Glossary and Other Interesting Things
or Random Thoughts by David
M - O
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This is a beautiful broad-leaved evergreen tree with rich red bark that peels and leaves smooth red wood. They can reach 75 feet high and live 200 years. I am sure that Madrone must have magical properties which I have yet to discover either through shamanic work or book research. It is the wood that I used for my bell stick.
I am still researching Madrone Lore. If I find stuff I will post it later. If you know stuff you could e-mail me.
I define Magic as the manipulation of reality in ways that are outside of the linear logic, the causality of Science.
Prayer, shamanism, ritual magic, Christian Science are all magic based -- that is these systems work in some conjunction, some partnership with Spirit to effect change that bends the rules of the material world.
One of my favorite quotes about magic is from Arthur C. Clarke, one of my favorite science fiction writers. He said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." This opens up many possibilities!
My favorite book of his is called "Childhood's End".
An apocalyptic reference to a mark that will control people and put them under the spell of Satan (a supposed Christian deity who opposes the Christian God -- an ultimate evil vs. ultimate good scenario).
The reference comes from Revelations 13, of the Christian Bible, "And [the Antichrist] causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads; And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark...".
RFIDs (Radio Frequency ID chips that are inserted in the hand) come pretty close to describing the Beast's mark.
I am not a fan or believer in ultimate anything, let alone the end of everything in a horrifying Satan/God war. My belief and experience of the Divine is that of love, vast intelligence, generosity, personal growth, and hope.
Now, there are, in my opinion, some lessons that we are here to learn and those lessons may put us into some very challenging times and experiences.
Martin Gardner is an interesting writer primarily about science. He is an extreme skeptic. I would suggest that he is a fundamentalist scientist; a "born again" skeptic.
It will seem like I pick on The Amazing Randi and Martin Gardner a lot in my writings. I am actually very glad that they do what they do. It helps keep us all in the inquiry of the experiences in our lives as well as ask the questions... "Where are we being authentic?" and "Where do we fool ourselves?"
They are just my icon of fundamentalist science types. Fundamentalism in any form is challenging and often dangerous. They, of course, would say the same about "true believers". I am a Fortean by nature and am deeply engaged in learning the ways and skills of my personal experiences in life and High Weirdness.
Polarities abound in our world. In fact there would be no movement if there were no polarities. We need a place to leave and a place to go to. Male/female; left/right; up/down; positive/negative; in/out; etc. This gives us a spectrum to explore our lives and experiences. Unfortunately, (or perhaps it is all part of our lesson plan) many people focus on one polarity or the other. Either pole is a kind of stasis, a stagnation. The interesting things in life and our personal growth happen as we move between the dynamic tensions created by polarities.
Every male has female aspects (in fact in the womb all males start out as females) and every female has male aspects. Wholeness, and therefore standing in our power, is achieved by knowing and owning all our opposites.
There is some interesting mathematics which are exploring the next levels beyond polarities. G. Spencer Brown wrote an amazing little book called the Laws of Form . In it he explores the logical structures of A=A, not A= not A and A=not A! or to say it differently; 1=1, -1=-1, and 1=-1. True, False and Maybe.
It is tough to talk about this in language. I was excited to find his book because he elegantly explores several levels of reality that I had been trying mathematically to work with myself. The problem is that I am not a strong enough mathematical thinker to formally codify what is in my head and what is from my transcendental experiences. None the less, I have several file folders filled with equations and drawings trying to sort it all out.
At one point in human history it is believed that many of the world's cultures were Goddess worshiping and governed by women. Ownership and family lines were linked to the mother and her female ancestors. After all you always know who the mother of a child is. These times are often described in idyllic and glorious ways. I suspect that they were just as hard and cruel and playful and joyous as every other time in our history. It's just that women were in the positions of power.
Then something happened and there were shifts that replaced the various matriarchal cultures with patriarchal, God worshipping, male governed cultures. This changed things in the world. Some would argue that things have changed for the better, some argue that things are worse.
I suspect that both are true. We gained some things and lost some things.
I am actively promoting a third way. I am not interested in the return of the Matriarchy, nor am I interested in the perpetuation of the Patriarchy. Both are extremes that will always battle each other due to their polarity. I am looking for the union, the marriage of male and female. Out of such a union of energies some new form of being-ness will emerge. Something that will transcend humanity. It is our next evolutionary step.
