Casting the Circle – What It Really Means

Sometime we take the basics for granted.  Most of you reading this will have cast many-a circle in your time. It’s second-nature by now, like buckling your seat-belt or blowing out the candles before you go to bed. Yet when a practice is reinforced to the point at which it becomes habit, we risk forgetting the fundamental truth behind its necessity.

Ivo Dominguez, Jr. – one of the most beloved and well-respected teachers of the magical arts,  has written a book on circle-casting. And it is a revelation. Although the premise is a simple one, the insight, instruction and innovation offered are anything but.  T. Thorn Coyle writes in the Foreword ” A strong Magician or Witch fully shoulders her responsibility. This book of castings is not only an amazing compendium of innovative ways to move and shape energy forms; it also serves as a comprehensive primer on how to change the individual in order to better change the world.”

Please enjoy this excellent excerpt from the opening chapter of Ivo Dominguez, Jr.’s  Casting Sacred Space:

The basic unity of creation is held as a primal truth in many spiritual paths. This unity does not imply uniformity; it implies multiplicity connected through a commonality of source, of foundations of existence, and in some philosophies a commonality of purpose. This underlying unity of the great diversity of the Universe allows for a host of Goddesses and Gods that are each one with the whole. The word Universe (with the same root as the word unity) encompasses all of space, time, and everything that exists, seen and unseen. In Wicca, as in Native American traditions, all of space and time is held as sacred. The Universe is seen as divinity manifest, and in Wicca is the body of the Goddess. Within this perspective, the Universe is sacred; therefore every part and all of its parts are sacred. The beauty and glory of this perspective of the Universe are one of the roots of the spiritual desire to experience it as a unity.

To truly experience the whole of one’s Self is a tall order, to experience the wholeness of the Earth—or larger yet, our arm of the Galaxy—is unimaginable. For humans the capacity for ecstatic union with the totality of things is generally achieved only after soul-refining work, and then only for brief periods. In some traditions this is seen as a human failing, but in an Earth religion like Wicca, this need is seen as normal and reflective of our nature as incarnate beings. To my mind, an Earth religion means focused on the Earth plane, not just on our planet. This is no more a failing than a cell acknowledging that is a part of an organ within an organism, but it should also be acknowledged that each cell carries the pattern in its DNA of the whole organism. There is no shame in physical beings abiding by the laws of physical existence, let alone the limits of psychology and personality. There is also the recognition that the fullness of experience is on a continuum, perhaps several continua.

Communion with the Universe while incarnate is much like trying to reach the speed of light while in the physical level of the Universe. As you approach the speed of light, Einstein taught that your rate of time slows down, and your mass increases until at the speed of light time stops and mass is infinite. The faster you go, the heavier the load becomes, and the less time you have to push. It would take infinite energy to reach the speed of light, whereupon time would cease to pass and your mass would be infinite. Using
this as a metaphor for attempts at ecstatic union, it would take infinite consciousness to reach total communion with the Universe. Having met these conditions, you would meet the criteria that many hold true for many concepts of Deities. This imagery may seem a bit extreme, but it underlines a very important point: the effective creation of magickal space revolves around adherence to the patterns of physical, metaphysical, and psychological laws.

The casting of a Circle is an acknowledgment of the limits of human consciousness and is a tool to reach beyond those limits by choosing specific boundaries and limits. There is a basic human need for division and segmentation in consciousness; that is what we call thought. Our concentration, attention, and rates of information processing are limited. Our limits call forth the necessity for the selection of different modes of awareness for different purposes. When we read, our attention is focused on the message carried by the words—not the slight irregularities in the shapes of the letters caused by the ink spreading into the fibers of the paper. When we dream, certain gates are open to us, but the tools of rational thought are normally confiscated by the guardians of these gates. Humans are tool users, and consciousness was our first tool, not a chipped flint or fire. Although many are versatile, no one tool is applicable for every situation—the same is true for consciousness. Castings and different modes of consciousness are among the tools that, when used with skill, allow us to build and to travel our path to the Universe.

The casting of a Circle is also an opportunity to affirm the parts of yourself that exist outside of the physical frame of reference. It is an opportunity to cocreate and to re-create yourself and your universe in conjunction with whatever name(s) you give to Deity force(s) of immanence and transcendence. It is a way to make easier the shift from the consciousness used to function in daily life to the consciousness used in connecting with Life in the greater sense. A Circle is an attempt at reconciliation between the personal, collective, and transpersonal realities.

Castings are the inception of magick and the creation of intentional paradox. The intent of casting a Circle is, in no small part, an effort to create a model of the Universe that fits the scale of human consciousness. The creation of any division or subsetting of the Universe in any way produces paradoxes. The paradox of forming a representation of the infinite, the macrocosm, in terms of the finite, the microcosm, is an unending source of power and inspiration. In my estimation this is the most potent polarity we can use to power our magick.

The old Hermetic idea of the microcosm within the macrocosm is interwoven into many esoteric traditions. It is often expressed in this way: “As above so below, but in another manner.” The simplicity of this axiom can be deceptive. Current Western culture tends to overvalue those things that are sophisticated on the surface, transparent in their mechanism of action, and measurable. Poetic truths are often set aside as less important or are trivialized because the concept of mystery is deeply suspect. This poetic Hermetic axiom applies across temporal or spatial spans. It is the connecting rainbow bridge between times, places, and differences of scale or vibration, and as such is a harmonizer of the paradoxes produced in the creation of sacred space.

The intentional paradox of a magickal casting is a poetic truth that is seemingly self-contradictory but coherent. The apparent simplicity of a fertilized egg, a hazelnut, or the moment before the Big Bang is each held as similar as a state of beginning by this axiom. Wiccan magick contains many poetic truths that are great levelers, that bring the sense of peer relationship and responsibility to the colossal and the small. Like the Universe, we began with all of our matter and potentiality in one cell, and we proceeded to split and to expand. Life, in its greater sense of all that is evolving, unfolds through the process of specialization, individuation, and harmonious relation to the laws of matter. Viewed in this context, the casting of a Circle is an extension of this process.

Many magickal Traditions use the Four Sacred Directions and Center as a way to plot a coordinate in space/time. In some ways the casting of a Circle is like starting a journey, in that one’s bearings must be determined before setting course. Unlike mundane navigation based upon the coordinates of a finite globe, the casting of a Circle is set in all of space and time, and the movement is not through space but through planes of perception and of reality. In Wiccan magick, the Circle is said to take us between the Worlds; in this statement there are twin paradoxes. In being between the Worlds we are in all Worlds, and in no Worlds. Although we are elsewhere and elsewhen in a Circle, we still stand upon the ground and in the time wherein the Circle was cast. Even in the end, the Circle is open but unbroken because it exists in time, outside of time, and in the heart.

A Quarters-cast Circle in the Wiccan manner is more than a coordinate, a gate to higher planes, and a paradox—it is a model of the poetic vision of the faith. Present in the Circle is the Wheel of the Year and the intertwining of the Solar and Lunar cycles with the life of the Earth. Present in the Circle is the power of the Elements as well as their manifestations as forces and states, as slyphs, salamanders, undines, and gnomes, and as the five sacred parts of Self: the body, mind, heart, soul, and spirit. Present in the Circle are the chants, the incense, the drums, the dances, and the people that shape and are shaped by living traditions.

