Monday, December 31, 2018

Hero's Journey Stage 12: Return with the Elixir

Stage 12: Return with the Elixir

The true end of the journey does not come until the Hero returns to the Ordinary World. There are three typical aspects to a full return: definitive change of the hero, success in the hero’s endeavors, and evidence of both. The hero has faced many trials and foes, even experienced a death of sorts, and one simply does not remain the same after these significant ordeals. The hero returns to where they started, but things will never be as they were before the journey began.

In most tales, new questions arise at the end of the hero’s journey, signifying the continued flow of life through time. Ultimately, the final outcome is the physical manifestation of the reward in the Ordinary World. One of my favorite returning with the elixir moments lies in Samwise Gamgee’s return to the Shire. In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo and Sam return to Hobbiton to find life there has continued on without them. The other hobbits were completely unaware of their journey in the Special World, which, for a hobbit, is anywhere outside the Shire. However, Sam’s newfound confidence and courage allows him to take the first real steps toward Rosie, the woman he has long loved, and they eventually marry.

As we light the twelfth and final flame, we prepare to bring our reward to the folk in the Ordinary World.

Guided Meditation: Becoming the Gardener

In the light of the twelfth and final flame of our journey, take a deep breath,
And exhale your worries.
Sink into your seat and feel yourself slipping into the darkness of the tunnel.
We have escaped the Threshold Guardian, and at the end of this tunnel,
We are sure to find the entrance back into the Ordinary World.
The reward in your hand is still glowing, enough for you to see where you are going.
The path before you leads down and to the left.
Follow this path.
The walls of this space feel warm and inviting.
They almost seem to be expanding and contracting, as though they were breathing.
You become aware of a pulsing, deep and rhythmic. A heartbeat.
As you continue to walk, slowly and reverently,
You feel a gentle breeze wafting over you in time with the rhythm of the walls.
You stop for a moment, crouch down, and place your hand upon the floor of the tunnel.
You know this earth.
You have felt it between your fingers, tasted it on your lips in the food you eat,
Relished in the richness of it.
This is your Earth.
You rise and continue to walk,
Approaching what appears to be a door as the tunnel slopes upward.
As you open the door, the bright sunlight from beyond temporarily blinds you.
You step up and out of the tunnel, and when you close the door,
It vanishes into the grassy earth.
You look down at your hand, noticing your reward has gone cold,
And are surprised to find a stone in its place.
It still feels heavy, as though burdened with purpose.
As you study it, you feel the connection between you and this stone deep within your spirit.
You feel the power within your heart.
Your reward now lives inside of you.
You place the stone in your pocket and walk toward the Ordinary World’s garden,
To your cultivated patch of soil,
And consider the plants there.
Each one is special, unique, fragile, resilient, and strong.
Each has been chosen for a different reason,
Yet changing any one of them changes the entire face of the garden as a whole.
The same is true of your community of characters.
You think back on your journey,
Remembering each unique moment along your path,
Those distinctive traits that have made your journey such that it is,
And you smile. You wouldn’t change a thing.
Without hesitating, you reach down and pick up the watering can next to your garden plot,
Walk over to the spigot, and fill it with cool, clean water.
As you begin to water your garden, you recall the water that rained ever-so-gently upon you
When you were beneath the Earth, preparing to grow.
And you wonder, what seeds of potential lie beneath this soil?
Whose shell will soften and become pliable at the touch of your life-giving water?
Your lesson has led you to this place, and after learning so much,
It is time for you to water the garden
Until others are prepared to break free from their shells and begin their own Hero’s Journey.

As you open your eyes, feel the prize of this journey deep within your heart, rooted and ready to come forth when those around you are proven to be fertile soil. Consider a journal entry for your thoughts.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Hero's Journey Stage 11: Resurrection

Stage 11: Resurrection 

As we stand at the edge of the Threshold back to the Ordinary World, we must remember the folx on the other side have no knowledge of our experiences here in the Special World. They do not know that we have identified the characters who walk with us, the folx who guide us and those who lead us astray. They do not know we faced our Inner Shadows. They have no idea that we faced our dragons and let our old selves die. Our ordeals, death, and rebirth have all been internal, and in order for these to take root, we must cross the Threshold once more and return to the Ordinary World as our new selves.

The Hero has been reborn and transformed with the attributes of who we once were plus the lessons and insights of the journey. The resurrection is the final showdown, and the hero must emerge in such a way that their Heroic Status is proven to the Ordinary World. Often, this involves one final act of valor. In Star Wars, this moment is the final destruction of the Death Star at the Battle of Yavin (or Death Star 2 at the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi). In The Hobbit, there are many such moments, depending on which character’s Hero’s Journey we are following. Allies may rise to assist in this final “battle” of sorts, but in the end, a sacrifice must be made by the Hero for the benefit of the Ordinary World.

In our journeys, this sacrifice is the key to the change taking root and becoming visible to others. It may be an external change in behavior, such as giving up alcohol or another controlled substance. It may be an internal change in behavior, such as a move toward open, honest accountability and more forthcoming communication with a loved one. Whatever the change is, it will feel far more significant to the Hero on a personal level than the Ordinary World at large, but those closest to the Hero will see these changes with a clarity that makes the journey relevant and accessible to them, as well.

As we think back on our journey this season, we recall our reward. The object one receives as they seize the prize is the key to the final test before the Restoration of the Ordinary can begin. As we light the eleventh flame, we begin the rebirthing process and return to the Ordinary World.

Guided Meditation: Breakthrough

In the light of the eleventh flame, breathe deeply and allow your body to relax.
Set aside your stresses and arrive, once more, in the garden,
The place where it all began.
The rising sun has crested into the fullness of late morning.
A light breeze plays through the leaves of all the plants in this beautiful, peaceful place.
You hear footsteps and turn to see your mentor approaching.
They sit next to you on the bench.
You are eager to show them your prize, the fruit of your internal labor,
But you find yourself hesitating.
As you peer into their eyes, you do not see yourself reflected there.
Instead, you see the swirling images you saw in the mirror in the cave
And the faint glimmer of firelight.
The face of your mentor begins to shift and change,
Revealing the face of someone you have thus far avoided: The Threshold Guardian.
He knows what lies in your pocket.
He is here to prevent you from leaving with it,
For his sole purpose is to guard the secrets of the Special World.
Both of you rise to standing. He is significantly taller than you.
Your mind begins to race, grasping at any idea to get you out of this.
Then, the spark of inspiration alights with you.
When he sat next to you, you saw the reflections of your Shadow within his eyes.
You saw the fire, the breath of the dragon, within those dark orbs, as well.
You stand taller at the sudden rush of the skills you have acquired to defeat this opponent
--Just as you have defeated the others.
You name your Shadows aloud, for naming them takes away their power.
At this, the Threshold Guardian seems to diminish.
You name your allies, those whose continued aid has contributed to your success,
And feel their power within you now.
He is definitely growing smaller.
You name your mentor and spirit allies.
He is shorter than you now, but his face is changing, growing angry and fuming.
Suddenly, his entire body begins to spin,
Raising a cloud of spiraling dirt and garden debris about him.
From within this maelstrom arises a new foe.
It looks like the lovechild of a dinosaur and a dragon,
Ancient, looming, and smoking at the nostrils.
Its breath comes in low growls as it grows taller still, casting the entire garden into shadow.
It takes a deep in-breath, and without hesitation, you pull your reward from your pocket and hold it up in front of you, facing the beast.
As the stream of fire reaches you, a dome of silvery protection surrounds you,
Like a shield wall of impenetrable energy emerging from your reward.
Twice, three times, the beast breathes their fiery breath at you,
But inside your protective shell, you remain safe and secure,
Even cool in spite of the apparent heat of the flames outside your dome.
You cup your prize in your hands and begin to focus your own energy through it,
Causing the dome around you to expand until it begins forcing the beast to retreat.
You concentrate harder. Nothing exists but you and your sacred prize.
The dome around you begins to glow and shimmer, as though generating light from within.
You feel the ground beneath you begin to shift,
and you realize a tunnel is opening beneath you, leading down and away from this place—
The Way Back.
Without looking up, you slip into the darkness of the tunnel,
feeling the warmth of the fire pass over the opening behind you
Before it closes and plunges you into darkness.
You have passed out of the Special World.
Your reward still in your hand. And you are safe.

As you open your eyes, meditate on the outward manifestation of your reward, and consider a journal entry for your thoughts.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Hero's Journey Stage 10: The Road Back, Restoration of the Ordinary

Stage 10: The Road Back, Restoration of the Ordinary

It is time to return to the Ordinary World, for one cannot dwell in the Special World forever. In our myth cycles, some heroes are reluctant to return and must be chased out of the Special World, for the Special World has a way of restoring its balance. Some heroes find themselves facing the destruction or death of the Special World with the reward now removed from it, or worse—face the destruction of the Ordinary World if they do not return. And there are even tales where the Hero is faced with a choice: remain in the Special World and follow the desires of the now or return to the Ordinary World to serve a greater cause than themselves.

After seizing out prize, we have come to this place, where we are the master of two worlds, settled between the past and the future, but not a part of either. We see where we were with full clarity and the path where we are going with equal understanding. Much like the state of balance, this is a moment that we will pass through, and life will move on.

Recall the question resounding in your journey since Crossing the Threshold, and remember why you asked it in the first place. What ties lie in the Ordinary World that need this reward? Hold those anchors of the Ordinary in your mind as we light the tenth flame. Just as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz longs for her family back in Kansas, we must remember what draws us back to the Ordinary World.

