The Power of Ritual – Part 1

 

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The power of ritual comes from working with the spirits, the ancestors, the elements and the powers. Experience comes over time but one of the biggest and most important part of ritual is realising that ritual of any kind has power to greater or lesser degrees. For instance, marriage is a ritual. It is an exchange of vows and depending on the nature of the wedding ritual, may have other factors involved both on a spiritual level and on the physical level. Vows are not just binding on this plane! Nor necessarily, just in this lifetime. All of ritual carries with it not just power but that power doesn’t just exist in the physical, it exists on the spiritual plane as well. The importance of realising this, is not to scare you, but help you understand its power and the responsibility you take on when conducting ritual.

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In my opinion, considered ritual, as in a ritual of intention, is something that we do not use enough in the West. It is a powerful catalyst for grief as mentioned in previous posts and for clearing “stuck” emotions. It is powerful for celebration, for magic, for cursing, for healing, for changing the course of situations that a person might feel powerless in, like having a situation at work or to halt fracking or to move house, or to help the earth or to call on rain when there is a drought. The list is endless really.

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A word on cursing – why did I even put this word in? Well because with all workings with the spirits and the different worlds, you have a responsibility. Many of us habitually curse without realising it. I am sure you have used unsavoury terms or seemingly harmless comments at points in your life e.g. I wish that stupid old man would have his driving license taken off him because he is so slow he is a danger to society. I have known people pray for people to break up because they don’t like their son or daughter’s partner. There is power in this, even if the person doesn’t actually intend specific harm to the partner. This is unintentional cursing. When cursing is done in ritual, there is potentially, great power in this. It is important to know that this will likely boomerang back to you in some way. Hence why I deliberately put the word curse in the above paragraph. This is to do with being responsible for the intent of your ritual and being clear on your intention for the ritual.

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When setting up a ritual, you need to know what its for, this is your intention for the ritual. You need to be clear about the intention. If it is for healing, what healing? Who or what for? Do you have the person/person’s permission to send them healing? Don’t do healing, magic or any type of ritual involving a person unless they have given permission for you to do so. It will bounce back. This takes you back to responsibility again. There are a lot of people that routinely send healing without permission to do so. This has to do with free will. Every person has the right to say no! For instance, religious beliefs may restrict what and who sends healing to a given person. I would not thank you for sending me healing, if this healing came with the intent that I should become a certain religion and step away from the beliefs that I hold, to do so. In other words, certain religions may suggest that another religion/belief is a sin or evil or the result of unclean spirits. In this sense the sending of healing may be to “heal” or “deliver” someone of the evil spirits that are causing their current belief. This is arrogance at best, but sadly happens where the person may sincerely believe what another person is doing is wrong and feels that they should “help” them to see this.
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Be clear about your intention, gain permission when the ritual involves other people. You might say to me, yes but I want to send someone healing because they have cancer and I’m not asking them to change their beliefs, I just want to help them. Surely sending healing in this way can’t hurt. Ask yourself a question, if this were you, would you be happy for anyone to send you healing, regardless of their belief system or lifestyle? I’ll put this another way. You have a belief that witches are dangerous people, if a witch said she/he would send you healing would you be happy for them to do so without your consent? Your father is a deeply religious man, would he be happy for you to send him healing when your beliefs and lifestyle conflicts with his. Would your father be happier if his priest/minister/rabbi prayed for his healing? These are very important questions.

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There are many ways of conducting ritual, they might be done by one person or as a group. It might be a little ritual of burial regarding a pet that has died or might be ritual for letting go of an old relationship or a pattern of behaviour. Although, there are many prescribed rituals, as in set ways of conducting these, it is important that the ritual is something you are comfortable with. Making connections with the spirits and ancestors is very important and is a personal connection built over time. Prior to working in ritual, it is important to journey to or meditate on the elements and work with these over time. In Native Shamanism/Celtic Shamanism there are usually four elements although some consider a fifth one as being spirit. To begin with, I will talk about the four. These are Earth, Air, Fire and Water. There are spirits of each element. There are also four directions, (some people use more than four, but we will be working with four), these are the North, South, West and East.

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There are various beliefs about which directions these elements belong to. My wish for you is for you to discover what feels right for you. However for the purpose of teaching I will be using the North with the element of earth, East with the element of air, South with the element of fire and West with the element of water. There are various ways of calling in the spirits of the elements and various spirits associated with them. However, again, my wish for you is to seek your own meaningful ways of doing this. We will also be working with the powers of the Earth, Sea and Sky.