In its fullness, a Circle can contain a richness so complete that if all of Wicca were lost except for the way to cast a Circle, and its symbolism, the faith would renew itself from that one seed. A Quarters-cast Circle has the potential to be a holographic representation of the evolving energy pattern that is the way of Wicca. The same is potentially true of any casting within the context of a Tradition.

Do not allow the casting of a Circle to become merely the preliminary step in a magickal working. Consider the profundity and the power of creating sacred space in every Circle. Remember and reconnect with the poetic truths that are the seed of sacred space.

Hoodoo Hangover – An Ankhie Ramble

New Orleans is a slow burn.

Ankhie returned from the Crescent City several days ago, but can’t shake the feeling that she is still there. Or at the very least, not quite here.

It was my first visit, although I’d been hearing about New Orleans my whole life. Wonderful things. Spooky things. So, being a Yankee exposed to hyperbole I starched up and went there not with great excitement, but with a make-do attitude and an eye for disappointment.

From the moment I stepped off the plane, everything shifted – ever so slightly, like the way things look and feel just before you come down with a raging fever. Now… Ankhie doesn’t travel well (and forgot her air sick meds) so that was a factor at the start. And the weather was much warmer and moister than Boston in winter, which makes for much strange perspiration. Then there was the food – fabulous, rich, and feasty – and the high-octane alcohol, all combined the unrelenting visual, aural and olfactory stimuli of the French Quarter.  Just taken at face value this sounds like a recipe for delirium. But the really strange part was that none of it – not the glow-in-the-dark cocktails nor the black cloth doll nailed to the hollow of a cemetery tree  – actually felt strange.  It felt weirdly organic, and disarmingly… normal. I was expecting to be disappointed or overwhelmed or terrified. Instead I was totally at ease.

We’ve talked a lot here about the power of place. It’s a subject near and dear to the heart of anyone who works with natural energies. A city like New Orleans, where the lives of its inhabitants, past and present, are so inextricably bound to the environment, is likely to be a highly charged magical place.  At the risk of sounding like a proselytizing tourist, I have to say that New Orleans is something more – something subtler, older, and more insidious.  I’ve been to places that have awed me – even lived in a few of them – but I have never been anywhere that got under my skin so quickly and so thoroughly. And not just the European charm and shabbiness of the French Quarter. Thanks to a fabulous nighttime cemetery tour courtesy of Bloody Mary – we traveled through places in the city well off the tourist map – places that I wouldn’t recommend going without a knowledgeable guide – and even there, it all felt right.  Not good or just, but as it was meant to be  at that place and in this time. Yeah I know what y’all are thinking – Ankhie drank the kool-ade. Not quite, but I did leave a little something on an altar for Marie Laveau, and came home armed with a wee dolly and mucho gris gris.

My companions and I went well-prepared with mainstream maps and tour books, but found ourselves well-supplemented by Denise Alvarado’s Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook. It is decidedly not intended as a travel guide, but nonetheless it proved to be an invaluable companion to the mysteries of NOLA witchery.

Here is a sample from Chapter One, on the history of New Orleans Voodoo:

New Orleans Voodoo originated from the ancestral religions of the African Diaspora. It is one of the many incarnations of African-based religions rooted in the West African Dahomean and Central African Voodoo traditions. It became syncretized with the Catholic religion as a result of the massive forced migrations, displacements of the slave trade, and the Code Noir. Slave owners forbade the Africans from practicing Voodoo under penalty of death and, in areas controlled by the Catholics, forced many of them to convert to Catholicism. The result was a creolization of the names and aspects of the Voodoo spirits to those of the Christian saints that most closely resembled their particular areas of expertise or power. Under the guise of Catholicism, the religion of Voodoo survived…

The term Voodoo Hoodoo is commonly used by Louisiana locals to describe our unique brand of New Orleans Creole Voodoo. It refers to a blending of religious and magickal elements. Voodoo is widely believed by those outside of the New Orleans Voodoo tradition to be separate from hoodoo magick. However, separation of religion from magick did not occur in New Orleans as it did in other areas of the country. The magick is part of the religion; the charms are medicine and spiritual tools that hold the inherent healing mechanisms of the traditional religion and culture. Voodoo in New Orleans is a way of life for those who believe.

Still, there are those who separate Voodoo  and hoodoo. Some hoodoo practitioners integrate elements of Voodoo, and some do not. Some incorporate elements of Catholicism or other Christian religious thought into their practice, while others do not. How much of the original religion a person decides to believe in and practice is left up to the individual. Some people don’t consider what they do religion at all, preferring to call it a spiritual tradition of African American folk magic. Throughout this book, I use the term Voodoo hoodoo in reference to the blend of the two aspects of the original religion as found in New Orleans Voodoo and as a way of life. A fellow New Orleans native and contemporary gris gris man Dr. John explains it this way:

“In New Orleans, in religion, as in food or race or music, you can’t separate nothing from nothing. Everything mingles each into the other – Catholic saint worship with gris gris spirits, evangelical tent meetings with spiritual church ceremonies – until nothing is purely itself but becomes part of one fonky gumbo. That is why it is important to understand that in New Orleans the idea of Voodoo – or as we call it gris gris – is less a distinct religion than a way of life.” (Dr. John, Rebennack & Rummel, 1994, p.159)

New Orleans Voodoo evolved to embrace aspects of the “fonky gumbo” of cultures in the nineteenth century and as a result, it is distinguishable from other forms of Voodoo and hoodoo found in other areas of the country. For example, there is a blend of Spiritualism, African Voodoo, Native American traditions, Santeria, Catholicism, and Pentecostalism. An additional hallmark of New Orleans Voodoo hoodoo is the borrowing of material from European and African folk magic, Kabbalistic influences, ancestor worship, and strong elements of Christian and Jewish mysticism, such as the use of various seals and sigils. In fact, for many practitioners, the Bible is considered a talisman in and of itself, as well as a primary source for magical lore. The psalms and the saints are aspects key to hoodoo practice for many practitioners, though not all.

New Orleans Voodoo is unique in its use of Spirit Guides in worship services and in the forms of ritual possession that its adherents practice. There is candle magick, and there used to be Voodoo seances.  (I don’t know how prevalent these are among practitioners today). The Voodoo-influenced Spiritual Churches that survive in New Orleans are the result of a mingling of these and other spiritual practices. I should point out that Spiritualists will typically say that they have nothing to do with Voodoo or hoodoo. Still, some of the spiritual practices are extremely similar, whatever you call it.

A most important difference, however, is the retention of the various religious practices from the different African cultural groups that arrived on the Louisiana Coast. For example, there is gris gris from Senegambia; the “serpent cult” of Nzambi from Whydah, or Li Grande Zombi as it is known in New Orleans; the obvious influence of fetishism, the nkisis or “sacred medicine,” from the Congo basin of Central Africa; and the Bocio figurines from the Gulf of Guinea and the Congo Kingdom.

This is just the briefest excerpt from this excellent book. If you have any interest in Voodoo or hoodoo I highly recommend that you pick up a copy. The table of correspondences for Saints/Angels and Loas/Orishas is particularly helpful.

And if you find your lucky self in this fabulous city, check out these excellent occult retailers and services – all Ankhie visited and Ankhie approved!

Bloody Mary Tours – I can’t say enough good things about Bloody Mary, Mambo Gina, and their amazing tours. This is the New Orleans you came here to find.