Guided Meditation: The Call to the Ordinary

In the light of the tenth flame,
Feel yourself full of the knowledge and skill you have obtained on this journey.
Feel you mind expanding with each breath,
Feel your heart overflowing with love and success.
Feel your spirit filled with joy—and longing to share it.
Sink into the inner landscape, and feel the specialness begin to fade,
As though the light is being drained from this place.
The colors seem to be draining out of the world around you,
Odd in the dawning sun, usually so full of illuminating beauty in pink, orange, and red.
The world around you is definitely becoming more grey.
You notice streaks of smoke beginning to rise off everything around you—
The colors ARE draining, and the plants and rocks are disintegrating as their colors are depleted, as though the shades were keeping them together.
You notice the path beneath you beginning to smoke in the same way,
And you decide it is time.
You begin taking purposeful steps away from the disappearing clearing,
Picking up speed as you go, following the solid of the remaining path,
Hoping it leads to where you need to go.
The streams of the Special World are growing, pulling everything that once was
Into smoke and nothingness.
You break into a run, moving past the cave, now merely an outline of a hill,
On past the boulder where you sat and considered your allies and shapeshifters,
And finally, you arrive back at the garden where you first entered this world.
The fading of the Special World seems to have stopped at the gate of the garden.
Everything here is still bright and warm, and the early birds are singing in the trees.
Here, it feels like home, the same yet—different.
You rest next to the garden, catching your breath, and feeling the Call to return
Deep within your bones.
Your seat faces the blooming garden.
In your pocket, you have your talisman.
In your hand, you have your reward.
Next to your seat, you see a watering can and a small packet of seeds.

As you open your eyes, feel the detachment of the Special World fade away, and consider a journal entry for your thoughts.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Hero's Journey Stage 9: Reward, Seizing the Prize

Stage 9: Reward: Seizing the Prize

After surviving death—or rather being reborn—our hero has a moment to rest and collect the rewards of the journey. We have overcome our greatest fears, made peace with our inner beast, and weathered our Crisis of Heart. On the other end of our Ordeal lies our prize.

In myth cycles, the prize is often tangible, like the Sword in the Stone  (Excalibur) or the Gem at the Heart of the Mountain (The Arkenstone). But, it can also be more abstract like reconciliation with a loved one or an insight into great wisdom. Either way, the hero knows the prize when they see it, as though the light of the Pole Star shines upon it, blotting out all else in their sight.

As we light the ninth flame, we consider the rewards of our work.

Guided Meditation: Seizing the Prize

In the light of the ninth flame, breathe easily.
Let your breath come in and out at a cool, easy pace.
For you have fought and won.
You have overcome and were born anew,
Clean and ready for a new set of experiences, of knowledge, of life.
Relax into yourself and sink deeper into your inner landscape.
You feel your talisman, heavy in your pocket, begin to grow warm.
You remove your talisman, glowing, pulsing with light in your palm.
It begins to lift out of your hand, and you watch it rise,
Up, and up, and up, glowing brighter and brighter,
Until it shines as though a star on its way to the heavens.
It begins to turn, slowly at first, and then more rapidly,
Sending light into the clearing where you stand and illuminating into the nearby trees.
It is so bright now that you have to shade your eyes, squint, and look next to it instead of at it.
The light from your talisman begins to shine downward, in a beam toward the ground.
Where the light strikes the earth, you see a dome of light begin to form.
It, too, grows larger and larger until a shock of energy pulses outward from the center,
Causing everything it touches to shake in its wake.
The talisman stops spinning and gently falls to the Earth, next to another object,
Both still shimmering faintly.
You approach the object and smile as you recognize it.
This is what you have been seeking.
This is your reason for undertaking this work.
This is your reward.
You place your talisman back into your pocket, and then slowly, gently,
You place your hand upon the object.
Look at it closely, marveling in its shape and size.
Understand fully what this object means.
Rest in your reward, let your joy rise from your heart to your lips,
And smile at the completion of such an important task.
You have done well, and this is the well-deserved fruit of your labor.

As you open your eyes, hold a vision of your reward, and consider a journal entry for your thoughts.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Hero's Journey Stage 8: Ordeal, Death, and Rebirth

Stage 8: Ordeal, Death, and Rebirth

Life. Death. Rebirth. The imagery of this cycle lives in allegorical fame throughout the history of myth and legend. In the Buddhist Samsara, every birth is into pain, and every death leads to a new rebirth, carrying through the lessons of the previous lives, until the individual has reached enlightenment. Like the Odinnic practice of “wandering,” the life/death/rebirth cycle rolls us through time in an internal wheel of the year of our lives. In the Stoic practice, memento mori, one cannot live fully unless one contemplates their inevitable death.

For those of us who read Tarot, the Death card does not denote an actual loss of life, but a definitive change from which one cannot return. In short, Death is a Right of Passage. We face an ordeal, our old way of life as we knew it passes away, and we are reborn into the newest version of ourselves. We see this when someone becomes engaged, gets married, and is now husband or wife or life-partner. We see this when one become pregnant, gives birth, and is now a parent. We see this when one goes to college, graduates, and becomes a career professional in their chosen field. It is only after the death of who we were that we become who we are meant to be.

As we light the eighth flame, we consider our mortality and face the beast of staying the same.

Guided Meditation: Facing the Dragon

In the light of the eighth flame, breathe deeply.
Allow your body to sink into your inner landscape once more,
Recalling the talisman of power in your pocket,
Full of the knowledge of the characters in your story,
Ready to dispel the Shadows lurking along the way.
You are wholly ready to undertake this, the greatest challenge.
The Ordeal.
After this, you will never be the same. You already knew that in your head,
But now, you feel it in your bones. The changes have already begun to spread,
From your mind to your heart, from your body to your spirit.
Focus on what is around you in your inner dreamscape.
See the trees, the path, the cave behind you, less sinister now that what lies within is known.
You follow the path before you,
Moving off to the right away from the way you entered this space,
And on toward the lake you see shining ahead of you.
As you walk, you notice a sign, made of wood and hand-painted, nailed to a tree:
Here There Be Dragons.
One more step, and you will enter the realm of the beast.
One more step, and you will have no choice but to engage.
You take the step and enter into the Realm of the Dragons.
You hear it before you see it, the long, laborious breathing of a beast in slumber.
You continue to creep forward, your inner coward rising into your throat.
All of your assumptions rise into your mind in rapid succession:
Dragons are large and breathe fire when provoked.
Dragons are provoked easily.
Dragons want to eat you.
Dragons are evil.
With a deep breath, you remember the Shadows you have within yourself.
You name them.
These parts of yourself are under control, but still within you—
And that does not make you evil.
Perhaps, then, this dragon is misunderstood.
Just as knowing your own flaws does not mean you are sentenced to death,
Though death is inevitable,
A Dragon is not meant for death for being a Dragon.
As you continue to walk, a twig snaps beneath your foot,
And all around you goes stone-cold silent.
You hear scraping and a low growl
As the serpent uncoils at the base of the spine of the mountain.
You stand tall, as the dragon raises itself to its full height.
You notice it is bound at the ankle by a chain bolted into a giant boulder.
The Dragon looks around and sees you standing before them.
Look deeply into the Dragon’s eyes.
Feel your thoughts disappear and your instinct to flee rise within you.
Place your instincts aside.
Feel your feelings of emotional connection arise.
Place your emotions aside as well.
Finally, feel your thoughts returning as you contemplate right action under these circumstances.
Your eyes lock with those of the dragon, and you begin to speak.
(pause)
The Dragon replies.
(pause)
You continue to speak with the Dragon.
(pause)
At the end of your conversation, you are in agreement.
You walk over and unhinge the Dragon.
The Dragon smiles down upon you, opens their mouth, and engulfs you in flames.
You feel the coward within shriek and die, melting away before you.
You feel your anxiety burn away, leaving behind a sense of calm.
You feel yourself float out of your body, rising high into the sky where you look down at your burning self.
As the Dragon completes their outbreath, you begin to descend.
Slowly, light as a feather, you gently touch down on the Earth once more.
The Dragon raises their wings and gently flaps them, once, twice, three times,
Lifting themself up onto the boulder,
And the ashes of your former self are blown away.
You make eye contact with the Dragon, you both nod to one another,
And the Dragon lifts off, flying up over the mountain and away.
You are born anew, like a phoenix out of the ashes.

As you open your eyes, recall the conversation you had with the Dragon, and consider a journal entry for your thoughts.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Hero's Journey Stage 7: Approach to the Inmost Cave

Stage 7: Approach to the Inmost Cave

The Shadow. In Jungian psychology, the Shadow represents the parts of our inner selves of which we are not fully conscious, the parts suppressed or undeveloped. Often, these are “dark” aspects of our personalities. From a Freudian perspective, the Shadow is neither positive nor negative, and those of us who suffer from low self-esteem or anxiety are often harboring Shadows that are confident and secure in whom we are. Kaufman further expands that “in spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness, the Shadow is the seat of creativity”….the dark side of our being, our sinister shadows, represent the true spirit of life (society) against us, repressing our collective opposition to the status quo.

At this stage of the journey, we confront the Shadow within the deep of our minds, the unnamed fears, the self-destructive habits and cycles we harbor in the furthest corners of our minds. Without naming these, we cannot hope to complete our work for once we know their names, they can no longer control or hinder us.

