My Guides/Animal forms: The Raven

This is the first of my blogs into my guides and my animal forms whilst doing a shamanistic style of journeying.

I have several guides and animal forms I adopt in my journeys and I shall start with the main one and one of the aspects of my spiritual form.

‘A raven is one of several larger-bodied species of the genus Corvus. These species do not form a single taxonomic group within the genus.

There is no consistent distinction between “crows” and “ravens”, and these appellations have been assigned to different species chiefly on the basis of their size, crows generally being smaller than ravens.

The largest raven species are the common raven and the thick-billed raven.’
wikipedia.com

 

‘Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he,

But, with mien of Lord or Lady, perched above my chamber door —

Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door –

Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe.

Though I shall mention that the passive aggressive version goes; ‘Quoth the Raven, “Nevermind.”’

The Raven has many different mythology links all across the world, from the native Americans, the Norse & Germanic tribes, Celtic, Greek, Judaism and the Abrahamic faiths and also is seen in Hinduism.

For the native American tribes, the Raven is seen in most as either a creator god or a trickster god, sometimes both. In one of the myths Raven was responsible in giving light to the world.

In Norse and Germanic mythology Odin had two Ravens, Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory), and they served Odin as his eyes and ears.

In the Celtic traditions the Raven is associated with Badb and Morrighan. There is also Bran the Blessed, whose name means Raven.

The Greek myths they were associated with Apollo, the God of prophesy. They were messengers in the mortal world.

Noah sent a Raven as the first bird when searching for land and in the book of Leviticus they are a banned food.

The raven therefore has sometimes had a bad press and is associated with bad luck and as they are regarded as psychopomps (guides of souls to the spirit world) this also feeds that particular superstition.

For me, when I journey, I mostly fly as a Raven and as such is also my spiritual form I take on when I need to distance work. It is a great bird to have when communicating with the spirit world as its comfortable travelling between this world and the next.

It was the first animal form I took when I started my journeying. And the most comfortable. Its great feeling the air under the wings and also when perched on high trees etc… you get to see a lot. As a guide I feel it lends itself to finding clarity especially when contacting the ancestors.

The next guide blogs will be focusing on my elemental guides…..

BB

Ian

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Faith and Spirituality in Mental Health

As a person with bad mental health this is mostly from the perspective of mental health, but could hopefully be off some help to those with bad physical health too.

I suffer from primarily depression and anxiety. I have been suffering from depression for quite a long while but more and more anxiety has becoming more and more prominent.

This blog has been prompted by a facebook PM I received which I have taken great exception to. I have yet to respond to the PM, as every time I look at it I get very angry.

Paraphrasing it was saying that faith is no help to my problems and therapy was the only way.

I shall point out that everyone should always consult a GP or other health professional as a first port of call in any health problem.

As of yet the only therapy I had been offered, apart from medication of which is only effective for me in the short term, made my anxiety worse not better. I was offered a series of group CBT sessions on anxiety. First of all the sessions were held in a back room of a Costa coffee (it was a NHS service), and the only thing it did for me was make me realise that some things I was doing were in fact ways I was showing anxiety. Which in turn has made me more anxious.

When I explained this to my GP, they shrugged and said would you like anything else, which I said yes to and was told they would let me know….. that was quite a while ago and I have heard nothing yet. Yes I could chase them up, but again with anxiety my main fear is being a pain in the ass…..so I have not chased them up.

In some ways I feel I have been let down by the health service, but my logical mind tells me that with the current circumstances the NHS is seriously stretched I cannot blame it for me disappearing in the cracks…. I do blame myself for not chasing…. then anxiety kicks in again.

I do know that therapy does work for and for some people it has been a very positive experience for some people. I have yet to experience it personally.

