Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Spent the morning updating the website and sending out free rune journeys (don’t forget to ask for yours if you haven’t already). All my downloads are now available via a different provider (this doesn’t matter to you at all of course, but I felt I needed to mark the end of a mighty effort). I have also updated my home page to reflect the fact that I am taking a sabbatical from one-to-one healings for the next six months. It wasn’t an easy decision but I know it is the right thing to do; a mixture of feelings including the ability to breathe a bit easier (as I suddenly have time freed up to do web pages!) and concern for my clients even though I know they are all amazing and this is a great opportunity for them to try out new practices on their healing path.
I am now more or less ready to move out of London into the countryside for the first time in my life; hugely excited but also glad that I will still be in London every week and able to continue running our circles and courses. We have moved the London Shamanic Spirit Circle to Covent Garden which is going to be easier for a lot of our north/ northwest London community and Kay and I are busy plotting future projects. Watch this space…
When I first started teaching rune practice I wanted to help my students to engage directly with the runes, on an energetic level rather than learning by rote their many meanings. The runes are an alphabet, a method of communication and their power speaks to the imagination, the soul, and the emotions as much as the intellect. I started working with Teutonic Magic: A Guide to Germanic Divination, Lore and Magic by Kvedulf Gundarsson. Gundarsson created a series of pathworkings for each of the runes which I initially adapted for work with my students but, ultimately, I found that they weren’t suited to introductory work with the runes. I would definitely recommend Gundarsson’s book but I would tend to use the pathworkings as part of longer ritual workings or as stories told in sacred space.
I therefore set about creating my own pathworkings for each of the runes in the Elder Futhark. I began by reviewing all of the rune poems and selected an extract to use as a chant; I then created a drum rhythm for the rune based on its rune code. I raised energy using the chant and then journeyed on the drum rhythm, travelling through the rune, just as you will do, to discover the rune’s realm beyond. Each pathworking was then recorded so it can be used by other seekers of the runes. Each pathworking is about ten to fifteen minutes long and I also recorded a space opening and space closing to ensure you will be safe when you do your journey.
Every journey starts in the great void Ginnungagap. Together we create the rune in a glowing colour so that you may pass through the rune into the realm beyond. The realm is described for you as you adventure into the rune’s mysteries, but it is then open for you to travel back at any time to explore the rune’s mysteries beyond this initial pathworking. Discover the treasures of Fehu, the transformative fire of Kenaz, the magic of Laguz, or the personal power carried within Mannaz.
Get your free rune pathworking today!
I am very happy to be able to offer you one of the rune pathworkings for free. Simply send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the pathworking by file transfer. You can select any rune within the Elder Futhark ; you might like to choose one of your birth runes and can use my article on the birth runes to find out what yours are. You will receive the space opening and space closing with your free rune journey.
Journeys with the Elder Futhark
After two years of work the Journeys with the Elder Futhark are now complete! You can purchase all the journeys in their three sets which correspond to the three Aettir (rune familes). There are eight runes in each Aett (family) so you will receive ten recordings with each set – the eight pathworkings and the opening and closing meditations. Each Aett coses just £9.
The journeys represent two years of extensive work which have revealed new meanings and mysteries to me as well as bringing together many of the traditional correspondences. No one journey can bring you every aspect of a rune (for this is practically infinite), but they will bring you a deeper understanding of, and an energetic connection to each rune.
I do hope you enjoy the journeys and would love to hear back about your experiences.
As the opening ceremony of the Olympics prepares to kick off I would like to offer those of you of a more spiritual bent the chance to do some meditation with the patron of the Olympics, Zeus. This hymn to Zeus Kydistos was prepared for a devotional to Zeus which has been a long time in the planning, little did I know all those months ago when I set the date that the Olympic torch would be making its way through my home town that very day. Little did I know as Zeus gave me the words for my hymn that I would be singing ‘Zeus reign over us’ over and over again for the last few weeks – and he has been well and truly raining over us (his pun, not mine, I promise). The hymn is just under seventeen minutes long so make yourself comfy before you listen.
Please feel free to use the hymn for your own devotional work. It is for Zeus Kydistos, Zeus Most Glorious. Hail to Zeus during your great festival.
The half month of Ehwaz snuck in yesterday without me even noticing! Ehwaz is the rune of speed and it can represent the partnerships we form with our guides and companions working in the unseen realm of spirit.
