Ritual And The Imaginal Realm: Benefits

RITUAL AND THE IMAGINAL

What is the imaginal realm?

The imaginal realm, the realm of sleep dreams, day-dreams and our conscious attempts to enter that realm, mean that it is a powerful place of energy and transformation. It is within and without!

We looked recently at creating a Focus Table for our ritual, but aswell as a focal point it could be seen as an ‘energy enhancer’, a place were we really appreciate the benefits of intentionality.

One way of using both the imaginal realm and that Focus Table, was in the recent spiritual exercise. It was an outline entry into the imaginal realm, a sort of Imaginal Realm 101, but, nevertheless, a profound and beneficial one, and I’d encourage you to try the exercise. It may be best to read and re-read the exercise so that you can do this alone and are familiar with the words. It easier if someone is narrating and guiding you – and this is where I work one-to-one with clients, even via the internet – but do try it by yourself.

‘A Word For The Week’ Spiritual Exercise

Sitting in a room, make yourself comfortable and ensure that you won’t be disturbed for this five minute exercise. Close you eyes, breath deeply, slowly, and imagine.

Imagine that there is a new door in one of the walls of the room, and its ajar. In your mind’s eye, imagine yourself walking towards it (even though, physically, you are still sitting on that chair in your room). And so, you walk towards the door, open it wider and walk through it.

You see a staircase in from of you, going up, with red carpet on it. There’s wood panelling on the walls, and as you climb the stairs you smell a mustiness in the air of old books. A different smell, but not entirely unpleasant.

You get to the top of the stairs, and peer through glass doors, at an old library – the kind that has bookshelves almost to the ceiling and which need a ladder for the uppermost books. You pull on one of the door handles and enter the library – The Great Library.

In your heart your intention is to find a book that will give you a ‘word for the week; in its title, on the book’s spine. As you look around, one book grabs your attention. You take it off the shelf, inspect the spine, and there – there is your word for the week.

You put the book back on its shelf, turn and pull on the door handle, and go through the library stairs. Walking down slowly, you notice the door to your room coming ever closer. You go through that door, and sit in the chair, exactly where you started.

Now you can open your eyes. The exercise is almost over, but to ensure you adequately ‘ground’ yourself (back) in the physical reality I’d suggest you give yourself a round of applause, as any kind of physical action acts as a good grounding ‘mechanism’.

Now, the word! What was your word?

If you have a word that you would like to share do email me. If you know the relevance of the word, and wish to share that too, please do so. If you’re not sure about the word’s meaning, I’ll certainly work with you if you email me, as ‘unpacking’ the results of what happens in that imaginal realm is also part of the work I undertake.

Ofcourse, in one to one sessions, similar to the abovementioned, clients have visited ‘the power station’ for physical or spiritual energy; the ‘field of dreams’ to ‘solidify’ their aims and hopes relating to work, moving location or some other significant decision; the hall of cledon’ for a one-word decisive answer; or a myriad of characters, helpers and allies. In one-to-one sessions, online with Tadhg, where would you like to visit, inwardly in that realm, who would you like to meet?

The interesting thing about the imaginal realm, also, is that is can also be the realm in which to do imaginal rituals as well as doing similar rituals in the physical world.

What is ritual? Here’s an anecdote to explain it.

‘And so, the person standing twenty feet in front of the crowd, stretched out one arm, and with something like a hiking pole in his hand, etched a circle in the soil as he turned in a clockwise manner. The group knew the significance of it. A person said to me, ‘It’s symbolic. Within that circle is sacred space, sacred time, and that’s different from mundane time. Well, It’s time to step into the circle. Ofcourse when you do step into that circle, and later step out, just remember that, as you do so, everything is really sacred. But for now, we do the ritual to help us focus on what’s necessary at this time’’

It has been said that ritual is mumbo jumbo, powerless and done to appease some angry god or the random forces of nature. But this this misses the point wonderfully.

Ritual has power, and is effective, and beneficial.

With clear and concise words and symbolic actions I can say something out loud, and in saying it out loud it seems to clarify my thinking. In doing some symbolic action, ritual, it gives me some kind of peace. I may say ‘bless you’ if you sneeze’, or I may throw a pinch of salt over my shoulder each time I use it, but it’s not mumbo jumbo. It helps me, even if it means I smile when I throw that salt over my shoulder.

Powerless? Not usually. The exchange of rings in a wedding ceremony, the drawing together of the curtains at a crematoria chapel, the lifting up a glass to toast someone contains some form of meaning, and therefore some form of power.

And who is it for? Well, however we see the animating force of the universe, it seems to me that the Universe needs no single human on a planet of eight billion to do anything for it/him/her. But, we get something out of it. The Universe doesn’t need it, but I do believe the Universe may encourage us as it sees us using positive words and actions for the benefit of all sentient beings, and for creation itself.

It’s as if the Universe is a master painter, a classical painter, and its work is creation. And, then the Universe says to us, ‘Here. Here’s the brush and palette, and there is a little corner down there that I’d like you to finish off, and make this masterpiece complete. Perhaps, that is ritual?

Ritual then, can be an individual activity in the physical realm or a group event, but it can also be something that you do in the imaginal realm – infact, utilising the imaginal realm in the way can enhance your ritual. In this way we can undertake rituals for a number of reasons – one which as suggested recently as a spiritual exercise was to use or focus table to send good energy, light and love and healing to all those affected by the coronavirus. This could be a ‘purely’ physical ritual, but I’d like to suggest that you do that as a start, but spend some time going inward, always ensuring you ‘ground’ yourself after with some kind of physical action (ie applause etc).

There’s much more to say about ritual in all realms, and the one-to-one work I undertake, and this will feature in articles and in the Thought For The Day over the next week or two, as well as appearing on a slightly revamped blog, here, to outline one-to-one services etc.

