Energy


I have a little story to tell.

Last week, my son had to go under general anesthesia. After his first dental work, he developed a total fear of the dentist. So despite the fact that he had only minor work to be done, anesthesia ended being the final option. We looked to every possible option and it really came down to that. As an occupational therapist, I had seen plenty of surgeries gone very wrong, so naturally I was worried.

After he had gone under, I went back to the waiting room, surrounded by all the other parents who had children in there. I had read somewhere (though I looked, I couldn’t find where I had read it) that soul loss can happen during general anesthesia. Shamans use soul retrieval techniques to find missing pieces of people’s souls that can happen during trauma or soul theft. I have taken a number of workshops in shamanism, but I had no idea how to do a soul retrieval. But this was my son and I was going to do whatever it took.

I sat cross-legged on my chair in the waiting room and closed my eyes. The other parents probably wondered what the heck I was doing, but I so didn’t care. It was my job to protect my little guy. I journeyed out into the middle world. I ‘got up’ and walked right through the wall to my son’s bedside. I called my guides, I talked to him, I surrounded him with a bubble so that his soul would stay close by. I guarded without pause to make sure that no pieces of his soul wandered off.

Then, in an instant, my focus broke and I was back in the waiting room. The connection was completely severed and though I tried and tried to get back in there, I just kept bouncing right out. What was going on?

Then I understood. They had just taken him out of the anesthesia! And as I realized that, the dentist came out and told us they had moved him to recovery.

Everything went well and he woke up without problems. Relief all around.

The reason I am writing this is that we are taught to fear, to not trust our deepest instincts, to surrender control to those who know best, to follow the Establishment. I didn’t know how to do a soul retrieval. And yet, I KNEW! I knew how to protect my son. And I did! I just went deep inside and did what I thought was the right thing despite what might have looked completely crazy to all those other parents. It wasn’t crazy or irrational. The fact that I knew when it was over confirmed to me how real this power was.

You must understand that I am probably the most normal person around (well, at least, I think so….) I’ve been involved in magic and paganism for over 15 years. But I I imagine dress like a hippie, own an occult store of some kind, do Tarot consultations and workshops for a living, etc…. It is not what my life is like at all. I am the person you sit next to on the bus. I work my day job, manage my business, get my kids to school… My day to day is no different from yours.

I need to repeat this: I am no different from you.

That night, I felt greatness fill my whole being. I felt like I had honored my sacred duty to do what was right and not to follow blindly what was being told to me. I took my own power back. I had power to help my son, a power which was irrational to most and I used it. I left the doubt behind and reached within to find that power. There are many in this world who would have us believe that we are powerless, that someone else knows better. But our power is infinite, beyond belief. Your power is infinite beyond belief. You KNOW what needs to be done and how to do it. I am not just talking about magic. Magic is just a technique. What matters most is believing, reading the signs of the times, seeing what the universe is telling YOU.

May this full moon bring you a taste of this greatness that is within yourself. Blessed be!

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As mentioned previously, I am in a Student Cycle. I am taking this time to recenter on me and what I want to learn, where I want to go and so forth.

My starting point is peace and stillness, and although that sounds pretty straight forward, it takes so much discipline to just sit yourself down and breathe. I am not even talking about meditation. I am just sitting myself down and aligning back my energy within my physical body. Those of you who are sensitive to your own energy, you will notice that your energy body is often slightly peripheral to your physical body (Well, mine is, anyway) My energy center is always slightly in front and to the right of my physical. So I am making a point right now, as much as I can, to sit a few minutes to bring the two together. You wouldn’t believe how relaxing it is to ‘come back home’.

So, I am centering back on me. In this day and age, this sounds selfish. But I am the greatest instrument God/dess has given me. It needs to be in good working order.

In the process, I have learned a valuable lesson:

If you are happy, everyone is happy.

Think about it….

Chisasibi (on the Grand River, below Longue Po...

Chisasibi (on the Grand River, below Longue Pointe) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chisasibi community centre

Chisasibi community centre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m writing this from the winter wonderland of Chisasibi, my spirit home.

There is one way that I naturally conjure Chisasibi in my mind, and that is draped in snowy whiteness. Blessed the Gods for granting the gift of letting me see it again this way this week. It is strange that people’s greatest fear when they move up north is the harshness of winter. Invariably, after the first passage of the seasons, all agree that they wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve re-connected with so many old friends and received so many hugs and smiles over the last couple of days, that it indeed felt like a homecoming.

