Posts Tagged ‘Shamanism’
It was shortly after the visit to Dinas Bran in Llangollen that an opportunity arose to visit the old Llangernyw Yew tree near Conwy. Of course the weather reports said “rain” so we planned for sun. It was sunny. The shadows were lengthening at the end of the day, but the temperature was still warm. Always handy if you’re walking through a graveyard because it keep the chill of the shades off you!
I was here to try to learn something more about my new yew staff which I had recently acquired in Glastonbury, and which had just been “initiated” (charged up) at Dinas Bran. Now I wanted to know about the energy that it now contained – was there a spirit form associated with it (as there had been for my previous staff – the ash staff)?
Straight away on our arrival I put up protection. Recent experience had made me more careful. Although I felt I knew this place, maybe there had been some recent new arrivals? Better safe than ill! Kal immediately went off dowsing and I headed up to the church area to see where I should be going first.
Last year I went to Ireland based on the idea that I was going in search of renown. I don’t think I properly explained that idea, so in the hope of making the motivation behind those episodes a little clearer I want to discuss what I have come to think about the idea of “renown”.
The original meaning of renown is to “repeatedly name”, in the sense of repeating the name of someone until they accumulate fame. A sort of “making a name” for someone through the stories and mythology that comes of telling about someone’s deeds and life history. Figures who ended up in tales, poems and songs would come to be passed down through the generations and across cultures.
In an energetic sense one can increase the renown of someone or something (or place) by increasing the amount of intent and attention that they receive. By receiving the energetic focus of an energy worker a person, place or thing can accumulate subtle energy (of the human variety). Some cultures have spent time creating structures, spaces and coincidence of time and space which will corral, encourage and intensity subtle energy forces with the express purpose of creating renown for a person or place. A sacred place is made special to humans by the use they can obtain from its energy fields. Repeatedly focusing one’s intent upon something, say by gathering many people at specific times of the year when the energy is more abundant or in harmony with the Earth and Sky, only serves to increase the energetic renown.
Building a collective legacy
When it came to the idea of one’s legacy, I think that the Neolithic people had a concept of renown that meant that they sought to achieve a nothingness, a balance of energies at the point of leaving their physical bodies. For them, achieving renown was a personal matter of achieving the maximum personal power in order to have sufficient energy to carry one’s spirit through death into the Otherworld. Sacred sites and point of strong subtle energy on the Earth were places where such passings into spirit could be completed with the best effect. As the spirit retreated out of the world, renown was left behind – an energetic shell which retained both energetic force, and more importantly the information field of that person.
What a person of renown left behind was his story, his history, his achievements, his energy. For example, what a shaman left behind were the tales he had collected from the tribe’s ancestors, the healing knowledge, plant wisdom. A tribal mother may leave behind her knowledge of how to bring children into the world safely. Renown was accumulated not only through personal experience, but through the recovery of knowledge from the Otherworld (by liaising with energy forms in that existence) or by undergoing a shamanic journey to recover knowledge through a revelatory experience.
All these things still exist in the information field of the person of renown when they transferred into spirit. Their subtle information energy field, their information field, remained in place, accessible to future generations, and kept alive by the renown with which they were adorned. The tribe continued to apply its focus of attention and intention upon the sacred places, the places of the passing of people of renown, and thus they re-energised and kept these field integral, kept them from disintegrating through neglect.
Bronze Age – A change of ideas
I think that the Bronze Age people changed their concept of renown. In their eyes renown was imbued into a person or place based on the assessment of personal power. Consequently, for the Bronze Age people renown meant the maximum accrual of energy through wealth, status and influence. The concept of renown began to become entirely anthropocentric – all based on the human’s energy, rather than a combination of power, place, timing and human energy, as it had been seen earlier. They no longer sought to transport spirit and leave renown for spiritual purposes. Now the renown was purely linked to the life of the individual who was the pinnacle of the social hierarchy – the King or Queen. Thus we see the introduction of tumuli in the megalithic landscape and the concept of burial becomes the parting practise instead of creation. In time this became a physical and material shift away from the spiritual and subtle energy forces that held the renown energy. With that change in emphasis came the move away from spiritual practices that retained and encouraged the preservation of subtle energy forces. As the subtle energy dissipated over time through a lack of intent and awareness, so the site gradually became abandoned. What purpose did they have now? They were merely the marker stones and turf mound graves of forgotten individuals. No longer did they have the same subtle powers, and the information field dissipated into the general consciousness of the nation, held in place by written mythology alone, and no longer functional as information sources, or guiding forces for the tribes that had moved away from the sites.
