Meditation

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I am not sure if I have mentioned this before or not but I don’t meditate. This is something that often comes as a surprise to people, especially my students when they first hear it.

I have a theory about it though and that theory is connected with my shamanic work. In shamanism when I shift into light or deep trance there is always a reason for it. I am always seeking insight or information or am carrying out a task of some kind in either ordinary or non ordinary reality. Were my intention to be to empty my mind and for it to stay that way then I would not  be able to do my work.

It’s not as if I haven’t tried. I can clearly remember when I was training  in Chios Energy Healing talking to my tutor about the difficulties I was having with the meditation. The meditation in Chios is an important part of the practice and in it the mind is cleared while the energy of the human body shifts to energetically become what is required of it. However, when I practiced when training my mind would fill with images, with scenes unfolding, information being imparted as they did so. I would push them away only for them to return almost immediately. Discussing this with my tutor I was told to just allow them to be, for they were there for a reason. And so I did and still do. None of this affects my ability to free my energy from its human bounds to allow it to be something else in any way.

What I do instead of meditating is I do Reiki. Through self treatments I am able to be still and even though I follow the energy, am aware of where it is working in me and yes sometime receive information and insight even when self treating it still brings me into that meditative state. Fortunately there have been studies that have shown practicing Reiki to have the same effect on the brain as meditation so I am completely content with what I do.

Journeying

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When I am shamanic journeying and a lot of the time in my every day life I am actually walking between worlds, more often than not with one foot in ordinary reality and one foot in non ordinary reality. I’d like to think I dance like the graceful jaguar in the photo but in reality I probably stumble along in the dark sometimes making quite a lot of noise. Which is quite possibly why one of the most useful things my shamanic guides have ever given me is a cloak of invisibility, at least then they may hear me coming but they can’t see me 🙂

I do though believe that what I do shamanically is to be a balancing force between the seen and unseen worlds, or at least I try to anyway. By being able to walk back and forth, to shift easily I am able for example, to listen to the land and the spirits there and by doing so can make changes that the land needs. One example of this is what happened in an area of my garden. Originally there was just the special energy there, one that everyone was drawn to whether they were aware of why or not. Then the land asked for a labyrinth and so one was created. Then later still it asked to be returned ‘as it was’ and so the labyrinth was uncreated as it were. This was not enough however for the land wanted a stone circle and now it has one and it is at peace. I understand that through creating the labyrinth energy was cleared and then by re-creating something that the land tells had been lost I have restored the balance of this space.

This is also what I do when I work with clients. Through working with my guides and allies I create a space in which balance can be restored between what we see physically and what is unseen or energetic. Dancing or walking between worlds makes this possible.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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.

 

On not meditating

Meditation came up in discussion with one of my blog followers recently and I was saying that I don’t meditate at all. I find that this often causes people to be surprised for there is a common assumption that anyone who is in any way spiritual must meditate.

It is known that practicing meditation brings great benefits. The studies that have taken place on the effects meditation has on the brain and therefore on mental health all support the benefit of daily meditation. I have no idea on a personal level though as I have never been able to meditate at all.

Instead of meditation I practice Reiki. Studies have also shown that Reiki has a similar effect on the brain to meditation but although it makes me be still and focused I am aware that it is not actually meditation. I also spend time in light trance when working with clients which in itself is a way of finding stillness but again it is not meditation. Likewise when I undergo shamanic journeying, I am still, I am in a trance like state, and sometimes may appear to be asleep but again I am not meditating, far from it.

The practices I work with are in fact the opposite to meditation. In most forms of meditation the aim I believe is to clear and empty the mind or focus on one thing like a mantra for example. In Reiki, most of the time, my mind even though at rest is aware of the energy, paying attention and receiving information. In light trance with clients I am receiving information constantly and then acting on that information. When journeying I am again gathering information, making decisions and choices and, as before, although I appear at rest and my mind relaxed it is still in some way, active. Rather than emptying my mind the practices I work with fill it but not in the same way that the Ordinary Reality that is everyday life does. Probably the nearest I get is when I go for a meditative walk, focusing as I place my feet upon the earth, the feel of it beneath me and the Earth energy I breathe in with each step that I take.