Shamanically it is stated that everything is a dream and all dreams are real.
Shamanism, or rather some forms of shamanism, see it all as reality. The goal is to find and work with the tools that help us to live powerfully and appropriately within whichever dream/reality you happen to be occupying in any given moment.
We tend to think of medicine as a pill you take. Of course, medicine has this form. Shamanic healing defines medicine differently. Shamanism sees medicine as the lessons and growth that every experience carries with it. True healing comes from the learning.
This might help explain the placebo effect where statistically some percentage of the people taking, unknown to themselves, a sugar pill with no medicine in it will respond medically as though they are taking the medicine. Some people are learning the lessons of the disease, others are relying on pharmacology to save them.
Psychologists call this the power of the mind to heal, I call it the power of Spirit to heal.
There are many gateways to the realm of Spirit. Meditation is one of the most well developed and well known. There are several ways to meditate. Deep prayer is one. Emptying the mind of thoughts is another. Focus on a single image or chant is a third.
I would define the creation of an intention, focusing and following all thoughts and images that arise from that intention as shamanic meditation.
Whatever the method, the intention of meditation is to open the gateway to Spirit to receive guidance and to raise our personal vibrations to unite with God/Goddess.
In the meantime, while you are waiting for God/Goddess to arrive, meditation also reduces your stress levels and makes you a more pleasant person.
Merlin has become well known in the Western world thanks to Disney films and other Hollywood fictions. The real Merlin was probably a less accessible being. He was likely a Druid, or trained by them. He may have been part crazy mystic seer, part wild man, and part healer. Some writers have suggested that the name Merlin might actually be a name of a position within a mystic order. The person we know as Merlin today may in fact be an amalgam of several different historical figures who all held that position. Sort of a Celtic Pope.
Whoever Merlin was, today he is the icon of Wise Wizard surpassed only recently by Gandalf the White, from Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" books.
Michael Harner is an anthropologist who "went" native after some amazing experiences in South America. His book, Way of the Shaman, is a good introduction to shamanism and describes his experiences. He has been initiated into several shamanic cultures and has developed a system of shamanism called Core Shamanism, where he teaches the techniques of shamanism that are common to all shamanic cultures all over the world and from all time. He has pioneered the reawakening of shamanism within the White Western peoples.
Core shamanism is a basis of my work.
A core element in shamanism is the concept of non-ordinary reality, shamanic consciousness in terms of 3 realms: The Lower Worlds, the Middle Worlds, and the Upper Worlds. According to the shamanic paradigm these worlds are populated by powerful beings to whom one can request and receive help, teaching, protection, healing, guidance, etc. These worlds and the beings you meet are just as real as Portland or Iraq.
Typically the Middle Worlds are where you go to deal with the things of this world like lost cats, or information about which job to take. My experience of these realms is that Spirit is not bound by definitions of what can and cannot happen in which realm. Lost cats can be found just as easily in the upper worlds. My usual strategy is to call on my power animals and ask them to take me where I need to go to accomplish the intention of my journey.
There are an infinite number of Lower Worlds, Upper Worlds and Middle Worlds. The fact that there are an infinite number of Middle Worlds, not to mention that time can operate differently there, is why Middle World journeying can be tricky. I guarantee that you can travel into the Middle Worlds and discover winning lottery numbers. But for which "ordinary" reality, and exactly which week? Well, there is the challenge. Finding lost cats or people has the same problem. For lost animals, I usually do some shape shifting into that animal to find its energy, and cast a net to herd the animal home.
I always felt sorry for Moses. He marched his people around the desert for 40 years, talked to God, got a slew of Thou shalts and finally when the moment of the promised land comes, he dies. You would think that God could have been nice enough to let him in for one day.
Some authors are speculating that Moses might have been Amenhotep IV -- a radical Egyptian Pharaoh who shifted Egyptian spiritualism to a monotheistic belief much to the anger of the powerful priest class. After he died (or disappeared?) the priests brought the Egyptians back to the regular pantheon of deities. One more high weirdness theory.
Moses seems like he had a shamanic trick or two up his sleeve.
What I find especially curious is the missing Ark of the Covenant. This is an object that Moses and his crew toted around the desert. It is probably one of the most important Jewish artifacts that just disappears. No one really talks about it or where it went (with the exception of the movie "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark"). There is some evidence that it is in safe hiding in a small Ethiopian church.