My quest of renown last year was closer to the original concept – I went back into the landscape of my forefathers in search of places where their renown still lingers. In this way I took on their energies, leaving them free to move on. In taking their energies I accumulated more personal power and this added to my own energetic strength, whilst simultaneously cleaning the land of their remnant energies. Only I can judge whether this is going to be a beneficial thing for me and my ancestors, but I believe the concept is real, and marks a passing of “the mantle” of information to a living generation. Now it remains for me to find out whether this information can be put to good use for the benefit of myself and future generations. It is for me now to create my own renown through my words and works.
Thursday 23rd September, 2010 – Llangernyw village, Conwy, North Wales.
Due to us visiting the Llangernyw Yew in daylight we noticed some things we don’t normally see because our usual visit time is dusk or at night. Most striking of the things we saw were the signs strewn around in various formats explaining the provenance of the yew tree. The official estimate is between 4-5,000 years old. If we consider how far back in human history that is, this tree was beginning to grow when mankind was in the flush of building its neolithic structures.
The yew tree’s life span in perspective
This tree has seen the rise and fall of human civilisations that are completely unknown to us! The tree is older than any of us can possibly trace our ancestry.Having heard Michael Dunning talking about his profound ‘shamanic healing’ experiences in a yew tree that is a mere slip of a lad compared to this one, we had new-found respect for this very ancient tree and its potential power.
I see that a combined team of Manchester and York University archaeologists have uncovered Britain’s oldest house to date in the ever-more-fascinating Star Carr site near the seaside town of Scarborough in the North East of England. Julian Cope was referring to Star Carr many years ago, long before many people were even aware of its significance (check out his S.T.A.R.C.A.R. track off the Autogeddon album). Talking of album references – the title of my post is a passing reference to the title of The Fall’s latest album, which I recommend to anyone from Bury. I’m not from Bury.
Back to the thin strand of information that I refer to as “the plot”. The plot thickens. This old house that they have dug up contained some well-preserved items in the trench that they sank into the coastal soil, and what they pulled out of the treasure trove were some interesting items, from a druid’s perspective.
1. An antler headdress
This dates the use of ritual antler horn headwear to around the age of 8,5000 B.C.E. That’s quite some precedence for a ritual that only recently dwindled in popularity! Some would say that it is still continued in the concept of the “stag” weekend that prospective grooms undergo throughout the northern hemisphere cultures.
“The site has yielded far more possessions than would have been acquired by bands of hunter-gatherers on the move. They include a boat paddle, beads, arrowheads and antler headdresses, suggesting rituals developed alongside domestic life” (source: The Guardian)
To me this backs up what a lot of Celtic shamanism writers have said about the rituals of early tribal shamans. It would appear that the rituals (that may have included dance, drumming, initiations and rituals) are about as old as the post-Ice Age human civilisations that began to re-establish themselves in the northern hemisphere after the retreat of the ice caps. Shamanism from the outset, it would seem. Magic at the heart of social life.
John Matthews has this to say about the deer totem:
“The importance of the deer among the Celts is testified not only by the number of appearances it makes in the mythology, but also by the astonishing number of words used to describe it. It was also seen as a magical creature, which could lead one into the Otherworld, and often appears in the guise of a beautiful woman who can take the shape of a deer at will…There is evidence of a deer cult, in which the animal was worshipped as a goddess. The deer thus represents travel to the Hollow Hills or the faerie realm, shapeshifting (the perception of the world from different viewpoints), and the natural deer-like qualities of grace, swiftness and keen scent.” (source: Chapter 3, ‘The Celtic Shaman: A Practical Guide’)
2. A preserved tree stump
The discovery of a large trunk from an old and sizeable tree shows us that the veneration for trees is also as old as the hills.
