I rarely write about such deeply personal feelings, but this needed to come out.  I wrote it a few years back at Mount Shasta.  Perhaps it is because things must come into balance at the Equinox, or perhaps it is because the Equinox and my birthday coincide, and I am no longer willing to hide parts of myself.

shasta-at-nightIn the shadow of the mountain in the middle of the night, I am not who you think I am.  I am not wholly of this world.  I am love.  I am joy.  I am sorrow.  I am grief. But I am not emptiness and more than that I am not fear.  I have much to offer you, be it solace, or laughter, or love.  I am here in the shadow of the mountain in the middle of the night.

Can you hear them?  The whispers?  The bells? Can you feel them all around us?  The ancients call my name, but it is not Martha.  It is a name so old that it escapes me, but I feel the memory of it.  I am not who you think I am.

Few see me.  I could count perhaps a handful.  Some have seen glimpses, but you – you choose to close your eyes to the infiniteness of possibility.  Surely, you must remember too.  I know you were there.  I know we shared the marks of priestess and priest.  We stood together here and later in Avalon.  Lifetimes of partnership and respect.  Now, we have that chance again, but there is resistance.  I am not who you think I am.

You are strong, and powerful, and beautiful.  I ask you to step into that state of beauty and wisdom again.  I cannot force you.  I cannot even beg you to do or will it upon you.  Perhaps in the shadow of this mountain, in the middle of this night you dream me, and I you.  Don’t fear me.  Don’t fear yourself.  Don’t fear. I am not who you think I am.

Can’t you feel the call of the mountain?  No?  Then I am wrong that this could be our moment.  I am wrong that we could be together here in shadow of the mountain in the middle of the night.  Know that I love you beyond all time and space.  Know that I am not who you think I am, but here in the middle of the night in the shadow of the mountain, I am love.  I am hope.  I am joy.  Feel me.  Dream me.  Love me.

In about a week, I have a class scheduled to start called Walking between the Worlds.  It’s a class that focuses on the shamanic journey, and each week will include one or two journeys.  I have learned over the last few months that this works very well in an online venue, and each individual is comfortable in their own space, lying down or sitting comfortably, often with pets at their side. At my full moon circle, the Journey of the Moon, also online, we journey with questions that relate to the current moon energies. So, with all this in mind, I thought perhaps I would share some of my own early experiences with the shamanic journey, and one from a friend whose experience demonstrates the inner-dialog that many of us experience.

My very first journey was in the 1980’s and I remember lying on a blanket on a stone floor inlaid with crystals.  The kiva style fireplace was burning brightly, warming the January night.  I don’t remember whether there were three of us or four, but I do remember that I began to breathe deeply and my heartbeat matched that of Helen’s drum.  Suddenly, in front of me were grassy plains.  A herd of deer stood below the knoll on which I stood with my friend.  We were young.  We were boys.  We were there not to kill the deer, but to run with them and so we did.  We ran and ran across the cold winter plains, gray and barren.  I was only aware of the deer, my heartbeat, and a deep affection for my friend.

I no longer remember the purpose of the journey.  However, I do remember that I learned that nothing is impossible.  I knew that it was possible to walk in a different world.  I also knew that it was not my imagination.  Sarah, a woman I had met at the local crystal shop, journeyed with me on the grassy plain that night.  We both stood on that knoll on the barren plain, and ran side by side with the deer.  I looked at her in awe, as she recounted her own journey, as I realized that her words were my own.  She was aware of me too.  It was amazing to me.  It was validation and confirmation that there was a different reality, and I had finally learned to gain access to it.

In 1991 I joined ten women with the desire to bring earth, nature and spirit into our lives.  Our teacher, much of whose work was based on the teaching of Angeles Arrien and Michael Harner, taught us to connect to our souls through singing, dancing, drumming, story-telling and sacred arts and crafts.  She taught us to become aware of the world around us, expecting us to spend time in nature every day, listening and observing and feeling.  Each gathering took us to another level of consciousness, bringing up the forgotten joys and pain in our lives.  She led us deep into our hearts and back out into the serenity of nature.  We journeyed in multiple realities and on both the physical and non-physical realms and as a result, we continued to learn and to transform our lives.

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There is, for me, a most stunning example of a shift in my view of reality that happened during a shamanic journey. I remember this journey so very clearly.

The room was silent as we relaxed to the beat of our teacher’s incredible drumming.  Suddenly, I found myself walking to the beach; except it wasn’t beach anymore, it was jungle.  Peering out from under a lush, green bush were two enormous, golden eyes.  A huge jaguar emerged from its leafy den.  Above me a jet black raven welcomed me into the forest.  The jaguar bid me to follow and I did.

We, the jaguar and I, began to run deep into the jungle until we reached a rushing river.  In the midst of the dark water was a whirling pool of white.  I knew immediately that I had to follow the spiral downwards into the earth.  I plunged into the water and found myself able to walk within the whirlpool.  It helped me on my journey downward.  I emerged into an even greener rainforest.

Immense trees surrounded me.  There were birds calling, and snakes coiled about.  “Are you my teacher?” I asked.  “No, keep going,” came the reply.  Confused and somewhat disappointed I ventured on for miles.  The sun that did manage to reach the forest floor was beginning to fade.  Soon the terrain also changed and I left the verdant paradise behind.

I was running now and could feel the urgency of my quest.  I ran through grassy hills and wound my way into a snow-covered tundra.  The full moon was barely cresting over the silver hills.  It was then that I felt the presence.  A huge white wolf appeared as though she had materialized from the snow.  “Run with me!” she called. white-wolves-running I knew I was home.  I had found a teacher; my friend; my ally.  As I ran I felt the muscles in my legs and arms change.  They became strong and balanced as I ran on all four.  I felt my face become extended and my open jaw with sharp teeth exposed to the freezing air.  My sight and my sense of smell were keen.  I became a wolf and I ran with my teacher.  The world looked different from here.  Suddenly I was in control of my life and all was in harmony.  I knew that here I could come to find my strength.  I knew that Wolf would teach me to survive in the cold, barren times ahead.  Wolf would be with me always.

Then the hour came to depart and to return to my world.  Wolf ran with me back to the forest where Jaguar patiently awaited my return.  Together we ran back to the stream and swam to the surface.  My heart was pounding in sync with Victoria’s drum.  I didn’t want to leave.  I wanted to stay with my allies, but slowly I returned to the darkened room and peered out at the flame of the single, flickering candle.

