On Patheos.com. If you’ve followed this blog or my prior attempts at blogging, you know I stalk the divine. Relentlessly.
So hearing about experiences of the otherworld bleeding through more and more often inspired the typical response. “Sh*t. Why not me?”
Then I remembered this weird thing from last summer.
John and I were sitting in the backyard last summer. It was a Sunday morning, early enough that the sun was up, but still a lot of shadows cast from our house and trees. I saw this brilliant red/orange thing in one of the maples. We were maybe 10 feet away. I thought it was a kid’s balloon stuck there till I saw it move. John saw it too, wondering if someone’s exotic bird escaped. The plumage was so brilliant – was the sun catching the feathers at some angle that made it…glow? Both of us remarked on how big this bird was.
We didn’t want to scare it into flight, so we moved slowly under the tree’s canopy, maneuvering around to get a better look. And what we saw was….a cardinal. A regular size cardinal.
Sounds like we were drinking, right? We weren’t. We genuinely saw a big(ger than a cardinal) red/orange bird. Yet here we were faced with a common but lovely dark red cardinal.
We laughed of course, sort of anyway.
And now I wonder if this was my own experience of the Otherworld bleeding through. It reminds me how subtle spirit energy is, and how often I have dismissed coincidences. If I *saw* a large orange/red bird, does that explain how people have *seen* other mythical beings? I will be on the look out for more of these bleed throughs.
(It’s been forever since I’ve written: mom was hospitalized for two weeks then moved to a nursing home, where she’s doing much better. I had a filling and ended up with double vision and visit to the ER. Husband had prostate issues. And then there’s the ongoing political situation in the USA, I am doing my part in calling, fundraising and taking action for a better future in line with the ideals of Liberty, Justice for all and compassion over cruelty and greed. )
I love to light candles. They’re my go-to for honoring deity or spirit, for magick, for meditating and for setting the mood.
I’ve used votives, pillars, and the kind that come in jars.
The downside for me, is that I normally do my woo woo before I get ready for work, then halfway to work I worry I left a lit candle in the house. This probably speaks to my need to be fully present at all times as well as trusting myself that I did indeed, extinguish the flame.
Soooooooooo many times I’ve turned around and gone home and the candles weren’t lit.
Do you trust lit 7 day candles when you leave the house? This is not a problem outside and it’s obviously summer here in Ohio. I can’t wrap my head around leaving a lit candle in the house while I’m gone.
My current solution is to exchange candles for appropriately colored stones. Fortunately, my husband has gifted me with several wands and pillars that stand upright and serve as taper candles.
But I’m not picky – I have bowls of stones that can serve in place of candles. Thanks to Melody’s epic “Love is in the Earth” I have a ready reference for qualities that I may want to incorporate into my intentions as I work.
I currently have a pie plate of small candles for a special intention – it’s outside for now- but I want to keep this work going for a year. It may end up in my basement as the most safe spot for it, even though it’s lit for less than 30 minutes at time. As long as I don’t set off the fire alarm. I probably won’t….
Best case on these workings (for me) is to use both outside when I can, for as long as I can, as well as the garden and mother nature. But come winter I may move exclusively to candles unless the working is on the weekend when I can be present the entire burn.
Michael Harner, who trailblazed core shamanism, recently crossed over. This sparked a flurry of debate online over the benefit of core shamanism vs shamanism within its cultural settings, and hey, what about all those weekend workshops?
Almost five years ago, I took a workshop with a semi-local teacher, which grew into a monthly study group, led by another woman who studied with a non-local teacher. We started as a group of twelve, then over time, we each would lead a class. And last year, down to five people, I gave it up. If it sounds like the teachings were watered-down, well, that’s something I wondered about too.
My reasons for leaving were clear to me. I was bringing poor energy to the group and getting little out of it. If you’ve been part of any kind of circle, you know these things tend to wane over time, or atrophy. But the bigger picture for me, became that without some kind of cultural framework, the study had become pretty dry, or in some cases, pretty ego-driven.