A really small mountain, hence the name "Mount", in Oregon that houses a small religious community. I went there to see the full solar eclipse in the 1970's. It was cloudy that day so all we got to see was the dark. (I almost missed the dark too, as I was in the bathroom when it started. No one had a watch or knew exactly when the eclipse would start and I couldn't wait.)
The Abby is a beautiful place. My experience of the eclipse inspired one of my best paintings. Don't ask me where that inspiriation came from -- as I said, all I got to see was the dark.
A really big mountain in the Himalayan mountain range between Tibet and India. Lots of people climb it for some reason.
Music is one of the original, primal, accesses to the realms of Spirit. Deep inside me lives a Rock and Roll Star. My musical compositions are far from rock and roll. They have been described, surprise, surprise, as shamanic.
A collective name for many, many different peoples who where here way before Columbus, way before Leif Erikson (Click here for a web site. about Leif Erikson) and way before the Welsh tribes of whom the Mandans are the descendants (Click here for a web site. about the Mandans, or do a google.com search. The Mandan/Welsh connection is, naturally, controversial.) They may or may not have been here when the Kennewick Man (Click here for a web site. about the Kennewick Man) fell into the prehistoric record.
These peoples have had many brutal experiences at the hands of the conquering European forces and their culture has been deeply raided. Understandably many of these people are upset when European descendants want to use their spiritual practices, such as shamanism. This is why Core Shamanism was designed. It is the shamanic knowledge that belongs to every human being.
If you are called to learn shamanic rituals and techniques please do not raid someone else's culture. Find the shamanism that belongs to your genetic roots; learn Core Shamanism; or be specifically invited by an elder of the culture to learn their ways.
Actually everything is part of the natural world. Some of it is more life supporting than other aspects of it. Shamanically speaking everything is alive, conscious and responsive. This makes for a very interesting relationship to my day to day life. I am in a continuous dialog regarding the most ethical and integrity based ways of interacting with everything. It is challenging, for example, for me to pull weeds from our garden.
Ultimately the correct way to be with Nature is to be in this ongoing dialog. It is when we make assumptions about the relationship that we get into trouble. This is true with our life-mates too.
It is a deeply held shamanic belief that everything is alive. We are sometimes privileged to meet with and interact with the spirit beings that live in plants or forests or rivers.
There are many stories, myths, and fables about spirit beings who lead people astray and just as many stories about them bestowing great gifts. Are they just random and unpredictable? Or are they so non-human that we cannot comprehend their reasons and purposes? Perhaps it is us. Those who are loving and in tune with Nature are treated with gifts and those who would exploit her are led astray. Or maybe it is just like life. Some people and spirits are good, kind and helpful and some of them are criminals.
In any event, much of the work of the shaman is to make contact with these different beings, many of whom are directly related to Nature. With honor, respect, ritual, ceremony and gifts the shaman seek to have a positive, life promoting, mutually beneficial relationship with all beings.
The realms of Spirit are vast and filled with innumerable beings. It stands to reason, assuming that you find the entire concept of Spirit reasonable, that there are going to be beings and places that are dangerous to us. Just as in our physical world there are dangerous places to walk and dangerous people to hang out with.
I personally do not believe these beings are evil. Rather they are "out of phase" with us. Their vibrations are such that they neutralize us or drain us. To use an electrical metaphor these beings have a vibration structure that when blended with our own vibration structure is out of phase with our energy and cancels it out. The peak of their "energy wave" aligns with trough (valley) of our "energy wave" leaving zero behind.
This is a simplification of a complex place. Suffice it to say that not every spirit being is good for us or cares about us. For some we look like lunch. To tigers we look like lunch. This does not make a tiger evil, just hungry.
Much of my shamanic work is finding ways to clear away these energy drains. This is done through creating appropriate shields, unhooking cords that are siphoning off energy and vitality and through realigning the energies of either person or the spirit being such that they support each other.
I forget from whom I learned this term but I thank them for it. Niff-niff Land is a place that I spend too much time in. They know me well in Niff-niff Land. They have a table held in reserve for me in the corner by the window. Crowds cheer when I arrive. Festivals are held in honor of my return, yet again.
Niff-niff Land is that place we all travel when we zone out -- ozone out. This often occurs during an important conversation. And on our face is that very stupid, no-one-is-home-inside-this-brain kind of look (so, of course, there is no hiding that not only were you not paying attention to this very important, life altering conversation, but you were in fact so far gone that you even forgot someone was talking).
