A Story Of Invasive Spirits

I sat down on the couch in the living room, talking to a client that we’ve worked with for a while now. It was her house that we sat in talking as her son played on the computer close by. He doesn’t speak much in general, and today is no exception. As we talk, I point my senses in the direction of why I’m there.

Her son’s room.

She had been having a rough couple of months, so life was already in upheaval. So, when her son stopped sleeping in his room, it didn’t much help. She tried to let him sleep there as she moved to his bed to get a little sleep herself. That didn’t last long, though. She woke up in a cold sweat, disorientated and afraid. She tried to finish the night on the couch. This pattern continued for a month or so. Her son would take over her room, refusing to sleep in his room. As I said, he doesn’t talk too much, so he could only share so much about why. She would be forced to stick to the couch. She tried her son’s room a few times, but it always ended up the same.

She wasn’t sure what was happening, she just knew that something was wrong. She gave it a little time to see if it would fix itself, but it didn’t. With life stress and health issues happening in both the lives of her and her son, mixed up sleeping arrangements didn’t make it to the top of the list of important things. Eventually, though, enough was enough.

Being the strong, self sufficient woman that she is, it took her awhile to mention it to us. It took even longer for her to let me stop by and see if I could do something about it. There was a chance that I might not be able to do anything, or the problem might not be something related to spirit work. I was free and in the area that day, though, so there was no harm in me trying.

I get the hesitation. She mentioned a few times “You probably think I’m crazy.” When entering a clearing situation, it is true that I have to be aware that sometimes it isn’t the space at all. Sometimes, it’s the people. Sometimes, it’s a personal issue, or a chemical imbalance in the brain. In this case, though, I wasn’t too worried. As I said, we had worked with this woman before. She certainly has a healthy skepticism and a no bullshit attitude that I really appreciate. Going into this situation, I was pretty sure that whatever the problem was, it wasn’t in her head.

As I sat there on the couch talking to her, I could feel the energy of the room. Something was definitely off. I wasn’t getting much more of an impression. Maybe there was something conscious there? Or perhaps it was just psychic gunk that had accumulated there. It didn’t much matter from that point. This was something in the realm that I work in and there was a possibility that I could help.

I broke out a candle and my smudge stick. I made a joke about how the neighbors would smell the herb blend and think that she was smoking pot as I gathered a bowl of water and salt. When I started to mutter over the salt and water while drawing signs in the air, she gave me a little bit of an odd look, but she let me do my thing. I appreciated that. It was the first time that I had done an energetic room cleaning in front of someone who wasn’t Josh. The flame of the candle was a little extra energy as I blessed, mixed, and consecrated the salt and water. Starting in her bedroom, I began to sprinkle the mixture in the six directions as I prayed a clearing prayer.

I use this often in our studio space and it works pretty well there. This was also the first time I had used this in a space that wasn’t mine. I could feel the minor psychic dirt release and dissipate as I went from room to room. The last room was her son’s.

I could feel the energy change as I entered the room. Whatever was there seemed to be comfortable there. My best guess is that it was a parasitic energy feeding on the health issues or the energy that arose from the rough hand they had been dealt as a family recently. Whether is was a person at one time or not, I don’t know. Whatever it was, it was something outside of them. It was not something that was in the heads of the son and mother. It was separate from them.

I continued my water sprinkling. I actually went through the room and the adjoining bathroom twice. The water starts clearing right away, but it takes a bit for it to fully do what it does. That always makes me a little jumpy. I then walked back to the kitchen where the candle and smudge stick waited for me. It was one of my homemade smudges, using Sweetfern, Cedar, and Mugwort harvested from the surrounding area. I use it in my work all the time. I took the candle with me as I circled around the inside of each room and then offered smoke East, South, West, North, Above, and Below. Once I had reached the son’s room, I could feel the water was doing its job. The smudge helps it and sort of seals it. I like how they work together.

Doing this sort of work can be difficult. I have to rely on my energetic senses and trust my intuition, Spirits, and my tools. As I left the house, I had a list of backup plans I could try if there was still an issue, as well as other folks that I could contact if it ended up being something that I couldn’t handle. My inner skeptic is always ready, it seems, to jump on the self doubt bandwagon. I also didn’t want to let this single mother down. I find that people get impatient quickly when you don’t have immediate answers.

The next morning, though, I got the text I was looking for.

Her son had spent the night in his room.

And, so far, he has been easily sleeping there for the past month.


I want to remind everyone that our Open House for our new space is this Saturday. Josh will be offering 20 minute readings. I’ll be handling the trick or treaters that will be about town for the Gathering of the Jack O’Lanterns event (there’s jack o’lanterns on the rocks in the river, a zombie walk, and a lot of community activities). I will also be manning our new metaphysical apothecary and store. There is an herb selection, stones and crystals, incense charcoal, pendulums, beeswax candles, Josh’s concrete creations, and more! If you can’t make it to our Open House, I will be holding store hours every Friday from 10 am to 5 pm.

Another exciting thing happening is my teacher Adhi Two Owls will be in the area in mid-November. She will be offering a workshop in connecting via shamanic work, as well as a presentation on what a shaman does. We are looking forward to hosting these events, and we will be sharing more information on Facebook as plans are solidified.


I hope October is treating you well, and you are looking forward to Halloween. I know I am.


Until next time


-The Green Mountain Mage


A Tale Of Hawks

I remember my first time trying out the art of shamanic journeying. I was a senior in high school, hanging out with friends after school. My friend Robin had been learning about different shamanic practices, and was sharing her experiences with me. We headed to a back storage room in our friend’s house, I laid a bunch of blankets to lay down on as she sat close by with her drum. She began drumming, and I tried to relax into the sound. I remember how hard it was. It didn’t help that our friend’s younger brother busted into the room a few times for some reason or another.

Something did happen that afternoon, though. I clearly saw the underside of a bird flying over me. We looked up what I saw in a bird book and I decided that the Broad Wing Hawk was the most likely candidate.

I don’t know how many years passed until I decided to research this hawk a little more. I did eventually look up the Broad Wing Hawk on a bird song website, and what I found gave me shivers.

For a little background, I live on old family land. My grandfather bought the farmhouse I live in sometime in the 60s. He lived on the Connecticut coast, but wanted a place to go to disappear in the woods for a bit to hunt. He found this run down farmhouse built in the 1850s on a dirt road that closed in the winter. It made the perfect hunting cabin. Eventually, my parents moved in, having a proper basement replace the cellar hole and arranging for power lines to be run down so we would have electricity. I was about twelve when we moved in. I was never really good at identifying birds when I was younger, but there were certain bird calls that strangely wormed themselves into my memory of home.

The Broad Wing Hawk was one of them.

I cannot remember a time that there wasn’t a pair of Broad Wing Hawks that lived in the forests surrounding my house. They’ve always been these strange guardians in my life that I never really knew were there.

Hawks are the messenger of the day. They have keen eyesight, which is ironic to me that I have them as an animal spirit in my life, as I have glasses. The connection to hawk isn’t about physical sight, though. It’s more about seeing the bigger picture. They are strong guardians. They travel south for winter. That travel lust, that longing for adventure is what I most strongly connect with when it comes to them.

I love my home. I always return home, as hawks always return to their summer nesting grounds. But, I love a good adventure. That’s part of my love of hiking. It’s an adventure to the top, a pilgrimage to the skies for those of us not blessed with hawk wings. Once you get to the top, it’s all wind, mountain spirits, and a better view of the world. For me, it usually coincides with a better view of life. The hike up is processing time, matched with time to connect to the land. At the top, the clear view of the land matches a clearer view of the situation.

I know. I wax poetic about the mountains often (when I’m not doing it about the ocean). It ties back into it, though, doesn’t it? Hawk and his fondness for a clearer view of life situations. This is why I love journeying. You can discover something as simplistic as the underside of a bird that you can’t identify, and, through exploration, meditation, and spirit-led discovery, you can still be talking about it years later.

