A storm blew through our community in Central Virginia last weekend and brought three tornadoes with it, one just blocks away from our home. I was amazed the next day to see the number of sixty foot tall trees that had been toppled by the wind and the tornado. I look at a tree reaching for the sky and think that it must have a strong central root that anchors it to the earth. Not so. Check out the root system in the image above and you will see what I was seeing. That got me thinking about my shamanic practice, and yours too.
How deep do our shamanic practice roots go? Could you and I survive a storm? Are our roots deep enough and strong enough that when a storm come, and they always do, our tree might sway back and forth in the wind but it would remain firmly planted in the ground?
Please think about this today and tomorrow I'll share some of my ideas with you about how to ensure the strength of our practices.
Peace my friends,
This weekend we have three events that seem to run into each other. On April 29, 2018, you can enjoy the Pink Moon, The next night is Hexennacht (Walpurgis Night), followed the next day with May Day / Beltane. Let's take them one at a time.
Pink Moon -- The Pink Moon in April is also know in pagan circles as the Wind Moon. Both names allude to the changes in nature that take place at this time of year. The Pink Moon reminds us the budding plants, and around here of the pink, flowering trees. The name, the Wind Moon reminds us of the breezes of April that stir up seeds and pollen from newly budding plants. With regrowth everywhere you look, it's only natural to focus on new and exciting things coming your way, too. The Pink Moon is a good time for spell working for new beginnings, just like spring is a new beginning.
Hexennacht (Walpurgis Night)-- Walpurgis Night is the christian name given to what was originally Hexennacht or literally "Witches' Night". In Northern European countries, and especially Germany, it was believed to be the night of a witches' meeting on the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, a range of wooded hills in central Germany between the Weser and Elbe rivers. I prefer the old name, Hexennacht, and use the night to celebrate being pagan.
May Day -- I still remember how I celebrated May Day in the 1950s as a young boy. My younger brothers and I would weave small baskets out of construction paper, fill them with wild flowers from the pasture behind our house in Colorado, and place them on the porches of the homes of old ladies in the neighborhood, knock on their doors, and then run like the wind. May Day, again, is a Northern European celebration of Spring. It is well known for the May Pole which may be a remnant of the Germanic reverence for sacred trees, as there is evidence for various sacred trees and wooden pillars that were venerated by the pagans across much of Germanic Europe, including Thor's Oak and the Irminsul. It is also known that, in Norse paganism, cosmological views held that the universe was a world tree, known as Yggdrasil. (Here is the first of a series of my blog posts on Norse Cosmology) May Day leads up to the Beltane celebration.
Beltane is the anglicized name for the Gaelic May Day festival usually held on 1 May, or about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. It is one of the two most important Gaelic pagan festivals of the year, the other being Samhain. Beltane marked the beginning of the pastoral summer season when livestock were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were held at that time to protect them from harm, both natural and supernatural, and this mainly involved the "symbolic use of fire". There were also rituals to protect crops, dairy products and people, and to encourage growth. Thus you might think of it as a fertility festival which again makes it a great time to initiate new projects.
If nothing else this weekend with the Pink Moon, Hexennacht, May Day and Beltane are wonderful times to celebrate the life of a pagan.
How often do you think about your ties to your descendants. It has been said that "We are the dreams of our Ancestors". I know that my children, my descendants are my dreams, I dream about their futures and what I can do to make their futures bright . . . as a father that's one of my "jobs".
Now, how often do you look the other direction, into your past. When I do that I discover that many times my ancestors are my nightmares. I see many of the traits that I disliked in my parents and grandparents in me. Things like health issues (genetic bad back for example), my father's impatience, my grandmother's need to control . . . and the list goes on and on. I wonder from whom did my father get his impatience, was it his grandfather, or maybe his great grandmother. I don't know, but genetics and personality traits seem to be passed down from generation to generation. Until we become free of the past, the past is controlling us and at best we have partial freedom of choice.
