"Your path is to be shared...It will be called The Golden Thread Road"
~White Buffalo Calf Woman

Friday, September 11, 2015

Alandria's Tree

I recently had an appointment with a mentor of mine, and though the conversation itself I will keep close to my own heart for the moment, something happened immediately following this meeting that is well worth recounting.

There was much to ponder and integrate after such a fruitful, dynamic talk, and thus I felt myself drawn to the trees, the best folk I know of  for bearing silent witness and holding sacred space. I found my way to a little wood overlooking Puget Sound -- A wood who's existence I wasn't even aware of until a friend mentioned it in passing not long before.  So here I was exploring the trails of this magickal, little wood, searching for a place to sit and ponder.  

For a brief time I perched in the low branches of a tree that had beckoned to me, where, nestled in her fork, I dozed against her trunk. This was not the spot, however. It was right alongside the main trail, and I'd already gotten strange looks from a man who passed close by, yet who refused to meet my eyes. 

Off I set deeper into the woods, further off the main trail, feeling as though there were something calling me. Joking to myself about my "Holy Quest" as I navigated the narrow dirt path over logs and under branches, I stopped cold as I crested a short rise in the trail. I believe my mouth hung open as my heart almost burst from my chest. "No!" I thought. "It can't be!" Yet my racing heart told me it was true. Before me stood a tree, that, though my physical eyes had never fallen upon it, I knew very well.  This was the tree of Alandria!

Who is Alandria? Let me fill you in...

A couple years ago I took a workshop with Tom Cowan, one of the leading teachers and experts in Celtic Shamanism, on Faery Doctoring.  The workshop revolutionized the way I looked at the world and added a whole new dimension to my shamanic understanding.  It was like the Cosmos was already perfect and complete, when suddenly someone cries out, "But wait! There's more!" and opens a door you didn't realize was there, revealing an entirely new world next door to the old world that you thought you knew. It was literally like discovering Narnia.

As the name suggests, it is working with the Fae to perform healings, which as it turns out, are very similar to Soul Retrievals. Parts of a person's consciousness may leave to avoid trauma, a process called 'Soul Loss' in Shamanism and 'Dissociation' in modern Psychology, and during Soul Retrieval, the Shaman finds these errant 'soul parts' and returns them to the person, giving them a better sense of wholeness.

The Fae, who live in the Middle World alongside us and whose job it is to balance the energies between their unseen world and our seen world, will sometimes step in during such cases of Soul Loss and bring the disconnected soul part of a person into their realm where, rather than remaining at the same age that it was when it detached, the faeries nurture the part to grow at the same rate of expression it would have, had it remained with the person.  The Fae treasure such things as creativity and joyfullness, so by nurturing these properties in the soul parts they gather, they help maintain the balance of energies, and benefit both their realm and ours.

From this you can see how the volumes of stories about abductions by faeries, changeling babies, and other tales have grown up through the ages.  But as humanity has evolved, so too have the Fae, and especially in current times with so many people even just beginning to ponder the possibility of the existence of faeries, their world and ours grow ever closer, as does the relationship between us, meaning that, in general, such measures as abductions are no longer necessary. And the Fae are willing to return to us those soul parts when the time is appropriate, and when we can adequately receive them back.  However, in order to maintain the energetic balance between the realms, there must be an exchange.  When they return your soul part you must give something in return.  "Aha!" You cry, "There's the catch! "  You can relax.  They aren't after your first born.  What they want from us is Strength, Beauty, Creativity.  Usually the exchange they ask for is that the person seeking healing, as well as the Faery Doctor facilitating the healing, sing something every day for a week, or draw, or paint, or something similar -- Things that not only give them more creative energy to work with, but that improves us and raises our own vibrations as well.  It's a win-win situation.

So, because the Faery realms are not our home, at least at the moment, just like we require spirit guides for navigating the spirit worlds, we require advocates and helpers for the faerie worlds as well.  Enter Alandria.  In the aforementioned workshop we needed to make contact with our personal liaison to the land of the Fae, and as I was to discover, Alandria is mine.

Above is a drawing I did of Alandria as an exchange for a Faery Doctoring session when she requested that I make a drawing of what she looks like to me.

My other Faery guide, Eocharin, who appears as a two foot tall version of an extinct Irish Elk, is the one who led me to the tree, in a shamanic journey, that is the portal to the land of the Fae where Alandria lives.  My signal to her that I am there is to jump up and down on the ground three times.  Then Alandria appears, sometimes through the gap at the bottom of the tree that grows big enough to step through, or by simply unzipping the bark.  