But as is this blog is on faith and spirituality in mental health lets define a few terms:

Definitions

Faith is described as:

Wikipedia says:

In the context of religion, one can define faith as confidence or trust in a particular system of religious belief, within which faith may equate to confidence based on some perceived degree of warrant.

en.oxforddictionaries.com says:

1. Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

2. Strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.

2.1. A particular religion.

2.2. A strongly held belief.

Spirituality is described as:

Wikipedia says:

Traditionally, spirituality refers to a religious process of re-formation which “aims to recover the original shape of man,” oriented at “the image of God” as exemplified by the founders and sacred texts of the religions of the world. In modern times the emphasis is on subjective experience of a sacred dimension and the “deepest values and meanings by which people live,” often in a context separate from organized religious institutions. Modern systems of spirituality may include a belief in a supernatural (beyond the known and observable) realm, personal growth, a quest for an ultimate or sacred meaning, religious experience, or an encounter with one’s own “inner dimension.”

en.oxforddictionaries.com says:

The quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.

Mental Health is described as:

Wikipedia says:

Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of mental illness. It is the “psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioural adjustment”.

en.oxforddictionaries.com says:

A person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.

So what has that got to do with the price of fish.

So to sum up faith and spirituality could be defined as a belief of something that is not of the body. Mental health is of the body…..

From a personal point of view; my body is not well, though I find comfort and trust in something that isn’t of my body. Possibly its a form of escapism or a focus beyond my capacity. Or its placebo effect my be having an effect in not making me seek a more permanent way of ending my problems.

Maybe the trust of non corporeal form mirrors sometimes the lack of confidence I have or my trust of others I sometime have.

Yes I acknowledge that faith could be a placebo… But whatever the source, something that you can gather strength from, regardless of whether they are real or not, is a positive. When everyday you struggle to even sometimes get out of bed because you don’t want to face anything at all, being able to draw upon something to enable you to do anything cannot be dismissed.

It has been acknowledged amongst all the faith communities that they need to take steps to help their own communities as they are a magnet for all those with health problems (for example Christian pilgrimages to Lourdes etc.). And all of them are taking steps to address the situation. The Pagan Federation itself has a dedicated team to offer advice and support to those facing physical or mental health problems.

But why do I turn to my faith and spiritual practices for help with my problems?

In my shamanic practices I have been going through some very strong and significant journeys.

My main guide at the moment is someone I have had to battle for a long time now. I have even had a sword fight with him whilst in journey, which ended with him slashing my chest from my left shoulder to the base of my sternum.

But through him I have attained something that has a significant impact of my own spiritual development. One aspect of which has also provided me with another spiritual duty I have to uphold, which at this time I am unwilling to publicly go in to at this time.

But part of this practice has a real world significance as well. As it does allow me to explore myself from a outside point of view. It has enabled me to identify some of my own problems and issues, though at the moment I have not yet divine a solution but at least I know when I get into a bad place I know what the cause is.

To sum up. Faith for me could be the biggest sugar pill I am taking, but its providing me with some of the strength and direction I am severely lacking at the moment. I know I need more than that.

But the biggest part of it is something I haven’t touched on yet.

Earlier I touched on the role faith communities are now acknowledging and tackling in helping those whom are having health problems. One thing that seeking faith and spirituality in trying to overcome health problems is that you come into contact with others whom are also suffering with bad health.

And that also can be a huge benefit. In just being in contact with those people can be empowering and strength can be gained in numbers……

For me personally, I feel a lot better when I am helping others to get through their problems. Though I cannot sort myself out, knowing I have been of help to someone does lift me.

Wassail.

Summer Solstice and Ancestors

Today is the summer solstice, the day where we get the maximum amount of sunlight.  And after today we start to swing in to the dark half of the year, going through the harvest festivals till we reach the darkest day of the year.  The continuing cycles of the year is a constant reminder that life continues regardless of whether there are times when we are jubilant or times when we are sad.  Life continues.

I am writing this just after coming home after watching the sun rise whilst I was in Brocks Hill Park.  Even though I have posted this on here this afternoon.

The reason being is due to by the time this gets posted I would have taken part in a ritual that is conducted around midday.

A few weeks ago I was asked to take part in this ritual to call the ancestors.  This was for various reasons.  And this was at a time I was still very much in a dark place.  I am still not completely out of it but there is progress.