Unresolved history and suffering is passed down from generation-to-generation and is held in our ancestral lines. This cumulative energy affects our lives today. And, if we don't do something about the unresolved energy from our ancestors then we are likely to pass it forward to the next generation. All of us have the choice of unconsciously repeating the patterns of our ancestors or we can heal them. Through healing the ancestral lines, cutting our cords with the past, we free own health and well-being from the repetition of the past. Once we free ourselves from the influences of the past our freedom of choice is restored and we better reconnect with our souls' unique purposes.
Ancestral Healing is a lessor-known but essential shamanic healing form. You can follow the instructions below and undertake an ancestral healing shamanic journey alone or contact me and I can guide you through the process.
I wish you a successful journey and increased freedom of choice as you move forward. Please contact me if you would like to schedule a session.
I am frequently asked about the difference between being a shaman and being a shamanic practitioner, and can anyone be one. That is really two questions so let's address them one at a time.
First, what is the difference between a shaman and a shamanic practitioner. A shaman is a healer. A shaman is someone who the spirits work with and through so that others may be healed. Please note that it is not really the shaman who heals, rather the shaman is a vehicle through whom healing power flows. A shamanic practitioner, on the other hand, is someone who engages in shamanic practices in her or his spiritual practice. The most common practice is that of journeying. A shamanic practitioner gains access to helping spirits in a shamanic journey. Those spirits provide guidance, insight, and even healing on a personal level.
Now for the second question. Anyone can be a shamanic practitioner and use drumming, journeying, and ceremony as part of a spiritual practice. And it is a beautiful spiritual practice for those of us who practice earth-based spirituality. Not everyone can be a shaman. Being a shaman isn't something you decide to do. While you can ask Spirit to let you serve others as a shaman, Spirit must accept you and be willing to work with you. Spirit will judge your devotion, motivation, and level of receptivity and may call you to be a shaman, or may not. It's not up to you or me, but up to spirit.
In today's on-demand consumerist world just about anyone can claim to be a pastor, minister or priest and become ordained by some church somewhere. That ordination doesnt' make the person a spiritual vessel. Fortunately in shamanism there are no organizations that can ordine one as a shaman. It's all up to Spirit. For me that makes shamanism the ultimate spiritual path, it is based totally on a calling by Spirit.
So, if you feel called to be a shaman, if you are doing it for the right reasons (and none of the right reasons are ego-based) then start out as a shamanic practitioner. Get use to working with spirit and being receptive to what Spirit will teach you, then ask.
ollowing the old ways makes me a pagan to members of the three book religions, and its a title that I'm proud to wear. Fall is my favorite time of year, the time of year when I feel most alive, and when I feel closest to nature and the gods. Does these definitions fit you as well as they do me?
A definition of a Pagan: A follower of a polytheistic or pantheistic nature-worshipping religion.
A definition of Paganism: A polytheistic or pantheistic nature-worshipping religion.
In the image below I have tried to represent what I consider the foundation of paganism. Let me know if you agree or have questions.
It is wonderful to be able to celebrate the diversity of the Divine. This morning I'm feeling exceptionally proud to be pagan, and feel a deep sense of appreciation and respect to all of you, my pagan sisters and brothers. Thanks for walking the path with me.
Peace on your path,
It has taken a lot longer to recover from my bicycle accident than I thought that it would. While recovering these past couple of months I have spent a quite a bit of time standing barefoot in the front yard doing Qigong. It is a wonderful energy practice. At first, all I could do was the tree-hugging pose. Stand with feet planted firmly on the ground and hold the arms in front, rounded like hugging a tree, don't move, and hold the pose for as long as you can. This pose builds up Qi in the arms which can then be circulated through the body and finally directed to the lower Dan Tien. I haven't been very mobile so I did a lot of this.
While engaged in this simple practice I noticed that the bubbling well acupressure point (K1, Yong Quan) was starting to activate. I was absorbing earth energy through the Kidney 1 point as I made a connection to mother earth (pachamama). I have a feeling that the energy that I absorbed from pachamama aided and accelerated (I don't like that word much any more) my healing process.