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If ritual is new to you it is useful to have a framework and as part of Native shamanism, we will be working with the elements and directions as well as the powers of the Earth, Sea and Sky. These will be discussed in the next blog.

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The pictures above show different types of rituals from around the world and of different beliefs.

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Meditative Walking

As you begin to work in this way, it is a good idea to keep a journal of your experiences. Use this for all your shamanic work. Buy or make or decorate a journal book so that it feels special and important to you. You can also draw pictures or stick in items that you have found or press them and put them in your journal. You can add in inspired thoughts, poems and anything else that you might link with the spiritual journey you have embarked on.

Meditative walk

Choose a place out in nature to walk – if you are choosing a park, go at a time when there are less likely to be people about. Preferably go to a woods or the sea or a river or some fields. Set your intention that you will be aware of anything that spirit wants to draw your attention to. Keep  that intention in mind as you walk. Take an offering of some dried herbs, an apple, whatever feels right with you.

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Please don’t close your eyes as you walk as you might walk into a tree rather than be drawn towards a tree!!

Keep your attention focused. Be aware of the surroundings and the sounds that you hear. Connect with the Earth Mother and ask her to show you what you need at this moment.

Things you might find directly in your path – feathers or a particular feather, a particular stone, a small twig of leaves or berries, a snake skin, a herb or flower, a piece of bone and if you are lucky a skull of a small animal. If you feel pulled towards some thing lying in your path, pick it up, thanking the owner of the discarded item and the Earth Mother for their gift. If you have some dried herbs with you, sprinkle a few as an offering of thanks.

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If you are drawn to a flower/herb/leaves/acorns that are attached to the plant, ask the plant first before you whip the flower/ leaf/berries etc from the stem. If you allow yourself a moment to link in with the spirit of the plant/herb, when you ask permission, you will sense their yes or no. As in all things in this work, mutual respect must be uppermost in your mind. It might be also good to think of it as equality. Most of us from a christian background have been brought up to believe that we are the superior to all other species. Learning to respect all life is very important and by asking the plant/herb/tree first, you are showing respect for their spirit and individuality. You are also beginning a relationship with the plant and building trust.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You would hardly be drawn to a little girls slide and pull it unceremoniously from her hair would you?

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After picking up the item you have been drawn to, continue with your meditative walk, being aware of your surroundings and the sounds around you. Note any bird sounds or flights of any particular birds, any animals that you sight on your path, any trees that you are particularly drawn to. Note the weather and any changes in the weather as you walk.

Also, note any body sensations you might have during your walk and especially any bodily responses to plants/trees/herbs/ birds etc.

When you have completed your walk, you might have a little collection of things. Give any offering that you brought (you could look around for a place that feels right to place the offering – never make a show of this) and thank mother earth, the spirits of the place and any particular spirits that you might have sat with or spent time with during your walk.

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Take your treasures home. If you have an altar, you might wish to put them on it. However, before you do this, it would be good to sit with each item for a short while where you won’t be disturbed, shut your eyes and hold each object separately and try and tune into each one. Be aware of any images that you receive, anything you hear, any feelings and any body sensations. if you feel that one or more of the objects should be used for a particular thing – e.g. healing, protection etc then place them somewhere where they won’t be handled by others. Bless them, and if you have one, put them in a wooden box or place them on your altar if this feels right. You may even feel you should make a little bag to put the items in. We will return to this in a later blog. Go with what you feel to be right in each case.

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Write up your experiences in your journal. Include the date and place that you went for your walk. Name the objects that were gifted to you and any information you were given from them when you linked in with them. Don’t forget to add in the weather and weather changes, any sudden inspired thoughts or nuggets of wisdom, any birds/animals sighted whilst walking and any responses you felt from mother earth, trees, plants, herbs etc.

You might also want to find out more about a certain tree, animal or bird. You could deepen your knowledge by identifying what bird a feather came from, its habits and nature or identify a particular tree or plant that you were drawn to and find out a bit more about it. If an animal crossed your path, e.g. a fox, you could read up a little bit about foxes.

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Journeying ….. to? Part 1…

There are three worlds supported  by a huge tree – the upper world, lower world and the middle world. You might recognise the pictures below:

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When you start taking journeys, you will journey to meet your guides and helpers. Keep an open mind, you might have a bear or you might have a mouse. At this stage in your learning, you might struggle with your ego!