This sort of deep, experiential learning was referred to as transformational learning.  It was learning that transformed at a soul level.  It did just that.  My sense of reality changed during that journey, through other shamanic experiences and my new perspectives were reflected in everything I did and thought.

Sacred ways of knowing, or spiritual practices and traditions, can also have a comedic side.  I’ve said for a long time that nothing and everything is sacred; that we have to be able to laugh at ourselves at any given moment.  My teacher said that laughter is one of the highest forms spiritual consciousness.  I find that laughter is usually the best “medicine” and to never, ever take myself too seriously.

The next story comes from one of my sisters on this path to Spirit.  Now a retired psychiatric ER nurse, she still laughs at her own introduction to the shamanic journey.

Diana’s experience with her first journey sums up quite nicely the skepticism with which the many people regard our work, and shamanism as a whole.  It can be difficult for someone new to the concepts of non-ordinary ways of knowing to embrace their first experience.

Diana stretched out on the carpeted floor with a pillow under head.  The room was lit by a single candle in the middle of the room.  “I had no idea what to expect,” she said later.  “This was all new to me.”  The teacher’s drum started slowly, and Diana listened closely to the instructions.  She began to relax into the heartbeat drumming, closing her eyes, and trying to find her way to some sort of hole in the ground from which to enter the lower world of the shaman.

“I can’t do this,” she thought.  “The drumming is nice, and I’m relaxed, but I don’t see anything.”  For the next twenty minutes, she saw nothing.  As the journey was nearing its end, Diana heard the flapping of wings, and felt feathers brush across her face.  “Wow!”  she thought.  “This woman is really good!  She’s going all out to get people into this.  She must be going around the circle with some sort of wings.”  And then the journey ended.  To Diana’s shock, the teacher was still seated on the floor with her drum in her lap.  She hadn’t moved, and neither had anyone else.  Diana began to realize that the drumming had never stopped, so it couldn’t have been the teacher.

In that moment, Diana realized that indeed she had been called by an ally.  Because she hadn’t seen it, she couldn’t be certain which of the winged-ones had come to her. barn owl It was about a week and three owl encounters later that she knew her ally was an owl.  Diana’s life would never be the same.  She had experienced the calling from a relaxed and mildly altered state of consciousness.  She also discovered that once owl had made contact, she became a formidable presence in her life.

The journey had served as the tool for that initial contact.  It was the catalyst that started the shift in Diana’s worldview.  Suddenly the impossible was possible.  Suddenly Diana’s reality had shifted to include a much broader field of vision in which the imaginary became real.

As Diana continued the journey work, the pattern continued.  She would rarely remember the journey, but soon after have profound experiences.  The shamanic journey evoked a deep transformation that began to guide her work with patients, as well as in her own life.

Sometime later on a foggy coastal morning, she was driving back to Boulder Creek through the mountains.  Her sunroof was open, and out of nowhere, an owl feather drifted down into her lap.  Magic happens.

 
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Martha Brumbaugh, PhD is many things: an educator, writing coach, artist, and ceremonialist.  She co-founded the Edge of Lemuria; Crossroads for Healers and Seekers in 1993.  She is the Academic Dean at Emergent Studies Institute, which encourages and cultivates individual creativity, community co-creation, and attentiveness to individual learners. She received her doctorate in Transformative Studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2006.  Her doctoral dissertation, Out of the Mists: An Organic Inquiry into Sacred Ways of Knowing and the Shaping of Reality, focused on the impact of cross-cultural Shamanic practices on white, middle-aged, middle-class women.

In addition to her responsibilities as Academic Dean, she teaches ONLINE at ESI and works as a writing coach.  She writes a column for Culture Counter magazine at http://culturecountermag.com.  She has taught earth-based spiritual practices, shamanism, Tarot, and sacred arts and crafts individually and through workshops.   Her background in literature creates a connection between the non-rational and rational thinking.

Martha lives on the California coast with two cats, two ravens, and her sister. She has two adult sons, and recently became a grandmother.  She loves cooking, reading, and film. She also loves to travel and experience other cultures, through history, architecture, and mythology.

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If you would like more information about the ONLINE class, please feel free to contact me at edgeoflemuria@gmail.com or go to www.emergentstudiesinstitute.org.

 

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The word crone fills both women and men with fear, anguish, and often denial.  For centuries we have feared becoming th crones in Shakespeare, Milton, and more recently

snow-white-cronein a myriad of Disney movies based on fairy tales.  In addition to the complexities that lie within these age-old stereotypes, the culture in which we reside constantly hammers us with a youth-focused culture.  That is nothing new, but now that I’m older, I am much more cognizant of the fact that women of a certain age are regarded as less than useful, crazy, asexual, and no longer welcome in younger social settings.

At this age, I’m not denying I’m getting older, but I’m continuing to rebel against the social norms that I was raised with.  Like my mother, I refuse to grow old gracefully.  Sure, I’ve got a certain amount of that (grace) but I still put pink or purple in my hair, wear multiple colors on my nails, and dress for me.  I live, love, and play better than I did at 30 or 40, and have a lot of wisdom, albeit a bit illogical.  I understand the joy of freedom (on multiple levels) much more than I used to, and am happier than I’ve ever been (most of the time)!

That doesn’t mean that my bones don’t ache, that my boobs aren’t that much higher thanshaman crone.jpeg.jpg my non-existent waistline, or that my neck doesn’t look rather like that of a turkey. Sure!  Aging sucks in many ways, but it’s our perception of it, our embracing it, that makes it less of a nightmare!  I started a Pinterest board on Crones to collect thoughts and ideas.  To it I’ve added women I admire who are my age or older.  I’ve got Judy Dench, Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, Julie Waters, Lily Tomlin, and more!  All of whom are women that I adore!  They’ve determined to age without the help of cosmetic surgery or Botox.  They have, for me, brought aging into a new way of living and being.  They have also encouraged my free spirit to soar.

Jean Shinoda Bolen MD, in her book, Crones don’t Whine: Concentrated Wisdom for Juicy Women (2003) says, “A crone is a juicy older woman with zest, passions, and soul” (p.19).  She goes on to suggest that if we wish to be juicy, we must be ourselves before it’s too late. the-older-i-getI think that this is absolutely true.  Now is the time to connect or reconnect with our inner wild woman and reap the harvest of our past!  Reconnect with the child, the teen, the young women, the mother you were, and celebrate all you are and have been!  No should haves, could haves, or would haves.  Now is the time to rise into your full power and dance with joy.  Okay, so dancing may not be as graceful as it used to be, but who cares?  It’s YOUR dance, and you can do it any way you want!