As you know, the runic half months form excellent times to harness the energies of that particular rune – this holds particulary true of Ehwaz as it leaps forward, pulling the carriage of the sun high into the sky, bringing on Spring apace (or running away with the Sun if you are in the southern hempisphere). Hold onto your hat and ask Ehwaz to carry away the things you no longer need in your life or carry you forward towards your goals.
The half-month of Ehwaz is a great time to re-visit your spirit guides and companions, faring forth on its energy to commune with them. Ask for their assistance in your projects and plans, and don’t forget to ask them how you can help them with their own goals! On Monday I’ll be publishing an article on spirit companions so watch this space…
The half-month of Ehwaz is, in fact, a great time for journeying of any kind. It is a journeying rune and can be used in conjunction with Raidho to great effect – create a bind rune of the two of them to help you with journeying (just don’t forget to put it safely away before you go to bed or Ehwaz will run off with you). The Ehwaz rune is often linked to the ‘night mare’, the dreamer literally being ridden like a horse, perhaps this is a lesson that if you don’t ‘ride’ Ehwaz it will ride you… Safety precautions nothwithstanding, now is a great time to crack open your journeying CDs, grab your drum, or simply use your voice to carry you into the realms of spirit.
On a practical note, use the Ehwaz rune to speed up any projects that are faltering or delayed. Things where energy and speed are necessary will benefit from this rune. Taking some time to give your car/ bicycle (or other form of ‘steed’), some tender-loving-care will greatly please the rune and help ensure it blesses your endeavours.
In 2011 I was given the opportunity to contribute a show to the free podcast service The Shamanic Voice. I knew straight away that I wanted to use the space for northern tradition shamanic work which remains relatively unsung within the broader shamanic community. There are plenty of resources about the runes, plenty of books about shamanism, and a smaller number of books about Seidr (the most commonly recognised ‘shamanic’ form in the northern tradition); however, there are very few which bring these forms together. I have worked with the runes since I was a teenager and trained in many forms of magic, seership and shamanic work; it has been a slow process bringing these together into a relatively unified personal practice – but I take comfort in the fact that the old texts indicate that the peoples of Northern Europe embraced the many and varied techniques available to them and were adept at weaving these in to their practice and spirituality.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a sucker for a well-referenced text and a thorough, academic approach. As is often the case when we embrace a spirit-led path, I have been challenged over and over again to step out of my comfort zone and walk within the dream world where the known and the unknown are much more difficult to pin down. When I undertook my first shamanic journey to see what spirit wanted from my ‘northern tradition’ show, I was greeted not by Odin or a similarly ‘Germanic’ patron, but by a shadowy group of decidedly human-looking ancestors who informed me that my request for nothern tradition teaching had been heard and they would be bringing their stories via direct channeling.
I have now been doing the show for over six months. I have channeled a woman whose bones contained magic; a teller of sacred tales who had betrayed his calling; one of the last of the old druids; a priestess of the shadow world; a hearth mistress; and the World Tree (I know, the tree snuck in claiming to be the oldest ancestor of all…). I have also done an episode dedicated to ancestral work and am sure there will be similarly themed episodes in the future. I have found the work strange, fascinating and terrifying, those of you who do channelings and oracle work yourselves will know who weird it is to hear a recording of your channeling – let alone broadcasting it for everyone and anyone to hear!
The more I do this work the more I am convinced that these ancestors and spirit beings have something really important to say. Some of them were highly respected in their own lifetimes, some were loved, some feared, some derided; but all have a story to tell. The simple act of making bread becomes sacred when we know how to honour its spirit; soul wounding is recognised by those who know the depths of heartbreak; the simple passing on of blessing from one generation to the next carries deep power and magic.
The show comes out on 19th month and I do hope you enjoy listening to them as much as I enjoy making them. There are some wonderful presenters on The Shamanic Voice covering a broad range of practices so do check out the site! You can find old shows in the archive and the newest shows on the podcasts page. This is a free service and, currently, we are looking for the resourcing to expand our archive space – if you find a show missing please do get in touch and we can send it directly to you.