The following is not meant to insult you, we all struggle with our ego, our belief systems and patterns of behaviour. This journey into shamanism is not an easy one. It will test your resolve, it will give you what you need to grow spiritually and ….. for those who take this on fully as a life path, they will help you to rid yourself of all your past emotions, belief systems and patterns of behaviour. In short, it will, over time enable you to look at your dark side, the stuff, you would rather not acknowledge and turn this side into the gold it truly is. For instance – huge fears of rejection and unworthiness – when worked with and  accepted as part of you, can become the strength and bravery you need

Going back to the ego, I don’t know how many people I have met whose guides are always either big figures like Indian chiefs or queens/kings, knights, Merlin etc. Or impressive beings and animals like Lions and Bears and Wolves and Dragons. You might well have one or more of these but be careful, always use your senses, be careful not to project what your ego would like rather than what is real. What do I mean? Well, let’s say a ragged looking man comes to you, he looks as old as the hills and his skin is wrinkled and grey. However, he has a staff with him and has a grey tunic on – before asking him his name and who he is, you have created a picture in your mind, of who he is and pronounce him a monk or perhaps Merlin during his madness in the woods after the battle where he lost all of the people he loved!

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I cannot stress enough, the importance of being open and using good sense! Beggars can be a trickster in disguise to see if you are in your ego space or if you are genuine. Beggars can indeed turn out to be Merlin or a monk! An old hag, could turn out to be a beautiful goddess. The test is not a game, it is to help you approach this work with good sense, a willing heart and a genuine desire to learn and be taught.

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Always ask the creature that appears, if they are offering to be your guide. Always ask questions, the mouse may have just come out to peer at you and wonder what you are doing there! When you journey for the first time, there may be tricksters who will lead you a merry dance. They have a purpose! To test your resolve and to see if you are savvy! Always treat any creature or being that you meet with respect as you would in this world. You may not hear words, you might feel that this is your helper, like a knowing. The other thing to remember is it takes time to build a relationship. This needs to be nurtured with time and practice. I will go into this in a later blog.

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Some guides and helpers are with you in the beginning, to be replaced by others as you grow. Some are there to protect you and others are there to help you with specific issues or for something you need right now. There are a multitude of creatures and beings, too many to name but being open is the most important thing. You might meet a wasp or a bee or a knat! You might meet a spider. Approach each with the same respect and ask questions. You may sense the answers or be given pictures or you might hear words or get a body sensation.butterflyfaery2

The other thing is, you might see an otherworldly being, like a gnome or a goblin or a dragon or a winged horse. The important thing is to be as open as possible. Avoid dismissing something either because you can’t believe what you are seeing or sensing is your guide/helper or because something is so small that they couldn’t possibly be a guide/helper!! There is always either a lesson in this or something that you need at this time from this creature/being. As I have said, always treat with respect as you would when meeting someone for the first time in our world. Use your discernment as you would with anyone you meet.

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When you journey to meet your guides/helpers, you will use something in nature to take you down to the lower world. You might choose a small hole at the base of the tree and imagine climbing down through the roots. You might see a long slide that you race downwards on. You might dive into a river or jump down through a stream. Whatever feels right to you.

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When you travel down, take a good look at your surroundings when you get down. I am not going to make any suggestions here, you can trust where you find yourself.

Prior to going on your journey, you will use something called an intention. You will start rattling/drumming and repeat the intention out loud, three times – e.g. My intention is to travel to the lower world to meet with my guides and helpers.

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Trust what you see/feel/hear. Try to zoom in and take in what  your surrounding look like and what any creature/being  you meet looks like. Ask the questions you need to ask. If they turn out not to be your guide, thank them and say good bye.

lowerworld-4Move on with your journey. If you are in a cave, move further in, if you are on a path in nature, continue walking. Keep your intention at the front of your mind and trust that they will present themselves. Don’t let your mind wander off your intention. If you find that you are filled with doubts, gently acknowledge them and let them go. Keep going. 