In the light of the seventh flame, we confront The Shadow.

Guided Meditation: The Mirror of Truth (Confronting The Shadow)

In the light of the seventh flame, breathe deeply, and rest in yourself.
Turn your thoughts onward, for here is where our journey becomes more earnest.
Let the tangible space around you blur and fade.
Sink into the darkness behind your eyes and enter the landscape of your mind.
This trial you must face alone.
You find yourself, in your mind’s eye, deep within your dreamscape.
As your eyes adjust, you notice you are standing in a dark wooded area.
There is a path before you, leading on and to the right.
Follow this path.
Note the way the moonlight glimmers off the wet stones along the path,
Seemingly guiding you toward your destination.
The path takes you to the mouth of a cave.
Inside, it looks dark and uninviting, but there is no going back now.
With a deep breath, you plunge yourself into the mouth of the cave
And walk head-on into the darkness.
Keeping your hand along the side of the cave as you walk for support and direction,
You continue to move forward. Slowly yet decisively.
After you round a bend, you see a dim glow,
As though firelight burns in the distance.
As you approach, you notice there are two distinct flames,
Sconces hanging on either side of another doorway? No, a mirror.
A mirror at the end of the tunnel, embedded into the rock-face.
With a small amount of trepidation, quickly dispelled by your curiosity,
You approach the mirror and look up to meet your own eyes.
You see yourself, at first, then, it changes.
Your face shifts, and you can see images behind your reflection.
This is your inner self, surrounded by your instinctive and primal desires,
The traits that arise when your adrenaline surges.
Make note of what you see with honesty and acceptance.
Look into your eyes reflected here. Look into your face.
Look over your shoulder. Remember what you see.
Now, find your cultivated inner strength, the You of your higher Self.
Find it and overlay all you see with what you want to be in the full glory of your potential.
See this You shining, growing brighter and brighter until
The Shadow is defeated and dissolves into the darkness of the cave.
The shadows may return, but now that we know their names, their power is diminished.
Close your mind’s eye, and when you open it,
Find yourself standing once more at the mouth of the cave,
Your talisman strangely in your hand.
Feel it pulsing with a new power.
This power is your ability to overcome your shadows.
Place your talisman in your pocket, and remember once more the names of your Shadows.
They no longer have dominion over you.

As you open your eyes, remember the names you gave to the Shadows within, and consider a journal entry for your thoughts.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Hero's Journey Stage 6: The Characters of the Journey

Stage 6: The Characters of the Journey

Now that we are firmly grounded in the Special World, the quest for the answer unfolds in detail. We move from theoretical assumptions about what our trials and issues will be to the cold-hard facts of reality—and we do not move alone.

There are several types of characters we may meet along the way:

  • Threshold Guardian. This is the force that protects the secrets of the Special World and keeps them from the Hero. In order to move forward on our journey, we must overcome the guardian of The Way.
  • Allies. These are the folks whose purpose aligns with ours, who believe in our cause, and provide encouragement and aid as we move forward.
  • Shapeshifters. These are the folks whose purposes are cross to ours; those who desire the maintaining of the status quo and do not wish to see us succeed. 
  • Herald. This is the force that announces each new obstacle or success along the way. They may appear simply as the voice of the Call to Adventure, or they may accompany us and seemingly narrate our journey. They often bring us news from the Ordinary World or other parts of the Special World that play an important part as our path unfolds.
  • The Shadow. These are the innermost pieces of ourselves that serve to undermine our movements. They are the deep-seated fears, the patterns of behavior, the cycles we are here to break. The do not always see them until evidence of their presence is visible in our wake. Once we arrive at the Inner Cave, we will have to face The Shadow of our Inner Selves.
  • The Trickster. These are those whose role is making light. The Trickster holds no alliance to us or against us. They bring humor and lift, often using sarcasm to guide us toward or away from an idea or step. Every once in a while, their antics shift our perspective just enough for us to see something we may have missed without them. They often arrive after the presence of the Shadow has departed. 
  • The Talisman. Finally, there may be a special object that serves to guide and protect us along our journey. It may be a tangible item or a mantra. It may be clothing or jewelry or even a belief in what we know to be possible. 
Along our paths, we will discover who we can trust—and who we cannot. Allies arise in unexpected places. Shapeshifters surface wearing the faces of those we thought were our friends. The perspective of the Special World casts new light into the corners and brings clarity where once there was shadow and speculation.  Challenges arise, some anticipated, and some surprising us. Our deepest fears try to pull us off course, and our sense of humor reminds us to return to The Way. All of these encounters hone us for the Ordeal to come. Now is the time to gather our allies, sharpen our skills, and defend our quests as we continue to pursue our quest to answer our questions.

As we light the sixth flame, we consider our traveling companions along The Way.

Guided Meditation: The Way and The Talisman

In the light of the sixth flame, we find ourselves walking along our path,
Taking step after step toward our goal.
Putting one foot in front of the other, even if slowly and methodically.
This is the way of The Way. Each step echoes in our lives.
Each movement brings us closer to who we are meant to be.
Each thought guiding us toward (or away from) our best selves—
So we must consider them carefully, decisively.
In this quiet place on our road, we stop to sit on an inviting boulder in the shade of a tree.
We sip from our water and sigh in relief at the weight taken off our feet.
Our mood is contemplative, thoughtful, considering.
As we rest, we reflect on our journey and those we’ve encountered along the way.
Consider those faces appearing before you.
Are they an ally? A shapeshifter? Have they been feeding your fears or dispelling them?
Do they cast your path in light or shadow?
Many questions float through your mind, and answers seem to be forming.
You are not attached to any of them, simply allowing them to pass through you.
As you witness these tidbits of insight, you place your hand in your pocket,
And find something there that was not there before.
You pull out the object, turning it over in your hand,
Trying to remember when you had placed it there and deciding that you did not.
This gift, small enough for your pocket, feels heavy and significant in your hand.
You feel it pulling you to standing, urging you onward in your travels.
This is your talisman, your unseen gift of guidance and surety,
Right in your pocket.
You may not yet have all the answers, but the path to obtaining them feels clear.
With a nod toward the heavens, and sending love into the earth,
You move forward once more, resting in the strength of the knowledge you have obtained on such a short pause on the side of the road.
Inspiration and certainty showing up just when you needed them in a place unexpected.

As you open your eyes, consider the following questions: How has your path unfolded thus far? Who is accompanying you, and what roles are they playing? What is your talisman, and what does this mean to you? Consider a journal entry for your thoughts.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Hero's Journey Stage 5: Crossing the Threshold into the Unknown

Stage 5: Crossing the Threshold into the Unknown

The Crossing of the Threshold is the first significant action of the hero. Once we have overcome our fears and accepted the fated call, the crossing of the threshold is the point of no return. There is no going back once we step over that line. We often confront an event and after undergoing some trial or implementing some change, we find our eyes opening on what Campbell calls the “Special World”—the world on the other side of our Ordinary World as we know it.  This event solidifies the central question the journey is asking: Where will I find the new job? With whom will I spend the next romantic period of my life? When will we become pregnant? After the BIG question is asked into the Special World, the remaining events unfold in answer.

There are often Outside Forces that either push us forward (like our mentors and allies) or attempt to hold us back (obstacles or unforeseen circumstances that must be addressed). All of these become part of our saga. Picture Belle in Beauty and the Beast when she decides to take her father’s place in captivity. Picture Jon Snow turning off the King’s Road to take the road North to the Wall. See any one of our favorite mythological heroes making their first move, from departing the shore in a ship to waking at dawn and marching or riding into the rising sun. All of these are entry points into the Special World.

As we light the fifth flame, we Cross the Threshold and enter the Unknown.

Guided Meditation: Crossing the Threshold

Deep within your seed, you breathe in and out,
Watching the ebb and flow of the flame within you.
You ache to stretch your arms and legs.
You yearn to breathe in the clean air and bask in the light of the sun.
You crave the freedom promised on the other side.
Your shell is pliable, damp, and beginning to give way, and you are ready.
You begin, slowly at first, pushing the shell in front of you,
Watching it mold around your fingers, stretching and pulling.
You straighten one of your legs and feel the tension catch and then give, just a little.
Finally, you take a deep breath and push all four of your limbs outward,
Pressing harder and harder until finally the shell splits apart, rent asunder and destroyed.
Suddenly, the dirt from above spills over you,
filling the safe place where just moments before you were held apart.
It covers your hair, fills your mouth, and you find your breathing obscured.
You cup your hand over your mouth to keep the dirt away
and gasp in as much air as you can in a panic.
Then, you remember, somewhere in the back of your mind,
the cool, clean water that washed over you from above.
You pray silently to your allies that you are pointed in the right direction
and begin to claw your way through,
toward the source of your encouragement and seemingly divine aid.
Slowly, you move upwards, past the rocks and dirt, past the roots of others,
pushing everything aside,
until you feel the dirt beginning to thin and give way.
You reach up, feeling the shock of fresh air across your hands,
And with one final push, your head breaks the surface and you are free!
You stretch and breathe raising your face to the welcoming sun,
Standing tall in the breeze,
And waiting until the shock subsides.
Your eyes are at first unable to see in the bright light of the Special World.
After you catch your breath and feel your body relaxing into your new surroundings, you slowly open your eyes and see this world from your new vantage.
The worries and fears you felt inside your shell and all but memories
left behind for the Earth Mother to absorb,
leaving you open and ready for the quest to find the answer to your burning question.
In this space, the question comes to you in its full gravity.
Ask yourself and hold it. Remember this feeling.
And now it begins in earnest: the journey of the hero.