I am of the belief that the most important thing that crones can do is to love.  We love our animals, our kids, our grandchildren, and each other, but we often forget to love ourselves.  Gratitude for ourselves and what we’ve accomplished, no matter how small orcrone-with-twig-hair trivial it may have seemed, what we do, and what we can do is a key factor in growing older.  Take a close look at what you’ve done, really.  Appreciate it!  Whether it was writing a book, creating art, cooking, cleaning, child-bearing, working with animals, or other people’s kids, you are amazing!  Pat yourself on the back or hug yourself!  Remember all the joy, the tears, the sorrow, the work that got you to this place in this moment of time!  Appreciate YOU!

We must also remember to appreciate each other!  Tell another crone how much you value her!  Send a note, pick up the phone, and take a moment to recognize the beauty and spirit of another crone.  Let her know that you see beyond the years into her soul.  Soon, those years will start to disappear, and only her true beauty will be apparent.  I truly believe that when we are joyous and understand our and connections to the spirit that makes us who we are, can we live in a state of grace, and it is that grace that makes us remarkable.

 

References

Bolen, Jean Shinoda, (2003). Crones don’t Whine: Concentrated Wisdom for Juicy Women. Boston: Conari Press.

Note:  This blog was originally written for the Emergent Studies Institute Newsletter.  I decided to put it out there for everyone.  I expect that I will write more on the topic as the days go by.  – Martha

 

 

My first vision quest was both fantastical and at times akin to the theatre of the absurd.  The vision quest is an integral part of Shamanic training.  The preparation takes weeks of inner-work and self-reflection.  I was prepared for the sacredness of the experience, but found myself completely unprepared for the profane aspects of my quest.  Although my quest has had a lasting impact on the way I walk in the everyday world, what remains clear is that without a good sense of humor, we are incapable of knowing the deep secrets that lie within each of us.

Image result for navarro river swimming hole

August, 1992*

I am Martha Laughing Brook.  It is dawn.  The sun is just beginning to rise above the golden hills.  As I sit up, I greet Brighid, Daughter of the Dreamtime.  She smiles, climbs out of her sleeping bag and disappears towards the meadow.

I feel compelled to light the fire, which will burn throughout our quest.  Having carefully laid the wood teepee style, it ignites with ease and is soon burning brightly, warming the chilly dawn.  The fire fascinates me and makes me feel that somehow I am helping the others with their own quests.

Now it is time to pack up my stuff.  I have chosen to leave my tent, my boots, and food behind.  The water I am carrying makes the back seem heavy, but I know that it will lighten as I drink it.

Lois, Healing Tree, and I are meeting with Abigale Morningstar at 7:30, so I must quickly bid a fond and loving farewell to all my sisters.  I realize as I walk down the hill that I am sad that I have not been able to say good-bye to Analise.

We make our medicine circle with rocks and magpie feathers and pinecones.  We pray for guidance and enlightenment and set off in our different directions.  I follow the river downstream and they go upstream together.  I shall miss them.

The huge white crane swoops overhead.  I will follow him.

I walk past the swimming hole where we had our circle the previous afternoon.  The opposite shore would be nice, but I think that maybe others will want to swim, and I do not want to be in view.

I walk in the river.  It is cool and gazillions of little fish and round tick-like things surround me.  I cross the river and walk on the shore for a while.  It seems easier to walk in the water.  As I investigate another spot, the wind comes up and I begin to sing Spirit of the Wind (Williams, 1993).

Spirit of the wind, carry me. 

Spirit of the wind carry me home. 

Spirit of the wind carry me home to myself.

This is incredible.  It is so quiet and beautiful.  I feel like crying.  I am suddenly overwhelmed with an outpouring of emotion.

Spirit of the ocean, depth of emotion.

Spirit of the sea, set my soul free.

Spirit of the wind carry me. 

Spirit of the wind carry me home. 

Spirit of the wind carry me home to myself.

Spirit of the storm, help me be reborn.

Spirit of the rain, wash away my pain.

Oh, my God!  It’s pouring down rain.  If feels so good!  I start to laugh, and wonder why I didn’t bring my tent!

Spirit of the sun, warm light healing me.

Spirit of the sky, spread my wings and fly.

Spirit of the wind carry me. 

Spirit of the wind carry me home. 

Spirit of the wind carry me home to myself.

As I move on through the water, I realize how incredible the river is.  I want to spend a lot of time in it, and must find a camp beside it.

Spirit of the river, blessed forgiver.

Spirit of the shore, show me more and more.

Ho!  Another swimming hole.  Perfect.  There is a large rock jutting from the middle of  the river with ferns growing on it.  Image result for navarro riverA deer path seems to come down the hillside to the river.  I put down my pack, take off my shorts, and wade into the water to see how deep it is.  The swimming hole appears to be about 10 feet deep.

Spirit of the wind carry me. 

Spirit of the wind carry me home. 

Spirit of the wind carry me home to myself.

As I climb aback onto the shore, the sun is beginning to peek out from behind the trees.  I pull the tarp from my pack and spread it out on the rocky beach.  Then I take my walking stick and stand it up from a rock base to mark the East, the gateway to my circle.

Spirit of the earth, help me with my birth.

Spirit of the land, hold me in your hand.

I carefully mark the directions and cast a purpose circle.  I find myself calling on multiple traditions for protection and guidance.  It is a wonderful reminder that ours is a cross-cultural tradition.

Spirit of the wind carry me. 

Spirit of the wind carry me home. 

Spirit of the wind carry me home to myself.

I am now settled within my circle.  It would be wonderful to sleep, but I am wide-awake.  What should I think about?  What visions will I find?  The inner dialogue begins to fade.

Suddenly, the silence is broken.  “It’s 10:38,” I hear.  Two noisy women are appearing from the deer trail.  My space feels invaded.  They seem to respect my silence and go in the opposite direction.  I am annoyed.  I thought this was private property.  I decide to drum.

Oh, no!  Another woman.  This one wants to talk, and likes my drumming.  I get the feeling that she needs to have me speak to her.  She needs to hear the drum.  I drum and she sits outside my circle in silence.

It is so hot.  I strip off my clothes, save my swimsuit, and plunge into the swimming hole.  It feels good.  Soon the woman is naked and swimming too.  By the time I get out, the other two women have joined in.  Now, I have two naked women who are reasonably skinny, and two reasonably fat women in swimsuits.

