The Journey

As those of you who have visited The Well of Belonging will be aware , I have a life long connection to and awareness of  ‘Other’. That which is other than human. Land spirits, plant spirits, animal spirits. I have felt drawn towards exploring and discovering a deeper connection to the beings that co-exist with us on this earth and those that support us and work with us in the other realms.

A path that is  often termed these days as Shamanism. Whilst I would say the way in which I work could be considered shamanic in nature , I do not and would not consider myself by any stretch of the imagination to be ‘A shaman’ .

Striclty speaking a true Shaman is one who is called by the spirits themselves , receives numerous initiations by them and is usually apprenticed to another in their lineage for a number of years before being allowed to call themselves Shaman. The spirits themselves decide if you are up to the job – one which is actually full of pitfalls and dangers and needs to be navigated with the utmost care and with full knowledge of what one is doing.

Shaman means ,one who knows. A shaman is often a well respected member of the community, whose life is dedicated to mediating between the human and spirit realms on behalf of both, to support the wellbeing of the place, the spirits and the people. To maintain harmony and balance for all concerned. You can’t become a shaman in a weekend. But you can utilise some of the practices, such as journeying, to enhance your own connections to your helpers, guides and teachers in spirit.

For a lot of people in Western cultures sadly, our connection to our native spiritual heritage was severed long ago with the advent of Christianity- and those who had the knowledge were either murdered or went into hiding. So we have had to patch together fragments from our oral history and combine them with borrowed practices from other cultures, likely to be similar to our own ancient practices and do our best to reconnect the threads of our spiritual and nature connected heritage .
There aren’t many who are connected to a lineage and most people, like myself are in effect taught through their relationship with their guides.

The majority of people in the modern world who are drawn to shamanism , those that aren’t part of an established tradition or culture, work within what is termed core shamanism- which is a set of practices gathered by western anthropologists studying other tribal cultures , that are utilised to help  dissociated and disconnected westerners re-connect to their own innate capacity for relationship with beings beyond the physical , human realms.

One of the main ways of doing this that is often taught is Journeying. The prescribed method is to lie down , with eyes closed and listen to the repetitive beat of a drum and journey on its sound into the spirit realms of upper, middle and lower world. The concept and knowledge of these 3 realms is shared by all cultures across the globe.

You journey first to a beginning place , somewhere that has a familiar counter part to a place you know well in this realm. Then you ask for a guide to connect with who will be your helper and obviously , guide, around the inner realms. Time is spent forming a relationship with these guides before you are then ready to be taken to the access point for the Lower, Middle and Upper realms. Usually the most common presentation representing these 3 worlds is the World Tree. The roots represent connection to the Lower world. The trunk Middle world  and the branches the Upper World.

Some people connect to this practice very well and very easily – but it requires an ability to be able to both be relaxed in body and mind enough to leave this world behind, whilst remaining conscious of what is happening, so you can bring back the information /healing you need. It is essentially dreaming whilst being awake.

But this isn’t the only way to journey , nor is it the only way to find or strengthen your connection to your own guides, helpers and other realms. Its a method I’ve found quite frustrating and difficult because it doesn’t always happen the way its described.

There is a big emphasis on the visual aspect of the journey and of seeing what is going on – but not everyone sees clear images of what is taking place.Some experience the journey as a purely physical event -with bodily sensations providing the information. Some see only colours or hear messages.

Every one is different and so it makes sense that we will each have our own method.At the end of the day the purpose is to learn to work with your own guides and helpers and not everyone is destined to travel between the realms this way . I spent years wasting time being overly concerned with getting it right , until I eventually gave in and accepted the fact that this way, may not be my way, and my guides and helpers will show me what I need to know , in ways that work for me .

Some people, like me , can’t travel to the sound of a drum beat , its too loud and intrusive for me to be able to relax enough. So I don’t bother with it . The drum beat is there to help you shift your brain waves from one state to another so you enter into a state of consciousness that is between waking and sleeping. But there are many ways of doing this.

Some people can do it at will , some do it with breath, some do it with meditation, some do it with rattles . I find silence and stillness  quite helpful. Singing and chanting is another good way. Dreaming is another way of learning to journey.

One of the ways that works very well for me and no doubt lots of creative types , is though  creating art. I find working with story, a very powerful way of journeying, that brings imagery and language together to bring awareness of what needs to be healed . Creativity using the imagination offers  a way to connect with and bring back information from the spirit realms  to this one. For many people, the creating of the art work is the Journey.

So here, I offer the second of the images from the Journey cards series , as well as a Journey Poem I have been given permission by my guides to share with you.

 

The Journey

Old Mother Raven

came to my door ,

to tell me of wisdom and ancient law.