Though I was told from the beginning that I would find this tree in the 'real' world, I had forgotten about it, and had no longer been scouring the woods looking for it.  So you can just imagine my shock and elation when there before me rose, in solid form, Alandria's tree.

I jumped up and down three times to let Alandria know I'd found her, then I sat, leaning against the trunk for quite a long time in a contemplative, meditative state (perhaps dozing off a time or two), taking in and processing the day's occurrences and the earlier conversation, with rare Seattle thunder rumbling overhead, adding an extra accent to the importance of my quest's completion.

And I sighed a sigh of gratitude for this increasingly amazing, unfolding path of mine.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Grandfather's Present

This morning on the way to work I was feeling a little off. I woke up a bit anxious, and despite a great, calming meditation session, some of the nervous energy was still clinging to me as I drove toward my day job.  At one point on my route, there's a corner that I turn where suddenly Mount Rainier fills the sky ahead of me, towering over everything. Even though this is a daily occurrence, it never fails to take my breath away, and I always greet Grandfather Mountain loudly and enthusiastically.

In my personal mythology, he is my Grandfather the way the moon is my Grandmother, which is something I adopted over the years from my exposure to both Pagan and Native American sources.  They look so similar in coloration and texture that it only makes sense to me that they are married.  In the twenty-something years since I transplanted to the Seattle area from Minnesota, I have developed a very personal relationship with Grandfather, and some of the best wisdom I've ever received I've gotten from him.  This morning was no different.

Because of my feelings of uncertainty, after saying my good-mornings to him, I asked if he had anything to share with me today.  The following is what I heard in the silence of my head --

"Breathe.  Even a great mountain does not stand on its own.  It needs the support of the earth beneath it and the sky above. You are here.  You are supported.  You are loved."

At first the "You are here" part confused me.  Then I realized that one of Grandfather's greatest messages, even without words, is his presence -- is being present. You are here, meaning 'you are present,' therefore you are supported by earth and sky.

So I began practicing presence -- the mindful presence of being grounded in my body rather than floating around in the mental/emotional realms.  "Own your space," as my friend Pixie told me once.  It is amazing how, when I allow myself to sink into my body, and be fully present in the moment, I really do feel supported... and loved.  It somehow seems ironic that it's when you let go of the world around you and focus on being your individual self, that you feel the most connected to everything around you. That connection is love.

Thank you Grandfather.  I love you too.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Grandmother's Tale

Last weekend I went camping with my girlfriend over in the Hoh Rain-forest, on the Olympic Peninsula on the Washington coast. It was a much needed break from the repetitivity of daily life, getting to laugh and talk, and just experience the awe of being among the ancient beauty and magnificence of the mountains and trees, as well as the rocky outcroppings scattered along the ocean shore. It was so healing on every level.

Being near Forks, Washington, the backdrop for the Twilight books and movies, I kept pointing out people and asking, "Vampire or werewolf?" Next we were commenting on the incredible creativity of the local powers-that-be for the names of the various beaches -- namely Beach 1, Beach 2, Beach 3, and Beach 4. Suddenly an equally creative sign, "Big Cedar Tree", zipped by us on the road, and my girlfriend immediately stopped, backed up, and followed the arrow on the sign. She had been to this area many times before and was showing me all her favorite places. This was one of them.

It really was a BIG cedar tree.  We walked around it in the silence of deep respect, then simultaneously reached out to touch her.  And I say "her" because almost immediately upon feeling the wood beneath my fingers and closing my eyes, I saw the image of an old woman with big rosy cheeks who smiled and asked to be called "Grandmother."

Shortly our revelry was interrupted by other pilgrims, so the two of us found our way onto a branch or root -- it was difficult to tell which -- where we just sat in reverence. After connecting with Grandmother I mentioned that I'd really like to journey and talk with her more.  I finally got my chance when we found ourselves once more alone, so I closed my eyes and sank into a light trance.  It was great to connect with her on a deeper level, but I realized I didn't know really what to say or ask, so in a spontaneous flash of inspiration, I asked Grandmother to tell me a story...