Again, this reverence for trees hints at some form of shamanistic lifestyle, and who knows how long that lasted, for the Druids of these same islands carried those same items of devotion through into their history, such as we can understand it.
“The population also appears to have respected venerable trees. One of the team’s other startling finds is the trunk of a large specimen with the bark still intact, which was spared from the flints used to carve the rest of the settlement’s timber.” (source: The Guardian)
We have no information yet as to what type of three it might be, but it would not surprise me that it was a yew tree, possibly one of the trees that symbolised the concept of The World Tree – the omphalos or navel, the central point around which a settlement was constructed. Rather than this being something left alone, it could have been the centre of attention. Just a thought.
Llangernyw – Monday, 23rd November 2009
I’ve just noticed that this was the 200th post on this blog. That should keep you busy, reading through all that lot!
When I consulted my wallchart that shows the energetic profile of the year (amongst many other wonderful and useful features) it indicated that this evening had very little potential to be a good night for energy work. The moon was only at the early stages of its waxing cycle and would take over another week to get to full, Venus is currently the Morning Star, and not the Evening Star, and to top it all off it had been raining solidly all day, and still was as we set off for Llangernyw.
For some unknown reason, and they’re usually the best reasons, Kal felt he had unfinished business with the Llangernyw Yew tree. Perhaps my recent, and much delayed post had prompted him. Perhaps it was just the right time to go again. So we went, deep into the evening, fifty miles into the North Wales countryside, to go and see a tree and a graveyard. We’re not all there, I have to agree, and that would be putting it politely.
When we arrived the rain had mysteriously stopped the second we got out of the car, and the clouds had parted to reveal a carpet of stars across the clear welsh night sky. As we approached the churchyard it was clear that someone was still doing something inside the church. The lights were on and flooding the churchyard and the yew tree with high-wattage energy-saving bulb light. Still, it gave me an opportunity to appreciate the fine stained glass window designs all around the church.
Not wanting to cause awkward questions we retired to the lower graveyard to wait to see if the lights went out. After only ten minutes they did, which made us feel easier. No-one else would be knocking around in a dark country graveyard except some complete nutters, like us.
Again, Kal will probably eventually reveal his own story, but this is about my discoveries this night. It started when I ventured around the side of the church. Avoiding the slippiest recumbent gravestones I got my dowsing rods out and asked to be taken to the best place for me to stand to get energised. I was taken back on myself to the exact same spot I was at last time I was there – a little mound no bigger than my feet, a couple of inches high, whose grass seemed slightly different from the surrounding grass. I remembered the position once I looked around – yep, this was the same spot. I felt good, and stayed on it until I had had enough of the bubbling energy feeling through my feet.
I then went to the “gateway between the worlds” – two standing stones that look like the entrance to some-one’s driveway, if their driveway led to the side church wall and window! I confirmed its purpose – as a threshold of consciousness. I asked to be taken to the perfect spot to activate the gateway and was taken around the left-most stone three times until the dowsing response got so tight that it was brushing the stone. This stone, I presume! I stood there, but, just like last time, it didn’t feel like the right time to use it; as though there wasn’t enough energy available. I looked up – the moon was obscured by clouds. I moved on.
Take a seat – we’ll be taking off soon
On to the two megalithic stones that hemmed in a symbol-ridden raised grave. I confirmed that the stones were definitely older than the church building, and that they were in their original position. Then I asked for the gender of the stones. The one with the rounded top had female energies, and the one with the angular edges was definitely male. As I approached the male stone, dowsing, I realised that I hadn’t noticed the last visit that the stone formed a natural chair! This was clearly one of those Dream Seats that I had been finding at stone circles up and down the country (cf. Castlerigg).
Almost as soon as I sat down on the ‘seat’ and settled into a comfortable position I could feel the energy from the stone. I closed my eyes and was immediately whisked away into the sky. I could see myself flying at great speed through the night sky, looking at the darkened land with its occasional clusters of street lights far below. I had a sense that I was travelling inland from the sea. I could feel moisture around me too – I was pulling the clouds with me, and I wasn’t alone either. There were more ‘beings’ like me, air elementals I might hazard to guess, drawing the rain clouds inland from the sea with the force of our flight.