And so I watched the Michael Harner tributes/dismissals with interest because it was mirroring a discussion on cultural appropriation taking place in many spiritual circles and if you follow sports, in the area of logos and team names.
Can we draw from other cultures respectfully, if we don’t have any cultural underpinnings to frame our spirituality? I struggle here. Most of my family emigrated from Ireland in the 19th Century and were Catholic. But one of dad’s ancestors was born in Massachusetts in 1790. I perceive the land spirits as Native American. I honor my ancestors as they asked, by saying a rosary and lighting candles in the monastery for them. But I’ve never connected with the angelic realm (that I know of). I have connected with animal spirits, thanks to the techniques of core shamanism (journeying). I practice witchcraft. I blend what works for me, but make no claims of any special lineage, so it did not sit too well when someone said drumming was cultural appropriation from NA and no one else may use it.
Honestly, I rarely talk about how I come to my spirituality. There have been some really derisive comments about who can practice what kind of spirituality. Maybe this is why the Mystery Schools were just that – selective and secretive. And maybe there shouldn’t be weekend workshops that award certificates, with the expectation the graduate will be able to charge money and claim a certain skill.
What do you do, in America, when your ancestors came here and were so eager for their kids to blend into their new society? You study what you can, and ask your ancestors for guidance, I guess. Yet, isn’t there something to be said for working with the land you are living on? If I connect to the trees and indigenous spirits in my town, am I appropriating what is not mine?
That’s rhetorical, because I’m going to do what works for me as I am guided (at nearly 60) yet it’s a fair question when people spin the wheel of spiritual paths and seek to connect to a culture that they may or may not be a (blood-related) part of. Who is their elder, who is able to kindly direct them to a proper and respectful study of something? Unless a seeker is very discerning they either shunned and derided for inquiring, or sucked into a marketing pyramid scheme.
My opinion, as a kindness, is if you feel someone is out of line, take them aside and explain what their transgression is, and how they can remedy it. Don’t shame and deride them, or worse, talk about it behind their backs as they continue to err. Online, use that DM feature and set the record straight, for all concerned. If your path is important to you, and it should be, show it, and yourself, some respect.
Friday is the autumnal equinox, a time of balance, which I have been a bit out of lately.
Just now, I thought “huh, equinoxes come twice a year. It’s like a when a clock stops and it’s still correct, twice a day.” You’d think I could achieve balance more that two days a year.
Actually, balance has been on my mind since mom went into the assisted care facility in 2015. I though my life would pull back into shape from the vast amount of stretching-beyond-what-I-expected-I-could-do, but it’s more like a beloved sweater that’s out of shape. It just doesn’t fit like it used to and you wonder if you still love it.
Plus, this is the time of year (pre-birthday) that I take stock of my life. My journal entries from past years list things to do in the upcoming year and things I accomplished from the previous year’s list. And there’s always a short of list “didn’t get this done.”
You can probably see that I am goal-oriented and possibly over-structured. Not so much a spur-of-the-moment person. All this served me very well when I was managing dad’s cancer treatments and mom’s doctor appointments, selling their house and belongings and wrangling insurance problems.
Yet, I knew there would be a time I would have to sit with myself and figure out whether I was going to tread water for the rest of my life, (work, mom, home) or carve out something else. I’ve become an activist, calling my congressmen, attending rallies, and did some compaigning for someone I truly believe will make a difference in my community. I’m not going to say this is fun – it was work. I’m pretty much an introvert, but it felt very necessary for me stand up for healthcare.
I am cutting back on the time I devote to my mom. That activity, my mom, carries a lot of guilt-potential.
One thing I am slowly managing to do, is cut back on obligations. This is funny because I really don’t have a lot going on beyond mom/work/home. I was active in a shamanic circle for 4 years and confess that the last year or so, that has become an obligation. So I left the group. A cousin I rarely see invited me to his son’s shower and wedding. I declined. I wouldn’t know his son (or his fiancee) if they passed me on the street, nor would I know anyone at the reception except for two cousins. That one, I wrestled with. It felt like a family obligation. I did worry that my other cousin, the aunt of the groom, would think less of me that I didn’t attend. In the end, the sheer amount of energy I put into the worry told me it wasn’t worth it.
