Persephone

The myth of Persephone (pronounced per-sef-o-nee) is one of my favourite Greek myths and while it had enormous relevance for our ancient Greek ancestors, it has as much, if not more relevance for us today as it did then. As usual I’m not very sure where to begin with this topic. It is very close to my heart therefore I so very much want to do it justice and in wanting to do the best job possible I’ve put it off more times than I care to admit. It seems in this case that careful planning leads to poor performance. So forsaking perfection…and arming myself with courage…here goes…

Persephone is a Greek Goddess. She is the only daughter of Demeter; ‘The Good Goddess‘. Mortal men knew Demeter as the ‘Goddess of the Harvest Wealth‘, for it was under her dominion that the Earth was green and abundant. So far so good, however, one day a terrible fate befell Persephone.

While picking wild flowers in a meadow Persephone strayed off from her companions when Hades, Lord of the Underworld arose from the depths, grasped our young Goddess and bore her along with him to the Underworld. Persephone’s cries at being abducted were said to be heard in the very depths of the ocean. And while Demeter searched frantically for her only daughter, no one was able to tell her what had happened. Demeter eventually asked the Sun ‘Helios’ for help. The Sun after all sees everything and sure enough he had witnessed the abduction. He told Demeter what had happened; that Persephone was down in the Underworld, in the realm of the shadowy dead.

At this point I am going to skip a large section of the story and get straight to the point that is relevant for us today.

 

Demeter, consumed by her grief abandonded her duties to men and the Earth gradually became lifeless and barren. Zeus, the Father of the Gods saw how mortal men were suffering and beginning to perish and sent Hermes down to the Underworld demanding that his brother Hades return Persephone. Hades did as he was asked, he allowed Persephone to return. Just as she was about to leave, Hades asked Persephone to grant him one final request; that she eat some something. He offered her a pomegranate. Dutifully, Persephone granted his wish and ate a pomegranate seed. Little did she know that pomegranate was the food of the Underworld and that by eating it she was binding herself to return to Hades. So Persephone left the Underworld and was reunited with her mother. Upon discovering what had happened with the pomegranate seed, Demeter’s sadness returned for she realised that she would once again lose her only daughter to the Land of the Dead. For four months of every year, Persephone resides in the Underworld as Hades’ Queen and as Demeter grieves for her beloved daughter life on Earth becomes still.  The cold creeps in, flowers wither and die and the fields lie fallow.

And joy of joys when Persephone returns once more from Hades and the radiance of Spring and Summer bless the faces of mortal men anew. As well as being the Goddess of Spring, Persephone is equally the wife of Hades, Queen of the Dead. She is the only Greek Goddess out of all the immortals who has tasted Death. And yet she returns, she is reborn every year in Spring. Her time on Earth is limited. After the joys of Spring and Summer, her descent to the Land of the Dead begins. This is the Autumn Equinox, the dawning of Winter. The cycle of the seasons, the complexity of man. Summer and Winter, life and death, the light and the dark; these are all part of the human condition here on Earth. We haven’t yet learned to transcend our mortal bodies, and until we do so we are bound to this cyclical process of life and death, light and dark, only to be repeated again and again and again; what the Buddhists call the Wheel of Samsara, or the Wheel of Suffering. Enlightenment or illumination will cease this process for us, but until then we have to work within the parameters of the light and the dark.

On the Earth Plane the light and the dark are two poles of the same thing. We need the polarity, we cannot understand one without reference to the other. We only know the light of the dawn in contrast to the darkness of night. Darkness is real and it exists within us. It is part and parcel of being human. Trying to avoid our darkness doesn’t help, pretending it doesn’t exist is even more debilitating, it needs to be accepted, integrated and embraced. Persephone can help us with this. Out of all the Gods and Goddesses she is uniquely qualified. She dies every year. Her suffering is repeated year in year out. She is mourned by her mother every year.

What Persephone does not do however is let the darkness consume her. She never gives up hope, she never lets go of the light deep within her for she knows that she will return once again to light and life and love. In her darkest moments Persephone remains strong and calm and full of resolve that this is what she must do. If we allow her, she can teach us how to safely integrate darkness and death into our lives, without letting it corrupt and consume us. Persephone is the Light within the Dark.

