Daily Om ~ Two Sides of the Same Moon

blood moonAs our ancestors once did we can honor the cycles of the moon with rituals that help connect us to a more natural life. The moon waxes and wanes in the night sky, always following the same cyclical pattern, lighting the darkness with its luminous glow. It has been this way as long as the earth has been here. The same moon grew from dark to full and back again, catching the eyes of our grandparents, our great grandparents, and those at the beginning of humanity. The moon guided our ancestors in the planting, sowing, and reaping of their crops, and we can be inspired to observe and honor these same cycles today with simple rituals that help connect us to the natural ebb and flow of life energy.

Dark moons and new moons represent polar moments of beginning and realization in the arc of the moon’s phases. When the moon is dark, we might take time to meditate on emptiness, the fertile ground in which seeds take root. A simple ritual for acknowledging this potent phase of the moon would be to write down new plans and ideas that present themselves and keep them in a moon journal. Looking back over a year of dark moons, you may be amazed to see which seeds have blossomed. Full moons symbolize completion and fulfillment, the realization of the seed, and they are times of celebration. They are a great time to gather friends and family to partake in a communal feast acknowledging the apex of another monthly cycle. Your full moon journal might track the full moons of an entire year with a recounting of the gathering—the menu, the guest list, and any other observations you feel inspired to make.

Honouring the dark and full moons with these simple rituals brings our year into a new kind of focus. As we acknowledge the flow of the moon’s cycles, we become more comfortable with the changing nature of our earthly lives, making our peace with each phase, and with the shifting from emptiness to fullness and back again. We strengthen our connection to the universe in which we live and find peace in both emptiness and fullness, each of which are natural and necessary—two sides of the same moon.

Source: Daily Om

The Three Kindreds

5446_576954122314584_224581038_nI’m not sure if I’ve written about this topic before, my memory isn’t serving me too well at present and, well, I’m too lazy right now to be trawling through all my previous posts, but I thought I’d write something about The Three Kindreds. In my spiritual path I honour these three kindreds; the Ancestors, the Green Clan and the Shining Ones. Who are they?

The Ancestors really speak for themselves don’t they; all who have gone before. My blood relatives certainly but in fact ALL who have gone before and passed over from this earthly material realm, whether they be human or animal. In fact to distinguish between humans and animals is rather a moot point for me because we humans ARE in fact animals aren’t we. If we share 98% of our genes with orangutans and chimpanzees then yes we are animals. I can’t really distinguish between related and non-related human ancestors because all are my ancestors as we are always linked in the web of life, all share a common ancestor and all share the same emotions, feelings etc. My ancestors are your ancestors and I honour them for their wisdom, their knowledge, their struggles, their hopes and dreams. The Ancestors guide me, teach me and protect me. In turn I honour them by giving them the gift of remembrance and a continuity with the living.

The Green Clan are all the spirits of nature in all their wonderful diversity; the Fae, plant spirits, tree dryads etc. Why do I honour these? Because they impart to me spiritual wisdom that is superlative in its nature – a different kind of wisdom from that given by the Ancestors. Tied to the earthly realm but not of it if you like. They help to break down the human ego, assist in right living whilst I am still on the material plane. In return I do my part in trying to live with consciousness and mindfulness.

The Shining Ones are those who have reached enlightenment, whether they be deities or bodhisattvas. Their wisdom, knowledge and protection is beyond human perspectives as they are not of the material. Their true gift is helping humans to live as spirits in human form, and not merely as humans who have a spirit. In my understanding and experience they teach enlightenment but do not give it; we have to do our part. However we can call upon them with all our hopes, dreams, needs and sufferings and they provide everything at the right time – which is not the same as ours, as they work on a completely different spiritual wavelength to us. However, of course we can interact with them and they wish us to do so. How do I honour them? Each has his/her own likes and dislikes, just as we do. It is only by close communication with them that I learn of these and this shapes my gifts to them – spiritual discernment is the key.

Daily Om ~ Those Who Came Before

Our ancestors represent another wellspring from which we may draw for they, too, can act as our spirit guides.   Many entities assume the role of spirit guide. Throughout our lives, we may call upon angels, animal and nature spirits, ascended masters, and celestial guardians for aid, protection, and support. Our ancestors represent another wellspring from which we may draw wisdom in times of need for they, too, can act as our spirit guides. Since our forbears spent at least one lifetime experiencing the tribulations that are a part of human existence, the perspective they can offer is a uniquely grounded one. Ancestral spirit guides can empathize with our fears and our frailties, worry, temptation, and feelings of insecurity. Once you have requested their guidance, they will see to it that you emerge unscathed on the far side of conflicts and are well-equipped to fulfill your potential.   If your relationship with your relatives was strained when they were earthbound or you feel disconnected from your heritage, the thought of asking your ancestors for aid can be disconcerting. But when the soul takes on its spirit form, it becomes pure light. Your ancestors, regardless of who or what they were in life, are monitoring your life’s journey because you are their progeny and they want to see you do your best. You can communicate with them directly, as well as through meditation, your dreams, or the written word. Creating an altar or shrine that displays images of your forbears or objects owned by them can help you connect with individual ancestors. The guidance they provide may take many forms as each ancestral spirit guide retains its individual identity and will thus have its own style of communication. If your ancestors do not speak to you directly or visit you in your dreams, examine your life to determine whether they are replying to your queries subconsciously.   When you make contact with your forebears, thank them for being a part of the web of intent that gave you life. Honoring their wisdom and experience can make your life seem larger and richer. Like other spirit guides, your ancestors won’t interfere with your choices or attempt to deprive you of free will. They will only do their best to answer your questions and provide you with all the love, aid, and guidance you ask for in order to help you evolve as an individual.