As you open your eyes, remember your question, and consider a journal entry for your thoughts.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Hero's Journey Stage 4: Meeting the Mentor

Stage 4: Meeting the Mentor

We all receive help from time-to-time, whether from a family member, coworker, friend, or partner. Even our children provide lessons for those of us who have them.  In everyone’s life, someone emerges who far surpasses the basic role of trusted advisor and truly guides us through our fears, helping us to achieve our potential. These folx are the masters of our desired crafts and talents. They are the champions of our causes who advocate for our well-being and success. They show up with auspicious timing, right when we need them and often disappear just as abruptly.

On this journey, we look at who is with us, right now, walking this path alongside us as we contemplate the road before us. After facing our fear, the appearance of the mentor is welcome like the dawn after the dark of night. 

In the light of the fourth flame, we quest to meet our Spirit Mentor and guide on this adventure.

Guided Meditation: Meeting your Spirit Mentor

Rest in the light of the fourth Flame, and breathe deeply.
Allow your eyes to blur and drift closed, recalling your confinement within the seed.
You have seen your strength and embraced your courage.
You are ready to break the seed, cross the threshold, and begin, in earnest,
The next stage of your journey.
The world beyond your ordinary world is unknown.
What lies in wait? Who will I meet? What will I have to do? What, if anything, will I lose?
Turn your sight to the flame, ebbing and flowing in your chest, and breathe through these questions, setting them aside as the worries we set aside yesterday.
Continue to breathe and find peace within yourself at the prospect of moving forward.
From above you, cool, clean water washes over your shell,
Softening and bringing provisions for your journey to you inside.
Feel your shell becoming pliable.
Feel your mind fill with the knowledge you need.
Feel your hands fill with the ability to do the work before you.
As you bask in these welcome gifts, turn your mind’s eye up and ask the aether:
Who is watering my garden?
Who stands poised above your flowerbed with the watering can and fertilizer in hand, ensuring the world around you is full of everything you need to succeed?
This is your mentor for this journey. They may not be here for long, maybe just long enough to aid you as you cross this Threshold. But they are here.
Sit now with the knowledge that someone on the other side of this shell is waiting for you,
Ready to assist you, wanting you to succeed.
Feel this knowledge invigorating your spirit, motivating you to action.
You are not alone.

As you open your eyes, reflect for a moment on the mentor character(s) in your life. Are they in our world or one of the others? From which Kindred: humanity, noble kin, ancestors, or deity?  Consider a journal entry for your thoughts.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Hero's Journey Stage 3: Refusal of the Call

Stage 3: Refusal of the Call

Change. It’s a scary word. It invites us to explore the unknown and accept the outcome of our risks. Reluctance to accept our roles or the steps we must take in our first barrier. We doubt our ability to be the change we want to see in our worlds. We minimize our own skills and importance. We hide our strengths and amplify our weaknesses. Past successes feel like minor accomplishments in a world of greater humans. Imposter syndrome rears its ugly head and we sink into Self-doubt, worried someone on the outside of our inner mind-world will see us for the frauds we are.

This is our fear talking. This is the Refusal of the Call.  How can we be worthy of such success as these changes will help us to reap? How can we presume we have the skillset to accomplish these goals? The second step on this journey is to recognize and validate the You are Here of our fears—and let them go.

In this light of the third flame, we acknowledge and allow our fears to fade away.

Guided Meditation: Facing your Fears

Rest for a moment in the light of the third Flame.
Breathe deeply, and allow your eyes to close.
Find yourself once more within your shell, your tiny seed beneath the Earth.
Rest in the comfort of the familiar, even though you know this is not enough life for you.
Feel the shell, hard and uncaring, holding you back, keeping you separate from life.
Isolating, alone, steeping in your innermost thoughts of fear and not-enough-ness.
This feeling, dark and desperate, makes the thought of finding your strength and breaking out of this container to small to hold you almost unbelievable, impossible.
And then you see it within your chest: a tiny pulsing light,
ebbing and flowing with your breath—no, with the beating of your heart.
The Flame of Transformation is inside the shell with you,
It is within you where it has always been, waiting to be seen and put into action.
As you breathe in, see this light expand and shimmer,
As you exhale feel it smolder and continue to burn, warming every part of your being.
Breathe in, and as you exhale, see this flame growing larger, consuming one-by-one
Your fears, your worries, your not-enough-ness.
See left behind the potential you know to be true:
See your skill. See your love. See your strength.
You have within you—and have had all along—the strength to break open your shell.
You only need to embrace the courage to use it.
You can do this. Be your own hero and believe in yourself. You are enough.

As you open your eyes, reflect for a moment on your fears and then set them all aside.  Consider a journal entry for your thoughts.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Hero's Journey Stage 2: Call to Adventure

Stage 2: Call to Adventure

The first step on this journey is realizing that such an expedition is possible. It IS possible to truly hear the call to make a change, to explore places you’ve never been, to take a risk, to be bold in your decisions—and without the desire to act on these, they are nothing more than the din of our inner minds. If we are too steeped in our Ordinary World, we may not even hear them. The mundane world is a loud place, full of sights and sounds and smells and tastes—all of which can serve to pull you away from listening to the small echoes of the You inside and prevent you from being present with your desire to make a change. In order to accept the call, we have to be dissatisfied with our status quo. We have to grow restless. We need to NEED a change.

We’ve all been there, felt the agony of sameness monoton-izing our lives. We’ve found ourselves edgy at the thought of going to work. We’ve felt the air get close as we draw near to the place from which we need to move on. We’ve seen others around us experience this feeling, as though the place itself is pushing them out. This is the call to Adventure.

Adventure is a big word: and big words call for big actions.

In the light of the second flame, we sink into the potential for change.

Guided Meditation: Becoming the Seed

Rest for a moment in the light of the second Flame.
Allow your eyes to close and breathe deeply,
pulling in the air of potential and pushing out the air of stagnation.
Feel yourself sinking slowly into the earth,
Resting in warmth and safety in her bosom,
Feeling the slow, steady heart beat of the Ancient Mother, dark and mysterious.
Feel your skin hardened as you descend,
Curl up within yourself and become a seed,
Full of potential for new life.
Inside this shell is familiar.
Inside, you are whole.
Inside, you are safe.
Inside, nothing ever happens—not to you or to anyone else.
But inside, nothing extraordinary ever happens.
Inside, you cannot see what extraordinary things may be happening to those around you.
Inside, you are alone yet full of potential.
Breathe in and feel your body flexing and attempting to expand in your restricted space.
Breathe out and feel relief as you shrink back from your walls.
Breathe in and feel the discomfort.
Breathe out and realize you are too big for this cage, for this cave of unbecoming.
As you continue to breathe, consider where you have become dormant inside your seed:
Is there a step you need to take to move away from a situation that is harming you or holding you back?
Is there a decision to be made that will catalyze your journey forward, in your career, in your love life, in your divinity relationships?
Take a moment and feel the restriction and be dissatisfied.
Be ready for something different.
Let the pain of being the same grow larger than the inevitable pain of change
And decide, within your shell, to change.

As you open your eyes, reflect for a moment on where you are stuck. Think about the looming decision or call to action in your life, and consider a journal entry for your thoughts.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Hero's Journey Stage 1: Ordinary World

Stage 1: Ordinary World

The “You are here” point on your map is the status quo of your existence. It is the movement from day to day, week to week, year to year, that pushes us through time without a second thought. Before we can begin any journey, though, we must know our starting point. We must understand where we are beginning.  Much like with any good story, we begin as we would expect. For Bilbo Baggins, it was “in a hole in the ground. Not a nasty, dirty hole filled with worms and oozy smells, but a Hobbit hole, which meant good food, a warm hearth, and all the comforts of home.” (Also, I promise that not all of the stages contain Hobbit references!)

Most of us have a standard routine: work days all look alike, days off all look alike, and even our vacation time is pretty predictable. It is our routines that help us to feel comfortable. It is our routines that help us to feel safe.  These routines are what help us to find a sense of home, no matter what may be swirling around us. For some of us, the swirl may be light, like small leaves caught in a spiraling autumn gust. For others, the whirlwind may have us seeking the eye of the storm as a place of peace and refuge. No matter where it is that we find our comfort, our home within our hearts, let us begin there.

As we light this first candle on our hero’s journey, we light it in honor of where we are.

Guided Meditation: You Are Here

In the light of the first flame, rest into yourself.
Close your eyes and breathe deeply.
Feel your body, strong and solid, beneath you.
Feel your breath, bringing in the fresh, clean air and sending out your worries and fears.
Feel your blood, your life force, flowing through you, invigorating and animating you.
You are whole, just as you are.
Breathe deeply and ask yourself, “Where am I?”
In your mind’s eye, take stock of where “here” is for you:
Where are you on the journey of your career?
Where are you in relation to your family relationships?
Where are you in your divine relationships?
Breathe deeply and answer these questions for yourself.
Knowing where we are brings us the strength of a foundation
And the gift of perspective so that we may begin moving forward.