In the past I have tried to meditate but because I can shift into trance at will it is easy for me to do so and the space that others use to meditate I use to journey. When I first began training in Chios Energy Healing I worked very hard to practice the Orange-Red Ball Meditation that is part of Chios but had to contact my teacher for help as whenever I did this I would end up, not where I was supposed to be, but journeying. Yet I am most of the time, quite relaxed, my mental health is good, my mindfulness and being in the moment is part of what I try to do as I move through my day. I fully believe that for some people, like me, meditation is not a prerequisite for being able to walk a spiritual path in any way.

I also believe it is important to find the way that works for you and only you can know this, whether it be meditation or anything else. As with everything is it also important not to feel pressurised by anyone or anything to do something that doesn’t fit, nor be led to believe that what you do is any less because it is not the norm. When working with students I always explain this to them, that what many of us offer are suggestions, possible tools but their job is to decide which ones work, which ones sit well with them and which ones they wish to make part of their life or practice, knowing that everything else will be there if and when they need to make use of it.

Spring Cleaning

imageI can always feel my heart lift slightly when February comes to an end because I know then that the sun has more strength, the days are growing steadily longer and the cold weather, even if it has one, or two final encores, will soon lose its grip.

I am really not a winter person, I don’t enjoy the cold but if I am allowing myself to fully align with the seasons, I should learn to how to really appreciate that we need this time, knowing that seeds are being sown and germination is taking place deep within my being as it is within the earth.

So here I am at the start of February, not at the end no matter how much I might wish it could be so, and I fully intend to embrace this time of the year even though I may find it goes against all I would wish for.

A few years ago I discovered that Februarius was the original Roman name for February and that it was named after the Latin Februum meaning Purification. I also learnt that every year on 15th February, the night of the full moon in the old Roman Lunar calendar, a Purification ceremony known as Februa was held. February is also where we find the period known in the pagan wheel of the year as Imbolc which may have got its name from the old Irish Imb-tholc meaning to wash or cleanse oneself in a ritual cleansing. This may also of course be where our idea of Spring Cleaning came from. These discoveries gave me a way to approach the month that for me anyway, gives it a real purpose and helps me to both connect with it and appreciate it more fully.

So for me, using the month of February as a time of cleansing and purification makes complete sense and by doing so I know I am really preparing myself for the months ahead. In this way I am preparing the ground for the seeds of whatever I want to bring in during the year ahead. I have been doing this for the last few years but each year it takes a different form. This year I am much more drawn to a physical cleanse than I am to an energetic one which is what I would have been doing during previous years.

Now I’m not about to do as the Romans did and make the whole month a time of cleansing and purification, nor am I about to spring clean my whole house but I can think of a few places in the house and my healing room where I know I am holding onto books, papers and notes that I can’t ever imagine needing again, so probably this is a good place to start. I can already imagine a bit of recycling, a lot of re homing and of course some ritual burning to be going on with as well as the cleansing of the space that follows. It’s always nice to get guidance on the best way to do something like this though so I journeyed to gain insight into the most appropriate way for me this particular February.

I am sitting by a fire with my two teacher guides, around us the earth is covered in snow but despite this tiny snowdrops are in bloom, clusters of them, heads up looking cheerful against the cold snow. The fire is burning brightly and warming the ground around us creating a circle of heat, we are all wrapped up in blankets and I am told that even though I am looking to cleanse and purify I have no need to strip off and roll in the snow, I also need to keep warm and there is nothing wrong with this which I am delighted to hear. As we sit there I become aware of the sound of a horse and carriage and shortly one draws up nearby, a box is offloaded and handed to me. As I open it I see it is full of things that belong to me, photographs, notebooks, papers, files and so on. As I begin to take things out I am told to sort it carefully that it is important not to throw everything away. I begin to sort it into piles. One is of photographs; of me, my family and of my ancestors, some of whom are unknown to me. The next is of my notebooks, my journals, things that are important for they represent my journey here. The final pile is everything else and it is this pile I know I can release and recycle. I carefully pack up the things I am keeping, tying them up in small bundles with coloured ribbons. These I place back in the box and on the box I write the word Memories. I am handed herbs, pine and lemon grass and I place these in the fire breathing in the delicious cleansing fragrance as they begin to burn. I am then told to place the remaining pile on the fire, all the things I wish to clear out, but to do it one piece at a time so that I spend time with what I am giving away. I am told that it is important to do this with clear intention so I am fully aware of what I am doing as I cleanse and purify my life at this time.