Last night, I walked 30 minutes in a storm. I could hardly see in the dark, the ground was covered in a slippery film and powdered snow swept across the landscape in a continuous wave. Luckily, I had the wind at my back and I was muffled in all the necessary items: my North Face parka, my Sorel boots, my -40 degree mittens, peruvian wool hat and wool tights under my jeans. I felt alive! I felt invincible! Out there, with the elements, hundreds of kilometers from any settlements in the vastness of the taiga, I felt one hundred feet tall. Just me and the elements. It can’t feel more honest than that.
As I was walking, I asked myself: ‘What is it about this place?’

I can’t put my finger on it. Anyone listening to our meeting discussions this week would hear of a thousand problems the community is facing. There is a history of pain and trauma that manifests itself into a slew of clichés about aboriginal populations. I don’t even want to name them here. Naming them just reinforces their power and no matter how much we try, there is always a hint of judgement in it. More tragic than the issues we hear and deal with are those we don’t see and don’t hear, upheld by an insidious law of silence which keeps everything safe and pretty and prevents vulnerable people from being free.

So despite all this, why is it that I can breathe here? Why is it that I feel that inner calm in spite of all the trauma and fear that still hangs in the air?

I’m trying to put my finger on it and it just keeps slipping away.

Obviously, there is the air that is just cleaner of everything: pollution, noise, vibration. I feel my senses can relax here. I am not constantly listening to noise.

But there is something else about it. The closer I can come to naming it, I think, is Resilience. There is a resilience that stirs the wind and shapes the very landscape. It feels human, with all its struggles and its fundamental yearnings. There is no need to pretend. Just being honest about today. Tomorrow may bring something new, but today is what it is. Just being. Yes, I think that is it. Just being.

As I was walking, a little bit of nostalgia found its way in my heart, but it vanished in an instant. I know that this place exists. No matter where I am in the world, I know that it exists somewhere. I can always come back to it.
I wish you all to find your own Chisasibi.

From a Christian Witch point of view, it was nice to be in a place where fields grow. Rural Poland still has a very ‘Old religion’ feel in spite of the prominent place of the Church. My husband and I would go for a walk every day. I loved the road-side shrines that were falling in various states of disrepair.

The statues of our Holy Mother looked so different than what we are used to seeing. She is depicted as short and stout, as if she has just come back from working in  the fields. It is a stark contrast to the usual Renaissance depiction we have of Her.

Central motif of Our Lady in the church in Wislica

Pagan elements are still present in some folk celebrations, like the lighting of lanterns on the summer solstice. When we were married, the priest blessed our rings with a straw broom. Not to say that they would acknowledge this as pagan, but it is quite plain to see to whoever has her vision on. It makes for a fun treasure hunt.
We spent a few hours in Cracow, which I believe is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. In 1999, I spent a month there to study Polish. It always felt special to me, especially a specific spot on the main square. This was before I heard the legend that the city held one of the seven sacred stones that regulate the energy of the earth. I really encourage anyone who is passing through eastern Europe to take a moment in the main square, right between the Cloth Hall and the clock tower and see how you feel…

And here is the whole family in Warsaw’s old town

That spot next to the clock tower is me and the kids sitting on one of the chakras of the world.

We are our most important instrument, the only tool we will ever need. I walked out of my shamanism weekend completely refreshed, full of an energy that I hadn’t felt in a long time. And even though I am quite tired today (crazy at work lately), I feel that core of energy continuing to glow softly. Taking care of our Selves is a crucial part of being a Witch and a spiritual being. There are many ways to do that. Here are a few of the pieces on how to take care of your body and your soul:

Sleep

I had one full night of uninterrupted sleep last week, courtesy of my lovely two-and-a-half-who-needs-to-sleep-anyway? daughter. It brought home the fact that our bodies and minds really need to sleep to recharge. Six hours does not always cut it!

Eat well

Make sure that you keep your body well fueled by eating the things it needs. I believe that we know what our bodies need and we should accommodate those needs. Don’t let your body run on empty.

Find your power

I came back from the weekend with a very tangible feeling of having received a gift of power. I don’t know when or how, but I felt full to the brim, as if a piece of the puzzle had been given back to me. I realized that I had probably given my power away to certain people or circumstances in my life. Take your power back into your hands. Do not let others make decisions for you that you do not agree with. Find that inner strength to take your place in the world, whatever that place may be. Feel like you are making your own choices.

Tune out the noise once in a while

We often don’t realize how much noise we are bombarded with and how many images are begging for our attention every second of the day. This is terribly apparent to me since coming back from the north. My tolerance to noise has gone way down and I realize that a lot of it is just background chatter that prevents me from truly looking in and finding better ways to live my life. So I turn off the radio in the car, I rarely watch anymore television. I take the time to look around instead and to really see what is happening in the world around me.