I’ve done a lot of shamanic work with Persephone. I journey to her and I regularly do ceremony to honour her. For me She is real. She is a divine aspect of consciousness within the greater universe. Said another way, Persephone is a living aspect of the cosmos. She is accessible and with some effort on our behalf we can meet her, talk to her and receive wisdom, healing and advice from her, among other things.

I appreciate that not everyone holds the same views as I do. Ultimately we have a choice; we can see her as real, existent, out there, independent from us. Others might see her as a metaphor for an aspect of our own psyche. And there are those among us who might simply view her as a character in a fairy tale. Regardless of which option you feel more drawn to, you cannot deny that the myth of Persephone has much to teach us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vision Quest

I went on my first ever vision quest this weekend. It was in fact a double ceremony event, comprising of a vision quest and sweat lodge. Normally associated with Native American traditions, the vision quest and sweat lodge are often paired together and are evidenced in indigenous cultures world over, including Ireland. A sweat lodge is essentially a purification ceremony while a vision quest is a heartfelt cry for a meeting with Spirit. I have participated in many sweat lodges before but this was to be my first ever vision quest, and I was more than a little nervous.Why was I nervous if I’m used to doing this kinda stuff, you might rightfully ask? Well, truth be told I wasn’t really sure of what a vision quest actually entailed. I had half formed notions of surrendering oneself to the wilderness, sacrificing hunger, comfort and sleep and personal safety for a vision of prophetic import. If you’re lucky, that is, and actually have a vision. But what if you don’t…does that mean you’ve failed?

So this is the backdrop against which I framed my vision quest. Not ideal I’ll grant you, but that’s the truth.

Seeing as we were due to begin at 6pm on Saturday evening, I had decided that I would devote all day Saturday to my preparations. I had initially intended to climb my birth Apu (mountain) Sugar Loaf, but that was not to be, so I decided to go to Lough Crew and Tleachta instead. I had also decided to fast all day Saturday.

So Saturday arrives, and boy did I wake up with a rip roaring appetite. I could have eaten for ten men I was that hungry. Here we go I thought! This is either going to kill me or make me! I drove to Lough Crew, Sliabh na Cailleach, Mountain of the Witch. This place is older than the pyramids, older than Stonehenge and is a mighty force to be reckoned with. It was here that I first felt the inklings of a shamanic way of living and where in fact I first met my shamanic tribe. Anyway, it was my intention to connect with the site, to make offerings to the Cailleach, to be still and to allow any messages from Spirit to come forth. Very noble indeed. Just the ticket! And what did I go and do…?

I fell asleep. Yes, I nodded off amidst the bus loads of American tourists, dog walkers and general outdoorsy people. It was a beautiful day and hoards of people were about, talking, laughing and taking photos. I had settled down into one of the cairns, made my offerings of flowers and seeds, closed my eyes to connect with the energies of the site and to disconnect from the all other humans. The next thing I know I’m waking up. I kid you not. I’ve no idea how it happened. I wasn’t sleepy and it certainly was not my intention to have a snooze. But the message ringing in my ears was crystal clear; Connect with your Ancestors.

Lough Crew (Sliabh na Cailleach)

Now, in the Shamanic tradition we have different types of ancestors. You have your blood or genetic ancestors (your family line). Plus you have the Ancestors of the Land. This category of ancestors are the remnants of souls of all the peoples who have walked these lands before we did. There are hundred upon thousands of them and you can connect with them and learn from them. Then to complicate things even further you have the Ancestors of a spiritual lineage, This lineage does not have to correspond with the lands of your birth. For example I have a Q’ero lineage and I am not Peruvian. The Ancestors from a spiritual lineage may act as spirit guides, allies and/or teachers. You can also have multiple spiritual lineages (as I am discovering). These were the Ancestors I had to connect with.

Tleachta (Hill of Ward)

On to my second site; Tleachta or The Hill of Ward. Tleachta, according to the Druid lore was the spiritual heart of Ireland and the first Oíche Shamhna originated here. As if this weren’t reason alone to love the site, it is also usually quiet, peaceful and devoid of other people. But low and behold when I got there on Saturday afternoon there were 3 men talking at the very spot I like to sit at. “Bugger !”says I to myself. I went up anyway, hoping they might leave when they saw me. Ha! Forget that! Two of the men were so engrossed in the stories being told by the third man that I had little choice but to join them. And oh! how glad I was  and how fortuitous a meeting it proved to be. This ‘story teller’ was nothing other than a historian and on asking me my name he proceeded to tell our small group about the history of my name and my clan. I could scarcely believe it, not an hour after receiving the message on Lough Crew, here I was listening to stories about my family lineage; my blood ancestors. What providence!