Once, long ago, Elk was happy.  Life was good and his medicine was strong, and because of this he watched his people grow in abundant numbers, spreading across their lands.  He also knew that to stay in balance with the earth mother, they would need to find new lands to spread their population.  Elk had heard promising stories of lands to the west, at the edge of the world where land met sea, so off he set to explore them, and the possibilities for the future. He walked very far, for a very long time, until even his great stamina began to lag, and he came at last to the ocean.  His thirst was almost unbearable, yet he found, amid some desperation, that he could not drink of the sea, so he wandered inland to slack his thirst.  His senses were dulled by his long journey and his great strength was waning as he sought unsuccessfully to find water. Even in his diminished state he marveled at the beauty of this land and how wonderful it would be for his people to dwell here, but what good is beauty if there was no water to sustain them? Finally he collapsed at the foot of a great tree expecting to breathe his last.  "Grandmother!" He pleaded to the tree, "Please! I am so thirsty! Help me!"  "Rest my child," Came the gentle reply. "Sleep now, and I will take care of you."  Elk needed no more encouragement to close his exhausted eyes and fall into a deep slumber.  And as he slept, Grandmother reached up into the night sky and summoned the rain beings, who fell delightedly to the earth.  Then Grandmother reached out with a couple of her branches, sheltering the sleeping elk's form and, at the same time, forming them into a bowl where she caught the rain water.  Then reaching deep into the ground with her roots, Grandmother drew up Earth medicine to infuse the healing waters which she held.  Elk awoke in the morning to the sound of water dripping from leaves and branches, and looked up to see this living basin emerging from Grandmother's trunk offering life giving waters. Without hesitation he drank his fill, feeling his strength and vitality return, mixed with the medicine of the Spirit of this place -- of Grandmother, of the earth, and of the sky. Having drank of this land, and thus becoming a part of this land, he instantly knew all the places to find fresh water and abundant food. And so it was that his people migrated to this area, where they flourish to this day.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Applying Torc

I recently took an online shamanic journey course with Sandra Ingerman and one evening's journey stood out from the rest. One of the reasons is the incredible timing of it, having happened just the night before a soul retrieval that a friend did for me, that was nothing short of epic. 

So this night's journey started out normally enough, if anything pertaining to journeying can ever be deemed 'normal.' Actually it was the 'new' normal, the origin point of my recent journeys having shifted from a beloved tree on the old Faerieworlds site to the High Falls on the Pigeon River in Northern Minnesota that I visited last summer. 

This was specifically an Upper World journey. We had done a Lower World journey the previous week, which was easy enough, simply diving into the water below the falls and following a blue iridescent tunnel before surfacing in a pool, that was just in front of the cave from which I used to emerge when descending through my aforementioned tree friend. But how, I queried, was I going to ascend to the Upper World from a water fall? My answer was quick in coming as Salomon, my salmon guide, appeared swimming up the falls. I jumped on his back and he carried me to the top where a rainbow arced into the sky. With out missing a beat, Sal continued swimming up the rainbow.  

I don't exactly remember the transition from my piscine friend's scaly back, but suddenly I was standing in the living room of my Upper World spirit teacher, Fred. I received a warm welcome and a hug, as usual, then Fred, with his ever present smile, asked how he could help me today. 

Our intention for this journey was to ask our spirit teacher to show us a wound that needed healing that we were unconscious of. Relating this to Fred, he reached over, without a word, and opened a drawer in the cabinet beneath his fish tank. His hand disappeared into the drawer and withdrew holding what appeared to be a strip of leather. "Here's your throat back after it was ripped out." 

I think I gasped, this being totally unexpected yet making tons of sense. He applied the leather strip to my throat as if it were an adhesive bandaid. He stepped back to take a look at his handiwork, and as I looked down, I noticed there was more than just the leather on my neck. The knobbed end of a torc rested on the right-hand edge of the leather bandaid, and from that point encircled the back of my neck to where the other knobbed end rested on the opposite end of the leather.

"And with your voice returns your authority!" Fred said with an extra twinkle to his smile. "Perfect," I thought as tears welled in my eyes. 

Recognizing my own authority has been a regular theme of late, and after being raised in an environment where it was not safe to speak one's truth, this was no small feat. So to be given this gift and recognition by Spirit was huge for me. And to receive it in the form sacred to my ancestors was simply sublime. 

In case my prior description was not descriptive enough, a torc is a band of metal, usually with a decorative twist, that is worn around the back of the neck, open at the collar with each end terminating in a metallic ball, sometimes in the shape of a totem animal. This was a Celtic sign of authority, royalty, and chieftainship. 

To honor this spontaneous healing I began immediately shopping around for a torc, excited at the prospect of having a physical component to what I received in spirit. I would have to be patient, though, as it would require some time to save money for such a hand-crafted item. 

In the mean time, as I walked past my altar one day, I looked down and was struck by what I saw.