It amazes me how this sort of work ties into everyday life. When I was exploring the shores of Assateague, in the midst of this mystical experience miles away from home, I noticed a feather sticking out of the mud on the bay side of the island. I walked over, picked it up, and gave it a good look.

Oh yes. It was the wing feather of a Broad Wing Hawk. Even miles away from home, hawk was still with me.

 

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You may have noticed the website has been reborn as Deep Earth Arts. It’s been an amazing (and amazingly busy) few weeks, but we’ve settled into the new space. It’s pretty awesome. We’d love for you to visit it! We’re having an Open House this Saturday. Live music. Prizes. All the things a good Open House should have.

You may have also noticed that the blog has been released on Wednesday. This isn’t an accident, or a product of procrastination. I’ll tell you all about it in my next blog. Which brings me to another point…

Josh wants to get in on the blog writing. So, he and I will be alternating weeks. Next Wednesday, he will be publishing his first blog entry. He’s a great writer, so you should check it out. I know I’m looking forward to seeing what he cooks up.

Finally, check out the calendar section on the website if you get a chance. I have an Herb Walk and an Amulet Making Workshop scheduled in July. If you’re around and you’re looking for something fun and maybe a little educational, sign up. I will also be doing a Reiki Clinic (with Josh) and a Shamanic Journeying group. Both are monthly and both are by donation. If you show up and have some money to put towards it, great. If you show up and don’t pay a cent, great. Just show up. Who knows? Maybe you’ll have a journeying experience that you’ll talk about years down the road…

 

Until the next time

 

  • The Green Mountain Mage

Offerings

I had a request to talk about offerings to spirits! So, let’s tackle that.

When one does work with other beings, it’s always a good idea to have some sort of exchange, or an offering of good will. When I hike, I like to make three offerings. One at the base of the trail, asking for a safe hike, one at the top of the mountain as a way to honor how majestic it is, and one at the end to thank the mountain for the safe trip. It’s certainly not a necessity. Most people just hike and they’re just fine. I think it’s more polite to offer to the mountain or trail, as well as it sets the mood for the hike. I’m not there just for a walk that I can do anywhere. It’s a pilgrimage, and the mountains are living beings to me.

When doing ceremony, offerings are an important part. Ceremony is usually to honor, or to ask help in something. If you go into that expecting that you deserve help for nothing, or just your presence is honoring enough, is a little short sighted. Offerings give us perspective in our place of things, that we are not the top dog that the universe bows down to. Instead, it creates a give and take.

In short, it begins a relationship.

I believe it’s an important part in communicating with things that aren’t necessarily considered as communicative… or, such as in the case of the mountain, alive. When I began to work with the drum, I was reminded to make an offering to the drum, to warm the drum to me. In the work that I do, everything is assumed to have some sort of spark of consciousness. How we interact with that spark of consciousness can change the way we act in the physical world.

When it comes to what you offer, I find that intuition can play a large part in it, as well as tradition. I usually stick to herbal offerings, but some people use coins, hair, or whatever their specific tradition calls for. We all know about the idea of animal sacrifice, something that has played a role in a lot of cultures. While definitely not something that is considered in our continent, it still does have a place in other parts of the world, where the animal is ritually done in, then eaten usually by the community. If you are a meat eater, and this idea rubs you the wrong way, you might want to take a moment and reflect on the non-sacred killing of animals that happen so that you may have a burger. There’s a lot of weight on that subject, though, and further discussion would take a blog or two on it’s own. I’ll say that I don’t have any animals I’m raising for meat right now, and blood seems to me to be a little too dark to offer to spirits I work with.

The offering I do often use is tobacco. It runs on the idea that tobacco has had its place as a sacred herb to indigenous folk, and the land recognizes it as something that is a sacred gift. People use cornmeal and sage for similar reasons. The intuition comes in when you add herbs to the mix. I had a surplus of Sweet Annie Herb a year back, and it felt right to add that to my offering mix. It had a pleasant smell, and it was something that I grew.

Another offering that I like is one of music, or spoken word. Even singing to a mountain, as silly as it might sound, can be a magical experience. It adds extra vulnerability, and one that I love to mix with an herbal offering.

There is also specific offerings to the spirits, plants, or land formations that you are working with. I was taught that it is traditionally proper to offer white flowers to water spirits. There are great cleansing herbs, like cedar, that are appropriate to offer to a fire. If I’m headed to a specific place to make an offering, I keep what I’m working with in mind, and try to feel out what that space would like. That can begin the conversation, and I like to think that the land appreciates that extra effort.

And that’s all I really have to say about offerings. I’m going to head out an enjoy the beautiful sun that’s poking through the clouds outside, maybe make a little offering to the spring that supplies our house’s water.

Cultivating gratitude for the sun and running water

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Circles and Community

I’d like to start off with an apology. I try to write blogs every week, and I missed the last one. Between my husband’s birthday, family stuff, and a major case of writer’s block, I couldn’t come up with anything. Trying to come up with a subject can be tricky from time to time. If you enjoy reading this blog, subjects you are interested in me tackling are always appreciated.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a magical community event led by my friend Stacey Doll. We created a central sacred space, did some yoga, did a little journeying, did a little chanting, and opened up. While I’m super comfortable being opened up to, I have a hard time opening up to others. There’s a certain level of being authentically there with a bunch of people that you don’t know that makes me uncomfortable. Unfortunately for me, I believe this to be an important part of my work. To help others, I have to be able to help myself, check in, and be aware of any issues that may get in the way.

I get in my own way a lot. In fact, that’s what my journey taught me that night. I won’t get into the weird symbolism of my subconscious, but I believe that Spirit was telling me a lot of the obstacles that stop me in my work are me. It’s one of those obvious things that I forget to pay attention to. I can be my worst enemy. Part of my work is finding those parts of me that are no longer useful, and leaving them behind.

One of the interesting connections that pop up in many Shamanic cultures is the dismemberment experience. In initiation, the spirits take apart the shaman to be in their dreams, then make them whole again. It’s representative of the spirits taking away all that you were so you emerge into the world as something entirely new. It’s a scary premise, but apparently an important initiation. It makes sense. As I said, I get in my own way. So, here I am, trying to leave behind the parts of me that get in the way.

What happens if you don’t face your own issues and make peace with them in this work? From what I’ve seen and experienced, one of two things. You slowly get off of the path of the shaman, or your issues start to get a little more aggressive in trying to get your attention.

I think that people sometimes think that this sort of path is all flowers and light. I heartily disagree. If you don’t face your shadows, ignoring them because they’re not pretty, or “high vibration” enough, they tend to come out for you. We can’t do the work with others without expecting to do the work for ourselves.

It’s not a once and done deal, either. I have a good amount of shit that I have to work through still, though happily less than what I started with. That’s part of the learning experience. Through working through your own stuff, you have a beginning blueprint on how to help others. Just a beginning, of course, because everyone has their own unique way of dealing with their blockages and trauma. It’s a start, though, and a point where you can feel compassion more deeply.

Another thing that came up due to this circle is the importance of community. I know I talk about that from time to time, but having a group to do a little magic with felt really good. My teacher has also been encouraging her students to begin creating community. So, I will be planning a few full moon fires when the weather gets warmer. It’d be nice to get out in the moonlight, fire and drums ready to make a little magic. I’ll keep everyone posted about those, as well as workshops that I plan on leading this summer.

I want to leave you all with a thank you. Thank you for being part of my community, for being interested in what I have to write, and being part of trying to make the world a little better. You are all much appreciated.

 

Until next week

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Sometimes, the work that I do is way less flashy than it is in the movies. People sometimes expect pyrotechnics and earthquakes. That’s just not how it works, though. I mention this because I had mentioned that I was doing a energetic cleansing of a building last Sunday, and I said that I was going to talk about it a bit.

There were no pyrotechnics. There were no earthquakes. There wasn’t poltergeist activity that left me dodging levitating furniture. It was a lot of me singing, praying, visualizing, and trying to communicate that it was time to leave the building.

Let me back up.

