My first Shamanic journey.

I have just come back home from a wonderful evening.  I am part of a drum circle, Wild Heart Beat Drum Circle.  We meet on the second Friday of every month at a local community centre near to where I live.  One of the lovely ladies who runs the drum circle was offering to form a sister group, for want of a better name, specifically for Shamanic journeying – the Wildling Circle.

We met tonight for the first time.

Nicola, the lovely lady who was taking us on our journey, explained a lot about what journeying is all about and taught us how to protect and shield ourselves.  Oh, prior to this we had performed a round of drumming to get ourselves ready!  Once we had grounded, protected and shielded ourselves we called in the spirits and so on and then began our journey.  I have to say I expected my journey to be like the many meditations I have undergone and the past life journey I did many years ago.  

Oh boy, was I wrong!

I began my journey by entering a favourite tree.  This tree is an evergreen that is situated behind my house and one in which I use when I am meditating.  After entering the tree I began to journey down to the lower world and had been told earlier that I would eventually see a light.  I expected to see a bright, white light and then enter a meadow, or a field as this is what usually happens when I am doing my own meditations.  After what felt like an age I saw a light, kind of like what you would see if you were coming to the entrance of a cave – although I don’t recall being in a cave at all.  As I approached the growing light it dawned on me that I had come to some sort of opening at the top of a cliff.  At this point I still expected to find my meadow or field.  As my eyes grew accustomed to the light I felt inclined to turn my head – I am not sure which way – and became aware of a set of steps that were carved out in the cliff face.  I walked down the steps – still expecting to find my field or meadow!!

Before I continue I have to say I fully expected to come face to face with a magpie, or a tiger, or something like that.  The purpose of our journey this evening was to meet our guides and find out what they could teach us.  Given my constant association with magpies I really did expect to encounter one.

However, once I had descended the steps I found myself on a beach.  This was very unexpected and I stood about, looking around, wondering how the heck I had ended up on a beach after I had journey through a tree and downwards into the lower world!  At this point I fully expected a bird of some sort to present itself to me – a sea bird of some kind.  I remember standing on the beach, the sand was wet and I kept on thinking to myself, “oh, my feet are wet” and at the same time I was looking up into the sky – a sky I did not see, what I saw was more of a hazy brightness – searching for a bird.  Eventually I became aware of something just in front of me, so looking back down I came face to face with a bear!  My initial thought was, “a bear! at the beach!!!”  

Nicola had told us that the animal we encountered could be a one time guide, or could be a guide that would be with us for however long we needed it to be.  She had told us that if we felt we wanted to find out we could turn round three times and if the animal was still there upon each turn, then that animal was a longer term guide, rather than the one off guide.  With this in mind I began doing so and the bear was saying “come on, we don’t have time for that, hurry up.”  It would seem the bear is to be with me for a while yet!

I must stress that upon coming out of the journey I did not share everything with the group.  This was because the message was a very personal one, relating to a situation I have suddenly found myself in, but advising me of how best to act and present myself.  It is for that same reason that I am not going to relay my entire journey here either.

During the journey I had the weirdest sense of rushing along – kind of like if I were on a train, but not.  There was a whooshing sound I could hear, I am not sure if that was the rushing I felt the bear and I were doing, or if it was perhaps the sound of the far off ocean waves.  The message I was being given was very clear.  With regards to the situation I know exactly what I must do now and who I can and cannot trust, meaning the other people caught up in this situation.  Also, rather than exerting way too much energy trying to right something I should always remember that I know the truth.  The bear repeatedly said this to me, “you know the truth, that is all that matters, you know the truth.”  Then I was told that I should concentrate my efforts on a project that is beginning in the very near future for me, rather than wasting any more time and energy on this other situation.

When it was time to come back from the lower world I felt myself being whooshed back to the part of the beach where the steps in the cliff face were, running up them and back into the opening, then all of a sudden I was back at my tree.  Throughout the entire journey I was acutely aware of cold, wet sand on my feet.  My feet felt wet because of this sand.  As soon as I became aware of myself again I felt myself checking my feet, but they were really warm, not at all cold and wet!!!

I feel pretty darn good about things now, whereas earlier today I felt quite angry about what had occurred.  Normally I would carry this anger with me for sometime and perhaps harness some of that power, that anger and focus it all into a solution to the problem.  But I feel I should do as the bear says, put that situation behind me and focus my energy onto the upcoming project.  Now I have had a little while to process the situation and the journey, I know that the right thing to do is leave it in the past and move forward, onto better, more fun things.

