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Posts Tagged ‘journal’

Trance 1: A Lull

We experienced a very beautiful full moon recently.  Several people commented that they felt an intense amount of energy related to it.  Normally I feel very energetic around full moons, but this month found me exhausted, drained, and even a little ill feeling.  To be sure, November has been a stressful month for many of us.

My trance practice has been very minimal the last few weeks.  I’m not proud of that, but I’ve been feeling out of it.  Work has me exhausted.  The news has me exhausted.  My daughter has been ill which has me exhausted.  Today, at a grove business meeting, I opened by pouring a few random objects out for people to view.  I asked everyone to choose an object that represents where they are in their study programs, Druidism, or even just their involvement with the group.  I chose the wine cork because I felt like I was just staying buoyant.  I wasn’t really progressing anywhere, but I was maintaining my spiritual practice to the best of my ability.

I suppose I should look on the bright side and celebrate that I haven’t just completely stopped maintaining my relationships with spirit allies, but I am disgruntled that I haven’t done more to finish the study programs I’m working on.  I’m annoyed with myself for not doing more towards my trance studies in particular.

I’ve continued to visualize my Druid egg around me in the mornings as a way to shield.  Some days I can see and feel it really clearly; others I’m barely awake and feel like I’m going through the motions.  I’ve continued to try and do my yoga on the weekends.  Last week I had a much-needed massage.  I feel like that cleared away some of the cobwebs.  Today felt particularly good as I mindfully went into my yoga, focusing on each of the Three Realms as I moved from the ground, through tree, and reached to the sky.  Perhaps, as the moon wanes, the ennui will decrease and I can meditate on what intentions to set for the new moon.

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It was difficult to get into any deep trances this past week.  We went away to a camp with some family members for a few days, which will always throw me off my routine.  However, compared to going away to a hotel, it was easier to maintain my typical devotional practices.  I set up a temporary altar and even did a little working on Lughnasadh.  In addition, my daughter and I picked some raspberries and we offered them to the local spirits.

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A temporary altar on the windowsill at camp.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Like I said, I didn’t engage with any deep trances, but I did do some meditation.  I woke up and left my husband and daughter to rest.  After my morning toilette and devotional, I went outside to the dock where I sat towards the water, relaxed, and breathed.  In my opinion, the best way to engage with the Two Powers or the Three Realms is to sit on the shore of a lake, river, or ocean.  It’s all right there for you to soak up and contemplate!

One day, I noticed a beautiful spiderweb on the dock and just stared at it for awhile.  I was struck by how delicate it was, how dainty, and yet it withstood heat, rain, and wind in order to assist the spider’s killing.  Life and death… all part of the cycle.  I realized it was Lughnasadh, and contemplated the nature of harvest.

After meditating, I did some yoga.  I would love to live on a lake or river one day.  I would go out as often as possible to do yoga on the shore!  How invigorating.  I kept it simple.  I started in child’s pose on the dock, looking through the wooden planks at the shimmering water below.  Behold the waters of life!  I then stretched my arms and fingers upwards in a sun salutation.  Hail to the sky!  I moved into a tree pose, fixating on a pine directly across the lake.  I stand like the World Tree rooted deep, crowned high!  The whole process was a moving meditation, and I felt deeply at peace and connected with the world around me.

While I’m on the topic of trance, I’ve had to put Harner’s book on Shamanism down for a bit.  While I liked the beginning, both for the author’s experiences with Shamanism and indigenous people, and for the “Journey to the Underworld” exercise, I’m starting to find the book worrisome.  The following exercise, about meeting your spirit animal, seemed… well… for lack of a better phrase, it felt like “playing Native.”  I’m all for respectfully learning from other cultures, finding parallels, etc… but it just felt too much like ripping off Indigenous people. Besides, I’ve done a variety of “meet your spirit guide” exercises before, and have been working with spirit guides for awhile in the context of modern Paganism…  Not that I don’t have more to learn (I totally d0), but I just was not feeling that exercise at all.  Amazingly, I started to see a lot of criticism of Harner and his Core Shamanism popping up among my ADF and Reconstructionist friends.  I’m sure there’s some more to learn from the book, and I’ve already grown in trance from the first exercise, but I’m not as enthusiastic about that title anymore…  I’ll pick it up again at some point.  Ah well.  It’s part of the process.

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The following is an account of my continued work with trance as part of ADF’s Trance 1 course, advanced studies towards Initiate status.  I’ve decided to share my personal experiences on my blog as a way of personal accountability.  If some of my reflections happen to help others on similar journeys, I hope they share!