This building is an old mill building by a river that is now used by multiple businesses. From what I’ve gathered, the river plays a large part in directing certain spiritual energies and entities to this building, and the theme of a river doing this may be a reoccurring one. I know that the building was bought by another company in the mid 1800s, but I don’t know when it was built. It’s old, though. Being an old mill by a river gives it enough chance to have spirits of people who might have worked there, along with anything wandering the area that the river kind of pushed into there.

I’ve been in this building multiple times, and have always had the feeling that I was not alone. I could feel ghosts. I even tried to contact one once in a meditation class that was taking place there. I believe I did, but it was a long time ago and, as a lot of this work goes, I just wasn’t 100% sure.

Eventually, a friend who owns one of the businesses asked me to try and clear out the space. She was tired of the creepy feeling there, and was looking for a little good juju in the building. I agreed, with one caveat:

I’ve never tried to clear a building like that.

So, I checked in with my teacher for a little guidance, and we worked out a plan. She works a lot with BioGeometry, a system of dowsing and energetic working that was created by Dr. Ibrahim Karim. She helped me come up with something that I could place on the property to divert heavier, unhealthy energy that might be brought in via the river. So, I made a makeshift amulet of sorts out of a plastic pipe, marbles, and whatever else seemed like it worked. I know. It sounds odd, but I wanted to see how well it would work. I headed to the bank of the river to talk to it. There did seem to be a spot where weird energy was accumulating. Unfortunately, it was a sort of flood plain before the building. With the ground frozen, I couldn’t bury the amulet safely, so the next flood would wash it away. Instead, I placed it in a safe spot as close to the floodplain as I could put it, with plans to bury it late spring.

A week later was the day that I was to do the clearing. I woke up well before dawn, gathered my supplies, and headed out. My plan was to sort of ride the energy of the sunrise to help me clear the space. I arrived, felt around for light switches, and made my way to the center of the business that I was helping out. I set up my mesa, and sat to listen.

I could feel the spirits there watching me. I announced my plan as I gathered my drum and a bell and walked through the business, then the building at large. The place that I felt the most activity was the second floor. I was expecting to feel it in the basement, but it wasn’t that bad at all. Perhaps the amulet had already began its work. I drummed as the hanging bell rang, and I prayed for the space. I sang a little of a power song a medicine man once taught me when it felt really intense.

Returning to my mesa, I proceeded to try out a banishing ritual of the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn. I have to say, I’ve had better success with it in the past than I did in that moment. I imagine it’s due to the fact that it’s not a ritual I often practice. I then broke out my mix of sweet fern and cedar to smudge the place.

I rarely use my charcoal incense disks, as they burn for a while, and I feel that using them is an investment of time. So, when I tried to light the one that I brought, my inexperience shined brightly. It might have been too old, it might have been incompetence, it might have been both. I couldn’t keep the damn thing lit. Without it, my herbs would not be producing the cleansing smoke I needed. Muttering to myself that I knew I should have made a smudge stick out of these herbs instead, I continually lit the herbs to produce a meager smoke. It was a failure. I also noticed that the sun was rising quickly, and that this building was BIG! Between the size, the age, and the amount of spirits in the place, I began to feel overwhelmed.

In the end, I focused mostly on the business I was there for. I really had wanted to tackle the whole building, though. I ended it with the Sphere of Protection ritual that I often use. That had a stronger effect than normal. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, it uses elemental forces, along with energy from the planet, the cosmos, and a synthesis of those powers to bring balance. I could feel the balanced force (referred to in my tradition as the Lunar Current) moving through the beams of the building. That was the surprising success of that morning.

I recently revisited the building. The business does feel lighter, as does most of the building. There are still entities on the second floor, though. As someone who has taken on the responsibility of clearing this building, I want to try it again. I’ll go a little earlier next time, though, as well as figure out my smudging problem. It’s interesting that the biggest problems that got in the way were very mundane and boring. I’m okay with that.

I do have a little funny story to add to it, though. In the middle of the Sphere of Protection, I heard what sounded like a sudden hailstorm coming from the eastern side of the building. A little perturbed, I went to investigate, all while asking my spirit helpers to have my back. I opened the one door I had yet to explore to reveal….

A hopper for wood pellets. The sound was the pellets pouring into the heater.

And they gave me a little bit of a scare.

Next week, I’ll talk about some work I’ve been doing with personal boundaries, and some wisdom that I’ve found concerning them.

 

May your week be warm and enjoyable

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Where it all comes from

I usually have the subject that I'm going to write about in this blog planned out well before I begin writing. Today, though, I'm here at my step-son's track meet, utilizing some down time to write. But, about what? I know there are a whole lot of cool topics out there to tackle, but I'm not in a place to write about them.

Why? I think I'm feeling a little fatigue from the work.

This is, of course, not a complaint. I love the work that I do, and it's worth me feeling tired. It's just an interesting observation.

In my years of Reiki, I rarely feel a great amount of fatigue from doing healing work. After all, my work is to be a channel for Reiki energy, not to supply it myself. It's as I work more into different modalities, though, that I feel myself using energetic and mental "muscles" that I don't normally use. I'm beginning to feel the after "workout" slump.

It seems the shamanic work in particular can take it out of me. When using my rattle to reach a state of trance, the work I do in my trance and the emotions uncovered and experienced by both myself and the client can be tiring. I feel that way especially when I ride intense emotions with others. You know that exhausted feel after you've had a cathartic, ugly cry? Yeah, sometimes I feel that way after an intense session. Again, this is what I want. This is the work that I'm supposed to do. I've just had a full week of it.

It started with the rattle I began to make last week. I wasn't paying attention to the work as closely as I should have been. When imbuing something with power, it's best to draw that energy from something bigger than yourself. I was not. After I typed up the blog on the rattle, I noticed that I had dug into the well of my own energy without meaning to. Whoops. This can sometimes manifest in physical symptoms, as it did with me that evening. Nothing a little sleep couldn't fix, but it still messed up my plans for the day. 

Later this week, I decided to do some needed ancestor work. I rattled, and dug deep. I had some personal revelations and experiences that culminated in the message "Why the hell aren't you more focused on your work in helping people!" It made me face some of my insecurities and reasons why I hold back in this work. Not fun work, but important.

I catch my breath in time to do some work with clients, which led to a full day of rattling and journeying. It was good, but, wow, I'm feeling it today. 

I guess what I'm getting at is beware of the work of the healer. It's not always sunshine and roses. If it is, I suggest breaking through that. In the work that I do, it seems that the messier the session, the more healing it is. Part of finding healing is facing things that we don't want to face, and that can be exhausting. In the end, though, it's incredibly liberating.

Friday Night Rattle Making

Have you ever wondered what your younger self would think of you? That thought crossed my mind yesterday, as I thought of what a Friday night might have been in my earlier years. I wonder how my younger self would have responded to see how I was spending my Friday night: sitting on the edge of the tub with a few knives at my disposal as a I scraped away at a piece of deer hide, offering prayers to a deer spirit.

My husband has been partaking in a few learning experiences that have presented themselves to him in the realm of Norse trancework. He has been using recorded music to go into trance, but he has bumped up against some work where he needs to make the sound he uses to go into trance himself. He needs a magical sound maker.

He could use my rattle or my drum, but it’s better that he have his own. So, to help him out with this, I offered to make him a rattle. I could use the practice, and it would be more meaningful to have one made for him instead of just buying one.

The first step was to get the hide. I have a deer hide given to me by my sister-in-law’s brother about a year ago, and this was a perfect moment to use some of that. I trudged through the snow to get to the barn where it is. I sat with it, getting ready to take some off, when the spirit of the deer decides to reach out to me. He wanted me to know that he’s a little pissed that I haven’t taken better care of the hide.

I took the piece of hide inside, put it in a bucket of water, Borax, and salt, and make offerings to it. Working with annoyed spirits does not make a good sacred tool. The deer spirit is right, though. I didn’t clean it off as well as I should have at the beginning of the last summer, so it could be in better shape. In penance, I offered prayer and herbs along with the salt and borax to properly clean and care for it.

