What’s in a name?

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Connections in my own ‘Web of Life’

It has been suggested to me recently that the title and cover of my book ‘Web of Life’ published as part of Moon Books Shamanic Pathways series doesn’t really explain what the book is about so I thought I’d try and redress that here in the hope that it will help.

I actually wrote the book as a result of my own struggle to work with a Medicine Wheel, a struggle that led me to realise that the problems I was having were because Medicine Wheels do not belong to either my culture or my belief system. It was a bit like ‘square peg into round hole’ and no matter what I did it wasn’t working.

So I began to explore other cultures and wheels including the variations between Native American tribes and in doing so discovered both the similarities and differences. This exploration led me to the realisation that in order for many of us to work with the power of a medicine wheel we needed a way to create our own, one that could be adapted to fit us and so the idea for my book was born.

The title of my book is actually down to my guides, who showed me the web, the matrix, or network that connects each and every one of us to everything that exists and through which we all have the power to communicate. Alongside this they showed me the spider at the centre of the web, the spider that represents ourselves, spinning our own web and weaving in the connections within it that can support and guide us as our paths unfold. They also taught me how we can consciously weave our own paths within the web either for projects or our lives in general. The book passes on all that I learnt so that you can do the same. Basically it gives you a modern day, culture and belief free way of working with power of the Medicine Wheel in a way that fits YOU.

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  Example of a created path

 

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Example of an extended path

The images here show my own connections or teachers within the web and examples of the way in which I create my own path and then have the freedom to extend it, or I can start again. Your connections or teachers will be different to mine as will the paths you create.

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Shamanic Web of Life

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If you are looking for a way to create your own Medicine Wheel or Shamanic Web of Life using then you might be interested to read A Bad Witch’s blog which is about my book “Shaman Pathways Web of Life”

Follow the link here to see what it’s all about

The wanderer returns

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I’m back! I’m not sure if anyone missed me but I have been travelling for the last few weeks, firstly to Panama City and then on to Costa Rica and if there is one thing to sum up Costa Rica it’s the wild life, hence the photo of the Capuchin Monkey 🙂

I honestly think it is the country where the experiences I had couldn’t have been bought for any amount but relied on an adventurous spirit and the willingness to be still, connect with nature and wait.

The adventurous spirit came in handy when white water rafting, kayaking, paddle boarding and zip lining. I would add canopy walking but I already loved that and so it would be disingenuous to do so.

A few years ago I was in a car accident and received severe soft tissue and muscle damage to my upper back and damaged my left shoulder and neck. Through the years I have had Bowen treatments, lots of massage and Reiki and more recently Cranial sacral therapy and Scenar. I have also worked on myself a lot including regression to re-program my body at cellular level. I went back to yoga in the winter but had to stop, as using my arms a lot, or holding my arms up above my head (downward dog for example) is difficult and creates longer term problems that I then have to undo. I am only mentioning this because all the activities I listed, apart from the canopy walking, meant I had to use my arms way more than is comfortable and in ways I would usually avoid. Short of missing out, what was I to do other than dive in and see what happened. What happened was that my body amazed me in its ability to cope. The more I did the more I could do. Some of this may of course have been to do with the warm weather and high humidity but deep down I believe that it is also about allowing my body to move, so I am soon to try out pilates and see if that works for me plus I plan to re-introduce chi kung and tai chi to my life.

The willingness to be still, connect with nature and wait, resulted in many amazing encounters such as standing in the humming bird garden whilst the tiny bullet like creatures zoomed, buzzed and dived at and around me, watching Capuchin monkeys playing, rolling over each other and sliding down the palm roofs of the lodge, seeing how what looked like a tiny green leaf unfolded to become a green frog with red and orange legs, standing on the river bank and watching Jesus Christ lizards run across the water, and having been calling on and connecting to the spirit of the Quetzal, finally seeing it then being quiet so it wasn’t spooked away. There is of course so much more, way too much to list in this blog but I’m sure you get the idea.

Yes I appreciate that money was needed to get to Costa Rica but once there if I hadn’t been willing to have a go and to spend time being at one with nature my experience would have been a very different one.

And before I go I will share with you both a humming bird and the Resplendent Quetzal 🙂

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Book Review – Whispers from the Earth

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Whispers from the Earth

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Taz Thornton

 

 

 

 

Taz Thornton’s book ‘Whispers from the Earth’s not big but is jam packed with stories and not just any stories but ones she has channelled from the ancestors, from the bones of the earth which she is part of and the spirits of those she works with. These are stories to read to yourself and to read out loud to others, for they are stories that are crying out to be heard, to be listened to and to pass on their meaning to those who need to hear them.

Ms Thornton also shares with us guidance as to how to channel our own stories, ones that come from the spirits we work with and from our own ancestors. Whilst her stories are a gift in their own rite, a greater gift is the sharing of how we can become our own storyweavers and in doing so find stories of our own.

I am in no way a story teller or storyweaver but inspired by the guidance given in Whispers from the Earth and by the stories contained therein I have had a go at it myself 🙂 While I am nowhere near Ms Thornton’s standard it was far easier than I expected, I enjoyed doing it and am sure I will do so again. I’m telling you no more than this for now. If you’d like to learn how to channel your own stories the advice in the book is clear and easy to follow. If you want to read mine you will need to subscribe to Indie Shaman Magazine where my sorry attempt, all being well, will form part of my Shaman Moon column sometime later in the year.

