Sunday, 28 May 2017

Chanting with Mala Beads

I have always been spiritually eclectic, lost in a sea of esoteric and pagan traditions. 
One tradition that always fascinated me, yet I never actually practised, was chanting with mala beads. I would see the Sadhus on TV, with their beads swiftly flowing over their fingers as their minds and souls would soar over the Ganges. 
Only recently did I finally decide to purchase my first set of mala beads. I did my research and decided on a chant that I liked and felt right. 
The first time I did a full round of the beads with my chant, my mind became crystal clear and needle sharp, I couldn’t believe how wonderful it made me feel. 
I haven’t stopped since. 
Chanting has helped me to reach a higher state of consciousness, connection and wisdom. 
I reach a place of peace and serenity that I rarely reach in any other form of meditation. 
In its simplest form, it makes me feel great.

I love the idea of the mala beads, ‘garlands from heaven’ I see the beads as they are in this world, often beautiful, strings of beads, maybe with embellishment or a tassel. 
But in the other world, through my shamanic eye, I see its true form, a garland of sacred flowers plucked from heaven itself.
There are 108 beads, and I suspect that many reasons why there are 108 beads. 
My favourite is that there are approximately 108 meridians that run through the heart chakra, seat of love, compassion, creation and manifestation. 
There is also a guru bead, which we never chant on or cross, it is left as a holy bead, it is sacred, reserved for gratitude and thanks to our teachers, God, higher self.
I love how chanting with these beads fit so well with any other tradition, for example; I sit, every Saturday evening, along with my fellow shaman, with our mesa’s open, dreaming our world into being. 
I still do this, but I end by chanting a full cycle of a world prayer. 
I’ll tell you about that later.

So how do you do it? 
Acquire a set of mala beads, either made or bought. 
Dedicate them in your way. 
Bless them, in your way. 
Drape the beads over your middle or ring finger, (never the index finger, the finger of ego) use your thumb to gently squeeze, roll, or stroke the bead whilst you chant your chant, (silently or out loud) then you push it along, continuing with the next beads. 
Once you have made your way to the ‘guru bead’ at the beginning, you can turn it around and start again.

For some reason only my higher self knows, I decided that I needed a set of mala beads for each of the chants I use. And so, it began….

My first is a rudraksha mala, they are the seeds of a holy tree that only grows in the Himalayan mountain ranges. 
Rudraksha beads are good for protecting you from heavy energies and supporting your energy field. They also help to purify your body and mind. 
It connects me to the Hindu part of myself.
The chant I use for this set is; Om Namah Shivaya
It is thousands of years old. 
Om is the sound that came out of the void of potential, before existence came Om. 
Namah, means literally bow. 
Shivaya means God, higher self, divine self, the inner self, future potential. ‘Om, I bow to my sacred self’

I was in the Hippy Market in Ibiza when I me my second mala, it was love at first sight. 
Connecting to my Buddhist side to my soul, I acquired a Tibetan Yak bone mala. 
I knew the very mantra that this one would connect too.
Loka Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu. 
Loka, means all the people, the universe, all is one. 
Samastah, means All beings in the same time and location. 
Sukhino, means free from suffering, centred on happiness. 
Bhuv, means the state of unified existence, unity consciousness. 
Antu, means May it be so. So may it be.

My third mala I acquired in Portugal. Another Buddhist mala, lotus seeds. 
The lotus flower rises up from the deep dark muddy waters towards the light of the sun and the stillness of the pool. 
They represent spiritual development, enlightenment and the open heart. 
Om Mani Padme Hum is my chosen mantra for this mala, fitting as you will see…’Om, behold the jewel in the lotus of the heart!’ 
For me this beautifully phonic chant opens up the heart chakra to love, munay, compassion and a fierce one heart flame. 
I dedicated this mala recently to this exact cause, the dawn of the One Heart Flame. 
There is so much to know within this mantra, I couldn’t possibly go through it all now. 
It purifies; pride, jealousy, lust, prejudice, judgementalness, violence and apathy. 

I recently made two more mala bead sets, to go with two more chants that I use, both strangely are linked to the Divine Feminine.

The first is a Goddess mala. 
This was inspired by witches necklaces that I have seen, normally jet and amber, my pagan mala is made of; jet, wood, lava, tigers eye and quartz crystal, with a antler guru bead in the shape of a Mother Goddess. 
Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti is my chant, simple and pure, raising ones energy field to that of peace, bliss and the Divine feminine. 
It is literally the word ‘peace’ repeated three times, for each of the three worlds within us.

The second mala that I made was a pretty powerful experience. 
Firstly, they are (to be) dedicated to Kali Ma, the dark Goddess within the Hindu cosmology. 
She is a Mother Goddess, yet she is also the destroyer, a terminator of time, ego and all hatred and apathy. 
She is one of my favourite Goddesses to work with, so powerful and so beautifully dark. 
The chant I use has been said to be only used by very few initiates due to its purgative nature, you literally call Kali to come and destroy all that does not serve you, destroying the ego, fast-tracking you to enlightenment. 
Strengthened by the word ‘Shi’ which is an expression of greatest respect, and the word ‘Maha’ meaning Great. 
She is a waka, a primitive and galactic pillar of universal energy. 
The black beads that I acquired had to be literally impaled and broken open so I could thread them, I used black leather thong for its strength, and I used tiny wooden skulls within the mala. 
The guru bead is a red skull with a dark blue tassel, like the skin of Kali Ma. 
She is still waiting to be used and dedicated too…I’m waiting for the right time… 
Om, Sri, Maha, Kalikayai Namaha.