I fear that we have become disconnected from pachamama and what that distance from mom has done to us. We drive around in cars with insulting tires, get out and walk across a parking lot while wearing shoes with synthetic soles, and then work in buildings that insulate us from earth energy. I wonder how much better all of us would feel, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually if we all took our shoes of and wiggled our toes in pachamama once a day even if just for a few minutes. I bet that she would enjoy the tickle and that it would do wonders for our health.
I urge you to give it a try today,
By some counts we make 35,000 decisions a day. If you take out eight hours for sleep than that means that we are making a decision about every 1.5 seconds. That doesn't leave much time to think about our actions and the decisions that we make.
Fortunately and unfortunately most of those decisions are unconscious. We made them once or twice and they became programmed. Think about your trip to the grocery store. How many of the items on your shopping list to you pull off the shelf without really thinking? By pulling the items off the shelf you have "decided" to buy them. I always by the same brand of coffee and the same brand of toilet paper. Those are two of my essentials for life and I know what I like. I'm sure that there are other brands that I might even like more but my mental programming has simplified my life and my "decision" is automatic. How many other decisions do you make the same way?
I challenge you today to take The Quotidian Pledge. That's a simple pledge to be conscious when you act and make decisions that will lead to you act in a way improves the well-being of all . "I pledge to make decisions that will reduce the suffering and improve the well-being of all living beings."
Peace my friends,
Quotidian is a nice old word that comes to us from Middle English via Old French from Latin quotidianus, earlier cotidianus, from cotidie ‘daily’. It means "daily" or "mundane".
Just at quick note and a big thank you!
After my last blog post I went for a bike ride on my road bike, was doing about 20 miles an hour on a bike path when I came around a corner and was face-to-face with the bike someone had parked on the trail. I braked hard and my bike stopped; I didn't. Ended up face planting about 10 feet in front of my bike. Came to about 5 minutes later with a fractured neck and skull, and lots of facial lacerations. Been a long recovery period but I'm up and about again and will be back to blogging.
Oh, and if you have used the contact form I didn't get your email. It wasn't set up correctly. I just fixed it, tested it, and it is now working correctly.
Thanks again for checking in while I was down.
Heidi and I felt like getting out in nature this morning. So after my morning bike ride and breakfast we decided to hike off-trail at Percival's Island. The island is about 1.5 miles long and sits in the middle of the James River as it passes by downtown. The trail across the island is an old rails-to-trails walking and bike path with two old rail road bridges on and off the island. Rather than walk the trail we walked to the Northwest point of the island. Heidi wanted to collect shells for an collage she is working on and I wanted to take some early Spring pictures. The pictures below show a little of what we found (and Heidi got lots of nice shells too).
I wonder sometimes how Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) feels. I wonder if she sheds a tear or two when she looks around and sees how we take care of her. Neither your nor I can solve all of the ecological problems on earth but we can help clean up our little corner. I'm going to grab a pair of gloves tomorrow morning and go pick up that dirty old bucket and then retrace my steps from today and clean up my little corner of heaven.
The older I get the more I seem to worry about the purpose of life and whether or not I have fulfilled and am fulfilling that purpose. You see, I really do believe that we all of our lives have a purpose. I was meditating on this last night and a thought entered my mind. The thought was, "Stop worrying about you and your purpose. Your life isn't about you, its about everyone that you touch and how you touch them."
How do I/we touch people? Really in just a few simple ways. Thinking about this lead me to The Three Things that I think life may really be about:
The big ways that we touch others are by what/how we teach them and how we show them love. I'm not really too concerned about whether or not we can teach them calculus but have we learned patience, compassion, wisdom, and kindness? Do we teach others those values? Do we interact with others with love?
Imagine what the world would be like if our focus shifted from me, me, me and mine, mine, mine and focused on learning and teaching patience, compassion, wisdom and kindness and showed love in all we do.
Let's give it a try . . .
I'm Dr. Dave, a modern druid. I lived and worked in Bolivia and Peru for over six years, where I and was trained by Andean Shamans, and today practice modern druidism and contemporary shamanism.