Doing this journey now felt very right.  Not only am I ready to leave a lot of painful stuff in the past, but it is also Imbolc tomorrow, the very first stirrings of spring are in the air.  For me this always feels like a time for new beginnings, a time when we shrug off the throes of winter and start anew again.  It is also the second new moon of this month, apparently this is known as a Black Moon and it is also a supermoon – in basic terms that is when the earth and the moon are really close to each other.  Obviously my explanations of both have been very basic and have not really given enough information about either, but should anyone reading this blog wish to know more about either then searching online will yield results.  Anyway, this Black Supermoon is supposedly a brilliantly auspicious time, a great time for us gaining clarity and so forth – which I feel I have done in regards to this particular situation.  So, not only have I gained some clarity, but I have been advised on how to proceed in my life from this point onwards.

If you ever get the chance to do something like a Shamanic journey then I would highly recommend that you do it.

Go here for info on Black Moon and Super Moon:    http://www.ibtimes.co.in/articles/536430/20140129/supermoon-2014-black-moon-friday-india-celestial.htm

Sweet Sixteen

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I have daily prompts for blogging ideas delivered to my email address.  A recent prompt suggests writing a post that was inspired by our sixteenth birthday.

Wow!

For me, that was almost twenty-seven years ago!  I have changed an awful lot since then too, not just with the whole getting older thing either.

In the UK we left school at 16 – in recent years it has been changed to 18 -but when I was that age it was 16.  My exams were looming as I celebrated my sixteenth birthday, but I was not really preparing for them.  I had ran wild for almost two years, missing an awful lot of school and getting up to so much crazy stuff, I am actually surprised I never got arrested.  The almost 16 year old me had a tongue like paint stripper, a mohican of sorts and was covered in tattoos – not the trendy, tasteful tats you see nowadays, no, these were the uncouth type that delinquents give to each other, using the bottle of Indian ink and a needle.  My mother despaired of me, my father was in and out of hospital and my brothers just did not know what to make of me.

I could not wait for my sixteenth birthday, it felt so grown up, and I was desperate for it to hurry up and arrive.  I was in trouble at school, but got away with being expelled as I was off sick due to blood poisoning – remember the cheap and nasty tats!  My mother almost died of shame when she rang the school up to advise them that I would not be attending for the remainder of the term due to my illness.  They tried to expel me, but somehow a mutual agreement was reached – I would only go into school for my exams, I would stay off the premises at all over times and they would not expel me. I guess my mother got to save face, as my best friend actually was expelled and her parents had to argue with the head to get her permission to sit her exams.  At the time it felt cool, now it feels ridiculous and wrong.

The almost 16 year old me was very self assured and had oodles of confidence.  I knew what I wanted to do with my life, when it was going to happen and the time scale allowed before having to move onto the next goal.  You know those youngsters we all envy in school?  They’re popular, they say what they want, when they want and do whatever they please and never get caught?  Well, that was me.  I believed I could do anything with my life and I was arrogant enough to believe I would achieve it.

The twist in this tale is that three and half months later I became a shadow of my former self.  Even now, almost 27 years on I am still not as confident as I was at that golden time.  At that time I never imagined anything could hurt me enough to knock me off my game, but boy was I wrong!

What happened?

I was raped.

At knifepoint.

Grabbed from behind, dragged down the river bank with the cold, metal blade pressing against my throat and the words “scream and I’ll kill ya” ringing in my ears.

My 16th birthday was May 4th, this was 23rd August.  All summer my life had been amazing, I had left school, I was working, I had friends and we had an awesome social life.  My mistake was walking home alone that night. 

That night changed me in ways I would never have believed possible.  I became reclusive, scared of the dark, I became bulimic and sought comfort in bottles of Vodka and by abusing solvents.  In three and a half months I was so far from the bright, vibrant, full of life young woman I had been that you would never have believed that I had been the same person.

After the attack I lost my boldness, my sassy attitude, everything that had made me, me.  I was now a completely different person, I would never have given myself the time of day beforehand.  Maybe losing that edge was a good thing, maybe I was destined to fall.  But the lesson was tough and took me almost 15 years to recover from.  Even now, I do not have the same edginess I had back then and I would say I am fairly confident and self assured.