Stretched across the front of my altar was the choker I'd gotten at Faerieworlds this past year. I had previously been hesitant to buy anything similar, not having Native American heritage, but this particular one spoke to me. Plus, I'd met and given a Medicine Card reading to the man who had made them, who happened to be the base player for a friend who performs at Faerieworlds every year. That seemed to make it okay. 

So I wore it proudly at Faerieworlds, but once I  returned to the mundane world, had trouble finding occasions to wear it, and thus placed it on my altar until the time seemed appropriate. Now I was looking at it in a new light -- This strip of leather that covers my throat.  My throat, the expression of my authority, was already sitting on my altar just waiting to be recognized and claimed. 

I still plan on purchasing a torc to honor my journey, but for now I have my choker to wear when leading ceremonies or classes. And it is amazing, and strikes me as strange sometimes, the element of authority that has somehow, unbidden, slipped into my voice when I speak now, especially things that afterward cause me to say to myself, "Where did that come from? I didn't know I knew that!"

Monday, February 2, 2015

Granny, What a Big Heart You Have!

I had spent the previous day in a wonderful class of Animal Communicator, Mary J Getten.  The class focus was on 'Animal Death and Spirituality' and it was a much needed reminder to me of keeping connected to the 'higher' realms beyond and within this limited physical reality. 

It was a breath of fresh air as my consciousness drifted up then broke the surface of this world, like a bubble rising to the surface of a pond and bursting free of the watery confines into the air where it belongs. 

I was surprised by how caught up in the dramas of day to day life I'd become without realizing it, so that I'd forgotten what it was like to connect to the bigger picture. And I was greatly relieved to find how quick and easy it was for me to reconnect again as if no time had passed since the last time my spirit was allowed to unfurl into its wholeness. 

I had found out long ago that I seem to have an easier time talking to dead animals than live ones, and so this class was great as I got to spend time with a woman's schnauzer, who had passed a few years ago, and impart some messages and lots of love to her former owner. I also got to connect with Truffles, a family dog from awhile back, and was delighted to find out that the footsteps I sometimes feel on my bed, usually when my cats are no where to be seen, are his. But the best thing I got from the class didn't occur until the next day. 

Mary has specialized in communicating with whales, in particular the orcas of Puget  Sound where she spent years as a naturalist on a whale watching boat. So yesterday I was sitting reading her book Communicating With Orcas: The Whales' Perspective that she'd written on her experiences with the orcas, specifically the matriarch whale of one of the pods who is known as Granny. I'm just reading, minding my own business, when I turn the page and a picture of Granny came into view.  I spontaneously felt this wave of energy wash over and engulf me. It was like this sparkly, electric excitement and love, and then Granny's head just appeared in front of my face (my eyes had already closed on their own accord by this time). I was speechless and didn't know what to say so asked if I could just hang out. I'm pretty sure she was laughing at/with me then, and I just kind of swam through her energy. Finally I thanked her and asked if I could meet her sometimes in my shamanic journeys and she said she's happy to do so. Her energy slowly receded as I continued to repeat the only words I could find, "Thank you thank you thank you..."

I opened my eyes again and looked around the Starbucks where I was sitting, and giggled at the fact that the other unsuspecting patrons hadn't a clue of what I'd just experienced in their midst. I breathed another thank you and blew a mental kiss to Granny. And I thanked Goddess as well for my life so rich with these deepening experiences. Life can be tough on the shamanic path, but moments like these make it all so worth while. 

Thank you Granny. Thank you Goddess. Life is so awesome!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Summoning Spirits

One night, a number of weeks ago, I was just getting ready to head out to Starbucks to work on a comic that, in the previous couple days, had burst across my mind in an explosion of inspiration. That course of action changed, however, with a sudden, and particularly unkind, knocking. That alone was jarring enough since I almost never get unexpected guests, but added to that was a gruff and equally unkind voice calling my name through the door. 

Hesitantly I opened the door and a man who looked as gruff as his voice asked, "Patrick Corrigan?" "Uh huh..." "You have a court summons. Someone has a lawsuit filed against you." Then tearing the top sheet of paper from his clipboard for himself, he handed me the balance of the papers and said as he walked away, "Have a nice day."

"...Thank you..."

Stunned, I retreated inside and slumped onto the couch.  I looked blankly at the pages in my hand, my spinning brain trying to make sense of what had just happened. Someone was suing me? Who would possibly want to sue me?! ...Oh.  ...Collections.

