Sprit Animals

 

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In researching for Ostara I again came across the story of the Rabbit whom used to be a bird.  When found by the Goddess Ostara as a bird whom was close to death, she changed into a rabbit giving him a new life.

In my resent Shamanic Journeying work I have been working with one of my animal helpers in more ways than I ever done before.  In reading the story again of Ostara and a voice in my head asked a question that I am still attempting to put into words.

How much more or less important are Sprit Animals relationships compared to your relationship with the Gods and Goddesses?  Are we more likely to form relationships with the Gods and Goddesses as they take on human form therefore easier to relate to rather than an animal (or other).

In the Ostara story the Rabbit produces the eggs as he wants to bring happiness to the Goddess (or in other versions is ordered to bring her happiness in payment of saving his life).  It then reminded me of how we often see Gods and Goddesses with animals doing there bidding, or being an important part of there life.  My mind comes to the ones that are pulled around in a chariot (or similar) by an animal or two.  Why not the animal being carried around by the God or Goddess, is this our own human perception coming in putting human at the top of the tree?

And it is this thought that has me troubled, or thinking (I am not sure which word to use there).  I personally put no one on top of the tree, I put everything in a circle as nothing is any more or less important than each other.  As all life relay on everything else for survival.  A factor that I think has been forgotten in years past as people separated themselves from nature.

And so I come back to sprit animals and how I am glad the current steps of my spiritual journey I have been working with a sprit animal and opening up to others as well (most recently the sprit of trees).  I wonder how come it took me this long but then maybe it is just as simple as now is the time they want to work with me and before they were not.  I am not sure, I am just glad they are.

 

Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What it is about trees?

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Trees are for me a very important aspect of my spiritual path, my spiritual being.  And yet I have thought about it recently and I find it difficulty to put into words exactly what trees are for me.

Trees for me represent so much.  Connectivity, between roots, trunk and leaves, earth and sky, the elements of earth, air, fire and water, lower, middle and upper worlds, and the importance of energy that is connect and flowing through everything.  They represent strength, diversity, beauty, change, complexity, simplicity and fragile.

The mechanisms of a tree, how food, communication and energy is moved all around the tree and its different levels.  How each species of tree does this a little differently, some needing fire, others more water, insects and birds at different levels, some even need different types of trees to be near them, or different soil compounds or altitude levels.  This reminds me how we are all different and that being different is neither wrong or right.  It is just different.

We often hear people talk about our central Australian desert trees as hardy.  People assume they have to be to survive in this climate of intense heat, and bitter cold.  Well yes, sort of.  They have adapted to suit the arid climate, and for some only a small shift in what the trees would call a normal climate will put them under stress.  So in reality while they look very strong and hardy, they are actually quite fragile.

I can however see where this perception of hardy and strong comes from.  This is an intense place at times, and you only have to watch a young Red River Gum sapling that has been successfully growing its roots for 4 or 5 years into the sandy soils of the creek bed.  Then the flood comes, and if you have not put your roots down far enough then all you end up with is a sapling floating down the river.

So there is so much about life that is imbedded in trees, is this why they are so important to me, is it that I relate better to trees than other living things that could also teach me?  I am not sure and maybe one day I will work it out, and maybe one day I will not.

Ether way I know how important my relationship with trees is to me even if I do not quite understand the “why”.  And that is Ok with me.  After all, who said I have to understand it.

Photo: Camping at the bace of a Red River Gum in Emily Creek, 2015

Seeing with your eyes closed

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So we are at the season of Mabon and I have again chosen to head out on my bike and sit in silence, with a coffee, and take in the beauty of our arid landscape here in Central Australia. My choice was again to go to Simpsons Gap, it is not to far out of town and it has such an amazing array of biodiversity.

So sitting there in quite meditation I was again astounded by how much you see when you listen. The sounds changed and moved depending on how much the air moved through the gap between the hills, some times strong, sometimes so still. We have had no rain since January, however some were over the waterhole there is water dripping into the water from above. Where this water is coming from I do not know. At a guess it is still making its way slowly down from storage placed buried in the rocks from that January rain.

The many different birds that call the water hole there home, that all make a different array of noises, including one so deep that to start with I was unsure of what it was.

The sound of the Black Footed Rock Wallabies as they dance and jump around on the rocks, though you only hear them when they brush against some of the shrubs.

And the sound of thunder as a hawk dives though the gap chasing its pray. The first time this happened I ducked and wondered what was falling from the sky. Then I spotted the little hawk as it spring on its pray, missing it by millimeters. How something so little could make so much noise with just the flap of its wings and the echo around the rocks. Three times the hawk came thundering through the gap, three times it missed by such a small amount. By the third time I had got used to the signs that the hawk was on its way. It was the quite before the storm, all the birds would stop singing less than a second before you would hear the swoop of the hawk. Then it would take a minute or two before the little birds would come back out and play their music. And in this time if the wind was quite you could hear the, drip, drip, drip of water coming from some were above.

