The Yule Gargoyle

Now the lighting was a bit funky, I will admit that.  However, during the winter hols, I was in the shower room of my student flat and all of a sudden, this little guy came walking past the door, which had been left open.  I want to say it was about knee-height, as it appeared to be the same height as my bed.  I tried sketching it out but that sadly was a largely ineffectual exercise.  Suffice to say, it resembled a small dragon, with clawed forepaws and folded, but iridescent wings.  It was, however, largely transparent, though I noticed a blue-green shimmer to its form.  Though it had the general appearance of beasts from dragon legend, it’s maw was more in line with tales of gargoyles.  I am as yet unsure what it was I saw, but it appeared conscious of its surroundings.  As I watched, it turned its head and, upon catching my gaze, I remember seeing its glowing eyes widen slightly, before fading rapidly from sight.  I have not seen it since, though that is not much surprising.

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Samhain Encounters with Will and the Black Dog

I freely admit to having had some interesting encounters over the years.  I’m sure they’ll make appearances here, given enough time.  One of the more intriguing though happened only a few months ago, on Samhain, incidentally enough.

As I was walking through one of the small wooded areas behind Kent Uni’s campus, I was being periodically guided to collect fallen oaken branches.  This is not really anything new, it must be said.  I’ve been guided to many things, places, and persons over the years.  In the process, though, as I was admiring the foliage of one of the trees lining the footpath, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of bright blue.  I turned to look and, as you might expect, there was nothing visible.  I turned back to the tree, keeping more aware of my surroundings.  My first thought was tales I had heard of Will-o-the-Wisp, leading travelers on wild chases to their doom on uneven ground, the edge of a cliff-face, etc. (doom and gloom in various forms)… I can only cite that it was yet light and I had been expecting something to happen that day.  I cannot say what it was I heard exactly, as it sounded like a high tinkling of bells or a distant child’s voice — perhaps a combination thereof, but it came in conjunction with the next blue flash.  This time, upon turning, it was still present, and another wisp appeared a few feet farther down the path.  Upon reflection, I was rather strongly reminded of a few scenes from Disney’s Brave:

Merida and Wisp, Disney’s Brave

Now, I had traversed the footpath once before, but only to a point and the as the foliage was quite dense still, and it was already late afternoon, the light was fading considerably.  However, I have had much experience reading the energy of a place, of intent, and there was no feeling from this wisp.  Just curiosity and a wish to play.  So I followed.  I followed down the path, and across a bridge that while contemporary, was fashioned to appear older than it’s years.  At this point, the light grew stronger, as the trees became more sparse and the wisps disappeared.

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The older-appearing bridge. The yellow denotes trail markings.

I knew I was still not alone in the wood, however.  Hikers and cyclists use the paths behind the university as well, so I continued on for a few paces, but no sound followed.  Looking back, I saw what appeared to be a large dark, transparent shape standing within the treeline.  As I continued, I looked back and it appeared to move into the more open area where I was standing.  Upon closer inspection, I noted the shape, was vaguely canine in nature, with what appeared to be a bushy tail, swinging cautiously.  Now while I realise I may have done well to be cautious, it was Samhain — the day when the veil is lowest.  I was expecting to see the spirits walk.  And tales I have heard and seen of the Black Dogs recount that they can be both ill omens and protectors, depending on circumstance.  As such, upon noting my continued accompaniment, I turned and told the being that they were welcome to accompany me on my journey–I believe that was the right choice; the canine’s tail flicked in the rapid way dogs have of indicating happiness and anticipation, and we journeyed on.  Though it became more difficult to see my traveling companion, as the light became stronger, he (for I felt a masculine energy), remained until I sighted my apparent destination.

I had not known where I was headed, necessarily, trusting the wood to guide me and it and its denizens did.  I do not have a photograph of the bridge, nor the stream it crosses, but it is a place where the sun strikes as it sets.  A rightly appointed place for commemorating the turn of the year.  A place of ritual and peace.  I brought the collected oaken boughs onto the bridge, and following some selection process I still cannot fully claim to understand, distributed them, one to the ground on either bank, one on the bridge’s railing, and one in my hand.  The rites were done, blessings asked, and homage given, and I continued on, the remaining bough tucked into my belt, cloak and hair trailing behind in the breeze.  I watched the sun set still more over a field just up the path, before turning back.  The branch on the bridge was gone.  It was one of the heavier ones as well and not visible when I looked down-river.  I choose to believe that was an answer.

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Continuing back through the dimming light, I returned to the mundane, to the campus proper, to the sundry horrors of student accommodation and trials of being a MSc student.  I did not see the dog, nor the wisps on the return, nor have I caught sight of them since.  I have, however not felt truly alone in the wood when I have returned.  Whether it be the Raven, high in the trees, spirits, the Fey, or mundane humans, there is never a lack of company.

Not all between worlds are good, nor are all malevolent.  Be aware, mindful, and watchful.  Be kind, yet direct.  I will go into more detail in further tales, but know that those of the otherworld are just as prone to changes in disposition as we mere mortals.

The forests are calling.  Will you listen?  Take care if you do and heed any warnings you feel.

