Dragon Charmer

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Image: Pixabay

My recent posts have been a brief respite from tackling the BIG issue in my life. Consorting with the White Rabbit and Mad Hatter has its downsides but they appear when needed. The job gets done and they watch from a safe distance at the resulting, mayhem. Mayhem and chaos are words I would also associate with the Greek god Dionysus, who is associated with the lifting of repression, inhibition, and release of desire. You need to approach him with care dear readers, his presence brings with it uncontrollable energies and impulses. Such energies serve to break down the façade of so called civilised behaviour and perception. Not always a bad thing if we are experiencing stagnation but keep Hermes nearby for damage limitation!

Now, what of this elusive BIG issue? If you look at some old maps there may be areas marked ‘here be dragonnes’. I’m currently in a place ‘where be dragonnes’, not always a comfortable place to be. They’ve been with me for a while it seems. We’ve fought on many occasions, with both parties drawing little blood. That is fortunate, no sense in these conflicts escalating into wars. I sense this will never be the case, the dragons agree. They come from a time when the world was an idea in the mind of creative forces. Being primordial and primeval in nature, bringing with them knowledge and memories of things power filled and mysterious. I don’t view them as being either evil or negative. They’re transformative symbols and the time is ripe to undergo change.

Instead of picking up either spear or sword, I decided to face them with a different mind-set. Why not charm them? One definitions of the word caught my attention:

“The power or quality of delighting, attracting, or fascinating others”.

(https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/charm)     

That’ll do nicely.

The sound of wings is already whispering in my ears. The outer armour is dropped but not my shield of Light; it would inappropriate to appear vulnerable so early in the proceedings. How does one proceed in the act of re-acquaintance/knowing with old friends, possible adversaries? Fear not dear readers I won’t descend into a florid, long-winded discourse, thought I’d take the route of a stream of consciousness. What needs to be said regarding these inhabitants of the psyche should be honest, plain and simple. If this resonates with you, please take a seat and try to enjoy the show.

The beat of their wings echoes the beat of my heart, one, two, three, four. The rhythm repeats, then pauses. Quite hypnotic. They’re approaching, cutting through the different levels, from sleep to knowing, then being. I pick up a helmet fashioned out of gold, with a dragon’s head carved on the top. Animal instinct transformed into Higher Knowledge. The ability to control that which is uncontrollable and carries immense power is therefore gifted to the wearer of such a helmet. It must be worn with honour and utmost integrity, if not, it burns with divine fire, obliterating all. My heartbeats get louder, as does the sound of their wings. One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four.

They approach from the West, accompanied by the great Angel of that place, Gabriel. Four in all, three moving into their respective places in the North (Uriel emerges), in the East (Raphael emerges) and in the South (Mikael emerges). Such shimmering colours reflect off their scales, irridescent and alive. I close my eyes and sense their presences, seeing with the inner sight that which can’t be seen with the outer sight. Truth isn’t always apparent to our everyday perception. The Universe has a heartbeat and it becomes louder. One, two, three, four, five, one, two, three, four, five, one, two, three, four, five, one, two, three, four, five.

From the North emerges Sandalphon and transforms into a dragon whose scales reflect colours of the earthly realm and more. Such power and beauty, yet, I am reminded not to fall prey to illusionary beliefs. Of course. Are words necessary? He circles me, a circle within a circle. There is a hint of something more contained within this winged being. The Ouroboros comes to mind, dragon biting its tail. A union of the chthonian and celestial principles, of light and dark, beginning and end, cyclical in nature. He approaches and inspects, scrutinises, evaluates. I raise my hand in greeting and stare him directly in the face. The fire of creation is in their eyes, as are the waters of the primordial ocean. “I am ready” I say. We dance as rivers of light. I’m not afraid to be who I really am, perceived shortcomings and all. Like who you are. The charmer achieves her aim as do the charmed. It works both ways. It is done and they withdraw. The work now begins, to be courageous and face the fear.

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Image: Pixabay

How Fares The King of the Wasteland?

Image: Pixabay

Lonely and embittered is the King of the Wasteland. Ruler over phantoms and of regrets, he sees little of worth including himself. How blind, how tragic.

I watch him tread the path well trodden. Deep are the furrows, in body, mind, and spirit. He perches on the precipice, unwilling to retreat. The breeze whispers, torments endlessly, carries the voices of those abandoned, those unloved.

We circle one another, my shield and sword at the ready. Strong is my resolve, harsh is my gaze. I shall not be cowed, shall stand my ground, shall challenge forthwith. Where is my compassion? Held in abeyance, held in Hope.

Be still and at peace I say to ruler of all and ruler of none. How his gaze falters, how his gaze darkens. The tears flow, they glint like diamonds. I say yield unto Love, yield unto Forgiveness. Will he listen? Will he speak?