My full list of my shows so far is as follows:
Episode 1 – Written in the Bones (July 2011)
Episode 2 – Flight of the Ravens (August 2011)
Episode 3 – Druid’s Walk (September 2011)
Episode 4 – Honouring the Ancestors (October 2011)
Episode 5 – Shadow Sister (November 2011)
Episode 6 – The Hearth Mistress (December 2011)
Episode 7 – Yggdrasil’s Song (January 2012)
Yesterday heralded the start of the half-month of Dagaz, the rune of day, which will reach the zenith of its power at the summer solstice. Like Inguz and Othala before it, Dagaz can be seen as a gateway, a point of transition and transformation, a place where the seen and unseen worlds meet. The very shape of Dagaz suggests a place of balance; it encompasses everything and nothing, its centre is the point of equilibrium, the two triangles on either side reducing downwards to zero. Dagaz can be interpreted either as the daylight, or as the perfect balance of day and night; in this sense it represents both clarity and perfect perception (daylight), and enlightenment and wisdom (an understanding of both dark and light).
In Norse mythology Dagr (Day) was the third son of Nott (night); Nott was dark and ‘swarthy’ but Day took after his shining father, Dellingr, who was ‘bright and fair’. Like the sun and moon, Dagr and Nott werre placed in chariots by the gods, their procession across the sky bestowing order and allowing man to ‘count the years’. Dagr’s horse is called Skinfaxi meaning ‘shining mane’. In The Poetic Edda (Oxford World’s Classics) calmness is described as ‘day-soother’ and ‘essence of day’.
Dagaz is described by some practitioners as providing sudden, sometimes shocking, clarity; while at other times its nature is more like that of Dagr: calm, shining and soothing. Meditating on the concept of light itself will help you to understand the nature of this rune: sometimes it is blinding, sometimes it is blissful, sometimes it plays with the darkness and confuses our senses, sometimes it chases the darkness away. Working with Dagaz during the half month can help you to see situations as they really are. Embracing the gentle radiance of the light can also help to lift negativity and depression, allowing you to focus on the present moment and enjoy the power of the sun. Seek the wisdom of the light and know that its truth will hold your course steady when darkness comes once more.
Dearest runesters, I have fallen woefully behind with the half-month of Ehwaz which began on 30th March; but, to do me credit, I have been fully submerged within its energies. Ehwaz is the rune of partnership, its lore is mysterious and complex, weaving together all forms of co-operation and union in the inner and outer worlds. I woke up on 1st April reminding myself that I am getting married at the end of the month and really should do something about it! My outer journey with Ehwaz has revolved around cake and dresses and officialdom and flowers and all sorts of other things which are very nice as long as they remember they are secondary to the actual marriage :) I have also met with old friends, re-visited childhood memories, and helped out with one or two crises in exchange for the moral and material support my lovely friends have provided me.
The formality of oath-taking, however, falls more within the realm of Gebo, while the joy of celebration belongs to Wunjo. The mystery of Ehwaz is about union itself, the marriage of souls rather than the wedding. Ehwaz is not a bright sparkly rune, its embrace encompasses all aspects of the Self and Other: willingness to sacrifice, acceptance of good and bad, an ability to be vulnerable with each other. Ehwaz is often represented as a horse and rider, co-operation between a strong creature and a weak - the horse submits to the will of the physically weak man who then provides purpose and direction for the partnership. This union is powerful, productive, and creative, but it comes at a price which many of us find difficult: words such as ‘weak’, ‘fragile’ and ‘submission’ are troubling to the Western mind which seeks ‘autonomy’, ‘independence’ and ‘control’. Diana Paxon provides a beautiful discussion of the Mannaz and Ehwaz runes in Taking Up the Runes: A Complete Guide to Using Runes in Spells, Rituals, Divination, and Magic, leading us through the partnership of horse and man through to the spiritual partnership between man and spirit.
There are three forms of partnership which I felt it important to touch on during this Ehwaz cycle: partnership with self, partnership with spirit, and partnership with animals.
Partnership with Self
As I have discussed before, the Northern concept of the soul is a complex and beautiful one. The soul is not seen as a distinct, separate entity, but rather as a gathering of energies or ‘threads’ which are integrated together for the period of the life – some then separating away at the point of death. The Algiz rune can be used to link with the higher aspects of the self such as the Valkyria so that the soul is protected and guided; Ehwaz, on the other hand, works with the whole soul complex and, particularly, with the Fetch (your power ‘animal’). For those of you familiar with psychology, your Fetch might be thought of as the spiritual equivalent of your anima or animus, the complementary, hidden part of yourself which must find expression if you are to achieve wholeness of spirit. Work with the Ehwaz rune can help you to connect, and work with, the different parts of your soul. This month I have been working with a group through some particularly intensive healing journeys, stripping away the outworn and reconnecting with lost aspects of myself – old bits of me are resurfacing making me feel alive and ready for the path of union I have chosen.