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Of foot travel and forest land.

I apologise for my extended absence.  I can only claim my studies have taken precedence and, while still doing so, I am treating this as both a literary and therapeutic exercise.

I’m sure we’ve all sometimes felt watched, observed when walking wooded paths.  I can attest that Kent is  beautiful place for a wander.  I can likewise confirm that Kent’s woodlands hold the same observant air as others, of which I will speak in greater detail at a later time.  Whether you choose to attribute this to paranoia, an over-active imagination, spirits, the Fey, or being eyed by squirrels, the fact remains that there is, most definitely a feeling of being set apart, in a way.  Removed both physically and psychologically from the regular, daily circumstances of semi-predictable life.

This is not to say that the strange and surprising only occurs in the deep backwoods.  Rather, there is a presupposition that by exploring a particular environment, an individual has consciously removed themselves from the mundane, entering into a region that if not sacred is or can be reflective and meditative.  This in mind, it is not difficult to envision the simple act of entering a grove, wood, or even tree-lined path as a modality and conveyor of greater personal change.  The narratives to come will explore this in greater detail.

I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I.  Peace to you and yours.

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Music: a spiritual and healing medium

Everyone has their own methods of self-healing.  For some this takes the form of exercise; running, jogging, swimming, weights, aerobics, cycling, etc.  For some it is expressed in literature–either losing themselves in the written word, or creating it.  Still others retreat to silence, whether of modern reality, as is found in remote woodland, or from all sound, as is found when plugging one’s ears.  For me, and many others, the retreat is music.

Music is effective largely due to its emotive qualities.  Eliciting an emotional and/or psychological response in an individual alters brain chemistry, potentially causing a release of serotonin and epinephrin into the bloodstream.  These are considered “uppers” when studying hormone attributes.  Consequently, more or less, anyone listening to music is potentially applying a self-treatment.

Consider this: when in certain moods, do you listen to certain, musical genres?  Do you have go-to feel-good music?  Do you feel happy or sad after listening to certain songs?  These chosen songs differ among the general populace, just as most other attributes.

For some, heavy metal is the only thing they can relax to.  Others use rap as a lullaby.  For some, the “traditional” stress-relievers are horrid, as with my Mum’s classical-induced headaches.  I play Mozart, Beethoven, or Chopin and she has to leave the room.  My personal default is Pagan.  I need to be able to dance to whatever I play, as that is part of my process, but the that is secondary.

Certain Pop and Rock artists, like P!nk, Lily Allen, and others routinely feature on my playlists, but it is the songs of trees, legend, and the connection between humanity and the old ways that draws me back.  Though I have not been long familiar with his work, Damh the Bard is truly amazing.  His Spirit of Avalon (this is the Hetalia version, because I think it’s well-illustrated) is phenomenal and never ceases to get me out of a funk.  Under a Beltane Sun is catchy and evokes beautiful imagery (the version selected has a small narrative in the middle).  Isis Unveiled uses Egyptian imagery and The Dreaming showcases the beauty of Aboriginal Australian tradition (also with a short narrative).  Then there is the traditional stand-by of Hal an Tow or Patapan.  I’ve heard many over the years, but this is a favorite.

While there are other artists who I listen to and who evoke similar effect, I have been listening to Damh for the last few months.  He’s also based in Brighton, so I’m supporting a local musician, which is always nice. 🙂

If anyone has suggestions for further listening, feel free to post in the comments, song titles, artists, or links. Let me know if you’d like some more information on the subject too, as it’s one of the areas I’ve done research on in the past.  If nothing else, I might be able to provide direction.

Peace and Love,

Kate

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A quick aside…

I found this at Willow’s Place — a really interesting blog.  She’s participating in the Pagan Blog Project. 🙂  I have to say, it’s a rather apt sentiment some days.

*Comment whether you understand or not. 🙂

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Observations and Advice for Dealing with Energetic Issues and Stress

Hi everyone.  I am assuming, something I really shouldn’t do as an anthropologist, that anyone visiting this site has at least a basic interest in the subject of spirituality and won’t head for the hills in terror upon reading about spirit activity and/or energy.  I state this because two of my flatmates do that routinely.  It’s rather agitating.

Positive aspect of living with this particular group of individuals: I was reminded that there are others like myself who are spiritually/environmentally sensitive, stressed about coursework and postgraduate employment, and/or who have negative energies acting within their lives.  As such, I have devised a bit of advice that works for me most days.  Longer, more interesting, posts will commence upon the proper submission of my current essay.

Remove Yourself from the Issue

First and foremost, remove yourself from the situation.  It might sound too basic to work, but it does, at least some.  Depending on the psychological and emotional state of all involved, this has more or less possibility of success.  If you are in a fragile or frazzled emotional state/stressed/sleep deprived, etc. energy tends to have a greater effect on your person than it would if you were well-rested, stress-free, etc.  Keep that in mind.  Also, everyone reacts to things differently, so keep that in mind as well.  Moving on now, once you’ve removed yourself from the situation, ground yourself.  Again, this sometimes differs between people, as people find different things calming.  Different strokes for different folks and all that ;).

