28 June, 2012

Deer Antlers

Free Spirit Gathering was a wonderful experience. For the first time in numerous years, there was not an official Shamanic Healing ceremony in the Labyrinth, so me and many of my friends relaxed and worked on our own healing. I received my Reiki IIIB attunement, and observed a healing with Phoenix fire in order to facilitate a healing for a friend. Many of us also received acupuncture and energy healing from Neighborhood Acupuncture.

On the last day, we learned that the woods around the Labyrinth had been clear-cut and treated with heavy-duty pesticides. This was a bit of a shock, as the area always had such wonderful energy for healing and meditation. My friends and I walked to the Labyrinth, bringing gifts of milk, honey, wine, and song. As I asked for healing for the land, I spotted a two-point deer antler, shed by a buck a while ago. I brought it home, cleaned it up, and tried to figure out its message.

In a wonderfully psychic twist, upon arriving home and booting up my computer, I saw that my sister had emailed me a few random articles about the mythology of Deer! I read and learned that Deer, and especially Antlers, pointed to lessons of Transformation.

This summer has definitely been one of Transformation for me, as I learn to incorporate my shamanic training with my professional job and my private spiritual healing practice. One of my biggest lessons is to not over-analyze my intuition, and not over-speak during healing appointments. I try really hard to help my clients understand what I see in my visions during appointments, but I think that the more I describe, the less it makes sense, and the magic can sometimes be taken away with too much talking.

As I grow in experience and confidence, I hope that I will know just the right thing to say in order to facilitate healing, and that my own brain doesn't get in my way!

13 June, 2012

Healing Ceremonies for the Community

This weekend, I will be attending the Free Spirit Gathering, in Darlington, MD.

I first attended this festival a few years ago, while I lived in NYC. This place is where I had my first Shamanic Healing Ceremony. This place is where I met my Teacher, Caroline Kenner. And this is the place I return to, year after year, in order to "reset" my brain, get away from my normal, everyday life, and work on my own Healing.

Last year, I was a Senior Student of Gryphons Grove School of Shamanism, and worked with a few of my classmates and Caroline in performing daily Healing Ceremonies at the Labyrinth in the Woods. I really enjoyed the experiences, as I was able to trust my vision the more clients I worked with. I also grew in confidence, and learned how to trust my instincts when faced with things I've never seen before.

This year, I may not assist in as many Healing Ceremonies, as I am looking forward to my own growth and healing. I hope to join a Sweat Lodge, as my last Sweat was over a year and a half ago. I got a good purge during the Purge Ritual in April 2012 (see my write-up about it here), but I feel that a deep, powerful, soul-cleansing Sweat would help me reset and integrate some of my more recent life experiences and lessons.

I look forward to meeting many of you Readers there, and to give Healing back to the community that has been so supportive of me!

11 June, 2012

Cross-posting for a friend regarding the philosphy of Magic

June is quite a busy month! I had my very first private, professional healing ceremony, and now the floodgates seem to be open (the whole month is almost fully booked already).
I read a well-written article by a friend of mine, which discussed an interesting philosophical viewpoint of magic in a Druid context. As with all personal blog entries, I agree with some of his views, and not quite others (in the same way). But it certainly got me thinking about how Shamanism falls in between Magic, Therapy, and Divine Healing.


(original article can be found here)