Partnership with Spirit
The Shamanic concept of the World Tree posits three realms: the Lower World, Middle World and Upper World. The Lower World is where power animals tend to dwell, while the Upper World is the home of the Gods and spirit guides – man sits in the middle, the missing link between the two. Something in us drives us to connect with the animal kingdom, to have pets, ride horses, swim with dolphins; another deep instinctive drive tells us to reach out to the unseen realm of spirit, to connect with the Upper World. In spiritual and magickal traditions across the world, rites are undertaken so that spirit may speak through us: from light trance to full possession, we allow ourselves to be ‘ridden’ by spirit, stepping aside so that spirit may use our bodies to speak. The rune Ehwaz is the patron of these mysteries, the rites of trance possession and the processes of Seidr. There is much fear attached to these practices, perhaps rightly so, for they deal with the unknown and with power and forces which are stronger than us – it is difficult to be the horse. However, as with the horse and rider, much insight, wisdom and power can be gained through work of this kind, it is simply that we have to put our egos aside and face our fears before we can let go; as Paxon says ‘The paradox is that in the world of spirits, power and control can only be attained by first relinquishing them’ (Taking Up the Runes, pg. 206). There is so much more that could be said on this topic but, for now, I will simply direct you to two fascinating books Priestesses Pythonesses Sibyls: An Anthology of Essays Regarding Trance, Possession and Mantic States. Women Who Speak with and for the Gods and Seidr – The Gate is Open: Working with Trance Prophecy, the High Seat, and Norse Witchcraft.
Partnership with animals
I wanted to finish by talking about another form of special partnership: the bond we form with the animals around us and, particularly, our pets. I have three cats who I adopted from a rescue home, all three are lovely and wonderful but all three have their own peculiarities and issues. You might remember that my partner at StarFire Alchemy, Kay Gillard, and I discussed power animals on her radio show in January; Kay also talked about how you can use shamanic practice to connect with your own animals and help them heal. The rune Ehwaz is an excellent way to promote communication with your pets so that you can provide the best environment for them and understand why they might be behaving the way they are. Sit with your pet and very gently whisper the name of the rune, visualising it forming between you; it may simply have a calming effect – but it can also promote deeper work, particularly if you have already journeyed to meet their own power animal (An animal with a power animal you say! Who would have thought it!) Try it.
StarFire Alchemy hosted a devotional evening for Hestia, the Greek Goddess of the Hearth, in February and we would like to share this with you. Devotional work can be done with gods, ancestors, elementals, healing guides - if you work with them, then you can spend time with them, developing your relationship and deepening your connection.
The devotional ritual below is a blend of modern day devotional practice and what we we believe the ancient Greeks would have done to honour their household and city gods and guardian spirits. Please do feel free to use the devotional structure and song, let us know if you do, we would love to hear from you!
Hestia is a beautiful Goddess to work with; gentle and powerful, she is both the comfort and strength of home. She is often referred to as ‘First and Last’ because she was the first born of the Olympians but Kronos swallowed each of his children until his last son Zeus defeated him and freed his older brothers and sisters (Hestia emerging last). Her fire is not just the roaring hearth fire we think of today in old country houses, it is also the fire in the kitchen – the centre of the home where food and heat are produced. To honour Hestia regularly you might like to keep a candle or oil lamp in your kitchen, giving thanks to her for the comfort and happiness of home when lighting the flame; appropriate words to use are ‘Khaire Hestia’ (‘Kar-ay Hestia’ – Welcome Hestia) or ‘Hail Hestia, First and Last’. Unless you have an enormous kitchen, however, you will probably want to locate more elaborate devotional work in your regular temple space, by your fireplace if you have one, or in a place which seems to you to best represent the centre of the home.
We began the devotional outside the temple space, washing our hands and changing into our robes. We entered the temple space in darkness and the priestess lit the first candle ‘Khaire Hestia, First and Last’. She then faced east and rang the bell once ‘Hekas o hekas este bibeloi’ (Begone all unholiness) – she then repeated this in the south, west and north. The altar was placed before the hearth, decorated with flowers, flames, and a statue of Zeus who holds Hestia in high esteem. The priestess held a bowl of water over Hestia’s flame ‘Kherniptomai’ (‘ker-nip-toe-my’ – Be purified), she then sprinkled water around the temple space and each participant washed their hands within the bowl; the bowl was then placed outside the temple space, carrying all impurities away. Barley was scattered over the altar to bless and purify it and the first offerings of incense were made to Hestia.