Mala beads and the chants are such a blessing, and I implore everyone to try it out and see what you think. Experiment, and find your voice. 
Ask the universe for a garland of flowers direct from heaven, maybe you will find one that suits your practise.

Namaste – I bow to the Divine within you

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

An Evening with Mac McCartney

 “Mac is an international speaker, (a TED talker too) writer and change maker. 
Mentored by indigenous people over many years, he has acquired profound and original insights into questions preoccupying many contemporary leaders. 
Mac seeks to inspire the emergence of the leader in each of us. 
The leader who will take courageous actions for a better world.”
This was taken from Mac’s website so when Outrider Anthems announced a free talk by the guy himself I jumped at the chance!

First of all I’d like to bring attention to Outrider Anthems, a small but growing organisation in my home town of Reading. 
They dedicate themselves to artistic vision, imagination and conjuring magic in everyday spaces, my kind of people! 
Please check them out

Something they are doing now is ‘Festival of the Dark’, a year of festivities surrounding the deliciousness and fertility of the Sacred Dark. 
Mac’s talk, Reflections on Darkness, is a part of this festival.

I’m not going to quote him on his talk, I would do a disservice to his almost private talk. So instead I will try to convey what was said and what else I heard from my own spirit. (plus, I have a poor memory and can’t read all my notes)

Opening with the importance of dreaming got my ears pinned instantly. 
The unassuming and almost stoic man stood haloed by a beautiful art backdrop of the holy chalice in the chapel of St James Church. 
He spoke of three types of dreams, anxiety dreams, the usual ones we have, the dreams our subconscious mind creates as it tries to understand this so called human life. 
Then there are prophetic dreams, dreams we all have had, when something comes true. ESP, clairvoyant, psychic, they are either a prediction of the future or the present. 
Then there are almost Divine dreams, when God seems to talk to you, a dream that inspires you to change, to take action. 
I love this not just because I have always been a dreamer, but also because a huge part of my role as shaman is to dream our world into being, and teach others to do the same.

Sleep is important not only to dream but to also be held in stillness. 
We sleep in the dark, a wave of darkness shrouds us every twelve hours or so, and we collectively all sink into a state of unconscious bliss. 
In the darkness, we can dream. 
The world was created in a void of darkness. 
Life came out of the dark primordial waters of our mother earth. 
Seeds sit germinating in the dark, wet and tangled earth, waiting to be stirred by the light and warmth of the sun. 
We, humans, were all once upon a time, held in the dark, wet wombs of our mother. 
A fetus is sitting in the in-between, not really alive as we know it and yet not in the world of spirit it once knew. 
They are in a deep state of dreaming. 
Dreaming its world into being before it is even born. 
Tonight, as you lay in bed, feel the darkness around you, feel the safety and comfort of this night-blanket that enables us to enjoy the dark beauty of sleep, and the opportunity and privileged of dreaming; memories of your womb time.  

Mac spoke of his time in Colombia, working with the tribes and shamans there. 
Much of Colombia’s villagers have associations with the big drug lords, so life can be tough. 
When a woman of the tribe is pregnant, her baby is tested to see if the child will be a shaman, if the test is positive then she is taken away to the dark. 
Deep into the mountains she is taken, along a long tunnel at the mouth of a cave (I know this place well.) 
They travel deeper into the cave, the light disappearing slowly as darkness prevails. 
And there she waits to give birth. 
For seven years her and her baby live a beautiful and sacred life in the darkness. 
The child is trained and taught and played with. 
The only thing he hears is the soft murmurs of his select guardians, all he sees is shadows and darkness. 
The only smell is the cool damp rock and tastes, on purpose, only the blandest of foods. 
Loved, cherished and adored, they are asked to dream, dream their world into being. 
Trees, clouds, food, colour, mountains, the moon and stars, they dream them all. 
When they reach the age of seven, they are slowly taken out of the womb like cave of darkness, slowly they emerge into the slightest of light, down the birth canal of the cave tunnel. 

Imagine what that child must experience as he sees for the first time a shard of sunlight pouring from the mouth of the cave? 
Imagine what thought as he first heard the sound of birds singing and children playing in the fields? Imagine what he felt when he saw a tree for the first time, a forest, his mother’s face, his own hands. The colours of the world, the smell of the earth after the rain, the warm earth beneath his feet…It is said these children never recover, permanently in a state of awe and wonder. 
They never get over that first sight of our worlds beauty. It’s done this way because a shaman’s role in their community to remind them of the beauty in our world. 
I had tears as I listened to this story. Is this my responsibility too?

Mac gifted us three questions that we could choose to carry with us on our journey through life;

What is it you most deeply and profoundly love?
For me this speaks of not only love but of moral codes of conduct, our integrity, our truth, our journey itself.

What are your deepest and profound gifts?
I think this could also be, what is your dharma? 
What is it you love to do, what is it you do that no one else can do the way you do it, what can you share with the world, your community, your family, what is your service to humanity?

What are you deepest and profound responsibilities? This I feel is about your connection with the world, God. My responsibility is to my son, my husband. 
But we can also choose to widen our responsibility, I can choose to be responsible to all those I touch with my work. 
To remind others of the beauty in our world…

Mac spoke of something about being a leader, about being in right relationship with the world and God, with an alignment with your heart and mind, being in the here and now. 
For us in our tradition of the Inca, this is called Ayni. 
When we live our truth with integrity being wholly who you are, we become leaders. 
Only then can we say, despite what is happening right now in the world, in my life, I choose to do what I love, speak my truth, and live each moment, each day throughout my life knowing I lived well.

