Archive for the ‘Healing’ Category
Over the last few days the universe has been providing me with little reminders about the ways in which we can train our brains, or perhaps a better word is ‘consciousness’ to help us find wholeness, self understanding and empowerment.
The idea of ‘brain training’ has become popularised through the latest generation of techno-gadgets which, helpfully, remind us that buying more computer games is actually educational and therefore good for you… I have to admit that jumping about with the Wii and playing Trivial Pursuit with the family on New Year’s Eve was actually quite fun – but in moderation! Brain training works on the assumption that the brain is like any other organ in the body: it can be damaged through abuse and strengthened through a good work out. All of us who are seeking to develop and transform our lives and our environments for the better know that physical addictions damage the brain and moderation is key to a balanced and healthy mind and body. On the ‘mental’ level the theory goes that the more we challenge our brains to use different types of thought process, the stronger and smarter our brains become.
When I was at university I was a member of the ‘Thinking Society’ and we used to do tests looking at our individual strengths and weaknesses in lateral thinking, analytical thinking, creative thinking etc. There were about five of us and the tests we were doing were largely photocopied out of old Psychology manuals. Today ‘brain training’ is big business with any number of self-help guides, on-line tests, brain training gurus and games; there is huge competition in the technology industry for the brain training pound.
The way we think about the brain has changed massively over the last ten to fifteen years and today it is recognised that physical, emotional and spiritual activity are just as important to brain training as performing great intellectual and analytical feats. A quick search on brain training brought me to My super-charged life which identifies meditation, sex, nutrition, singing from memory, and walking around blind-folded as just some of the ’20 ways to train your brain’. In our super adult, super charged, super fast world we are being reminded that play is the single most effective method of keeping ourselves smart, effective and happy. Apart from the sex of course, the adventures of the Secret Seven, Famous Five and the Swallows and Amazons are perhaps the nearest I could get to ‘brain training camp’. Get some good tuck, run about a lot, play games, use your keen observational skills, do a bit of problem solving, help each other out of scrapes, have a good old group bonding session and then home for a well earned rest. The problem is that, to most of us, the activities of the Secret Seven would leave us knackered for days: we simply don’t have the resources to solve crime before supper. The Western world seems designed specifically to drain us of our mental and physical resources; we no longer recognise our overall being as a self sustaining organism that is meant to be in balance. For me ‘brain training’ does not go far enough, we need to recognise that we are more than a brain, indeed, we are more than just a body.
As adults we tend to see play as something which is usurped by responsibility. Anything that is worthwhile will require seriousness, effort, self-discipline, hard work, time, and probably money (all the stuff that drains our physical and mental resources). Play is relegated to the luxury of ‘leisure time’ which, at most, gets a couple of hours a week lip-service if we’re lucky. Of course, our brains and bodies still crave play, which is why alcohol, television, watching other people playing sport, and web-surfing all eat away at our lives: they are sanctioned, sterile and largely inactive past times which con our brains into thinking they are training when really they are being filled with crap.
From a shamanic perspective the brain is simply one part of our consciousness, indeed, the entire body is really one part of our overall ‘self’. For me there is really no limit to the self. We are not self contained little beings wandering round with a body and perhaps some form of spirit or energy body attached to it like a balloon. We are part of a web of being which includes the physical world that manifests us, the mental world that stimulates us to growth, and the spiritual/ imaginative/ dream world that is us. All of these different bits of us consume and produce ’energy’ which I’ll describe for now as ‘movement that effects change’. Energy changes form all the time: food turns into fuel that turns into physical movement or mental process. Anyone who works with energy healing or magic will also tell you that, after a session they are famished; after all, they’ve been working hard channelling energy. A person who has received an energy healing may feel full of energy, or perhaps lighter if stagnant energy has been shifted to allow new energy to flow once more.
Shamanic practice is about working with energy. All shamanic practitioners work on themselves and some will also work on others. The most commonly recognised shamanic practice is called ‘journeying’ where the consciousness of the practitioner is either said to leave their body and travel elsewhere or to expand outwards so that they are able to access other realms; in any case, the purpose of journeying is to seek wisdom and to retrieve power, soul essence, or energy that has been lost. In a world that drains us this is obviously a key skill to learn and develop and, luckily, the majority of us now seem to be born with an innate ability to journey once we are shown how. Perhaps this gift comes from the universe seeking to restore balance, or perhaps the sheer power we now have to change our world is opening our eyes and minds to the consequences.
Some people are just naturally able to journey, but most of us need some guidance to get us started. However, just because you can journey doesn’t mean you have the clarity to see truth when it’s in front of you, or the wisdom to act on that truth. I doubt that any shamanic practitioner out there can say with hand on heart that they have always immediately understood messages from spirit and acted upon them. This is where brain training comes in: learn to still your mind and find clarity; learn to support your process through self care; learn to differentiate between ‘I should’ and ‘I am’; learn that obstacles are largely illusions; learn that play is work and work is play.
Sadly, a spiritual experience, even the most intense, is seldom enough to do more than give us the initial impotus for change. Our ability to then bring change into our lives is determined by the overall state of our consciousness. How much energy is available to you? What perspective do you have on your ability to make change? What support networks have you created for yourself? Does the thought of changing your life make you feel knackered already or are you bursting to grab some tuck, track down the baddies, save the day and be home in time for supper? If the answer is ‘knackered’ then perhaps some brain training is in order before you start to tackle any serious life change and so deplete your already exhausted resources.
You can book a mentoring session with me in-person or via Skype to develop a personalised programme using techniques that promote clarity, boost your energy levels, identify blockages and get you on track. Mindfullness, meditation, stress management techniques and journeying form some of the methods we can work on together and your journey can also be supported by in-person or distance energy and shamanic healing.
It is appropriate that the half month of Isa fell during my time off and this article for the rune of inertia and resistance is therefore coming to you at the end of Isa’s time for 2011. Isa remains, however, an important rune to work with throughout the year and I couldn’t resist doing a little something for you on this beautiful but treacherous rune.
After all the struggles and stresses of Hagalaz and Nauthiz, the half-month of Isa can feel like a blessed release. Isa brings stillness, silence and rest; it is the rune that beckons us to hibernation, but it is also the bringer of death for those who have not prepared their winter nests well. I certainly found myself falling into the traps of Isa this half month as I struggled to keep going with the resolutions I had made for change in the coming year. Isa is the rune of the ego which always resists change and tries to fall back on the easy, destructive ways when the going gets tough. Isa whispers to us that it is simply too hard to make change and it is better just to lie down and give up. All of those good resolutions we made and all of those tough life lessons we passed through can seem far away and quite irrelevant as the cold sets in and we long to snuggle up where it is warm and safe.