Hestia, First and Last, be with us gracious goddess of the hearth. Golden lady of flame, fill our sacred space and share with us your wisdom and your blessings. Beloved sister of Zeus, keeper of the flame, you who dwell always at the centre, we ask you to be present to hear our words and bless us.
Each participant then knelt before the altar in turn, speaking privately to the Goddess and placing their offerings in the offering bowl (we chose to make offering of money which will be given to the charity Shelter). The priestess then spoke the following words from the Homeric hymn to Hestia:
Hestia, you are the one who takes care of the holy house of sacred Pytho, the house of the archer Lord Apollo, soft oil, flowing forever from your hair. Come into this house, come, having one heart with Zeus, and be gracious to my song too, (Trans Jules Cashford 2003)
The group then sang the devotional hymn to Hestia (see our You tube video above:):
(CHORUS) Hestia we tend your flame,
First and Last we sing your name.
Sacred hearth fire, endless light
Shine upon us Goddess bright
Keeper of Olympus’ flame
Trusted guardian, you remain.
Ancient Goddess, founding light
of our hearth fire, burning bright.
We sang the song until it gradually faded and each participant sat in silence, communing with Hestia.
We then asked Hestia to bless food and wine, reserving a share of each for her. To end our devotional we gave thanks to Hestia and the bell was rung at each of the four cardinal points once more.
Wow the year is progressing fast! The half month of Sowilo is upon us as of 13th February, the rune of the sun, strenghtening the land and brightening our days. I don’t know about you but time certainly seems to be speeding up this month, lots of things to do, Mother Nature busy at work, places to go, people to see. As the sun rises higher in the sky the time for reflection and contemplation comes to an end. The rune Sowilo represents the sun itself, personified as the Goddess Sunna who rides her chariot across the sky each day. The shape of the rune suggests eternal motion, the two halves of the rune chasing each other around a central pivot, becoming the sun wheel. Sowilo is a rune of motion, action, guidance (the position of the sun helping us assess the time and direction), and healing (Sunna is mentioned as a Goddess assisting with bone healing).
Through January Perthro and Algiz helped us to look inwards, to seek guidance regarding the flow of Wyrd. With the rise of Sowilo it is time to take action, trusting that you are on the right path and that the energy of the sun will inspire and guide you as you forge ahead. Use the rune to energise you in the morning, singing its name, allowing its dancing, flowing energy to move through you. Greet the sun as she climbs up over the rim of the horizon, celebrate her glory as she breaks through the grey skies of winter, bid her au revoir as she speeds on her way to the other side of the Earth each evening. Particular goals and projects can be assisted through the use of this rune in candle spells or worn as a talisman – sigilise it in gold or yellow to bring its bright, positive energy into your life.
Spring greetings to you all – may Sowilo bless your path.
I am spending the Christmas period with family, so no rune casting this week – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t exciting things afoot! At StarFire Alchemy we already have a packed programme for January including Mediumship with Emma Cole, Shamanic Regression Therapy training, and a workshop on intuitive drumming and voicework. In February I will be running the Introduction to RuneCraft, the Rune Making workshop and the Introduction to Rune Casting and the 2011 cycle of Intuitive Healer will also be commencing.
I have also started a new project Journeys with the Elder Futhark which will be roled out during January. This has been a pet project for some time as I wanted to provide a resource for peole who would like to get to know each of the runes of the Elder Futhark but struggle memorising long lists of correspondences. I was inspired by the pathworkings provided in Teutonic Magic: A Guide to Germanic Divination, Lore and Magic, which I found very helpful, but too complex (and often too bloodthirsty!) for a single pathworking to meet the rune (entire rituals could be made out of the material). When I started the Introduction to RuneCraft, I created pathworkings for each of the runes which form part of the course; my students have often asked that these be available as recordings so they could work with each of the runes individually in their own time – Journeys with the Futhark is the result. On my courses techniques for protecting your space as you work are very important, for the benefit of people who don’t have their own techniques yet each of the Journies includes a guided meditation to open and close your working space. There are already three Journeys available – so follow the link above and give them a go (they are also available in the Shop under ‘Downloads’!
In 2011 I will also be adding rune casting cloths to my shop as well as a new stock of clay runes and additional woods for the wooden runes.