Happy Mabon every one, and happy Ostara for those on the other side of this beautiful and diverse planet.

Self Belief

Today I am publishing the same Blog that I have just posted to my Coaching Blog.  It is all about self belief.  This is something I feel strongly about and crosses over into every thing we do, hence why I am also posting it here.  After all if you do not believe that you can learn and practice what ever spiritual path you are on, you will never do it and never really experience all that it can be for you.

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Could you break a board with you’re the palm of your hand? Could you really? The board is 2 cm thick (or 0.8 inches). Could I break a board that is 2 cm thick, just like you see in martial arts? Really…..?

If you have only ever seen this done then I can understand your disbelief. I mean how could some one who has never done this before and is not trained in martial arts break a board? If you have done this yourself you will know just how easy it is. When you hit the board it is no more resistant to your palm than the thinnest paper. Your hand glides through and the only reason you know the board was even there is because it makes a sound when it breaks.

There are however two key elements.

First you need to learn the safe technique of breaking a board with your palm, shoulders square on, straight but not locked arm, planted feet, etc. That’s the easy bit.

Second, you have to believe in yourself. You have to believe that you can break the board. That when you palm comes in contact with the board it will break, that it will not hurt. You have to see yourself breaking it, hear it, and really, really feel it. That you can break this board easily and effortlessly. One moment of self doubt, one moment of “I can not do this” and you are going to end up with a very hurt hand and one very strong board. All the safe techniques you learnt on how to break it add up to nothing if you don’t believe in yourself.

So why break a board, I mean what’s the point? Well when you think about it that board can represent all sorts of things. For example, I have recently started my own business, could I have done that if I did not believe that I could? Could I have done that when people were telling me that it would be hard, there is no market here, with out believing in myself? Think on your own goals, pick one that you have achieved, did you ever have a moment of “I can not do this”, I bet if you did it was small and you changed it around. Now pick a goal that you have not achieved and check on the self doubt, is it there? Is that little voice telling you “I can not do this”?

Silencing that voice is not always easy. It can be done no matter what your goal is. Heck I managed to break a board 2 cm think like it was soft butter. I could have broken 10 boards that day and turned them into matchsticks with my bare hands (well maybe not matchsticks, but small kindling yep – easy). And if I can do that, I can do anything I set my mind to. And so can you.

The law of return and cycle of life

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I have just finished reading a fantastic book that goes into the fossil fuel industry called “this changes everything” by Naomi Klein. As some of you may know I work in the environment sector and it is a space that bring both highs and lows. This book, or collection of story’s, pulls out just how tough it can be to work in this sector, made even tougher by the fact that the short term economics behind the destruction of our natural resources really makes almost no sense when you look at the long term economic situation.

Within the pages I found a description of the law of return that I hade never really thought about, even with working in this sector and with how much I am learning about growing food. The quote comes from a farmer who is part of a group looking at how from the moment humans started farming the earth, we have been taking from the earth and not putting back. The quality of the soil and the nutrients in the soil is what makes a good crop. In permaculture and gardening in general it is often said that you don’t feed the plants, you feed the soil. Healthy soil equals health plants.

So the quote from the farmer went like this

“The problem of sustainability is simple enough to state….It requires that the fertility cycle of birth, growth, maturity, death, and decay…should turn continuously in place, so that the law of return is kept and nothing is wasted”

In this case what he meant was returning the energy taken from the soil in the growing process. In the wild this cycle happens naturally, plants grow, the are diverse having many different plants in the one area (and you see this in the arid desert to the lush rain forests). And then plants die, feeding back into the soil as they rot and decay. When you farm, you plant the same crop over a patch of soil, then you pull the plants up. Current practices match this cycle by planting different crops in the same soil over different times in the year. Why do we do this, for the simple fact that different plants take and give different nutrients to and from the soil. This is why so many different plants do survive quite nicely in a small patch of soil in nature, in gardening this is called companion planting.

Current farming practices don’t really support this natural cycle, so we have used chemical fertilizers and industrial ways of recreating this natural cycle, as a way of feeding the soil. Different farms and farmers do it in different ways, some good, some bad and I am never going to even pretend that I know much about it, or in how good or bad these different techniques are. However one of the interesting observations made by the author of the book was that as the area where this test farm was went through drought, it was the only farm that had a good crop. They had managed to look after the natural soil condition enough that less water was needed for the plants to thrive. To me this was a really good example of just how powerful the cycle of life and the law of return is.