As you open your eyes, reflect for a moment on where you are, and consider a journal entry for your thoughts.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Twelve Stages of the Hero's Journey: Introduction

This year, we are going to do something a little different. Typically, for the twelve nights leading up to Twelfth Night (New Years Eve), we have offered a prayer and lit candles to a different Being of the Occasion, whether deity, Ancestor, or Noble Kin. This year, I want us to spend some time really looking at our own lives. This is why, for the next Twelve Nights of Solstice, we will be walking one step at a time through the Hero’s Journey. Tonight is our night of preparation. You will need twelve candles, a way to take notes for yourself, and about ten minutes per day. That’s all. There will be a short discussion about each stage after which we will light a candle and share in a guided meditation. In this quiet time of the year, may our stillness be blessed with productivity.

Introduction to the Hero’s Journey

Much has been written about the Hero’s Journey, also known as the Monomyth. The Hero’s Journey, in short, is the backbone of the great hero-tales of mythology. Tales like those of Herakles, Jason, and Gilgamesh. Of Beowulf and King Arthur.  It is also a common writing template for the great books and movies of our modern era: Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings, and even Game of Thrones. Though each journey has some variation to the theme, there are twelve basic stages to the story of a hero:


Joseph Campbell, one of the most renowned analysts of mythology, describes a wide variety of examples for each stage of the journey in his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, if you would like to learn more.

So, how does this work apply to an ordinary life? I might be likened to a Hobbit from time to time, but I assure you, there is no grand adventure ahead of me and certainly no handful of dwarves battling a dragon. So, how does this apply to a small life, like mine? From a Jungian perspective, the hero’s journey is more about confronting our own inner barriers, moving past our egos, and finding the means to integrate the previously hidden or unrealized potential we all hold inherent in our own humanity.

Today, we prepare to embark upon a journey of self-exploration during this, the dark time of the year, as the land sleeps and we find ourselves over and again alone with our thoughts. But, we have to make a few agreements before we begin:

  1. We agree to be honest with ourselves. Now is the time to take up a journal or a One Note and write our full reflections in their raw and shining beauty. We owe ourselves this gift of self-honesty.
  2. We agree to spend ten minutes a day for the next twelve days reflecting on each lesson. We will ask ourselves how this work applies to our lives right now, what it means for the future, where our journeys began, and where we hope to see them end. We need to spend time here, in this space, if we want this to truly unfold in our lives.
  3. We agree to be our own heroes. As much as television and society tells us we need to be inspired by others, I am asking you, for at least the next twelve nights, to be inspired by yourself. Too often being honest with ourselves involves forcing us to list off all the mistakes we have made and take emotional responsibility for them. If you find yourself making a list of mistakes, please stop. This journey is about what we CAN do moving forward, not about what we should have done in the past.

Guided Meditation: Be Your Own Hero

Rest for a moment as we settle into this space with twelve candles before us,
Unlit and full of potential,
To serve as our guides along the way.
Close your eyes if you’d like, and focus on your breath:
Breathe in and exhale, letting the cares of the day freely leave your body.
Breathe in and exhale, letting the cares of the day freely leave your mind.
Breathe in and exhale, letting the cares of the day freely leave your heart.

Focus now on the twelve candles before you.
See them as they are:
Ready to take flame on their wicks and to be a light in the world.
Feel their desire to achieve this goal.
Taste their yearning to find the spark that will set them upon their journey.
Hear the beating of your own heart as these desires are quickened within you.
You are like these candles, wicks at the ready,
Just waiting for the next spark of inspiration.

As you continue to breathe in and out,
Your mind searching within—
This is where you see it.
You see it and you know.
The Fire is within you, your own little spark of Divinity,
Resting in your own hand,
Prepared to light your way on whatever journey you wish to begin.
There is no need to seek elsewhere:
Here, in this space, in this time—
As it has always been whether you realized it or not:
You are your own Spark of Inspiration.
You are your own Hero.

Breathe in and exhale, relaxed and buoyed by the potential within you.
Your next journey is an unlit candle,
And you hold the Flame.

As you open your eyes, reflect for a moment on what this means, make these agreements with yourself, and consider a journal entry for your thoughts.


Saturday, November 17, 2018

Outdwellers Among the Gods

Throughout history, we have learned the stories of changes in power, typically as told through the eyes of the victors. A common phrase, “on earth as it is in heaven,” or “as above, so below,” reminds us that similar battles occur among the Deities to whom we devote our prayers. This lecture covers a few of the most prominent changes in power in our shared mythology.

The Titans and the Olympians

The story of Kronos and Rhea is well-known. Rhea bore Zues many children, and each child she bore, he devoured, because of a prophecy that told of his son rising against him to take his place. Lovely Hestia he devoured first, then Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon. When Rhea was pregnant with Zeus, Gaia conspired with her to replace the babe with a stone of like size and weight, which Kronos gobbled up without a second thought. Gaia fostered Zeus among the richest gardens in his youth until he came of age. He fought his father valiantly, and at last, Kronos spat up his siblings in the order he swallowed them: Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia. Zeus further freed those his father had enslaved, including his grandfather, Ouranos, and the Kyklopes, who gifted Zeus with the thunder and lightning bolt in tribute. Kronos was fettered in chains and sent to the outermost edges of the world to live with his wife, Rhea, in the land set aside for them, on the Isle of the Blest.

Once Kronos was out of the way, the Titans, who were loyal to him held their own, fighting from atop Mt. Othrys against the children of Kronos who fought from atop Mt. Olympus. Several of the Titans decided to fight with Zeus and the Olympians, and when the Olympians won, the remaining Titans loyal to Kronos were enchained and thrown into Tartaros, deep within the earth and covered over by the roots of the earth and the sea. Those who were loyal to Zeus were permitted to keep their stations, Hekate, Eos, Helios, Selene, Nyx, and Gaia. It is important to note that the names of those who did not choose the side of the Olympians are lost to us. (Kerenyi, 24-25)

Archaeological evidence shows that Ancient Greece has been inhabited since the Paleolithic age, including some of the earliest settlements that transitioned from hunting and gathering to an agrarian way of life. The agrarian ways seem to have originated in the Fertile Crescent to the east, since none of the grains (barley, wheat) or chief domesticated animals (goats, sheep) were native to the area. Once the area was settled, however, there is little evidence of much change from surrounding cultures. The largest changes where those of the peasant cultures from the Danube Valley beyond the Balkan Mountains in the fourth millennium. It was during the Bronze Age that the peoples we refer to today as the Hellenes came into the area and made it their home (Burkert 10). Anthropologically, these tales harken to a time before the Greeks can remember. It is speculated that the people of the “Titans” were those Paleolithic folks from before the Etruscans came and settled in what became Greece proper. The names of the peoples are not recorded and are as lost to the annals of history as the names of the Titans who died with them.

The Aesir and the Vanir

In the "golden era" of the distant past, the gods lived in harmony, playing games in the meadows. One day, Gullveig of the Vanir visited Óðin in his hall at Ásgarð. Gullveig could talk of nothing but her love for gold. The Æsir loathed listening to such talk, and decided that the world would be better off without her. They seized her, riddled her body with spears, and threw her onto the fire in the center of the hall. She burned to death, but stepped whole out of the flames. Twice more, she was seized, killed, and burned. Twice more, she walked whole out of the flames. She was a seer and enchantress, a mistress of magic.

When the Vanir heard how the Æsir had treated with Gullveig, they swore vengeance and began to prepare for war. Óðin, sitting in his high seat in Valaskjálf, saw the preparations, and soon the Æsir, too, prepared for war.

The gods moved against each other. Óðin cast his spear into the host of the Vanir. Thus, the first war began. The Vanir quickly gained the upper hand. Using magic, they reduced the walls of Ásgarð to rubble. The Æsir moved forward, and caused similar damage to Vanaheim. The battle raged, and the longer it went on, the more clear it became that neither side was likely to win.

The gods wearied and decided to meet to discuss terms. They argued about the origin of the war, and whether the Æsir alone were responsible, or whether both sides were entitled to tribute. In the end, they decided to live together in peace. To enforce this agreement, leaders from the two sides were exchanged as hostages. Njorð, his son Freyr, and his daughter Freyja, who were the leading Vanir, traveled to Ásgarð. In exchange, the Æsir sent Hœnir and Mímir to Vanaheim.

The Vanir appointed Hœnir to be one of their leaders. With the wise Mímir at his side, Hœnir was unfailing. But without Mímir, Hœnir seemed incapable of making a decision. "Let someone else decide," he would always say. The Vanir suspected that they had been tricked, and that they had gotten the worse part of the bargain in the exchange of leaders. For revenge, they hacked off the head of Mímir and sent it by messenger back to Óðin and the Æsir. Óðin cradled the head, smearing it with herbs and chanting magical charms over it. The head was preserved from decay and given the power of speech, so that Mímir could always share his wisdom with Óðin.

Freyja taught Óðin the magic called seiðr, which carried great power. He could learn men's fates, see the future, bring death and misery, or transfer intellect and strength from one man to another. But this magic was so unseemly and effeminate that it was thought shameful for men to have anything to do with it. (Davidson, 78-84)

Though there seems to be more of a balance of power, the Vanir took a much larger beating that the Aesir, and Óðin remained the High One. Again, the names of those who were not loyal to the Aesir are lost to us.