Energy Is Precious: An A-Z Of Energy: Introduction

ENERGY IS PRECIOUS 2

As children, then, and as adults now the imaginal is important to each one of us. When asleep our imagination, our imaginal dream state runs rampant, forming pictures to inform us about our psyche (our inner self or soul) or of other matters prompted by our psyche.

But, even when awake that part of the mind is still active, sometimes showing itself in those daydreams we might have, in our power-naps, too, or in our daily life as it ‘runs in the background’ of our mind. Our imaginal faculties can be a great asset. Imagination is a facet of the mind along with reason, emotions, and the will, and by using our imagination we can understand, explore and even make commitments of intentionality.

’Imagination is more important than knowledge.’ Albert Einstein.

What follows is an A to Z on the theme of energy, and though not in order, it will, I hope, encourage you to go deeper into this fascinating and rewarding subject.

I am moving through a much-beloved forest near Capel Curig, the sun is setting, and the temperature is dropping. Weather forecasters might say a cold front is closing in. A dendrologist, concerned with trees would describe the situation entirely differently – not wrong, but they would use different words and ideas to convey what they were interested in. A person interested in fungus would have other appropriate words and ideas, and wouldn’t be looking skyward, but closer to the earth! A theologian would have his/her own set of words and perspective. I’m not a meteorologist, nor a dendrologist, nor a mycologist, and so I write as me, Tadhg, and share with you one man’s perception, this time on energy.

I am moving through a much-beloved forest near Capel Curig, the sun is setting, and the temperature is dropping. But, for all purposes I could be in inner London or elsewhere – I could be where you are.

‘Live out of your imagination, not your history.’ Stephen R Covey

In rural or urban areas my perception, words and ideas are different as I’m concerned with energy! I use knowledge, yes, but in this place, at this time I will endeavour to allow my ‘gut instinct’, my intuition, my imaginal senses, my imagination to take me further in my exploration of this forest, and deeper into this adventure.

As children, I and my friends loved sci-fi programs on our old black and white televisions. And so, playfully, then, we called those two arched trees, ‘Drws i fyd arall’ (pronounced ‘droo zi fid arrah’). It means ‘door to another world’. How about that for an imagination, for a glimpse into the imaginal realm? And we would run back and forth through the arch, laughing, and giggling and let our imaginations run riot. [For more information about that, do click here]. Although it is the imaginal realm, that continual domain of the imagination, please don’t dismiss it as just imagination as many adults would, and regard it as unreal. It is real.

As I move between trees, now, turning this way and that, the temperature seems to change as I encounter energy eddies. If you’ve ever filled a bath with hot water and then cold (or vice versa) you will know that you have to ‘swish’ the water around to mix it. And, the really clever ones amongst you will have plunged their hands into the part of the bath where the cold water is, and ‘swish’ from there. Bath users of yesteryear will tell you that hot and cold water doesn’t see to mix by itself, not without some physical agitation. Energy eddies are like energy ‘hot’ spots in a bath, that seem to linger.

‘If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration.’ Nikola Tesla

Ofcourse these energy eddies could be negative energy or positive energy. By momentarily loitering I might be able to detect a faint echo of dread or joy that seems so faint that some effort is required to be objective enough to detect it. How many times have you felt energised when someone has walked into a room? How many times has a feeling of unease come upon you when you’ve been in the presence of others? Or, perhaps, when someone has said something, their words may have been eloquent but deep inside of you ‘alarm bells’ ring? This is energy awareness or energy attunement.  Words have power, and negative energy has been detected.

However, in this forest at twilight I want to press on, and I don’t want to stop, and so walk on deeper into the forest.

In many cases small energy eddies will dissipate in time, whether they are negative or positive energy. Like a piece of hot coal falling from the hearth which loses heat quickly when separated from other hot coals, so small amounts of energy in energy eddies will dissipate and become undetectable. Energy isn’t lost, though, it is just spread over a wider area or changed. Energy can be transformed.

Larger energy eddies may last some time before dissipation. Some, are so large they seem to be self-perpetuating – just as many hot coals in a hearth may last longer together – so larger energy eddies may last months, or years or much longer. The greater these energy eddies the easier to detect.

‘The world is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.’ W B Yeats

Could it be that the elementals that the ancients spoke of, the dryads (tree spirits), the Cailleach (see here for an article on the Cailleach); gnomes, or undines, or sylphs and salamanders (the last four relating to the elements of earth, water, air and fire), are localised energy patterns that communicate with us using our imaginal faculties, and have a character, a personality, having taken on an energy form?

Some of these energy forms may be cosmic forms, and even today many have encounters angels or similar eg the Watchers, just as the ancients did. (See here for my encounter with the Green Angel).

Some of these maybe be localised forms, that is localised in a particular place, such as in a forest or part of it, and then they may be known as genii loci. A boggart, for instance, (see here for a bestiary article), in English folklore would fit this description as it was said to inhabit fields, marches, and some households. If you have one of these in your house you probably don’t need to worry – they are more mischievous than harmful.

And so, now in the middle of the forest, I pause. Feeling physically tired, having spent a fair amount of  personal physical energy in trudging through the soft earth to get to this point, I sit on a fallen log to recuperate. But, what other about forms of personal energy?

As I sit on a fallen log and gaze at the two bowed silver birch trees that featured in my childhood games with friends – the twin trees we called drws I fyd arall (see here about a recent encounter there) the place almost buzzes with energy, and I meditate deeply, day dream. Meditation, (night) dreams an day dreams are part of the imaginal ‘tool kit’ that takes us deep.