Image courtesy of amenic181 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Learning how to practice when you don’t know what you are doing.

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This is an interesting topic that a lot of people struggle with, especially when you are learning remotely and from books. I see it so many times when the students I am tutoring come to the actual ‘doing’ parts. After all, how do you know if you are doing it right when you have never don’t it before, or seen someone do it? And then to top it off, there is almost too much information out there.

Take a simple thing, or what should be a simple thing, doing a ritual. When you have never done one before it can be a daunting task. So you look to websites and books to get an idea of “how” you should do a ritual and “what” you should do. Only to get completely bombarded with so many different ways to do one and a lot of it conflicting.

A ritual should preformed outside, a ritual can be preformed inside, a circle needs to be 9 feet wide, a circle can be as big or small as you need, the elements go in these directions, no hang on it depends on what is around you, or what side of the world you are from, you do the circle, once, or maybe three times, you go clockwise, or is it anti clockwise, do you open the circle or not, you need to be skyclad, or you can wear cloths just not jewelry, you need to dress up as much as possible and look fantastic, hear out, hair up, you need all the tools, you need no tools, and on, and on and on.

And in amongst all of this the reason behind why you wanted to do the ritual can get well and truly lost.

So here is what I tell my students. Keep it Simple. Read up on a few different ways, think about them. Ask yourself what appeals to you, what do you want to try first to see how it feels for you? There are some basic elements or structures that are good to follow. Building a circle by walking around your space (with either your finger or athama or wand) visualizing the circle space building around you. Calling the elements in some way. Inviting the Lord and Lady into the space. Doing the ritual work and the reason that you wanted to create this space in the first place, which could be a simple as just wanting to communicate and spend time with the elements and/or the Lord and Lady to some form of complicated Magick, or anything in between. Sharing some Cakes and Ale, Saying good buy and thank you to the elements and the Lord and Lady. And though not everyone does this, I like to open the circle space again by walking the opposite way around the circle space (again with finger, athama or wand).

These are basic building blocks and from there it is try, try and try some more. Put the elements in different directions and see what works for you and your relationship with the elements. Do one that is clockwise, then next time anticlockwise and see how both feel to you. Think about how you want to be in the circle, how you want to present yourself in this space. Rituals can be very personal things and they do require some thought and planning, at the same time they can be very spontaneous.

And probably one last note, you can also trip over, stumble on words, forget what order you were going to do it in and get it back to front, burn things, drop things, head go blank, and have all sorts of Opps moments. The Lord and Lady are not expecting you to be perfect, after all they see you every day and know all your inner darkest secrets and all your bad points, and they love you anyway. When you drop the scared candle on the rug that catches fire in the middle of a ritual, they are going to completely understand that you are going to stop every thing and put the fire out.

So when it comes to the ‘doing’ relax,breath, keep it simple and most importantly, enjoy it.

Image courtesy of bandrat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What is it about trees?

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I had a really big conversations with a few people about trees recently, and how important they are to me and as it turns out to them as well. Trees seem to follow me around, or is it that I just pay extra special attention to them when they cross my path?

One of the most recent conversations was about Yggdrasil, the life tree and how this tree represents the whole of life from the smallest being to the whole universe. Yggdrasil is not a simple tree. Its roots go deep into the under worlds, its trunk is strong and solid, and its canopy covers the entire universe. The tree is so big that it actually requires a messenger to carry information from the roots to the canopy. The tree is strong and powerful, and at the same time has it weak spots as the tree is continually damaged by other elements, this damage is constantly being repaired.

For me this whole story talks about life in general. Life is not straight forward and though we are all strong in our own ways, there is always stuff out there that puts dints in us. These dints that we need to continually repair and work with. After all not one of us is perfect. And just as with the tree of life you don’t really get to see this damage until you start to look closer, from a distance the tree looks amazing.

I think every time I see a tree I see the whole image of life, the good, the bad, and the wonderful. I see the Majestic Red River Gums that stand twisted and firm, living through temperatures from -5 to 45 degrees. Living though constant low rain falls, and the magnificent floods. Getting twisted and turned from the winds and birds and other elements. I see the amazing Desert Oaks, which grow down and down into the deep soil and sinking their roots into the water table before they ever grow up. I see the other desert trees and plants and wonder at their strength and also their fragile existence. They are very hardy, and at the sometime they are so well adapted to living in the arid zone, if the conditions change to much they may not have time to adapt to the new patterns.

And I see the people I work with who all have trees running through them with out me even knowing it when I met them. Many of them have something on them either tattooed or they carry and item that represents the tree of life. My own coven has trees imbedded through our structure and even our name. My own business has found a home at a clinic called the “Medicine Tree”.

Trees really are something special.