Esoterica Occult Goods – Lady Mimi Lansou is the real deal, and this is one of the spookiest (in the best possible way) shops in the French Quarter (on Rue Dumaine). Don’t miss it!

Voodoo Authentica – just across the street from Esoterica is this awesome little shop and cultural center. An astonishing collection of dolls, altars, and art are just the beginning of the educational opportunities here.

Erzulies – this shop on Royal Street looks deceptively like a ladies boutique or perfumery from the outside (lots of pink in the decor – it’s all about the love!) but don’t be fooled – this is a serious shop of hoodoo run by folks who know their business. Ankhie found the woman on staff (whose name I regret to say I did not catch) extremely helpful and informative!

Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo – one of the few shops on Bourbon Street that sells serious hoodoo supplies, and it’s endorsed by Bloody Mary so that goes a long way with me. Take a break from the glow-in-the-dark cocktails (see above) and spill-over nudies shows on the tourist  strip and step inside for some spookage.

HEX New Orleans – Christian Day is just getting settled in on Decatur Street  (with the excellent and indispensable help of New England transplants Tim and Sharon) but like its Salem counterpart, HEX New Orleans is shaping up to be all that a hard-core occultist could hope for in a shop. Less Voodoo oriented that the others but chock full of Old World Magick.  Ankhie personally recommends a reading with Sharon (who uses a well-worn Thoth deck) .

Coop’s Place – Not occult per say, but there is definitely something otherworldly going on here. I am still thinking about the jambalaya and spicy bloody mary I had at this amazing hole-in-the-wall eatery on Decatur Street. Had Christian not lead us there, we would have walked right by it. Tasty. Tasty. Tasty! Damn, now I’m hungry!

Special thanks to Doctors  K.J. and E.E. for financing Ankhie’s trip and to Dr. K.J and Bad Kris for making it both memorable and a total blast. And thanks to Christian Day for giving us all the private tour. 🙂

Field Guide Friday – Traditional Shamanism

The following excerpt is from Colleen Deatsman’s The Hollow Bone … is that not the best title?

Happy weekend all!

Traditional Indigenous Shamans

The God Saub spoke from the sky
He threw down the sacred bamboo wood
We call that “bamboo shaman”
Whoever lifts it up
Will lead the life of the shaman
And will have power to heal . . .
Sometimes an old man gets weaker and weaker and dies
His soul climbs the steps to the sky
You must follow the soul to the sky when you shake
You follow the path to the sick one
If the weak soul goes to the sky
Maybe it just wants to die
It goes to the ancestral family in the sky
The soul goes to the place where it can get release
And power to be born againAnd passage to another life . . .
Saub gives you power to help the soul
To catch and protect the soul
If you follow this way
Truly you can catch the soul
And the sick one will feel better
You go to catch the soul with your two hands
And with your heart
And you grip the soulA
fter that, the sick one feels better to . . .
Paja Thao, “The Shaman,” from I Am a Shaman

Traditional shamans in most parts of the world, throughout history, have been misunderstood, misinterpreted, ridiculed, disenfranchised, removed from the people, and exterminated. In his Pocket Guide to Shamanism, teacher and author Tom Cowan tells us,

“When Western travelers and explorers first encountered shamans in tribal cultures, they did not know what to make of them . . . Usually the shaman’s helping spirits were misinterpreted by Christian observers as ‘evil spirits’ or ‘demons.’ When viewed in modern mental-health terms, shamans seemed sick, delusional, or outright crazy. A shaman talks to trees, rocks, and other supposedly ‘nonintelligent’ entities and claims to have magical powers to shapeshift into other forms, to visit invisible realms, and to consort with the dead.”

Traditional shamans are men and women of indigenous heritage who have answered the calling from Spirit to become a shaman, satisfactorily completed the training requirements determined by their culture, and are practicing their shamanic work with consistent results. In 1944, anthropologist Alfred Metraux defined shamans as “any individual who maintains by profession and in the interest of the community an intermittent commerce with spirits, or who is possessed by them.”

Beliefs about shamans and their abilities are diverse and vary from culture to culture. Many cultures believe their shamans have supernatural powers that can heal or harm, as well as extraordinary abilities and individualized knowledge. Shamans are often considered to be spiritual leaders or priests or priestesses. They can enter into a trance state at will, allowing their souls to leave their body and enter the invisible worlds. Shamans view animal images as power animals, spirit protectors, guides, and message-bearers.

The role of shaman can also encompass a wide range of services and duties, which, like beliefs about shamans, vary from shaman to shaman and culture to culture. Roles and functions the traditional shaman may assume include:

  • divining information, wisdom, and knowledge from the ordinary and nonordinary worlds leading ceremonies
  • acting as an intermediary between the invisible spirit world and the people to restore health, drive out evil spirits, and ensure success in the hunting, gathering, and agricultural endeavors
  • preparing the people for hunting, gathering, and agriculturalefforts
  • communicating with the spirits and divining guidance about hunting, gathering, and agricultural matters,• foreseeing the future,• recognizing and reading signs and omens
  • officiating rites of passage, training, and ceremonies,• locating and bringing back wandering souls
  •  retrieving lost power and soul parts
  • communicating with the dead
  • influencing the weather
  • removing possessing spirits, evil spirits, and souls who have not crossed over from a person, family, group of people or place
  • performing sacrifices to appease the spirits and the gods
  •  using plants, plant energies, and plant spirits for healing purposes
  • talking to nature spirits, such as the helping spirits of plants, animals, rocks, water, and weather elements
  • singing songs to invoke, connect with, and honor helping spirits
  • singing healing songs
  • diagnosing illnesses
  • learning and exploring universal laws and the ways of energy and power
  • teaching apprentices and the people certain spiritual ways
  • setting bones, pulling teeth, treating wounds
  • adjusting the physical body using techniques such as massage and manipulation (similar to adjustments done by an osteopath or chiropractor)
  • channeling life-force, spiritual, elemental, and personal energy through their hands-on healing
  • interpreting dreams
  • delivering babies
  • performing energy work
  • conducting soul-crossings to the spirit world (psychopomp)
  • counseling, advising, and mediating for individuals, couples,families, and groups when guidance or conflict resolutionis needed
  • invoking helping spirits to protect them from the rigors of their craft and risks taken during arduous training and when working with clients or the community, enemy shamans or sorcerers, the spirit world, transient energies, and toxins from entheogens (psychoactive substances).

Parts three and four describe many of these activities in more detail.

The people of traditional shamanic cultures look to their shamans to help them navigate the omnipresent challenges and ambiguities of nature, life, and relationships by communicating with the spirits of the ordinary and nonordinary realities. Because of the shamans much valued and unique role in the community, and because of the power shamans hold, people often fear, honor, and protect them.

While the shaman plays an essential role in the life of the people, shamans in traditional shamanic cultures may live separate from the people, such as in a nearby forest or at the far edge of the village, but shamans may also live in among the people, within villages, towns, and cities. As in all things shamanic, where a shaman chooses to live depends on the individual shaman and the needs of the people.

In many cultures, shamans may absent themselves from the people for periods of time. The shamans’ need to maintain high levels of connection with spirit and openness to the forces of nature and the universe may pull them into seclusion or solitude from time to time. Shamans are specialists at walking between the ordinary and nonordinary worlds and, in most cases, can just as easily walk between the worlds of solitude and human busyness. In some instances, though, their need for solitude makes it difficult for shamans to live among the people, which is why shamans may live near, but not among, the people and come and go as guided by spirit and needed by the people.