I arrived at the location of the vision quest, re-enthused, excited and a lot less nervous. The butterflies were still.

As it was the first vision quest to be hosted by my teachers at Green Tara (see below), we had an introductory meeting where the preliminaries were discussed. Normal stuff! At this point, our teacher announced that the principle energies to be worked throughout the vision quest were to be Dragon energies. “Oh Gawd!“, I said to myself. ” Dragon!”  “How the hell am I going to work with Dragon energies?“. I can barely manage my own at the best of times. Dragon energies are not to be trifled with, this much I knew. I also knew that Dragons are magical, powerful in the extreme, highly intelligent and very very mercurial. “Think the Desolation of Smaug and you’re close“, our teacher went on to say. Now under these circumstances I consider myself to be more more akin to Bilbo Baggins than to Gandalf the Grey! Actually, given the choice of all the Middle Earth inhabitants I’d be an elf…but I digress..

Forgetting about wizards and hobbits, I put myself forward as a Dragon Keeper ( someone who looks after the fire and the drum for the entire duration of the quest, a full 12 hours). Not sure why, but I felt inexorably drawn to the fire, as opposed to some spot in the fields. I am well used to prowling around the ditches and groves. I am a country bumpkin after all and I intuited that I would be more receptive to a vision if I had a job to do and it meant I’d have to stay awake!!

We were instructed to beat the drum at a slow and steady pace, two of us at a time. There were a few of us, Dragon Keepers, to allow for toilet breaks, maintaining the fire and such. The drumming commenced. Now, I’ve been doing shamanic work for the past 5 years. Not along time in the general scheme of things, but long enough to be familiar with shamanic principles. And still my rational left brain has such a hold over me and kicked into action with gusto. “What am I doing?”  thought I. “Here I am cold, hungry, tired and committed to drumming a slow beat for the next 12 hours”.  I started to resent my decision to be a Dragon Keeper. “Stupid Dragons“, I thought, “stupid drum, stupid beat, stupid me“. The battle waged within, I wanted to leave, I wanted to stay. I wanted to scream. I started to cry with sheer frustration. It was dark so no one could see. Thankfully. I wanted to be out there with the others either asleep or having fantastic visions of dragons and other mythical beings. I wanted anything other than to be here.

This went on for an indefinable period of time. Then it stopped. I stopped..not drumming, no I kept that up. I stopped thinking. And I drummed right through that wall of frustration over to the other side. I drummed my heart out. I drummed for my family, for my ancestors…all of them. I drummed for my tribe new and old. I drummed for the Dragon and for Spirit. I drummed for myself and I drummed for the world. The desire to receive a vision had subsided. I was no longer concerned with that. I had already received something much more precious; I understood on an experiential level, the value of doing something for others above and beyond the self. Experiential knowing transcends intellectual knowing.. because in the former you live the experience rather than hold it as a concept. This may not seem like much of a revelation, but the wisdom and joy that came with it were huge. I experienced being part of the all and the all as part of me. We are not separate. And oh! the peace that followed. In drumming for the tribe out there, I was drumming for me in here. The monotonous beat of the drum weaved together the magical energies of the vision quest. It held it together, in place, like an anchor. The magical transformative energies of the Dragon were coming through the drum into me and out into the world: out into my tribe who were out there questing for themselves, for each other, for the entire cosmos. Here we were doing our own thing, but not as disparate entities. We were working together. It is difficult to convey the magic of this experience and here I will stop trying.

I could go on and wax lyrical about magic and dragons and transformation yada yada yada. But I won’t. Down to the nitty gritty….Did I have an actual vision? Yes!! Will I tell you about it? Yes, but not now.  What I will conclude with is a story of what happened to me the morning after my questing weekend.