It is useful to note that Loki, who has become a despised character among many American heathens, is Óðin’s blood brother, but also a half-breed, and as such, he is never allowed to fit in. Óðin’s son, Thor, swears to protect the realm from giants, and in order to be accepted, Loki assists Thor in outwitting the giants, typically leading to their demise, time and time again. How must Loki feel to betray his own kind to fit in, just because they are not the same as those with the most power?
Anthropologically, it was during the third wave of the Indo-European expansion, the Kurgan peoples migrated through the Balkans, eventually settling in the river valleys east of the Rhine (Winn 342). The theory to explain the driving force behind the migrations centers on the Kurgan practice of animal husbandry. As their people expanded and their herds grew, they would need to seek further resources to meet the demand of their semi-nomadic, pastoral society.
During their migration, the Kurgan peoples interacted with the people known as the Trichterbecher (TRB), the “Funnel-Necked Beaker” culture, a non-Indo-European people of Old Europe named for the funnel-necked pots they crafted. The TRB peoples not only kept and bred animals like the Kurgans, but they also engaged in agricultural practices as a means to support their society—a practice that was not common at such an early time among the IE peoples who were more nomadic. The TRB peoples introduced the social concept of more permanent living spaces as well as introducing several different forms of tools, the plow and the wheel (Adams 596-598).
The archeological findings that date before 3000 BCE show that the TRB Culture buried their dead in communal plots with little to no personal possessions, but the Kurgan influence is evident in the later findings where personalized burials like those of their counterparts. There remains speculative evidence that a battle waged between the two cultures led the Kurgan peoples to move on and may possibly be the root of the epic battle between the Aesir (Kurgans) and the Vanir (TRB peoples) found in the Germanic lore (Adams 596-598). The Indo-European language maintained prevalence during this migration, as well as the societal structure based on patriarchy and a propensity for war (Winn 351).
Even with the influences of the TRB agriculture society, the Kurgans maintained their lust for exploration long after they settled into Germania. The Germanic peoples assumed few words into their language from surrounding peoples, preferring to “conquer and assimilate” those they invaded. The languages in the various Germanic hearths, such as Norman and Anglo-Saxon show distinct similarities that indicate the language evolved in a modestly linear fashion with variations easily attributed to the different peoples with whom they traded (Mallory 84-87).

The Fomorians, Nemedians, Fir Bolg, and Tuatha De Danaan

According to the Annals of the Four Masters the Fomorians have been variously described as God-like beings, spirits of chaos and nature, giants, more descendants of Noah, farmers, or just plain old pirates from Africa. They settled Ireland after the demise of Cessair, daughter of Noah, and remained there until the arrival of even more descendants of Noah: the followers of Partholon, a man from Greece or the Middle-East depending on the sources.

Three years after arriving in South Kerry (and after he had caused several lakes to spring up from the ground miraculously) Partholon and the Fomorians came to blows in the first recorded battle of Irish “history”. The Fomorians, led by Cichol, were, apparently, a simple people who lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, while Partholon and his crowd were farmers, that is, more advanced. The battle between the two took place at least two millennia before the birth of Christ. Numbers are not made clear, but Partholon had less than 10’000 followers total. Cichol had 800 at the battle. Outnumbered, Cichol and his Fomorions were defeated and wiped out to a man, but it was not the last time that race would pop up as Irish mythologies stock villain.

30 years later, a relative of Partholon, Nemed, arrived in Ireland from the Caspian Sea. He wasn’t there long before more Fomorians, this time under Kings of the name of Gann and Segann began to harass and raid the island yet again, leading to Ireland’s first proper war. Nemed was a leader of some renown and his people were fierce warriors. He defeated the Fomorians at Ros Fraechain where both of their Kings were killed. It would seem clear that the Fomorians just weren’t that great in battle, or were more used to simple raiding.

But things were soon looking up for them. The old enemy – plague – stuck the Nemedians hard nine years after their arrival, killing three thousand of them, including Nemed himself. The Fomorians had gained great leaders of their own, in the form of two brothers, Morc and Conand. They had established a mighty tower on Tory Island and from there, were able to oppress what remained of the Nemedians, extracting huge amounts of tribute in goods and slaves.

So things remained for over two centuries (people lived long lives back then) before the Nemedians, all 60’000 of them at this point, had enough and rose up in rebellion. Led by three great champions, Semul, Erglan and Fergus Red-Side, they attacked the Fomorians, reached Tory Island, and pulled down Conand’s tower, killing him and, conveniently, all his heirs too. Morc still remained, and the two sides fought a great sea battle nearby. Whatever it was, bad weather or divine intervention, the seas rose and both fleets were wrecked, only 30 or so Nemedians surviving out of both forces. Those survivors left Ireland, leaving the land desolate once again.

Next up were the Fir Bolg, who, depending again on who you read, were descendants of the surviving Nemedians, oppressed Greeks, or former settlers of Belgium fleeing persecution from the Gaels. They held Ireland (or “Eriu” as it was at the time) for 37 years, split into three different nations. But their famous arch-rivals, the Tuatha de Danann (“Peoples of the Goddess Danu”) then arrived to upset the apple cart. Other descendants of Nemed, they arrived in 300 ships off the west of Ireland, then immediately pulled a Cortez, burning them, signalling their intent to stay and fight for the island. The Tuatha de are heavily associated with magic and sorcery, the usual tale being that they were specialising in those things during their exile in “the islands of the north”.

The Tuatha de were led by a King named Nuada (who gives his name to modern day Maynooth) who faced off with the Fir Bolg at the Battle of Magh Tuireadh, near Cong, County Mayo. Before the battle, the Tuatha de demanded half the island or for the Fir Bolg to fight: fight they did and for four days too. The Tuatha de were victorious, though Nuada’s hand was lopped off. Subsequent negotiations with what was left of the Fir Bolg resulted in them getting Connacht to rule, leaving the rest for Nuada’s people. The Fir Bolg simply vanish from the myths after this.

Things didn’t turn out so great for the victors though, as Nuada relinquished the Kingship because he was not “whole”, with a fellow named Bres taking his place. Bres happened to be half-Fomorian (yup, they popped up again) and before too long, the old raiders were back in force, holding the Tuatha de as subjects under Bres’ rule. The Tuatha de grew restless and rebelled: Bres fled to another Fomorian leader, “Balor of the Evil Eye” for assistance in regaining his Kingdom. In the meantime Nuada, with a new silver hand from the Gods, became King of the Tuatha de once more.

Balor, a giant with one eye in his forehead (that could spit fire or something) and another on his back, was a powerful guy, and had soon raised a massive army to face Nuada. The two sides met at the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh, where Balor killed Nuada before being killed in turn by his own grandson Lugh, another half-Fomorian fighting on the Tuatha de side. Balor could apparently destroy people with the gaze of his front eye: he used it to kill Nuada, before Lugh tore it out and used it against the other Fomorians. Defeated, they fled, leaving Lugh as the new King of the Tuatha de Danaan.

Peace reigned for over a century, before the Tuatha de faced trouble from more invaders. The Milesians, held to perhaps be representative of the Celts, were a nominally Iberian race, who invaded the land to avenge the death of Ith, a Milesian wizard, at the hands of Tuatha de. The Milesian army landed in the south and fought their way to Tara, the traditional seat of power in Meath, to demand their claim over the island be recognised.

The Tuatha de struck a deal: the Milesians could be rulers of Ireland if, after three days of being anchored at sea, they could land on the island. The Milesians duly sailed out, only to be caught in a magical storm of the Tuatha de’s creation. Only a small number of the Milesians, led by the brothers Eber and Emiron, survived and these led the Milesians to final victory over the Tuatha de at the Battles of Tailtiu, Meath and Sleigh Mis, Antrim. The land was divided between the two, north to Erimon and the south to Eber.

One last battle of this mythic age was yet to be fought, as Eber grew unhappy with his lot and made war against his brother for the whole island. They fought the Battle of Airgetros, somewhere in Kilkenny, where Eber was defeated and killed. Thus, Erimon won control of the whole island, becoming the sole “High King”, still over a thousand years before the birth of Christ. (Rees, 32-37)

These are claimed as the “History of the Irish People,” and there are some who believe, much like the Greek and Germanic IE followers, the Deities are actually deified humans who took on an immortal persona for the good, or at least memorable, deeds that they performed—and Irish sort of Hero Cult, if you will.  Again, we see the names of the conquered people always as the evil characters, and the victors seen in a positive light. These stories have more names in them than the Germanic and Hellenic, because of the unapologetic Christianization of the mythos.

The Romans

The Romans have a well-documented history, moving through miles after mile, conquering the peoples, resulting in assimilation to the ways of Rome or the adoption of the Deities the conquered people refused to stop worshipping into the Roman pantheon. Rome sometimes adopted a deity, usually a war-god, because they liked what they stood for, and rebranded them to fit the Roman cause. Once the Roman elite converted to Christianity, it became increasingly difficult for the polytheist folks to maintain their identity. Entire tribes were wiped out, or near to it, if they refused to convert. The Balts were almost completely lost to us during the crusades.

Over time, the Christian Romans overtook the old holy days, Saturnalia lost it’s name, but most of the symbols remained, again, rebranded to fit the Roman cause. The church eventually adopted all of the pagan feast days and rebranded them for the Roman calendar. With the Pope-figure as the “new Ceasar,” religious rule made it easy to justify crimes against the remaining pagan folk, with words like “barbarian” added to the language, so used because of the “bar bar bar” that marked the sound of their language to the Roman ear, trained to the lyrical latin.

Fortunately for us, the Roman scholars had a thirst for preservation, and we did not lose all the myths. 