Working with inertia and resistance
To all of you who have struggled on through the difficulty I raise my hat, but to those who (like me) have found the last few weeks as tough as old boots, Isa is not all doom and gloom. The rune of ice is also the rune that helps us know ourselves the best. Yes, I found myself staying in bed too long, eating things that were bad for me and watching trashy tv instead of going for the nice refreshing walk that I promised myself. However, this provided me with the cold hard slap in the face I needed, affirming that I have indeed identified my ego’s patterns of resistance effectively. Isa is the rune of reflection and at this time we find moments that truly reflect the person we have become during the previous year. My half-month included some moments of real clarity, healing and break-through, but there were also moments of sheer self-pity when the last thing on my mind was transformation and growth. It is often when we are on the very edge of change that our old ways come back to bite us the hardest; don’t forget that you are a strong person, so your old habits and behaviours will be strong too.
On the StarFire Alchemy Introduction to RuneCraft (launching as a correspondence course in 2012 for those of you who can’t get to London) we work with the stadgaldr for Isa. This rune posture includes voice work and the expansion of the self out to contact the full energy spectrum within Midgard. Although the Isa pose is the simplest stadgaldr, it is hugely important for further work with the rune postures as it works with the very basic concept ‘I am’. Isa is often referred to as the ‘ego’ rune; it ensures that we are stable and strong within ourselves so that we don’t become one big mess of competing desires and aspirations.
When we hit a point in our lives where we just don’t seem to be able to break through our bad habits, feelings of hopelessness, and lack of motivation, then we know that we have hit against the hard ice of Isa. Often we try to tackle these feelings by getting angry, effectively taking a sledge-hammer to the ice in an attempt to break through it. Problem is, that ice is you, so every time you yell at yourself or cry miserably into your pillow you are simply attacking your own being. The ice is either going to crack (leaving you in a worse state than you were before), or simply defend itself by becoming thicker and stronger.
Remember all those tales about winter? No one ever beats winter by getting mad, it is always acts of love, kindness and warmth that soften the Ice Queen’s cold heart and loosen her grip. The ego is like the Ice Queen, it wants to be in charge and to feel safe – much like a small child. When the ego feels threatened it responds with fear, resistance and stubborn tenacity. If we want to work effectively with our egos then attack is not going to work.
This month’s meditation focuses not on the concept ‘I am’ (for this is best used once we have made peace with our egos), but rather on ‘I accept myself’. This is the first step towards change. Let your ego feel safe and loved, then it will accept the gentle warmth of your desire for transformation ‘I accept myself and I am not afraid to become more than I am right now’.
We are now at the very heart of the half month of Nauthiz, the rune of necessity which is both the dark hollow of longing and the bright flame of the self-kindled fire. I find that Nauthiz comes up with surprising frequency for those seeking a spiritual path of self development and healing. At some point the rune of necessity starts to pull at you, exposing the tangled knots in our personal web and demanding that we begin the work of freeing ourselves.
This week Kay and I worked with a wonderful group of healers exploring shamanic techniques for cord cutting. Our course has developed under the guidance of Spider and the Nornir and we have been led to work very much along the principle that in order to cut cords, we must understand how they come into being in the first place. A cord is an established flow of energy between you and another person, situation, object, place or illness (in fact anything through which we define ourselves) - your entire self is made up of cords which wind together to create the person that is you. Many of our cords are positive, but some of them will be negative or may have started out positive and become negative along the way. Imagine a spider weaving its web, or a weaver sitting over the loom. As you look at their work you can see that an established pattern is forming and that the spider or weaver skillfully pulls different threads taut at different points to maintain that pattern and ensure that their work holds strong and steady. Our lives are like that, we have established threads within them that set the pattern of our future, and we cannot simply remove a thread without understanding that the overall tapestry will then change.
There are lots of different reasons why we might choose to cut cords. A common reason is when a relationship has come to an end but the energetic connection between the two people is still there; sometimes we want to let go but we simply can’t – in which case it is likely that the energetic cord between you hasn’t yet been cut. At other times a relationship might be stuck within old patterns that need to be released before it can move on: we see this a lot in relationships with our parents or sibblings who continue to treat us like they always have, even if we have changed. Marking rites of passage such as birth, maturation, marriage and death represent one way in which society has traditionally marked the end of one phase of life and the beginning of the new; the lack of these rites will often mean that cords that would otherwise naturally have been released still need to be cut years later.
Nauthiz is the rune that embodies the necessity of the pattern; but it also tells you when something has gone wrong with the pattern. People often associate the ‘dark night of the soul’ or a period of depression with Nauthiz; the rune brings trying times that can either be the making of us, or our destruction. On a wider scale, Nauthiz lingers within a disatisfied society: strikes, rebellion and rioting represent the many faces of Nauthiz that tell us the fabric is not holding and change is being demanded. Our job as rune and energy workers is to work with the underlying energy in our own lives, and that of our society, to skillfully cut what needs to be cut, remove what needs to be removed, and mend what needs to be mended.
For this half-month I want to look at Nauthiz as the rune which tells us when change is required. Nauthiz is, in many ways, a double edged blade. On the one hand it represents that which must be because of what has come before (it is the pattern we have fixed for ourselves), but on the other hand it also holds out the possibility of releasing that pattern. This possibility for release comes about through the work of the goddess Skuld, patron of Nauthiz, and goddess of that which must be. For me, work with Skuld is all about attitude. There are those who walk blindly in the world and believe that the pattern they have laid for themselves is simply an external force at work bringing them good fortune or ill at whim; there are others who choose to look the Goddess of necessity in the face and to seek her guidance on what work they must do to change their destiny. Skuld never promises it will be easy, but she certainly takes an interest in those who dedicate themselves to changing the web.
In our own lives we might already know what should change but not yet be able, or want to, change it. Our negative cords represent the negaive side of Nauthiz: addiction and compulsion. Often, a particular behaviour or the consumption of a particular thing represents our attempt to fill a need for something else which we haven’t yet identified or which may seem impossible to fulfill. A person who has low self esteem may not believe they are able to fulfill their dreams, but the need is still there and it demands to be filled. Our society is adept at providing us within things that we are told will make the need-ache go away: alcohol, cigarettes, sweets, clothes, cars, television, computer games etc. These things represent items which we might rationally tells ourselves we can do without, but there is a big difference between what we know we should do, and what our need tells us to do. Nauthiz is not the rune of should, it is the rune of must, ‘I must fill this emptiness inside me’. The need is real even if we haven’t yet found the best way to meet it. Committing to work with Nauthiz and Skuld represents a commitment to find out what you truly need.