Look around

I get a great sense of serenity by just taking a good look around and looking at people. I feel like we are trying to avoid looking at each other, smiling, as if someone might ask us for something that we cannot offer or question us or I don’t know. Every now and then, we need to look up and SEE. When we do look around, we know what is coming, we are in a state of preparedness and a state of openness to our neighbor. There is something very calming in knowing where we are and what is happening.

Treat yourself

Every so often it just feels good to do a little extra for you. Buy that book, or sit in the coffee shop with your favorite mocha-sprinkle latte or take a second piece of pie. This is about finding pleasure in life. Usually pleasure lies in the littlest things.

Don’t forget that you are human

I think spiritually inclined people have very high expectations of themselves. We strive for that moral perfection, ideals of compassion and virtue. We have to be able to stop every so often and laugh a little. We don’t have all the answers, we learn from our mistakes and we keep going.

Re-connect

The shamanism weekend was about re-connecting: reconnecting to the Great Source, to my community, to my family, to my practice. Like our bodies need food, our soul needs connection. This can be in the form of prayer, ritual, journeying, studying, meditating, attending services, or even dancing wildly in a club. Whatever brings your soul up to connect to something bigger than yourself.

Magic Circle

Image by Rebecca-Lee via Flickr

Casting a circle is a pretty standard way to structure a ritual or a spell. There are many ways to do it and I vary it as inspiration strikes me. There are many reasons for casting a circle: 1) for protection, 2) for delineating sacred space, 3) for moving us from this world into a state of ‘in-between-ness’ with the other world, 4) to contain the energy that we raise so that it is able to build up and be sent to our intended target.

Is a circle always necessary? Not really. A very simple candle spell may not need to have a circle cast if you do not feel that it needs protection or special representation ‘in between’. If the energy is meant to simple spill out from that burning candle, maybe there is no need to contain it. One thing that can be done, on the other hand, is put a circle just around the candle, so that you are free to walk around without disturbing your magic. But I would always cast a circle for a ritual and certainly for any kind of journeying or spell that requires extra security measures.

Casting a circle is a bit of a misnomer. What you are really trying to cast is a sphere or a big energy bubble that surrounds your magical working. It is like the protection spell that the aurors put around Hogwarts in the last installment of Harry Potter.  Again, there are many ways to do this, but in essence it requires two things: 1) ability to visualize (we’ve done this already, right?) and 2) ability to project energy.

 

Exercise in energy projection

Usually, people have one hand that is better at projecting energy (i.e. pushing energy out) and one hand better at receiving energy (i.e. energy coming in). The latter is also known as sensing.  We’ve worked a little bit with energy when we watched our energy field move from one hand to the other.  You should have felt energy vibrate in your hands then, either as warmth, tingling, numbness, etc…

Center and ground, drawing up energy through your roots. Now reach out your hands with palms facing forward. Which hand feels like it wants to shoot out the energy? Which hand feels like it wants to take in energy? You may see your hands move automatically with one pushing forward and the other cupping as if holding something. Test it out and see which one is your receptive hand and which one is your projective hand.

 

Back to casting circles.

Draw up energy and direct it around your space. The most basic circle is to walk around the space with hand outstretched (projective hand) and to leave a trail of energy as you walk. I am giving the example with the hand because it is often the most natural, but you may do it any way you want as long as you direct energy and you are able to feel its presence there. Some people use a specific ritual tool (like a wand or staff). I usually have my hand outstretched towards the floor and also leave a trail through my feet as I walk. At the end of my walk, I lift my hand up and then down, to ensure that the sphere is complete on top and on bottom. Some traditions will have an incantation. You can use sound, Tarot cards, elements, specific visualizations… As long as you direct energy and that that energy stays there. For rituals that need extra protection, I will walk the circle three times around. I have been taught to start my circle casting in the North. I know that some traditions start in the East. As I’ve written before, it is a matter of internal coherence.

Another issue is where to cast the circle. Walking through the circle weakens the energy so you want to avoid unwanted circulation. As I’ve said before, you can cast it only around your candle, which leaves you free to walk around the house as you wish. For a solitary rite, you can walk around your altar leaving enough room to sit in front. For a group ritual, you have options. You can simply surround the group. I feel the smaller the circle is, the more condensed the energy becomes and it is easier to raise energy. So I would not cast an unnecessary large circle. For a public ritual with people of various levels of understanding of ritual etiquette and with lots of ins and outs, I would probably cast to the walls of the room, which leaves enough room for people to circulate while still offering protection and a space between the worlds. For group rituals, there is often a warden who stands outside the circle to monitor the proceedings and to offer assistance in case of emergency. It is also his/her responsibility to test the circle and ensure that it is airtight. He/she would also be in charge of letting people in or out of the circle if needed.

