School of Shamanic Midwifery – Four Seasons Journey 2014

School of Shamanic Midwifery - Four Seasons Journey 2014

I’m excited to announce that I’ve begun my Four Seasons Journey (4SJ).

What is a Four Seasons Journey (4SJ)

The 4SJ is a year long course beginning in November facilitated by the School of Shamanic Midwifery.

During my 4SJ I will learn about the cycles of moon, earth, life and death and the menstruation cycles. I will learn heightened self awareness which will allow me to heal myself and in turn heal other people. I will learn about MoonTime and practice MoonLodge, I will get to practice shamanic journey work and make a drum and medicine bag.

What’s the Importance?

I’ve talked previously about the wounded feminine in my “D is for Doula” and “The F Word” posts and I still truly believe that a lot of the world’s problems could be eventually resolved if we stopped demonizing feminine attributes (such as creativity, intuition and empathy). On a more personal level, I would like to get more in touch with my own innate feminine nature.

As part of this journey I will also learn how to facilitate women’s and maidens circles which is one of the main reasons I’m doing this course. I would really love to hold space for young girls who have just gone through or are approaching menarche as part of a sexual education course through primary schools (obviously still a dream but a reasonably realistic goal none-the-less!).

Please Check out my 4SJ2014 Category for more information!

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Weather Observations: September

Weather Observations: September

The weather has been really dry and sunny for the last 5 weeks. Lots of birds and bees.
Temperatures have been getting quite high and the fire season started a lot earlier this year.
The last week or two has been very sporadic with the wind picking up at around 3pm.
Daylight savings started last weekend (and now I’m all disorientated haha).

Weather Observations – 19/8/13

It’s been a wet spring – it hasn’t necessarily been raining but there’s been a lot of moisture in the air. The plants have been loving it. Majority of days have been sunny and quite warm late morning to early afternoon. Nights have been cold with fog and frost sometimes making an appearance.

About 2 weeks ago I saw a big group of Jellyfish in the river that I regularly cross to get into Sydney. I kept my eye out for them again last week and I couldn’t see any of them – was that their seasonal breeding time? Brian says he’s observed a similar group quite a few years back when he went for a holiday on the river during the summer months.

The birds have been pretty loud and fussy for the last 3 weeks as well. I’ve seen nests appearing in the tops of trees.

The wind has also picked up a bit on a few days – it’s a warm wind that seems to circle around (instead of coming from one location). This reminds me of a spring about 3 years ago when it was so windy that all the wattle trees had their yellow flowers blown off – they all sat in little yellow fluffy piles on the road.

The wattle is still out now though and hasn’t been effected by the wind much. Although it did only hang around for a day or two.

Pagan Blog Project #3 – ‘D’ is for Deity (or lack thereof)

I’m an Animist which means that I believe that “natural objects, natural phenomena, and the universe itself possess souls.”

Whilst a Deity is classified as:
1. A god or goddess.
2. Divine character or nature, especially that of the Supreme Being; divinity.
3. The estate or rank of a god: The king attained deity after his death.
4. A person or thing revered as a god or goddess: a society in which money is the only deity.
5. The Deity, God; Supreme Being.

[Definitions obtained from dictionary.com]

I don’t really worship any particular Deity as such. I acknowledge a God and a Goddess on my altar but they do not have names and are mostly a representation of the masculine and feminine energies present in us all. I’ve always felt that this idea of worshiping a being a bit dangerous – and maybe that’s stemmed from my experience of Catholicism and Christianity. I don’t think that any one being should be given that much power

I do however worship the Earth and maybe you would class that as a Deity. I hold extreme reverence for everything to do with the Natural world. We live in such a beautiful place that holds such wonder and amazement – I can see why people would assume some magical, all powerful being could be the explanation of it all.

Earth – or Mother Earth – is not a she nor a he, she is both and neither and everything in between and beyond. There is no classification or group, no feelings or thoughts or anything of that matter. Earth just IS. She is there, just being. Everything in the universe is just being and it is incomprehensible. We try to personify everything into these deities and giving them all jobs which leave it all neat, tidy and all packaged with nice little bows. For me, this isn’t how it is. For me it is all chaos; everything is created by complete chance and circumstance – our Earth and us included.

We were not created by anything or anyone, we evolved like everything else and by pure chance we developed the ability to think about ourselves and go beyond our instincts to question the purpose of everything. I believe that the reason for this isn’t metaphysical, I believe it’s the reason for every other adaption – survival and reproduction.

–> I’m going to leave it there for now as I feel I’ve said everything I can at this point in my studies (I also feel like going a bit off topic so will leave that for another post). Feel free to comment with any questions.

Also I’m sorry I’ve been a bit MIA. Check out my tumblr for an explanation and follow to keep track of my thought process.