I went for a walk and sat for some time on an old cairn of stones close to where I grew up. As I closed my eyes and offered my prayers of thanks for the wonders of the vision quest and sweat lodge I was immediately transported back in time, to the familiar lands of my birth. There I witnessed a young couple on the back of a milk cart. I could hear the crunch of the big wagon wheels as they trundled along the stony path. It was warm and sunny. She was dressed simply in a grey tunic, his hands were rough and dirtied with hard work. They were poor but smitten with each other. He gave her a flower and told her that she was the most beautiful flower in the world. Instantly I was transported again, this time to another realm. And there was the Dragon! I could see him; his scales, his piercing eyes, his wings that fanned out in flight and his long thrashing tail. I was not afraid, in fact I felt like I knew him, we greeted each other and then simply said our good byes.

The gifts of my questing weekend are still unfolding, and it is up to me to continue the process; to give thanks to my ancestors…all of them, to honour them… always, and to acknowledge the transforming power of the Dragon.

Green Tara Holistic College in Navan, Co. Meath provide shamanic training for all levels; from beginners through to advanced levels. I can not recommend them highly enough!

Devil Tower Star

Devil Tower Star is an account of the last 7 months of my life; from Dec ’16 to the present July ’17. During this time I passed through three distinct phases, and its only now that I have come out of the whole process that I can see it for what it actually was; an exploration into the darkest recesses and craggy reefs of my soul.

Devil, Tower and Star are names of 3 of the Major Arcana in the Tarot. They are the trumps numbering 15, 16 & 17 respectively, and they correspond perfectly to each of the phases I passed through.

It all started in December ’16, on the 10th to be precise. I remember it well. There was a beautiful family celebration on that day and I was surrounded by the people I love most dearly. I was happy and contented and looking forward to Christmas! A perfect scenario. When Bang! out of nowhere something inside me changed. My internal switch flickered and out went the light.  Within the space of about half an hour my feelings of joy were replaced with feelings of anger and my happiness melted away under the weight of a dark mass of hatred and revulsion. I couldn’t wait to get out of there, I felt so, so ashamed of myself. How could I be feeling like this in the presence of all that I love and hold dear?? “What the f**k is wrong with me?”, I asked. I actually thought I was going mad. The transition from light to dark was so sudden, definite and terrifying. And that, to cut along story short was the beginning of what turned out to be a long and arduous journey; a dark night of the soul.

It is not my intention to be melodramatic nor to seek sympathy. Neither do I want to use overly emotive language or dwell unnecessarily on my dark days. However I believe it is important to talk about our mental states. We all suffer privately, its part of the human condition, yet we hide it under a veneer of bourgeois respectability ( I’ve been reading Steppenwolf!). Those who know me know that I’m a deep thinker, a seeker, a fatalist at times. I’m interested in the big picture, in the things behind the things.  I’m constantly talking to God asking Her/Him to show me more, show me more. Well..I got showed me more… about as much more as I could handle… What followed that 10th December was a long period of sheer and utter misery and self loathing. I waged a war against myself within myself. I was both protagonist and antagonist, hero and anti hero, slayer and dragon. Enter the Devil. I came face to face with myself. 

In the Tarot the Devil card represents many things, but generally speaking it can point to excessive egoism, illusion, obsession with material things, addictions, a denial of certain elements within your nature, and a reluctance to accept responsibility for one’s situation..however horrible.

And so linking arms with the Devil, my new best friend, I placed myself under the microscope. And oh! what horrors lay beneath. The discrepancies within my personality were leering right back at me. I could see I where I had not been honest with myself (basic stuff). I recognised that a lot of my thoughts conflicted with my actions; I would think one thing, say another and then do something completely different (this surprised me). I saw how I lie to myself about the true cause of my feelings. I also found that even though I genuinely try to like all people equally, I secretly harboured little resentments. And quite a lot of them I’ll admit (this embarrassed me & made me feel very uncomfortable). Furthermore, I found that a lot of my desires were either downright false, ridiculous or based on selfish or egotistical motives. Yes, the Devil and I were a likely pair and this Hell was entirely of my own making.

What to do?? Build a Tower. Knock it down!

And so she did. I knocked the shite out of my personality. Now, I’m not a masochist..although I am aware that I probably sound like one at times. What I mean is I realised that a lot of my thinking patterns, attitudes, motivations, desires, inclinations etc. aka my personality were outmoded. They weren’t serving me anymore. In my efforts to learn more about God & the Universe (the macrocosm), I had neglected to look closely at myself (the microcosm). I must have missed all the subtle cues telling me to pay attention to my innermost thoughts and feelings, because in the end I needed that Lightening Bolt in the Tower card. I was so horrified by what I saw within myself; thoughts and opinions allowed to run unchecked, huge conflicting desires, dishonesty, greed, vanity, pride. The Tower needed to come crumbling down. Something had to give. If it is my earnest intention to live in truth as much as is possible, if it is my burning ambition to evolve spiritually, which it is, then it was becoming unmistakably clear that I’d have to change.  And that is why I had my melt down on the 10th Dec. My unconscious was becoming conscious and was bursting through to the surface. Hallelujah!