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If you are journeying for the first time, a teacher may be drumming for you. If this is the case, she/he will explain the different drum beats to expect and the calling you back beats. When you hear the call back. Thank whoever, you are speaking to and come back the same way that you went. This is very important. So retrace your steps to the root of the tree, the bottom of the slide or to the river, or whatever else you envisaged to go down to the lower world. Come back up the way you came, e.g. climb back up the roots of the tree, climb up the slide, jump up through the stream. If you are laying or sitting or standing, allow yourself time to come back into the room. Wriggle your toes and hands, yawn, or take a few deep breaths, in through your nose and breath out of your mouth. Become aware of any sounds in the room. Open your eyes. You now want to ground yourself. This can be done by drinking some water, walking round out on some grass in bare feet, or eating something.  healinghands-1024x682

Don’t take yourself too seriously, this should be fun. It is a new beginning and is exciting! If everything didn’t work out just as you wanted, don’t worry. Take what you have seen/done/heard and thank the spirits for their help and guidance.

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I always like to teach people, from the beginning, to give a gift of thanks. Its a good habit to get into. This can be later when you get home, just out in your garden or at the local park but out in nature somewhere.

Take an apple or some herbs or whatever feels right, out and place it on the ground or under a tree etc and bless the offering and say what it is for – e.g. Thank you to the spirits and my guides/helpers for helping me today on my journey. Use your own words, whatever feels right for you.

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Now you have met your guides/helpers – there might be many or you might have only one. Whoever you meet as your guide/helper, is what is right for you at this moment.

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Out in Nature

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Today, I would like to talk to you about being out in Nature, there is no better teacher. I used to wonder at these words but slowly, over years, I have realised the truth of this. Nature is anywhere and everywhere, by the sea, in the woods, even in your garden or local park.

You can only get to know Nature by being out in it. Pictures will not suffice, nor will visualisations, although they have their place. It is important, to try and be out in Nature everyday and to pick a particular spot that you like and feel comfortable in. I would also add, for those of you, beginning your journey in this powerful and transformational quest, if you feel at all vulnerable in a place, find somewhere else, where you feel safe. Most of us, especially women, can feel vulnerable if the place is too deserted or has groups of young men/older men hanging around. Nature is powerful but most of our fears relate to either fear of the dead or of death and fear of attack, usually by people. These fears, until you get to a stage where you can release them and know that you are protected, will prevent you from getting the most out of your time out in Nature.

So pick a spot and time of day suitable for you where you will preferably, not be disturbed but where you also feel safe.

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The purpose of picking the same spot is to get to know the spirits there. These will include, the guardian and spirits of the place, the spirits of the land and any ancestors that lived and walked where you choose to sit. Of course there will be many other spirits that you might wish to get to know, e.g. the tree, plant, animal and bird spirits around your place in Nature, this would also include water spirits if you are near a stream or the sea. There are in fact more spirits than you can imagine, but for now, the above is sufficient.

Getting to know the spirits, is like getting to know someone new. You generally pick out people in a crowd you would like to speak to, we tend to go for people with a similar signature/energy to us. So, use the same awareness by going towards a place or tree or plant that you naturally feel drawn to. Don’t battle with an Elder Tree spirit, for instance, who clearly gives you a cold feeling or angry feeling every time you have approached it. It might seem obvious to say, but this does not mean it has a bad or foreboding spirit! There can be other complications but we won’t go into that here. Instead, know this is only your perception. If you are picking something off of the tree, think about this as a possible scenario. This Elder Tree used to be respected and people would sit beneath it for picnics or come to gather its beautiful blossom for Elderflower Champagne or to help with their hay fever. However, in recent years, young children kick it and climb it to pull of it’s branches. It lives in constant fear that it’s head will be the next on the block to be cut down whenever it sees the nasty people with the chainsaws in hand or the old man who goes round marking the trees, due for the chop! P.s this is not an Elder tree below, it is a Hawthorn!

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So, to recap, choose a place you can go to, preferably daily, somewhere you feel safe and comfortable and choose something specific, that you feel drawn to to begin building a rapport with. Sit on the floor, with your shoes off whenever this is possible. If your immediate thought to me saying this, was I can’t sit on the floor, there are spiders or its muddy. Then you truly NEED to sit on the floor! If of course you have a hip problem or a physical issue, you may have to sit on a bench. Remember, you need to go to this place everyday or at least three times a week, so I am not just talking about when it is warm and the sun is shining in the sky. No, I mean see the place through the seasons and the wonderful changes in weather. See your place to sit at different times in the day when you can, note how it feels, the sounds around you, how it looks. In the morning, does the sun drizzle down through the trees, dazzling you with its beauty. At dusk, does it feel different, do you sense different beings/spirits at this time.