Bodies.  The conversations about weight, food addictions, and beauty all converge in my brain.  As I watch the women in the river, I realize that even the skinny ones are not the epitome of Vogue magazine.  Actually, the heavier woman is one hell of a lot sexier to me than the thin ones.  I find it fascinating however that she, like myself, has not shed her swimsuit, and for probably exactly the same reasons.

This is fucked.  I hereby resolve to let go of all food addictions.  I will not put any of this [weight issue] garbage on my children.  The human body is beautiful in its true form.  Each form is different, and I defy anyone to tell me that I must look a certain way, or have a certain shape, or that I can only weigh a certain, unreasonable amount.

I realize that it is time to pull out my watch and look at the time.  It must be close to noon, and I must get back to the medicine circle by one o’clock.  Another lesson.  Trust.  I know that I must leave my pack, my drum, and all my stuff here.  I do not know these women.  They are questing like me, but in another way.  I have to trust.  OK, fine.  I must get ready to go.  No one will cross my circle.

Wow, they are leaving.  The woman who likes my drumming is walking across my circle.  She is offering me flowers, rocks, and seeds.  I take a single seedpod.  She thanks me.  I feel strangely as though I have done something for her.

I close my circle and head back upstream.  It took me an hour to arrive here, so I will try not to waste any time.

There’s Ann.  She is the only person I have seen from our tribe.  I wave and smile a smile of fond wishes.  God!  I do love her!

As I round the next bend, I see Jenny on the opposite shore.  Can I be here already?  Surely not.  I haven’t been walking for more than twenty minutes.  I find the circle and leave my crystal for Abigale.  As I pass Jenny again, she speaks to me.  Oops!  I thought we had to remain silent, but I guess if she speaks to me first, Great Spirit is not going to come down and strike me dead!

I tell her about the women.  It was nice to have human contact.  Funny.  I didn’t consider the women to be human.  I become acutely aware of how bonded I am to the group.  I feel an overwhelming sense of love and affection.

There’s Ann again.  Maybe if I get scared, I can sneak back and spend the night with her.

I’m back in my circle.  Everything is untouched.  Now for a nap.  No nap.  Every time I close my eyes, I see demons.  Strange demonic faces peering at me.  Flashing faces, laughing, screaming, howling faces.  I don’t think I am supposed to sleep.

There is Healing Tree.  She is so beautiful as she walks past.  I wish she would acknowledge my presence, but I know that she is honoring the silence.  She stops not far from me and raises her hands to the sky.  I can see a brilliant aura of connection with spirit.

Another intruder.  A man with tennis shoes in one hand and a cigarette in the other.  I pull my swimsuit straps back up.  What for?  This very dark, hairy beast could be an axe murderer or rapist.  So what?  I’m helpless woman in a bathing suit, a fucking mile from anyone else.  I feel him watching me.  Shit.  Okay, Martha, get it together.  If all else fails you can turn into a wolf and run like hell.  He said, “Hello.”  He doesn’t’ really look like an axe murderer.  I suppose he’s just enjoying the river.  After all, this isn’t my river.  I don’t own it.  It belongs to all my relations.  Even dark hairy ones.

Again???  I must be at some trailhead.  Two more men have come to use the swimming hole.  They see me, and one thinks they should leave.  The other reminds him that this is the only swimming hole and that it is very hot right now.  OHMYGOD!  I now have two naked men swimming in front of me.  One is fat, and one is skinny.  Another lesson in bodies, and in trust.  I am lying here wrestling with my own fears, and they are discussing overcoming theirs.  Well, I guess that eliminates that one.

As I decide to peek at them, I realize that both men are beautiful regardless of their shape.  Once again, the essence of their spirits is far more radiant than the physical form.  As they leave, I am given food for thought.  The one man explains to the other that life is too serious to be taken seriously.

It’s getting very windy.  It must be around five.  I am tempted to get the watch from my pack.  I don’t want to.  Oh, hell yes, I do.  I’m right.  It’s after five.

Oh!  Here’s the crane that led me here!  Oh, great.  He’s having dinner.  He’s going to make me watch him eat his dinner.  I wasn’t hungry until now.  Maybe if I took my stuff bag, I could net enough of those little fish to eat.  I could skewer them and build a fire to roast them.  It would take five thousand to make a meal.  Never mind.

I swear that I just saw a bald eagle.

This whole thing is starting to seem ridiculous.  I am sitting in my sleeping bag and down jacket, and it’s not even six o’clock.  I have been here all day watching trees and animals, and I’ve had no visions.  I’ve been swimming in the river, and watching birds, and I have not had a shamanic experience.  This is STUPID!

I want a hot bath, a soft warm bed, and a fire.  I don’t want to do this anymore.  Why the hell did I imagine that I could spend the night alone on a mountain with no tent, and no food, and no fire?  That’s it.  I’ll go back to camp and give myself up.  God, I am feeling so sarcastic!  I hate this.  I do not belong here.  I am not native to this.  I want to go home.

Finally sleep!

It’s about eight now.  Twilight is approaching.  Suddenly, nothing matters.  There is nothing but this moment in time.  I am alone, and I am at one with the universe.  It is beautiful here.

I am so glad for the down jacket.  It’s freezing along the river, and I have had too much sun.  The wind is very strong now.

It is finally getting dark, about eight-thirty, I guess.  I am hearing whispers.  It’s as though the trees are talking.  I see shapes in the dark leaves.  They are alive, and I am in their care.  Two deer approach from the other bank of the river.  They see me, but they don’t seem to mind that I am here.

Suddenly I am aware that I am seeing things through my soft vision.  I see light images, rather than hard physical shapes.  I guess I am really tired and my eyes may be a bit sunburned.  My exposure to the constant sun has left me a little burned and very cold.

Holy shit!  What was that?  Probably the deer.  The rocks seem to be crashing around me.  Oh, fuck.  Now it’s above my head.  Where is my flashlight?

Yes, the deer are closer to me on the rocky shore.  Uh oh.  In the woods on the hill above my head are two huge eyes.  It’s not clear what they belong to, but they are definitely of the feline variety.  I saw cougar dropping earlier.  Oh, no.  There is probably a huge, cougar, which is really hungry out there.

It’s dark.  More noise.  Footsteps.  Oh, Jesus, Mary and Joseph!  What the fuck am I doing here?  There are probably axe murders around here.  Isn’t this one of those strange places where hippies and ex-convicts come to grow dope?

I remember stories about bears mauling campers in the National Parks.  It’s been a dry year and there probably is not a lot to eat.  I am fat and juicy.  Oh, great.  They’d love me for dinner.  I don’t believe this.