In some traditional shamanic cultures, one or several primary shamans do all of the different kinds of shamanic work the people need, including healing, ceremonies, counseling, death rites, escorting souls to the spirit realms. In other cultures, specific types of shamans fulfill specific roles and perform specialized functions. For example, among the Nanai people of Siberia, a distinct kind of shaman acts as a psychopomp, or person who guides souls to the afterlife. Other shamans may be distinguished by the type of spirits or realms of the spirit world with which they most commonly interact.

In traditional shamanism, it is believed that different types of shamans view the world in very different ways, and those views Traditional shamans are men and women of indigenous heritage who have answered the calling from spirit, satisfactorily completed the training requirements of their culture, and are practicing their shamanic work with consistent results determine their roles in society. José Stevens tells us in Awakening to the Spirit World, “[A]ll of these societies have five distinct classes of shamans . . .”  He explains that the first class is the shamans who practice the dark arts and harmful acts, such as sending intrusions and curses, causing illnesses, and invoking spirit to bring injury or bad luck to others.

Beliefs in witchcraft and sorcery also thrive in many traditional shamanic cultures. Some cultures differentiate shamans that heal and serve the good of the people from sorcerers who harm or serve only themselves, while others claim that all shamans have the power to both cure and kill. Often there is some debate about whether someone is a shaman or a type of sorcerer.

A good example of this debate is Carlos Castaneda. Though his books appear in the genre of shamanism and many cultures would call Castaneda a shaman, many others would not consider him a shaman because he trained with a man of knowledge to be a man of knowledge, instead of becoming a healer or helper to the people. A man of knowledge seeks wisdom and understanding of the spirit realms and mysteries of life so that he can ultimately transcend the cycle of living, dying, and rebirth, rather than using this knowledge for healing and being of service to others. Some would say he was a sorcerer, not in a black-magic way (unless others were hurt), but in the sense that he “sourced” the spirit world for knowledge to help him with his own self-fulfilling or selfish purpose. Others would say, yes, Castaneda practiced shamanism.

The second class of shamans, says Stevens, are those who never innovate because they believe they must do everything in strict accordance with their training. The third class comprises the shamans who demand to be all powerful; these shamans can be more innovative, but only if innovation boosts their reputation and rewards. In the fourth class are the shamans dedicated to the service of others. Their ability to help and connect with others is of utmost importance to them. The fifth class consists of the shamans dedicated to their relationships with helping spirits and to being of assistance to others, but who are also innovative, individualized, exploration minded, and able to wield great powers.

Additionally, traditional shamans experience different callings, which determine the services they perform and roles they fulfill. Their purpose and their services may shift over their lifetime. Some shamans are called to work with all issues and concerns—individual, community, and global—that face their people. Some shamans may be called to focus on helping individual people with emotional discord, unhealthy patterns and imprints, energy imbalances and intrusions, or soul and power loss. Other shamans may be called to doctor people with physical health issues, illness, injury, and disease. Some shamans are called to focus on the community, tribe, clan, family, neighborhood, or friends; the work of these shamans might be more counseling and mediation oriented, or they may attend to the rites of passage and ceremonial needs of the community.

The community-focused shaman may use “seeing” and divination to ensure safe and successful journeys and hunts, or to garner protection for the community at specific times, such as when it’s facing hostilities or moving to a different location. The community-focused shaman may use dreaming to gain guidance and insight about what innovations the community can implement to ensure harmony and balance within the community, between it and other communities, and between the people and nature.

For many shamans, especially in modern times, their community has become the world. Shamans have always regarded the world as part of the community they serve, but their connection to the greater world is much more obvious. And it’s easier for shamans to come together now, due to technology. As global communication becomes increasingly easy, traditional shamans around the world can work together to address healing, community, and world issues. Internet groups and forums have become places where shamans and shamanic practitioners around the globe can share healing techniques, insights, stories, prayer, and solutions to global and community issues.

Field Guide Friday – Shamanism & Nature

It’s no secret that many of us have felt a little abused by nature lately. Here at Chez Weiser, desks rattled from the earthquake a couple of days ago, and now windows are being boarded up all over town in preparation for Hurricane Irene this weekend.  Other parts of the world are faring much, much worse  – drought, flood, fire, famine.  Some say that the problem with the weather is not Nature, but our relationship to it. So many of us only pay attention to the world outside our climate-controlled homes and offices when things get ugly. We take our physical comforts for granted, forgetting that they come at a cost, both global and personal.

Methinks that this excerpt from the soon-to-be-released The Hollow Bone; A Field Guide to Shamanism (Colleen Deatsman) gives some much-needed perspective on the subject of self and nature. It also opens with one of Ankhie’s all-time favorite lines of poetry:

The Spirit of Nature and the Circle of Life

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” – Khalil Gibran


Shamans don’t think about nature with an “us and them” mindset. Shamans know that we, humans, are a part of nature, not exempt nor separate from the powers and effects of its forces.

In the history of humanity and shamanism, the challenges to survival were so difficult that most people were unable to perform any but the most essential life duties. Very few people had the time or penchant to ponder and explore the subtle balance of the spirits and energies of nature, and yet it was necessary that someone understand these forces to ensure survival. Therefore, these forces became the shaman’s territory.

Early people depended on the shamans to understand and mediate the ever-present mysteries of nature. To these people, nature was often an adversary and destroyer, yet also a healer and sustainer of life. And nature was always family, for nature was home. Nature was, and is, omnipotent, and shamans then and now view it as a great force that demands to be addressed and honored.

Nature is the raw, untouched physical and energetic manifestation of the life-force energy and the web of life. Its two aspects, physical and energetic, swirl in tandem and overlap here in physical reality. To shamans, nature is alive, dynamic, and full of living beings—energies and forces that are visible and invisible, known and unknown. The visible and known aspects of nature and the web are the people, things, beings, and objects that most people see and sense as real and tangible. Even though these things appear to be, and are, physical, they are actually energy coalesced into a dense enough form that they have a sense of solidity. By honing their senses, shamans tune into the invisible energies and forces—nature’s subtler energy vibrations.

Honing the senses begins with the basic practice of awareness. ..

Every person can touch and witness the physical aspects of the web here, in this physical plane, by observing nature. Most people don’t realize is that when they observe the physical, they are often sensing the less obvious energetic aspects as well. The physical presence is what a thing is. The energetic nature is what a thing does. Shamans are well aware of both the physical and energetic aspects of things and nature, and they know how to use both aspects to facilitate their work.

An example from plant spirit medicine teaches us that mullein is a tall, slender, attractive plant, with multitudes of tiny yellow blossoms, that grows wild in many parts of the world. Physically and energetically, mullein is a healer. Mullein is used to treat such physical issues as asthma, upper respiratory inflammation, constriction and cough, and diarrhea. The oil of mullein destroys disease-causing germs. It is widely used in teas and tinctures. Shamans may work with these physical aspects of mullein if they are spiritually guided to, but they may also enter into nonordinary reality to connect with the energy. If the spirit of the mullein is willing, it will share some of its energy and healing qualities with the shamans. The shamans gather this energy and direct it …

The shamans understand that this energy is a gift from the plant spirit, so they offer a gift of energy in return. Any spirit and nature energy the shamans accept and use must be balanced with energy given back. The ways shamans offer energy back to nature and spirit can be as grand as a special ceremony or as simple as a song of gratitude and reverence. Knowing that the balance must be maintained is vital to shamans’ success.