Sometimes I worry that bowing out of things like the circle and the wedding will result in me becoming my mom: a bitter old woman who lays in bed all day at a facility. I worry about this and want to balance “not be exhausted all the time” with “function at work/with mom/ and at home.”
To my credit, I have been walking 2.5 miles before work and 2.5 miles in the evening and have gone back to reading tarot, even if it’s just journaling about the card of the day. I pulled out some old tarot books and remembered how much I liked reading about the cards and spreads. I count that in the column “doing something fun.” In the mornings before my walk, I put the coffee on and say the rosary – I know! I am mixing traditions, but it’s a connection to my dad, who died as he was praying the rosary. Plus, in one of my meditations I heard “say the rosary for your ancestors ” and I am ok with that. One of my sage friends said “What is Mary but another face of the Goddess?” I am flirting with the idea of going to our local UU church. I went there briefly before we started going to PA on the weekends. That may or may not make the cut of things to be involved with, but a community is always a good thing when it is the right community.
Hopefully, I will find some cool(er) things to write about beside silly me. If you haven’t started putting up your Fire Cider, now is a good time.
Please check out Christina Platt’s podcasts “Why Shamanism Now” for the background on this post.
Christina’s latest podcast was about ancestor work and this entire year I’ve been drawn to that topic.
I really believe our ancestor offer a great and unique opportunity as guides and reference points. For one thing, as I’ve already written, they have a vested interest in your success. After all, you’re their legacy, just as you will one day be an ancestor to your descendants.
They are also “real” people who lived – as opposed to angels, spirit guides and beings of those realms we read about, but may not feel connected to.
But the ancestors can cast a long shadow over us in a negative way. Not everyone who lived, actually lived well. Nor did they die well. And by that I mean, they had unresolved issues that were passed down.
Let me stop here and say, not every family problem is an ancestor problem. Sometimes people are assholes period.
But, maybe you do see a family pattern and wonder if there’s a way to clear that up. Alcoholism and abandonment issues run in my family. I hesitant to bring up health patterns although Christina’s podcast touches on that in a much better way than I ever can. I am Miss Skeptic about a lot of things, so I’m going to use examples from my personal experience.
For myself, I set the intention to find an ancestor who lived well and died well to come forward and help me with those two issues. To be fair, I can certainly live my life pretty well, even around this fear of abandonment, and while I am a social drinker, I’ve seen some serious alcoholism/addictions in the family.
But I feel like the fear of abandonment, even though I recognize it, may be stopping me from living my life fully. (I have no idea what that means – except there’s this little haunting thought as I make decisions “who’s going to get mad, maybe I don’t really need to do this fun thing for me. I should go do dishes.”)
Now, for the record, I don’t have kids, so I’m doing this for me and allegedly this will carry forward to decedents of my siblings (families are already experiencing what I saw with my grandparents/parents/self).
We’ll see how this goes. I will keep us all posted.
I journeyed to my ancestors for help, again, since I am looking to break some family karma or patterns. This is how I did this, in case you want to try it at home.
Just like a mediation, I go to my ancestor altar and quiet my mind. I deepen my breath. In my mind, I ask my guide for this journey to take me to the Hall of Ancestors. We walk to a large open space. My guide tells me to state my full name and intention. “I am asking the ancestors who have lived well and gone on successfully, and who have information that will help me bridge the resent I hold on my sister and mother, to please come forward and assist me.” I stated the surnames of my four grandparents, and felt four “lines” generate from my words. I was drawn to the far-left line and felt pulled along it, backward in time.
At some point, the movement stopped and I met an ancestor of that line.