If I leave everything here until morning, I can probably find my way to Ann’s campsite.  I think she brought her tent.  Even if I slept outside, at least I’d be close.  I wonder if she could hear me if I screamed.  Probably.  The wind is blowing in that direction.

What ever possessed me to leave my tent in the car?  What moment of sheer stupidity led me to believe that I could do this?  I HATE THIS!

I have to deal with this.  Calm down.  All right.  I am sitting up in my sleeping bag shouting at the noises.  “I am here!  I am in your space.  I am not moving.  You will have to find another way to get to the river.”  I rattle briefly.

Sleep…dreaming… “Oh, by the way, your name is Firewalker.”

Holy shit!  What time is it?  Three-thirty.  What the hell does that mean, “Your name is Firewalker?”  If it’s the same messenger that brought Jenny her name last year, he must be having a good laugh.  Firewalker.  What am I supposed to do with that name?  All right, so Analise asked me if I ever wanted to firewalk, and I said, “Yes.”  That was last November.  Shit.  Now I guess I have to do it, don’t I?

Firewalker?  It sounds too much like Luke Skywalker.  Great.  I just can’t escape those theatrics, can I?  Oh, well, I can’t walk away from this one.

Dreaming…Sue and Jim are arguing over stamps…no over Mother.  I must go pick her up.  She’s at her new day care home with that lawyer…There are kids playing in the street.  How did I get to Woodbury, PA?  Why is there a Little Tykes® train track running down the middle of the street?  “Little girl, get that train out of the car lane!  You’re going to be killed.  No, sir, I didn’t mean to interfere.  I didn’t know it was okay for her to do that…”  Look a hamster cage.  It has Tupperware® lids on the plastic tubes.  Oh, someone left it open…oh my God!  “Go away you, tarantula!  Get it off me!”  I can’t brush it off.  It wants to crawl on me.  If I can get to that window, I can brush it into the street below.  Oh, shit.  They can jump.  It’s jumping back onto me.  Okay, go ahead.  Kill me.  It’s crawling down my arm.  It’s going to bite.  It’s sucking on my finger.  It likes me…

It’s five-thirty.  The crane just flew over my head.  Oh!  I survived!  I did it!  I am alive!  Isn’t life incredible?  I just spent a night alone with no tent, no food, no fire, and I am alive!  This is incredible!  I must go for a swim and thank the river.  I must thank the trees, the animals and I must thank myself!

I have learned that I can spend the night in the woods and survive!  I have learned that life is not so serious!  It’s FUN!  I have learned that distractions, be they human, four-legged, fish, birds, reptiles, or bugs, do not prevent people from finding themselves.  Only our perceptions do that.  We are what we perceive.  Life is what we perceive it to be.  I have learned that the human body is not ugly.  It’s true and natural form cannot be dictated by some fashion magazine.  We are all different, and we are all beautiful.

Isn’t life incredible?  Now I must journey back to camp.  I can’t wait to share my life with the others.  God!  I am so happy to be a part of a larger consciousness.

I am Firewalker, and I am alive!

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The vision quest process changed me, even if clear memories lie still buried beneath the surface of my everyday awareness.  The things that stand out are the the feeling of a strong community, and the feeling that I am stronger and more self-assured as a result of having spent a night alone in the woods.  In addition I felt at peace with nature and with myself, and over the years, I have learned to return to those feelings by going out for a walk, by sitting on the beach or under the stars.  I believe that the experience of the vision quest helps sustain anyone who engages in it, and the memories of the River, and the sky, remain in the soul.

As an after thought, it was one year to the day that I was given the name Firewalker, that I did my first and only firewalk.  It is now over twenty years later, and I still feel the lessons of that quest, especially the knowledge that nothing and everything is sacred.

*This story was originally published in Brumbaugh-Jacobsen, M. (2006) Out of the Mists: An Organic Inquiry into Sacred Ways of Knowing and the Shaping of Reality. (Doctoral Dissertation. California Institute of Integral Studies). UMI/ProQuest. UMI #3218530.

WIN_20160110_17_02_46_ProMartha Brumbaugh, PhD is an educator, writing coach, artist, and ceremonialist.  She is the Academic Dean at Emergent Studies Institute, which encourages and cultivates individual creativity, community co-creation, and attentiveness to individual learners. She received her doctorate in Transformative Studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2006.  Her doctoral dissertation, Out of the Mists: An Organic Inquiry into Sacred Ways of Knowing and the Shaping of Reality, focused on the impact of cross-cultural Shamanic practices on white, middle-aged, middle-class women.  She has mentored women and men on academic and spiritual paths since 1988.

In addition to her responsibilities as Academic Dean, she teaches at ESI and works as a writing coach.  She writes a column for Culture Counter magazine at http://culturecountermag.com.  She has taught earth-based spiritual practices, shamanism, Tarot, and sacred arts and crafts individually and through workshops.   Her background in literature creates a connection between the non-rational and rational thinking.  She has used the fictional works of Marion Zimmer Bradley, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Starhawk, Margaret Atwood, Terry Brooks and others to demonstrate how fantasy influences daily life.  Martha’s current research includes ways in which transformation is facilitated through fantasy and science fiction in both film and literature.  She is also working on a Mary Magdalen project, as well as striving to develop cutting-edge research methods.

Martha lives on the California coast with two cats, two ravens, and her sister. She has two adult sons, and recently became a grandmother.  She loves cooking, reading, and film. She also loves to travel and experience other cultures, through history, architecture, and mythology.

In thinking about my upcoming class at Emergent Studies Institute, I decided to use the Shamanic journey as a tool for discovery.  When asked about it, it seemed to me that perhaps a section of my doctoral dissertation might be the best way to tell you about it.  In this section, I reflect on the experiences of my co-researchers through the lens of Organic Inquiry, a qualitative research method.

I hope that the stories inspire you to think about the unlimitedness of possibility, and to think about taking the class.

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Awakening to the Possible: Journeys

“Diana’s experience with her first journey sums up quite nicely the skepticism with which the many people regard our work, and shamanism as a whole.  It can be difficult for someone new to the concepts of non-ordinary ways of knowing to embrace their first experience.

Diana stretched out on the carpeted floor with a pillow under head.  The room was lit by a single candle in the middle of the room.  “I had no idea what to expect,” she said later.  “This was all new to me.”  Analise’s drum started slowly, and Diana listened closely to the instructions.  She began to relax into the heartbeat drumming, closing her eyes, and trying to find her way to some sort of hole in the ground from which to enter the lower world of the shaman.