Nature’s Helping Spirits

Nature spirits are all of the energies and beings that live as the nonhuman inhabitants of the world, just outside of the ordinary perception of most people. Everything in nature is energy, and therefore, everything in nature is inspirited. Things such as rocks, trees, mountains, rivers, oceans, lakes, flora, fauna, wildlife, crystals, stars, planets, and the aurora borealis are all inspirited, so shamans view them as energies and beings, not just as things. Shamans refer to these energies and beings as nature spirits.

These nature spirits are pure sources of life-force energy that shamans can use to energize and revitalize an ailing client or community. Nature spirits are also teachers. They teach the shaman and the people about the impermanence of earthly life, the forces of creation  and destruction, and the cycle of living, dying, and rebirth. These spirits communicate not only by speaking directly to the shaman, but also through actions. Every movement of the nature spirits is an expression of the character of this physical plane and of the universe, and as such, these movements are signs, omens, and portents containing potential knowledge for the shaman.

The energy found in nature is raw, primal power, and it exists and acts according to its fundamental makeup—not the prevailing social norms or attitudes. Its constant, unchanging nature allows it to be gathered and applied to any purpose.

Elemental Energies

The elements are perfect examples of nature spirits that can be potent shamanic allies, whose powers shamans can harness to foster harmony and balance, health and well-being, creation and destruction.

Shamans have long worked in concert with the elements: air, water, fire, and earth, and perhaps others such as metal, wood, and nature, depending upon the shamans’ culture. All of nature comprises the subtle energies of the elements. Everything and every being, seen and unseen, known and unknown, is an element or, more accurately, a combination of elements in varying  amalgamations.

For example, a thunderous ocean, a trickling waterfall, a babbling brook, and a placid lake are manifestations of the element of the water element, whose energies shamans can tap and use. ..

A rumbling volcano, a bolt of lightning, the tepid summer sun, and a toasty campfire are expressions of the element of fire. A swirling tornado, a brisk breeze, and the soft voice of wind through the great oaks are some of the languages of the element of air. A rugged ice-capped mountain, luminous crystals, and warm, squishy clay are manifestations of the element of earth.

The energies of the elements express themselves in infinite ways and places, but to the shaman, these expressions are not only individual expressions of energy, but also combinations of energies coming together in a dance of the balance and harmony of creation, destruction, and life. The water rolling off the cliff (earth) mixes with air and sun (fire) to form a mist of rainbow prisms. The rugged, ice-capped mountain is a base of earth with fire at its core and frozen water at its peak, constantly being altered by internal shifts and high-altitude air currents. Each combination of elements forms a unique energy and set of circumstances. Ask anyone who has stood under a rainbow waterfall or attempted to climb a mountain 12,000 feet or higher. Shamans can tap into these confluences of elemental nature energies and use the elements’ combined power to help shift stagnant energies …

Field Guide Friday – Groovy, Groovy Fae: Devas and Elementals

Ankhie has been watching the Canadian (soon to be on SyFy) series Lost Girl. Do y’all know about this? Hot chick with some super-skills and a tendency to drain all the life from her lovers moves from town to town, thinking she’s just some psycho-killer freak doomed to be alone , then finds out that she is Fae (specifically a Succubus) and that there is a whole world of like and unlike Otherkin out there, living and working among unsuspecting mortals. There are Light Fae and Dark Fae and all kinds of politics and assorted naughtiness, some of it fascinating, some of it ridiculous, but all of it kinda fun.

Fae seem to be all the rage these days – the new Vampires , if you will – with a growing presence on shows such as this and True Blood (loves me that TB!) and the ever important YA book shelf. YA authors and their readers seem to be the new arbiters of  popular interest. Of course, long before these fictional non-humans showed up on page and screen, occultist and folklorists were busy documenting the (natural) world-unseen.

Cassandra Eason’s book A Complete Guide to Fairies and Magical Beings is not, strictly speaking, a field guide – however, if you were to ask Ankhie about how to prepare for encounters with the Fae, this would be the book I would send you to.  Take, for instance, the following excerpt from the chapter on Devas and Elementals:

The term deva in the ancient Eastern language Sanskrit means “shining one.” Devas or adhibautas represent the higher forms of nature essences, akin to angels, the opalescent beings who watch and direct the natural world. They communicate with people either through channelling or psychic communication, or directly through the healing and restorative properties of herbs, flowers and trees.

The current view of devas has evolved from Hinduism and Buddhism. These entities are far more abstract and no less readily described than the shining beings of the old Gods of Dana (the Celtic gods and goddesses) whose fairy court rivaled the  finest in Europe. It was Madame Helena Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society, who brought the concept of devas as angelic beings to the West. She believed that, when humanity had achieved a high enough state of spiritual evolution, devas would enter into communication with mortals to help them to develop further. Since devic communication is now apparently occurring, it may be that humans are ready to accept this higher form of wisdom – though it may also be that the dire state of the planet has perhaps accelerated the need for higher forms of nature to intervene. Though devas do primarily relate to the natural world, they transmit messages concerning the need for peace and harmony, as well as caring for all of nature’s creations.


In the Native North American culture, more highly evolved essences were manifest as the King of the Beavers or Lord of the Eagles.This being might offer special strength or wisdom to those alone in a forest or on a mountain, whether on an initiatory or personal spiritual Vision Quest. Vision Quests were undertaken by Native Americans as part of their initiation into adulthood and at other spiritually significant times. They involved going out into the wilderness, fasting and meditating until inspiration came, usually in the form of visions. It is a method adopted, usually under less rigorous conditions, by people who wish to reconnect with the natural world and their inner selves.

Devas are said to be aware of the thoughts of humans and can channel messages to those who are sufficiently sensitive to hear them, using clairaudient (heard within the mind) and telepathic means, especially when a person is in a state of meditation close to the natural world. Channelling is a way of receiving messages of wisdom, usually clairaudiently, that are attributed to a higher spiritual source, whether an angel, a spirit guide, a spiritual essence of the more evolved part of the self. Some cynics say that city folk have their angels and country dwellers have their devas. There is indeed an overlap between devas and those angels who communicate with humans (see below). Described frequently as appearing in the form of beautiful humans, though they inhabit the etheric or astral plane (the realm of the spirit body), devas can change size and appearance almost instantly, perhaps to harmonize with the image system of the receiver.


Devas are credited with great powers in the skies, water and earth, exploding star clusters, regulating the tides and creating perfume in flowers.

In eastern philosophy it is said that trees can provide a home for devas who do not assume a permanent form. This may be the origin of the oracular or sacred trees that are found in different cultures and ages. For example, the prophetic oak sacred to the Greek Father God Zeus stood in the oracular groves at Dodona. A piece of the tree was placed in the Argo, the boat of Jason and the Argonauts, to give them guidance on their quest for the Golden Fleece.

Other devas assume the role of sacred guardian at ancient sites ans have been described as huge brown shadows as dusk draws in, or as silver column of light when dawn breaks through. Devas communicate telepathically with humans, and devic communication can occur quite spontaneously in a beautiful garden or woodland. It can also be induced using meditation or by visualizing a deva and allowing words to form. In the Icelandic and Scandinavian traditions that spread to other parts of northern Europe, including Britain, the land wights or landvaeitir acted as guardians of villages and settlements, passing along the fairy paths at dusk and enclosing the area in their protection. Certain fields and hills were declared sacred to them and could not be built on or even ploughed.