The change is ongoing. It is largely unnoticeable because it is taking place within me. In fact to the outside world all is as it was…however deep within, in my inner landscapes, it couldn’t be more different. The rose is at last beginning to open.  And it is at this point that I introduce the beautiful Star card of the Tarot. I love this card. It shows Isis, unveiled, gazing meditatively into a pool while pouring water into the pool and onto the land. It signifies being open and receptive to higher, divine and eternal truths. It is the calm, serene morning after the storm of the Tower. It offers the promise of peace and equanimity and spiritual growth. Isis the great goddess of the Universe shows us that by aligning ourselves with universal truths we satisfy and nourish all aspects of our being.  By allowing what is buried within your unconscious to come through to your conscious, you can navigate the seas of life a little more authentically, and instead of being blown about from rock to hard place, you can steer your mighty vessel in which ever direction you wish.  There is more of the ‘real you’ in the driving seat.

 

The Star card is often called the  Wish card. It can represent the fulfilment of your wishes. And my wish; to come a little closer to God has been granted.

 

The Q’ero and Me

 

Ah… my beloved Q’ero. Were to start I wonder?? The beginning seems an obvious place, but where does the beginning start? Good question!!

For me the beginning starts with a book, a disease, and good old fashioned coincidence or synchronicity…but not necessarily in that order.

But before I begin I should give you the backdrop to all of this and to my life in general. Basically I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of God, the  existence of the soul, consciousness, the meaning of life etc. etc. I even studied philosophy for 4 years in the hope of finding some answers..no such luck!! And if I hadn’t had such a predilection for these matters in the first place then the beautiful, magical Q’ero would never have crossed my path.

O.K. Back to the beginning: First came the disease; lymphoma to be precise. Not for me but for my 7 year old daughter. To say that everything changed would be an understatement. Without going too far into it, my perception of reality changed significantly; I could hear trees call my name, I had visions of dissolution, my dreams were potent and I could see aspects of myself and others that I had not been able to see before. Some people might have gone to see a doctor about this..I went to a shaman.

In second place we have the book ‘Shaman Healer Sage’ by Alberto Villoldo. My mum bought it for me one Christmas (during my daughter’s recuperation) and quite frankly I devoured it..over and over again in fact. It’s about Alberto’s shamanic journey of healing and wisdom based on the teachings of the Q’ero Indians from the Andes in Peru, and given my new ‘experiences’ it made a whole lot of sense.

And finally, we come to the coincidence (even though technically I don’t believe in coincidences, I prefer synchronicity). The afore mentioned shaman that I went to see about my new perceptual states explained to me that a shamanic path was unfolding in front of me and that I was being presented with the opportunity to begin such a journey. But get this….my new teacher (and now friend) just happened to have trained for an extensive period of time with Alberto Villoldo in his Healing the Light Body school ‘The Four Winds’ in America. Coincidence or what…I don’t care what you call it. Of all the shamanic healers I could have gone to see and from all the various backgrounds and lineages available, I picked this one. And that is the beginning of my story with the Q’ero.

 

See Green Tara Holistic College for Q’ero teachings and training

A Story of Initiation

 

I have journal upon journal filled with writings, musings and accounts of my forays into the Shamanic realm and I often re-read them; sometimes out of curiosity and sometimes when I need a little pick-me-up. This morning was one of those times. I made a decision last night…a small one but with far reaching consequences and I was doubting whether or not I had done the right thing. I was doubting everything; my shamanic work, God, myself….what is the point in it all if it all goes to shite?? These were the questions I was asking myself… and not for the first time either.

Such was my mood when I opened on a particular page in an old journal.. well not so old..a little over a year old. And funnily enough the theme of this entry was self doubt!!! What was I doubting this time last year?? Well, I was doubting my ability go ahead with my ‘Introduction to Shamanism’ classes.