My You Tube video for Nauthiz represents a very simple meditation you can do at home to open yourselves up to ‘true need’. We can do this work on behalf of ourselves and we can also do it on behalf of society.
Changing the self
For ourselves we can ask Nauthiz to begin the process of revealing the negative and empty cords which we are holding on to, preparing us to release them and so create the space in our lives for our true needs to manifest. I am currently working with this meditation to help ready myself for a cord cutting I want to undertake but which I know I am not yet ready for. This cord runs particularly deep for me as it was formed in my teenage years and there is a lot of raw, unprocessed, emotion tied in to it. As I started on this work I found that I dreamt more and more often about the particular person this cord is attached to, even though I haven’t seen them for years and years. As my work continued the dreams became more focused as I explored what need in me is being met by this strange attachment to someone from so long ago. As I write today I have been shown where on my body the negative cord between us is, so I know that soon I will be ready for the cord cutting itself.
You can use the meditation simply to say ‘I am ready to meet my true needs’. Over time you may start to receive information during the meditation itself about negative addictions, relationships and situations you are ready to release, as well as what your true needs are. You might also find that your relationship with the world around you is changing, perhaps you get itchy feet when you sit watching television too long or maybe you are less eager for an hour’s gossip with a friend who always leaves you feeling drained and inadequate. These little hints are signs from Nauthiz regarding where action is needed.
There is so much in our society which seems empty, barren and destructive at present. It is easy to become overwhelmed by a feeling of hopelessness which is all too common a response to the harsh truth of Nauthiz. We don’t even know how to begin to make a change or how one individual might remedy such a widespread problem. We can wonder why we bother with our little efforts when nothing seems to make a difference. Of course our individual efforts do make a difference, even when we don’t feel it; but we can also use our skills as runesters to bring about change in the underlying fabric of our society.
You can use the meditation simply to say ‘We are ready to meet our true needs’. Know that your focus and concentration are working upon the very fabric of reality to help loosen the knots that bind us to unhealthy, damaging behaviours. The bright flame of Nauthiz exposes the empty, negative threads for what they are and, collectively, we are able to unpick these threads and release them to the flames.
In shamanic healing we talk about concepts of power loss and soul loss; from a shamanic perspective the process of healing is considered to be one of recovery where the soul is restored to a state of wholeness. In this state of wholeness we are more able to express ourselves, less susceptible to illness and wounding, and are able to achieve fulfillment in our lives. Some might also characterise a state of wholeness as being a state in which we are able to achieve our ‘soul purpose’ (more on that later).
The concept of ‘wholeness’ is particularl important within the Northern tradition because the modern English word for ‘whole’ shares a common root with both ‘holy’ and ‘hale’ (as in ‘hale and hearty’ or ‘healthy and hearty’). As part of this series I am going to be looking at Teutonic concepts of the soul (Teutonic referring to the common origins of languages including English, German, Icelandic etc), but for now I want to look specifically at the idea of ‘wholeness’.
So let’s assume for a moment that if something is not whole it is characterised by weakness and is in some way ‘unholy’. A structure which isn’t whole is unstable and dangerous. A place that isn’t whole is isolated, barren and polluted. A group that isn’t whole is characterised by division, conflict, miscommunication and inequality. A person that isn’t whole is powerless, needy, vulnerable, lonely and wounded. To the Teutonic mind ‘unholy’ does not mean evil; instead we might recognise it as the chill down the spine felt in forgotten and neglected places, that sense of emptiness that fills us with fear and a desire to be somewhere else. Unholiness comes about when we forget to treat ourselves, each other, and our environments as sacred. In the modern world many of us are all too sensitive to the lack of wholeness which is present all around, and within, ourselves.
One of the modern world’s biggest demons is the demon of consumerism. From a shamanic perspective over-consumption and addiction are symptoms of a lack of wholeness; we sense that we are empty and desperately try to fill the hole inside us with the items we have been convinced will make us feel better. I’ll be talking more about this when I write about this coming half-month of Nauthiz – the rune of necessity and desire.
So what has wholeness got to do with past life healing? My answer would simply be ’everything’. We are the sum of our past and, from a shamanic perspective, that past isn’t just the tiny bit of your existence which makes up your conscious memory of your current lifetime. Your past includes your dreamtime, your pre-conscious memories, the stories you have woven to make sense of your own reality, the memory stored within your body in both sickness and health, the memory stored within your DNA, our shared human history, and the vast record of memory that is the collective past. Quite a lot, you might say – perhaps too much to even begin worrying about!
To many of us, the past is that which is gone or forgotten. This has become so true that it is common in Western society for death to be so frightening that we just don’t talk about it at all: we don’t want to be reminded that we will one day become part of that past. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In Teutonic Magic Gundarsson tells us that:
The Germanic time-sense is not threefold [i.e. past, present, future], but twofold: time is divided into “that-which-is”, a concept emcompassing everything that has ever happened – not a linear progression, but as a unity of interwoven layers – and “that which is becoming,” the active changing of the present as it grows from the patterns set in that which is. Teutonic Magic: A Guide to Germanic Divination, Lore and Magic
Imagine for a minute that you are a tree. Your present self, your conscious self, exists as the bark of the tree – the very surface of your being which is your own particular ‘that which is becoming’. Beneath the bark are the rings of the tree, each representing a year of your life; these rings represent ’that which is’, they are the past which defines how you will develop and grow in the future, what your tree looks like, how big and strong it is, how hardy and ’hale’ it is. To the Teutonic mind the past is not that which is forgotten, it is in fact part of the present: the past is embraced as part of our entirety, or ‘wholeness’. In this sense, the modern world’s championing of the future and our discomfort with death and forgetting is a manifestation of our lack of wholeness: we have become disconnected from our past and are therefore not whole, the tree is still there but we are blinded to it.
Past life healing is the process of getting to know our own tree, of discovering our strengths and weaknesses and of creating healing that works on both the past and present.
I work regularly with a group of seidr practitioners and one of the pieces of advice which we have been given is that the questions which are important for us to ask in our work are ‘why’ questions. It is very easy to get stuck in ‘what’, ‘which, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘who’ and ‘how’ questions: we like to know facts about what we should be doing, which option is best to take, where we will find happiness and with whom. However, these questions do not give us wisdom or self-knowledge, they simply seek guidance from an external source on the best course of action. In a sense, we work on the assumption that some guiding force exterior to ourselves knows best what we need and desire. It is the why questions which tell us about our pasts and so allow us to find wholeness through self-knowledge – only then will we find the inner knowing that help us access all the other answers for ourselves.
Past life healing is a process of remembering, integrating and, in many cases, forgiving. When I work with people through past life regression we seek to find parts of the self which we have lost conscious access to that can help us understand ourselves and so begin to change our lives. One common problem is repeated behaviours which we can’t seem to change – it is almost as if the past is constantly trying to make itself known within the present because, until we recognise what we are in the present, we cannot become something different.