I’ve continued my trance practices over the last couple weeks and included some magical workings in the process.  I’m going to briefly describe each trance session in a bulleted list for this entry.

  • Charging Incense – It was daylight but during the waxing moon.  There was some noise outside; children were playing in the street. Using the drum recording, I travelled to my inner grove and met with my spirit ally.  I discussed my intent – to charge the ingredients for the incense I was about to make.  My spirit guide and I did the dance he taught me when we charged the new moon water.  It is exhilarating to and so natural seeming to add the dance to my trance.  When I think of the very powerful experiences I’ve had in the past, dancing around bonfires during drum circles, it makes sense to add it to some of my workings.  The fact that my spirit guide taught it to me…  Well, it’s very intimate now.  It’s my own personal wisdom.  When I felt that the ingredients were sufficiently charged, I let the residual energy flow into the ingredients, took a few breaths, thanked my guide, and returned to my altar to finish the work in the physical realm.
  • Failed Practice at Family Altar – I wanted to do some trance work, but my husband came to bed as he had work the next day.  I went downstairs to the family altar but the cats were around and I felt off.
  • Inner Exploration – Once back in my room, during the night, I did more trance practice.  I utilized the drum recording but decided to explore my inner grove and chat with my spirit guide.  I had trouble focusing, possibly due to the heat.
  • Self-Healing – This is a real outlier for me.  While a lack of ritual usually doesn’t amount to much, and while I usually struggle to focus when uncomfortable, I did a spontaneous inner working to help myself deal with some pain.  It involved some shielding to ward off negative energy, sort of like a spiritual disinfectant.  Then my spirit guide sliced into the area with the pain and pulled it out – all using his antlers.  The pain looked like a glowing purple orb.  He threw it towards my altar and saw it burn in the candle flame.  My body healed, but not before an otter popped out and swam around me.  I’ve been feeling more otter energy as of late…  I felt the pain subside, but to continue healing, I did something I haven’t done in a long time – I administered some reiki to myself.  It was an interesting if uncharacteristic situation for me.

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 Begin a regular practice of attunement to the land, including outdoor meditations and offerings to the Nature Spirits. It is suggested to pick a place easily accessible that you might be able to go to several times a week (such as an overgrown fence – row, a more ‘wild’ section of your backyard, possibly a city park, or even a balcony garden, etc) rather than a place that you might only get to visit every few weeks.  Keep a journal of your experiences over a six month period — including where on the land you went for
your meditations and offerings, weather, encounters with animals, plants, etc. Summarize your experiences and any insights gained through the experience. (summary minimum 300 words)
I’ve decided to tackle the above portion of the Naturalist Guild study program in ADF.  Now that I’m no longer pregnant and fearful of falling, I’ve been getting outside more and more.  When the forest calls my name, I am usually in a position to go!  I’m going to use my blog as a place to journal about my experiences because, well, I tend to do that anyway!  So let’s begin!
Today I took a walk to the shrine in the forest.  I’ve been visiting at least once a week.  On my way there, I noticed a plethora of tracks in the snow.  Deer and rabbit of course, but also canine tracks that, based on the size and solitary nature, probably belong to a coyote.  I know there are coyote and coydogs around anyway, but they made me nervous all the same.  I slipped through the hedge following some deer tracks and, in a few minutes, reached the shrine.  It’s very simple – some rocks piled below a pine tree.  I took a moment to breathe and take in my surroundings.  Snow everywhere.  Branches on the ground or just clinging to their trees, victims of the recent ice storm.  A clump of dried leaves and wadded spiderweb swayed in the breeze like a wildcrafted dreamcatcher. In the distance, a fire siren cried out and I worked to put it out of my mind as I focused.
I spoke to the local spirits and thanked them for their blessings.  I prayed to grow in greater harmony with them and learn more of their wisdom.  Suddenly, I found myself pausing and then asking for safe passage.  I generally don’t do that.  Now, I do ask permission to enter each time… but this was an additional step that I had not felt compelled to ask before.  I realized how uneasy I felt.  I finished my prayers and offerings (local dried corn and a green apple).  I noticed how quiet the forest was.  Usually at this time (the afternoon), you can hear the playful chatter of chickadees or the scolding of red squirrels.  Perhaps you would ear the cawing of distant crows and ravens.  Nothing.  I suddenly felt as if I was being watched and I remembered the coyote tracks.  Was it that?  Was it the aforementioned siren?  Was it the snowstorm reportedly coming?
Just to be safe, I carefully left the forest and returned home. Not every visit will be sunshine and happiness.  Sometimes a visit to commune with nature is coming to terms with your fear and weaknesses.

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