 

S is for…Spiritual Ancestors

This is really a follow on to my last post Spiritual Imprints which talked about Aboriginal beliefs and Dreamtime. I was asking myself the question ‘who are my spiritual ancestors?’ It is true to say that I do have an affinity with Aboriginal tribal culture and beliefs but just as much to Native American, Siberian, Celtic and other indigenous cultural beliefs, although the tradition I follow is that of my blood-ancestors The Celts.

Whether we believe we as a human race originated from one man and one woman, or evolved over many thousands of years, the fact is that we are all linked. Not just with other humans too but with other animals, plants etc. I’m not a scientist but I know that all things organic share genes, for example we all know we share 98% of our gene pool with chimpanzees and the great apes, we also share 46% of our genes with daffodils. In fact us humans share our DNA with everything and they with us…we are truly linked. If we are linked physically then to my mind it stands to reason we are linked spiritually. My own personal belief is that we humans don’t ‘have’ a spirit, we ARE spirits having a human experience but even if you don’t share this belief the fact that we share so much of our DNA with other organic beings is proof (at least to me) that we are linked.

So back to the question…who are our spiritual ancestors? I suppose the obvious answer is all those who have gone before no matter what their culture or race (and I include the plant world here too). Although I’m not an Aborigine, or a Siberian, or Native American, or Norse etc. I still have a link with these Peoples. I can still honour those who have gone before for the wisdom and knowledge they have shared. The same goes for the plant world, and I might even add the Stone People (mineral world) because as a shaman…All that is…is alive! So our spiritual ancestors are not merely those of our blood relations who have gone before but also an extended family of entities (both human, plant and rock), with whom we share common and deep links.

How can we show honour to our spiritual ancestors? Well, I think this is a personal thing but I always like to ask them how I can do this first. It’s like having a beloved member of your family – you buy a present you know they will like and value don’t you, you spend time finding just the right thing that will bring them joy. So I ask the Ancestors what they would like in order for me to honour them and then really endeavour to find whatever it is, even if it is just a picture of it. An example here is that I had one spirit who asked for Moose meat, which living where I do is impossible, so I honoured it with a photo of a Moose and it was perfectly acceptable to this spirit. I’ve found that if one makes an effort to be a bit original and creative the spirits enjoy this.

I build an Ancestor shrine, usually around the time of Samhain, but it could be at a time of year that is particularly resonant with you and whichever Ancestors you are honouring. The shrine can be as simple or intricate as you like – use your imagination and creativity. Add things that are meaningful to you and the Ancestors. I then smudge the whole area (I use a mixture of Yew and Juniper, or pine resin for this but you can use whatever cleansing and purifying herb you like) before lighting a special ancestor candle and saying a few prayers of thanks and blessing before I lay my offering on the shrine.

Finally I’d like to share with you a short prayer I wrote to the Ancestors, my kith and kin.

Blessings to those who have gone before

Whether flesh or fin, feather or green

I thank you for your wisdom and guidance

Down the ages, imprinted in my mind and soul

May the memory of you continue

May the honour of you continue

May the blessing of you continue

Accept my offering now and always

By Earth, Sky and Sea

So Mote it Be!

 

Daily Om ~ Storytelling

Most cultures use storytelling to pass down family history using the power and energy of the human voice.

Ever since our ancestors could first communicate, we have gathered to share our stories. We have passed along creation tales and tragic stories of love lost. We have repeated accounts of real heroism and simple stories of family history. When our forebears lived closer to the land and to each other, the practice of storytelling was imbued with ritual and occasion. Members of the tribe would often gather around the fire to hear their genealogy recited aloud by an elder or master storyteller. Listeners could track how their own lives, and the lives of their parents, interwove with the lives of the other tribe members, as everyone’s ancient relatives once played out similar life dramas together.

As a custom, some cultures’ storytellers repeat the same tale over and over because they believe that each time you hear it, you come to the story as a different person and view the plot and characters in a new light. Hearing the story over and over is a way to gauge where you have been and where you are now on your path of personal evolution. It also helps the younger generation learn the stories so that they can pass them to forthcoming generations.

When we hear others tell stories, we can laugh at their humorous adventures, feel the thrill of exciting encounters, see parts of ourselves in them, and learn from the challenges they face. Though most of our formal traditions of storytelling are lost, it does not mean we have to be without. We can begin new practices in our own families of listening to one another, of honoring our own journey, and witnessing the journeys of those around us. We can revive the fireside communal by gathering around the campfire or hearth with family and friends, sharing in stories. By building new practices of storytelling, we give ourselves and the ones we love an opportunity to draw ever closer in our shared human experience.