A word about elementals and the Fey here, I don’t use the word fairy because people immediately think of little pretty people from Disney. Some of them are indeed beautiful and small, some are possibly, not what we would call pretty, some are extremely tall, the shining ones, I could go on, but you get the picture. Suffice to say, never get trapped in an accepted world view, expect the unexpected, there are millions of different beings out there!

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Some elementals, can feel heavy when they are around but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they have mean intent. Often, if they are earth type elementals, their energy is denser/heavier and might be interpreted as foreboding. Always treat with respect. Sometimes, you may feel that you are not wanted at this time in your space – all beings have a job to do, they all have purpose and they might not want you around whilst they are doing it! So be prepared to say, “Thank you for letting me know, I’ll come back at a more convenient time if that’s okay?” You might get a response or you might not. The response might come as a sudden gust of wind or a sudden owl screech, or if you are very in tune with the place, you might sense it in your body or as words in your head or even as a song. Know that, in this work, anything is possible! We, as humans only miss out when put limits on what is possible/probably. And as an extra here, no you are not going mad!

The purpose of all of this, is to really become familiar with a specific place. You will notice how it changes and over time, you will notice more subtle changes like mood or feel. You might notice that there is an unusual silence or that the birds are extremely noisy today. During your time, and I would suggest at least 15 minutes every day in your place, if you can do a longer time at least once a week, so much the better.

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For now, when you go there, first let the spirits of place know that you would like to come here regularly to get to know them. Say this out loud if you can, or in your head. Ask if they are happy for you to do this. Wait for an answer, either by sensing, hearing or feeling/seeing something externally. You might say to me, but Kaarina, its a park, loads of people come here everyday and I am sure they don’t ask permission to be here – again, if you have this thought, be prepared to realise that this is from arrogance. The council said it’s a public park, therefore I have a right to be here to! This work is all about relationship to spirit and nurturing those relationships, the way you would a new friendship. On first meeting someone, in a park or elsewhere, you wouldn’t go rushing up to them and invade their personal space would you? Chances are, they would run a mile!

Now, if you felt that it was okay for you to use this place on an ongoing basis, thank them! Its their pad/house! Now, find somewhere you wish to sit and just let yourself go into a light meditative state, even if you want to keep your eyes open. Do this for about 5 minutes of your time there. Use this time to ‘tune’ into the spirits of the place and let them know that you would like to get to know them. Again, to start with, as I said previously, chose a specific tree or plant or bird that you feel drawn to and speak with them.

When you leave, say to everyone – all the spirits, not just the tree spirit you have sat with, thank you. It is nice to leave a general offering, this can be a few dried herbs, some honey and milk, an apple/carrot, whatever feels right. You might want to do this every time you go or once a week. I leave this up to what you feel to be right. This is all part of the learning. My hope is for anyone reading these words or attending training with me, that you develop your own way, you find what’s right for you and your relationships, this is personal and a personal experience. I don’t want you to follow me, I give you the rudiments and when you feel more confident, like a child, you start to explore on your own. Gradually, you gain more insights and more confidence and your personal relationships blossom and you get given very personal ways that are right for you. This is true growth. I am not a shepherd and you are not my sheep!

Bright blessings all!

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Native Shamanism – plant Spirit Medicine

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Plant Spirit Medicine is a much more productive way of working with plants, both magically and for healing. Although, I am trained as a Western Medical Herbalist, I have found that working with the plants, is the most effective way of finding what you need for healing and ritual and spiritual/magical workings.

An example of this, whilst training as a Western Medical Herbalist at Uni, I had a very dear friend who had a shoulder problem. She was in a lot of pain. I asked the spirits and plant spirits for advice. They gave me specific ingredients to put in a poultice plus specific instructions on how to put this together. This was very effective in reducing the inflammation and pain. Yet, when I asked about some of the herbs used in this from an eminent herbalist, she said that these herbs would not be used for this as these were not part of their actions. These actions are only those, verified by science and some traditional use. However, working as I have for many years, I know that plants/herbs ‘know’ their power and their healing properties better than we do!

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In working with plants in this way, they have gifted me with some specific tones/signature tones for certain plants, which can be used for healing, especially if the herbs needed are not easily obtainable.