Devas are also associated with one of the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water and rule over the Elemental beings. In Wicca and ceremonial magic devas are called Lords of the Watchtower and represent the Four Quarters of the Ritual Circle. Sometime Archangels take on this role: for instance Michael, Archangel of the Sun, is linked with Fire and Gabriel, the Archangel of the Moon, with Water.

Field Guide Friday – Mothman

This is one of Ankhie’s favorite cryptids – as featured in many cable television spook shows and bad movies. What makes Mothman so compelling is the passionate conviction – and still tangible fear – of those who have encountered it. Well, that and the now famous tragedy that coincided with the first wave of Mothman sightings in West Virginia. Truly creepy.

Here’s what paranormal researcher and cryptozoologist Deena Budd has to say about Mothman (including her own strange experience)  in The Weiser Field Guide to Cryptozoology:

Mothman of West Virginia

Before seeing the movie, The Mothman Prophecies, in 2002, I, like most Americans, had not even heard of the creature. After I saw the movie, I  became curious and did some research. It is still difficult for me to determine whether the Mothman was benevolent or malevolent.

In the Ohio River Valley, near the Chief Cornstalk hunting grounds, a father and daughter were amazed to see a huge man with wings fly into the air in 1961. Then, a couple of weeks after Halloween, on November 12, 1966, five men working in a local cemetery near Clendenin, West Virginia, saw a “brown human being” take off, flying over their heads, from a cluster of trees.

On November 15, a man-sized beast with large mothlike wings and big glowing red eyes was reported in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, by the  Scarberrys and the Mallettes. Driving by an abandoned World War II TNT factory near Point Pleasant, the two couples noticed “two red lights” in the darkness by the factory gate. When they stopped their vehicle, they saw the lights were “the glowing red eyes of a large animal, shaped like a man, but bigger, flesh-colored, with big wings folded against its back.” Mrs. Scarberry remarked that its eyes dominated the head, and if you looked  closely at the eyes, they had a hypnotic effect.

Mrs. Scarberry went on to tell of the creature’s wing being caught and the creature attempting to free itself with its “really big” hands. She believed the creature was very scared. When it managed to free the wing, it ran into the abandoned building.

A few minutes later, when the Scarberrys and the Mallettes were driving down Route 62 on their way back to town to tell the authorities, the creature began chasing them. Flying above the ’57 Chevy at speedometer-burying speeds, making odd squeaking sounds, the Mothman pursued them all the way to the city limits, then flew off.

The next night, a posse combed the area, looking for the winged man. Two couples living near the TNT plant reported seeing the Mothman behind their parked car. It was in a recumbent position, then rose up from the ground. Large and gray, with glowing red eyes, it watched them through the windows from their porch as they called the police.

A week later, Mothman was witnessed flying over the region by four people. The next day after that, a witness reported seeing the creature standing in a field before “it spread its wings and flew alongside his car” until he reached the city limits.

One unusual sighting reported by Newell Partridge, a building contractor in Salem, West Virginia, included some odd details. He was watching television one night when the screen went dark. A “weird pattern filled the screen” and he heard “loud, whining sounds from outside.” Bandit, his canine companion, started barking and whining. When the contractor walked outside, Bandit was near the barn. When Partridge focused his flashlight in that direction, he saw “two red circles that looked like bicycle reflectors.” They were moving in the darkness and scared Partridge enough that he went back into the house and didn’t come out until morning. Bandit was gone and was never seen again.

During November and December 1966, and all through the following year, there were more than a hundred sightings of Mothman reported from West Virginia. The creature was always described as having a 10-foot wingspan, large glowing red eyes, and provoked an accompanying feeling of dread. One witness dropped her infant baby when confronted by the Mothman. Mary Hyre, a reporter for the Messenger, a newspaper based in Athens, Ohio, investigated the Mothman sightings. One weekend during the investigation, she received more than five hundred phone calls regarding “strange lights in the skies.” On a night in January 1967, Mary was working late, when an odd little man walked into her office. “He was very short and had strange eyes that were covered with thick glasses. He also had long, black hair, cut like a bowl haircut.” He had dark skin, looked “vaguely Oriental,” and was wearing a black suit and tie. The little man seemed to have some type of speech impediment; he asked about UFO sightings in the area. Ms. Hyre was very frightened of the man; “he kept getting closer and closer” to her and stared at her “almost hypnotically.”

At one point, he picked up a pen from her desk and didn’t seem to realize what the object was. Then, he “grabbed the pen, laughed loudly, and ran out of the office.”

Reports from witnesses in the area indicate that the little man made several visits to homes whose owners had reported odd lights in the sky. He claimed to be a news reporter, and everyone he visited said he made them feel very uneasy.

A few weeks after that, when Hyre was on a street near her office, she saw the same man. When he saw her watching him, he appeared to become distraught and jumped in a big black car that “suddenly came around the corner.”

An increase in UFO sightings and “funny red lights” in the sky was reported in the area during the time of the Mothman, leading many to believe the creature might be an alien.

Point Pleasant is located between two wildlife management areas, and the empty TNT plant has “miles of subterranean tunnels” running under the buildings. What a perfect place for the creature to make its home while in the area!

After the Silver Bridge over the Ohio River collapsed on December 15, 1967, killing forty-six people, because of a manufacturing flaw, the creature seems to have disappeared from the area. Many of the people who died had been principal Mothman witnesses, leading many to believe that the creature had been trying to warn of the danger. There are some who think it might have been responsible for the disaster.

Although documented sightings are not recorded after December 15, there were a few reports that officials seemed to “brush off ” because they were dealing with the bridge catastrophe.

In December 1966, investigator and reporter John Keel talked to many witnesses in the area and compiled information that included a number of poltergeist cases and other unexplained occurrences, such as cars stalling for no reason. Keel was certain all this activity was related to the Mothman sightings.

Mothman was reported in Texas shortly after his disappearance from the Point Pleasant area, and I believe I might have had an encounter with the creature in New Mexico in the early 1980s. I was planning to explore an abandoned house about a half-hour north of Socorro one night. As we walked onto the porch and started through the front door, I glanced up and saw two large red eyes hovering in midair above me. Not easily frightened, and always ready for a ghostly investigation, I inexplicably became terrified! We ran to the vehicle and left immediately!

Later that night, after my friend and I had parted, I was driving home alone. I still felt more terrified than I had ever felt in my life. Appropriately, John Fogerty’s song, “Bad Moon Rising,” began playing on the radio. I kept glancing in my rearview mirror, certain those red eyes were going to be looking back at me from my backseat. I arrived home safely. It was late, and I went right to bed. A little while later, I awakened to find my bed  vibrating. That had never happened before, and I was still frightened from my earlier encounter. I looked around my room to see if anything else appeared to be vibrating, but my bed was the only piece of furniture moving in the room. I huddled against the headboard for an hour or so, too scared to reach over and turn on my bedside lamp, certain something was going to grab my arm. The bed continued to vibrate.