As I got used to the sensation I began to direct my attention towards my home, far in the distance. Now I was flying much faster than the wind, and landed with grace inside my house, tying the energy I had brought with me from the Dream Seat onto my home power centre. I then sprang back into the air and re-traced my flight back to where I was sitting, jolting myself into full consciousness again as I returned to my body.
It was an amazing experience, similar to what happened at Castlerigg. I was beginning to understand now that these dream seat stones were capable of some form of out of body experience, and that the experience seemed linked to my own understanding of the forces that I could imagine performing such a flight.
Ask and yew will receive
When I had recovered from that exhilarating flight I gathered myself and picked up the dowsing rods again. I dowsed for any link from the nearby female stone and was taken to the male stone (the dream seat). From the male stone the connection went around the church (hugging the walls) to the centre of the huge yew tree. Kal came over to see what I was doing and confirmed that the place I had found under the yew tree was the same spot he was been directed to minutes before to do his meditations. Again, confirmatory information or coincidence? The differentiation is meaningless to us now.
One last interesting point was that the mighty yew’s nemeton field stretched way further than last time we were there – it was almost down to the lower graveyard, which must be some 60-70 feet in radius from the centre of the tree! In everything we had dowsed that night the yew tree was the source and central focus of all the subtle energy power for the whole Llangernyw site. Well worth a visit – at least you know you can have an interesting sit down when you get there!
In August of 2008 Kal and I visited several sou-terrains (chambers constructed by the placement of supporting stones and a large capstone, often beneath alternating layers of clay and earth). At each site we visited we asked the dowsing rods whether the purpose of the site was the burial of the dead. Our responses led us to the following conclusions:-
- Dead people had been buried at these sites, but in very small numbers
- The burials we performed much later in the development of the site, not as part of its initial construction
- The primary purpose of such sites was for the transformation of consciousness (to connect with another form of intelligence)
During these investigations we repeatedly got this intuitive response – so much so that we began to get rather annoyed by the labelling of the sites as “burial chambers” because to us this was clearly not the case to us.
During this Winter I have started to dig into my ever-expanding collection of books about earth energies, and thankfully I have re-discovered David Cowan‘s amazing work that he did up in Perthshire decoding the cup-mark ley systems that he spent many years travelling with dowsing rods.
As well as opening my eyes to a previously unexplored connection with The Dead, in terms of the energy that recent or notable burials can engender into such circuits of energy, he has confirmed for me the true purpose of the chamber sites that we have been exploring. Here is what he says about it:
“If the energy from cup-marked stones can, indeed, allow access to the system for the spirits of the dead, then it must also do the same for the living, so building an underground chamber or souterrain with a powerful cup-marked capstone in the roof and below it, in the passage, another upright inside the entrance so that initiates, wizards or shamans could meditate or perhaps retrieve knowledge would be an important part of the ceremonies of the ancients. The Native Americans had a similar procedure, building subterranean kiva (magnetic chambers), where they could achieve lucid dreaming and imagery, helped by hallucinogenic plants.”
“Ancient Energies of the Earth” – Ch.14 ‘Rebuilding the Ancient Magic’ pp.170-171.
It seems that field work does eventually yield concrete results, even if you can’t immediately get the confirmation that your rational side craves.
- Trance-formations in Lligwy Chamber
- Lligwy Chamber: a tranformational vision
- Bryn Celli Ddu visit in August
- Bryn Celli Ddu visit in July
Follow to the hollow.
I have just posted a list of the books that have been useful to me as reference works, for study and research, for inspiration, or for sheer delight. I hope you find this a useful resource for your own learning in the fields of
- earth energies
- the old tradition
- lost crafts and arts
- natural magick
- crop circles
- ancient knowledge
- sacred places
If you’re not interested in any of these subjects, then may I respectfully suggest you head off to the MSN portal, where I am sure you will find enough content to fill your mind. You appear to be lost!
Follow the lines of strange symbols marching across the pages.