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Archive for July, 2016

Ecstasy is essential to living a healthy life. Our bodies require experiencing ecstatic states of consciousness. From getting lost in music to dreaming without limits, from beautiful sexuality to having visionary experiences, we need moments of ecstasy to remain in balance. Ecstasy is part of what makes us human. Did you know the same chemicals that allow plants to communicate and create a thriving ecosystem, are the same chemicals our brains create when we are in the ecstatic states? These states are the vehicle for our reintegration back to Nature.

Currently we have a deficit of ecstasy in our culture. People find endless substitution for it such as, the use of drugs and alcohol, adrenaline filled videos, cell phone addiction, and in violence based on religion. What are we seeking in these behaviors is a state of feeling connection to something greater than ourselves. Our soul is longing to know it has a place in life. And in the case the suicide bomber, through death they seek to feel the presence of God. All of these things speak to profound feelings of isolation and our disconnection with Nature.

Our most useful tools for finding the ecstatic states are listening and trance. These can lead us back into connection with Nature, where we live in a magical animated world.

When we listen with our whole being, all our senses, we are trying to feel the nature of the other (for me this is the practice of meditation). Inherent in this practice is the softening of cohesion of the self. Trance is simply a deeper state of the same dynamic where the self and the other dissipates altogether, leaving only that which is. Trance can seem like an abstraction, or a practice for the fringe people, or something beyond the potential of the average person. This is nonsense. It is profoundly simple. Trance is simply soul deep intimacy. The feeling you get in your body when you hear your favorite song, that is trance. The wonder you feel when you hold a newborn, that is trance. The awe you feel when you look up in the night sky and see the same stars dancing that prompted your ancestors name them, that is trance.

Ecstasy is our birthright and the denial of it is killing us. We need to reclaim ecstatic practices and shared visionary experience. We need daily ecstatic practices as part of our spiritual pursuits. We can experience divinity when we get out of our personal story and become part of the bigger story of life on Earth. Let’s sing and dance and make love. Let’s find vision again. This is what we were made to do. Ecstasy and vision are what Nature created us for. This is our part to play in the scheme of life.

Blessing of connection,
Snowhawke /|\

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Last night I went to the local prison where I volunteer to mentor a pagan group of men. During the past six months or so, I have been bringing a rattle to use during ritual and meditations. Working with the rattle has brought some uncanny synchronicity between what I experience in my journeys and what the men experience in theirs.

When I rattle, I hold sacred space and I listen with all my being to all the spirits of place, to the men, to the air, to the light, and to the entities that come join our circle. As an animist, I see my rattle as a living being, minded and filled with intention. I am in relationship to it. And together we are in relationship to the greater external reality. When I rattle, I set an intention to call out to all that is unseen and ask those willing to come engage with us, to do so in peace and in a manner we can understand. Poetically speaking, I am calling to the spirit world.

Here are a few examples of synchronicity that brings a sense of wonder. I am rattling. In my minds eye I see a Native American couple wrapped in blankets come stand behind an African American man who has joined us for the first time. I am seeing his ancestors. After the journey session he tells me he is 1/2 Penobscot Indian. Also during the journey I see a stag come in and stand beside a young man. An owl also comes and sits on a branch behind that same man. After the journey, unprompted he tells me in his journey he was in a pine forest and a stag came to stand beside him and an owl landing on a branch behind him. I had said nothing about what I had seen come into the room. So is this just coincidence? Last night the only spirit I saw was a black winged creature come down from above and fly past me. I could physically feel a breeze from its wings. We didn’t have time to talk about the journey at all. On my way out, a man asks me if he can tell me about his journey. He tells me he was in a high tower and a huge raven came flying down to give him a message. Are these “real” or is it just coincidence and imagination?

By the traditional definitions of “God”, I am an atheist. But I also live in an enchanted world filled with spirits I can craft relationship with. The spirit world for me is simply that which is unseen. I do not draw a line between imagination and “reality”. Intellectually I know air is gas molecules moving. I can feel them. I can see their effect as they move through the forest shaking branching and making the leaves dance. I make relationship to it, breathing it in and exhaling it out again but in a different mixture. I can feel the wind and it responds to my engagements (wrapping around my body, messing my hair, moving through my cardiovascular system). The wind is gas. It is also spirit.

