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Archive for June, 2010

The first mention of Tapping the Bone I heard was in the Unnamed Path podcast (episode 2), where it was suggested as a meditation method for contacting the Ancestors, using a bone or skull as a medium. Animal bones and skulls are acceptable for use in this ritual, apparently. Hyperion suggests lighting a candle and ‘activating’ the bone to call the Ancestors, then using your heart (love/passion) to reach beyond the veil whilst meditating. By observing your thoughts, it is possible to hear the Ancestors’ voices or to see visions they inspire. This method of spirit contact is not as vivid as a shamanic journey, but is a more conscious event.

A brief bit of further research reveals more information:

Tapping the Bone is about tapping into the Ancestral (racial?) memories which are said to be stored within our bones. The Canny Crafting website alleges that this is because bones and quartz crystal have a similar structure and properties. I would look this up if I wanted to pursue this avenue any further, but I am aware that bones represent the alchemical element of earth in the human body, and that will suffice for now.

The skull is usually placed on top of the Stang with a candle placed between the horns then lit.  Then we call on the Ancestors and breathe Ond (life-force) onto the skull using three breaths, the last breath should be taking in deeply and then forced out with a haahh sound, and feel the Ancestors take possession of the skull, then you can sit in your compass-ring and just let thoughts come to you, any ideas or thoughts that come can be empathic and may well be an Ancestral Guardian guiding you or you can ask the Ancestor for help in your craftings.” [1]

The Craft of the Wise [2] contains a section on Tapping the Bone, referencing the works of Peter Paddon and Robert Artisson and providing a guided mediation (‘Ancestral Meditation’ from the Coven Book of Ways):

Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Focus on your breathing – in and out, in and out. With every breath in, feel yourself calm and at peace. With every breath out, feel the tension of the day drain away. Your heartbeat becomes slower, your body becomes heavier. Breathe in peace, breathe out tension. All thoughts of the day and other distractions leave your mind as you become completely relaxed and focused. There is no rush. When you feel completely calm and relaxed, you can begin.

See yourself stood upon the crest of a hill, breathing in the cool, refreshing air. You fel revitalised by the breeze and admire the beauty of the rolling fields beneath you. Above you soar birds of prey, calling to one another across the valley.

To the right of you lies a path through the long grass, meandering gently down the slope, towards an ancient yew grove . As you approach, you marvel at the yew trees, whose low, damp branches have entwined into one another over the ages. The canopy of branches seem to be arching now, and invite you to enter the forest.

You step into the forest of yews, safe in the knowledge that you are protected , and nothing can harm you here. You follow the path which leads beneath the shady boughs above ; you touch the gnarled bark of the yews as you start to walk deeper into the forest, feeling the wisdom of this place resonate through your soul.

Soon you see that the forest is beginning to thin out to a clearing, revealing a mighty yew in its centre. This yew is the oldest in the woods and is home to the ancient spirits. You marvel at the size of the tree, which dwarfs the others around it. Its roots are strong and reach deep into the earth.

Now you sense someone else is present in this quite forest glade, and watch as a figure begins to step out from behind the mighty yew. This is your ancestor – he or she has been waiting for you.

You approach the tree and greet this person. You sit with your ancestor, as they recall tales of the past and reveal wisdom to you that will aid you on your spiritual path. Listen carefully while your ancestor speaks.

Now he or she offers you a gift, a small stone with a hole running through the centre. It is a Hag Stone, a tool of otherworldly wisdom, which your ancestor places in your palm. Thank them for your gift and, if you have any questions, ask them now.

After a time, your ancestor gestures that it is time for you to leave. He or she walks back behind the ancient yew tree and becomes part of the forest once again.

Now, when you are ready, the image of the trees begins to fade away and you start to feel yourself returning to this world. When you are ready, open your eyes.

The guided meditation is very different to the previous techniques, and I’m not altogether confident about doing them, except as a visualisation exercise. I will give the guided meditation a go, but I always have doubts about whether I am speaking with spirits, or just my imagination. I suppose, if the knowledge of the ancestors is in my bones, I should be able to access it subconsciously and guided meditation is as good a technique as any.