After a few days of that, it was time to start the actual process of rattle making. I took the hide to our tub to get a good look at it. The fur was still there, and that gets in the way of cutting, sewing, and muffles the sound of the rattle. The Wahl Show Pro Plus dog hair trimmer is the best thing ever in that situation. If it wasn’t for that, I would be cutting with scissors and scraping with knives all night.

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of handling wet hide, it’s not exactly pleasant. It is a great material, though, and being a local deer gave the rattle a connection to the area. It also makes one ponder their life choices as one scrapes any detritus off it while sitting on the edge of the tub on a Friday night. Hence the beginning of this blog entry.

After it was clean and ready, back to the bucket it went with a fresh batch of water. I made offerings to the water (white flowers and sea salt), the deer (tobacco), and the future rattle (a mix of sage and lavender), along with a little more prayers and thanks. I instructed Josh (my husband) to go and make an offering that seems right to him.

Fast forward to this morning. I took the hide out of the water, and cut out the shape of what could be described as a fully deflated balloon from half of it. I used the cutout to make the same shape with the other half of the hide. I broke out my leather hole punch, and begin ringing the outside with holes about half a millimeter apart (except for most of the skinny part of the balloon shape). After finishing both shapes, I broke out the thread. I usually use waxed thread or sinew, but I had neither. Doubled up upholstery thread it was!

The sewing is part of the magic for me. I like working in energy and intention with sewing. I see it as light that I sew in along with the thread, or the thread capturing certain words or phrases. As this is for Josh, I just put love into it. I keep on thinking about how much he’ll love it. I don’t want to affect the feel of it too much. I want it to feel wholly his.

I then lugged up this cauldron of sand we have. We have used it as a big ashtray before when we have large amounts of people over, and we want our smoker friends to have a place to put their cigarette butts that isn’t our lawn, road, or garden. It’s clean now, and I need the sand, so up to the mage room it goes. I started filling up the hide pouch with sand, tamping it deep in with a stick. As soon as I could fill it no more, I hung it up to dry. That is where the project stands now.

Once it dries, I will empty out the sand, and begin the process of finding the right sound for Josh. I have a jar of old Jacob’s Cattle Dried beans that I harvested years ago, and I’m sure they do not have a high germination rate. Instead, they should make a great sound in the rattle. If that’s not the sound Josh is looking for, we keep searching. He has to also pick a type of tree that he wants to make a handle out of, and preferably go find the perfect handle. We’ll attach it and seal it to the rattle head, once we have the right insides for the right sound. We’ll decorate it as he likes with leather, cloth, braids, feathers, paint, or whatever else he might want.

Once he has a rattle, he will have a tool to create a monotonous sound that he can use to go into trance. I’m feeling pretty good about the project, so I wanted to share with you a little bit of the process. After all that hide cutting, hole punching, intentional sewing, sand packing, and now blog writing, my hands are feeling a little tired. I’ll end the blog with this.

I think that my younger self would totally approve of my Friday nights. He was pretty weird, too.

 

Until next week

 

  • The Green Mountain Mage

A Tale of Rattles, Drums, and Hallucinations

In the Shamanic work that I do, one of the first things I learned from my teacher was to shake a rattle. No, not like an infant’s rattle (though I imagine you could use one, if you needed a rattle real quick). Something more like this. You take a rattle that makes the right kind of sound you’re looking for, and shake it until you start seeing things.

Okay. It’s a little more complicated than that.

When a healer is shaking a rattle (or drumming), they usually do so in an even beat, while channelling earth energy through their tool. The repetitive nature of the sound is to lull your mind into a different state (usually Theta brainwave state) to access more subconscious levels of the brain, as well as interact with spirits. It’s usually referred to as Shamanic journeywork. It’s a great healing tool, as well as a way to access knowledge not easily accessible to our conscious self.

I had heard of using sound as a way to access a sort of trance state before I took on my Shamanic apprenticeship, but I had only heard of people using drums. When I met my teacher, Adhi, I was surprised to learn that she used rattles more often. Her teachers had taught her that drums were for putting a person back in the body, while rattles were better suited for journeywork. Not that drums can’t have the same results, it’s just the two different tools have very different energy. So, I began to practice with what I found in my house's pile of musical instruments. I remember the first time I brought the tools that I had been using to Adhi’s. She did her best not to laugh at the cheap maracas that I had found. They were quite ridiculous looking, but they did the trick.

My first real rattle was the one I made on Assateague Island with Adhi and a handful of other participants. I was looking for a deep sound. What I made had a sound reminiscent of a box of quarters. Again, it did the trick, but it was not soothing. Eventually, I decided it was time to make another rattle with a more gentle sound.

I began with a goat rawhide Adhi had gifted me. I made offerings to the spirits in the water that the rawhide soaked in. I went to my Burden Tree, another part of my Shaman work. She’s a maple tree that is over one hundred years old that I work with to balance myself and connect to nature. She had lost a small limb, from which I cut, shaped, and sanded a handle. I stitched my rattle head from the now pliable rawhide. Once that was fully formed and dried, I poured kale seeds from a second year plant that I had grown in my garden. I sealed them together, tying them with the four colors I use to represent the four elements. It had a great, gentle sound. I loved it!

Within a week, I accidentally dropped it and stepped on it.

While still sounding great, it has a “unique” look. The beat up look has yet to discourage me in its use in healing work. It’s one of my favorite go to tools, unless I need to use a tool to move out blockages or dense energy from a client. Then, I resort to my loud sea rattle from Assateague.

Usually, journeywork is done by a client while the practitioner rattles or drums. When I do my daily rattling practice, I am aiming to go deep enough that I do see things that I can’t normally see. It’s been years of practice, and I just recently started seeing things while my eyes are open. When I have a client on the table, I can also use my rattle as a way to move energy. While I can (and have) done energy work without tools like a rattle, it does make the process easier.

And that is my rattling practice. If you ever have a session with me and you hear me break out my rattle, now you know what I’m doing.

 

 

Have a beautiful week. Stay warm.

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Cutting The Ties That Bind

This has been an interesting week. Between Josh (aka “The Rune Goon”) doing a bunch of readings for people, and a handful of clients coming my way for healing work, we’ve been busy in the esoteric world. In fact, the joke that Josh and I had going that he lays down the hard truth and I do the work to help them deal with what they’ve learned seems less like a joke. A Rune Goon and Green Mountain Mage tag team? Seems like there might be something there.

I had the privilege to work with some amazing people these past few days. Interestingly, the work all seemed to have a common theme: unhealthy energetic connections. People in this line of work refer to these connections as cords, and that’s what I’d like to talk about today. We all energetically connect to others. That’s part of daily interaction. We talk about people opening up to us when they start really sharing where they are at, and that is exactly what is happening energetically. You’re opening up to another person’s vibes as you share yours. Opening isn’t an unhealthy thing. It’s super important to us as social mammals. We thrive on healthy energy exchange!

Energetic interactions can become unhealthy when there is an unfair exchange. We can unhealthily lean on someone. These people leave you feeling drained after every interaction. They talk about their problems without looking for a way to fix those problems. They just want your compassion and, usually unknowingly, your energy to replenish theirs. They leave the conversation feeling great, while the person they engaged feels wiped.

There is the other side to this coin. Unless a person is very good at taking your energy, they didn’t take it without some sort of consent on the giver's part. That’s usually someone with a big heart and with a knack for empathy. They feel the pain the other person is experiencing and, in an effort to help “fix” the person, they open up and give of themselves. Neo-shamanic practitioners talk about giving away pieces of your soul. I don’t know if you can give away your soul, but you can give away energy that you need for yourself. The thought that the person you are listening to needs it more than you is almost a subconscious thing. This is not true. It is also not helpful.

By the way, I used to be one of those people. I think that it’s an easy trap for people sensitive to the energetic exchange to fall into. In the end, though, it doesn’t do much to help the other person, and just leaves you unwhole and unwell.