Heal he must, rejoin the living. Discard hurt he must and notions of revenge, notions of anger. Free yourself, free the others. This I urge but will he listen? Battle he must the fears of his heart. Shadows past and shadows present stand in his path. They are but empty shells, dust filled memories.

He advances but I do not retreat, cannot retreat. How the wounded beast circles, aches to bite, aches to tear. His heart bleeds, his tears fall. Dare I wipe them away? Dare I soothe his heart? Both he and I must divest all that hinders, all that pains. Naked must we face the other, tread the path of freedom. How vulnerable we are, like newborn babies. Hush, hush the Mother whispers. She hears our cries and soothes our hurt.

At last the Sun rises, bringing Light into our Darkness. Yet the path goes on, beyond the horizon. Yet more we should divest, do so in the fullness of time. Gain illumination say our hearts, gain flight and freedom. Be at Peace one says to the other. Journey further, learn much. Part in humility, part in Love.

Image: Pixabay

Orpheus Ascended: Spirit of Memory

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Image: Pixabay

Deep in thought is the green eyed god, brow furrowed and eyes distant. Tormented by past, present and future. Orpheus knows not what path to follow, what choices to make. A decision must be made, his duty, not mine. He called us but denial stares back at us. How we delude ourselves when fate does not comply with our deepest most treasured desire. The same pattern, again and again. His heart still bleeds, still hurts, but wallowing in the swamp of misery and grief serves none. Eurydice is beyond our reach, descended into regions distant and unknowable. She has gained gnosis of a kind that the living cannot, should not be privy to until ready. My sisters and I are Physical Being, Soul and Spirit. The Trinity are we of your Soul oh humanity. The hidden Essence of your very existence. Continue reading

Sing to Me of Yearning and Loss: Spirit of Love

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Image: Pixabay

 “Sing to me of yearning and loss. Bring my heart to life. Let me feel the passion of her kiss and agony of her death” he commands. Yet, does he want to be reminded of his loss?

The musicians stare at the archaic god, one whose voice and musicianship have bowed even the heads of the infernal deities in Hades. Once his eyes bore the light of stars but now are touched with deep shadows that tell of ordeal and tribulation. Despite the kiss of deep sorrow he still bears an unearthly beauty. Mighty king of Thrace, blessed with gifts beyond measure to calm even the mightiest storm. How can they refuse such an honour? They are no strangers to the Orphic Mysteries and it is no accident great Orpheus has come upon this place. Continue reading

Light Reborn: Awaiting the Winter Solstice

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Image: Anglesey, Jan Malique

This post has taken a while to write, for a variety of reasons. Perhaps there was a need to integrate all the insights gained over the course of the day. I attended one day of a Silent Eye pre-solstice weekend workshop on Anglesey, North Wales last Saturday (03/12/16). It was entitled ‘Of Ash and Seed’. Our explorations involved walking a sacred landscape known to be the last stronghold of the Druids; paying our respects along the way to seekers gone before us. The culmination of Saturday was a symbolic act to release stagnant and unhealthy energies preventing our movement into a new phase of being. That’s a simplistic take on the events of the day admittedly.

What of my feelings in this journey? The day began at 6.10 am on Saturday and was infused with a sense of excitement and hope. I felt like a pilgrim journeying to commune with their gods on the holy isle and to meet with others of their tribe. A little fanciful you may think. Many, many pilgrimages have been made, always resulting in a change of consciousness and life path. They’ve been necessary in order for my spiritual evolution. Stagnation was currently impeding growth and filling me with great frustration. What to do dear Reader? A solution had to be found. Here was an echo of, something terribly familiar. We appear to be experiencing a collective Dark Night of the Soul, a condition that is replete with fear, confusion and anger. It’s also occurring on a personal level. Therein lay my answer.

As for the location, please let me set the scene to start us off. The island is rich in prehistoric remains, the earliest evidence of human habitation dates from the Mesolithic (7000 BCE). The Isle of Anglesey (Welsh – Yns Môn), as elsewhere on the British Isles, was witness to the transition of the old Celtic world to one with new values and rulers. This occurred over a period of time, starting with the Roman occupation of Wales that lasted for over 300 years. Roman legions XIV and XX launched a ferocious attack on Mona Insula (Anglesey) in 60 CE. It was of strategic importance, a source of valuable agricultural land and mineral wealth. In addition, it was the last outpost of the Druids and hotbed of resistance to the occupation. These people were standing on the threshold of devastating changes, as we are in modern times. It was the ending of an age. Destruction was clearing the way for passage into a new era. This is the canvas against which I set my personal journey.