“I can’t do this,” she thought.  “The drumming is nice, and I’m relaxed, but I don’t see anything.”  For the next twenty minutes, she saw nothing.  As the journey was nearing its end, Diana heard the flapping of wings, and felt feathers brush across her face.  “Wow!”  she thought.  “This woman is really good!  She’s going all out to get people into this.  She must be going around the circle with some sort of wings.”  And then the journey ended.  To Diana’s shock, Analise was still seated on the floor with her drum in her lap.  She hadn’t moved, and neither had anyone else.  Diana began to realize that the drumming had never stopped, so it couldn’t have been Analise.

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In that moment, Diana realized that indeed she had been called by an ally.  Because she hadn’t seen it, she couldn’t be certain which of the winged-ones had come to her.  It was about a week and three owl encounters later that she knew her ally was an owl.  Diana’s life would never be the same.  She had experienced the calling from a relaxed and mildly altered state of consciousness.  She also discovered that once owl had made contact, she became a formidable presence in her life.

The journey had served as the tool for that initial contact.  It was the catalyst that started the shift in Diana’s worldview.  Suddenly the impossible was possible.  Suddenly Diana’s reality had shifted to include a much broader field of vision in which the imaginary became real.

As Diana continued the journey work, the pattern continued.  She would rarely remember the journey, but soon after have profound experiences.  The shamanic journey evoked a deep transformation that began to guide her work with patients, as well as in her own life.

Brighid and I were not unfamiliar with other forms of non-ordinary ways of being, so our first journeys were much more detailed than Diana’s.  We often remembered in great detail the images and conversations that took place, using that information to guide our everyday lives.

Brighid relaxed on the carpeted floor of Analise’s office, but soon found herself floating on a large rose, drifting down into a sunny, grassy glade.  The glade was encircled by large trees she knew to be the Ancient Ones.  Brighid’s animus, a dark-haired Celt approached her, his out-stretched hand revealing a brilliant crystal.  He smiled and touched her third eye with his right hand.  With his left, he touched the crystal to her heart.

He put the crystal in a pouch hanging from his belt, and they danced.  Wolf, Crow, Raven, and Hawk (animal allies are capitalized out of respect) came to watch in a circle around them.  In a wider circle, a band of fairies danced about them.  A circle of women formed around the fairies, and at the perimeter of the glade, stood men and women.

The dancing stopped and all faded but the handsome Celt.  He leaned forward and whispered a name in Brighid’s ear, “Kerridwen.”  He gave her an amethyst crystal for her dream pouch (a pouch which contains the shaman’s necessities for walking in the dreamtime) and then he turned and left.

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Brighid recognized the power of the journey and of Kerridwen, the Dark Goddess of Wisdom, who is also known sometimes as the Lady of the Lake, and She who Gives Birth to Poetry.  It was a foretelling of things to come, dreams, and visions from her ancient Gaelic roots.  The amethyst is Brighid’s birthstone.

A question arises for me.  How much of the journey is created by what we already know?  In other words, I can see that skeptics would say that Brighid chose the image of the amethyst because that’s what she wanted to see.  She chose to see a handsome man, because that was what she needed at the time.  Could it be Brighid’s imagination scripting the journey?  Yes.  As an outsider looking in, I could certainly see that, however, what if our imagination is guided by a non-ordinary reality?  What if the reality we share on a daily basis is merely a construct of another dream?  What is real?  How do we separate fantasy from reality, and more importantly, do we need to?

I remember lying on a blanket on a stone floor inlaid with crystals.  The kiva style fireplace was burning brightly, warming the January night.  I don’t remember whether there were three of us or four, but I do remember that I began to breathe deeply and my heartbeat matched that of Helen’s drum.  Suddenly, in front of me were grassy plains.  A herd of deer stood below the knoll on which I stood with my friend.  We were young.  We were boys.  We were there not to kill the deer, but to run with them and so we did.  We ran and ran across the cold winter plains, gray and barren.  I was only aware of the deer, my heartbeat, and a deep affection for my friend.

I no longer remember the purpose of the journey.  However, I do remember that I learned that nothing is impossible.  I knew that it was possible to walk in a different world.  I also knew that it was not my imagination.  Sarah, a woman I had met at the local crystal shop, journeyed with me on the grassy plain that night.  We both stood on that knoll on the barren plain, and ran side by side with the deer.  I looked at her in awe, as she recounted her own journey, as I realized that her words were my own.  She was aware of me too.  It was amazing to me.  It was validation and confirmation that there was a different reality, and I had finally learned to gain access to it.

If I am to continue to question the validity of the experience, then I must ask how it is possible for two people to share the same details of the journey.  I have not found this documented in the literature that I have read, but will continue to search for an answer.  The facts are that I journeyed with a woman whom I did not know very well, and shared a journey.  Could our imaginations have created that?  I don’t think so.

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It was my second journey that had a profound impact on my way of walking in the world and forever changed the knowledge of who I am, and my capacities.  As I recounted earlier, I learned to shapeshift into a wolf to run with my ally.  Later I changed into a hawk in order to learn the lessons of Hawk.  Over the years, I have utilized shapeshifting during journeys to gain a different perspective than my own.  I also truly believe that it is possible to shapeshift in ordinary reality.  I have not tried this, but at a deep level of consciousness know that it can be done.

Brighid’s journeys continued as a way to connect with her guides and teachers.  Her allies always accompanied her, but the focus was often on developing her abilities as a healer.  She also found that she could shapeshift at will.  Journeying has helped her to strengthen her psychic connection to Gaia and have had a very positive effect on her sense of reality.  In July 1992, Brighid wrote in her journal:

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        ‘I walked down a red dirt road in Egypt.  It was hot.  Wolf walked on my right, Snake slithered on my left, Crow rode on my left shoulder, Dragonfly flew above me, and Grouse danced her spiral dance in front of me, leading me along the path.  We came to a big Oak tree and went inside, looking at the carvings.  We went down, down, through the darkness, until arriving inside a blue-walled, darkened pyramid.  We walked a short way through a maze until we came to a medicine wheel.  Grouse stopped at the edge of the South.  I sprinkled corn meal and tobacco there as an offering for her guidance.  Then a Spirit Guide, Hatara, entered the medicine wheel to the North.  Hatara appeared as a swirl of light, neither male nor female.  Hatara told me to hold a scarab to my third eye whenever I wished to draw on the wisdom and healing powers I had as a priestess at the Temple of Isis.  Hatara said I could bring that knowledge into present time and I would be revered and feared as I was then, because many could feel my mystical healing strength, but few could understand it, and that made them afraid.  Hatara reminded me that I had no children then, as I would have no children now, because my creation energies are concentrated on this spiritual healing.  Then I floated in a barge down the Nile, my two spirit guides who had made themselves known to me through BPI [Berkeley Psychic Institute], Grandfather, and Mary Diana by my side.  In this Egyptian vision of the past, Grandfather was my servant and Mary Diana another priestess.  The drumbeat changed, signaling time to return to waking consciousness.  I loped up the dark path, through the pyramid and toward the tree, with Wolf at my side and Crow on my shoulder.  Then there was a whoosh and I became Crow, flying up inside the trunk of the tree towards the lightened opening in the oak.  When I reach the opening, I shifted back to my human shape and walked into the light of day.’