Dressed in fine feathers, with eyes darkest black,

she cawed to invite me on a journey ,

way back.

To the land of my ancestors,

in story and song,

with magic there,

weaving a place a I belong.

With a sky full of stars

and a moon nearly new,

together through time

the two of us flew.

”The shape of your destiny, is still to be told.

Honour the learning and power you hold.

Dream of a vision the world can behold.

Be daring! Be brave !Be courageous! Be bold!”

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As Above, So Below- Copyright The Well of Belonging 2018

 

 

 

The Ancestors

My next offering will be a  series of  artworks I created for use as Journey Cards. Each of the images were created with the help of my guides and helpers in Otherworld, the beings of the elemental realms and local places in nature that are  willing to offer their energy and support as a way of encouraging us humans to re-connect with our oldest ancestor- the very Earth upon which we live.

They want us to know that we are not living here alone – we are part of a vast web of consciousness that is interrelated and interconnected – and we always have been.

As humanity has raced ahead with its technological advancement we have left behind and forgotten our  roots, our real family, our true place in the cosmos, our only home.  We have  forgotten how to dream, how to journey to connect with the other than human. We have been torn from our Sacred heritage and understanding of the seasons and the natural cycles of birth, life and death and the rituals and ceremonies that honour them and in so doing, remind us of our role as stewards and guardians of the Earth.

Imagery is a powerful way to connect to our subconscious memories and to open us to our source of deep connection through the psyche and the intuitive senses. We put our rational minds to one side and allow ourselves to sit in stillness and open to the language of the Soul . We allow ourselves to been shown what it is we need to see, in the mirror of the image and we allow what comes to lead us on a journey of discovery, to the medicine we need .

Fire is our oldest ally. Our most ancient human ancestors learned to create fire to keep warm, ward off anything that might want to eat us, to cleanse with smoke and burn away with heat the dross so it can be transformed.

We learned to cook food with fire.We learned how to use it to create healing medicines  by heating the plants in water to bring out their medicinal properties and we learned how to use it to heat metals and alloys to  craft tools and weapons.

Fire, as an ancestor, has kept us alive and given us many inspirations to help us to thrive and evolve. We owe much to this humble element. By connecting to its energy we can learn a great deal about the fire in our own being and we can contemplate how its nature has shaped our own .

I call this Card – The Ancestors- and it holds the energy of the fire element in the South (or East direction of the medicine wheel for me, depending on which circle I am working in).

In the Old traditions of Britain the Element of Fire was placed in the South, however when I began to work with the  Goddess in circle, I was told to place Fire in the East.

You may place it somewhere else entirely. It’s actually a very interesting exercise to consider each element, in each direction and see what this reveals to you.

The Ancestors
The Ancestors Copyright The Well of Belonging 2018

 

Re-birth

Woman……
I will mould your body
from the clay of the earth.
Fill out your soft curves
with mosses and lichens.

From branches and leaves
your limbs I’ll create
and Your veins will flow rich with wild belonging.

I will blow the dust of a billion stars into your eyes
and they will shine infinitely bright.
Through your hair I’ll weave golden threads from the sun and the silver of the moonlight.

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I will breathe the air of mountains into your lungs.
Sail you on the seas of time across the milkyway
The song of the universe will carry you onwards.

And you will be reborn…….

Into rich, deep pools of love unfolding ,
A Creatrix  in the web of life.
The stuff of legend, myth and magic.
A child of the Earth, bringer of the dawn.

 

 

 

Poem Copyright The Well of Belonging 2018.  Image from WordPress Library.

A child out of time

As I type this title, a wave of sadness flows through my right shoulder and rib cage. An anxious feeling jingles the cells in the same place. My breathing is short and shallow and my right hand begins to shake. My arm shakes. I have butterflies in my belly, my throat is tightening and I can feel tears coming and going in waves. Is this safe ?

I take a deep breath and a voice within says ‘yes’.

I wait a few moments to settle into safety and a gentle calm flows over me. An inner nurturing protector steps in to hold the fragile part of me that is afraid to let you in, that is afraid to let you know what the gentle child within me wishes you to see.

That she is here. That she is tired of being alone ‘out there’ on the edges, alone in her vulnerability and sensitivity, not knowing where to turn for comfort and reassurance. And I feel a stabbing in my heart and tears prickling the edges of my eyes but I don’t and won’t cry.

My adult self says ‘now is not the time’. There are things to do. Work to go to. Jobs to be done . Later. When there is time.
I check in with the vulnerable child and sense the disappointment. Yet again she must wait to be seen and be heard . Yet again there is no time for her. I see myself in my minds eye, with my inner child on my lap, holding her. I tell her I will be with her, I will tell her story soon but for now I need to get to work .I tell her that I love her, I haven’t forgotten her and I promise we will speak again soon .