Oh, we can say that we were "following a thread" of something that was brought up in this important conversation -- trust me, this is a bad idea because when pressed to describe that thread you will quickly realize that you no longer even remember what was being said. No, Niff-niff Land is a quagmire that sucks all the higher brain functions away leaving you with just enough mental capacity to keep breathing.
However, Niff-niff Land is really quite fun. It is like a year's vacation tucked into a few moments -- with frequently embarrassing and less than useful consequences.
Yes, they know me quite well there and I seem to keep renewing my visa.
One of the sacred directions that I request be held and guarded by Spirit. North speaks to Winter, to hibernation, deep reflection and thought in preparation of the birth of the new with the pending arrival of Spring.
In calling the directions what matters is your intention and the meaning you give to it from your heart. I have worked with those who always start in the East and move clockwise to set the space. When they release the Spirits they "unwind" the calling by starting with the direction they ended with and release them counterclockwise. This is a nice form to the ritual if you like it. As I said all that matters is your intention and intentions are best held if you have a reason for doing it one way over another that has meaning for you.
Just recently I received guidance from Spirit to set sacred space by calling the directions based on their season. Thus I start with the "East" during Spring, and "South" during Summer, etc. I am waiting guidance for when to call "Up", "Down", and "Within".
Oak trees have a long and varied sacred history. As the most sacred tree of the Aryan peoples of Europe it provided food, housing and warmth. The Oak Cult spread across Europe with the Oak lore of the Norse and Celts being the most well known.
Here is a partial list of deities that oak is sacred to: Zeus - Thor - Allah - Jehovah - Cernunnos - Herne the Hunter - Janus - Diana - Rhea - Mary - Dione, and countless others! The oak is frequently associated with Gods of thunder and lightening such as Zeus and Thor due to the oak's being frequently hit by lightening.
Oak can be used in spells for protection, success, and strength.
The word for Oak means door in many ancient languages. Held sacred by Druids, they were priests of the oak god. The word Druid comes from the Welsh "derwydd", oakseer or poet. The sacred circles of Druids were often under a spreading oak or in a grove of oak trees. The Druids believed that anything found growing on an oak tree had been sent from heaven and were sacred.
As the tree of Endurance and Triumph, the Tree of Shepherds, the oak symbolizes a god whose law extends to heaven, earth, and the underworld because of its deep roots. It is the World Tree, the shaman's tree, that provides a portal to all the realms of Spirit.
Oregon is my home and has been since 1974. When I moved to this state I thought I would be here a couple of years. It is a beautiful state. We are fighting to preserve its natural treasures from the corporations that only see money in them hills.
Oregon, by the way, is that big land mass south of Washington state (which is that big land mass where Bill Gates lives.)
Now this is a big bird. Dangerous too. Ostriches never hide from danger by sticking their head in the sand. They are the victim of some kind of smear campaign probably by those practical jokers, the hyenas.
Ted Andrew's excellent book Animal-Speak has this (and more) to say about Ostrich:
" ...Remember that flight has to do with opening to new wisdom. Birds are symbols of connecting with the more ethereal realms of life and with higher knowledge. A bird that cannot fly can still connect us with these same energies. It also helps us in using them within the physical life. The ostrich is a bird that can help you to take new knowledge out of that ethereal mental realm and apply it practically. ... The ostrich is a bird that can help us in assimilating new knowledge and in staying grounded as we are open to it as well." Page 171-172.
The snake, or in this case the Dragon, eating its own tail. There is tons of symbolic meaning to be gleaned from this idea.
My relationship with Ouroborus extends back 40 years. I became fascinated with what would happen if the snake kept eating and eating. At a certain point he is eating his throat where he is swallowing his tail. What does that look like? And then he is eating the back of his head...Where did the rest of him go? More interestingly, what happens with the very last bite?-- the one where he is eating his front lip that is doing the eating...?
I came to the conclusion that at that point a hole in the fabric of reality/this universe would open (I always imagined a loud, inter-dimensional "PoP!") The Ouroborous, then is a portal to alternate realities. Back then I didn't know anything about shamanism or magic but some part of me was still exploring reality and how it works (or doesn't).
The Ouroborous, then, is a threshold guardian, the maker of openings and portals. And you never have to feed it.
This picture is one I snagged from a Wikipedia web page. Here is their definition of Ouroborus.