Before and after that journey Brighid had become pregnant, but lost both children.  And as foretold in the journey, she received the devastating news that she would never carry a baby to term.  Today, in her early fifties, her creativity has taken another focus and she is flourishing.

Fiona’s first journeys validated her knowledge of other realms and realities.  In an early journey she wandered along Frenchmen’s Creek, near my old home in Half Moon Bay, she suddenly realized that this was a practice that she could do.  She could intentionally have this experience.  She encountered a band of raccoons, foraging in the woods near the beach.  The landscape shifted a bit and a tiger emerged.  She recognized it as the ally of her son, whom, at the age of ten, had become addicted to alcohol.  It was in this moment that she understood both the power and strength of the addiction.  She, for the first time, knew that her child could die.

Mikko first appeared to Fiona when she journeyed to a place by the sea.  Mikko was a frog-like person who had a distinct Japanese quality about her.  She showed Fiona how easy it was to play in and with water.  As they played, Fiona was lifted by a waterspout, some twenty or thirty feet in the air.  She found herself dancing on top of the column of water, completely unafraid and knowing that she was safe and supported.  Mikko turned to Fiona and told her that one of her names was Dancing Waters, Daughter of Laughter.

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Fiona was stunned by the name, feeling that it was so removed from her life at the time.  She and her two sons were virtually homeless, on welfare, and trying desperately to remain safe from her ex-husband.  Her life was rarely filled with laughter and she couldn’t imagine that it ever would be.

Several years later Mikko played a much larger role in Fiona’s life, opening her to her own creativity and nudging her on to the path of an artist.  This early journey, and encounter with a spirit guide had created a sort of container for Fiona’s later transformation.

 

It was those first journeys that opened up the gateway between the worlds.  They made it possible to traverse the unknown landscape, and in some cases, even map it, with ease and without fear.  We gained permission from our allies and guides to allow our creativity to flow and to begin the process of finding our respective voices and reclaiming wholeness.

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The more work we did, the more we discovered that we were able to cross the boundaries without the structure of the journey.  Sometimes we did it in our dreams, or in daydreams, but we began to realize that the most significant experiences were when we were able, at times, to do it when we were completely present and grounded in our bodies.  The borders of our reality had expanded, opening us up to experience deeper shifts in our awareness of possibility.”

The Shamanic journey has been, and continues to be, an integral part of my life.  It gives us the opportunity to walk between the worlds, and opens us up to new ways of thinking about and relating to our connections with plants, animals, and minerals.  I believe it is a key to understanding our place in the universe.

 

References:

Brumbaugh-Jacobsen, M. (2006) Out of the Mists: An Organic Inquiry into Sacred Ways of Knowing and the Shaping of Reality. (Doctoral Dissertation. California Institute of Integral Studies). UMI/ProQuest. UMI #3218530.

 

I invite you to join me in an Organic Inquiry to explore my ever-deepening awareness of Mary Magdalen as an Ascended Master. This inquiry is rooted in my own experience with searching for truth, and authenticity. With that in mind, I must admit that I’ve been studying, or researching if you will, the Magdalen, but that my knowledge of Ascended Masters is limited. I am hopeful that this paper will expand my own understanding, and reach out to those of you who are also searching.

I chose Organic Inquiry (OI) (Clements, J., Ettling, D., Jennett, D., & Shields, L. 1998) because it is subjective and allows me to explore the depths of my own consciousness and to find deeper meaning in the topic. It also falls into the paradigm of the sacred, and conducts the research, the indwelling, or reflection period, and the findings in a sacred way. For me, that is creating a sacred space in which I can work, reflect and write. For me, the research is a spiritual practice.

OI is about engaging the story that needs to be told. My job is to tell that story, and I ask of you, the reader, to witness my journey. It is also important to hold differences, as it is extremely difficult to quantify lived experience. With that said, I begin this very brief story of my path to, and with Mary Magdalen. It doesn’t encompass everything, but will give you a general sense of how it came about.

In 2003 I found myself at Chartres seated in front of the altar that is dedicated to the Black Madonna, also known as Mary Magdalen. A series of books were brought to my attention in the mid 1990’s. I have no idea what led me to them, but they sparked my interest and set me on a path that has been guiding me for twenty years. I was not new to Mary Magdalen, and always believed that she was really not a prostitute. I was merely interested in her, and the notion that perhaps she was married to Jesus Christ. I had to know more. When I was introduced to Holy Blood, Holy Grail (Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln 1982) and later The Woman with the Alabaster Jar (Margaret Starbird 1993) I was completely stunned and intrigued.  Could there actually have been a conspiracy by the Church to hide her identity, and change the Biblical texts to retain power, and control?

I went to Chartres Cathedral in France driven by a strong desire to visit the altar of the Black Madonna and an even stronger desire to visit the goddess site that lies underneath the church. I poured over Jean Shinoda Bolen’s Crossing to Avalon (1995) to get all the information I could. I read anything I could in tour guides, but Shinoda Bolen was the best guide that I found. Her book prepared me for the possibility that the labyrinth would be hidden by chairs (as it was) and directly to the little book store on the plaza that sold tickets and led tours into the grotto below where one of the oldest images of the Black Madonna survives.

It was there, in France, that I knew that my journey with Magdalen was just beginning. She spoke to me, not with words, but with an overwhelming sense of peace and love. It seemed to me that her truth, the true story of her relationship to Jesus needed to be revealed.
I followed a path, and have landed in this place and time where I continue my search for truth, and can now see that this is only beginning the journey. Now I am encountering Magdalen as an Ascended Master, and finding myself intrigued by the stories in the less academic texts. None-the-less, I believe everything I read has significance.