My medical bills have soared in the past couple years because of a pair of blood clots I'd somehow created. That situation has been resolved and I am no longer in extraordinary danger of another one, but still the financial residue lingers.  I have been focusing on the main bills from the doctors and clinics, so some of the 'side' bills, like lab work, really have gotten shuffled to the side.  Until now that is! Now it was at the forefront of my mind and I could feel old anxieties starting to creep up my spine and sit heavily on my shoulders. I began having flashbacks of the year that my ex-wife was going through cancer treatment (She fully recovered), and I was having multiple panic attacks a day because I was scared to death that I was going to go to jail because I wouldn't be able to pay the medical bills.

"Oh great! There's that fear again." Recognizing it and rationally countering the thought didn't do much to relieve it.  The hamster was still diligently keeping the wheel of anxiety spinning in my head.   

After spinning for awhile I realized I needed an outside perspective to anchor the proverbial snowball rolling out of control downhill through my mind, so I called my best friend. As usual she was able to help me feel better and gain a little bit of hope. The only thing was that she lives half way across the country from me, so once we hung up, though with elevated spirits, I was again alone. 

Deciding that this was not a favorable condition at the time, I texted a couple nearby friends to see if I could come hang out there for awhile.  They helped alleviate most of my fears and I calmed considerably when they finally convinced me I wasn't going to go to jail. Then one of them surprised me by offering to loan me the money. Wow! I suddenly had a way out!

I left feeling much restored, with a plan, or at least a worse-case-scenario, but there was still a background of anxiety about having to deal with the collection agency, whom everyone reminded me were souless, crazed animals just out for blood. 

I slept in fits and starts that night. Though I no longer felt absolute doom toward the outcome of this adventure, I still had to walk through the rings of fire and communicate with those blood-crazed animals. I had my doubts about whether I was up to the task, and these doubts buzzed restlessly through my nerves, brain, and emotions all night. 

I got up in time to call my day job to let them know I had something I had to take care of and that I'd be in later. Then I took advantage of that time to snooze for an hour after my restless night. Finally I mustered my energy, gathered all the pertinent papers and information, and with anxious heart prepared to make the call...


...What am I doing? 

...This isn't the shamanic way of doing things. 

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Everything has a purpose. Everything is a gift. This is not an accident. And as a shaman, I must approach everything from the standpoint of wholeness, non-duality, spiritual depth. Everything I do must be toward healing. Everything I do is ceremony.

...Ceremony! I get up and bustle about gathering various shamanic tools and patching together a makeshift altar. I lay out a piece of deer leather upon which I light the candle that I use for shamanic work that sits on my reindeer candle holder. I also light a prayer candle with a sticker printed from one of my comics -- a drawing of a stained-glass style "Saint Davy (Crockett)" with the prayer, "Keep me always mindful that my life is an adventure."

Then I place the court summons on the altar, blessing and thanking it for the opportunity to grow and bolster my courage and power. Next to it I lay my phone. Finally I light some sage, cedar, and lavender in my smudging bowl for clearing, protection, and calmness, respectively, and using a bird wing I smudge the space and myself with the cleansing smoke. I set the still smoldering concoction on the court summons then pick up my drum. I drum in the four directions, the upper world above my head, the lower world below my feet, and the compassionate spirits of the middle world where I stand. I ask all my guides and ancestors to be with me, and feeling the non-physical breeze of spirit, I thank them for their presence.

With sacred space set, I sit down in front of the altar, close my eyes, and breathe. I consciously drop from the chaos of my mind into my heart. I acknowledge and say a prayer of blessing and gratitude for whomever I end up speaking to, opening my third eye to see the divinity and oneness of this as-of-yet unknown person. I take a couple more deep breaths... And I call. 

I ended up speaking to a very pleasant and genuinely kind woman who listened patiently to my teary story as I just blubbered out my situation and my fears. If she were blood-hungry, she must have just eaten because there was no hostility from her whatsoever. In fact she was downright helpful and sympathetic. This was not the result everyone had predicted nor what I had previously been expecting. Through the entire call I had a mantra running through the back of my mind, "Thank you Goddess thank you Goddess thank you Goddess thank you Goddess thank you!"

When I hung up, I just collapsed back on the floor where I sat. "THANK YOU!!"  I thanked all the spirits who'd been there to support me as I released them along with the sacred space I'd created. And I sighed. A big, deep inhale followed by a long, audible, exhale that left me peacefully empty of inner turmoil. 

I accepted my friend's offer and paid off the debt, grateful for the experience and the revelations it had brought with it. I was also thankful for the deeper taste of compassion I now had for those who find themselves in such situations regularly.  And stepping into the New Year, I keep myself mindful that my every step is ceremony, that spirits surround me awaiting the invitation to help, and that my life is an adventure.