reed that grow in wetlands, used to make them here, a reed I recognise whenever I come across it, but the site of which I always forget come February.

I was told that it was the tradition where I live, to make a new Brigid’s cross every year and to place it in the loft on a rafter to protect the house from fire, which used to be a common problem in old houses in Ireland. In old houses chimneys were left unlined and any chimney fire could easily escape and leap through the loft space taking the roof and very often the whole house. I have since discovered that they are also used to ward off evil but maybe I looked too innocent to be told that I might need to do this 🙂 It was a long time ago!

So who was Brigid?

Brigid was a Pre-Christian, Celtic goddess who was associated with smithcraft, poetry, healing, childbirth. She is sometimes spoken of as a Triple Goddess and is always closely associated with fire. In fact the fire associations are so strong that a perpetual fire was set at Kildare in her honour, a fire which still burns today. Brigid is also known of as  Brid, Bride, Brighid, Brigit, Brigantia, Briginda, and Brigdu.

In Irish mythology Brigid appears as a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann and was the daughter of the Dagda, wife of Bres and had a son named Ruadán. To the Catholic Church though she is known as Saint Brigid and spoken of only as sharing her name with the Celtic goddess. It is said that St Brigid was the child of  Brocca, a Christian woman baptized by Saint Patrick, and that her father was Dubthach, a Leinster chieftain. As Brocca was a slave, Brigid was born into slavery. Some stories say that Brigid was baptised by St Patrick, others that she grew up as his friend.

If you would like to read more about Brigid, the Celtic goddess though the OBOD have an article that can be accessed here and which contains a lot of additional information.

What is known is that the the pagan festival of Imbolc or Imbolg, is associated with the goddess Brigid. The festival marks the beginning of spring has been celebrated since ancient times. It is a Cross Quarter Day, midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  It can actually fall anywhere between 2nd & 7th of February as it is calculated as the mid point between the astronomical Winter Solstice and the astronomical Spring Equinox, however it is often celebrated on 1st February, which is the same date as the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion celebrate St Brigid’s Day.

And what about Brigid’s crosses?

There are many stories her as to how the tradition of these crosses originated and this is just one of them:

There was an old pagan Chieftain who was on his deathbed in Kildare when his servants summoned Brigid to his beside in the hope that the she might be able to calm his restless spirit. Brigid is said to have sat by his bed, consoling and calming him . Whilst she was here she picked up some rushes from the floor and began weaving them into the distinctive cross pattern. As she weaved, she explained the meaning of the cross to the sick Chieftain and it is thought her calming words brought peace to his soul and requested that he be baptised as a Christian  before his passing. Ever since that day it has been customary on the eve of Brigid’s Feast Day on 1st February, to fashion a St Brigid’s Cross of straw or rushes and place it in the roof of the house over the door as a means of protecting the house.

Brigid has always been held in high regard in Ireland, many wells in all parts of the country are named after her, the symbol of her cross is to be found in many Irish designs and there is even a pilgrimage route that can be walked, known as an the Brigid’s Way an Ancient Path between Sky and Earth

 

Three Days of Stillness

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Although many people seem to believe that once Winter Solstice is passed the days immediately get longer again this is far from true. Instead the sun  maintains its Solstice position, resting on the horizon, for a total of three days providing us with three days of stillness before we turn towards the light once more.

In what can be ‘crazy season’ even if we don’t buy into the enforced celebration of commercialism that Christmas can bring, three days of stillness sounds like magic. Three days in which we can rest, go within, gain insight, release, give thanks to Mother Earth, the sun, the moon, tune into and recognise the turn of the wheel and make plans for the new year ahead. How many of us though allow ourselves this ‘time out of time’?

I do always manage to stop and mark Winter Solstice itself in some way but three days? Not if I am being completely honest.

This year though is different as I really have no choice. Many times, being less than patient with myself, working through anything rather than giving in, this would be a problem, but at the moment I am strangely Ok with it all, perhaps because my own need to be still coincides with the Earth’s need to stop so we are in some way energetically empathic with each other at the moment. I know from past experience that being still and going into the void often brings me the greatest insights and so instead of being concerned that the house isn’t tidy and that I don’t know what the next meal will be I am just allowing myself to consciously take three days of stillness, admittedly on top of the several days I have already had.