Mac left us with an exquisite insight. 
It was about eight in the evening, the darkness of spring was shrouding us, and he said these words;

At this moment, there is a wave of bird song, a dawn chorus, hurtling towards us at great speed, as the sun chases the darkness away.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

My Call from the Mountain Spirits

A part of my work as a shaman is to reanimate the world around me. 
But what does this mean? 
My shamanic path is a animistic one, meaning that I believe, to a certain extent, (it depends on my level of consciousness at the time) that the world is organised by supernatural/spiritual/energetic beings. 
Places, plants, animals, even inanimate objects contain an essence that is conscious. 
These spirits can be communicated with and even implored to help you, be it for wisdom or a quality of power.
In my opinion, the most powerful and beautiful of those beings are the Apukuna. 
Apu means Lord or Mountain, they are the Spirit of the Mountains. 
For me they are colossal, both in size and presence, and yet they are as gentle as falling snow, and so quiet, you will doubt they are even there.

The stone people, stones, live in a different time and space to us human people. 
We are barely visible to them, we are born and die in such a flash that we are almost inconceivable to them. 
They are unaware of us until we interact with them. 
Maybe we pick them up, hold them, speak to them, or maybe we bring their heads together awakening their memory of fire, and then they will see us.

I am joined to the lineage of the Altomesayoc, and as such I can appeal and converse with the Apukuna. 
Stepping outside of time and space is a way of communicating with these most ancient and majestic beings. 
I recently acquired a set of seven chumpi stones. 
They are quite large compared to many I have seen and are made from meteorite. 
Each stone has a different amount of points, which relate to different sacred mountains, or Apukuna, and, among other things, are used to gift one of the nine rites of the Munay Ki, the Chumpi rites, or the Sacred Bands of Power. 

I decided to create a seven-day ceremony to attune each stone to a mountain. 
Each day I carried and held one of the stones while summoning the correlating Apukuna.
I took note of anything I noticed about me and my day. 
Then later that night I chanted 108 times the name of that mountain spirit summoning them to be joined to that stone. 
I then anointed it with my favourite oil, Nag Champa.

What did I notice? I hear you ask. 
They had messages to tell and wisdom to share, and I will tell you.
I must admit, I wasn’t sure what would come up. 
What did happen was a huge shift in my energyfield. 
Deep, powerful and long standing wounds that I have dealt with many times, including during my own experience on the medicine wheel, came up, and not only did they show me the true face of my wound, the Apukuna showed me exactly where the wounds came from. 
The answer shocked me to my core and brought up many long-buried memories. 
I still find it hard to believe this didn’t show up during the many healing sessions I have received. 
I now know what I need to heal; the journey continues.

The Yapanapukuna, the Sacred Mountains.

Apu Ausangate, humpuyai, hampui, bandeira, bandeira.

The Sacred Masculine, the divine source of water speaks; Stop, take the time to smell the flowers I offer to you. 
Take notice of the joy that ripples around you, play with our children, give them all you have at that moment, we all deserve tickles and cuddles. 
Drink plenty of my sacred waters, they are offered to you freely, let it nourish you. 
Opportunities are given, you need only ask, stand at the edge of the forest and ask for what you want, know that you will get what you want and more besides.

Apu Salcantay, humpuyai, hampui, bandeira, bandeira.

The Sacred Feminine, Wild woman speaks; Run! Like the wild horses, raw and natural.
Be just who you are, embrace all that you are, the good, the bad and downright dirty! 
See those sparks of life in all, and allow that spark of the wild to shine secretly to those who know it, and to those who do not, may you scare them with your wild beauty. 
Create a splash of chaos, if you wish, but it is far better to move silently through this world without creating a ripple, like wild geese on a lake of morn-light.

Apu Illimani, humpuyai, hampui, bandeira, bandeira.

The First Light speaks; The first light of Inti, our star, shone down upon the earth and cast the first shadows amongst the people of stone. 
Now the sacred light is at its brightest, and the shadows are at their darkest, yet we are living in the darkness. 
Be the light, trust in yourself, trust in your light. 
Notice and observe the nonviolence, notice the places where there is no arguing, no fighting, no swearing or screaming, be this. 
Know it is your choice to stop protesting and complaining, accept or be the change you would rather see. 
It feels good, doesn’t it? Look to the sun, and breathe.

Apu Huanakauri, humpuyai, hampui, bandeira, bandeira.

Coiling Serpent speaks; Know what is in your heart will be reflected in the world around you. 
Look in the streets, the media, your own life, see that it is truth. 
What can sometimes feel daunting is a lesson in connection, we are all connected. 
A fine thread connects us to the war and torment of another the other side of the world. 
Our reflections are us, we are our reflections, All is One. Know when to strike, and when to recoil to the safety of your inner landscape. 
Learn to power of No, and the beauty of Yes.

Apu Sacsayhuaman, humpuyai, hampui, bandeira, bandeira.

The Satisfied Falcon speaks; Be true to yourself, be honest. 
Allow the winds to blow through your mind, clearing space for you. 
Be in integrity, its ok to feel happy, give yourself permission to be satisfied. 
Know your truth, speak your truth, live your truth, it cannot lead you astray. 
Take a deep breath in and just Be.

Apu Huacawilka, humpuyai, hampui, bandeira, bandeira.