The period leading up to the Winter Solstice is a strange one. We’re approaching a threshold between Light and Dark. Transformations are being gestated and anticipation is high for the arrival of the Light and rebirth into a new life, whatever spiritual path you walk. How did the ancient inhabitants of this land prepare themselves for approach to the Winter Solstice? We in modern times have reconstructed rituals, drawn upon symbols and signs to participate in our own celebrations. Perhaps these are our bridges to connect with the past. Just a thought.

To return once more to the inner world, the Soul was in need of unburdening. To that end our steps were accompanied by appropriate readings and moments of contemplation. The day culminated in a gathering at Llyn Cerrig Bach, Valley. Over 150 bronze and iron artefacts were excavated from the lake in 1943. The cache included slave chains, bent swords, tools and chariot equipment. Offerings to the gods? Our offerings were things of woe and hindrances, uttered only to the pebbles we were sacrificing to the luminous beings of the waters. A cathartic act. As some of you may be aware, I love my symbols and this journey was overflowing with them. It was also a reminder to give thanks for all and any blessing received in our lives. I returned home aching and tired but glad to have been a part of the gathering on the holy isle.

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Image: South Stack Lighthouse, Jan Malique

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Image: Neolithic village, South Stack, Jan Malique

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Image: Neolithic village, South Stack, Jan Malique

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Image: Presaddfed Burial Chamber, Boderdern, Jan Malique

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Image:  Presaddfed Burial Chamber, Boderdern, Jan Malique

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Image: Barclodiad y Gawres burial chamber, between Rhosneigr and Aberffraw, Jan Malique

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Image: Barclodiad y Gawres burial chamber, between Rhosneigr and Aberffraw, Jan Malique

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Image: At Llyn Cerrig Bach, Jan Malique

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Image: Llyn Cerrig Bach, Jan Malique

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Image, Llyn Cerrig Bach, Jan Malique

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grief and Loss: Initiatory Journeys

 

 

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Grief has usually been allied with death but it encompasses so much more. Throughout our lives grief makes its presence known through all the great and small acts of loss we suffer, be it loss of good health, the death of a pet, redundancy, loss of friendships, loss of favourite keepsakes. Each loss impacts upon our psyche in differing ways. Sometimes we recover quickly and move on, other times the loss cuts deeply and the pain never fully subsides. Each person’s reaction to grief differs depending upon factors such as life experience, personality, spiritual beliefs, culture, circumstances surrounding the death of the deceased, and family relationships.

Conflict also has a place within the bereavement process, most often manifesting during the arrangement of the funeral. Relationships may become strained as people attempt to cope with the overwhelming emotions facing them at this difficult time. Death it seems to be the last great taboo we are scared to face. The thought of our own mortality can open up a landscape of fears, a place devoid of all those we love and care for. Perhaps in our modern, technologically advanced societies we have forgotten how to approach important rites of passage, such as death, passage into adulthood and the wisdom of the elder years. There is much to think about under these circumstances.

The bereaved may undergo a process of catharsis, moving through several stages of grief ranging from:

  • – Numbness and denial
  • – Yearning and anger
  • – Emotional despair, sadness and withdrawal
  • – Reorganisation
  • – Letting go and moving on

Suppressed feelings may manifest in symptoms such as tiredness, inappropriate anger, psychosomatic illness, depression, hyperactivity. There may be a sense of unfinished business to contend with.[1]  The sense of loss may continue for years without any appreciable improvement. Some people who have lost their husband, wife or partner seem to descend into a state of numbness, forcing them to live a “normal” life but with no purpose. In certain cases the partner that is living may die soon after. The grief is no less devastating with the loss of a child, friend or pet. Brings to mind Tony Lake’s comment about commitment to life in the midst of grieving:

“But these people who are less than fully committed to life seem to me to have partially given in to death. They have accepted discouragement and decided that for a certain part of their time, life is not worth living.”[2]

How many of us can recognise ourselves in that description? Others talk about the deceased as if they have just “popped out” and will be back later. Such is the strength of the bond between the two people. I say “is” because it appears to be an unbreakable bond, untouched by death. Was this the case with Orpheus, braving the depths of Tartarus to bring back his wife Eurydice, only to lose her for all eternity due to one mistake?[3] One can only wonder at the power of the mind and how it is utilised to revivify the dead and create memories. Letting go can be so hard but a necessary process if we are to live healthy lives and let the dead live theirs. Otherwise we bind the dead to this earth (and they bind us), which can cause all manner of ills. Soul rescue is an option we should not have to resort to but it must be done under these circumstances.