‘You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just weather.’ Pema Chodron

We know about physical energy depletion, and the need for rest and sleep, for nutritious food and exercise, but what of psychical energy – the energy of our inner being? As I sit on this log it seems that they are several different types. A few thoughts amble in and our of my mind. There is the energy we have that gives us life. This is given when we’re born and taken, or changed, when we leave this form on earth. Some believe that we each have a determined number of breaths and then we expire here. Others, notably the ancient Romans believed that Atropos, one of the three Fates, but the cloth of life to determine our death here. That fate was Clotho, and so a working name for that energy, which we have no control over, as it resides with the Source of All could be called clothic energy?

Another form of psychical energy could be the inner influx of energy we sometimes feel, or an inner depletion depending on where we have been or who we have encountered. Some negative energy or negative-energied-people can cause energy depletion. But, of what kind of energy? Not clothic energy as that is given by That Which Is Larger Than Us, and over which we (nor anyone else) has control. Perhaps, (and it’s a working name) there is an operating energy at work in us which can increase or decrease, as we are empowered or exhausted? It is this energy we use when we work psychically, that is when working in any way other than physical work. In that sense there nothing ‘spooky’ about the word psyche, psychic or psychically.

How is that operating energy depleted? Perhaps it needs ‘topping up’ occasionally even when at rest, perhaps it is depleted when we encounter others, and especially interact or advise or minister to them? When we take time to drew alongside someone who is upset or in distressing circumstances, or when we move through a local of negative energy, all these can ‘energy deplete‘ us.

‘There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.’ Aldous Huxley

As I continue to sit on the log, my mind turns to how we renew that energy, just to complete the cycle of thoughts running through mind. Each person has their own way, but rest and forest-walking might assist. Prayer and ritual may work, too! Deep thinking, meditation, day-dreaming, and deliberately meditating in such a way as to use liminality to encounter and/or draw operating energy are some vital ways. Liminality is a useful ‘tool’ and can be used in several ways – it’s the ‘threshold between ‘here’ and ‘there’.

Linked with visualisation one can enter the imaginal realm and picture, for instance, a power station and draw energy that way, or imagine walking under an energetic waterfall to re-energise, or encounter ones guardian angel or power animal etc.

‘You can offer your vibration on purpose. That’s what visualisation is. That’s what imagination is: projecting thought energy on purpose.’ Abraham-Hicks

All these are visual representations of something else – the psyche uses pictures and symbols to communicate and that’s why dreams are so visual and confusing at times, because they are representational – and all are intentional ‘pictures’ that have a beneficial effect of energy renewal.

I remember as I sit on this log of an encounter some fours years ago. Then, having woken up in the early hours of the morning and unable to get back to sleep, I walked to this very spot. And, there the following words came to me. The Voice spoke to me, inwardly:

Slowly, unhurriedly, powerfully, the Voice said:
“As above, so below,
there are things you should know.”

And so, I mention,
with your hands at your side, walk humbly,
take seven half-steps forward, it’s a journey of intention.”

“And now, raise your hands in simple ‘surrender’,
and point both to Heaven, that domain of awesome splendour.”

“Widen your arms, and so scoop, and harvest
pure energy, pure ‘gold’, and be prepared to be feel blessed.”

“Draw in that power, by folding your arms like an ‘x’ on your chest,
and feel its benefits, its warmth; you’re at peace, at one, ‘at home’, at rest.”

“Then stretch forth your arms, and mould with your hands
as if a ball, that ‘globe-like’ power-blessing from the ouranic meadowlands.”

“With one foot leading, and with knees part bent,
sway back and forth, in preparation for that ‘goodness’ to be sent.”

“In your mind, name the loved-one, the recipient, the friend,
and in your heart, see them, imagine them, to that end.”

“‘Push’ with your hands, that power-blessing from you to them,
and sigh the sound of the ages, the ‘so be it’, the ‘amen’.”

“And then, your hands drop to your side,
power has gone out; but there is no lack,
for the power-blessing that went forth, also comes back,
in another way and at another time, and so you, too, are blessed.”

The words still resonate with me today, and are as meaningful as ever. The abovementioned is a ‘tool’ that is both a prayer and liturgy, which you might consider using. In the words above is the idea of a circling ritual, the caim, of energy emanation and a receiving it back – energy reciprocity. And therefore a reminder to send out good words, good deeds and good energy to receive such back. We get back what we send out! And also, a hint that all our energy, and our operating energy which we need to ‘top up’ comes from the Source of All, hence the reference to ouranic (heavely) meadowlands.

Ofcourse, there’s more to be said, and this is still an article of introduction. What about energy and ailments, energy and trauma? What about using other visualisation to tap into that energy to heal? How can visualisation assist us to encounter energy in the form of angels and power animals? And can the latter, by encountering them in that imaginal realm give us a daily word? What about energy residuality, energy attachment, psychic pollution, energetic self-light, ritual and energy, energetic oneness (Indira’s web’, or energy awareness ‘tools’?  Perhaps more articles are needed, and even workshops on energy, liminality, encounters, power animals, angels, guardian spirits, genii loci, and the aforementioned.

‘If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.’ William Blake.

 

Go To The Ant…: Imaginal/Animal Encounters

card 20200112 GO TO THE ANT IMAGINAL ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS

What does an ant, a dog, a wolf and a crow have in common? One evening in January they ‘converged’ in the imaginal realm in my (Tadhg’s) Quiet Room.

We like to think that we have great knowledge and wisdom, and it is true according to some, apparently, that the knowledge base of humanity in the last thirty years has exceeded that of the last thirty thousand years. Some might query that, and some might posit the idea that what we really needed  was wisdom. But, even putting that aside, knowledge-wise we have learned and lot, though we still have some way to go.

It is easy to dismiss the ancients and their tribal dances, their mythological (that is, foundational) stories and imaginations as primitive and irrelevant today, but if we do that, we miss a lot of knowledge that could be ours, and maybe miss even more wisdom that is within our grasp.

‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.’ Albert Einstein

In my mind’s eye I ‘saw’ a tribal dance of several thousand years ago. Young and old sat around a fire, and one person entered the circle. He was wearing the antlers of a deer on his head, and he started to dance wildly around the circle, sometimes too close to those sitting, and far too close for comfort to the children who let out a half-mock, half-real scream or horror and delight. Like all children they loved to be scared.

And yet the children knew that moments before the appearance of the deer-man, the village elder’s adult son had left the group. He, ofcourse was the deer-man, they all knew it, but for this event they pretended to themselves it wasn’t him. Imaginations ran riot. The touch paper of the imaginal realm had been lit.

What was the purpose of this deer-man’s dance?

The following day there would be a hunt for one or two deer to feed the people of the small village, and the deer-man’s dancing, pursued by several tribesmen and one or two children with rounded-end ‘spears’ danced, too. In those days before powerpoint, this dance not only entertained, but informed all of the wily movements of the deer, the need to check which way the wind was blowing, the way the huntsmen should pursue the creature, and they did that by having a great knowledge of the deer or any other animal they wished to hunt for a purpose. Ofcourse, there may be an element of asking for the animals’ permission to hunt it, and what a wonderful way of respecting nature, seeking guidance from the Source of All, and limiting the numbers of animals hunted – the preamble (wonderfully) slowed things down.

Far from being primitive, it was a perfect and ritualised way of public education, of respecting nature, considering the One Behind The Hunt, and more.

We can learn a lot from such rituals, and from animals and creation around us, and to that end four people met with me (Tadhg) recently to do a modern-day equivalent event of that tribal dance and to glean some information from animals, using their imaginal senses.

‘There are things known and things unknown and in between are the doors of perception.’ Aldous Huxley.

For those wanting to learn from animals, to glean a word from them (not necessarily a spoken word but one received imaginally), and for those wanting to draw even closer, then spending time in a wilderness setting, becoming still and observing which animal makes its presence known to you, is one way to receive such a word. But, what of those in an urban environment? It may not be easy to visit a rural environment, what then?

Four people, led by me, met in my Quiet Room in the heart of London, to encounter their communicating creature, using their imaginal senses.

After a simple opening ritual – essential to show the moving of the group from ‘mechanical time’ to sacred-space’ time, the group closed their eyes, and I spoke some words to lead them into a deeper mediation – a daydream state that we all experience at one time or another, but one that would prove useful, now.

‘The individual imagination is not its own invention: its source is elsewhere’, and ‘We are from God and we carry in our minds and hearts the ripple of the Divine mind’. John O’Donohue

Kate
I asked Kate to open her eyes, and select a prompt card – each of the sixty-eight cards had a creature ‘painted’ onto it, and after selecting the card, I asked Kate to voice what creature it was, and then to close her eyes again, and to think about that creature’.

‘I chose the ant,’ Kate said. Having closed her eyes again, I encouraged her to imagine that the ant was coming toward her with a one or few worded message.

’ Go to the ant… consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. Psalm 6:6-8 (part), the Book

In that imaginal realm, not to be confused with (just) the imagination, Kate described the ant’s vibrant colours, and like the prompt card she spoke of the plumes on its head like a regal crown. It seemed Kate’s ant was the size of a cow – such is the imaginal realm – but she said it was non-threatening  and rather amiable. Kate talked for about five minutes, prompted and gently questioned by myself to encourage deep thought, and then Kate went quiet. A few moments later she whispered the words ‘tireless effort’. That’s what the ant has inscribed in the soil with its mandibles.

I asked her to remain quiet and to keep her eyes closed, and to ponder further on those words, and moved on to the next person.

Ian
I asked Ian to open his eyes and to choose a prompt card. Ian chose and said, ‘It’s the dog card’, and I asked him to close his eyes, and encouraged him to use his imaginal senses to imagine an encounter with the dog. Ian pondered for a while, and described such an encounter  – which, like the prompt card looked very docile, and in Ian’s words the dog looked ‘rather foolish’ with some kind of headdress on, but the dog didn’t seem to mind. Was this an animal spirit encounter or (just) an imaginal encounter?

’Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen,’ Orhan Pamuk

Without further ado, Ian said that the dog was barking in his mind’s eye, but it was as if each bark it simultaneously uttered the word ‘faithfulness’ over and over again, but the impression of the dogs demeaner was that of foolishness. I asked Ian to remain with his eyes closed and to consider those two words.

Barbara
Barbara did as the other two, chose a card, and this time it was of a wolf. I asked her to close her eyes again, and to imagine an encounter with a wolf.

‘When one runs with the wolves, one must howl with the pack’. Leon Trotsky.

Barbara’s imaginal senses really peaked and she described in great detail a wonderful landscape. I asked what she could see, then what sounds she could hear, what she could smell and more? For the next few minutes Barbara was immersed in an inner, vivid and awesome landscape that was so alive to her that it was taking her breath away. Without further prompting Barbara described her inner encounter with the wolf. It spoke to her in the first person, perhaps an indication that this was Barbara’s higher self?

Barbra spoke its words, ‘Others opinions, pah!’, in a dismissive manner. I asked her to gently remain silent and to ponder on that phrase.

Michael
Michael was next. He, too chose from the prompt cards, and chose the crow card. Closing his eyes, he fell silent, and confided that he was finding it difficult to imagine a crow and  an encounter with one. I used a series of questions, and by answering them Michael built up a very details scenario, that some might say was laboured, but it worked!

‘Crows are incredibly smart. They can be taught five things on the drop.’ Robbie Coltrane

I then asked Michael to imagine walking along a country lane, turning a corner and disturbing a crow that flew right at him. Catching Michael by surprise. It worked; ‘What word springs to mind?’ I asked him quickly. He immediately replied with the word, ‘Unexpected!’.