The Sacred Tears speaks; When you allow your tears to run, you allow the river within you to flow. All rivers nourish the soil around them, all rivers deposit their gifts. 
Nourish the soils of your heart, allow the rivers to flow, you will find the roots to your wounds and with it, the fragments of gold you have been waiting for.

Apu Machu Picchu, humpuyai, hampui, bandeira, bandeira.

The Wise Old Man, the Sage speaks; Listen to the young, their wisdom can sometimes surpass that of the old, both are invaluable. 
Listen to the children of our future, to the inner child within. 
You have within you all the answers you will ever need, and the questions that follow. 
Open up your heart and listen to the wisdom of the Divine, it is your Sacred voice that that speaks. 
Be the light in the darkness, be the goodness in the world, step into your authenticity.

These are the words of the Yapanapukuna, all the Sacred Mountains. 

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Calming the Jaguar Within

That knot in the pit of your stomach. 
That tightness in your chest. 
That chaos that is your mind. 
We’ve all been stressed, some of us are more prone to feeling it than others, the red warning light is permanently on. 
Stress has many symptoms; Shortness of breath, irregular heart beat or chest pain. Painful joints or maybe back pain. Tight jaws, sweaty palms, headaches. Too tired to do anything, yet at night you cannot rest or even sleep. Overemotional? Anxious? Rage, anger, fear, worry…yep, that’s stress.

When we are stressed, our adrenaline system kicks in. 
Walnut sized glands on top of the kidneys start flooding our body with stress hormones called adrenaline and cortisol. 
This initiates the fight or flight, and faint or freeze response, basically causing disharmony within your body. 
It was great back in the day, when a sabre-toothed tiger shows up! 
Our eyes would widen, our heart beat quickens, blood goes to the major organs to fuel the body, our breath naturally increases, increasing our oxygen levels, and we run, or we fight. 
When we run away, we also began to burn those toxic hormones, therefore reducing the stress in our bodies, until we eventually calm down and begin to relax. 
You only have to watch a couple of ducks fights in a pond, they finish fighting, frantically flap their wings, and then they calmly swim along the still waters.

In modern times, we unfortunately have forgotten how to flap our wings, we have forgotten how to release the stress, and even more unfortunately, our children are now forgetting. 
What do we do instead? 
Well, instead of running away from it, we sit in front of our sabre-toothed tiger at the computer, or we gaze at it longingly on our smart phones. 
We internalise it, caging it up, while we allow our tiger to gnaw on our legs.
The longer these hormones are in our body, the longer you are stressed, the higher our blood pressure goes. 
What with this and the toxicity of the hormones, we are increasing our chances of heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and many other stress related disorders. 
The change in chemicals within the body lowers our immune system so we catch anything and everything, and it has been said it could even increase our chances of getting cancer. 
If that doesn’t make you want to reduce your stress level, cortisol speeds up the ageing process! Shock horror!

So how do we eradicate these poisonous toxins once they are in our bodies? 
Firstly, we should look at stress from a higher level, a shamanic level. 
When we are in ‘our stuff’ stressed and anxious, we are reacting from the mammalian part of our brain, a mammal, like a jaguar. 
Just imagine yourself as a powerful jaguar.
You stalk in the dark, eyes wide, ears pinned back, teeth bare and claws ready to draw like a flick knife. 
You’re feeling everything, sensing everything. 
Nothing is what it seems, you trust nothing. 
Memories of past wounds and past fights are played on repeat inside your mind, as you frantically look for an answer to a problem that may show up, accessing the same irrational response, looking out for danger. 
Stressful? Crazy? 
Let’s not get into the psychological madness of the human being.

So how do we temp this jaguar down from the tree?
TRE is a safe and wonderful way to release the stress that’s locked within your muscles and tissues. Trauma Releasing Exercises, helps us re-member how to shake our bodies, how to tremor. 
Shamanic healing sessions are great as they will ultimately remove the energetic blocks that are causing the stress in the first place. 
But what can you do in the meanwhile?
Drink plenty of water to flush out the toxins. 
Work out, burn those poisonous hormones, sweat them out! 
Tai Chi. 
Yoga, meditation, chanting, sleep, they all work.

One way I use to shift yourself out of your current mood into a different perspective is the 777 breath.
It is used in our shamanic practise to shift our consciousness out of the mundane into a different state of consciousness. 
During ceremony, the pauses in-between breaths actually open up small windows in time and space, making ‘time’ more elusive and its basic level, it reduces stress levels and eases pain and migraines.

Find a comfortable position, seated with back straight.
·         Rest hands on hips to block the flow of energy around the body. (When we breathe, we breathe in through our nose, allowing our tummy’s to rise, and as we breathe out through our mouths our tummy deflates; this is how we should be breathing naturally)
·         Begin by taking in seven sharp breaths in to fill your lungs with air.
·         Hold for the count of seven.
·         Breathe out through the mouth to the count of seven.
·         Hold for a count of seven.
·         And repeat, do seven rounds only.

Try it, see for yourself, have the experience.

I love using hand mudras, the Kali mudra is the best mudra for releasing stress, coupled with chanting and visualisations it is a powerful de-stresser.

Decoupling this fight or flight sequence within our endocrine system is tricky, but we shaman have a beautiful technique that actually does this. 
We realign the heart and sacral chakra, harmonising the energy flow. 
Meanwhile we pulse our own energyfields, matching that with the frequency of the earths, so that your energyfield also resonates with it. 
A disconnection with the earth, our mother, causes a great disharmony within our spirit. 
What we do at a mythic level, is call our eagle back home to roost, we temp our jaguar back down from that tree, to be held in the loving arms of our mother, the earth.