This month I am working with the energy of ‘shadow sister’ in preparation for my show on the Shamanic Voice. She is coming through as the part of self and society which we seek to push further and further away – she informs me that the harder we push the more she must force her way back. Many people I know are experiencing the recurrence of old illnesses, the resurrection of old hopes, and the rekindling of old passions; this is a time when healing really is possible for us – shadow sister is calling out to us to recognise and embrace her. When the past rears its head it is tempting to run and hide, but this is a wonderful opportunity for us to actually tackle our skeletons in the closet and lay old wounds to rest.
Fulfilling soul purpose
Earlier I talked about the fact that a person who isn’t whole will try and fill the lack they sense inside them with something else. Our society is all too ready to tell us what we can consume to make us feel whole again. The problem is that, even if we resist the urge to blindly follow the consumerist trend, we still don’t know what we need because so much of our soul tree is hidden to us. This is where self-help books come in, as well as a whole plethora of people who are able to tell you what has worked for them and, indeed, what has worked for the majority of people. The difficulty is that these approaches can’t help each individual to find their unique soul purpose. This is why knowing yourself is so important and why past life healing can help you to find the path that is right for you. You are one vast well of experience about what works for you and what doesn’t, embedded deep inside the tree rings of your own past are thousands of moments of perfect clarity where you confronted, understood, accepted and embraced your true self.
This time of year is an important one for remembrance. In my November 2011 podcast Honouring the Ancestors on The Shamanic Voice I talked about the difference between places of the dead which are ‘living’ and those which are neglected. To me places of communion between the living and the dead exemplify the difference between a ‘holy’ place and an ‘unholy’ place. Burial grounds, ancestral altars and other places of memorial are important places of power; we become extremely upset when a place of special remembrance is defiled or defaced. Some places of remembrance are special because they act as places of communion between the living and their immediate relatives, but other places are considered important even if we don’t know exactly who is buried there – think of the unnamed graves of warriors, prisoners of war and victims of massacre. We may not have such clear ideas on why we wish to remember as our Teutonic ancestors, but many of us instinctivly feel that remembrance is part of what it means to be human. Undertaking some simple acts of remembrance for thos who have gone before us is, in itself, a form of deep soul healing.
Personal healing work
From a shamanic perpsective, even events which are seemingly random have roots within the past – even if we are unaware of these roots. You may already know the source of the behaviour or belief but, in many cases, the source is unrecognised. Sometimes it is important to go back and find the source of the belief or behaviour (more on that in later articles) but, often, your healer will be able to perform work for you that doesn’t require that you consciously dredge up the past. While all healing work ultimately aims to restore wholeness, these are some of the most common methods used in past life healing:
- Past life regression to help your conscious mind re-connect to your own roots and personal heritage
- Power retrieval and soul retrieval to bring about restoration of parts of the self we have lost access to
- Work with the ancestors and spirits of the land to heal isolation, separation and loneliness
- Cord cutting or extraction work to release beliefs and energy which we have inadvertantly taken on in place of our own essence
- Work to connect with the different aspects of our soul including our physical body, power animals and guides
- Ceremonies that honour our own achievements, deeds and souls
In the ancient runes, wholeness and fulfillment are represented by the rune Wunjo. The Teutonic peoples saw union with family and the gods as the source of their greatest happiness and this rune is traditionally associated with kinship and dicine ecstasy. THe experience of Wunjo might be brief and fleeting but it acts as a compass that guides you steadily through life, always drawing you on to greater moments of wonder and happiness. Every step you take towards wholeness in yourself makes that inner compass stronger. Blessing of Wunjo upon you.
You are the sum of your past: you learn through experience; the world judges you on our previous actions and inactions; and you interpret your experiences by comparing them with what has come before. Your future welfare, success, health, prosperity and happiness hinge on what you have done and who you have become. All healing is essentially an interaction with the past, it is done by working with the manifestation of that past: you.
This article is the first in a series looking at how we can work with our pasts to bring about healing and strengthening of the self in the present. I will be looking at why past life healing is so important to our welfare, Nothern tradition perspectives on the progress of the soul through lives, and how to enage in long term work with your own past life.
Releasing and restoring
Imagine that you are an iceberg. Bobbing about above the water is the part of yourself that you know well. The surface area of that visible bit of ice is the bit of you that other people can see while, underneath, there’s a whole lot more that is either forgotten, or is made up of the ‘unconscious’ bits of yourself – your body, sleeping awareness, and links to the past beyond your conscious lifetime. Now imagine that the ice is not made up of water, but rather of intricate webs of thoughts, actions, beliefs and behaviours that go to make up you. Some of them play out upon the surface of the ice – but most intertwine around each other, sometimes appearing on the surface, then stretching down into the lower layers of the ice.
Many therapies work by helping us to remove or ’unlearn’ behaviours or beliefs which have become ingrained within us. It is only when we are able to perceive the threads within the ice that we are able to work with them. You may feel that you are trapped within a particular pattern of behaviour or that, every time you try and move forward in your life, you are blocked by an external force, or by feelings that drag you back.
Some people choose to see a ‘talking’ therapist, someone who helps you to trace the threads of the conscious self and recognise the patterns rising up from the unconscious, hidden, parts of your soul. Others choose to see a healer who will work directly with the threads at all levels on their behalf: transforming negative energy into positive; extracting beliefs and behaviours that have been ‘imposed’ from outside (i.e. a thread that is actually someone elses); restoring lost threads that are rightfully yours; and removing blockages so that you are able to access more of your ‘whole self’. Many people choose to do both and, in practice, you will often find that a healer is often qualified in forms of therapy, and vice versa.
Energy healing such as reiki, crystal healing, rune healing and sound healing represent some of the methods that a healer might use to gently release negativity (harmful beliefs and behaviours, blockages and intrusions) and restore positive energies. These are really important healing forms and shamanic healing ceremonies (which we will be looking at later) should always incorporate energy healing to support deeper, more intensive work. These types of ‘releasing and restoring’ healings are carried out regularly by healers and those serious about their own personal healing journey – they represent the on-going maintenance necessary to undertake more challenging work both in healing and everyday life. These types of therapies focus on the person you are now, recognising that the past has had a negative impact and that healing must occur within the present.