Here is the hard part if you’re new to this (it’s hard for me too). I witnessed a scene that I didn’t understand at first. The important part of doing this, is to keep with the scene as long as you can, but to ask the guide who is with you, to please clarify what you are seeing and why you are seeing it.
Many times in the past, I did not do this because I felt I should understand what I was shown, because if they were showing me, I should be smart enough to get it, right?
Wrong. It’s not about smart, it’s about understanding that images and symbols are not easily understand at first glance.
What my ancestor showed me may or may not help me understand why I resent my sister’s attitude more than I resent my brother’s complete aversion to our mom. This may be an on-going conversation I have to have with whatever allies I can work with, to release this and move forward. My ancestor did ask me to light a candle for her, and I will take care of this. Just a note too, when you ask any ally for help also ask them if there’s anything you can do for them. Both times I’ve received answers, the ancestor has asked for candles to be lit. I am so luck they didn’t ask for say, a bull to be sacrificed at the full moon. Levity, there!
Previously I wrote about finding your answers in everyday situations (Sidewalk Oracles). I want to show you an example from this past week.
There are several things going on for me. One is my drive to lower my blood pressure through natural means. The other is a somewhat eternal question about “Am I on the right path” (and its sister concern: “Am I ever enough?” lots of post on my previous blog about this.)
Clearly this blood pressure thing is front and center on my mind, basically because I’m ticked at my doctor over increasing meds, and I have a bad case of “I’ll show you.” So – obviously my high emotion is going to manifest something, but I don’t want the high emotion to translate into higher BP.
I researched additional techniques for lowering blood pressure and came across Hawthorn. A trip to the local natural foods store did not result in Hawthorn tincture, my preferred method of taking supplement. The helpful person did turn me onto Magnesium to try first. That didn’t do anything notable to my numbers.
Since I am also working with ancestors, and this time of year is especially fertile for that, I laid it out there for them, and especially for the deity energy of Cailleach, who I am working with. In meditation, she asked for red berries.
Walking through our park, I saw a tree with red berries. Luckily, one of the branches had fallen, and I respectfully asked to take a few for an offering. I felt “yes” and took a small amount. When I got home, I put them on the headdress of the Ancestor Doll.
Later that night, I had a dream that included 3 men from the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) coming into a room I where I was working. They were bathed in a golden light. They had their guns drawn, and at first I thought this was a problem. Their leader – I heard “Daveed” but forget the last name, asked me for my credentials (or something like that) and after I named them, he was fine. It’s pretty typical to answer questions for a Gatekeeper when you are questing or when you are going to different levels of existence.
There was more to the dream, but the upshot seemed to be that these people were here for my protection.
This is the second dream event with men bathed in golden light who were protecting me.
I was excited (in the dream I haul this Daveed to my dad, because I want to show him I have a friend.) but unsure of any other meaning.
The next morning while Penny pulled us on our walk, Brother Turkey Buzzard flew low then perched on a roof. He opened his wings for the morning sun salutation they perform (In the early mornings, vultures often will sit with their wings spread wide, increasing the surface area of their bodies so that the sun can more easily warm them. This is called the “horaltic pose”.)
And then we spotted a dozen of them in the trees behind the house. One by one they opened their wings, facing the “conductor” buzzard. We were completely mesmerized. And Turkey Vulture is one of my allies.
I knew it was sign, but because my guides know I am Miss Doubting Thomas, there were two more signs. For some reason, I went through my mom’s Catholic Missal and it opened immediately to St Therese of Liseux’s feast date – October 3 – which happened to be that day. The eulogy for my aunt fell out too – her passing date was also October 3.
Now, interpreting these three events – the Turkey Vulture, St Therese and Aunt Florence – all pointed to spiritual answers for me. Mom always venerated St. Therese and my grandmother’s middle name, and mine, are Theresa. I would say they are supporting me in my spiritual endeavors and letting me know they have my back.
I think the dream also reflects this protection, although in a slightly different way.
I wondered what the red berries were, that I picked for Cailleach. They were Hawthorn. Can you see the coincidence with my interest in Hawthorn for blood pressure? Never in a million years would I have randomly grabbed some berries off a tree, without prompting from a dream.