Whatever technique you use, use it. If it works, do it. A wise man (5th grader at school) once told me, “Mr Cox, you should try lighting a candle and think of all the nice things in your life.” never a truer word said.

For anymore hints and tips on reducing stress levels, drop me a line, and follow me on Facebook or Instagram @Thebeardedshaman and if you are local, join me for a healing circle, I will teach you all I know!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

A Snowdrops Call

I’m sat, watching birds fluff their feathers and busily building their nests with windblown twigs. 
The sky is grey and a roof of winter is over my head, my heart yearns for spring. 
I saw snow drops today, poking out of the dark soil, and I realised that today is Saint Bridget’s day.
Saint Bridget is the Patron Saint of dairymaids, midwives and newborn babies.

Tomorrow is Imbolc too, another echo that the first stirrings of spring is awakening.

Coincidentally it is the Inca month of Hatan Puncuy, The Great Ripening. 
It is a time dedicated to the Divine Feminine in all her earthy and heavenly forms. 
Though nothing in the United Kingdom is ripe, the fertility of the season is obviously still within the whole earth.

The Divine Feminine archetype who speaks to me today, on Her day, is Bridget. 
But she has many other names; Brighid, Brigantia, and far older names, Bree. 
She is the breeze that blows our seeds to lay.
She is the breath that blows life into the Smithy’s fire. 
She is the breast milk of nourishment that pours from the mountains to fertilise the earth, the snowdrops that drip like springs lactation.
For me personally, this time of year reminds me to honour the Divine Feminine within me. 
She expresses herself through me in many aspects in my life. 
As a gay man, she flames my desires as she flames her own. 
As a LGBT father, I embody her as nourisher, comforter, fierce mother, teacher of trees and beasts, tear collector and bottom wiper. 
She communicates her words through my writing and my art, both ceremonial and aimless doodling. She pours through my fingers in crazy ways, risqué ways, creative and wild ways, and often very emotional ways; talking of which, she cries through my eyes at the most inappropriate times. 
She works her magic through me when I am in a state of healing. 
She listens, as I listen, a sacred witness to another person’s pain, one divine being listening to itself, maybe…She moves my hands over our clients, allowing me to remove the hucha you no longer need, she guides my fingers as I shift the flow of the river of light within you and re-members lost soul parts. 
She also sits quietly within my heart while I hold your precious skull in my hands.

In honour of the fact, that it is also LGBT History month, I’d like to add that we, the LGBT community, were once, and still are in certain parts of the world, considered sacred. 
Even in the most intolerant of countries, there was once a holy place for us, you cannot deny it. 
We were called Two Spirited. 
Gay men, for example, were seen as having the physical body of the Holy Father, Great Spirit, and the spirit, soul and passions of the Divine Mother, the Sacred Feminine. 
Because of this view, we were often trained in the traditional paths of healers, priests and priestesses, medicine people and shaman. 
We were seen as a conduit between heaven and earth, spirit and matter, the masculine and the feminine, balance.

But we All have both the light and the dark within us, we all have both the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine within us, they are One within us, a perfect and many shaded rainbow. 

Each one of us capable of answering the call of Spirit. Her call, the nesting call, springs call, the healers call, snowdrops call. 

Listen to your heart, and you will hear her.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Merry Yule!

Yuletide Blessings to all! 
In the northern hemisphere, we celebrate the winter solstice, the coming together of friends and family. 
I love the idea of snuggling up by the fire, telling stories and sharing what we have with each other during the darkest time of the year.
It is a celebration of the re-birthing of the sun, and, also, all the sun Gods around the world. 
We honour him, we thank him, and we give him strength to him to return to us with the fires in our hearts and belly’s. 
We bring winter greens into our homes, hoping to bring the energy of life back into our lives.
There is so much symbology and similarities between other winter celebrations, including Christ’s Mass, that I’d be writing a book rather than a blog, and I am writing about something a little different now.
In the southern hemisphere, it is summer. 
The summer solstice. 
The sun it big, bright and power-full. 
For the Q’ero people they are celebrating Copaq Raymi, Feast of the Sun. 
Traditionally gold and silver was gifted, sacred to the sun God, Intitayta; they may as well have gifted frankincense and myrrh too.
It was and still is a magnificent celebration, honouring the passing of youth to adulthood. 
A time to plant crops that bring us joy and pleasure, rather than food that will sustain us, like coca for example. 
Despite Copaq Raymi’s focus on the Great Sun, the All Father, the Holy Son, it is considered a feminine celebration, often called Warmipacua, The Feminine Passover.

It was really a time that young children were to find the dharma, their reason for being, finding the gift, talent and heart desire that they brought with them to this world.

So, over the Christmas period, let’s all connect with our innocent, inner child, and see the world with wonder and awe, let’s be delighted with the twinkling lights, the Christmas stories, and let’s enjoy those chocolate treats!

Let’s find our dharma, our gold, and share it with everyone.
This Yule, during this dark period of our life, let’s plant crops of love, lets gestate seeds of joy and happiness, so we all have something even more beautiful to look forward to in the spring, lets share this gold unabashedly and generously.