Dealing with trauma
Talking therapies help you to trace the threads of the web as they manifest upon the surface of the ice, slowly coming to terms with them and helping you to transform the negative beliefs and behaviours into positive ones. These types of therapies are particularly important for people who are literally trapped by traumatic events to the extent that their present is wholly defined by them. For people whose previous experiences are painful but bearable, talking therapies can occasionally reinforce the pattern of ‘victim’ as the past is replayed over and over again. However, for people who have suffered severe trauma, this is already the case, which is why seeing a therapist who specialises in that area is so important. Imagine that the surface of the ice is extremely fragile, meaning that work needs to progress slowly and carefully. Only once the ice is fairly stable can work be done beneath the surface, allowing the energetic source of suffering to be interacted with directly.
Over time, these sorts of healing will bring you into a state of wellness, inner peace, and balance. From a shamanic perspective, however, they might not have the ‘clout’ necessary to get right down into the depths of the iceberg and find the deep, tightly bound threads that tell us who we are and what we should become – the root may still be buried within the ice meaning the old ways are liable to come back in time. A shamanic healer doesn’t simply recognise that the past has impacted on the present – they seek to journey into that past so that healing may be undertaken at source.
Incidentally, and for those of you of a runic disposition, the rune of ice, Isa, relates to ego and identity. It is a rune of ‘self’ but also represents the desire for stability which can manifest as resistance to change and an unwillingness to let go of the past – even when we know it is bad for us. Isa is often considered to be a dangerous rune, and perhaps a large part of that is based on the fact that its stabilising influence is always focused on the present. One of the goals of many spiritual systems is to be fully ‘present’, not worrying about what has gone before or what is to come; this is the positive aspect of Isa – its negative aspect is a rigid fear of change which holds us, unrelentingly in the present, even when we feel in our hearts that our situation could be better.
I offer gentle energy healings as well as shamanic healing and ceremonies. If you would like to work with me on your own healing journey please see my healer page. I am a shamanic practitioner, meaning that I work with any of the range of healing methods I have trained in as directed by spirit.
I love this mantra. It comes from an absolutely beautiful and powerful working created by David Rankine which you can find in his wonderful book Becoming Magick: New and Revised Magicks from the New Aeon. I think of it whenever we pass through this time of year, moving through the runes ansuz, raidho and kenaz: inspiration becomes action which becomes manifestation. It fills me with a sense of anticipation and I become convinced that I can jump straight from thought into action Now, if you get David’s book you will see that his working takes a much more balanced approach – I would highly recommend it. As I am a rune-girl I have been looking to the runes to help me rein in some of my most ridiculous beliefs about how much one person can achieve in a finite amount of time.
I, like you I suspect, have a to-d0 list which is far too long. Like a fair number of people I am also stress-prone, I like to heap unachievable deadlines upon myself and then beat myself up mercilessly when I don’t achieve them all. This is one of the reasons why I am studying stress management (the choice to seek a qualification in it also being an example of my tireless pursuit to give myself more to do). That aside, I find that working with the runes helps me to get some perspective. Working with the rune calendar has proven invaluable, balance is key to the runester and, just as singing in your rune circle will bring you balance each day, working through the rune cycle each year ensures that you aren’t taking a lop-sided approach to life.
At this time of year we need to start conserving our energies, laying in a good stock of positive, sustaining energy for the winter ahead. Even though our lives are less obviously tied to the cycles of nature than used to be the case, we are still animals, creatures of the earth who develop, grow and live through the cyclical tides of the seasons. We may not be close to starvation (but there are those in the world who are), and we may not freeze to death (although there will be people who do), but many of us will suffer from seasonal affective disorder or at least find ourselves less bouncy and energy-filled. The hard work of the summer must give way to a more rested, considered approach as winter draws near; give yourself a break, slow down, chill out – why not spend some time meditating with a lovely rune
Following my Raidho meditations last half-month I have reinstated my ‘thinking time’ walks. These are always the first to go when I am stressed, I tell myself I don’t have time and end up lying on the sofa at the end of the day, boggling at the television after a day of frustration and inefficiently used time. I then wake up the next day feeling tired and crotchety and begin the whole cycle again. I find that if I allow myself time for my thinking walk then I am much more likely to find the time to cook proper meals, do my meditation, and make plans with friends. Corrina Gordon-Barnes from You Inspire Me calls this sort of activity your one ‘non-negotiable’ ; Corrina works with self-employed women but I believe her advice holds true for anyone struggling with a to-do list that’s ’whelming’ them (that’s one of my personal promises to myself by the way, I am never ‘over-whelmed’, but I admit to being frequently ‘whelmed’).
So, once you’ve found that bit of routine that is your own, personal ritual, then you can start to tackle your to-do list with a bit more presence of mind. That’s when Kenaz comes in, the fiery rune of creation and manifestation. Use this month’s Kenaz meditation to help you remove those deep blocks and obstacles holding you back, and find the clarity and the energy you need to move forward. Break your to-do list down into managable chunks and focus just on the day’s tasks. If your head is whirling with ideas, then take time each day to scribble them down so you don’t forget them. For small projects, check to see if the idea is still burning brightly three days later – if it’s still drawing your attention after three days then it’s probably worthwhile. If it’s a fairly big project, then three days won’t be long enough – give yourself three weeks and then check back to see if the project still draws your enthusiasm and energy. You can use the time to consult with knowledgeable friends, colleagues and contacts – then when your three weeks is up you’ll be ready to get started if you’re still feeling passionate about the project. The point of waiting is to ensure that the idea isn’t just a throw-away inspiration – place it in the Kenaz furnace and see whether it fizzles to nothing or burns more brighly and fiercly from its time in the flames.
On Thursday this week we will move into the half-month of Gebo, the rune of gifts and fair exchange. Life changes take approximately three-weeks to become habit so the Gebo rune can help us to stick to the commitments we have made during the period of inspiration, change and manifestation we have just passed through. I will be asking Gebo to help me stick to my ‘thinking-time walk’. When I make it into Wunjo , the rune of fulfilment and joy on 13th October, I will know that I have re-established my old habit and am giving myself the best possible chance of having a fruitful, plentiful winter.
For friends, colleagues and students in the sourthern hemisphere, the time is of course different. You are in the lovely half-month of Berkano, the rune of growth and potential. While we in the North are carefully conserving our energy with the sensible Raidho rune of the rider and checking that we are not giving or receiving too much (Gebo) - you will soon be speeding along on the steed of Ehwaz. Enjoy!
Crystals have been used for healing and magic since ancient times. Cultures including Egyptian, Inca, Aztec, Greek and Stone Age European all worked with these beautiful gifts of the earth. Priests, shamans, magicians and healers used crystals to contain, transmit, restore, rebalance and extract energy; building a huge body of lore around the properties, uses and benefits of crystals, stones and metals.
Today holistic healing is often understood as working with vibration – every object, every energy, everyTHING has its own vibration which we can work with to bring about change. Modern science has now confirmed that different crystals resonate at different frequencies, creating unique vibrations. This discovery helps to explain why crystals of different mineral content, structure, and colour work to assist with particular diseases, disorders and imbalances.