Suddenly, something tugged on my covers twice. Two very hard tugs. That did it! I jumped up so that I was standing on my bed. I reached over from the standing position and turned on the lamp, and then jumped off and away from the bed, running through the house, turning on lights as I ran. I found my Bible in my box of books and proceeded to read from it as I walked through the house. I interspersed words of warning with the Bible verses, telling whatever it was that this was my house and I wasn’t leaving. As I did this, I began to feel less frightened and much stronger. Eventually, my fear lessened enough that I returned to the vibrating bed. Putting my Bible under my pillow, leaving the lights on, I finally fell asleep! The bed was still vibrating. The next morning, when I awakened, the bed had stopped vibrating, and whatever was causing the vibration did not return.

When I think back, I can’t imagine how I was able to fall asleep. I honestly felt that I was stronger than whatever was causing this, and that it was important to show that I wasn’t afraid. Monsters seem to feed on our fear.

The Apocalypse: It’s Not Just for Evangelicals Any More! – Field Guide Friday

Ascension means one thing to Evangelical Christians (i.e.  The Rapture – the chosen flying up to heaven and sinners like Ankhie sweating it out in Hell on Earth) and another thing entirely to New Age/New Thought adherents. Being as this is the Weiser Books Blog and I doubt that anyone reading this is hoping for a one-way-ticket to Paradise tomorrow, let’s take a moment today to learn a little more about other versions of man’s last days.

The following excerpt is from The Weiser Field Guide to Ascension, by the incredible Cal Garrison:


Every spiritual tradition comes with its own End Times legend. The stories are all different, but what they share in common is the idea that life on this Earth is renewed in cycles and that the renewal process is always attended by a cataclysm. Back when this chapter was just a thought, I figured I could dip into the Hindu texts or the Norse myths or any of the other End Times accounts and cull enough information from all of them to speak about the “road home” from a clear and intelligent point of view. Little did I know that this plan would get me nowhere.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the hard facts that relate to the actual physics of human ascension, none of the sacred books tell it like it is. No matter which source you go to, even if you’re a whiz at reading between the lines, there are no tips on how we’re  supposed to conduct ourselves, no details to describe what we’ll meet along the path, nor anything that frames the process in a context that allows there to be a point and a pattern to the experience.

As much as I love looking at life from every possible angle, at the moment I am less concerned with giving the various End Times legends the respect they deserve than I am with giving you something to go on. Time is too short for us to be deciphering symbols and poring over metaphors that don’t come with any practical advice. Aside from that, the story is always the same; and while every culture has its own way of telling it, the plot inevitably sounds a lot like the following passage from the gospel of Luke:

“There will  be signs in the sun and the moon and the stars; on Earth nations in agony, bewildered by the clamor of the ocean and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your head up high, because your liberation is near at hand.”

I encourage those of you who are truly interested in these things to look around and see what the different prophets and spiritual traditions have to say about the End of Time – but since we happen to be in it, for the purposes of this discussion I think it would be more helpful to focus on sources of wisdom that can actually tell us how it goes and what to expect along the way.

Out of all the information I have come across, the only ones who seem to have any hard facts about the End Times mysteries are the Indigenous Peoples. There is a reason for this. They are the keepers of the teachings that were passed down by the Creator at the beginning of this time cycle. The only members of the human tribe who have maintained their connection to Mother Earth, generations of Indigenous Elders gave kept an eye on her patterns for thirteen thousand years.

It was their ancestors who lived through the last dimensional shift – and the records of what took place at the time of the Atlantis cataclysm were preserved in oral traditions that have been passed down through lineage descent to the present-day wisdom keepers. Deeply attuned to her cycles, the Indigenous Peoples not only know what is coming, they know more about how it goes than anyone on the planet…

…Before we start, you need to know that what you’re about to read will sound like something out of a science fiction movie to many of you…Loosen up. Expand your mind and your pictures to include just about anything – because as we all know, the truth is stranger than fiction.


Indigenous wisdom tells us that the first signs of a pole shift show up when the structures that support the existing civilization begin to break down. When the outer political, religious, educational, economic, and ecological systems start to disintegrate, in essence the pole shift has already begun.

Examining our current situation, it doesn’t take much to see that this part of the process is well underway. It began at the energetic level in October 2007, when the harbinger of the End Times, the Blue Star of Hopi prophecy, appeared in the heavens. To the scientific community it became known as Comet Holmes, but to the Elders it was much more than just a comet. Blue in color, it came out of nowhere to fulfill an ancient prophecy that states: “When the Blue Star makes its appearance in the heavens the Fifth World will emerge.” Signs and portents notwithstanding, this one packed a wallop; within a year, the financial systems of the world collapsed, forcing us to recognize that, for a civilization that has come to value money over all other things, it wouldn’t take long for the domino effect to break everything down….


From what I have read, the signs that tell us that the poles are about to shift become more than apparent five or six hours before the magnetic field finally goes down. The way I understand it, as elements of the new reality begin to filter into the old one, we see Fourth Dimensional objects floating around here in 3D, shapes and forms that are unlike anything we have ever seen before. ..

When these Fourth Dimensional objects begin to appear, things start to feel a little strange to us. There’s a sense of light-headedness and disorientation that derives from the magnetic changes that have begun and are about to intensify. As the magnetic field goes all the way down to Zero Point, all of our artificial systems, structures, and devices, along with the thought forms that hold them in place, go through an erasure process that is similar to what happens when you erase the magnetics on a tape or a CD. The change in magnetics clears the track, opening the space for something new to etch itself into the records.

The Earth changes that we have come to associate with our worst fears become active at this time; as the existing matrix disappears, Mother Earth responds with a lot of volcanic activity, The molten iron in her core and the iron filings in her lava flows are magnetic in nature. When the magnetic field collapses, those forces begin to erupt all over the planet. Cut loose from the girdle of polarity, the four elements get stirred up on every level – high winds, tidal waves, earthquakes, fires, electrical anomalies – all hell appears to break loose in this preliminary phase.

The reason the Taos Elders instruct their people to go inside, close their curtains, and pray is because so much of what we call reality disintegrates during this six-hour window, it is difficult to get through the experience if our attention and are senses are focused on the outside worlds. Wherever we are when these changes begin, fear and panic can only be stilled by going within. Do whatever it takes to get centered and calm…

In terms of physical safety, the best place to be during this part of the process is out in nature or inside a dwelling that is made of 100% natural materials. Aluminum siding, foam insulation, the wiring that runs the circuits in our homes, plastic materials of any kind, and even glass and stainless steel – things that are synthetic in nature won’t make it through a dimensional shift. Ironically, at this stage of the game, a grass shack would be safer than a mansion on the hill; and unless you prefer to take this ride in your birthday suit, make sure you’re wearing cotton, silk, or wool.

Within five or six hours, the world as we know it will end and the Earth will enter the next phase of the ascension process. What amounts to approximately three days of Earth time is how long it will take for us to transition from one world to another…

Oh there is a LOT more to come, but that’s all Ankhie can fit here. If we are all still here on Monday, perhaps I will let Cal tell us about the days of darkness that are coming and what horrors and wonders follow that! In the meantime – I’m off to stock up on organic clothing….

Field Guide Friday – Charles Fort, Master of Mysterious Factoids!