So what are these spirits I encounter in my journeys? They are simply things of Nature that I cannot normally see. And that is explanation enough for me. I don’t see them with my eyes, yet I feel their presence. They in turn respond to my engagements. Are they real? I pose that question isn’t relevant. If we try to reduce everything we encounter to an explanation, we lessen the human experience. I am naturally a skeptic and fully support scientific research and the scientific method. Science is beautiful, powerful, accurate. It leads us deeper and deeper into wonder as we discover just how mysterious the universe is. It helps eliminate superstition and fear. But intellectual understanding is not the same thing as experience. I understand ice cream. The experience of eating it is what really matters to me. As science reveals more and more about the nature of Nature, it is important for us to remember, it the living that matters, not the thinking about living.

There is so much more going on than what our limited senses tell us. It is human hubris to think the tiny spectrum we are able to perceive, constitutes a deep understanding of the actuality of Nature. The important thing is to stay engaged with the unseen, feel the wonder of it and realize we are utterly blessed to live in an extraordinary enchanted world filled with possibility for delicious relationships.

We seemed surprised when there is a response to such a call as my rattle makes. The dance between skepticism and surprise is delicious as well. Let’s keep dancing.

Peace and wonder,
Snowhawke /|\

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One of our key roles as druid folk is to bring the Awen. We cannot do this and not be changed by it. We cannot “control” it. We don’t get to demand it on our own terms. To find it, we have to craft relationships so intimate awen flows. We have to surrender to the river of awen and ride the currents or it is shut off immediately. To have such an intimate relationship, we have to identify with the other. We have to shapeshift.

Another key role of the druid is to be the bard, to give voice to the that which needs to be heard. We don’t do this as a computer translating input. We instead swallow it whole and feel every nuance, every pain, every bit of chaos or pattern of sorrow that comes with “bringing the spiritual news” (reference to one of the questions asked in “The Colloquy of the Two Sages”). We interweave our soul with that which we give voice to, whether it a story, a song, or the raw rage and grief that screams out from the land where blood has been spilled or toxic chemicals dumped, transforming a living landscape into a wasteland of ugly and endless consequence. To give voice in a powerful inspired manner, we become one with the poisoned land, war torn village, dying species, the myth, or the song. Finding the story requires true intimacy. Through intimacy, it becomes “our” story.

How do we do this and get through the experience unscathed? We don’t. We don’t get out of life alive. And we don’t live life without acquiring scars. To do this work is to be changed, hurt, broken, and killed (as well as healed, inspired, and ecstatic). The self will not survive. And there is a 100% chance our physical bodies will not survive. It is really just a matter of how long we can dance with the currents of change and still hold our identity. When it comes to being in service, the question really is how far are we willing to go to bring the awen to our people and the land, forging a better world for our progeny? In other words, how much intimacy can we manage?

In our culture, I see tendencies (myself included) to try to have our cake and eat it to. So many spiritual pursuits are controlled through and through. We go to church. We meditate overlooking the beach. We gather in our pagan circles in beautiful forest far away from Fukushima, abattoirs, and the crime ridden inner cities where oppressed people are still reeling in generational trauma from slavery and colonization. We celebrate the beauty of Nature, but rarely touch the destructive aspect of her. We do everything but get dirty, broken, changed and scarred. We do everything but become that which we try to give voice to. Even though we have our spiritual practices, deep inside we feel stuck and separated. We long for freedom. Yet without soul deep intimacy, we will never find it.

The power we carry as priests is completely dependent on just how much of our self we are able to set aside and move into sacred relationship. It is the most simple thing in the world and yet one of the most challenging. Doing this work changes one. It will break you open and add wrinkles and scars over the years. It is the price one pays to bring the spiritual news.

What news do you bring?

Blessings of the harvest,
Snowhawke /|\

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