Apparently I had decided to journey on the matter and see what wisdom the Spirit world had for me. But such is the efficacy of my doubt that I was even doubting the messages I was receiving in my journey. I am such a huge pain in my own ass…because if I just shut the f**k up and quit my whining I’d be witness to a lot more of the kinda stuff that I’m going to tell you about.

What follows it exactly what I wrote in my journal on 24th March 2016

.then I asked my guide “how do I know you are real and not just part of my imagination?”

At that point the journey was almost over when suddenly I saw a plain full of buffalo running….herds of them, hundreds and hundreds. Before I knew what was happening my guide had brought me down into the middle of the herd and I had transformed into a young Indian brave on a horse. I was petrified. This was to be my first kill and I was scared beyond belief. I was galloping so quickly on my horse, I had a spear in my hand and I knew that I had to kill a buffalo with this very spear. I kept hesitating, mostly because I didn’t want to kill the animal and also because I was afraid I’d mess it up.

Eventually I speared one in the neck and I could see the big head of the buffalo so clearly. I had to dig the spear into his neck with such a strength and a determination that would ensure I successfully killed the animal…and I’ll never forget this bit..The buffalo looked at me and the light left his eyes.

I cried right there on the couch. I was shaken and I felt sick. My young brave was shaking. He had done the deed, yet he felt terrible as he had taken the life of another living being.

There were celebration s in the village; a celebration of the hunt and a celebration of the young Indian’s first kill. He was initiated into the tribe as a hunter. This was huge for him, a major rite of passage…from boyhood to manhood. However he didn’t feel worthy of the feasting or partying. Then the young Indian came to an important realisation; yes we must celebrate the victory of the hunt because it is in so doing that you celebrate the sacrifice of the buffalo. There must be singing and dancing and feasting, that way the buffalo is honoured and its role in the life of man; the Cree and Choctaw is honoured. The buffalo’s role is a vital one and it wasn’t until he killed one did the young Indian really understand the special relationship between the buffalo and the tribe. This was a true initiation for the young Indian…he is now a hunter.

This was one of the most intense, visceral and engaging journeys I’ve every had. It lasted for an indefinable period of time. All of my senses were engaged..I could smell the buffalo, the ground, the fear, I could hear shouting, cries, hooves tearing up the ground and I felt so freeking scared. I mean I was pumped with adrenaline, my heart was ringing in my ears and the devastation that I felt when the light went out of the buffalo’s eyes was crushing. I felt every bit of this all the while I was lying on the couch in the safety of my own home.

There also followed a lot of practical information from my guide about the Choctaw lineage. It is my belief that I, as well as the young Indian received an initiation during that journey, and what’s more I also received detailed instructions allowing me to pass this initiation on to others as well. I was given standing positions, tools & ingredients to be used, words to be said etc.(more on that at another time).

I did not make this up. I did not imagine it. I simply couldn’t have. Spirit gifted me with that journey and the wisdom that went with it. I was afraid of starting something new ( my shamanic classes). I was afraid of venturing into the unknown and afraid that I didn’t have what it takes. So in my extreme doubt I called to Spirit for help…and boy did She answer …and even though I was reluctant to trust at first , what ensued carried me along at such a pace that I had no choice but to accept that this was in fact happening to me..and not being created by me. The power of this journey obliterated any doubts I had.

So now back to 2017, and what of my present doubts and fears….and dare I say it… whining. To be honest I feel kind of ashamed of myself; How can I still fail to trust after such a phenomenal experience?? How can I moan about things going to shite when I have the tools to empower myself.? How can I forget my accomplishments so easily and revert to a default pattern of doubting?

Answer; I’m just gonna give myself a break. I am not going to berate myself any more for my short comings. I’ll chalk it up to experience. Its darn tricky being a human these days and I think the only way out of this is to go froward; to honour my journey…my mistakes as well as my successes. To trust, trust, trust and most of all never to forget the gift of the buffalo.

 

 

 

 

 

An Bhóann – The White Cow Goddess

I want to share with you my love of the myth of the White Cow Goddess; the Irish White Cow Goddess Bóann (Bó Fhionn – white cow); the Goddess of the River Boyne.
In doing so I will be serving two points of purpose; or maybe even three!!
Previously, I wrote about the Boyne and how I had yet to develop a working relationship with her. And now here I am a week later beginning that very journey..
Secondly, a friend of mine asked me to work on a naming ceremony for our Community Drum…also called Bóann ( no coincidence).
And thirdly, I have worthy material for another blog!!