I had begun this part of the year with the idea that I would do some serious reflecting aware that there was a lot that I was pushing myself to do that was maybe not completely right. I had intended to be journalling every step of this process so that I had a record of my decisions, I had decided I would weigh up the pros and cons of everything and then that I would release what I needed to into the fire at the ceremony I had arranged for today. Spirit though seems to have other ideas for I have not picked up pen and paper once but have slumbered in that ‘in between’, state, journeying to non ordinary reality and have thus done all of this there supported by my guides and allies, throwing away things that my guides have then been showing me that I need to reconsider and realising that I was not seeing things clearly. Then being shown how much I still have that does needs to be gone through and sifted out, things that in ordinary reality I might not have even identified. Not one word of this has gone onto paper but it is burnt deeply within me now, so much so that this morning I found myself thinking about whether my shamanic practice  could possibly fit what someone was looking for, before quickly realising that I wasn’t going to do that any more, that the only thing that mattered was what I actually did and not what anyone else was doing, that I didn’t care anymore. Total freedom.

I still have two more days of stillness to come and I am going to make the most of them, excited in many ways to see what other insights and understanding come to me when I completely surrender.

So what else could we use these three days of stillness for should we choose to take the time out to use them?

There are many ways to spend this time including giving thanks for and making offerings to our Earth Mother but these are a few simple ideas of ways to take some time to be still.

  • Sit by a window and spend time gently observing nature
  • Curl up and listen to music, allowing ourselves to receive healing from the sounds
  • Watch the sunrise and sunset
  • Hold a simple fire ceremony, writing down what we wish to release and then surrendering it to the element of fire
  • Sit in the darkness and spend time in reflection
  • Light a candle and welcome the light back in, perhaps thinking of our plans for the coming year, sowing the seeds that the light can germinate over the next months
  • Journey or undertake a guided meditation to meet our guides and ask for support or guidance
  • Journey or undertake a guided meditation to ask to be shown our soul’s purpose for the coming year
  • Make a vision board of your intentions or hopes for the new year

This is a symbolic time, a time of new beginnings, of setting intentions, of the light returning to shine in and push back the dark and lead us forward, so taking time out gives us chance to go into this consciously not blindly in the rush of it all. I for one am determined this year to make the most of it all, working in harness with the energy of the earth instead of running against it.

 

Tonight’s Supermoon

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It’s pouring with rain, overcast and dull so the chance of my seeing tonight’s Supermoon, the last of 2016, is extremely unlikely however that doesn’t stop me feeling its effects of knowing its there.

I’ve just been reading a post in relation to it which was basically saying that there is likely to be an energetic shift with this moon, especially with it being so close to next week’s Winter Solstice. The post was also saying that its good to stay positive through this time of yet more change.

This really resonates with me as I’ve been feeling a little sorry for myself as I’ve managed to pick up yet another bug of some kind. This one is the sore throat, loss of voice, raw chest, coughing a bit, type one 😦 I’ve had it since last Thursday and although its on its way out I’m still feeling more than a bit wiped out, although that may have more than a little to do with two meals out and a Christmas party in the last four days 🙂 My problem is that I am not at all used to being unwell and so am not good at it.

Anyway, in the spirit of releasing before the Supermoon I’ve been doing just that this morning by writing down everything I want to release and top of the list was being unwell. I’ve held a mini fire ceremony, burning the sheet of paper in a fire proof container, and despite the fact that its raining it burnt quickly and easily. This leaves me clear now (see positive already 🙂 )to be positive in my thinking and communication, enabling me to harness the power of the Supermoon tonight and ride the shift in energy, whatever it might bring.

Book Review – Merlin: Once and Future Wizard

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Merlin: Once and Future Wizard

by 

Elen Sentier

 

 

As someone who has the pleasure of working with Merlin as a guide and teacher I was really looking forward to reading Elen Sentier’s ‘Merlin: Once and Future King’ and I was not disappointed in any way, quite the opposite. I often find myself reading of others work with Merlin only to see him glamorised or mythicised beyond recognition so it was really refreshing to read of Merlin being described as ‘tricky’ and to feel that yes, this is someone who really has worked with him and who knows him, not someone who’s knowledge has been acquired 3rd hand as it were.

Elen’s account is both personal and academic, in that in her book she generously shares her own journey with Merlin alongside deconstructing and explaining some of the myths and legends that surround as well as looking at those people and places connected with him. This is always done in a thoughtful and considered way, leaving the reader with insight and material which they can use to draw their own conclusion about Merlin.

I love synchronicity and shortly before starting to read ‘Merlin: Once and Future Wizard’, I found myself studying Brocéliande in Brittany, France, in my OBOD work, then discovering that one of my student’s home places is very near Brocéliande and that she knows it well, then finally reading Elen’s version of the same place. I’d like to think Merlin himself had a hand in this although maybe if he did it wouldn’t have been as clear to see 🙂

Due for release on 9th December 2016