Brightest of Blessings

Danny aka The Bearded Shaman.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Our Lady of the Serpents

It was in the winter of 1531 that a 57-year-old Juan Diego heard strange music coming from the once sacred hill of Tepeyac. He walked up the hill and was greeted by a woman of his own Aztec heritage. She introduced herself as Mary, mother of God. 
She told him that she wanted him to build a church on top of the hill, and urged him to speak to the Bishop. Juan left and demanded that he is greeted by the Bishop of the New Church of Tenochtitlan, Juan de Zumarraga. 
The Bishop was understandably sceptical, and asked for more proof, a sign, maybe, that she truly was the Holy Mary, mother of God. Eagerly, he ran back to the hill and prayed to the Virgin Mary that she would appear again to him once more. 
She did appear, this time she told him, (in his language, Nahwatl) that her name was Coatlaxopeuh.
She showed him a garden of roses, which do not bloom in winter, a miracle by any means. 
She told him to collect them up and show the Bishop the rose buds, she even helped him arrange the roses in his tilma, his modest cloak. 
When he arrived at the New Church, he blurted out her name, the Bishop, due to nahwatl pronunciation, heard Guadalupe. 
Juan emptied his tilma of roses, letting them spill across the floor, but the Bishop did not fall to his knees in disbelief because of un-seasonal rose buds, but the imprinted image of Our Lady Guadalupe on his tilma.
A church was built on the sacred hill of Tepeyac.
Eight million descendants of the Aztecs converted to Catholicism.

The tilma is still held, after all this time, in the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. 
It is made of cactus fibres and in 500 years it still hasn’t disintegrated. 
No paint was used. 
The eyes of the image reflect those of the clergy and those of Aztec heritage. 
Even more fascinating is that the star constellations on her dress are exactly what you would have seen if you were in Mexico in 1531.

But, Our Lady has another identity. 

She is Coatlicue, ‘Skirt of Serpents.’ She is Tonantzin, ‘Our Mother.’ She is Cozcamiyawh, ‘Corn Tasselled Necklace.’ She is Cihuacoatl, ‘Snake Woman.’ 
And she is also Coatlalopeuh, ‘She who has Dominion over the Snakes.’
Earth Goddess, Mother Most High. Patron of Serpents. Pachamama.

In the Image above, you can see that her cloak is midnight blue, and adorned with stars.
Coatlicue’s son Huitzilpochtli created the stars from his dead brothers.
She stands on a dark crescent moon, held by a child. Coatlicue’s son created the moon from his sisters severed head.
Behind her, shines the rays of the sun. Coatlicue’s son is the God of the Sun.
She wears a black sash around her waist. Coatlicue wore a black sash around her waist as did many Aztec woman during pregnancy and childbirth.
Her tunic even shows the sinewy lines of the image of Coatlicue.

I love the Holy Virgin Mary, and I also love Coatlicue, the primordial Goddess of all things wet, dark and tangled. 
This is why Our Lady Guadalupe is so special to me.

Elders tell us that she has been holding the Divine Feminine energy within her heart, until such a time that the decedents of the Mexica set aside the beliefs imposed upon them by the Spaniards, and bring forth into the light of the sun, the ancestral teachings, and the restoration of woman’s place of honour in the community.

This speaks volumes to me, not just for the feminist principles, but for bringing Her back. 
Bringing back the Divine Feminine within our culture and community and spirituality. 
It means acknowledging the presence of the female face of God as Mother, Divine Creator and nourisher of All, as pure creational potential and the feminine energy of flow and movement.
Already the ancient teachings of the Americas have been brought forth into the light, we shaman and mesa carriers have these teachings, I have these teachings within me, and I willingly share them with you.

All religions have a hidden, or not-so-hidden, female face of God; you just have to search for Her. The best place to search for her, is within your own hearts. 
Embrace her, for She will embrace you, and She will give you back your power and your grace that She has been lovingly holding for you.

The twelfth of December is The Feast of Our Lady Guadalupe, light a candle for her, embrace her, for she carries within her womb your gold.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Frohlichen Krampusnacht!!

Tuesday the 6th December is the Feast of Saint Nicholas. He was a Christian Saint and a Greek Bishop of Myra. He was known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker, and has since been used as the model for our modern-day Father Christmas, Old St Nick, Santa Clause. He has many names, he is also known as the Holly King, the Green Man, The Shaman, and even Odin. He rewards the good and well-behaved children of Christendom with gifts and trinkets and sweet delights on Christ’s Mass Eve.

But did you know, like all of us, he has a shadow? He, like me and thee, has a shadow self too. What would Jolly Ole Father Christmas’s shadow look like? What could possibly be a contrasting image of Santa?

Are you sitting comfortably? Are the lights on nice and bright? Are your loved ones near? Then I shall tell you.

He has no shiny, buckled, black boots that tread through the snow, but cloven hooves that clip and clop. No red coat dons this man, but a tangled mass of dark fur. He does not wear a red hat, (and if he did, it would probably be the foulest blood red) instead, two great goat horns curl and twist. Does he say “Ho, Ho, Ho?” Oh no, no, no, he couldn’t possibly, not with those fangs and that long, long red tongue. What about a sack full of toys? I hear you ask, he carries a sack, or sometimes a basket, over his shoulder, but it doesn’t contain toys, only children. He holds, not the reigns of a beautiful sleigh, but chains that attach him to the devil.

On the 5th December, the part goat, part demon Krampus punishes the naughty children, whipping them with his ruten branches. Or gifting coal instead of toys, ruten bundles instead of sweet nectarines. 