Do you keep a journal for your experiences?

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The good thing about doing a challenge that no one knows I’m doing is that I can pick and choose what I do 🙂 For the last couple of weeks I haven’t really felt like writing, plus there has been lots of other things to do, more important things, like cutting the hedges before the birds start nesting and getting the area of garden prepared and sown with wild flowers to attract butterflies but with all of that done I’m back…for now at least….

Having found my way back the next questions on the challenge, questions 7 and 8, didn’t appeal to me at all.Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 10.49.22

So because I can do what I want I am skipping ahead to number 9, ‘Do you keep a journal for your experiences?’ because this I do.

At the beginning I resisted keeping one even though my Reiki Master apprenticeship asked that I did. When younger I had never kept, nor wanted to keep, a diary so didn’t see why I should start doing so as a mature adult. Reluctantly and under no small amount of pressure I eventually gave in and resorted to loose leaf paper in a ring binder on the grounds I could take pages out and destroy them should I so choose. Needless to say I never did.

I soon realised how the keeping of a journal helped me to see what was going on, to find patterns, tease out threads and understand the process I was going through, to connect the dots as it were. Without my journal I would never have made connections between events or experiences several months or even years apart, nor would I have had a clear picture of my own development.

I still keep a journal only now its a spiral bound book, nothing fancy, just a normal A4 notebook, and I don’t use it every day, just when something feels significant, when I chat to my guides or when I take a shamanic journey for myself. I also have more than one journal, the one I have described plus smaller A5 ones that are my journey through the Order of the Bards, Ovates and Druids, first as a Bard and now as an Ovate. These are smaller as they sometimes go out and about with me. At the moment I have two of these plus a book of rituals as they each serve a different purpose.

When I’m teaching, be it Reiki or Shamanism, I always suggest students keep a journal for without one I have no idea how you can go back and make sense of things e.g. by seeing patterns or by finding the deeper, sometimes hidden, meaning in a journey. No matter how intelligent we believe we are, nor how good our memories, we cannot possibly hold all of our experiences any other way and if we wish to see how far we have come and know where we need to go next our journals can show us the way.

 

My take on the Wheel of the Year

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The fourth question posed in the pagan challenge is to write about your take on the wheel of the year so this is mine and it follows on nicely from my last post about my book Web of Life for it was writing this book that helped me get my own wheel of the year in place.

As I was writing the book, so my own web of life was developing and as it did so I learnt, as do others who work with the book, about what was important to me. At first I tried to fit in all the pagan festivals of the wheel of the year in the way they are usually placed in connection with the seasons they are associated with, but I soon realised that it didn’t sit well with me at all. I then realised that at this point in time I really had no connection with many of the festivals. I also realised that it was only Summer and Winter Solstice, Samhain and Bealtaine that were part of my life and resonated with me so these became my wheel of the year within my web of life and I let everything else go.

These points in the wheel of the year fitted me as they are still very much part of the culture I live in. Here these festivals are named and marked, the Winter Solstice is looked forward to as a marker of longer days ahead and was at that time shown live from Newgrange. Bealtaine is a time of festivals, Summer Solstice a time for gatherings and Samhain often brings drumming and dance.

Other than this, as a shamanic pagan I didn’t have a belief system that involves a wheel of the year but in the time between writing my book and now I have been studying with the OBOD (Ovates, Bards and Druids), initially as a Bard and currently as an Ovate. Working with the festivals of the year, performing ritual and celebration at the time of each festival and really getting a feel for the purpose of them was very much part of my path as a Bard. For that time in my life they were all recognised and firmly marked. My own web of life, which takes the place of a wheel for me, shifted to incorporate all eight festivals.

Now though as an Ovate I have again experienced a shift in the way I connect with the wheel of the year and how it fits into my web of life. Whereas whilst training as a Bard it felt right to follow the ritual and celebration of each turn of the wheel now it no longer does. This shift happened with no conscious thought or planning on my part but rather by osmosis. I now find that I have a much closer connection with and awareness of the changes in the seasons, the time of the year and hence the festivals of the wheel. I no longer see the need to practice ritual for the sake of it and only do so when it feels right for me. Instead I find myself living the wheel of the year through my awareness. I find I am recognising the turns of the wheel because they are becoming part of me rather than something outside of me. At times now it seems I  instinctively know when for example it is Imbolc rather than having to look it up in my diary or because the ritual is next in the pile of things I have to work though.

 

Web of Life Connections – White Buffalo Calf Woman

White Buffalo Calf Woman is a sacred woman of supernatural origin central to the beliefs of the Lakota of North America. There is a beautiful legend attached to her which can easily be found online so I won’t go into it here rather I will share the message that she has given us today.

‘When times are hard and you feel like giving in reach out, for there is always something greater, stronger, more powerful than yourself in your human form that will be of assistance. Sometimes this help is found outside of yourself, sometimes it is within you but it is always there waiting for you’.

Shaman Pathways Web of Life