K is for…The Three Kindreds

In my spiritual practice there are three groups, or kindreds, who are very important to me. These kindreds give me a structure to my life as I battle with my own failings and shadow side. They’re not always pleasant to deal with however, but they’re always constructive if I allow them to be. You see, the onus is on me to accept their help and guidance. This is something I am not always willing to do and when that happens things go awry and then I only have myself to blame.

Firstly, The Shining Ones – the deities that I revere. Mainly these are my patron deities of course; Brighid, Cerridwen, Modron and Cernunnos. However this group includes all gods and goddesses, not just from the Celtic pantheon but from every culture. The Shining Ones are within and around us but also transcend us. They guide us, teach us, protect and bless us. They can be harsh as well as benevolent depending on what we need to learn. However, with the harshness come blessings as long as we allow ourselves to be guided by them. The Shining Ones also provide a map for us within mythology and legend. So we can learn an awful lot from reading the stories of old handed down through the years. In my spiritual practice I ask for their aid, protection and blessings and in return honour them. This honouring takes the form of deep reverence and regular offerings. It’s a ghosti relationship, they provide what I need and I reciprocate. I guess some might call it a symbiotic relationship and in this way they are kept alive and active.

Secondly, The Spirits of Nature, or what I refer to as the Green Clan. Of course this includes plant and tree spirits, the Stone People (spirits of stones, rocks and minerals of all kinds) and nature, spirits of place but also animal spirits both domestic and wild. In addition I include Elemental Spirits and The Fae in this group also. All these are spirits with whom I have intimate contact, are my guides in this reality and in other realities also. They show me a mirror in which I see all my parts and they help me integrate them. This kindred, for me anyway, tend to be the healers. I think that Spirits will provide you with whatever you need to learn, so will manifest differently for each person. Oh yes, and they shape shift constantly. The Green Clan really keep me on my toes and alert me to my own complacency. They can be tricky so one has to tread carefully, and if you don’t appreciate them they’ll be gone in a flash. So how do I appreciate and honour them? Well it all depends on the particular spirit involved and I usually ask them in person while doing a shamanic journey. Their requirements can be quite weird I can tell you. One once asked for raw steak!

Last but not least, The Ancestors. This group not only includes my own blood relatives but every person who has gone before because to me we are all connected no matter whether we are blood related or not. After all we all share a common ancestor don’t we – the first humans. However, mainly I work with my own ancestors and paying off the karmic debt that has been accrued. You see a lot of my ancestors are in pain and through me things can be made right again. The Ancestors walk every step with me, feel everything I do. Through them I have come to be so I honour them for giving me life on this planet. Within them resides the wisdom of the ages and so they are a deep pool of knowledge and wisdom. I treat them with respect no matter what they did in this Earthly realm. It is possible to respect the person and not necessarily the deed. Humanity, I feel deep down, commands respect even though there are times when I despair of the mess mankind has gotten itself into and feel that the human species should just become extinct.

So, these are the Three Kindreds in my spiritual practice and although I’ve given them an order here, in fact the groups are no more or less important than each other. They have their different remits and operate differently in my life but they are equally as important.  Acknowledging the Kindreds in my life has given me over time a great sense of belonging. There are times when I feel incredibly lonely but then I realise that I’m not ever alone, not ever, and it’s usually at times like these that I’ve been neglecting the Kindreds in some way and need to reflect on what I’m doing with my spiritual practise. But I’ve found that if I’m honest with them and turn my attention to them once more, their forgiveness is available because they don’t operate out of an ego position like humans do, although they are very aware of how we operate. And at times we truly do exasperate them!

Daily Om ~ Our Earthly Origins

As we begin to see more clearly the people we come from, we can begin to alter our perception of who we are now.

Some cultures are more rooted to the earth and connected to their inherent spirituality. But every one of us, even those of us who have been disconnected from our roots for hundreds of years, comes from a place that was once inhabited by people who worshipped and honored the earth on which they lived. In other words, we can all claim this wisdom as an essential part of who we are.

One way we can begin to rediscover our roots is to explore the early earth-based religions practiced in the parts of the world that birthed our ancestors. If we explore the ancient spiritual practices of our ancestors, we will find that their practices and beliefs share many elements with Native American, African, and aboriginal religious traditions. People who are connected to the earth and honor her share a fundamental philosophy that we can claim as our own because we too are of the earth. Many of us have become so disconnected from the earth that it feels foreign and awkward to imagine communing with her or performing a ritual for her. If we are honest, though, we will find within ourselves a yearning to feel more connected, more grounded, and more at home in this world. This yearning can lead us back to our disowned roots, which, of course, leads us right into the heart of the earth.

As we begin to see more clearly the people we come from, we can begin to alter our perception of who we are now, laying claim to our inherent relatedness to the earth. We might celebrate this by observing the ancient calendar of solstices and equinoxes, celebrating and honoring the cycle of the seasons as our ancestors did, or we might explore any one of the many earth-based practices through reading or participating in ritual. When we do these things, we tap back into our roots, finding nourishment at the wellspring of our earthly origins, the source we share with all of humanity.