My own training incorporates a shamanic approach to crystal healing. Shamanic practitioners take an ’animistic’ approach to the world around them, we don’t see crystals as simply having unique properties - we work with each crystal as an individual being, a spirit gifted from the earth to assist us in the healing of ourselves and our world.
Crystal healing works on all levels to bring about physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and soul-level healing. Receiving a crystal healing is a beautiful experience which brings about deep relaxation and long-term healing. During treatments I create a unique matrix of crystals around my client’s body; the crystals’ energies then combine to work in a way that is fine tuned to my client’s needs. A one hour crystal healing session can be booked by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or telephoning 07958 742 497. I also incorporate crystal healing into shamanic ceremonies as their energies bring powerful support to power and soul retrival work. See my healing page for more information on crystal and shamanic healing.
Below you will find more information about specific aspects of crystal healing – don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions! I have also put together a selection of books at the top of this page that you may like to look at for more in-depth information about this powerful healing method.
Working with a healing matrix
A healing matrix is created by placing crystals on and around the body. Each crystal has unique properties and is ‘programmed’ by the healer with a particular healing purpose. Each crystal performs its own unique task during the healing, but is also part of a wider matrix which works to balance, release and restore energy across the body. Common matrixes include the placement of crystals at the chakras, the creation of a balanced pattern around the body, or a clustering of crystals around the centre of a particular illnesses, injury or site of imbalance within the body. During a healing I will normally adjust the matrix a number of times, removing crystals that have completed specific tasks and positioning new ones to move the healing forward to the next phase.
Working with pendulums and wands
Pendulums and wands are crystals which are not placed on the body, but are rather used by your healer as tools. You may be familar with the concept of ‘dowsing’ (using a tool to locate a lost or hidden item), this is a very common technique used within crystal healing to find areas on the body that need to be worked on. Pendulums and wands are also used to connect your matrix together (helping the crystals ‘talk to each other’), clear and extract blockages within the energy body (e.g. opening the chakras and meridians), and promote the flow of healing energy through the matrix.
Colour healing with crystals
Colour healing is a powerful form of healing in its own right, but there is a great deal of crossover between crystal and colour healing because crystals are, after all, prized for their beautiful colours and brilliance. I have already mentioned that crystals work with the chakras and, of course, many of the best crystals to use with a particular chakra will share its colour. On other occasions, a crystal matrix may be made entirely of crystals in a single colour, bringing powerful healing on a particular spectrum.
Because I am a shamanic practitioner, I work hard to develop a relationship with each of my crystals so that I can understand how best to use them for your healing. My practice is, of course, always guided by spirit and there are times when the guiding spirits and ancestors of my clients will also come forward to assist in our healing work. After your healing we will look at the work you can do for yourself to further your healing and I will also relay any messages from spirit which have come for you during the healing.
Self healing with crystals
My clients often bring their own crystals to treatments which can then be programmed to work with their healing matrix (and provide further healing after the treatment). On other occasions I am guided to empower a particular crystal for my clients to take away with them and work with. I also work with clients through one-to-one mentoring which may include crystal healing in the form of meditations you can use to connect with the crystals you already have, or recommendations for crystals it will be helpful for you to work with.
What does it feel like?
Different people experience the crystals in different ways. Some report a gentle sensation such as the flow of reiki, while others feel heat, a pulsating energy moving through them and, every now and then, someone will ask me if there was an earthquake during the healing! It is common for people to feel that they go to a deep, peaceful place during healing and, those who are psychically sensitive may receive messages and guidance during their treatment. I begin my sessions with a relaxing meditation, bringing you to a receptive state ready for your healing, and I will always ensure your energy body is sealed and you are fully ‘present’ before we finish.
I enjoyed my crystal healing session very much, and felt very relaxed and refreshed – similar to the effect I get from a yoga lesson but without actually having do to anything! I was surprised when Magin told me afterwards that she had detected a problem with my left shoulder and had spent some time working on it. I had strained the shoulder a few weeks previously and it was causing me increasing discomfort, but I hadn’t mentioned this to her at all. There was no instant miracle cure, but I’m pleased to report that the pain disappeared completely over the next few weeks. Linda, North London
I found Magin provided a warm and holding space that gave me nurturing and rest. This brought it’s own depth which allowed two important new images to emerge, which I am still working with and gaining benefit from. I would happily recommend Magin. Tim, South East London
It is now exactly one year since I started looking at the rune half months! The time has gone so fast and there is so much to explore that I plan to continue this work, albeit looking at new aspects of the runes this year. If you missed any of last year’s entries you can always look at the full listing under my rune calendar.
The runes are much more than a divinatory system, rune casting represents just one aspect of their mysteries. Runes are also gateways into other worlds, emanations of the full spectrum of energy, repositories of wisdom, lore and healing potential. Each one of them can be used for a range of specific purposes and, combined, their potential is limitless. In this year’s series of articles I plan to focus much more on the Rune Crafting aspects of rune work: working with rune energies to restore balance, bring about change and transformation. This is perhaps the less well understood part of the rune mysteries but, in my view, it is the next step on from rune casting – why bother to seek wisdom if you can then do nothing with it? If the exercises and meditations picque your interest please don’t forget that I offer a number of in-person and correspondence courses ranging from beginner to practitioner level, my aim is to open the fabulous mysteries of the runes up to as many people as possible.
Thurisaz – stress management for your thorny side
The beauty of the runes is that they grow with you, each one has a simple shape, a simple set of meanings and a simple sound. As you progress your familiarity with the rune increases, you learn more about its lore, associations and energies – but you can start off with the simple stuff. The Old English rune poem describes Thurisaz as a thorn. Envision a thorn, dark black, with a wicked point; it sits in front of you, menacing, its sharp tip poised for action. On an emotional level Thurisaz represents what we often think of as our negative emotions: anger, jealousy, rage, fear. In the right context these emotions are designed to protect us, they get our adrenalin pumping so we are ready to defend ourselves and our loved ones, but in this day and age we don’t often need to resort to fisticuffs or a quick sprint to our cave so these emotions have become frowned upon and we are taught to supress them - unfortunately the feelings are still there.
Back in the day Odin and his brothers killed the very first being, the giant Ymir, and created the world from his body. When he was slain, his blood gushed out and formed the seas, but it also drowned all of his children apart from two who managed to get away and found the land of the giants ‘Jotunheim’. This set in motion a seemingly unending conflict between Odin’s kind (the gods) and the giants; the myths are full of stories of the gods outwitting and killing the giants so that they might defend their kingdom and the kingdom of mankind. Now, in my view, the giants have a pretty good case for being upset and, one way of looking at them, is as the emotions we are told are unacceptable – even though we darn well feel like they are totally acceptable at the time. Now, I told you that one of the meanings of Thurisaz is ‘thorn’, well, the more common one is ‘giant’ – the rune might therefore be said to represent those primal, instinctive feelings that com about when we feel hurt or wounded.