Conclusion
I asked each to open their eyes, and after a few minutes we all spoke words of praise and encouragement to each other. It really was a fantastic, non-threatening and enlightening event for all.

I then shared impressions that I had gleaned as each person had encountered, and with each person then ‘unpacked’ their individual encounter.

Kate felt that the ant encounter and the words it inscribed in the soil, ‘tireless effort’ related to a new project at work she was considering. But, she said she had been apprehensive  about starting it, and kept procrastinating. She now felt that she had the resources and felt capable of doing it, and felt that the first part of the work would be the most difficult, but it would reap benefits as the work progressed. She felt her tireless effort at starting the project would be rewarded, and that she was quite looking forward to it now.

I worked with Ian to uncover the meaning of the words he had heard. ‘Faithfulness’ and ‘foolishness’. With some prompting questions, and after a short while, it became clear that Ian had been in situations where he felt his loyalty to his sports team had been hindered by a feeling of sports-inadequacy or ‘foolishness’. He knew he had to work through this.

He said he should work more on the faithfulness or loyalty to the team, and not worry (and the dog encounter was an encouragement here)  about perceived foolishness which was holding him back and probably didn’t exist.

Barbara needed no prompting, and proceeded to ‘unpack’ the meaning of her wolf encounter and the phrase, ‘Others opinions, pah’. This may have been because it was her higher self at work, as the animal did speak in the first person! She explained that, ‘whilst it is important to bear in mind the opinion of others, I (she said of herself) had been stifled by others opinions too much  in a specific setting, but felt now that I should move on and not take the others opinions to heart so much’, she said. She felt she needed to be more decisive.

She even said that it reminded her of a maxim she had heard once (see below).

‘A wolf doesn’t concern himself with the opinions of sheep’, anon.

Michael who had found it difficult in entering that imaginal realm earlier, now found it so easy to ‘unpack’ his encounter. ‘Unexpected’ was the utterance of the crow that flew at him in the imaginal realm, and he felt quite simply, that he should look forward to the future with expectation and hope, and to step out, imaginatively!

In each case, each person above had given their names to be used, and were happy to work in this group setting. I also work with individuals on a one to one basis. Also, the abovementioned is just a brief outline of that evening’s event – there was much much more that was revealed.  And, this was  one exercise or ‘tool’ amongst many of using ones imaginal faculties and going deep for a variety of benefits, used by Tadhg. Should you wish further information about one-to-one imaginal work do contact Tadhg, direct.

‘…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…’. Romans 12:2b, The Book

We concluded that evening with a closing ritual to declare an end to sacred-space time and a return to ‘mechanical’ time, a type of necessary grounding. Ofcourse, there was no deer-man, no tribal fires, no wild dancing, but the essence of using ones imaginal faculties was evident – something we use everyday without thinking about it, albeit here used to used in a specific, profound and enjoyable way.

Truly, imagination (and especially the imaginal) is more important than knowledge.

 

One Evening In November: An Encounter

20191127 ONE EVENING IN NOVEMBER AT HOME WITH TADHG

And so, my two guests arrived for an ‘at home’ at my  place in the centre of London – a small, informal dinner cooked by me for them as they celebrated their first wedding anniversary. I had officiated at the handfasting sometime back so it was good to see them again, this time for a meal.

What follows is a journal entry of an evening of ‘myth and magic’, of touching ‘That Which Is Larger Than Us’, and of our growth, maturity and transformation.

‘What if the task is simply to unfold, to become who you already are in your essential nature—gentle, compassionate, and capable of living fully and passionately present? How would this affect how you feel when you wake up in the morning?

Alistair and Aideen arrived promptly that evening (a few days ago) and over the starters we all talked about our previous week’s workload, life in general and got to know each other more. There were laughs and smiles, and more. ‘Mae mwy’ as they say in Wales, ‘there is more’. There is always, and much more for the open-minded, intentionally adventurous, and the curious.

Yes, liminality descended.

Liminality is that state of ‘inbetween’ or crossing over. Imagine it as a doorstep or a bridge between Here and There, between us and The Other.  It can be those times and events when we see a sunset and it takes our breath away, we witness a baby’s unfocused smile and our soul leaps within us, or it can be times of fellowship with each other when ‘something’ seems to be changed and we are ushered into a different state of being – one that we just accept, as the more we think about it the more we ‘slip’ out of it.

Yes, communitas arose.

Liminality also can bring about a state called ‘communitas’. Communitas according to Victor Turner is a relatively structureless sense of group identity and being (large or small groups) which is based on relations of equality and solidarity.

As we talked and laughed, liminality descended and communitas arose, unplanned by us, but expected and greatly felt. Transformation is constant, but without understanding it, for a short while we all moved into a ‘higher gear’, such is liminality that moves us from chronological time into sacred-space.

As we ate, talked and laughed we shared stories, and I shared some quotes, too, to guide the evening is towards a meditative outcome, slowly.

‘Every day, sometimes when I am doing my meditation practice and sometimes when I am working at my computer… or sharing a meal with friends, I turn my attention to my breath and visualise myself on some inner plane of the imagination turning my face toward That Which Is Larger Than Us – the Great Mystery.’

The main course was still about twenty minutes away, before it was ready and the conversation turned to meditation and The Great Mystery. I mentioned the concept of apophatic mediation. Both Alistair and Aideen expressed an interest, and within a few minutes (as it was an ‘at home’ and not a workshop) I outlined that way of meditating, and suggested the best way forward was to try it for, say fifteen minutes.