Quarters are called, circle is cast. We are now between the worlds.

This topic has come up a lot this week on the Christian Pagan Fellowship and it follows our progression of study exercises. I made a small hiatus in the world of magic and visualization and we will now combine the energy exercises of the last few weeks.
A few weeks ago, we worked on manipulating our energy fields. You practiced sensing it, knowing its boundary and how to expand and contract it. Shielding will combine the ability to sense your energy field and the visualization that we have just been working on with your apple.

There are a million different ways to shield. The way you put up a shield is extremely personal and it will only work if you do it in a way that makes sense to YOU. It will only work if it is built in a way that it can stay present in your mind. You must will it to be there, in the same way that you walked around with a word in your head while you were preparing the evening supper. It should feel the same way.

What makes shielding personal, is that you have to design the way it will look and feel. That is the only way that you will be able to keep it in your mind without effort. Here is an example: If I tell you to imagine yourself surrounded by a medieval armor (you know, like the ones standing in the hallways of mansions in movies), you may need to keep your attention very focused in the details of what such an armor looks like. If it is not a familiar shield, your mind will want to keep going back to adjust this or that detail that is slipping your mind, like the way the face looks, or how the hands are placed. It might even feel stiff and you movements will feel awkward. Anything that doesn’t feel right will break your concentration and decrease the effectiveness of your shield.

Also, the kind of shield you choose will highly depend on the situation you are facing. If you are going into a battlefield, you want battle gear. If you just want to walk around the office and want to be impervious to negative energy, a nice pink bubble might do the trick. There is such a thing as offensive and defensive magic or warrior magic. I suggest Wiccan Warrior by Kerr Cuhulain (who will be at In-Fest next weekend, somewhere in the Ottawa region, by the way…) if you want to know more about this path. I have studied martial arts for many years, so this a path that makes sense to me. It is not for everyone, so don’t feel pressure to try it out. But no matter what, everyone needs to know how to shield.

Take a moment to assess the situation. What kind of shield do you need and want. Right now, you are just practicing, so you can try out different shields. But in general, what will you need this shield for. Imagine the kind of protection you want. It should feel comfortable, easy to focus on, strong and it should make you feel safe. It can really be anything. It can be an extra layer of light, guardians that surround you, a tornado, a brick wall, a viking’s shield, a blanket… It all depends on you and on the situation. Obviously, summoning the 4 archangels to stand by you will require more focused attention than an extra layer of light. But it will also be no match if you are walking towards danger. Probably a little bit of an overkill for office politics, though! Imagine a few possibilities that you may want to keep in your ‘shield closet’. It will be easier to conjure them quickly if you have imagined them already. For the sake of this exercise, let’s try something light. We’ll just try thickening the border of your shield. You can choose to just make it more dense or add a layer of light around your field.
1. Center and ground. Grounding is especially important. That is your best line of defense, even without a shield. In karate, it is all about stance. If an opponent can make you fall over, the battle is lost, even before you cast your punch.
2. Test your energy field. Where does it reach. Do a quick scan of its margin.
3. At the boundary of your energy field, imagine your shield being formed. Visualize a layer coming in and surrounding your energy field. Draw up energy from your roots and direct it to the outermost layer of your energy field. See this energy transform itself to offer you protection. It may seem to harden, like the bark of a tree, or glow more brightly like a flame. Command this energy to do your bidding and protect your personal space. You should ultimately get a feeling of: ‘This is in here and that is out there.’? That which is outside should not come within.
4. Once you’ve visualized your shield, draw back into yourself, but without letting your shield collapse. Your focus is no longer on upholding the shield. It should uphold itself, the same way the word lingered in your mind during the visualization exercise. Will it to be there, and that’s it! The minute you question whether it is holding, you are casting doubt into it and weakening its presence. Conjure it, know it’s there and go on your business. This is not easy and it takes a lot of practice. Be forgiving of yourself and have fun with this.

Once you’ve practiced this, you can go on to trying different types of shields. Your creativity is the only limit. I’ve had elemental shields, music shields, mirror shields… The more complex your shield is, the more mental focus and attention will be needed. Try the basic shield above first so you have an easy option for ‘everyday wear’.

Feel free to post your comments and the different shields you have tried out. It’s always fun to discover what others have come up with.

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