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Pagan Blog Project #2 – ‘C’ is for Children (and Culture)

I’m ‘creating’ a culture for my children.

How do Children relate to my spirituality or to paganism for that matter? Well, my children and my children’s children continue to be the inspiration for a lot of the choices I make, including why I study Druidry and worship the Earth. It became important around the time I begun learning about Global Warming and the damage humans inflict on nature – how will that effect future generations and is there a way we can change our lifestyle now to improve that?

I’ve never really had much of a culture (unless you call bigotry and alcoholism a culture) and in my study of nature, culture seems to be a key element in achieving a sustainable and successful civilisation. It’s also effected me on a personal level as I’ve always felt out of place and that there was something missing – Paganism filled that void temporarily but the relocation of my bloodline to a place completely different from my ancestors and everything that I relate to spiritually continues to make me feel like an intruder. I decided that trying to lay an entire Earth worshipping religion over a land that’s completely different to the land where it was originally created is a band aid solution to a problem that needs to be fixed from the inside out – it seems to be the only way to permanently fill this void. In a nutshell; I’m personalising old traditions and applying them to a new land and set of deities. I will then use that as a foundation to ‘maturing’ the culture that we already have. White Australian’s do have a culture it’s just not very accepting nor is it beautiful – it’s rough as guts, intimidating, and exclusive (even if you were born into it, if you don’t like drinking ‘X’ beer, watching ‘X’ sport and just being a general asshole to people then you are excluded or tormented).

To me culture and spirituality should be intertwined but not to the point where we confuse fact and imagination. Spirituality and imagination aren’t bad things but they should be developed on an individual level – not forced down children’s throats before they’re old enough to ask the questions themselves. I want to teach my children about art, I want to tell them stories about mythical creatures and Gods/Goddess’, I want to teach them about dreams and how to celebrate without having the adults they look up to getting drunk. These things for me are spiritual but I don’t want to force my particular beliefs on my children and I don’t want them mistaking what I believe as fact because it’s not – it’s just the way that I see the world.

I want my children to feel like they have a purpose and that they belong here. I want to teach them to have respect and a reverence for the Earth that we don’t experience in our current culture, so that they can be conscious of how they treat her and every being that lives here. I believe that practicing a form of spirituality that regularly worships nature can do that – it’s not the only way but it’s the only way that seems fun to me. Then I can develop a culture, using those principles, that I will feel comfortable raising my children in.

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Happy New Year – Dark Moon

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This weekend was the Dark of the Moon and lucky for me I got the weekend off work. My fiance and I went camping in the middle of the Australian bush next to a beautiful river that flowed down from the mountains. I saw this as the opposite of the first full moon of 2013 as it marks the end or beginning of the first moon cycle of the year (depending on how you look at it I guess).

Not much conscious decision making or planning went into this trip. I’d only gotten the weekend off maybe two days beforehand, we started packing at 10.30pm the night before which led to us forgetting a bunch of stuff and we hadn’t even really decided where we were going until we started unpacking the car. I must say though, it was one of the best holidays I’ve had.

The purpose of the get away, for me, was to celebrate the new moon but I didn’t take any of my ritual items a part from my diary and some herbs. In hindsight though everything I needed was there – Brian and I, nature, a fire, some paper and a pen. This year is a big one for us as individuals and us as a couple. Big changes are coming, our personalities will be tested and we’ll be pushed to our limits. Lots of decisions need to be made, responsibilities need fulfilling and experiencing life needs to be made a priority. We talked, contemplated, laughed, made love, feared and comforted each other. We learnt about each other as we always do whilst camping – it always leaves us closer together than when we start unpacking the tent on the first day (a clear sign is how much we fight when we’re putting it up vs. taking it down).

Before we were about to leave we washed ourselves in the river and both wrote down our wishes and hopes for the coming year. We read them to each other and they both contained the same basic elements – then we sent them down the river.

30/1/13 – Weather observations

30/1/13 - Weather observations

Today we harvested our corn – they’re so sweet! We waited until the ‘hair’ was a black colour (but I think we could have waiting a little longer for a couple of them). Definitely a success.

For the last day or so it’s been storming – we had rain for a couple of days before that but then it turned into more wind and scary looking clouds than actual rain.
Today the clouds cleared and we’re back to being sunny again.

Pagan Blog Project #1 – “C” is for Cannabis

Yep, I don’t do things half-assed – my first topic for the Pagan Blog Project will be about one of the most controversial substances of our time.