As with all journeys everything here is symbolic and it is up to me to make sense of it, to interpret, not at face value only but to make sure that any deeper meaning is brought to light. Although this journey was for me I undertook it whilst writing this blog and so I am sharing it here as it may resonate with some of you reading this. If so then please put yourself in the place of the one cleansing and purifying, preparing the ground and feel free to interpret in a way that makes sense to you.

Nollaig na m’Ban

Where I live in Co.Cork, Ireland, Nollaig na m’Ban or Women’s Little Christmas is celebrated today, 6th January. I know this is Twelfth Night, or Epiphany within the Christian festivals and not linked to any Pagan festival, but having discovered the ancient Pagan festival of Modrinacht, this year, when I thought about Nollaig na m’Ban it felt a little like squaring the circle.

Women’s Little Christmas as a Co. Cork tradition is a time for women to have a day away from their families, a day of rest and time to get together with other women to enjoy their own Christmas. It has its roots in the time when families where large and men rarely lifted a finger around the house, when a day off for women to socialise was a rare event. Although things have hopefully changed everywhere, Cork women still take full advantage of this tradition and most places offer special menus or events for this night out with the girls.

If though we take Modrinacht as the start of the Solstice period, the death and rebirth that follows, and a time to celebrate the feminine how fitting that we should also find within these weeks, Nollaig na m’Ban which could be seen as a celebration of the feminine too, after all there is a reason why there are so many women’s groups in the world.

As Modrinacht was a new discovery for me I decided to take a shamanic journey to gain insight in how to celebrate the feminine. This was my journey:

At first there was nothing and then I realised I was in a space which was full of women and that I was in a circle with them. I couldn’t see the whole circle it was so huge. I then felt tendrils from the earth wrap around my limbs and pull me down deep into the earth, into the Earth Mother. I was pulled deeper and deeper and realise that I could neither hear nor feel my heart.

I then became aware of my womb and only my womb. The stronger my womb got the more I became aware of my own fertility, my own creativity and as my connection to this grew there was a rush up my body and I could once more feel and hear my heart beat.

After returning from my journey I realised that connecting with my womb so powerfully is connecting with my own creativity, that the essence of the feminine lives on in me no matter what stage of my life I am in. I also became aware of how it is only the feminine that has the power to give birth and that it should be honoured in each and every one of us.

I also knew that honouring and celebrating the feminine had to start with myself and this meant a long shower, one where I was observing my body, taking time with every part, recognising as I do that my body is still perfect despite signs of wear and tear. I dried carefully, taking time with me and then massaged myself with body lotion. In this way I celebrated and honoured my body, my outer feminine if you like.

Sitting still afterwards looking at the blue sky, the sunshine, the plants and trees in the garden I found myself full of wonder at Mother Earth and her ability to give life and take it away in a never ending cycle, all the while being perfect in every moment.

I have no goddesses that I worship for in my shamanism there are none but I do have a deep connection to the land and to Mother Earth, so simply sitting and lighting a candle I did so for all females everywhere whatever form they are in, for Mother Earth, for my mother, grandmothers and all my female ancestors and of course for myself. I sat quietly and gave thanks for the feminine in jall that exists.

So today, on the day of Nollaig na m’Ban I shall finish this time of the year by once again lighting a candle and giving thanks for the feminine. I shall take some time out for myself and if any of my female friends are around later I am not adverse to a little celebrating with them too.