Being in the role that I’m stepping into, it’s true that once a client steps into the room we are doing work in, it ceases to be about me. It’s all about the client and the spirits for the allotted time. My work is to open up my client so we can find what needs work. There is also an unequal energy exchange, though not unfair, as this is part of the process the client has signed up for. The difference is where the energy is coming from and the end point of the work. In Reiki work, we are taught to channel energy. That skill has been reinforced in my life with my ceremonial work. Tools, such as drums and rattles, also help me move energy without depleting myself. In fact, I often feel on top of the world after a session, as the energy nourishing my client is also nourishing me. Also, at the end of a session, I try to give my client homework. This is putting the ball back into their court, and reinforcing that we are our own healers. It is also part of cutting any energetic ties created in the session. I can ride the emotions with you, but at the end of the allotted time, they are yours and not mine.

Talking about energetic ties brings me back to the cords that I spoke of at the beginning of this blog. Sometimes, a strong, unbalanced relationship can form. When there is a repeated unbalanced interaction, it can create an energetic cord between people. This link feeds a person while draining another without the two being in the same room. A good energy healer can feel these cords on their clients, and sever them. Unfortunately, sometimes those cords are recreated the moment the client leaves the healer (why homework and post table work discussion is so important).

These cords, in rare cases, can also be consciously formed. There are people out there who are willing “energy vampires” and justify to themselves taking people’s vitality from them to use for their own purposes. You’ll know when you meet one of these people, and they’ve attached to you. You’ll feel drained and just weird, wondering why you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck. If a person is making you feel like that, it’s best to cease interaction best you can with that person, and have strong energetic boundaries when you do interact with that person. It might also be helpful to head over to a healer you trust, and talk to them about it.

These cords are also something that you can feel out and fix yourself, with a little bit of visualization. Do you remember the elemental cross I was talking about a few blogs ago? A simplified version changed to deal specifically with cords follows:

Stand and breathe. Still your monkey mind. See the sun (or the light of God, or whatever celestial source of good juju you work with) in your mind’s eye shining bright above you. See a light descend. Pull that light into your head. Pull it down to your solar plexus (or heart, if that feels right to you). Light pools at the chakra you’re working with as the beam of light continues down to the heart of the earth. Feel that pool of light at your solar plexus or heart strengthen and expand past your body. Any cords attached to you is severed from your body by the expanding light. Soon, that light has enveloped you, moving any bad juju away from you. See those cords detach from the other person (no need to even visualize who it is, they’re just some shadowy figure in the distance). Offer it to the light above or the earth, whichever feels best. Know that is will be recycled by whatever you just gave it to. The sphere of light you are in is moving about you, moving all unbalanced energy around and away from you.

The easiest way to deal with cords is to not let them form. It can feel good to be needed, and I think that is part of the reason these cords are formed. Helping people is a good thing, but helping them stand on their own two feet is even better. You cannot pour from an empty cup, so create safe boundaries for everyday interaction. If you are feeling drained by a situation constantly, there are boundaries that need to be set. You can listen, and even experience emotions with others. That’s part of the work. In the end, though, don’t own it.

Hope this helps a little bit. With Thanksgiving coming up, the next week is crazy for me. So, I will not be posting a blog next week. Next blog entry will be up December 1st!!

 

Have a great rest of November.

 

  • The Green Mountain Mage

Keepin' Faith Alive

If you hadn’t caught my Facebook notification on the Autumn Equinox, I was down south in the Florida Keys for a week, helping my dad and my brother repair my parent’s place in the wake of Hurricane Irma. My dad’s place is pretty sturdy, so it survived the two feet of ocean that flooded it relatively well. He was lucky. Others were not so lucky. There were people in the area who had lost everything.

The islands were covered in the wreckage of everything that the wind and waves could grab. Add a film of sea silt and organic matter, and you can get a picture of what our surroundings were like. The power was slowly being restored, and the water was running, though it was under boil advisory. Anyone who didn’t have the money to have a house built higher up had to gut their houses. Each place on my dad’s road had piles of furniture and sheetrock waiting for the town to go through and move it. It was a mess.

As I worked there, sweating in a house without any power, I mulled over how the Keys seemed to be a place where humanity didn’t really belong in the way that they are there. All fresh water is piped from the mainland. The sand for beaches is shipped in to cover the petrified reef that the islands are naturally formed from. It all feels slightly artificial. That mixed with climate change, all the work that we were doing felt a little senseless.

I talked to my teacher Adhi about the way that the trip had affected me, and she proposed that I do a fire ceremony to help transmute the grief of the people on the island, as well as for the islands themselves. As someone walking a path towards being a shaman, dealing with grief and finding ways of helping others express it are jobs that I am to take up. Along with helping a friend and her clients dealing with the grief of a big change in her business, this was the perfect time to experiment.

The first part was making the fire. Once it was going well, and I had all the kindling and wood that I would need to keep it going, I began to rattle around the perimeter of the fire, as well as smudging the space with cedar. I made offerings to the East and Air, South and Fire, West and Water, North and Earth, Below and the Planet, above and the Sky, and to the Fire and the almost Full Moon. I called in the four elements to bless the space and the work, as well as the currents of power from the Planet, the Sun, and the Moon.

I then made an offering of rue to the fire. I had been taught that rue pulls heavier energetic entities into it, so I had hoped that I would be able to use it like that to draw grief to the fire. I’m not sure if burning it cancelled that effect out, though. That part is still in experimentation. After that, I rattled, sang, and prayed. I know that this is a little less than specific, but at that point I was just following what felt right. I dug into myself to find any grief that I may be carrying about the destruction in the Keys, or my friend’s life change. After that, I sang to pull grief away from the people I was holding ceremony for to be transformed in the fire.

Fire is such a helpful tool in ceremony. It lends its own energy to the work. It can act as a portal to send away negativity, or even as a tool to transform it (such as I was trying to do in this ceremony). While such ceremonies can be done with the people you are holding the ceremony for far away (using yourself as a point of connection between the people and the fire), I find it far easier to have the people actually at the fire.

I think that I helped alleviate a little pain with the ceremony. I know that my friend seemed lighter about her life transition, and my emotions that I carried from seeing people in suffering had lightened. I hope that the ceremony helped the Islands and the people there, as well. Ceremony shouldn’t be where help ends, though.

We’ve had many tragedies around the globe recently. It’s easy to “send thoughts and prayer” (though I feel that sometimes people feel that just typing that on social media is enough), but skip the next step, which is work. As I first learned Druidic ritual, it was always emphasized that action should be taken as soon as possible after magical work to create the change that the ritual had begun. It only begins in our consciousness. The next step in the work is action.

Ceremony serves as a way to process emotions, reconnect, and inspire. These things alone cannot solely help a situation. Churches that pray for the poor, but do nothing help their situation are rightfully ridiculed. The same goes for people of a spiritual persuasion and any disaster or tragedy. Ceremony is important. So is food, clothing, water, and other necessities. Hold sacred space for those in need, but don’t forget to help, or donate to those who are in a position to help.

The Bible says “Faith without works is dead” and I must say that I agree. We are the meeting place of spirit and the material world. We must create the change we want to see. Positive thoughts aren’t enough. Even when all we can do is ceremony, bringing that ceremony into this world takes work. Change isn’t free.

I’ll be doing ceremony for Puerto Rico soon, but I will also be finding a way to donate to a group there helping out. How will you help the world about you, magically and otherwise?

 

Until next week

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Mountain Myths

Last Tuesday, I celebrated my 33rd birthday by tackling an 8 hour hike looping over Mount Lafayette. It became pretty clear how out of shape I was about a half an hour in. An hour and a half in, I caught passing fellow hiker’s worried glances as sweat poured down my face and I gasped for breath. I probably looked like I was close to dropping dead. It’s a little bit of personal karma for bringing friends on the exact same hike when I was far more fit, wondering why they couldn’t keep up. That’s a different story, though.

As I breached treeline on Little Haystack Mountain, I knew that the physical discomfort was worth it. The breeze met me, along with a 360 view of the mountains surrounding me. On the other side of the mountain lay forests and mountains all part of the Park, some of which rarely sees humans. To my left was the ridge I would continue to Mount Lincoln, then Mount Lafayette. To call it stunning is an understatement.