The manifestations of grief can present certain challenges to all parties concerned, in particular the Priest or Priestess involved in the organisation of a ceremony. The Officiant in a sense has taken on the (symbolic) role of the “Walker between the Worlds”, guide and protector of the deceased, priest or priestess officiating over the sacred rites of life and death. Accordingly the weight of responsibility upon their shoulders is a heavy one, as are the expectations of the family who has engaged their services. The grief being experienced for loss of the loved one may also touch upon deeply buried emotions, which may relate to their feelings around death. Sogyal Rinpoche commented:

“You cannot help a dying person until you have acknowledged how their fear of death disturbs you and brings up your most uncomfortable fears. Working with the dying is like facing a polished and fierce mirror of your own reality.” [4]

The pain of losing loved ones and dying a painful death can be disturbing scenarios. They may feel like the Void of no return. I’ve grieved deeply at the loss of many things in my life, and to an extent still doing so. This is not a negative thing. Our empathy, compassion and understanding shape us into people of responsibility, who are strong enough to take on the task of helping others cope with their grief. I’ve seen this in my work with bereaved people, both in paid and voluntary capacities. The important thing is to learn to transmute these strong emotions, feelings and beliefs into tools to enable us to move on and grow.

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In conclusion, if I may go back to a previous point about our modern society forgetting the ritual of rites of passage. How prepared are we to face the reality of our own mortality? Death inspires fear and panic, a long shadow that we hope to escape but our steps only seem to lead back into its presence. The journey is serpentine and never linear, it is a walk into the centre of the labyrinth. We grieve at our losses (loved ones, memories, possessions, sense of self), bitterly at times. The emotion can be all-consuming, trapping us in its darkness. At other times we stand before it filled with fear but asking it to do its worst (“feel the fear and do it anyway”).

Sogyal Rinpoche comments quite wisely in “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” that we can use our lives to prepare for death and not wait for the death of someone close to reassess our lives. We can use the present to find meaning, make every moment count, take every opportunity to change and prepare with peace of mind to face death and eternity. Wisdom wrapped in simplicity but at times so difficult to put into practice. We don’t have to undergo these trials on our own, the support is there for the asking.  We can also help support others through these difficult experiences, be they living or dead.

 

Bibliography and Resources

Cruse Bereavement Care. Information pack – Understanding Grief

 Graves, Robert. The Greek Myths: Volume 1. London: Penguin Books, 1960.

Lake, Tony. Living with Grief. London: Sheldon Press, 1984.

Rinpoche, Sogyal. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. London: Rider, 1992

 

Loss and Regeneration

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A new year, new opportunities. Sounds more positive than challenges doesn’t it? January, named after the Roman god Janus (Guardian of Entrances and Exits), invariably brings with it winds of change. Janus was portrayed with two faces, one looking to the past and the other to what was to come. An appropriate image for the conflicting emotions facing many at the threshold of a new cycle in their lives. Thresholds are important places, doorways from one area to another, from one room to another, from one state of consciousness to another. The key is made available to us at times and not at others, then the door is seen to have no keyhole. In some portrayals Janus is shown holding a key…

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Hidden Pathways

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(This version was published in Axis Mundi online magazine Issue 58 in 2014, the original version “Merlin” was published in 2006)

This story emerged from meditations undertaken many, many years ago. It was a strange time, the energies surrounding my life were a little challenging it has to be said! Such are the cycles of life and the Universe. He, I refer to Merlin of course, was a shadowy figure peering out from the depths of my subconscious. I was seeking answers. From the Old Ones, from the land, from ancient totems. I needed healing and the solution was to enter the magical landscape of Snowdonia, seeking the mage in his natural element. I also had in my possession the wonderful “The Druid Animal Oracle” and  “The Complete Merlin Tarot.”  Potent gateways into the Otherworld.

I was able to weave a fantastical tale from my meditations. The words flowed like a fast flowing stream, carrying me onwards into unknown territory. This story had been waiting a long time to emerge. Ancient Egyptian priestesses, dragons and the great Merlin himself. What more could I ask for? These are symbolic landscapes for those who like to view them as such. For others, well, we know different…

Shall we proceed through the doorway and into the waiting landscape?

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Holy wells and accidental pilgrims

Shrine with external bathing pool

Shrine with external bathing pool

Yesterday I visited St Winefride’s Well in Holywell, North Wales, not as a pilgrim but a respectful visitor. Sacred sites and buildings have always been of great interest to me, the greatest being Nature herself. Having grown up in cities nearly all my life the splendour and energising presence of the natural world proves to revivify the spirit. Mine is not a unique experience, history has been witness to scores of ordinary people seeking meaning and contemplation in Nature. No matter how high our towers of steel and concrete grow they will never replace their natural counterparts. On a smaller scale gardening has been used as a tool for rehabilitation of both mind and body, water being an especially potent healer. Continue reading