At other times, I have been led to certain plants for healing for others and have had specific herbs suddenly grow in my garden. For instance, when I was bleeding heavily with my menstruation, after three years of living in the house, Yarrow began growing in the front garden. Of course, it worked fantastically!

Plants and Herbs and Trees are wonderfully open with their healing properties and working with them is extremely rewarding. However, it is important, always, to give an offering for their help. Sometimes the spirits, quite rightly, can become quite distant and even sometimes, will not work with you if there is no reciprocation. Imagine if you gave someone a fantastic concoction that healed them or brought about an amazing change in their life, wouldn’t you be a bit angry if they didn’t even say thank you?

Always when working with spirits in this world or the other worlds, never forget your manners! Also, bare in mind that like people, no one plant/herb or tree is the same. You can have two oak trees, one of whom is unwilling to work with you and you might feel that as a feeling of not being welcome or that the tree is ‘grumpy!’ The other Oak may give you a welcoming feeling and be quite happy to lend their strength to you. The important rule here, is treating everyone and everything as you would want to be treated. There are no exceptions here. If you feel, oh it is just a plant, I don’t have to ask permission or build up a relationship with them, you need to look at your prejudices and attitude. This is an arrogant view that sadly comes from the religions that have held sway for far too long, where we see ourselves as the supreme governors of the Earth and her children. The results of this attitude can be seen everywhere in our world. The rape and pillage of our Mother Earth and the harm to her children is phenomenal. So, respect everyone/everything that you are working with. We are all connected and we all like to be treated with respect.

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Before I go, don’t forget the ongoing native shamanic training starting on the 25th September, 5.30pm until 8.30pm every Sunday except the first Sunday of the month. It is £10 per week for three hours training. If you don’t have a drum or rattle, no worries, we can improvise! Join at any time at The Centre Mind Body Spirit, Rainham, Kent, ME8 8PQ!

See you there!

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Training in Native Shamanism – Rooted in the Land and Ancestry of the British Isles.

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I am very excited to announce this new ongoing training in Native Shamanism. It will be at The Centre – Mind Body Spirit in Rainham in Kent ME8 8PQ every Sunday except the first Sunday of the month. We start on the 25th September 2016.

This course will be ongoing and anyone can join at any time.

If you have a drum or rattle already great! However, we can improvise! If you don’t have either of these, bring a plastic bottle with lid! I will give you something to put in these that will give it a nice sound. I used this myself recently when I was at the Rollright Stones in the Cotswolds.

We will be covering various aspects of shamanism for instance:

Making a safe place for yourself, that you can go to anytime in meditation

Working with the spirit in all things – trees, animal, birds, plants…

Journeying to find your team of guides and helpers

Journeying to the ancestors – for advice and/or healing

Dreams and dream re-entry for accessing the messages of our dreams.

Preparing for journeying.

Journeying and accessing specific healing for yourself and others – talking to the ancestors

Soul retrieval – what it is, how to do this, when to do this, how to recognise the signs and how to seek the right advice regarding this from your guides/helpers and the ancestors.

Journeying for inner child healing.

Journeying to break the ancestral patterns and beliefs that may be affecting you in this life.

Plant spirit medicine – working with specific plants – for guidance, healing and magical properties.

Working with trees.

Working with animals and birds – looking and noting signs from nature that are meant to help us on our journey.

Looking at what signs mean to us – no books please!! Journeying to find more information on this.

Ritual – how to set up ritual, from the very simple to the more involved. However, I won’t be teaching you a set way of doing ritual, this is to increase your own working confidence in listening to your guides and helpers. I don’t want you to become rigid in your working. I want you to flow with your guides and helpers. This is something we will build on over time. We will be working with various spirits, guardians, spirits of the place and your own specific guides. We will work with the elements – individually and altogether. We will also develop to working with spirits of the weather including the rain, sun, winds and the powers of the Earth, Sky and Sea.

BEWARE – you will grow spiritually from this work! Always be good to yourself and after a session and during it, drink plenty of water. Practice one of the hardest things for us as humans to do – self love! This work is important work, both spiritually, individually and collectively. We begin to see that we are never alone and that spirit truly is in all things and more than that, we are all connected!