I, myself, am a Druid and a Reiki practitioner.  The only effective way I’ve found to deal with things like this is to go into the forest (or to any easily-accessible, substantial plant–grass doesn’t really do it for me), and quite literally, hug a tree.  Or at least touch and commune with the tree(s).  The mini-forest behind the postgrad halls do quite nicely–I can see the trees from my window too, so that’s a plus.  I’ll go into this in more detail in later posts, but suffice to say that if that avenue is removed, I can go a bit round the bend sometimes.  That is an extreme, but be aware of the stressers and your reaction(s).

*Note:If you cannot leave (i.e. you’re in  mandatory meeting and cannot excuse yourself to the loo for a break), try to find an inner landscape you can retreat to.  I would not suggest doing your trial run in the meeting-from-hell you’re trying to escape.  If you manage to actually slip into an inner landscape, you’ll likely be meditating–which is perfectly fine and good.  I’d just advise you to not look like you’re sleeping in a board meeting in front of the boss.  Not a good look.  Conversely, if you’re unable to physically move, politely requesting more able-bodied individuals to give you a bit of space is usually (in my admittedly limited experience), not met with derision.  It might help.

Shielding the Individual

The next step is to shield.  I’ll not take up epic amounts of space with this, but should anyone want further explanation/expansion, let me know either in an email or in the comments and I’ll try to write up a post as in-depth as possible.

The easiest and most basic is to wear a physical shield.  I prefer a necklace, as anything hanging from your neck naturally falls on your central chakral line (having the pendant hang above my Solar Plexis — breast bone — seems to be most effective).  I’d suggest going to a shop that sells stones and/or stone pendants.  Sometimes loose stones can be made into pendants.  If there’s descriptions about the”properties of the stones, read them after having a browse.  Notice what you are drawn to (colour, size, shape, pattern, etc.)  If something calls to you, pick it up — some can feel the pulse of the Earth in the stones.  This is also a way to distinguish between real and plastic or reshaped/poured stone — the energy is non-existant (plastic) or altered (re-form).  I know my go-to is Labradorite.  It’s a powerful healer and protector.  If nothing else, look at the properties for your birth stone.  You might be surprised.

Continuing with the personal shields, if you find yourself in a situation with no stones, no trees, just overwhelming stress and anxiety and/or panic starts to set in, cross your arms over your stomach.  It might not make much sense, but try it.  I’ve lost track of how many times this has saved me when I’ve been out of the house unprepared and overwhelmed.  Just like putting a shield over your solar plexus helps to block, as the energy radiates out, forming a cocoon of sorts, crossing your arms over your stomach blocks your Sacral chakra (refer to the image below for more info on chakra–again, if you want more explanation on this avenue as well, let me know).  The Sacral is essentially situated behind your naval (belly button) and is the seat of emotion.  By having your arms at your sides, you open yourself up to emotive frequencies and energies.  Physically blocking this connection disrupts these channels and especially useful when overwhelmed.

There is also a non-physical block.  There are many ways to go about doing this, but I’ve found one that tends to work best for me; try it and let me know how it goes for you.  Essentially, imagine you are inside an egg, made up of energy/light/etc.  For me, it works best to imagine it winding from my feet up to my head.  Experiment with it.

*Note on stress/anxiety: If you can, try to find something cool to rest on your forehead — it helps sometimes.  I’m lucky in that regard, as my hands are naturally cold most days, so I can just rub my forehead.

Place Shields/Wards

There is a difference between shields and wards, but for the purposes of this installment, I’ll refer to elements common to both.

To do an energy shield or ward, you’ll need to focus and imagine X being prevented from entering.  Here, X is whatever you’re seeking shielding from, whether it’s negative energy, spirit activity, or something else.  Imagine the energy creating a wall, and affixing to the doorway/window/etc, that already physically exists.  Renew this periodically, conducting the same actions used to initially place it.

Alternatively, you can use crystals to help block energy from entering a space, placing them around the room(s) you want warded.  Quartz works wonders for this. 🙂
*I’ve found the most effective method is to combine the two, placing energy shields, and then reinforcing and sometimes anchoring them with stones.  **Placing two double-terminated quartz crystals, one on each side of a door entry, it is possible to relflect negative or chaotic energy, it seems.  Consequently, I now have a quartz on top my pin board and across the entryway on the radiator.

I hope this has been helpful to any who might have need of it.  Please leave a note or send an email if further clarification is desired.  I’ll try to get my next post in by the end of this week.

Peace and Love,

Kate

Got the chart from here.  It’s a fun little test too. 🙂

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I am me, you are you. This is an intro. How do you do?

I am an Ethnobotany student in Canterbury, at the moment, largely intuitive, and rather quirky.  If you’re into spiritual environmental exploration (i.e. tales of my Druidic self going walkabout in the foresty bits and resultant encounters), then you’ve come to the right place.  I’ll likely not be able to update as frequently as Bunn & Bird, my vegi/vegan food blog, but I’ll try for at least once a week.  …More if interesting things happen.

Peace and love,

Kate

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