Introduction

Out of curiosity I did a bit of my own research on Cannabis and it was extremely hard to find any unbiased information on the plant – on one hand there are people saying it should be legal and other people who think it should stay illegal. Both parties had their extremists and, as a studying herbalist who has been taught to do research upon more research, nothing I’ve been able to find has really convinced me that either side is right or wrong.
Again, as a studying herbalist, I disagree with the amount of control the government holds over us – it seems a little bit hypocritical when I see doctors handing out prescription only medication like they’re lollies. But I know it’s not every doctor and I understand the reasons behind the scheduling of a wide majority of substances, not just cannabis. In my personal opinion I think cannabis should be offered as medication and treated like any other medication, but I also believe that more power should be given to qualified herbalists. We should be able to prescribe cannabis to people who would most benefit from it eg. cancer patients going through chemotherapy.3
Personally, I use it in spiritual ceremonies, recreationally and for anxiety – particularly social anxiety. I use it to allow an opening of my mind whilst also allowing inner dialogue to come through without over thinking it (which I have a habit of doing if you haven’t already noticed). A lot of my close friends and family use cannabis – a few of them being highly addicted. But I also have friends and family who are extremely against it and just from talking to them I know that they’re uneducated about the whole situation.

I don’t see it as a drug – I see it as another herb that allows me to change the body, mind, emotion and spirit of an individual. Just like any other medicinal herb. Of course if you abuse it you can get into a lot of trouble, but you can abuse anything. This is why I think it’s important that a qualified practitioner such as a Herbalist or Naturopath be given more power.

General Information

*Botanical Name: Cannabis sativa & Cannabis indica. Subspecies sativa is used for it’s fibre and seed oil (among other things) whilst subspecies indica is used for medicinal and recreational purposes.1
*Medicinal Properties: Intoxicant, sedative, analgesic, anti-emetic. Traditional uses include the treatment of pain, rheumatism and asthma. The herb has been used medicinally in Ayurvedic medicine and TCM since ancient times. In the 19th century, marijuana was popularly used as a pain killer especially for menstrual cramps. Nowadays it is used for nausea caused by chemotherapy, depression and lack of appetite in AIDS patients and to lower intra-ocular pressure in cases of glaucoma. Seeds are still used in Chinese medicine as a mild treatment of constipation in elderly people and as a superfood for a nutritional boost.1 4
*Parts Used: The female flowers, associated leaves and the resin which contain the highest amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC has been the only chemical found in the plant to cause the hallucinogenic effects on the central nervous system. However, in my research I have come across the drug Marinol which contains the synthesized version of THC and has had many side effects including death.1 2

Ritual

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As stated previously I use cannabis as a way to open my mind – this can be extremely useful when I’m meditating for a particular purpose that I don’t think I can accomplish on my own. On numerous occasions I’ve heard cannabis being referred to as a ‘teacher plant’ – one of the many actually (Ayahuasca being another).
This I completely agree with because when I first started smoking, one of my friends from high school died in a car crash. It felt like after that that someone had shaken up my brain and all the information that was stored in there was out of place. The reason why I liked it was because it taught me how to get past the grief and sort everything else in my life out at the same time. It’s also taught me things about other plants and many other things besides.
I started using it in ritual about a year and a half ago after I meditated a few times high and learnt some amazing things about myself and the people around me that I would never had if I was sober – things that I use in everyday life now.

I set up the ritual as usual then roll a joint (1 part mugwort, 1 part damiana, 1 part lions tail, 1 part cannabis). Ideally I would have it sitting on my altar for a couple of days before I smoke and keep a majority of my herbs on or next to my altar. Whilst doing this I think about the purpose of the ritual and what it is I want to learn during the meditation. Of course, you still want some sort of intuitive flow so it’s important you don’t become too rigid with the question or intent. It’s also equally important to have a bullshit filter to avoid your mind going in circles or latching on to every tiny thought (meditating for 15 minutes before smoking or my Meditation flower essences can assist with that).
Next Cannabis will usually take me to the place I need to go this can be in the form of an overwhelming desire to walk down to the park or art gallery or to simply sit on the balcony. When I’m in the right space physically and mentally, I will meditate. Guided meditations are extremely helpful for me, however I’ve only come across a couple that I like it’s important that you look around a bit (music, movies or being in nature can also assist).
Next I will usually draw, paint or write what it is I see, hear or experience. Once I have what I need I usually have something high in protein to ground me again (plus some flower essences and water). Having a shower or bath or simply taking a nap can also be effective – this is why it’s important I have an entire day or night to conduct such a ritual.

Note

In my experience Cannabis needs to be smoked with respect and reverence – even if it’s just recreationally. Being educated on the herb itself and being aware of where it’s come from (hydro or bush) is also important so that you can gauge how much you will need. Of course everyone is different so it’s essential for your first time smoking to be with someone you can 100% trust, in a place that you know and that you know how to meditate effectively. Generally, it’s extremely harmful to smoke cannabis with tobacco – this is usually how people develop an addiction to cannabis. Do yourself a favour and chop up with some other herbs that can enhance the effects or offset the potential side effects.