I feel the warmth in my heart swell. I sense her again, not so disappointed, looking forward to being with me again. I sense the anxiety mixed with apprehension – wanting to believe that I will , but afraid I may forget my promise …again.
She needs to speak, to be let in.

I feel the sadness and disappointment of the birthday party that never happened .
The tears cried alone behind closed doors.
The days spent wandering the playground by myself – looking out and seeing the connection that I do not have as though I live behind an invisible wall that you cannot see beyond. Wondering why you wont come near me. Do not see me, like I am not here.  I feel invisible like a ghost but I am not a ghost. I am here.

She speaks  to me -‘ You all exist in a world beyond me and I don’t know how to reach out, to connect, to belong. I feel my brothers loss of his mother, I feel my fathers grief at losing a wife, my mother trying to keep strong and keep going even though she is dying.
I saw it in my dreams; I was with her and she was dying. I feel everything in the space around me, all you never say. I see into your eyes and know your soul but I cannot say a word of it aloud. I know. I always knew. I know you don’t see what I see. I am sad. I am alone.

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I get in the car to travel to work and she is still here, still talking, making sure I don’t forget.

I ask her why she left me – she corrects me – ‘I  didn’t leave, you left me out. You  hurt and couldn’t let me in. I am 5 and 9 and 7 and 6 but mostly 4 –and I am clever!  I teached myself to ride a bike and how to swim, I like music and dancing and winning. I am good at winning but I can’t always win but I like it. I write good stories and I am very clever.’

I nearly don’t type this part because it feels silly to my adult self, but my inner child is not happy – am I ashamed of her? This is her part of the story, why do I not want to share? I promised. So it stays.

I smile and feel a great warmth and affection for my younger self  who has waited all this time to be seen – recognised –validated. I tell her I know how clever she is .How I still like winning and remind her of all the times we won – she says she always knew when she would win and when she wouldn’t, she was sometimes a bit upset but it didn’t matter because sometimes other people have to win too. .

And I slowly let her in. I let her speak. I listen to what it is she needs my grown up self to know . I give her the recognition she never had . I give her the encouragement she never got. I tell her I know how clever she is and how brave she is and that I know she has been on her own for a very long time and I am sorry for leaving her out.

I notice a shift in my energy – she is pleased. she is happy and glad that I have listened to her. She is not sad or disappointed anymore. She is pleased I am not scared anymore to let her in. That I am not afraid to feel how she has felt. It has been so long, I had forgotten how deeply sensitive I was, how much more I used to feel, how much it ached to be in the world.

She holds that part of me that is sensitive to everyone around her – empathic and compassionate. Vulnerable and impressionable to the energy around her . She is my childhood self that knew how to be gentle, vulnerable and soft and did not try to change it , but allowed it to be felt.
She is wanting to return – to be allowed in – the protector has been keeping her out .

She says it’s the wrong way round – protector inside keeping her out- it should be her inside, protector outside keeping us all safe. I tell her she’s right …. She knows I didn’t know until now – she says its ok. In all her childhood innocence she is infinitely wise, compassionate and forgiving.

I sense there are essences I need to take to help this child part of me integrate into my adult self – to address the apprehension and anxiety and the wounds  of an abandoned, forgotten child in distress – I choose Aspen and Heather and Star of Bethlehem . 3 is a good number she adds. I was born on a 3 day .

As the day continues to pass , I feel the emotions my inner child was unable to express and feel them shift until we have become one whole person. I sense there is still some work to be done to fully integrate the gentle vulnerability that has been waiting so long to return .

There is a negotiation with the protectors to keep the child within me safe.

This child self is no longer on the edges of my being. No longer all alone.

She has returned to me. She has been seen. She has been heard. She has been nurtured and protected and she is once again a part of me.

We are together again- this part of me no longer existing as a child out of time .

Snake Woman

Snake woman knows when her skin has been out grown .

Her colours dull ,Her eyes milk over , as though she were blind but,

She sees with all her senses , clearly.

She goes to ground , burrowing deep in the underbelly of the Earths womb ,

until the transformation  begins .

As her fragile skin begins to crack and split and  shed ,FullSizeRender[946]

she seeks out the water places  

to soothe and loosen the tight ,

itchy shell, 

that no longer fits Her new grown form . 

She slides on rocks , through dust and bark to shake off  

the outworn

that holds her tight.

Releasing, releasing , releasing , 

 bit by bit  , from top to tail , 

Until……. 

the transformation is complete.

She basks beneath the warmth of the sun .

Her skin now gleaming , Iridescent,

Her rainbow colours shimmering , 

She is clear eyed, shining , 

New.

All words  and Images copyright The Well of Belonging 2018