Apophatic mediation is a ‘tool’ or a way of mediating, of going deep into The Great Mystery, of touching our ‘inner core’ through the use of no thought, no ‘pictures’, no dialogue (that is the opposite to kataphatic meditation and visualisation techniques).

And so, as we sat still, my guests closed their eyes, breathed slowly. Background music played – Om chanting by monks, at 528Hz. For some, especially those new to this form of meditation it may be best to use ones imagination of walking from where you are into a forest which is ‘next door’, and walk deeply into at as the forest gets darker, and then jettison the ‘picture’ or imaginative ‘forest’ and just rest, just be. Kataphatic meditation can give way to apophatic meditation. Alistair decided to do just that.

Slow, ethereal music or chanting is best for this, as it doesn’t prompt the mind to discover rhythm or words, and 528 Hz or thereabouts is a useful pitch. It has been called the ‘DNA repair’ frequency or the ‘Love’ frequency’, so-called as it is thought to reside at the heart of everything, connecting your heart, your spiritual essence, to the spiralling reality of heaven and earth..

‘When we surrender when we do not fight with life when it calls upon us we are lifted and the strength to do what needs to be done finds us.’

For fifteen minutes we all mediated, silently to: an OM meditation chant [click here].

Afterwards, we chatted about the experience. In many respects they declared that they had been present,  had been in the company of their core, that which some call the virgin point (le point vierge) and experienced That Which Is Larger Than Us, that which some call God. Words failed them, as the experience is experiential (only), to be individually savoured, and is really beyond words!

All three of us heartily tucked into the next course, and laughed and joked. Sometimes serious, sometimes frivolous, as friends do.

Aideen expressed an interest in kataphatic, imaginal visualisation. I spoke by way of an introduction to it – highlighting the fact that one can use it in various ways – as a tool of discovery where outcomes are interpreted, as a way of understanding ourselves at a deeper level (that which we call the good parts and the ‘shadow (a source of strength, nevertheless),  as a form of guided tour of events to meet a need ie to answer a question, to obtain healing, or to ‘interview’ ones higher self and other characters (which many would call pictorial representations of ones psyches, though others would think differently), and in many other ways that may lead to our growth, maturity and transformation.

Aideen wanted a ‘word’ (or words) to guide her for the following day, and Alistair wanted similar for project he was working on at work. For Aideen I suggested a visualisation where, after closing her eyes and relaxing, I spoke words for her to imagine, inwardly, a visit to the Library – a cosmic Library with a friendly Librarian who would point to a relevant book. It took only about ten minutes, but Aideen was very good at using her imaginal powers and, still in the moment, spoke the words written on the spine of the book: ‘Stronger than you think’.

A veritable word of encouragement. Aideen opened her eyes, and recounted how that was just the words she needed to her as an important decision was pending.

‘Within each of us there is the heart of a lion, the courage to simply be who & what we are regardless of others opinions or our own fears. Sometimes this courage has been buried beneath years of shaming that may have been so implicit or insidious that we breathed it in, unaware of how it separated us from knowing our own beauty of being’.

Alistair was also eager to try kataphatic imaginal visualisation. For him, I outlined the process but, once he was in the moment, as agreed, led him (using my voice) into the Great Hall of Cledon. I mentioned that the moment he was in that Hall, a hall full of the noise of the conversations of a myriad of people, one word of phrase would stand out.

The Cledon is a message delivered to you through an unknowing stranger. It could be a word from a song on the radio that gives an answer to a problem you’ve been mulling over, or you may overhear a snippet of a conversation of two people walking past you, and which applies directly to the circumstances in your life.

Alistair, deep in that visualisation, whispered that he was in the great hall and the doors were closing behind him. His hands immediately gripped that table. Still with his eyes closed, and still in that moment, he then gently laughed. He whispered. ‘As soon as the doors closed, all the people faced me, and all the voices spoke the same words. It was as loud as the noise of a jet engine, and knocked me over’.

‘My invitation, my challenge to you here, is to journey into a deeper intimacy with the world and your life without any promise of safety or guarantee of reward beyond the intrinsic value of full participation.’

Once out of that moment, and with his eyes open, Alistair mentioned the words. He said, ‘It’s a mystery what the words mean, but the shout of ‘The donkey and the angel’ was stupendously loud. I mentioned that in many cases, the working out of the words given might take days or weeks, but when it did happen you would know – the memory of it could come back at an appropriate time and it would make sense. However, in this case I did ask Alistair to consider the ancient story of Balaam and his donkey. The latter whose progress was impeded by an angel.

We then tucked into the desert, followed by more laughing, talking and merriment.

The evening progressed, and my guests would soon be leaving. I mentioned the idea of coming back from sacred-space into chronological time – it was a though we had been in a ‘magical, mythical, timeless realm’ (and I actually do believe that is the case, as regards liminality), and were now returning to the mundane (as if anything is really mundane).

One way to do that is through ritual, another way is through action such as eating food (as we had done), and one way I do it (without the need of pomp and ceremony, but with physical action) is to use two fingers from each hand to do a drum-roll on the table for a few seconds. I gave them an example, but need not have done more, as both Alistair and Aideen joined in, and we all laughed heartily. Was that drum-roll just fun? Was it necessary? I believe it was both. Fun because we laughed and it brought us closer together, and to some it may have been silly; necessary as it brought us ‘back to earth’ and effectively ‘grounded us’ – guarded us against the effects of being in that realm whilst operating in this.

May the dreamer and poet and pirate be awake within in us… loving the adventure of looking for the treasure as much as we love finding the inner gold that guides us.’

Alistair and Aideen left, but have booked for another session in December using different aspects, ‘tools’ and scenarios of apophatic and kataphatic mediation.

[I normally change names used is articles, but in this case both Alistair and Aideen were happy for their names to be used, and additionally asked me to state that they really do recommend this form of transformational event. I will include information about future events that you might like to join as a group, couple, individual, soon, both here on this blog and on Facebook]

All indented quotes above are by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.