Although several sources report encounters with Mary Magdalen as an Ascended Master, I find that the book by Tom Kenyon and Judi Scion, The Magdalen Manuscript (2014) beautifully brings the possibility of encounters with Magdalen to life. Magdalen appears to them to tell her story of both joy and despair. Her teaching is both evocative and provocative as she explains her relationship with Jesus as both spiritual and sexual, for the reality is that they are one.

Magdalen encourages her students to explore the deeper meanings of the teachings of Christ. Those stories that have not been erased take on new meaning. I believe that we must be open to the possibility that Mary Magdalen is in our consciousness to teach us about love and the true word of Goddess and God. Are the Ascended Masters real? Do they speak or appear to humans? I think that Christian Jambert (Jambert in LeLoup, J. 2002, p. 16) states very clearly that the willingness to be open is key to understanding Magdalen and in searching for truth.

For the creative imagination is not so named with some metaphorical intent, nor in a spirit of fiction but in the full sense of the term: The imagination creates and is universal creation itself. Every reality is imaginal, because it is able to present itself as a reality. To speak of the metaphorical world is nothing less than to contemplate a metaphysics of Being where subject and object are born together in the same creative act as transcendental imagination.

The Ascended Masters, as I have come to understand, are teachers and healers. My most profound experiences with what I understand to be Masters began in October of 1987 as a single ball of light flitting about my Mount Shasta campsite. I was sitting outside at Panther Meadows with a fellow traveler. We both watched the light, and understood that this was an introduction. There was no voice, but a feeling of welcome, a sense of peace, mixed with the excitement of things to come. The tennis ball sized light stayed with us well past midnight. It was the first and last encounter that I had for more than twenty years. The mountain is known to be the home of Ascended Masters from the lost continent of Lemuria. Strange things happen to people on the mountain, and not just those who are questing. The Masters are only one of many who make their presence known. The experiences are recorded through stories, artwork, and music. My own collage work has become more and more reflective of the presence of the Masters of Mount Shasta.

Several years ago, I reconnected with the mountain after a long and rather desolate period in my life. On the first night, glowing orbs of brilliantly colored light appeared in my darkened room. They were welcoming, and I was overjoyed at their appearance. I was wrestling with soon turning sixty, and still feeling a lack of accomplishment in my life. The next day, I was able to spend time creating a collage for the New Year. What emerged was a collage that pulled together the threads of my life and helped me remember that spirit is an integral part of my life. Although the images were rather dark, the overall impact for me was that perhaps my journey was just beginning, and my life would begin to unfold.
Through the process of collage, I was able to recognize the fragments of my life that I had tried to ignore. The Masters of Mount Shasta showed me a new way to be in the world, and reminded me that I needed to love myself for who I am, not who I thought I should be. They reached out and soothed me. They embedded a short mantra in my soul that for the next few years remained with me. “I am NOT who you think I am!”

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January 29, 2012

Although Mary Magdalen is not Lemurian, she has a strong presence there. I can connect with her spirit of love and compassion easily when I am on or near the mountain. She has reminded me that I had not been true to myself, and that in itself had resulted in pain, anger, and exhaustion. At the Summer Solstice of 2012 Magdalen tested my strength, and together we started the path that would take three years and lead me to this point in time. Having been gifted some alone time at the Solstice, the next collage came forward.

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June 21, 2012

By the Fall Equinox of 2014, I was fervently working on letting go of all the things that were binding me to my old job and the façade that I had created. Again, I was presented with challenges on the trip, and again I was given the alone time to create this piece.

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September 21, 2014

These three collages, to me, represent the presence of Mary Magdalen as Mother, Maiden, and Crone. They speak to me of compassion and love. Her messages are seldom verbal, but nearly always through my artwork. My art, as is this written piece, very organic and from the heart. I trust that you will be inspired to explore the possibility that the Masters are with us, and that Mary Magdalen can bring comfort and peace to those in need, and teach us about joy.

May the blessings of the Cosmic Mother follow you upon your journey to yourself. May the path between the sun and moon be revealed.

– Mary Magdalen
(Kenyon and Sion, 2014, p. 74)

Blessings on your way.
Martha

References:
Ascended Master MARY MAGADLENE. (n.d.). Retrieved 11 29, 2015, from http://www.alphaimaging. co.nz
Last Name, F. M. (Year). Article Title. Journal Title, Pages From – To.
Biagent, M., Leigh, R and Lincoln, H. (2004). Holy Blood, Holy Grail. New York. Bantam Dell.
Clements, J., Ettling, D., Jennett, D., & Shields, L. (1998) Organic Inquiry; If Research Were Sacred. Palo Alto, CA: Serpentina.
Kenyon, T and Scion, J. (2014) The Magdalen Manuscript. Orcas, WA, ORB Communications.
LeLoup, J.Y. (2002). The Gospel of Mary Magdalene. Rochester, VT, Inner Traditions International.
Starbird, M. (1993) The Woman with the Alabaster Jar. Santa Fe, NM. Bear & Company.
Shinoda Bolen, J (1995) Crossing to Avalon. San Francisco, HarperCollins.

In my last post I talked about teaching a course at Emergent Studies Institute in the Spring, and it has come to fruition!  I will be teaching an enrichment course called Dancing the Sacred Wheel beginning February 2nd.  This course is ONLINE, and will be a dialog-based format.   I hope that this will spark your interest, and encourage you to sign-up!

Dancing the Sacred Wheel is focused on cross-cultural shamanic practices, and is an inclusive look at how we as individuals can honor the earth, our animal friends, the birds in the air, and especially one another by celebrating the seasonal quarters of the calendar (the wheel) and the cross-quarters and the seven directions.

Since the first day of class is on Imbolc, or Candlemas (February 2nd), we will begin with our journey together by lighting our candles and welcoming the returning light.  As the weeks continue, we will move through the celebrations of the year, construct altars, share practices, and artwork, poetry and music.

The course is designed to give practical ideas for working with the Solstices and Equinoxes, as well as the holidays Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain. We will delve into literature and film to see how these festivals are portrayed to the mainstream reader and video watcher today.  So often they are misconstrued as dark and even evil, when in fact the Christian church has derived many of their own festivals from them.  Candlemas, May Day, and All Saints and All Souls Days mark three of the four holidays. Samhain needed two days.  Lammas, August 1st is not a holiday, but the entire month is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Yule, celebrated on December 21st and marks the rebirth or renewal of the sun, and was borrowed and moved to December 25th as the birth of the Son.

I look forward to working with you, and hope that you will join us, regardless of your spiritual path or tradition.  All are welcome!

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