On the eve of The Feast of Saint Nicholas he gifts an early Christmas present to those who have been exceptionally good. But, God help ye merry children if you have been very, very bad. If you have been wicked, then he will take you away leaving a log of wood in your image behind while you are taken to his lair. Maybe he will make you work for him or maybe he will devour you. Or maybe he will drown you the fiery pits of hell.

For me, the Krampus represents the naughty side of this season, Christmas in all it's gory glory. It is the time that the birth of the Holy Sun of God is born, in many ancient paths, not just Christian. And as wholesome and holy as this season is, there is a sombre side to this season too. There is loneliness and bitter sweet memories, there is greed and over indulgence. There is consumerism and debt, there is chocolate, alcohol and burning loins. Families argue and fight, office parties end in shame and guilt, and the streets are littered with drunks wearing sexy Santa outfits.

As advent begins, Saint Nick sits on one shoulder, and Krampus sits on the other, whispering sweet nothings in our ears. I have a soft spot for the Krampus, he has been commercialised into a jolly and slightly satanic Christmas figure, and there is a growing number within the anti-Christmas community, who use the 'bar humbugginess' of Krampusnacht to celebrate something less-than-Holy.

Last year I accidentally celebrated Krampusnacht with my son. He was ill during the last week of November and as he was feeling better and as he had been exceptionally good all week, we decided to gift him an early Christmas present on the night of the 5th December. Later that night I found out it was Krampusnacht.

So, to all my kith and kin, have a cheeky chocolate, or a snifter of rum, watch an X-rated movie or simply snuggle up with your Shnookums or your Snugglybum.
Like everything in life, it’s about balance and moderation, holding the two polarities of life in balance in each hand, so you can be the stillness in the centre.

Be both the bright and the dark, the light and the shadow, the oak and the holly, Santa and Krampus.

Merry Krampusnacht 

The Bearded Shaman

Saturday, 12 November 2016

A Hero's Call

They say that you can hear the call three times before you find the courage to answer it; a call to adventure, a call to destiny and life. Writer and storyteller Joseph Campbell said,
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day, into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
Well, I'm back! Anyone care for a boon?
My call was a call to parenthood, but that doesn't sound very extraordinary, being a gay man means I would need to make some tough decisions, and do something out of the ordinary, other than the usual ins-and-outs of life to produce a child (pun intended). When is anyone truly ready to be a parent? ‘When I have X amount of money in savings’ ‘Once I've seen the world’ ‘Once I’ve grown up’ Knowing I couldn't just ‘Fall pregnant’ meant that if I decide to have a child then the ball will start rolling….Ok…..deep breath….Yes! Call answered.
It just so happened that my partner Tom works for an adoption agency. The call felt like a silent bell going off in my heart. I felt like a spider tentatively stepping and sensing his way along a thin thread trying to grasp what was on the other end, the thread was my new path, a heart string had been pulled.
I was due to go on an advanced shamanic class, ‘Working with the Mythic’ with Chris Waters ( ‘Bring with you a fairy-tale that you feel connected too…’ I couldn't even think of any, so I called another shaman friend of mine, Charlotte Gush ( who was given the name ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ by Spirit, I listened. It was one of my favourites but I couldn’t see how it related to me. 
I arrived at misty hills of Avalon, The Glass Isles of Glastonbury, where the world reflects back to you. I sat in a group waiting to tell the tale I brought with me, the trees eagerly listening, I told the tale of Rumpelstiltskin from the place of ‘I’ - the I being the poor nameless girl who was trapped in the dungeon by the King, who demanded an impossible task of her; to spin straw into gold, a lie told by her father.
I could definitely feel the link; I was trapped in a dungeon like 9-5 life that was not authentic, and I had the impossible task of creating a family that was biologically not going to happen, in a Kingdom that was not all 100% happy with LGBT parents. But I couldn't fully connect with her, she wasn't my story.
We performed many tasks and beautiful ceremonies within the land of Glastonbury that week, re-enacting myths and legends, of Percival, the decent of Inanna. We visited Gwen App Nudd the lord of the underworld, and Cerridwen of the cauldron of transformation. Sat on the altar in our sanctuary was a beautiful statue of the horned lord, I longed to be connected to him, and for me his presence represented fatherhood in its purest form. His resplendent horns are the horns of passion, fierce love, protector and guardian, provider and teacher, all the things needed to be a father, I lost my horns a long time ago. Where was he in this story? We hadn't discussed him at all. Where are my horns?