Bóann was a daughter of one of the kings of the Tuatha De Dánann and was married to Nechtán. Some sources say that Nechtán is a version of Nuada, the first of King of the Tuatha De Danann. Anyway, Bóann’s father/husband or maybe even brother was a guardian and cup bearer of the magical Well of Segais. This well contained the secrets of immortality, poetic vision and knowledge…among other delights I’m sure…..and Bóann was forbidden to go anywhere near this well. Only the Cup Bearers were allowed to do so.
But curiosity got the better of her and that, coupled with her wilful nature saw Bóann approach the well. She circled it 3 times…anticlockwise…what was she thinking you might ask??….. what ever about circling it clockwise. Anyway, suffice it to say, the Well got pissed off at being so unceremoniously provoked. Its waters rose up through the fissure in the earth, burst through the land and created what we now know as the river Boyne. As for our beautiful Bóann…..she was swept along with the issuing of the waters and appropriately or not..who’s to say… was swallowed up, merging her body and soul with the waters of the Well of Segais to create the river Boyne.

Thus we have the Boyne, An Bóinn, An Bhóann, Bóann

This brings me to my second point; the naming of our Community Drum. I work shamanically with a friend, lets call him Malachy for now. Malachy has built created/ given birth to?? the most fabulous and beautiful and awesome drum you can imagine. She’s big and loud and gentle and sweet..but enough about that for now…
While Malachy was birthing the Drum I was…simultaneously receiving very clear massages and instructions in my own private meditations leading me to research The Well of Segais, Nechtán and the myth of the White Cow.

I fell in love with the story…

I told Malachy about it, he told me about this Drum he was working on. How the energy of the two stories harmonized with each other was incredible. It was as if a myth was unfolding and we were weaving the elements together. It was only some weeks later that Malachy told me that the skin used on the Drum was in fact the skin of a White Cow!!!

I journeyed this morning on how best to host a naming ceremony for our beloved Drum. She had decided that on the name Bóann…and such is the strength of Her Character and Spirit that I was more than a little nervous about putting together a worthy routine.
In my journey I arrived…eventually…. in an ancient land. I couldn’t much make out a sense of time but there I arrived at the Well of Segais; the well where it all began. The shape of the well presented itself as a fissure in the earth – a deep crack, naturally formed, small and quite inconspicuous. And all the while I was looking down in to the well, I had the queerest sensation that I was looking up into the sky. It as as if the entire cosmos was contained within the well.

Then I called for Bóann. She appeared faintly at first and then I received many different impressions of her; exquisite beauty, gentleness but a gentleness that was twinned with extreme power, a power that could crush and annihilate, curiosity, hunger and voraciousness. A potent mixture if ever I met one.

Bóann showed me what she wanted for the naming ceremony. I simply have to tell her story. Lead the group around the Drum…anticlockwise..she was adamant about that!! And while circling the Drum we must call out her name. Softly at first and gradually getting louder and louder until we are spent. It is imperative that we build up the energy while chanting her name and then whoosh…release this energy to her. Then we have to feed her. These messages were accompanied by a very strong feeling that the Goddess wants sacrifice..not the the blood variety..although she’s probably take that too!! But an energetic sacrifice.

In my journey Bóann taught me a number of things about herself, the River Boyne and about life in general. In no particular order here they are:

Bóann/the Boyne does not suffer fools gladly.
Be sure about what you want.
Be willing to make sacrifices for it.
Stand by your beliefs.
Be ardent in your desires.
Be true to your heart

 

 

 

 


 

What is Shamanism?

 

I have been asked this question many times and it is only recently that I can offer any kind of satisfactory answer. Heretofore I was so entrenched in it I couldn’t objectify it enough in order to explain what it was. All I knew was that I was involved with it, I practised it, I loved it and it worked!!

Now, sometime later I am in a slightly better position to answer that all pervading question.

For me Shamanism is a way of being. It is a mode of existence. It is a way of perceiving the Universe in all of its splendour. Shamanism participates in an animistic world view. It works from the premise that the entire Universe is imbued with Spirit, with Consciousness, with a Personality. Trees have Spirits, Mountains are conscious and have consciousness, Oceans, Seas, Lakes and Rivers have personalities. Have you ever pissed off the Boyne? Not a good idea….believe me.