Conclusion

It’s a bit of a riskay post but I use it a lot in my practice and I thought it was appropriate to document on my spiritual blog. Of course there is a lot more to a ritual or ceremony than meets the eye or that can be recorded in words. If anyone has any questions or comments I encourage you to come straight to me with it and I will answer or listen to the best of my ability.

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Welcome Nwyfre Raven-seer

Welcome Nwyfre Raven-seer

Firstly I’d like to say a big thank you to Moira from Ariom Designs for creating such a beautiful piece of work and allowing me to set up a payment plan.

Purpose and Goals

I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with stationery and I’ve always had diaries and journals that I keep my thoughts and feelings in. When I decided that I was going to be more serious about making my dreams of creating a culture a reality I thought it was only right that I obtain a journal that will reflect the important work I was doing – I also wanted it to last long enough to pass down to my children and maybe even my children’s children.

Welcoming Nwyfre Raven-Seer

I wanted to choose a name – I don’t like any of the words for books such as ‘Book of Shadow’ or ‘Grimoire’. I was adament on finding a name that perfectly describes the use of the book to me – I hope that when it’s passed on that it be given a new name and purpose.

*Nwyfre: (pronounced NOO-ev-ruh) is the Druidic concept of the ‘life force’ (or ‘neart’ in Scots Gaelic). The word nwyfre is a Middle Welsh word meaning ‘sky’ or ‘vigor.’ It was usually used to refer to a windy sky.
*Raven-Seer: I’ve seen the same pair of Ravens around a lot recently and Ravens have always been thought of messengers between the realms.

I wanted something full of power that was also humble – I wanted it to be truthful to me and to my roots. I looked up Indigenous Aboriginal names for things but I was never sure of the authenticity of the source and, quite obviously, don’t speak any of the languages of the First Australians (I don’t speak Welsh either but ya know). I feel this name gives a respectful nod to my ancestors whilst also being a true and modern representation of the work I’m doing.

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“No challenge given is more than we can handle… Some things we just have never done before!” xoxo Moi

The Ritual

The beginning of the ritual began during the day. When night time came I relit the incense and candles then set out my newly welcomed Raven to create an introductory page. I rolled a smoke consisting of cannabis, mugwort, lion’s tail and damiana to make the creative process flow more easily then I watched Judith Lucy’s documentary about her spiritual journey and also read a comic by Carl Sagan on ZenPencils.com. Both these pieces inspired me to use my idea for a tattoo as my front title page.  I listened to my Australia Day playlist which my fiance created for our Australia Day party that we had yesterday – it consists of only Australian artists (and I must admit that it’s gotten a lot better over the last 5 or so years). I got in touch with my breathing and floated down into the music – I let it carry me until the process became easy and gentle.

 

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Moon Cycle for Raven

I still need to fix up the background a little more and the sizes of the different moons are a little out of proportion but I thought I’d share with you anyway.

)O(

Happy New Year – The First Full Moon of 2013

Full Moon Ritual Jan 2013

Full Moon Ritual Jan 2013

Even though I still celebrate New Years on the 31st of December like all the other people I’ve grown up with, the first full moon in January is where I really get down to business. Thankfully it also fell on the long weekend – so I actually got time to plan and conduct a decent ritual (and document it!).

Introduction

Even since this post I’ve been feeling pretty good about the things I’ve accomplished over the last few months. At the risk of sounding completely cliche I felt like it was the beginning of the rest of my life. I’ve been really getting my butt into gear with documenting this stuff – even finally going so far as to buy a decent journal to write it in so I may pass it on. This ritual was basically about saying thanks and a celebration of allowing these things to happen – I also cleansed and blessed a few of my new tools and projects for the near future.

The Ritual

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The besom

I had the house to myself today so I got to use the living room – I felt like I needed a bigger table and a more communal place to work from as this is magic that will potentially effect all areas of my life; not just my spiritual side. I set up the space as I usually would (click here to view a basic structure of a ritual) and then used my besom to sweep around the outside to banish any negative energy that may effect the outcome of the spell/ritual. I then spoke to the God and Goddess and thanked them for giving me the opportunity to be creative again (I cast a spell a little while back asking for them to ‘Reawaken the passion, reawaken the creativity”). I then cleansed and blessed all the objects I have recently collected to turn into ritual and divination tools. I also cleansed and dedicated my new tools to the God and Goddess. I named my new Journal – Nwyfre Raven-seer  (click here to view the rest of the ritual for Raven).
After this was done I had something to eat, put some music on and celebrated the new year. I remembered where I’ve been over the last year and reflected on my accomplishments – I thought about what I wanted to achieve this year and beyond.