When you get to the top of mountains like this, the sense of sacred space envelopes you. As I traversed the ridge, all I could think was “Here! This is where my Gods reside!” For me, it is a mixture of the spirits that live on the mountains, and the mountains themselves. As I summited Mount Lincoln, I had five minutes where there were no other hikers, so I took my rattle out of my backpack and played to the mountain and its spirits. I felt them come to the sound, curious and numerous. As I noticed a few hikers approaching, I gave an offering of tobacco and other herbs in thanks.

I believe the act of offering before, during, and after the hike is an important one. First, gratitude to the mountain for letting you safely travel on it is important, as well as offering gratitude for all the people hiking on it that day. I make offerings to anything that strikes me as something needing special acknowledgement. I make offerings to the mountain at top, as well as to any spirits that speak to me. I make offerings at the end of the hike. This turns my hike into a ceremony for me, where I am interacting with the wild forces that I pass by and upon.

Mountains have quite the history in myth and sacred landscape. Perhaps partly due to mountaintop’s inherently wild and dangerous nature, they have long been the home of deities. Mount Olympus in Greece is one of the most well known examples of this. One does not have to travel to Europe to find mountains with sacred myth, though. Mount Katahdin in Maine was held by the Abenaki as the home to Pamola, a powerful bird spirit with the head of a moose and the body of a man! He was not a fan of people climbing his mountain, so they generally steered clear of the mountain top.

Another mountain known as a sacred space is Mount Washington. Mount Washington resides in NH, about an hour from my home, and holds the title of the tallest mountain on the east coast. The Abenaki believed it to be the home of the Great Spirit, and generally left it alone. Then, white folk came along with very different ideas on how to deal with this rocky behemoth. This famous mountain now sports an Auto Road, a railroad, a weather tower, and a few other buildings.

The story of the mountain’s sacred nature could have been due to it being the biggest mountain for miles and miles. It could be the fact that the mountain is known to be the home of some nasty weather. There are often casualties on the side of that mountain of people who were not prepared for the kind of weather they were about to face, or people who suffered the type of accidents that happen on a large steep mountain. Perhaps the stories of spirits were just warnings that the mountain was generally unsafe. The stories didn’t end with the development, though.

There are fascinating ghost stories that I’ve both read and heard. Stories of lights and voices where they shouldn’t be. Stories of feeling watched. Some of the stories even have a more malevolent edge to them. People have attributed these stories to the ghosts of folks who had died on the mountain, but I believe it to be something bigger than that. I believe these stories to be about a mountain spirit that really isn’t into people being in its space, especially without permission. This doesn’t take away from the sacred nature of the mountain. It does mean that, when I get back into hiking shape and hike Mount Washington, I have a lot of gratitude work to do with it.

An interesting book that touches on the nature of mountains and shamans is “Masters of the Living Energy” by Joan Parisi Wilcox. It’s about her experience with Q’eru shamans of Peru. These shamans derive their power from Apus, mountain spirits. Their relationship with the Apus as well as their sacred bundles, their Mesas, is incredibly interesting. I suggest you give it a read if you have the chance.

In other news, the creation of my Rune sets are coming along. I’m aiming towards getting them in the store soon, with some new herbs to follow.

 

Until next week

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

How I Met A Sea God

It was the middle of the night, and all I could think about was that one of the other campers on the island were going to come over to our site, thinking that someone was dying, the screaming was so loud. To this day, I’m surprised no one did. We were gathered around a woman who was weeping and wailing, and we would have had a hard time explaining what was going on to anyone who happened to be checking out what was happening at our site.

Let’s back up a bit.

On the first or second full day on the island, Adhi had made little beeswax disks for each of us. She told us to work any negativity that we’re trying to get out of ourselves into our beeswax throughout the week. A good tool for me, as I had some rough resentment issues I was trying to let go of. Whenever I wasn’t working on my rattle, mesa, divination bag, divination practice, prayer braids, or general work connecting to the island, I would be squeezing and reforming that beeswax, trying to work in all the negativity I was carrying. This practice would stay with me the entire week. I’ll speak more on that later.

One of the activities that we were supposed to be doing on this weeklong workshop was to work on journeying every night. If you are unfamiliar with Shamanic Journeying, it is the practice where one attains a Theta brainwave state usually using using to the repetitive sound of a drum or rattle. The Theta state is where we dream. When journeying, it is a conscious dreaming where we direct what we are doing. This is a tool to explore your inner landscape, as well as using it to project beyond yourself, or to interact with spirits.

This didn’t happen for the first few nights. There always seemed to something else to be done, or the weather wasn’t cooperating, or Adhi had something different in mind. Later, she would tell us she had been waiting for us to get used to working with each other, as she felt someone would have a sort of breakthrough when we finally got to the journey work. Without a sense of safe community, we wouldn’t be able to go very deep.

We did try the night before. We were all in the big tent and Adhi broke out her rattle. It was a good experience, but the tent was cramped and I don’t think a lot of us went too deep into our psyches that night.

The next night, we went to the beach. We laid down in a row, heads towards the water. “Journey into the water. See what you can find there.” said Adhi. She started rattling as we laid there, eyes closed, listening to the sound of the rattle mixing with the ocean waves…

Twenty or so minutes later I sat up, startled and disoriented. As I remembered where I was and who I was with, I tried to recall what happened. I hadn’t fallen asleep. It felt different. Like I had just lost a chunk of time. I could vaguely remember meeting something… something powerful… something so much more than I am that it was terrifying. It felt as if I had bumped into something that my brain couldn’t handle, so it didn’t.

The group shuffled back up to the campsite and sat down around the picnic tables. Adhi chuckled as she shared that she had seen beings coming up from the water to us, spirits meeting us halfway. She began asking folks about their experience. I sat silently, feeling strange and on the edge of some overwhelming emotions that had been buried somewhere deep in my subconscious.

Adhi came to one lady in the group, asking about her experience. The lady in question was a rather level headed woman who had done a little bit work with Adhi dealing with unresolved grief. She began talking about her journey, which ended up being less about the ocean, and more about wandering the world, looking for purpose. As she described what she had experienced, she began crying.

This is one of those points in my stay on the island that I don’t think I can do justice with my words. The most powerful events seem to elude me in description. We watched this woman unload all of this grief and hurt in a half an hour collapse of crying and screaming. There wasn’t much for us to do besides keep the space for her and allow it to all come out. It was deep, primal, and very real. Some prayed. Some held her. Some tried to ground all of the power that was flowing through all of us. And we all witnessed. As the woman on the ground worked through all of the emotions that she was letting go, some of it came out in gut wrenching screams. Somehow, none of the other campers came over to see what was happening. Maybe they heard and didn’t want to be involved. Maybe they didn’t. We were all so involved in the moment, not many of us would have noticed anyways.

After she had  out, she was limp and weak, but relieved. She had gone through some kind of rebirth. She would even swear she looked different afterwards, that she didn’t recognize the woman she saw in the mirror. We carried her to another woman’s tent so she wouldn’t be alone that night.

Once that was over with, and all had calmed down at the campsite, some of us briefly  talked about what we had just experienced before everyone returned to their tents. Everyone, but me. I still had unfinished business.

I had put the feelings I was working through from the journey aside when my friend had her release of grief and trauma. The experience from my journey was still there, though. It had left a silent gnawing inside of me. Thinking no one had the energy after the experience of that night to help me deal with how I was feeling, I decided it was up to me and the sea. So, to the beach I returned.

I sat there, watching the waves the best I could in the dark, listening to them break upon the shore. That’s when I saw it. Movement from the waves. The beings that Adhi had mentioned, coming from the water. A little freaked out, I continued watching and listening. Then, the figure of a man rose up from the waves. Not like a bad CGI scene in a b-movie where someone rises head first to stand on green screen waves. No. This figure crawled out and stood up, facing me. That was the point I went from a little freaked out to full blown fight or flight mode.

