February 2011


I just spent a most wonderful weekend learning and living to the Shaman’s Drum. Shamanism is a practice that is known throughout the world and has been used by tribal communities since the beginning of time. The Shaman is a healer and a wisdom seeker. S/he journeys in a altered state of consciousness (what Michael Harner calls the Shamanic State of Consciousness) to seek the help of spirit guides and power animals, often on behalf of someone else and often for healing purposes. I took a basic shamanism course a few years ago in a place called The Edge-Northern Algonquin Park (www.shamanismcanada.com) which is absolutely fabulous. We learned how to contact our power animals, how to journey to the different shamanic ‘worlds’ and how to journey on the behalf of someone else. This past weekend, I took a more advanced 2-day workshop given by the Federation for Shamanic Studies on extraction healing, which is a method of removing energy intrusions that cause people harm. I met some amazing, amazing people there, all people who saw their place in the world as a place of healing and of spirit.

Shamanism is a great practice for those of us who struggle with multiple spiritual paths. The FSS teaches core shamanism and as such it is non-denominational. So, people of various spiritual/religious backgrounds can join together and do healing work without having to negotiate their beliefs too much. It is very much grounded into concrete, real-life work, which is nice for those of us who like to get our hands dirty. Also, it is a GREAT teaching tool to learn about energy, about trusting our inner voice and about connecting to the universe. I use the techniques I learned in many rituals and use journeying to talk to my Guides. The FSS gives courses throughout the world, so I strongly encourage you all to check this out. Courses schedules can be found at http://www.shamanism.org/workshops/ A good book is also Michael Harner’s ‘The Way of the Shaman’.

 

OK, my dears. Thanks for the discussion on Facebook about Angels (and for those who aren’t on the Christian Pagan Fellowship and linked up to Facebook, it’s not too late to get with us!)

I’d like a status report of who is doing the exercises and how it is going so far. No need to post a public comment if you’re shy. You can also contact me via email or via Facebook. I would just like to know if people are generally keeping up or if you need more time to practice grounding. Once that’s done, (well, it’s never really done…), I’d like to get into a little energy exploration, circle casting, shielding, ritual design and spell casting. But it’s important for me to know if you are all OK with the experimentation. And please, don’t feel shy to ask questions (Should it feel like this? Why am I not getting anything? I’m having a hard time concentrating….) So let me know!

For those who are keeping up and who feel comfortable, here is a little extra, but very important exercise to keep going while we get everyone checked in. Grounding, once you are seasoned in the practice, should take a few seconds. Just enough time to re-group in your center and to shoot out your root. You should feel something holding you down. If someone was to come and pick you up, they would have a hard time lifting you up because of the connection. So now that you know the feeling of grounding and being connected to the earth, try this:

1) Try grounding in a few seconds. Don’t think too much. Center and Ground. Nice and easy.

2) Ground in standing. This will be important because a lot of the ritual work we do is in standing.

3) Ground and then start walking. Don’t lose your connection. Feel that something is keeping you anchored to the earth below. It’s harder to visualize, but try to hold on to that feeling of being connected. This is important because we usually cast circle while walking around it. You need to connected to the earth to be able to draw up energy while walking around the circle. Remember, it is possible to walk and chew gum at the same time. Same principle. If you know how to ground and you know how to walk, you should be able to do both at the same time.

So I expect some status reports! Can’t wait to hear how you are all doing!

I got a recent question on Facebook about angels and I wanted to address that here. Turns out that what appeared to be a simple technical question became a major theological issue, so I wanted time to ponder and do a little background research (remember, I’m juggling here. Oh, to be a full-time student of the mysteries… but I digress)

Someone pointed out that in my book, I ascribe the Archangels as follows:
Raphael in the North for Earth
Gabriel in the East for Air
Michael in the South for Fire
Uriel in the West for water.

But, this person pointed out that most others ascribe the angels to following quarters:
Earth Uriel
Air Raphael
Fire Michael
Water Gabriel

A friend of mine also pointed out that that is how she was taught. To be honest, I had never stopped to think that it could be any other way than the way I listed them. So I looked things up in ‘A Dictionary of Angels’ by Gustav Davidson, which is pretty exhaustive in all matters related to Angels.

Angelology is extremely complex because different sources will list things differently. You end up with literally lists of angel names, pages and pages, with their correspondences. Basically, there is an angel name assigned to every possible thing you can imagine, including season, planet, sign of the zodiac, day of the week, cardinal point, hour of the day… Also, ‘Heaven’ has a complex geography, with many levels and orders of angels. Angelology, as such, is a system like that used in ceremonial magic, where emphasis is put on words of power, on calculated ritual, on power symbols, on numerology and letters. Rituals must be done to the letter with no deviation to the prescribed form. It is very technical. That is why there are so many correspondences using angel names. These angels become representations that are sequenced to produce a desired effect. I know very little about ceremonial magic. If there is someone out there who is more knowledgeable than I am, please correct and enlighten me. It is not my craft. I raise energy and send it out on a whim. I try to read the signs of the earth and balance what needs to be balanced. It is a different practice.

In the question that interests us here, there are two different elements here: cardinal points and elements. Davidson talks about the Archangels assigned to the four winds: Uriel in the south, Micheal east, Raphael west and Gabriel north. This interpretation differs from the two that we have so far. His Angel of Fire notes both Gabriel and Uriel (again different) and Michael for water (again different). For the cardinal points, Davidson mentions Micheal in the East (Rising sun), Uriel in the North, Raphael in the South and Gabriel in the West. None of these systems coincide perfectly with one another.

So, where do we go from here?

The reason I needed to ponder all this is because of a (maybe) controversial point: that of internal coherence. My whole practice is based on this and that is what appeals to many and what many may also criticize. A spiritual practice must make sense within itself and its elements must fit together in a cohesive whole. It doesn’t matter so much which symbols and associations you choose as long as the elements do not create discordance between each other. For example, my spiritual practice (other than my Christian upbringing, of course) started within a Wiccan framework. In this system, North is the quarter of Earth, East of Air, South of Fire and West of Water. Each element has its attributes and representations which we all know in detail by now, right? So when I look at each Archangel, I look at their attributes and they find their own place on my circle. Raphael is the healer and as such, he belongs with Earth. Gabriel is the messenger. Can he go anywhere but with the element of Air, guardian of inspiration and communication? And Michael, the Warrior. He is the embodiment of the courage and fury of Fire. His place is in the South. If I had chosen to place the Archangels according to a Kabbalistic tradition, then I would have placed them differently, but since my framework is primarily Wiccan, it would have felt awkward . But I can still decide to change my system if I decide to study Kabbalah more in depth and that the system makes sense to me.

You ask: ‘ So nothing really matters? Everyone can do whatever he or she wants?’ That’s the question that I am asking myself. I’d like to say yes, but something nudges me to think that that devalues everything we do. I’d also like to think that we are all still connected somehow and that the symbols will just align themselves to create systems that are still intimately connected.

The Angels are here with us. They are tangibly here. You are already inviting them in every time you cast your circle. Ask them what they think.

I honored the Goddess last night, the best way I know how…. By lighting two candles on a birthday cake for my little girl. My Imbolc baby, born at high noon on the feast of Candlemas. Candlemas is an old Christian feast that consisted of lighting candles for the Virgin Mary, 40 days after the birth of her son. According to Jewish law, this signified that she ritually ‘pure’ again. With all this light symbolism, we could not do otherwise than to call our daughter Chiara, which means light in Italian. Two candles for my little Goddess of light. Make a wish!