Discussion:

What patterns do you see here that directly relate to patterns we see currently? If we look at the migration of the American Christian across the plains, we can see the repetition of the new God(s) replacing the conquered people.

Bibliography

Adams, D.Q. and Mallory, J.P. Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. Chicago, IL: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1997. Print.

Burkert, Walter. Greek Religion. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985. Print.

Davidson, H.R. Ellis. The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe. New York, NY: Routledge, 1993. Print.

Jones, Prudence, and Pennick, Nigel. A History of Pagan Europe. New York, NY: Routledge, 1995. Print.

Kerenyi, Karl. The Gods of the Greeks. New York, NY: Thames & Hudson, 1951. Print.

Littleton, C. Scott. The New Comparative Mythology: An Anthropological Assessment of the Theories of Georges Dumezil. Revised Ed. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1973. Print.

Mallory, J.P.  In Search of the Indo-Europeans. London, New York: Thames & Hudson Inc., 1989. Print.

Puhvel, Jaan. Comparative Mythology. London: Johns Hopkins Press, 1989. Print.

Rees, Alwyn and Rees, Brinley. Celtic Heritage. New York, NY: Thames & Hudson, 1961. Print.

Winn, Shan M. Heaven, Heroes and Happiness. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1995. Print.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

On Taking an Omen...

Omens in public rites begin far before the actually pulling of the staves. I first begin with feeling the space prior to the beginning of the rite, getting a solid baseline for the energies of the place before we begin. Without this baseline, it is more difficult to detect the changes in the atmosphere, which may be subtle. Once the rite has begun, I pay close attention to the words of the ritual celebrants, the words of the folk, the body language of the folk, animal-kin signs, and patterns of clouds or changes in the sky. All of these are ways in which the natural environment responds to the moving energy and influences the folk in attendance.  Once the final sacrifice has been made, I take a drop of Water from the Well and place this upon my third eye to attune myself to the words of the Wise. I wave my hand over the fire and touch the tree, as well, if we are in a space to do so. I speak a blessing that is a variation of the following:

May the true sight be upon me.
May my eyes be opened that I may see the truth.
May I speak clearly the blessings as the Kindreds wish the folk to hear them.

I rub the runes between my fingers in the bag as I am speaking the Seer’s Blessing. Once complete, I place my hand in the bag and take up a handful of runes. I let them fall out of my hand until the heaviest in left. I pull each stave in succession of “part, present, and future” to get a full sense of the omen. The “past” is that which the Kindreds wish to remind us that is relevant to the present. The “present” is that which is coming to pass that leads us to the future. The “future” is the potential outcome of these events. Taken together, the omen provides information regarding how we ended up where we are, where we are going, and what guidance the Kindreds have for us moving forward.

When taking an omen for an individual, it is different. I typically begin by asking the other person who their allies are in order to make offerings and prepare myself to listen to these Spirits. I ask them if they would like the three- or the five-rune spread. I have the individual make offerings, if appropriate for their relationship, and to think on their question, making it a single question, as clear and concise as possible. After a few moments of introspection and light trance induction for myself, I open myself to the influence of their allies and begin to feel the runes in the bag. After I feel the connection between myself and their allies, I place my hand in the bag and draw the same as listed above, letting the heaviest runes stay in my hand until I have the number of staves desired by the individual. I allow the inspiration of the allies to speak through me and the runes as I explain what I am seeing. When it feels as though the message is done, I declare, “This I have seen,” to let the individual know I have completed. Then, I ask, “Do you understand?” From here, further clarification via another rune may be provided at the discretion of the individual. There are times when the message is not one the individual understands, and I have had to tell someone I do not see or hear anything, and ask if they’d like to ask another question or try again at another time.

In my work with public omens, you will note that I do not call to a spirit ally of my own. I have found that taking the omen in public is very similar to taking an omen for another individual. It is not about me and my allies. It is about the folk and what message the Kindreds has for us as a whole. If I limit myself to only that which my allies wish to share, I filter the entire experience through myself. In order to be a better servant, I have learned when to listen to my own allies and when a greater audience is to be given to the hosts.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

In a post-Axial world, why do we still make offerings?

If we don’t need to make offerings to recreate the cosmos and uphold the world, if we don’t need to make offerings to appease the gods, if we don’t need to make offerings to keep the sun and moon and stars in their proper places in the heavens, and if we don’t need to make offerings to make the growing things sprout and grow, because all the forces of nature just go on their own, why do we need to make offerings?

We make offerings because the symbolism of sacrifice as a means of keeping the worlds in order brings peace to the mind. Offerings made to appease the gods and keep the cosmic order were a part of what kept the people feeling secure in their place in the cosmos. If the gods are truly daemones who have little interest categorically in the affairs of humanity, then making an offering is likely one of the best ways to gain their interest. If the gods, daemones, spirits, angels, guides, or whatever words used to describe them do not exist, we make offerings because the shared sense of community restores our capacity to empathize with one another and experience compassion both as a giver and receiver of love.

Humankind is a social species. The practice of religion is one of the strongest avenues for social connection between us. When we create opportunities for shared experiences, we create opportunities for increased depth in our social connections, which aids in individual health and well-being. Human interaction increases the brain chemicals responsible for mental health, happiness, and harmony. The sense of connection between us is innate, biological, and necessary for living a good life, a life we enjoy. Even if we as individuals see ourselves as the most important thing in our world, the notion that each of us sees the individual Self as most important should elicit the response of empathy because of the mutual understanding borne of intellectual connection and shared belief.

Making offerings around the fire may not be what keeps the sun and moon in their proper place, it may not help the plants to grow, the animals to breed, or the seasons to turn, but it does provide the unique opportunity to participate in a tradition far older than any of the Ancestors in our lines whose names we can remember. It is an action that ties us via shared experience to the most ancient of peoples, teaching us the lessons of every age between the beginning of human time and now. It is the unbroken lineage neopagans long for and hope to find in the new age teaching whose books are available at Barnes & Noble. But the fact remains that the only unbroken line we have is the ability to tap into the current of behavioral practices of the ancestors and participate in the greater spiritual cycles of humanity. There may not be deities or even anything at all on the receiving end of these offerings—except our Selves, and that may be the best reason of all to continue to practice. In a world that doesn’t feed the sense of community we need to thrive, sharing the ethereal experience of offering-based spirituality may be the key to creating the mindful attitude we need to achieve inner peace and enlightenment.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Three Kindreds and Magic

The Ancestors are a source of wisdom, having passed through this world and into the next. They have moved outside of the constraints of time and space, and from this vantage, they can grant us the gift of vision through not only forward-moving information but also the gift of retrospection. The Ancestors accept our gifts of coin and food that they may know plenty in their afterlife. In exchange for these gifts, they grant us insight and assist us with ideas and motivation to work on those things for which they have laid a foundation. In my personal practice, I call to them often for insight and love. I make offerings with the intent to remember their stories that they may live on. ADF Cosmology speaks of the Ancient Ones in the Deep of the Well, feeding potential to our new endeavors through the insights of the work they have done in the past.

The Noble Kin are our Nature Spirits, those beings with whom we share the middle realm. The Noble Ones provide omens and portends as well as inspiration and insight. We practice aligns closely with ADF Cosmology in that the beings of the middle realm work closely with us, since they are the closest to us in terms of proximity, and will aid and inspire us in our work in this realm. Many diviners will see animal kin as signs, particularly when they appear as though out of nowhere and grasp our attention fully away from our ponderings to fill our minds with a potential path toward accomplishing our goal.

The Shining Ones, Denizens of the Cosmos, are more likely to assist us in endeavors that affect our role and how we fit into the greater world and worlds. The number of touch points between one life and those of others, through things such as jobs or traveling, are important to the outcomes of all involved. Each thread of the web of life, when pulled, impacts all the others. When we call to any of the Shining Ones, we are inviting them to assist us in finding our footing on the path of our lives. The Norse refer to this as the wyrd of our orlog (fate and destiny, loosely). When I call to a Deity, it is with the intent to make offerings in the hope that they will give to me those things for which I ask. Spirit Arte is the word for this.  ADF tends to follow the same notion, as *ghosti is an essential part of working with the Shining Ones.

See also: Thomas, Rev. Kirk. “The Nature of Sacrifice.” Web. Retrieved from
http://www.adf.org/articles/cosmology/nature-of-sacrifice.html.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Key Offerings for the Norse Deities/Nine Noble Virtues

As we gather before their Sacred Tree, we call to the Gods and Goddesses whose strengths and attributes sing the songs of the Nine Noble Virtues. As we invite them to our Fire, may we reflect on the manifestation of each of these virtues in our own lives, filling our hearts with gratitude for the many blessings—those gifts given freely and those hard-won through our struggles and triumphs over adversity. Regardless of life path, the Gods hear our prayers and lead us by example, showing us the way to right living.

Nine Offerings for those who exemplify the Nine Noble Virtues

We begin by calling to Lady Idunna of the Golden Apples, she who tends the tree of immortality with loving care, maintaining its health and well-being that she may give those blessings to the Aesir and Vanir of Asgard. Idunna, who embodies generosity through her careful tending, and hospitality through her willingness to share. Idunna, we honor you.

Next, we call once more to Heimdalr, lays order to the world and keeps watch over the realms, he who takes not more than his fill nor more than his hosts are able to give without complaint, He of Stilled Mind that hears the wool and grass grow, he who sees all. Disciplined, sharp, ruler of his own destiny that he may serve others. Heimdalr, we honor you.