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[1] Canny Crafting
[2] Craft of the Wise: A Practical Guide to Paganism and Witchcraft; Bramshaw, Vikki

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Sitting Meditation – Ten minutes of sitting meditation can make all the difference in our ability to confront the world head on as we do our best to be what we are; walkers between the worlds. Sitting meditation need not be complicated. Try simply sitting and focusing on your breath. You can use a timer if you’re on a tight schedule. Sitting in the same position every time and incorporating a simple hand gesture of some kind (also known as a ‘mudra’) will help you enter a relaxed state more quickly. Don’t expect miraculous visions or mind blowing experiences when you sit meditation. Expect to sit, following your breathing, bringing your attention back to the breathing whenever you lose focus.

Keep A Journal The Artist’s Way is a great resource if you’re new to the idea of stream of consciousness journal keeping.  Alternatively, just write out whatever is on your mind that day. This is a good opportunity to discover where you’re out of balance or what’s really bugging you. It’s also a good time to count your blessings and express gratitude for all the many things that are going your way. Journal keeping is one of the best ways we can track our growth, keep records of our magical experiences, and touch base with ourselves.

Water Purification – Once a day, preferably after your meditation &  journalling session, breathe all your stresses, troubles, and all that does not serve you into a glass of clear, clean water. As you breathe out, imagine all the muck leaving your body and filling the water. When you feel emptied out, hold the water up and outward and invite the divine to clean and clear the water of all you put in it. Imagine the water blazing with pure light of whatever colour works best for you that day. Once the water is pulsing with light, drink it down, knowing that it has been charged with power and will fill in all the spaces that were emptied out during your purification. As you drink, imagine yourself glowing with this light, sparkling and shimmering with it.  Once you’re done, ground in whatever way best works for you and get on with your day. This need take no more than three to five minutes, and can be integrated with your daily shower or bath if you’re really pressed for time.

Prayer – At some point during your day, offer up a prayer affirming that you are open to the love of the divine, and to whatever messages the divine has for you that day. If you have a history within a religion that has made prayer difficult for you, push through that. Keep trying. Offer prayers out loud or silently. Think of this as talking to a cherished friend. If you aren’t sure who to pray to, pray anyway. Someone is listening and in time, they will reveal themselves to you wearing whatever mask you most need to interact with.

Making Offerings – You’re already offering your time and effort in the previous four practices, but if you’re having an especially wonderful or difficult time, take a moment to offer something of personal value to the divine. This can be food based – honey, milk, liquor, fruit, bread, a portion of your meal – or bardic – a song, a poem, a story of your own creation – or you can offer natural items like flowers, crystals, stones. Anything that’s pleasing to you is bound to be pleasing to the divine.  You can do this as often as you like as a way to express gratitude for what’s going right, or as a way to petition the divine for assistance with issues that are troubling you.

Consulting the Oracle – Once a day, or however often you like, pull a card, draw a rune, or use your oracle in whatever way best suits you to get a very basic, simple read on where you’re at. If you’re new to using methods of divination, the most widely used method is Tarot. Pull a card, jot down your impressions and what you think the image on the card is telling you, and then and ONLY then, look the meaning up in a good resource.

Walking – Walking puts your feet in direct contact with mother earth, and it’s best done out of doors, which makes it an ideal way to connect with natural forces. While it’s true that we are surrounded by the elements of life whether we’re stuck inside or not, it is easier to relate to air as wind than as some abstract concept. Walking out in whatever weather can increase your physical stamina, which is important for energy raising (and dancing with abandon around a festival fire pit!). It also heals lazy libidos and is effective in easing depression.

These simple practices can be done together, flowing from one to the other beginning with meditation and ending with walking, or you can also just pick one and focus on that one for a period of time until you find your interest flagging. At that point, switch things up and try something new.