Essentially Shamanism is a way of connecting to and communicating with the Universe, with the Spirit of the Universe. My teacher once said to me in passing, ‘the universe is always talking to us, we just need to develop the ability to listen’.

 

But what Spirit are we talking about here? Are we talking about God, angels, higher beings, our higher selves, devas, elementals? For example is the Spirit of the Boyne different to the Spirit of God?

Without getting too metaphysical, this is how I see it. The Spirit of the Boyne is contained within God, and The Spirit of God or just God is contained within the Spirit of the Boyne. However God is much more than the Spirit of the Boyne. This is God we’re talking about after all!

The Spirit of the Boyne has Its own existence, Her own distinct personality, Her way of doing things, Her own field of consciousness, Her own Spirit. God is something else altogether..and yet isn’t. God is everything that is and is not, so yes the Spirit of God and the Spirit of the Boyne are the same and are not the same. Confusing…absolutely!

Now the task of the Shaman should it come her way, or should necessity dictate,  is to communicate and maybe even develop a working relationship with this Spirit. Wouldn’t the Boyne make an incredible ally?

Similarly with mountains, valleys, trees, oceans, animals etc; from a shamanic point of view the Spirits of mountains, rivers, lakes, oceans, rocks, animals are there for us to relate to, connect and work with. So too are the Spirits of our ancestors available to us for guidance and wisdom. The Spirit of my drum helps me during ceremonies and healings, the Spirits of animals are incredibly powerful and have an enormous range of skills and attributes. All of which the shaman can use whether it be for healing, seeking guidance, teaching or just simple enriching one’s life.

 

Now, this notion of Spirit is something that has puzzled me for years. And it has taken a long time for me to be able to embed it into my working philosophy and to reconcile it with my other beliefs..

The truth of the matter is; everybody’s experience of Shamanism is different. But for me the fundamentals of it are as follows.

Everything that exists has a vibrational frequency; from a stone to a person to a thought. It is this vibrational frequency that gives the thing existence, whether noumenal or phenomenal. This vibrational frequency may also be called consciousness. And finally this vibrational frequency or consciousness may also be referred to as Spirit. Consciousness/ vibrational frequency/spirit = the same thing.

So when Shamans work with the Spirit the Boyne, they are working with the vibrational frequency of the Boyne. The Shaman works at merging her own vibrational frequency ( her field of consciousness) with the vibrational frequency (field of consciousness) of the Boyne

Easy peasy….Not.

Our vibrational frequencies are very different and believe me it takes hard work, persistence, discipline and a certain amount of luck to succeed in this endeavour. One has to take a huge leap of faith, and often times engage in what seem like ridiculous and logic defying rituals…But It Works…You simply have to suspend your disbelief…follow your intuition, play, listen and trust. ( I could go on here….)  The first time a tree shows you how it thinks is mind blowing. When a leprechaun appears to you and gives you advice on a question you’ve been pondering for some time..you are ecstatic…believe me!! You’re hooked and you want to know more…down the rabbit hole we go..

Personally I have yet to make friends with the Boyne, its on my to do list. I am aware of her awesome power, but I have not made the connection with her field of consciousness…….yet!! I have, however made friends with several species of trees, a leprechaun, elementals and badgers. An eclectic mix for sure!! And when I say friends..I mean that I hang out with a certain tree when I’m lonely and in need of a bit of comfort. There’s another tree that helps me feel strong and centred, and yet another that connects me with a sense of magic or draíocht as we’d say in Irish. Elementals have helped me work with my cats and their sickening habit of killing little birdies. And don’t get me started on badgers. I simple love them. Love love love them. And they have helped me more that I can possible express.

I am a relative newbie on this path. I’m an apprentice, a neophyte and there is so much more I have yet to learn, both about myself and my soul’s journey and about the wonderful living sea of energy around me. Embarking on the shamanic way of life is like finding a treasure map. The more you progress along the map, the more familiar you become with the terrain, and eventually the more clues you find. The treasure are plentiful. True there are pitfalls and danger zones, but you learn through trial and error.

Where does the map end? I’ve no idea…I don’t think it has an ending..What is the ultimate prize?… I’ve no idea about that either…..but funnily enough, ultimate prizes are no longer important….it is only the journey that counts.

 

this is class