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When I talk about loving yourself, this is extremely important. As healers and spiritual workers, we often neglect ourselves in our attempt to help others both at home and beyond. However, that is the quickest way to end up in problems. We become tired, ill, frustrated, irritable, stressed ……….! We need to make sure that we fill ourselves with love for ourselves, then we can truly love others but it starts with us. Imagine yourself as a bottle of water and each time you give of yourself, a few drops of that water flows away from the bottle. Eventually, the bottle becomes dangerously low in water. This is when you get ill, overtired and even exhausted. So, we will discuss this during our time together! It is extremely important for this work and any spiritual work.

You might wonder why I haven’t talked about protection in this. We will discuss this over time as you have to go with what is right for you. There may be times where you feel protection is warranted. This usually has more to do with your own beliefs and fears. I tend to ask the trees to act as guardians and others spirits to help support and keep our work within the ritual space. However, there may be times where we create a circle around our space because we want the energies to stay within the circle or ritual space until we send it out e.g. for healing the earth or for specific healing to a given person, (who has given permission for the healing to be sent).

During our time together we will discuss etiquette when working with the spirits and in other worlds and offerings of thanks for their help in our endeavours.

This course is ongoing and you can join at any time. It is for 3 hours every Sunday except the first Sunday of the month from 5.30pm – 8.30pm.

Please bring your drum/rattle or empty plastic bottle. If you have a large cushion or mat you can bring this, as for the most part we will sit on the floor unless you have a physical issue which requires a chair. Please bring a bottle of water. There is coffee, tea and a variety of other types of tea available at the Centre – Mind Body Spirit.

The price is £10 per week, payable on the night as you come in, so we get that out of the way!

I hope that some or all of you will join me on specific trips out to the land

Other services available:

Rituals celebrating the wheel of the year.

Workshops on aspects of Shamanism – various – to be announced.

Escape to the wild lands – various camps throughout the year! To be announced.

Rituals – specific for your needs – e.g. grief rituals; celebratory rituals; life change rituals; letting go rituals.

Handfasting; Baby naming; Transitioning rituals e.g. teenage to adulthood; Menopause – embracing the divine feminine wisdom; Retirement; Dying.

One-one shamanic work for counselling, healing and soul retrieval or advice.

Psychopomp – crossing over people who have died and may be stuck, disorientated especially if the death was sudden.

Apprenticeships

Western Herbal Medicine – Consultation and prescriptions.

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The Power of Ritual – Grief 2

I realise that the  last blog that I wrote was generic in nature. However, during the blog I mention the option of calling in the spirits/elements/deity/ancestors. The spirits reminded me last night of a number of things that I need to say. These are important things and they are an extremely important part of the ritual. Yes, suffice to say that spirit can and will, even if you have a good relationship with them, let you know if you have offended them or if you have left them on the side lines. This of course was not my intention but obviously, I need to rectify this.

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Firstly, I would like to add that for a powerful and protected ritual there are certain things you should know and do. If you are new to this kind of ritual or have seen this done but never personally done this before, it is important that you have some idea of what you are dealing with and you need to have asked them to come. Furthermore, you need to be very clear about the intention for the ritual concerned. It would be a bit like inviting people to a special occasion but you have forgotten to tell them what the special occasion is for.  For the purpose of this blog, I will use the word spirits to denote all the beings that you might call in, except where it is necessary to state them individually.

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The power in a ritual is hugely heightened by the calling in of the spirits. In reality, they are the power that can bring about change, healing and whatever else your ritual might be about. They will, along with your intention that you have sent out, continue to set this in motion. Especially if it calls for a situation to be resolved or healing to be sent. However, imagine that in the road where you live, there are several people who you have never said hello to before or even smiled at. They and you are essentially strangers. You decide to have a ritual and decide to invite them to do certain jobs within the ritual. You don’t intend to pay them and essentially they are just guarding the gates and going to be the muscle power. Do you think they would come? Or do you think that they would think…..”bloody cheek!” Well the spirits are real beings with their own etiquette and rules and should never be used in this way.

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It is important to ask the spirits of place and the guardian of the place where you are holding the ritual, if they are happy for you to hold the ritual there. Even if this is in your home, asking for their help is not only prudent, it is polite. Plus, they may know something you don’t know, and give you the feeling that perhaps you should do this in another part of the house or garden.

You might ask, how will I know? Well sensitivity increases with time and working with the spirits. However, in the same way as many people have experienced, you can walk into a room an sense an atmosphere.  You will feel something in your gut/intuition. You can usually sense when there is a bad atmosphere, like someone has just had an argument. It hangs in the air. Really, it is the energy of the argument that still sits there, plus, the people concerned may still be smarting from the argument and trying to put a happy face on it. With the spirits of place, you might feel it as a bad or peaceful feeling or as a breeze brushing past your face or a sudden gust of wind or the flight of a bird that catches your eye. Trust your gut on this if you are new to this. Often the feeling is very subtle.