There is a thorn tree in the Chalice Well Gardens, it is said that the tree grew from a sapling from another tree that grew on Wearyall Hill, and this particular tree grew from the staff of Joseph of Aramathea, Jesus’s Uncle, the staff was cut from the same thorn tree that Jesus's crown of thorns was made from. A small ceremony we have done many times before is walk under this tree in the Chalice Gardens, and comb our hair through its thorns and give back our own crown of thorns, we no longer need this guilt in the world. I was looking forward to visiting this ancient tree and as I approached, to my horror, it had gone. The year previously the even more ancient tree on Wearyall Hill had been vandalised beyond repair and died, a year later the tree in the Chalice Garden was struck by lightning and split in half. All that is there now is a fairy ring. I stood looking at this fairy ring and it dawned on me a story of the horned lord. I have heard that there once was a sacred garden, maybe the Garden of Eden? And in that garden stood an ancient tree, for some reason lightning struck it and it split in half, and out of its centre stepped the horned lord. Had he stepped out of this tree?
Once I was back at base camp at the Abbey House, I decided to tell my story from the place of ‘I’ but instead of the young girl I chose Rumpelstiltskin, after all it is his story, the only one with a name. Suddenly it all started to make sense. Rumpelstiltskin did the impossible, he spun old straw into gold, an impossible task a bit like creating a family with out a woman. He was promised a child, I held on to the hope that Toms agency would say yes to us. He had a secret name, a secret identity that is anyone found out would cause his demise, I am not an 'office worker' its not my name, I have a secret name, a secret identity, one that involves children, magic and mystery. He was betrayed and the promise of a child was taken away from him, and he tore himself in two with the pain and rage.
“What if this story came true?”
“It can’t, I would be devastated.”
“But what if this is exactly how things are supposed to be?”
“I feel like my life would be over, I would be in so much pain and rage I wouldn’t know what to do…”
That night we burnt our stories in a ceremonial fire. In the flaming remains of all the stuff I was working on that week I saw the image of a King. Also that night Tom went into a meeting to officially ask to start the adoption process with his agency. After the fire I ran through misty rain back indoors, put on kettle for a hot chocolate and checked my phone for a response from Tom. I called him after reading his text. We weren’t allowed due to employment boundaries, which is understandable, but still rage flared inside my heart. My head aching with the loss, the story came true, I went to bed heavy hearted.
Something was splitting, my head, my soul, my heart? One of my kuyas is a split stone, I call it ‘Emergence’ is this what is happening? It didn’t feel like it.
The next morning I had a powerful migraine, I stormed about the place swearing and punching walls in rage. I felt like I was splitting in half, I was Rumpelstiltskin tearing myself in half, I had to tell my story! Someone took the words out of my mouth, “Where is the fierce masculine in all of this? Where is the horned lord?” YES! Where the fuck is he?! So I told my story.
“Where do you feel this loss in your body?”
“Its in my head, and my heart, but mainly my head, I feel like I am about to split in half.”
“What would happen if you allowed yourself to split?”
My heart swam in relief, I could finally let go, I raised my hands to my head and slowly with grace tore myself in two, and it felt liberating! I felt peaceful, still in pain, but accepted pain.
“Can anyone else see his horns?” I heard someone say, ‘I’ stepped out of myself and there instead of the old me was a horned lord, a father, albeit a childless one. Little did I know that my son was being born just a few miles away.

I always knew he was on his way, I could feel him. Every time I journeyed to the upperworlds and visited with the children of the future there was always a particular little child, full of energy and big beautiful eyes who couldn't wait to see me, I presumed it was a piece of myself, but something told me otherwise. “I can’t wait to come down! It looks amazing!” he once said to me. A golden little boy.

One year later and I am sitting nervously on the floor of a foster carer’s house. Fear and excitement rumble within me, I think I'm going to be sick! I hear him in the kitchen making a right noise! “Do you want to meet him?” the foster carer asks. She calls his name and his tiny little face pokes around the corner looking sheepish and coy, he gingerly crawls towards us, my heart melts, I am in love! This is what munay felt like, sacred love. Our son was looking at us, my golden little boy! I pick him up and put him on my lap, I feel like I was anointed king! I am the victor of my hero’s journey, I am King of my Kingdom, I am the Horned Lord, I am Dadda, with a bag full of boons.

Friday, 11 November 2016

So, Trump Won.

So, Trump won. 

There is a lot of debate out there on social media, cities are divided. 
Is it right or wrong? Good or bad? What is right anyway? What is wrong? 
Everyone’s 'stuff' is up, all our buttons are being pressed; anger, rage, fear, doubt, hatred, indolence, apathy…it’s all our stuff.
We can choose to perceive Trump as a bully, a bigot, a misogynistic tyrant, predator, homophobe, racist. Some see him as a great man, a leader, a creator of change and immense walls. Others see him as a man, a son, a husband, a father.

I don’t believe for one second, that the majority of America are hate-filled, angry bigots. 
Maybe the votes were rigged, Trump said that very thing, maybe it’s true? 
I believe in the goodness of people. 
His supporters are fearful, they hold scare-city within their hearts, anger, rage and a deeply rooted ancestral shame. 
Whatever is in your hearts, you will perceive outside of yourself; so this is what they see.

Trump, just like all of us, has many wounds. 
He is an archetypal concept, the Wounded Masculine, the Wounded King, an archetype of our time right now. 
Where are our leaders? Where are our fathers? Our mentors, our guides, where is the Fierce Masculine? 

Trump is a beautiful reflection of our most darkest shadows, and we can all see them! 
The Emperor’s New Clothes!
I almost want to thank him for showing up, for stepping into his power and for showing US the parts of ourselves we are unwilling or unable to love, so we can heal them!
All those parts that hate, that judge, that condemn, that despise.
The parts of ourselves that we are ashamed of, that are weak, that are vulnerable. 
These are All of our shadows.

So, Trump won?

If you are reading this, it is because you are energetically drawn to my words, our words, our consciousness.
Remember, there is only one consciousness, even Trump is a part of that divinity. 
He has lessons to teach us, let's listen.
What can we do? 
We can choose to love each other, it’s totally in your power to make a stand and say 'Yes' to love. 
Love your neighbours, love that gay couple around the corner. 
Love the Pakistani family in the flat above you. 
Love that black guy who gets the same bus as you every morning, and that Mexican woman who sells flowers on the corner of your road. 
Love that trans kid who always looks away awkwardly when you stare, and the angry single mother who always looks so tired. 

We can also choose to love that orange guy with the funny hair. 
But more importantly, go to that mirror in front of you, go look in it, see that person, love them.

We can choose love, I choose love.