Imagine that the thorn tilts towards you, ready to thrust at you. You may, like me, feel a sensation within your body as you prepare, even in your imagination, to defend yourself from attack. This is your fight-or-flight response kicking in, it is your own manifestation of Thurisaz – you are bristling with your own thorns, creating a burst of Thurisaz energy to help you at a perceived time of danger. The problem is that, if you don’t then need to run away or give something a good punch, then the Thurisaz energy has not discharged itself. I can be quite a stressed-out person at times and visualising the thorn helps me to pinpoint where I am holding my stress (for me my heart and stomach feel tense and constrained). I see the answering ‘pain’ in my body as a sign that I am holding negative Thurisaz energy inside me; don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a healthy dose of anger or a bit of an outburst every now and then, but if we hold this inside us all the time it will do us harm.
The interesting thing about all the anger, rage, fear and aggression flowing from Thurisaz, is that we wouldn’t have it if we didn’t have something to lose. Ultimately Thurisaz is the force that protects our survival, and the survival of those we love: the giants are angry because Odin killed their great, great granddad and drowned all their other relatives in his blood, the thorn makes you bleed because it is protecting its flowers and berries. Underneath all that dark Thurisaz energy is a flood of pure love, a will to survive.
The You Tube video below provides a short meditation which you can use as a daily exercise (perhaps during the half-month of Thurisaz), or just when you are feeling particularly crazy. The meditation will help you to release excess energy raised as your personal thorny ‘armour’ so that it doesn’t get re-absorbed into your energy body to float around doing damage to you rather than your absent ‘enemy’. If you feel that there is already Thurisaz energy stored inside your body (e.g. if, like me, the imaginary thorn pointing at you provokes a physical response in your body) then you might want to consider getting in contact with me to discuss rune energy healing, shamanic extraction work or a more intensive form of self-healing that we can devise together through one-to-one mentoring (see my practitioner page for further information).
For more experienced runesters
If you are already familiar with Thurisaz then you may well know that this rune is intimately connected with Mjolnir, the Hammer of Thor. I see Mjolnir as a container of Thurisaz energy, the great hammer transforms the dark, angry energy into a controlled form which can be used for protection and blessing (as well as to smash things when necessary, of course). In my Hammer of Thor self-study course I include a working for finding your own Hammer which you can then use to connect you more solidly to the Hammer of Thor itself. Instead of grounding the excess Thurisaz energy into the earth (see the You Tube video), you can channel this energy into your own Hammer, storing it for use when you need it. When using the meditation I have given, see your Hammer resting before you on the ground and channel the thorn energy into it. You might want to draw a red Thurisaz rune upon your Hammer before you channel the energy, and then see it change into the Hammer of Thor sigil at the end of the meditation so that your Hammer knows to transform the Thurisaz energy into a more balanced form ready for you to work with at a later date.
A common practice within many healing traditions is the creation of an imaginative ‘safe space’ where a person can go to feel relaxed and secure during meditation and healing sessions. The most common place to imagine is a garden, a safe, natural setting where Mother Nature can tend and care for us as we heal.
I work with the concept of a ‘life garden’ which takes this concept a bit further. Imagine a garden that acts as a representation of your inner world: the layout of the garden tells you about the way you think, the health of the plants tell you about how you care for yourself, the way you feel about the garden as you view it tells you how well you are fulfilling your own needs and desires.
Working with my life as a garden helps me to think like a gardener: I need to take my time in planting, tend those plants I already have, work in tune with the needs of the land and plan around the seasons. Shamanic practice is a little like seeing underneath what is happening in the physical world: getting to the source of things, accessing and working with the root cause of what is going well and what is going wrong. Working with a life garden is one way in which you can begin to access your own ‘inner knowing’: your imagination is a limitless mechanism for communication between your conscious and unconscious self.
One-to-one mentoring can help you develop your own ‘inner knowing’ through learning to work with concepts such as the life garden. This means that you can take control of your own healing path, identifying for yourself areas where you need assistance to dig out deeply entrenched beliefs and patterns of negative energy which shamanic healing is designed to tackle.
Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and make yourself comfortable. You may want to play some music, light a candle or burn some incense to create the right mood for yourself, but these aren’t essential. Close your eyes and draw your attention inwards, away from the outside world into your own self; focus on your heart centre and keep drawing your attention inwards, into the quiet of your own being. Allow all worries, images and intrusive thoughts to float away (I find that releasing my worries as I exhale is effective). Let yourself be surrounded by darkness.
When you are ready ask your garden to reveal itself to you. You may hear birds or water, perhaps you smell particular flowers, feel a gravel path beneath your feet, or see the green of leaves dancing in the sunlight. Allow your senses to guide you and don’t worry if you don’t experience much at first, you have plenty of time to explore your garden at your own pace. Make a note of all you see. Are there other creatures in the garden? What plants are growing there, is it open or enclosed? Where are you particularly drawn to in the garden? There may be areas of darkness or patches of land where the plants are sickly or dead – don’t worry, you can deal with these. Some people have very few plants (don’t forget that some beautiful gardens are made entirely from sand, rocks and water); these gardens still have messages for you that you can access if you think like the person responsible for the garden).
A life garden can be used to help you get some perspective on your life and see what’s going well and what’s going wrong. Let’s say you have a new project you want to initiate. Have a look at your life garden, is there space for another plant? If not, what needs to be cleared to allow you time to start your new project. Time wasting activities, acts of self sabotage, and negative habits can appear in your life garden as weeds; as you work through these you can symbolically dig up the weeds to make room for the new. When you have enough space, mark the beginning of your new projects by planting a seed in your life garden. As time progresses check on the progress of your seed, how is it growing? Are you giving it enough care and attention? Have weeds sprung up around it or is the soil too dry from lack of watering. Your life garden functions on two levels: you can make changes to your life garden to represent change you want to make in your ‘real life’; you can also visit your life garden to give you an overview of what is happening in the physical world. Your life garden is a representation of your life – what happens in one will happen in the other.