As I jumped out, about to run, I looked back. I didn’t see anything. I was using the sound of the waves to journey, and, in that state, I had connected to spirit. I decided it was time for bed.

The next day, we discussed our experiences. As I talked about what I had seen, Adhi asked poignant questions that somehow led me back to the sigil that I had drawn in the sand the day I had arrived. As I talked it over, I had an epiphany. I had an experience with Manannan Mac Llyr, the sea god I had made offerings to throughout the week. The realization hit me so hard, I began to cry like a fool. Adhi just smiled this ridiculous all-knowing smile as we moved on to the next person to talk about their experience.

The next morning, our final morning, we went out to the beach before sunrise where we built a sacred fire. Adhi pointed to the three logs making the main teepee for the fire, telling us it was a gateway to somewhere else. This was where we were to throw the beeswax, along with everything we had been filling it with. I meditated on it before angrily throwing it in. I silently stared out at the ocean.

As we left, Adhi took down the prayer flags which adorned her tent all week. She cut off two flags for each participant. In the center of each flag, a Wind Horse. A beautiful way to bring a little bit of the magic we had worked with home. Mine still hang from the porch of my old farmhouse.

And that was my Assateague Retreat experience with my teacher. For those of you who have not had journeying experience, it isn’t normally this intense. This was a week of work, in a magical place, under the guidance of an experienced shaman. Even when all those criteria are met, the experience still depends on the group, the time, and the spirits. I think there is a lot in this work that is simply out of our control.

What shall I write about next week? I don’t know yet. If there is a subject that you’d like to hear my thoughts on, please let me know in the comments section on the blog, or on Facebook.

 

Until next week!

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Rattles and Bones

The trick of the story is in the telling, isn’t it? And the story of my stay on Assateague is a difficult one to tell. I think most stories involving work with other realms can be hard to put into words. One almost worries that the importance of events is lost in the telling, because, really, you had to have been there. That’s a little bit of how I feel when it comes to this story.

Once we arrived, it was late and getting dark. Folks rushed out to help us put up our tents, fighting against the ocean breeze and the airborne sand. We squished together at the dining area to eat dinner and meet each other. It was lovely, and I wish I had been more present in that moment… but I wasn’t. All I could think about was the ocean.

I consider myself an ocean person. I love the feeling of it, the wild power. It’s this thing that is way bigger than me. It’s the womb from which life crawled out from. It’s wild, soothing, yet potentially dangerous. My dad and grandfather were both involved with the Coast Guard, and had a thing with the ocean themselves. I believe I come by it honestly.

Living in Vermont, my trips to the ocean are rarer than I’d like. That, along with a personal issue that I wanted to give to the ocean, made me antsy to get to the beach. At the end of the lovely meal, I rushed out there to be with the waves. I sat. I listened. I opened my heart. I drew a sigil for Manannan Mac Llyr, a Celtic Sea God that I work with (or, rather, he decided to work with me). The waves washed over the sigil and offering as I walked away to go to bed.

The next morning was figuring out how the week was to go. We would be making mesas, divination bags, and rattles. We would also be making a mesa for the campsite. I know I’ve mentioned mesas before in another post, but for those who may have missed it, a mesa is a sort of sacred bundle, normally a portable altar of sorts. The camp mesa was not portable. It was a community art piece that we made offerings to every now and then. Adhi kept the tobacco, cornmeal, and jasmine flowers close by so that we could go in our free time when we felt we needed to make an offering. It was all feathers, seashells, stones, and bones. Pretty impressive, but I am currently unable to find a photo of it. You’ll just have to take my word on it.

Between creative projects, we were encouraged to walk around the island and interact with it. I remember one holly tree that called out to me. I had never seen a holly tree. They don’t grow bigger than a bush up here, if that! It was the first being that really got to hear my new rattle. I still honor that tree with two leaves that fell from it that now live in the little mesa I made to bring home with me (which resides in the big mesa I use in my everyday practice). I rattled for it for about ten minutes until I was directed to go deeper into the woods. There was a lot of small magic on this walk (raccoon prints, bright red birds, and a raccoon skull), but the big magic was when I broke through to the bayside of the island. There was a herd of wild horses, grazing on the sharp grass.

I sat with them, and listened. They eyed me, but left me alone. I wandered the salt marshes until I came across the feather of a Broad Wing Hawk, an animal that I’ve worked with for years. It was magical to find one so far from home, where a nesting pair has always lived, even when I was a child.

There were all kinds of magical moments like that throughout the week. Things that might seem pretty basic and relatively unexciting perhaps to someone who wasn’t there. They weren’t as simple as that, though. This is where language fails me. The magic was there in the waves. The magic was there when I listened and was guided to meaningful items. The magic was there in the mesa creation. The magic was there with the rattles and the divination bags. With all the small things, along with the skills and knowledge that Adhi imparted, the weeks would have been amazing with just that.

It became a little more, though, when we started doing journeywork. And that part I will leave for next week. The story of bad juju beeswax, rebirths, snake magic, and sea gods.

A side note. Tomorrow, I am leading an herb walk in Littleton, NH. There is still room for others. If you’re interested, find the event link on my Facebook (or click HERE). All of the info should be there.

Have a safe Independence Day Weekend

-The Green Mountain Mage

Wind Horses

Well, I had planned on talking about masks, facial recognition, and masks as sacred objects. I seem to be unable to find an article that I planned on citing that talked about how our brains react to seeing oneself in a mirror wearing a mask. Instead, I fell down an internet rabbit hole of brain conditioning and how schizophrenics aren’t fooled by an empty mask optical illusion (an article and video linked here if you’re interested).

I decided that maybe I should break away from that.

Instead, I’ll speak a little more to experiential stories. I have talked about some of my recent work with one of my mentors, Sandy, for the past two blogs. Staying in line with that, I think that I will speak to a little bit of work I have done with my other teacher, Adhi.

I have been working with Adhi for about two and a half years, and have learned quite a lot from her. One of my most memorable times working with her was a trip that she led. We were headed down to Assateague Island off the coast of Maryland. It was April of 2015, and I was carpooling with a brilliant woman from Quebec down to the Old Line State. From where I live in Vermont, it was a 10 hour drive. 2 plus hours more for my friend coming down from Sherbrooke. My rather new friend, as I had not met her in person before the drive. A scary prospect at first, but we found we connected very well. We suspected Adhi had figured that it would work out, as she was the one who suggested that we carpool. This, and other Adhi coordinated plans, led a group of us to jokingly nickname Adhi “The Puppet-Master.” She found the joke funny the first few times, but I think that it is now a little much. If you’re reading this, Adhi, sorry/not-sorry.

After a very long drive, a not literal crash course for me in remembering how to drive standard in the snarl of New York City, giddy jokes about using date pits as divination tools, and discussions on English and French, we arrived at the bridge leading over to the island. The bay side of the island was thick with forest, the ocean side covered in shrubby bayberry and grass. A few wild horses grazed at the side of the road as we closed in to the campsite.

Ah. I’ve forgotten to mention what the island is rather famous for. Its wild horses. I’ll leave the story of how its herd of wild horses came to the island to your own research, as their arrival and survival is a story unto itself (click here for a link to the Wikipedia article on the horses found there), but it was part of why we were there.

The horses represented the Wind Horse of Tibetan Buddhism, carrying our prayers to the Upper Realm, while the wind off of the ocean reinforced that metaphor. And, wow, was it windy! Setting up my tent upon arrival was a little more trying than when I set it up in the sheltering woods of Vermont! I was excited about the more southern location when I was planning my trip, but I didn’t really take the ocean wind into consideration. I found out later in the trip that in a sheltered spot in the sun, it could be in the 70s, weather fit for shorts and a t shirt! Once away from your wind barrier, though, and layers were essential! It felt as if there was a 20+ degree difference! The colder weather may have made it a little more difficult, but there was a perk.

We had the island largely to ourselves.

Sure. There were other campers. You’d run into people every now and then on the trails. The beach was rarely shared, though. Of course, the fact that it wasn’t swimming weather might have had something to do with that, but swimming wasn’t the reason we were there. We were there to do our work with Spirit.