 

The Caim 1: Personal Experience

20180608 THE CAIM 1 PERSONAL EXPERIENCEMany times in the (distant) past my time of prayer or ritual-liturgy time more resembled a shopping list of wants with the word ‘Amen’ or ‘So be it’ tacked onto the end of it. I really wanted something more, something deeper, something more meaningful. I wanted to spend more time with the Source Of All, to ‘see’ afresh, in my mind’s eye.

CAIM 11

The caim was one answer.

This evening I went into the study, closed the door and ensured I wouldn’t be disturbed. I made a space in the middle of the room and marked out a circle of about 5-6ft diameter, with pebbles. and lit a candle.

Tonight I was to use the caim to send healing-power to a friend in need, and what follows is a personal account of one use of the caim, among many.

With no other light the candle-light is soft and soothing, and so encourages a meditative state. By lighting the candle I marked this time as different, special, and the beginning of something new. Sacred-space time.

The caim is a profound ‘circling’ prayer or ritual-liturgy

It was used by Celts of old, and by others. It is still used in various forms by latter-day Celts, some Churches who value its benefits, and by some wiccans, pagans, light-workers, mystics and fellow-druids friends known to me. Individuals as well as groups. Yes, it can be used by anyone who knows the value of prayer or ritual-liturgy.

As I stand in a candle-lit the room, I quieten my mind, and relax.

After a few minutes, I point to the floor.

I have already marked out a circle with small pebbles, and, as I point (and sometimes use a staff), I slowly turn my body, revolving 360 degrees. I like to start by facing east usually, but the choice is yours.

I start off facing east and end up facing east. I also like to turn deosil, clockwise, to begin the caim.

The word caim is gaelic, and it has to do with ‘protection’ or ‘sanctuary’; it is derived from the root word meaning ‘circle’, to bend, or turn, and this becomes apparent when you start forming the caim.

Many, today, use a minimalist three-stage approach to the caim at least in the beginning of their caim practice. This is:

  • making a caim and
  • using a prepared ‘set’ prayer, or liturgy, or creative visualisation, and
  • closing the caim and an act of ‘earthing’ it.

My eyes are closed now, and in my mind’s eye I’m imagining that inner journeying to a comfortable and safe place, a place that is full of power and potential. I slow my breathing, quieten my mind, and over the next few minutes enter a state of ‘rest’. I’m journeying toward the Source of All.

Sometimes I like to visualise that I’m in a wonderful forest and enter a clearing that is well-lit. A kataphatic approach. Other times I try not to visualise at all, and that is an apophatic approach. The caim is adaptable.

That inner space that I entered is liminal space. For me, I call it the imaginal realm, as in our culture, when one talks of ‘the imagination’ it is perceived as a place of pure fantasy and unreal. However, the imaginal realm is real. It is a place of peace, power, and potential.

CAIM 12

It is an intermediary space, the gap between the physical realm (which we can all relate to and understand – it is the place of the body) and the ouranic realm (the place of the spirit, where all that is good and holy originates).

I feel safe, I feel ‘cocooned’ from all that is happening in the world about me. I am at peace within this circle.

Tonight I am using creative visualisation – mind pictures and symbolic action instead of words.

If we accept that there is place of Bliss which is, symbolically, a higher plane, then we could all usefully use some of that power.

And so, I raise both my hands above my head for about a minute, and visualise the blossom of golden trees in that higher realm, and the pollen of golden plants blowing in the gentle wind and falling on me. It is power from on high. Not my power, but power belonging to That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves, the Source Of All who gladly shares it with us.

By raising my hands I seek empowerment from beyond, from the Universe, from The Source Of All.

Whilst in that circle, the caim, each of us in that place are intercessors.

Empowered, I now lower my hands now. And wait for a minute or two.

I then change position.

Now, I hold my hands, gently, in front of me, as though I’m holding something. In that imaginal realm I am holding something – a invisible power-blessing of healing. I move my hands and mould it, and shape it, and imagine it to be the size of a football.

We can even use the caim to send a power-blessing to world event that has happened that has caused a major upset, or it could be a prayer or ritual-liturgy for a future event, the locality, a sad event somewhere else on the planet, or it could be an ecological need. Whatever the need is, the caim is a good spiritual ‘tool’.

And then, having moulded and shaped that power-blessing, I ‘push’ that power-blessing, symbolically, in the direction I’ve imagined that that person or event to be. In this case I am visualising a friend in need of healing who is in Singapore.

You don’t have to be geographically accurate in your aim of the power-blessing – it’s the intention that’s important. And, it is the Source Of All who delivers.

I use my body to sway back and forth, gently shifting my weight on one leg and then the other – rocking backward and forward just a little, and with my hands in front of me I move them as though I’m gently pushing something. No physical effort is really required in this pushing movement. It’s symbolic.

I do this for a minute or two, thinking of the person in question and their need, knowing that the Source Of All will work through this caim.

If it helps, you might even like to vocalise who, or for what, the power-blessing is for, and the desired outcome. ‘Help [name],’ or ‘Heal [name] etc.

And, as I stand there I sense the power-blessing leaving me and journeying to the person in need….and it arrives immediately. There is no time delay.

You might imagine the desired effect already taking place, even though it may take some time in the physical realm to come about in actuality. You might have in mind what a solution for that person is and you might be specific in visualising it; or, you might not want to be specific as to what a solution might look like and leave it to the Source Of All to work out.

And now, I lower my hands. And relax. The power-blessing has gone out. I give gratitude in my heart to the Parent of Lights, for enabling me to be a conduit of healing energy.

But, there’s more.