"To begin with a discussion of magic in Druidry, one must begin with a discussion of magic in modern Neopaganism and the occult movements as a whole.
Most definitions of magic trace their roots back to Aleister Crowley's: to him, magic was "the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will." Crowley commonly spelled "magic" as "magick," using the "k" to differentiate the occult from prestidigitation, which comes and goes in favor (currently, most Druids use the term "magic" without the "k," while other magical and occult traditions prefer the "k" in their spelling).
Modern occultists will often divide their magical work into two categories: thaumaturgy (typically described as magic done by the authority of the practitioner), and theurgy (typically described as magic done in partnership with authoritative beings, such as deities or spirits).
Most of the modern traditions of Neopaganism deal in classical magic that you might expect when you think about the Hollywood versions of the paranormal: spells that reside in cookbook-like repositories that work because they are magical or secret. These are the "double, double, toil and trouble" spells that we think of, and they are remarkably common.
Magic in Druidry is somewhat different than it is in other areas of modern Neopaganism. Instead of being focused on the authority of the individual for its power, it is focused on the idea of the deep relationship, that concept I referred to as "*ghosti." Here, the idea is not that we "command the spirits through our authority," but rather that we have built up a relationship that involves the exchange of gifts and favors that are balanced and reciprocal.
Within our rituals, we honor a being called the "Gatekeeper," who is asked to uphold our work in our rituals and to "open the ways" between worlds. Very commonly, you will hear a telling turn of phrase, which is, "Gatekeeper, join your magics with mine. . ." And with that, we do the magic that creates the center of the worlds and allows us to access the spiritual world more freely.
This phrase points to a specific theological point in our magic: we believe that we have a relationship with the deities (and other spirits) that allows us to work with them (rather than to lord over them with our authority, or to beg them to do work for us). It also says that we can do this work ourselves, without their help, if we so desired. . . but that we prefer to do this work with them.
The way we conceptualize magic is also a bit different than other organizations within the Neopagan community, as well: while most traditions cut themselves off from the mundane world (by casting a circle and creating a "temple between the worlds"), ADF ritual does not do this. Instead, it magically creates a "sacred center" from which all places, times, and things are accessible. You might consider it a "crossroads" where all things can be affected.
If any outer limit to the space is defined, it is often stated that "the grove extends to the edge of the light of the fire," or, if we put it a different way, those who can stand to view the light of the fire are welcome at it. This conception of being "at the center" is very much influenced by Eliade's work, and you will often find the notion that we can (and do) influence events by "overlapping" centers. A quote from Joseph Campbell comes to mind: "The center is everywhere, the circumference nowhere."
The most common magical work that is done probably falls into three categories:
  1. we work magic to open the Gates in ritual,
  2. we work magic to draw the Blessings of the Kindreds into Waters that we may receive blessings and empower individuals to do work on behalf of the Earth Mother, and
  3. we work magic to heal or empower the Earth Mother directly.
It is not common for us to do work for ourselves in public ritual, though we might do healings for others, or work to help others find jobs, or things like that.

I mention Eliade and Campbell above: one thing that we do that is very different than older traditions (we were, after all, founded in 1983) is to look at what we're doing with a critical, scholarly eye: our religion is a bit postmodern in its creation and development. This extends to both common liturgy and to magic. We read Malinowski with Crowley, or the Encyclopedia of Religion with the Corpus Hermeticum. It's religion with homework. :)"

What are your thoughts on magic? How do you think Shamanic Healing works?

01 June, 2012

"Hello stranger, can I ask you about your spirituality?"

I've had a bizarre week.

During my social hours, I've begun a new friendship*. I met this person through a group of friends, and so it was pretty easy to integrate her into the rest of my group's silliness and laughter. However, I've been having dreams and strange flashes about her all week!

 It first began when we were all trading embarrassing stories from our childhood-- things that seemed so traumatic back then, but are ridiculous with the hindsight of experience. She spoke about a particular experience when she was 13, and how she called for help for a situation, but didn't receive any. As she told the awkward finale, I immediately blinked, daydreamed an image of shadowy intrusion, and then blinked back to normal vision. I thought I might have projected the image, so I ignored it.

Ha ha ha, guess you can see where this is going...?

I dreamed about her that night, and she had somehow been injected into one of my mundane work dreams... paperwork, computers, plants, teaching classes, etc. Because the dream was so boring, I ignored it; didn't even write it down in my Dream Journal.

Again, she kept popping up. Random conversations, text messages that came through right as I thought about her embarrassing story, etc. It wasn't until she commented on my Gryphon pin (that I purchased in honor of my Shamanic School) that I got the "Duh!" moment from the Universe!

This woman may have a spiritual intrusion that is affecting her daily life, and she might benefit from a Healing Appointment.

But ugh, now I'm in a horrible dilemma. I just met this woman not too long ago-- how do I even bring up something like this in conversation? Do I just give her a business card, a laptop, and stand behind her, holding my breath until she declares her interest/disinterest? Do I not say anything at all, and wait for her to bring up the topic of Religion and Spirituality? Do I wait and wait and wait until my Spirits are so impatient with me that I end up calling her spur-of-the-moment and babbling about what I've seen inside my head?

Of course, those are exaggerations, and I would never do any of them, as they would make another person terribly uncomfortable. But I am finding myself trying to balance my fear of looking like an idiot (when discussing this type of healing with someone new) and responding to my "duty to inform" when I know I've seen something Real...

What would you do? How would you gently approach this topic?

*Note: I maintain strict confidentiality on this site, so numerous details have been changed to protect privacy. So even if you think you know who I'm writing about, you don't.  :)