When I first started working with my life garden it was quite small and enclosed by beautiful grey stone walls, it felt safe and peaceful. There was a door in it out onto fields at the back, and only I had the key. I needed this safe, nurturing space to feel truly comfortable and able to relax. Sometimes I went to the garden simply to relax, at other times I went for healing work, or to look into the waters of the well there and see the messages from my subconscious that formed on its surface. As my life progressed new objects would appear in my garden, as my personal healing and development moved forwards the garden expanded outwards and I ventured more often into the fields beyond its walls. Finally, a crisis point came, a time when I was ready to make the big changes in my life which I knew I needed. As part of that journey my garden was raised to the ground; I cannot say I was happy about this, it had served me so well and I still miss it. For a long time I visited the place where my garden had been and found only darkness, then, one day, I saw a huge seed, sitting right in the centre of the dark earth – the next time I visited the place had exploded into life. My new life garden is teaming with places to go and things to explore so I expect I will be busy for a while to come.
One-to-one mentoring can help you develop your own ‘inner knowing’ through learning to work with concepts such as the life garden. This means that you can take control of your own healing path, identifying for yourself areas where you need assistance to dig out deeply entrenched beliefs and patterns of negative energy which shamanic healing is designed to tackle.
The Wheel of the Year consists of eight festivals which were celebrated by different peoples in ancient Europe as a means of marking the movement of the Earth around the sun and the cycle of the harvest. The practice of celebrating the entire eight festival cycle within a single tradition is relatively modern, but it cannot be denied that the sequence of eight celebtrations, each falling approximately six weeks apart, creates a harmonious and balanced whole. The lovely thing about the Wheel of the Year is that it doesn’t just help us to mark our progress (e.g. ‘Look how much I’ve acheived since this time last year!); it also forms a practical means through which to channel our intentions, plans and projects in line with what is happening in the world around us.
Working with the seasons helps me to feel in tune with, and supported by, the Earth as it rotates through its natural cycle. Below, I have put some of the common ‘themes’ for each festival (known as ‘sabbats’) which we can work with to help us harness the energies manifest in nature at any given time, and develop our own connection to the cycles of time and the land.
Samhain, 31st October (1st May southern hemisphere)
Samhain (commonly known as Halloween), it is the time when the veils between the worlds of men and the realms of the ancestors, faery and other spirit beings are at their thinnest. It is a wonderful time for honouring our ancestors: taking time to remember our departed loved ones; giving and receiving healing through the ancestral line; seeking information and guidance from those who have gone before us. Samhain is also a good time to work with the ‘shadow self’, the aspects of the psyche which are often unacknowledged or actively repressed – these parts of ourselves teach us valuable lessons about who we were, who we are, and who we want to become. In 2011 StarFire Alchemy is running a special one day event dedicated to ancestral healing.
Yule, between 21st and 23rd December, dependent on the time of solstice (21st-23rd June southern hemisphere)
Yule, or Midwinter, falls on the shortest day of the year at the time of greatest darkness. The celebration marks the re-birth of the Sun which will grow stronger from the solstice onwards. Yule is an excellent time for contemplation of what you want to achieve in the coming year; your plans and wishes will then be strengthened as the hours of daylight grow longer. This is also the time to celebrate the bounty you have received during the previous year, acknowledge your achievements and hopes fulfilled.
Imbolc, 1st/2nd February (2nd August southern hemisphere)
Imbolc means ‘in the belly’, referring to pregnant ewes. The festival celebrates the first stirring of the earth, snowdrops are blooming and we are filled with hope for the coming year. Imbolc is strongly associated with the Celtic goddess Bride, as well as Saint Brigid; through them this the time of year is associated with purification, healing and the kindling of the creative spirit. Imbolc is both a time to initiate the new, and say farewell to the old: shedding old habits, behavioural patterns, and outworn beliefs.
Spring Equinox, 19th-23rd March depending on the movement of the sun (19th-23rd September southern hemisphere)
The spring equinox is the point of balance in the year when the hours of day and night are equal. It is a time of re-birthing when we are able to shed the old (like the shell of the easter egg) and bring transformation and change into our lives. It is also an excellent time to re-examine your life balance and initiate projects to improve your health, well-being and happiness. Intentions formed at Imbolc can be given extra strength at this time, and the Spring Equinox can also provide that last push you need to make difficult but necessary change.
Beltaine, 1st May (1st November southern hemisphere)
Beltaine is a time of union, fertility and celebration. It is a lovely time to affirm partnerships and family connections. Six months previously, at Samhain, the shadow self was ready to be made known; Beltaine is also a time when the veils are thin and work with the ‘gendered self’ can be very effective here. Exploration of your masculine and feminine qualities can lead to a greater sense of wholeness within the psyche. The idea that both men and women have feminine and masculine sides was developed by Carl Jung into the concepts of the anima and animus – shadow ‘selves’ which we can work with to understand our own natures better.
Litha, 19th-23rd June depending on time of summer solstice (19th-23rd December southern hemisphere)
Litha falls at the Summer Solistice, the point when the hours of daylight are longest and the sun is at its full strength. Litha is a time of celebration as we look forward to a fruitful summer anda bountiful harvest. Now is the time to bring into manifestation any final plans for self development and healing that you want to bring into manifestation within this cycle. In 2011 StarFire Alchemy hosted a manifestation rite where we identified underlying obstacles to our personal growth and burned these away with a fire ceremony before raising energy as a group to bring our goals into manifestation.
Lammas, 1st/2nd August (2nd February southern hemisphere)
Lammas (loaf-mass) is the first of the harvest festivals where thanks is given for the bounty of the earth. Lammas is particularly associated with the corn harvest and it is a lovely time for the contemplation of the mysteries of the seed which began to stir at Imbolc and has now bloomed, fruited and is ready to fall. Traditionally this would have been a time of great work and activity as the harvest was brought in, the festival provides a short period for celebration and thanks, an opportunity for you to look back and assess how your own seeds have grown: how were they tended, have they grown strong, and what unexpected harvests are you now reaping? This festival also signifies the beginning of the time when the shedding away of the old is called for. What sacrifices are you prepared to make to bring your dreams into being? Are their parts of yoru life which have already become dry husks and are ready to be shed?
Autumn Equinox, 20th-24th September depending on movement of sun (20th-24th March southern hemisphere)
The Autumn Equinox is the fruit harvest, second of the harvest festivals (the last being the meat harvest at Samhain). This is a time of generosity, reconciliation, and releasing. Take time to see your friends and enjoy the bounty of the earth together. Prisoners were traditionally released at the Autumn Equinox (cynically, this is likely to have been because food would be in short supply in the coming winter); the Autumn Equinox is an excellent time to look deep within and see what you are holding on to which is either not yours, or which you no longer needs. Healing such as cord cutting, past life regression and the removal of energy blockages would be particularly appropriate at this time.
StarFire Alchemy runs courses, workshops and one off events which honour the turning of the season and help participants tune in to the cycle of the year for healing and self development. View our future events pages to learn more.