My sweet sixteenth was supposed to be the catalyst to my adult life.  A time for me to leave school and grow up.  Instead it was a short, but sweet time in my life that was tragically cut short.  I can remember now the person I was back then without feeling hurt, humiliated or even scared.  Her time was brief, but she made an impression.  I know I said I became a shadow of my former self, but after a year of seeing a psychiatrist a spark flickered inside of me.  A voice whispered, “don’t give up”  The voice belonged to the 16 year old me who was feisty and funny and brilliant.  And although that version of me never did fully come back, she did inspire me to fight to regain my own self worth.  She inspires me today whenever I feel injustice threaten me or someone I love.  I may not have achieved everything I had hoped to at my sweet sixteenth, but in recent years that fire and passion and fight has returned and I owe it all to that younger version of myself.

Busy times

After my recent post I got to thinking about all that keeps me from blogging. Mostly it has been a situation my youngest daughter was involved in; an abusive relationship.

I never expected that a child of mine would fall victim to such a man. Getting her and her baby out of the relationship was tough and extremely painful for her. Some of what her abuser put her through brought outside authorities into her life – her baby was considered at risk from her father, so restrictions were placed upon him and she was put onto a child protection plan.
This week we go to conference to see if she still needs to be on that plan – her father cannot see her at this time and she isn’t at risk from anyone else, so fingers crossed common sense will prevail.

The fallout for my daughter has been huge. Not only has she had to adjust to being a single parent, she has had to get used to the prospect that her child may never see her father. She has had to adjust to a life where she is in control – part of the abuse she suffered from was having her every move and decision controlled by him. It isn’t as easy as just doing as you please, when your partner has dictated every aspect of your life then it is quite difficult to pick up the reins and walk your own path, free and easy.
She has also had a mountain of debt to sort through. The slimeball racked up a mountain of debt in her name.

This adjustment period for her has meant that we have all had to be on hand, providing emotional support. She hit rock bottom, was diagnosed with post natal depression and felt like her life was over.
But she has made it through and has met a nice young man. It’s early days for them, she needs to take things slowly, and she enjoys spending time with him when we have her child – every Wednesday and Saturday.

She has two hurdles to clear, one being the removal of the plan and the other is finding a new home for herself and her daughter.
As she gains confidence and regains her self esteem she is needing less emotional support from us, which is a good thing.

One of the other crises that has kept me busy is my eldest daughter. In the space of a few months she was diagnosed with a mental health condition, similar to Bi-Polar and split up with her long term boyfriend. She has finally gotten the right support and is on new medication. She is about to start a new job working as a mental health support worker and will also begin a psychology degree.

Life is sometimes hard and feels quite cruel, but as we have found, amongst the pain and hurt there is usually moments of happiness, even if they are short lived.

These are the precious moments we often treasure the most.

Review Of The Guardian

This lovely story is a Christian fiction novel – I was a bit dubious at first, being a Pagan I was uncertain to how much religion was going to be in the book.  I think it is fair to worry about such things when one does not follow the religion in a book, or is not religious at all.  After all, there are books in this genre that all but shove the religious aspect down the throat of the reader.

I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this story.  The author does not overwhelm the reader with religion, which made me want to keep reading.

The Guardian is about Jodi Winfield’s struggle with her belief in God.  The story begins with an Amish family returning home from a day out; the family – mother Maryanna, who is a widower, and her young children are travelling in a horse and cart when  the youngest child accidentally falls out of the cart.

The next morning whilst out for her morning run, Jodi stumbles across the child.  She fails to find out her identity as the child speaks no English at all.  Jodi imagines all sorts of scenarios that have led to a child as young as the one she found wandering about the open countryside in her under garments.

She rings her cousin, a local police officer who she is house sitting for and after telling him a few facts about the child he suggests she goes along to the nearby Amish community.  He is certain the child must have come from there, he explains that the Amish community are always reluctant to involve outsiders in their business so it is unlikely they will have alerted the police about her disappearance.

When Jodi returns the small girl, who she discovers is called Sarah, to her family in Hickory Hollow, a friendship begins between herself and the child and her family.  Maryanna, Sarah’s mother feels eternally grateful for Jodi bringing Sarah home, but is not sure she should be so friendly with an Englischer – the name the Amish community gives to non Amish people.  They soon become good friends when Jodi is invited to be the temporary teacher at the Amish school.

The book deals a lot with Jodi’s lapse in faith.  She lost her faith in God after her beloved sister died.  She has even vowed not to have children of her own, much to the dismay of her fiance, Trent.   Jodi just feels as though she is in a bad place; her sister died and she is struggling with her grief.  Her fiance is about to go to Japan for a year to teach English.  Then she loses her teaching job in Vermont.