Source: Toronto Paganism Examiner

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As Hawking’s children navigate the many complexities of human life, he told Sawyer that he’s offered up three pieces of advice.

“One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it,” he said. “Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.”

Source: ABC news

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I’ve listened to the first two episodes of The Unnamed Path and, despite being outside its target demographic, I’m getting a bit more out of it than I thought I would. Also, each episode is half an hour long, so it’s less of an epic than Why Shamanism Now? or Standing Stone and Garden Gate.

Summary of Episode 1 and Episode 2:

The Unnamed Path is a new spiritual path aimed at Men Who Love Men (MWLM). It comprises four paths:

  • Shamanism
  • Magic/prophecy
  • Energy Healing
  • Deathwalking

As expected, The Unnamed Path defines shamanism as a shifting of consciousness to communicate and create relationships with spirits and the divine and retrieve knowledge from the SSC to use in the OSC. As a non-linear process, it is opposed to Magic and Prophecy/Divination (excluding scrying, which is more shamanic), which are logical, cerebral and linear. They use relationships between the seeker, their spirits and the divine in order to make the seeker’s will manifest.

Deathwalking seems like standard psychopomp work – counselling the dying, assisting the dead with moving on, mediumship and the like.

Energy healing on the Unnamed Path is practised through the use of sigils implanted into the body by the Ancestors of MWLM after an initiation. These are unique to MWLM, and enable the bearer to channel energy from the spirit world to the patient, who intuitively uses it to find balance within themself. Hyperion (the show’s presenter) has found that they will not work for any outside the MWLM tribe, due to the unique fashion that MWLM are able to love.

There is a similarity here between the implantation of the sigils and the Greater Initiation described at the end of Conway’s By Oak Ash and Thorn, but in the latter case, the sigils were replaced by stones.

The seeker will eventually become drawn to one particular path over time, and the Ancestral tribe of MWLM has told Hyperion that the traditional roles of MWLM in ancient times (approx. Stone/Bronze Age) were as healers, counsellors, mediators and sacred sex workers (bringing people closer to the divine through sacred sex). I have heard previously that shamanic practice requires the practitioner to ‘walk between two worlds’, even in the material realm, and homosexuality is certainly an accepted definition of this.

The main spiritual practices of the Unnamed Path are journeywork, inspiration, meditation and spirit communication.

Suggested reading: Two Flutes Playing: Spiritual Journey for Gay Men

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The ancestors are defined as anyone who has ever been a human in the past, present or future, and may be considered a vast tome of information on human experience. This definition depends on an understanding that our perception of time is an illusion, founded on our linear perspective of reality. The only thing that can be said to exist is the present, and all other times are actually the same time.

Ancestors have a vested interest in our wellbeing, as reincarnation is the journey of all souls, and the humans that exist now comprise their present experience of humanity. TBH, I didn’t really follow this line of thought, but I gather that the Ancestors are concerned about the state of the world they will live in when they are reincarnated. I should probably ask my Ancestors about this issue.

There are the three standard realms:

  • Upper world: Residence of the Shining Ones and spirit guides
  • Middle World: Physical realm
  • Lower World: Place of rest and repose for spirits who are recently deceased.

After prolonged residence in the Lower World, spirits are amalgamated into a great blend of Humanity. On occasion, spirits retain their individuality; these spirits are known as the Mighty Dead, and distinguish themselves as great heroes or leaders, with artistic or spiritual distinction or if they experienced true love in their lifetimes.

The Mighty Dead guide and assist the living on their journey through life via spirit contact and divination. They have a greater perspective of events and can advise without bias. Asking the Ancestors is much like asking a trusted parent or elder for advice; they can answer with the benefit of their own life’s wisdom and at a distance from the issue.

Making alliances on the spirit plane can open doorways to facilitate events on the physical one. The Ancestors are happy to do this, as this elevates them to the realm of Spirit Guides. This contact and alliance is forged through shamanic journeys , divination or scrying and “tapping the bone” – using a bone or skull (animal is acceptable) to reach out to the Ancestors.

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