Even this time last week I was having doubts whether or not I should do it.  However I knew that I really should be taking part.

Then I sat down to start putting together what I should be saying and within 10 minutes I had not only written it but had typed it out.  I felt that I was helped significantly by the ancestors with what I wrote.  But it is significantly different from normal invocations.  I feel so strongly about its message I have also decided to post here for others to read.  I will point out for those that hear me saying it that if there are any deviations from what I say to what I wrote I shall quote the wise words of Eric Morcambe ‘I am playing the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order’.

“I call upon the ancestors to join with us in our celebration of the solstice.

But who do we mean when we call up on ancestors.  First and foremost we refer to our own personal ancestors, kith and kin and loved ones whom have passed before ourselves.

But we also mean those whom have given us their tales of their deeds.  In the Havamal it is written:

Cattle die, kinsmen die,
You yourself will die
But the word about you will never die
If you win a good reputation.

Cattle die, kinsmen die,
You you yourself will die
I know one that never dies
The reputation of those who did.

So we honour those whom have given us their tales; philosophers, mathematicians, scientists, kings and queens, writers, artists, musicians, engineers, healers and so on.

But what of those whom are with small tales or those whom were never given a chance to tell their own?

I mention this in wake of the recent events in Manchester and London, to those innocents whom will never be able to give us their stories.

But I say their story is one of the biggest tales.

The story of how and why they died and why it should never have happened. And to the lesson of what will happen in nothing is done about it.

I ask everyone now to bow their heads and give a moments silence to pay our respects to those whom have lost their lives in these tragedies and to their families, friends and loved ones.

I call upon the ancestors,in particular to the silent story tellers, to join with us in our celebration.

To the ancestors I bid you (hail and welcome).”

BB  Ian.

The cost of spirituality, of conflict and self preservation.

I started writing this blog last week but due to various interruptions, some of which were extremely important,I have decided to completely re-write it and whilst the title and one quote survived, and in some way the title has taken on a new significance, its a completely different blog to what I originally intended.

The cost of spirituality:

‘The price of being the best is always . . . having to be the best’ – Esme Weatherwax in Lord & Ladies by Terry Pratchett.

I have over the last couple of weeks/month been pondering on some of the adverts I have been seeing cropping up over facebook for various people offering their spiritual services/teaching. And for most I had been thinking ‘HOW MUCH!!!’.

However recent events and conversations have revealed much of why this can be a necessity and in the last two weeks alone I have worked out that I could have charged for my own services and earned in excess of £400….

However what I have is sporadic and in most cases out of normal office hours and usually in unusual circumstances and never planned or scheduled.

I have obviously revalued my opinions on this subject and have done some serious thinking in whether I should go that way as well.

In part I may, as I have an idea for a new project which I will keep very much under wraps (only one person is aware of what I am planning, though their partner may also be aware of it as well…). If it goes well I may get some earnings from it. But more will be revealed of this in time.

But these conversations have revealed that more and more I am getting more and more into my role as goði, offering practical advice, spiritual advice (sometimes using the spiritual 2×4) and just being there to listen to people’s problems.

Of Conflict:

Well this was going to be on inter-personal conflicts, in particular the conflict between myself and others…..

Things change and whilst there are some that still persist the main one has taken a distinct change of direction and purpose…. Though much of which went on and what changed it I cannot reveal. But it as changed., to what end cannot be seen yet.

But there still is some conflicts in my personal and public life which have yet to be resolved and in some I doubt they will ever be resolved. But it isn’t over till the obesity challenged person of female gender sings…..

Of Self Preservation:

This has been the section that has almost completely changed since I originally started to write this blog.

In one area what I had decided I am still going to implement. However over what had been the main area of conflict I had perceived that my own self-preservation was going to be dealt with in a particular way, but now as that succinctly changed the method of self-preservation has also had to change, and more now in line of how I perceive the role of goði should be, through guidance and teaching rather than in myself withdrawing or in open conflict.

There is still a need in this case for self-preservation but using intelligence and wisdom rather than instinct and brute force.

I shall try and do another blog before I attend a funeral in the next week, but more likely it will be after.