We call to Lady Freyja, Mistress of the Honored, Chosen dead; Brising-Magic Maiden of Seidhr and Foresight, She who loves without fear, She who makes no apologies for following her heart, Valkyrie, Mardoll, Strongest of Women, Lady of the Vanir, She who had the courage to fill Hrungnir’s Horn when no one would approach him. For courage and boldness, Freyja, we honor you.

We call also to Fertile Freyr of the fields of Alfheim, God of Bountiful Harvest, Rain and Sun, Bestower of Peace and Prosperity, Defeater of Beli with Antler for Sword. Teaches us to remember not to battle, to lay down our weapons, and to put our energy instead into cultivating the land and our relationships with one another through determination and hard-work, for the best rewards we receive are those we reap from what we have sown. Freyr, we honor you.

We hail Skadhi, who lives alone in her mountain home, the Woman who Runs with the Wolves; She who marched upon Asgard to demand recompense for her Father’s death, to demand respect be paid to her--and received it in Odin’s Hall. For teaching us responsibility and the art of respect, Skadhi, we honor you.

We give hail toAsa-Thor, Son of Odin, Ruler of Mjollnir, Jotun’s Bane, Slayer of Hrungnir, Geirrod, and Thrivaldi, enemy of the Midgard Serpent, Drinker of the Sea who runs against thought and challenges Fire to a feast. For your strength, endurance, and steadfastness, Asa-Thor, we honor you.

We pay homage to Frigga, Goddess of the Spindle Hearth, She who sees all and yet does not wag her tongue with idle gossip, Goddess of Hearth and Home, Keeper of the Fallen Children, Queen of Asgard. For fidelity and Frith, for loyalty and honor, Frigga, we honor you.

We give great tribute to Odin, Alfather. Lord of Wisdom, Keeper of Thought and Memory, He who outwits and outthinks even Loki, Lord of Wit and Trickery. Sacrificer who gives way to knowledge and vision, taking them up screaming! That he may be bathed in truth and wisdom. Odin, we honor you.

And we call to Lord Tyr, Leavings of the Wolf, He who sacrifices of himself for the good of the tribe at great cost to maintain order. Fenris-Binder, Gloved-Spear, North Star, Granter of Direction, and Keeper of Oaths. As the eye is sacrificed for vision, so, too, must the right hand be sacrificed for justice. Tyr, we honor you.

Dieites, All, accept our offerings!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Working for the Children Separated at the Border

Right Action. That is the crux of our religious practice. As a religion that prides itself on orthopraxy over orthodoxy, right action over right belief, the actions of the current administration must be viewed as reprehensible. We live in a country where our leaders thought it was in our best interest to remove children from their families at the border in the name of safety. Children, feeling from violence and deplorable conditions, who believed in the façade of the United States, “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave,” where they thought they would finally be safe. Regardless of political affiliation or formal stances on immigration laws, the act of separating children from their primary care givers cannot be our way of protecting ourselves or allowed to continue.

Right now, especially from so far away from the border and internment camps, it may seem like there is not much we can do, but we can put pressure on our congresspersons to intervene and reunite these families.

I ask you to join me, right now, in these prayers for those children, alone in a place they’ve never been and waiting for their families to be together again.

The Children of the Earth call out on behalf of our Neighbor’s Children,
Those little ones who are alone and afraid,
Those young ones who are separated from their support and strength,
That we may be their support,
That we may be their strength,
That we may uphold them until they are reunited with their families.

Young Ones, In a place where there is no love, we ask the Kindreds to shine love upon you,
Even if from the most unexpected places.
In a place where there is fear, we ask the Kindreds to grant courage to you,
Even in the face of uncertainty and foreign words.
In a place where you are along, we ask the Kindreds to make their presence known:
May the Gods of your people stand beside you.
May the Noble Kin of the places where you wait protect you.
May your Ancestors uphold and guide you.
May Humanity not fail you during this time of separation, loss, and sadness.
So say we all.

In a place where there is far too much silence, I ask you all now to raise your voice with mine that we may be heard across the miles. Send all the love and empathy, strength and courage you can muster to these gentle souls, our Neighbor’s Children, that they may be sustained and strengthened while we fight on their behalf to reunite them with their families. If tears come, let them fall as the Waters of Life for those who need these blessings.

[Proceed with toning]

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Vocational Statement as a Consecrated Priestess of ADF

What calls you to become an ADF Consecrated Priest? How does this step fit with your calling as an ADF Priest?

Consecration, for me, is an initiation into the deeper mysteries of the clergy work we do on behalf of the folk of ADF and the polytheist community. I am oath-bound to continuing my studies in the programs of ADF, and this is but the next step is honoring my promise to the Kindreds and the folk.

How have the specializations you chose within the CTP prepared you for the deeper work of an ADF Consecrated Priest?

I completed the entirety of courses offered at this level. One of the things I feel drawn toward is mentoring, and in order to be able to speak intelligently to others, I must study not only the things that are important to me, but those that will make me a better servant to those with whom I study.  
Were I to choose two courses that I feel are the most representative of my personal calling, I would choose Leadership Development and Professional Helper. These courses cover the skillset that I see as my biggest strength. As an administrative priest, these courses are ideal for the demeanor of one who offers these services, and I am hoping to assist in developing additional courses for our priests in the area of Leadership Development with the potential to offer additional courses to the membership, as well.

What does your inner work look like? How has your inner work prepared you for greater outer work with the community of ADF?

My inner work is quiet—far quieter than one might think when considering how extroverted I am. One of areas I have developed since ordination is in my ability to remain quiet in the presence of the Kindreds and allow them to speak back to me rather than expecting them to listen while I make offerings and then leaving before there is time for us to commune. This practice in active listening has opened my world in terms of relating to others within the community.  
I have also been relating to local-centric beings, and this has allowed me to better connect to the Kindreds when traveling. A happy byproduct of this work is that my ability to connect with the allies of those with whom I am working has improved. I am more able to provide divination and healing through the allies of those who seek my assistance. 
What further skills would you like to develop as an ADF Consecrated Priest, and how will these skills help grow Our Druidry?

In my next phase of study, I would like to work more to develop my ability to speak with the clergy of other faiths. I have done a small amount of interfaith work, but without a degree in religious studies, there is quite a gap between us. In order for us as polytheists to be taken more seriously as peers by those with a Master of Divinity degree, we must be able to speak to them at that level of education. Studying comparative religion and theology are the two items to which I am looking forward the most.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Beginning Trance: Building the Inner Grove

As Rev. Ian Corrigan points out, the skills of seership, of perceiving and moving in the Otherworlds, are seated in the human imagination. To the Ancients, the human mind was part of the spiritual world, and the spiritual world directly impacted the material world.  The Otherworld was the place where the stories lived, the home of the Deities and the Ancestors. As Professor Dumbledore said, “Of course this is happening in your mind, Harry. That doesn’t make it less real.”

In order for us to move freely from our world into the Other and back again with success and control, it is helpful to begin by creating a safe place, a place within our own minds, where we are in control of where we go, with whom, and for how long. This space is our inner temple, our inner grove, our inner nemeton. It is deliberately constructed and can be modified at any time to suit our needs.

The idea is that we can train ourselves through several “waypoints” to enter the mists and arrive in these spaces, travel to wherever we need to go (or host guests), and move back through the mists to where we began in our waking minds.

The inner grove, threshold locale, is near to where we begin; we just need to build a path to get from here to there. We begin by conjuring the Mists of the Between. Literally, these are mists that arise for you when you need to travel to another location. The path through them may always be the same, but the location will be defined by your purpose. 
_____

In your minds eye, see before you a swirling fog, swirling mists reflecting light in tiny rainbows, thick and obscuring your vision entirely. Before you, one of these waypoints begins to materialize. What is it? Is it a sign? Is it a landmark? Keep track of what you see and where as you walk along the path.

As the Mists of the Between begin to part, you find yourself in your inner grove.  Here, you must build your own space. Much like creating your shrine at home, you create your personalized inner grove to reflect the nature of your work in this place. Look around and find a place the Fire. Build and light the Fire. Now, find a space and dig the Well. Find the Tree you want to build relationship with as your World Tree. If you need to, move it, or plant one and watch it grow to maturity right before your eyes. Later, this Tree may be a Gate through which you travel to other realms. 

With your hallows completed, you have some decisions to make, but we will save them for another time. Take a good look at what you have built today that you may arrive and find everything where you left it.

Call the Mists once more, and follow your path back.
_____

You will need to complete this work at least three times on your own to finish building and designing your space. You have a space and all three Hallows. You will need an altar or working space for your nemeton. You may wish to give your nemeton a different name.

You may need to take a step back and practice conjuring the Mists. These you may do at the beginning of your work every time, and use the mists as the method for entering into trance. You may arrive at your nemeton and practice conjuring the mists there to be able to watch them grow and ebb as you call them.

After you have completed construction and successfully made it to and from your nemeton alone through the mists at least three times, you are ready to use this method to move between the worlds. You may wish to begin by inviting your allies to meet you in this space so that they can find you there. You may want to call a spirit kin to travel through the mists of magic with you to get to your nemeton that this ally may always be able to guide you through the mists. It all depends on how you frame your practice.

Remember, when you enter into a trance space, at any time, you can conjure the mists and follow the path to arrive in your nemeton, safe and secure. And from there, you will always be able to find your way home.

Now, you are ready for full-blown trance journeys. Don’t forget to keep a journal!