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The Elements – again if you are new to this, you need to know that in the British tradition, the Elements are of Air – they are usually called in with the powers of the East or some do this with the South; the Element of Fire which is usually called in with the powers of the South or East; the Element of Water, called in with the powers of the West; the Element of Earth, called in with the powers of the North. The East is the place of the rising sun and of the Spring. Think of the burgeoning forth of new life and the maiden. With the element of air, think of air spirits, the wind in the trees, the flight of the birds. Think of mental activity, clarity of thought. The South is when the sun is high in the sky like at noon and the heat of Summer. With the Element of Fire, think of heat and passion, sexuality, creativity, candle flames, roaring fires, the heat of the midday sun, salamanders. The West is the place of the setting sun, the Autumn, the time when everything is dying back in nature and the last show of colour with the leaves of rust and gold. With the Element of Water, think of rivers and seas, of rain, of streams and emotions. The North is when the sun is at its weakest, the time of Winter and of death. It is also the place of darkness, stillness, dormancy, hibernation and of  life happening under the surface. A time of rest and recuperation before the Spring comes again. The Element of Earth, think of birth, death and rebirth, think of manifestation of creativity, of life, of growing something from seed that eventually burgeons forth or a project that comes to fruition.  Building a relationship with the elements is very important and takes time.

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These are only rough guides. Your best guide is to find what works for you, what intuition tells you. More on this in a later blog.

The spirits of the trees, plants, animals, birds and all of life. You may wish to build a relationship with certain trees, plants, animals and birds. You may be drawn to certain plants, trees, animals and birds. This is something that takes time and sometimes, what you are drawn to is what you need at this moment. A small example was that at one time, I was bleeding very heavily, menstrually. So much so, that I had a few embarrassing episodes. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) had begun growing suddenly in our garden. I looked this up and found that it was a herb that could help to stem menstrual bleeding! What a wonder that was and it worked very quickly! That is how wonderful it can be when you start working with the spirit that flows through all things. I used the example in the previous blog of calling in the tree spirits to hold the space as guardian protectors in a ritual. This is something I do personally, tree spirits are great friends to have and are well worth putting the effort in to getting to know them. They are supportive and very forgiving of our foibles as humans. Many of them also have healing properties that may also be appropriate to the ritual you are doing. It is a bit like having a friend who you know is a great guardian and will protect you in times that you might need it but also has another gift of being able to help in other ways, like baking or making a blanket or being a good listener or being a herbalist or healer. Much more on this later and in up and coming workshops.

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The Ancestors – our ancestors of our blood line and our ancestors of these lands have been there! They know what it is like to lose someone precious. They have skills and knowledge. Getting to know them and work with them is truly a gift. They can give advice and may even tell you off at times and point out things you don’t really want to know, but they are like your extended family. Getting to know them is a definite gift. Again more on this later.

There are an enormous amount of beings out there, many of whom are happy to help and want to work with you for the good of the planet. Time spent in nature is a good start. Find a place in nature where it feels safe and peaceful. Somewhere away from the main path, so that people aren’t walking past you constantly or find a time of day where you can go there and be guaranteed of some peace. This place, is somewhere you should visit regularly. Get to know the spirits in this place. Start to feel them and talk with them. Bring an offering to them each time you go. This can be something simple like some milk or a few herbs, an apple or some flowers. Make sure it is biodegradable though. Some guardians and spirits haven’t been spoken to for centuries and may be a bit amazed that someone is actually acknowledging them. Keep doing it and your relationship with nature will grow as will you, spiritually.

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Always, when calling spirits in to your sacred space, explain what the intent of the ritual is in clear language. You don’t need to flower it up. An example would be: This ritual is to help me and others of my family and friends to express our emotions about the death of ………….. (name the person) and/or to celebrate his/her life whilst they were with us. I would welcome your help/advice/ energy/healing to help with this. Always thank the spirits/guardians/ancestors/deity and always give an offering afterwards. If you don’t know what to give as an offering, ask. You will get a sense or might even have a picture come into your head telling you what they would like. It might be food or drink or both or it might be something from you like your time or effort.

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