And, I believe the golden IDF men were plant spirits as well, in this case Hawthorn.
From Druidry.org: Hawthorns often stand over holy wells, also traditional thresholds of the Otherworld, where pilgrims festoon them with ribbons, rags and other votive offerings. A sacred hawthorn hung over the St. Patrick’s Stone on an island in the River Shannon and filled its hollow with dew, which had great healing powers. St. Bridget’s Well in Cork also collected the dew from an ancient faery thorn above it.
So, the take-away here is, all signs are personal to us. Mine will not be the same as yours, which is why it’s important to work with your signs and not give up. Be aware, but understand that it takes time to figure all this out. Also, you can take the girl out of the Catholic Church, but you can’t take all the Catholic stuff out of the girl. Again, personal to me, my symbology contains Catholic elements.
I want to recommend Sidewalk Oracles by Robert Moss. I first heard about him through some friends, who were also interested in the messages we receive from dreams. Mr. Moss has studied dreams and dreaming, and based on my friends’ recommendation, I read Dreamgates earlier this year.
And because I tend toward OCD on subjects, I ordered several other of his books. (Book-aholics! Please check out Better World Books for free shipping and to help their literacy project.)
I have always been a strong dreamer and have kept a journal that includes my dreams, for many, many years. Dreams have always fascinated me and I often receive helpful, albeit sometimes cryptic, information from them. I will let you know how the two other books are when I finish them.
So back to this one.
Sidewalk Oracles is an easy read, I was able to finish it over a weekend. There’s a lot of Mr. Moss’s personal story interspersed throughout the book, but it gives you a framework for the information he presents. The meat of the book, for me, was the chapter on asking for, and recognizing, the everyday oracles that are available.
If you’re into this kind of material, you won’t be too surprised by the content. But, I learned new things and new ways of receiving information and validations. If you’re on the cusp about this, check out Robert Moss’s blog and website. He is also on Facebook and posts some of his blog material there.
A couple weeks ago I randomly thought of my grandfather’s two brothers. They both died pretty young, one before my mom was born, so that’s the early thirties. Other than names, I had no information on them. I sat with the “random thought” for a day or so to see where this might lead. Sometimes these things go away.
It didn’t. It didn’t become a full-blown mania, like the time I emailed my great-aunt’s picture to about 30 convents in the Ohio/ Pennsylvania area, in my quest to find out more about her.
But, the thought persisted.
When I stopped to visit my mom, I asked her about these men. She said John died quite young and Anthony and Jeff (my grandpa) were close. She remembered him being around when they lived in Dayton during her first grade. But, he died shortly after. She had no real memory of his looks or voice.
When in doubt, I ask for direction. In my experience, long-dead relatives don’t just pop in to say hello, they generally need something, or recognize YOU need something. Since these gentlemen had been gone awhile, that may be why my impressions from them were extremely subtle, but strong enough for their energy to be recognized. I have a lot of beloved dead, as do we all, but there was enough of …something… for me to discern them.
Anyway, after a few days I had the thought to go to the local monastery and light a white candle for each of them. Why this action? I played 20 questions a couple times, mentally asking “how about this?” “what about if I do that?” The candle at the monastery brought a peaceful reaction. Again, nothing was really strong about this experience. The monastery worked, I think, because the family was Irish Catholic and a couple of the women were nuns.
Why do the dead contact us?
In my case, I am looking for help to release some patterns that may (or may not) be a family pattern. I like to keep an open mind, after all. And so far, I’m not getting relief from my “go-to” practices: exercise, breathing, reading, meditating, pretending nothing is wrong. So – I am asking the ancestors for guidance. It is not surprising to receive not-so-random thoughts. They inspire me to be aware of help. Shortly after this experience, I dreamed I was being chased, near the house I grew up in. The scene shifted to the inside, where two men, back-lit by golden light, were there to protect me.