Before I read this book I had noticed some of the reviews really slating this book because of the religious theme to it.  I do agree with one, in a way you are misled into believing that the story is a mystery, rather than a Christian themed happy-ever-after affair.  But if you can push your feelings about the religion aside you will find that you can empathise with Jodi as she struggles with her grief, her loss of faith and her place in the world.

I found the story to be more believable with the plot it has, rather than having the character go off on some wild, crazy adventure in order to find herself.  That Jodi was thrust amidst such a devout group of people made perfect sense.  She witnessed Maryanna’s struggles, bringing up four young children after the death of her husband and battling with her conscience with regards to her near neighbour – and deceased husband’s best friend, a widower – who is clearly smitten with her.

Having Jodi go off and be wild, crazy and spontaneous may have made for a better read for some people, but the fact that she was always going to rediscover her faith would have felt really out of place; this plot made much more sense.  All of the religious references were necessary to the plot and certainly were not over the top at all.

I would give this book 4 stars **** and can certainly recommend it for lovers of this genre, or for anyone looking for a pleasant read.

Review of One Step Too Far.

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

This is the story of Emily who has everything – a lovely, safe life in Manchester, husband, child, security.  Suddenly it is all ripped away from her – the author leaves us guessing right the way through the book as to what exactly has happened to cause Emily to ac as she did – and Emily ceases to be.  She runs away to London and becomes Cat, where she embarks on quite a seedy life for a while, desperately trying to escape the pain and torment that her past has caused.

She almost succeeds too, she gets a good job, has a life of sorts and finally begins to feel she has outrun her past.  But her new life comes crashing down around her on the anniversary of the day her life had previously fallen apart.

At the very beginning of this book one senses they will be rather perplexed by the plot.  The plot has more twists and turns in it than I was really comfortable with, it launches back and forth from past to present and from the main protagonist to less important characters, then back to the protagonist again.  This gives the story a rather disjointed feel, at times it feels very confusing and frustrating.

My biggest grumble, however, is at the very end of the story where we jump so far into the future.  This did not really work for me, the end of the present day story felt as though it had been unresolved and the lack of use of characters names in the narrative was very frustrating.

I am not sure how I felt about Emily/Cat.  Emily was a character I could believe in, but Cat seemed as disjointed as the story.  I guess that was the point, given all she was running away from and all she had endured.  I just felt unable to warm to her though and many times wondered how she had managed to let her life slip so out of control.  Again, the effects of grief and suffering can do many a strange thing to a person who was once of sound mind.

The big sting in the tale is Charlie.  It bugged me so much I read several reviews – whilst still only half way through the book – until I learnt the truth about Charlie.  This did not make me feel any better, it left me angrier at Emily/Cat, although I am pleased I had read up on that particular plot twist rather than having it thrust upon me in the natural way.

I have to give this book four stars.  It is a gripping tale of love and loss and makes the reader feel like they are enduring the roller coaster of emotions that the characters are experiencing.  The ending stops me from giving it full marks – sorry, I felt so dissatisfied with it all.

**** 4 stars

New Year.

Happiness is not a destination, it’s a journey. Happiness is not tomorrow, it is now. Happiness is not a dependency, it is a decision. Happiness is what you are, not what you have.

The above text is from a inspirational quote email that I receive daily. I like it. It reminds me that we need to enjoy our lives now, not wait until we have attained our dream job/man/home/life.

If we don’t enjoy the journey, we spend our lives looking for a perfection we will never achieve.
The journey is the entirety of our life; it’s the here and now. We need to spend our time appreciating what is here, right now and not focusing too much on what we are trying to achieve in the future.

Of course I’m not suggesting we make no plans, on the contrary. I am saying we need to focus more on getting there than on what our lives will be like when we are there.

At the beginning of the new year our lives are filled with endless possibilities and opportunities. A whole, brand new year stretches out right in front of us and that can be both exciting and very daunting.
We are keen to make the most of the auspicious vibes that surround us at this wonderful time, but we also feel a sense of sadness for the departing year.
Even if we are glad to see the back of the previous year we cannot help but feel a twinge of sadness for what never came to pass, or for those we had to leave behind.

I think it’s important to acknowledge any sadness, learn what we need to from it and then move forward, ready to embrace the upcoming year and all of the wonderful opportunities that await us.

This new year for me is going to be a studious journey. I am restarting my studies on the road to gaining my degree. This also means I am putting my goals and dreams first for a change, something that is quite an alien concept to me as I usually put others before myself.

I look forward to the coming year and am ready to meet the challenges that will arise, meeting them head on with determination.

Happy New Year and Happy New Moon.