Ian (goði).

Life, shit and other stuff…..

I have not done a blog for a while as various things have got in the way and basically not felt like it.

And at the moment I still don’t…

But anyway here goes.

I have just done my bit of self advertising whilst filing out the form for a TARA (Tenants and Residents Association) for the Wigston Community Flat. And despite how much had that went on last year, which is still having an impact on my life now, I have done a few things which have been a great positive.

On the form I mentioned about doing talks, in the the last 18 months I have done the following talks:

Pagan Pride 2015 – 15 minutes on Heathenry
National Inter-faith week 2015 – 15 minutes on Paganism and the Environment for Christians Aware.
Late 2015 – 2 hour talk on Paganism for the Mayfield club in Markfield
February 2016 – 1 hour and a half talk Paganism and Pilgamage for Christians Aware
Beltane 2016 – 15/20 minutes on Walpurgisnacht and the subtle differences between the Heathen and accepted 8 pagan festivals for the Beltane Spring Fayre
October 2016 – 1 Hour (I think) member of a question panel at St Pauls RC in Evington.
December 2016 – 15 minutes on Paganism for the Oadby & Wigston Community Engagement Forum at the O&WBC council chambers.

On top of this is the moots (for which in 2016 I missed 2 out of 12), the infrequent workshops and the various inter-faith events, in particular he Autumn and Spring courses at Christians Aware where I do take an active part.

The latest moot, on storytelling, I shall post notes and a youtube playlist shortly on here.

All very much positive.

And yet things keep dragging me down. Most of which is the sense of a gap in my life where I should be sharing these things with someone….

I also have had the torment of where there is something going on where my heart wants to abandon everything and help but my head knows that whilst there may be an instant gratification in such an act the long term effects and the subsequent torment it will create for my heart, plus the fact it probably won’t be reciprocated either, won’t be worth it. It doesn’t stop my heart wanting to do it though.

Also with Petra’s passing and various other things going on I feel very much on a low ebb.

In time I feel that there will be someone meaningful in my life sharing these good times with but until there is someone there is a big hole…

Ian.

‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on!

Mr. Praline: ‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

From the parrot sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Death.

An essential part of life.

For various reasons its been on my mind quite a bit recently…

And yesterday was no different.

I was sitting on a bench in Jubilee Square in Leicester City Centre and was approached by a stranger who was insistent in talking to me, I was sitting there listening to my mp3 player and he didn’t take the hint when I kept putting my headphones back in my ears. He was holding a can of beer and just been released from the cells after being caught drink driving and possession of cannabis. My thoughts were not kind as this person could have killed someone if he had crashed. But he didn’t seem repentant but had some jubilation that they hadn’t found the spliff in his back pocket and anxious as a ban would mean he would lose his job as a decorator. The reason he had been drinking was that he was worrying that his wife may be divorcing him. After all this he thanked me as he could not talk to anyone but a complete stranger about this.

I sat for a while before heading back to catch my bus home. I took it slowly and as I walked what I thought was all the people whom I was going past were dead people walking. Every single one of them were dying slowly. Some would pass soon and some would live long lives. But all will go someday. A very sobering thought. It led to the thought why do we continue with this as eventually we all go, what does all this matter?

Why do we? And what happens afterwards….

I have always maintained that I will only be able to enter Valhöll if I had a heart attack whilst in a vicious and sustained debate, otherwise its Helheim for me.

But whilst I am here my role as a seidrman, shaman, I am the link between this life and the next. A psychopomp, a guide for the souls to their next life. My aspect is a raven and I have a natural ability for mediumship, one thing I do need to develop at some point.

But I am not here just for the dead, I am here for the living too. This is my role as a Goði. Yesterday it was a complete stranger who needed to talk, even though I wasn’t enamoured by him, and today during Chill N Chat helping a friend, whom also suffers from anxiety, to calm down. Between myself and my PCSO friend we helped him.

Balance. Something which slowly I am finding. Balance between the dead and living, the light and dark. I am closer to walking the line….

BB

Ian