I credit that trip with readying me to do my Sit a few weeks ago. The nights were cold, and my sleeping bag was not warm enough. I would wake up every now and then shivering. I had to accept that as part of my suffering, an offering to Spirit to show that I was serious. I was there to learn. And Spirit did not disappoint.

The plan was to make rattles, mesas, and divination bags, as well as do journeywork every night. It went mostly to plan, but Spirit had a few different ideas on how it would go.

The story of my week on the island is apparently a bigger bite than one blog entry can take, so I’ll continue it next week (maybe more, depending on how long the story takes being told). It’s a busy upcoming week. Sandy is having us apprentices put together a Summer Solstice ceremony this weekend. The ladies are prepping the space in the stone circle. Marc and I are leading the ceremony (an inversion of the ceremony we did last time, when Marc and I prepped, while Morgan and Tina led). I haven’t led a group this big in ceremony before. Wish me luck!

A belated happy Summer Solstice!

Until next week…

-The Green Mountain Mage

The Story Of My Sit

We started the journey lugging everything we would could take out to the perimeter of the woods where we would be spending the night, along with logs for the sacred fire. The site was accessed by sloshing through field, swamp, and stream until we came to a little peninsula hugged by a clear brook that had cut its way deep into the land.

As Marc, the apprentice learning to run the protective ceremony, readied the fire, the other apprentices and I walked off to find our spots in the woods. My spot was a small grove of beech and pine, the outer edges surrounded by brambles and underbrush. I set my blanket and mask down, and felt the space out. I tried moving a few times, but the space kept calling me back. Yes. This was the space I was supposed to use.

I returned to see Marc beginning ceremony with the first apprentice to return to the fire. When it came to be my turn, Marc threw purifying herbs into the fire as I used the smoke to smudge myself. I then made offerings to my spirits and ancestors, pouring an herbal mix into the fire. Marc grabbed a small bowl with what looked like mud, and globbed some on my brow, speaking a blessing. I don’t remember most of it, but it invoked ancestors and safety, ending with “You are loved.”

Now, for some reason, that struck me. I tend to think of the universe as a powerful, but rather generally ambivalent power. Working with ancestors, and beings that care about one’s well being is still sometimes a foreign thing to me. I usually tend to accept things at face value, as things that just happen. I played with the idea that I am going into the forest alone physically, yet cared for by non-corporeal beings that were invested in my well being. In short, I got the warm and fuzzies.

So, I began the process of sitting there all night, by back supported by the trunk of a dead pine. I stared at the horde of mosquitoes covering my Carhartt clad legs, appreciative of the thick material impenetrable by the blood suckers’ mouth needles. I stared at the stag mask I had made to use later in the night to connect to the animal spirit I work with. Lost in thought, I glanced up, only to lock eyes with a doe.

She was about 50 feet away, very large, and staring at me. Not in a startled way, as you would normally see with a deer next to the road, but passively inquisitive. We looked at each other for about two minutes before she slowly wandered deeper into the brambles until she was out of sight.

Considering that a good start, I continued my Sit. Eventually, I heard a strange sound from the woods to my right. Like something big blowing its nose. A buck! Making aggressive trumpet sounds at something, potentially me. They usually aren’t aggressive at this point of the year, so it was rather odd. The rest of that story plays into another apprentice’s experience, sitting on the other side of the woods patch where the buck was making a racket. For my part, I sat there wondering if I’d be wrestling an aggressive buck that night. His trumpeting sounds faded away, though, so I knew that he wouldn’t pose a problem to me.

An exciting non-sequiteur in the evening as the sun disappeared was the appearance of a flying squirrel. I had heard about them living up here, but for the longest time I didn’t believe it. I had never seen one! Of course, as they are nocturnal, they’re pretty easy to miss. Still, seeing my first flying squirrel was exciting, and worth a mention.

As the night continued, the exhaustion and the uncomfort began to set in. I’d suddenly dip into vivid dreams that ranged from useful insight into my subconscious to utter nonsense, only to rip myself back to the grove I was sitting in. Every hour, I could hear Marc drumming in the distance, making offerings for our safety, as well as to the ancestors and spirits to help with our work.

About one in the morning was when I decided to start working with my mask. And, wow! I believe the biggest part of my experience was reconnecting to my Stag. Deer was one of the first animals that I strongly connected to when I started this work. He would always poke his antlered head up in my work from time to time, but not like this. We spoke that night, and reconnected. He told me what he would help me with in my work, and we talked about ways that I could honor him, and strengthen our connection.

I would say between three and four was the longest hour that night. We returned to the dying fire around five, and trudged to the farmhouse up the hill to journal while Sandy made us breakfast. It wasn’t quite what I expected, but I’m still processing it, almost a week later. I think that it was definitely what I needed.

Inspired by this experience, I believe I’ll discuss masks a little bit next week.

 

Until then, have a beautiful week

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Pre-Experience Jitters

For a while now, I’ve known that I need to get away and take a night to sit in the woods and hold vigil. Knowing that you need to do something, and actually doing it are two very different things. I always had excuses, and figured that doing something like that on my own without a little guidance from someone who knew what they were doing was a little risky.

So, fast forward to a month or two ago, when my new mentor Sandy told her apprentices that we were doing a Sit, I was pretty excited. We were going to fast, go to the woods, find a spot, and hold a vigil to connect to Spirit. I know that this is something that I need to do to continue down the path that I am travelling, but I’ve hit a wall. The anxiety and doubts have set in.

Here I am. A half a day into the fast. Two weeks since I’ve touched alcohol. Less than a week without caffeine. Tomorrow night is the night.

We arrive in the afternoon. We do a little bit of ceremony, the go to our spots. Sandy and one of the apprentices does an offering to the Ancestors every hour. I’ll be in the woods with my water bottle, a garbage bag to sit on, the clothes on my back, and a mask (that’s for the second half of the night). The first half will be me sitting and being present. Hopefully, the lack of food and discomfort while being in the middle of the woods will help me connect with Spirit. The second half will be me using my mask to connect to one of the animal spirits I work with.

That’s the plan, at least. It seems that part of this process is getting ready for it. Part of this has been facing pieces of myself that I don’t necessarily want to face, a process that I imagine I will continue to deal with during the Sit. The discomfort of the fast, the diet leading up to it, and the lack of sleep that I will be facing tomorrow is expected. I didn’t expect so much discomfort to come from inside of me.

Part of me doesn’t want to face anything that might come up in the Sit as I am by myself in the woods. Part of me knows that I get jumpy when I hear things moving in the woods at night and I’m alone. Part of me says that I’m fine and I don’t need to grow. I can easily stay here, where I am in this work. I know that’s not true, but it’s as if there is a part of me that wants to hold back and not grow. More the reason, I suppose, that I need to do this.

In many shamanic traditions, there is a sort of dismemberment process. Some take that as an emotional metaphor, but there are stories of shamans being taken apart by their spirit helpers in dreams only to be reassembled later on. It is their initiation, their way of becoming a shaman. I feel like this is something akin to this. I feel as if I will be losing part of myself in this, but in a good way. I’m not so sure of myself to say that I am going to have a dismemberment experience, but there is a feeling of sacrifice, of giving up. And that makes me nervous.

I have not as of yet experienced this shamanic dismemberment, in dreams or journeywork. I’ve been called to the work other ways, but I’ve always felt right at the edge of this experience, this cathartic rearrangement of world view. I look for it, but, at the same time, I fear it. There’s a lot that I don’t want to let go of. Of course, in the role in life that I accept, I have to. It’s part of the job description to face the scary. It doesn’t mean that I can’t kick and scream about it a little first.

Even if it is just a metaphorical giving of my comfort for a night, and nothing else, it will be quite the experience. It might just be the deep delve into Spirit that I need, though. Nothing but me, the woods, the Spirits, and the prayers from the nearby fire. I’m anxious and excited.

 

I’ll share more next week after I get back.

 

Until then

 

-The Green Mountain Mage