What does honoring the Ancestors entail?
I have an Ancestor Altar on my sacred tools altar. Yes, I am doubling up, but it’s a space issue. Three altars are a lot for one room. Anyway, in the dedicated ancestor space are items that mean something to me, most of them came from journeying. Every morning, since early summer, I sit with the ancestors, those of my blood, of my spirit and of my soul. I smudge the area with Palo Santo smoke and thank them for living well, and dying well, and for the guidance they give me. I am the result of a thousand acts of love. As we all are. And it’s in both of our best interests for me to succeed in my life. Then I ask them to guide me in releasing these patterns. I have a particular Tarot Deck that I draw cards from when I am with them. It’s like a Cliff Notes version of a conversation.
A second experience
My second venture with the ancestors was with my Grandmother Anna. This is my dad’s mom. She died two months before I was born. This is kind of funny: she died in 1958 and I am going to be 58 on my next birthday, so it’s been 58 years since she walked this plane. I had never been to her grave. One reason was, I thought she was buried in a different cemetery, and it wasn’t all that close. I used to visit the beloved dead on my birthday, to give thanks and honor them. Of course, that’s the day before Halloween, so a win for me that the veil is thin around that time of year.
Anyway, I used Gravefinder.com to find her correct cemetery and Google maps to get me there on my lunch hour. I took her white carnations. It was actually a lovely headstone, and talking to her brought some tears up, so there’s some healing there.
She actually came to me in a dream shortly after my dad died. She was quite radiant, so I know she crossed over well and I have confidence that she will give me proper guidance as I move forward.
What does this mean?
It means the dead are never removed from us. The ancestors have a vested interest in our well-being, and can be a valuable source of support and guidance. A caveat: not all ancestors lived or died well. Discernment is the key when you call on ancestors, just as with any entity from the spirit world.
My friend turned me on to this practice. It is a Hawaiian practice of forgiveness and gratitude. This is the wording and it is like a mantra:
I am sorry.
Please forgive me.
I love you.
On the surface, this seems like a pretty simple practice. It is. But is has profound results. (read more about ho’onoponopono here.)
Gratitude is a practice, which means there will be ups and downs. Same thing with forgiveness. It’s when you’re “down” that you – meaning me – need it the most.
This is also a forgiveness practice, something that is really hard for me, since when I feel aggrieved, the last thing I want to do, is forgive someone. I want them to suffer terribly. But so far, the only person suffering has been me. This reminds me that other people think about me, much less than I think about them. Fodder for another post.
So, back to the Ho’onoponopono. The idea here is to picture the person you’re mad at, or who is mad at you, and say out loud or silently, the mantra. Super. Hard.
The first time I tried this, I actually thought blood would run from my eyes, so I modified it, saying the words to the Universe in general. Eventually, I was able to visualize the person, and say the words. This is what I mean by a practice. Modify something until it works for you, then take it where you need it to go. Don’t be a sheep, take control.
I modified the Hail Mary because I like the rosary my dad gave me – there’s some science behind the tactile action of passing a bead though your fingers, and chanting. I just felt I worded things better, for me.
Yes, I am a control freak, but it works for me.
Back to Ho’onoponopono. I took mom to the ER Sunday and while we were there, there was plenty of time to repeat the words. Like, four hours of time, which is actually pretty good considering our usual stay is upward of six hours. WIN! It kept my mind occupied and in a place of compassion and patience, both for my mom and for the staff. Mostly it stopped me from returning to the “rut-thinking” that gets mad at my siblings for not caring about our mom.
So here’s another benefit, when you feel yourself returning to the broken record – “no one helps” “why me” – try this forgiveness practice. Eventually you will rewire your thinking and it will not be automatic that you return to the broken record thought process.
Finally, whenever I can, I offer this practice to myself. In the end, we tend to most hard and condemning of ourselves, and often we are projecting our own wounds onto others. In this light, I offer myself forgiveness and gratitude. After all, so far I’ve survived 100% of my worst and crappiest days.