A few years ago I was browsing through a bookstore in Woodstock New York (Mirabai – you should check it out if you’re ever up that way) when I came across a fabulously fat and pulpy tome entitled The Book of the Damned by Charles Fort.  I opened to a page at random and read a passage about a cave on the Welsh coast where layers of tiny domestic artifacts had been unearthed – itty bitty shoes, tools and (yipes!) coffins. The implication being, of course, that there was some history to these items – not the local-girls-cut-out-drawings-of-fairies-and-photograph-them  kind of history, but actual, archaeological history. Needless to say, I was hooked.The proprietress smiled when I purchased it and said, rather mysteriously, “I been waiting to see who would find this.” Hmmm.

Who is this Charles Fort you may well ask? Well, let’s let Judith Joyce (The Weiser Field Guide to the Paranormal) tell you more!:

A 1941 New York Times review described Charles Fort as “the enfant terrible of science, bringing the family skeletons to the dinner table.”  Considered the leading pioneer of paranormal studies, Charles Fort was so influential that his name has entered the English language as an adjective: strange and extraordinary phenomenon and happenings are now defined as “Fortean.”

Born in Albany, New York in 1874, Charles Hoy Fort moved to New York City in 1892 where he found work as a newspaper reporter. He traveled the world for several years before marrying in 1896 and returning to New York. Meanwhile, Fort had begun compulsively collecting and  cataloging odd stories and anecdotes—interesting anomalies that lacked conventional explanation; phenomena that would eventually be  classified as “paranormal.” His first book, The Book of the Damned, was compiled from notes he had written on 40,000 slips of paper and stuffed into shoeboxes.

Fort introduced a revolutionary new topic and publishers did not quite know what to make of him. His writing career was encouraged by  Theodore Dreiser, author of the controversial 1900 novel Sister Carrie. Dreiser, who became Fort’s closest friend, was working as an editor at Street and Smith, publishers of pulp fiction. The Book of the Damned was only published because Dreiser threatened to leave his own publisher if they didn’t publish it.

Those reading his first book and expecting something demonic will be disappointed. The title of The Book of the Damned refers to data or  information that has been “damned” or excluded by science because it doesn’t fit accepted guidelines. According to Fort, science constructs theories by ignoring inconvenient facts. He compared the closed-mindedness of many scientists to religious fundamentalists and suggested that science had become a de facto religion with its own ideology and dogma.

Fort wrote seven books, of which only four survive. They have now been collected into one volume and republished as The Book of the Damned: The Collected Works of Charles Fort ( Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin Books, 2008). He was among the first to discuss alien abductions. A shy, reclusive man, Fort died in 1932 following a lengthy illness, most likely leukemia. The monthly Fortean Times Magazine was founded in 1973
with the intent of continuing Fort’s work.

I highly recommend a visit (and a subscription) to Fortean Times Magazine! It’s an Ankhie fave!

Field Guide Friday – Rose and Cross

You’ve certainly seen it, but what do you know about it?

The following information is from The Book of Secrets by Daniel Pineda:


The Rosy-Cross—or Rose and Cross, or Cross of Gold and Ruby Rose—is a beautiful symbol of the union of male and female. It has many forms ranging from the complex lamen of the Adeptus Minor of the Order of the Golden Dawn to a line drawing of a cross atop a circle. One of the earliest forms of the Rosy-Cross is the Ankh of the ancient Egyptians, their symbol for the concept of life. The Golden Cross is symbolic of the sun and of the purified body, while the Ruby Rose is the blood, bringing new life. For most people, the concepts of life and death are understood as opposites, with a continual struggle wherever they meet. The Rosy-Cross teaches initiates that life and death are events on a continuum extending infinitely in both directions, the rose of ecstasy blooming on the cross of experience and work. The cross is fixed, like our inherited destiny, and the rose blossoming thereon is the dynamic growth stemming from the choices we make with what we receive.

Sometimes the Rosy-Cross is simply a red cross, symbolizing the mark of blood that keeps out the Angel of Death. It is connected with the mark of Cain and therefore with all initiation, knowledge, and protection. The Knights Templar, believed by some to have brought back to Europe the secrets of the Holy Grail and King Solomon’s Temple, wore this style of the cross.

Field Guide Friday – Stone Tape Theory

There’s a lot of granite here in New England – from the foundations of our houses to the markers above our graves. There are also a lot of hauntings.  This correlation has not gone unnoticed, and there are those who would explain away all freaky happenings as subtle radiation hallucinations. It’s a compelling theory, and one that appeals to Yankee pragmatism. However, I seriously doubt that the rocks in my basement had anything to do with a hand-blown Italian candlestick (much beloved) flying off the sideboard and shattering several feet away. Still, there are a lot of other strange things going on here at Chez Ankhie (even as I type this) that could be explained by material weirdness – sounds, shadows, fogs and fugues. The house is old and has seen much living and dying and emoting over its many years. Perhaps some of that memory has seeped into the wood and brick and horsehair plaster and creeps out like a bad burrito every now and again.  That is the essence of Stone Tape Theory – explained with much more finesse by Paranormalist Judith Joyce in the following passage from The Weiser Field Guide to the Paranormal :

Stone Tape Theory

Are all ghosts independent sentient entities, or is there another explanation for hauntings? Stone Tape Theory is a mystical concept that demystifies ghosts. Also known as residual haunting, energy remnants,
and memory imprints, the theory suggests that intense human emotions can somehow become imprinted into stones, bricks, crystals, fabric, or landscapes in such a way that the image of the person transmitting those emotions is played back periodically in the manner of a tape recording. These images may be witnessed by others and understood as ghosts or phantoms. Thus, although they are interpreted as “ghosts,” they are really only remnants or vestiges of an event that has somehow become imprinted on its surroundings.

Stone Tape Theory does not deny the existence of ghosts. Hypothetically, a house can possess both residual haunting and real ghosts. Ghosts associated with residual hauntings are characterized by specific types of behavior. They act like recordings. The same apparition appears at the same time in the same place doing the same thing almost as if on schedule. Evidence indicates that these entities are not interactive and may not be intelligent. Ghosts associated with Stone Tape Theory tend not to interact with observers, but simply repeat a series of actions before vanishing. They are frightening because of their presence and behavior, but do not actually harm anyone. An example is a ghost that continually reappears at a crime scene, precisely repeating the exact same actions.

Stone Tape Theory ghosts tend to be linked to specific places or objects. Residual hauntings naturally
occur in extreme situations accompanied by intense emotions like terror. They are based on two components. First, information may be imbedded in material. There is an ancient metaphysical theory that stones, crystals, and mirrors retain information and impressions that can be accessed later by those who know how. Second, the ability to experience a haunting may depend on a beholder’s sensitivity. The more sensitive will see or hear the phenomena with greater clarity, while others may essentially receive no “playback.” In other words, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? If a ghost haunts a room, but no one can see it, is it really there? Stone Tape Theory suggests that
most hauntings go unperceived.

This is a controversial theory. How Stone Tape Theory actually works—why some events are imprinted,
but not others—is unknown. The official origins of the theory date back to a 1972 BBC Christmas broadcast called The Stone Tape, starring Jane Asher and Michael Bryant, and written by English science-fiction great, Nigel Kneale. In the film, a team of corporate researchers seeking new technology set up headquarters in a Victorian mansion and discover that it is haunted. Some of the researchers, in particular the Jane Asher character, are able to see and hear the ghost vividly. Others can only see or hear it. Some can feel the temperature drop whenever the haunting phenomenon begins. One man is entirely oblivious, although he acknowledges the validity of what others experience. It is finally discovered that the haunting is being produced by a “recording” imbedded in the stone in one room.