As I stand, and continue to face the direction that that power-blessing was sent. I wait for a minute or so. With my arms out, at shoulder height, I wait. I breathe deeply several times in anticipation, believing that what was sent out, comes back now, energetically – although it may work its way out in my life in a different way to that original power-blessing, and over time. But, I do believe it comes back as a ‘gift’ so that we also benefit.

What we send out, comes back in one form or another.

I inhale to, metaphorically, and with my arms open wide, embrace and accept the return energy-blessing. It’s here.

I give thanks to the Source Of All for the power-blessing that has gone out and which is effective, and now returned without any diminishment.

Now it’s time to return to physical reality – the realm of the senses.

As I stand there, I allow my breathing to return to normal, slowly open my eyes, perhaps not focussing on anything in particular, but just ease myself back to that former state.

With my eyes open, I point to that circle of pebbles. Slowly I turn my body through 360 degrees. I like to face east, and so face east once I’ve gone full circle. But, I move in the opposite direction this time – anti-clockwise (or widdershins) – to close the caim.

And then I wait for another minute, and leave the circle.

I extinguish the candle and collect up the pebbles.

The caim is a spiritual ‘tool’ for you to use – one amongst many – and not a magical formula that won’t work unless you get it absolutely right. It is intentionality that is all important. Adapt it, and use it to best serve you needs, and that of others.

That’s it. Well almost.

CAIM 13

Having sent out a power-blessing, there is always some work to be done, to joyfully work towards making the prayer, that ritual-liturgy come about in the physical realm. It needs to be ‘earthed’.

For instance, if you’ve prayed for someone to get though their exams, the action now needed might be that you give them some verbal encouragement, rather than, say, feeling as though you need to spend days teaching them to make the energy-prayer come about. The Source of All will deal with the latter; our part is to ‘earth’ the caim in this physical realm with a symbolic, associated act.

Having prayed for that person’s health, I’ve just emailed them and arranged to meet them socially and in that way I might cheer them’.

If someone is not well, we don’t need to feel responsible for their healing as the Source of All (working through medical practitioners etc) will have that in hand, but maybe a get-well card from us could be sent to them to buoy them up, and encourage them. That’s ‘earthing’, and the action doesn’t have to be something that the person in question knows about!

Or, if we’ve used the caim, say, for someone to grow spiritually, we might plant a seed in our garden; if we’ve used the caim to send someone a blessing, then we might blow a kiss in their direction. It’s a symbolic action, and it’s usually best done in secret.

The caim, then, is versatile, and several times over the next two weeks we’ll return to it, and look at how it can be used for ecological purposes, for healing, giving blessings to people and/or animals, or projects, for protection etc, and how it can be adapted for group settings and more formal settings.

Meanwhile, do try the caim, and let me know your experience, please.

20180608 THE CAIM 1 PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

Encountering Silent Teachers: That Ancient Oak Tree / Coeden Dderw Hynafol

20170517 ENCOUNTERING SILENT TEACHERS

Go out, go out I beg you
and taste the beauty of the wild.
Behold the miracle of the earth
with all the wonder of a child.
{Edna Jaques]

Near the perimeter of my garden in north Wales, before you reach the rivulet which is the unannounced boundary of my garden, just 20 yards/meters short of it is a wonderful, old, somewhat gnarled oak tree, standing slightly apart from other trees. Of all the trees in the garden, it is the oldest and most majestic, commanding respect from all.

My grandmother called it ‘coeden dderw hynafol’ (pronounced ‘goh-dun dare-ooh hin-af-foll’, which is Welsh for ‘ancient oak tree’, and that’s what I’ve always called it.

Interestingly, the word Druid, also comes from that Welsh word, dder, pronounced ‘dare-ooh’, for oak, and shows the high esteem that that tree was, and still is, held by them.

Oh, coeden dderw hynafol is a sight to behold. Even when ‘speaking’ to it in English, I’ve always addressed it, as though by a title, by its name in Welsh. I want to be respectful, after all.

Whether one believes that it has a dryad, an associated elemental, a spirit (or a spirit in the metaphorical or romantic sense), or wishes to personify or anthropomorphise this splendid tree, that is beside the point in many respects. It (still) has a presence, a nobility about it, and as it creaks and ‘moans’ in the wind it seems to ‘smile’ and declare to me and others that it was here long before we were born, and…and, yes, it will be here long after we’ve shuffled off this mortal coil.

It is a tree that evokes awe and humility in equal measure.

And so, there I was…nothing on tv….slowly walking, barefoot, toward coeden dderw hynafol at some time shortly after 11.30pm. There was hardly any light, the air was damp and cold – such is springtime in north Wales at this time of night – and the faint outline of  coeden dderw hynafol was etched, flat, without three dimensions apparent, against the dark, cloud-filled sky. The clouds seeming somewhat low and moving briskly, caught by an easterly wind.

I sat on the log just under the outstretched arms of the coeden dderw hynafol, and waited. The wind picked up and it started to rain, and the desire to run back indoors and avoid the rain was almost overpowering. Almost.

‘Only when we stop…do the stones begin to speak’. Mark Nepo

I love the rain, and though there was part of me that didn’t relish the thought of getting drenched, the ‘dominant’ inner voice was content just to let nature take its course. Any, why not? And so I sat on that log, gazing at coeden dderw hynafol and got drenched. Fortunately, there was no one around, and neighbours live some distance away,  so no one noticed my apparent foolishness.

Coeden dderw hynafol creaked, and groaned as it swayed in the wind, ‘moaned’ as the wind caught the top of its branches, and it provided only momentary shelter from the rain – its leaves now conveying downward all the rain it had ‘collected’. But, I will let you into a secret: it felt wonderful.

As I sat there with rain running down my forehead, onto my nose and running off the end of it, this ancient oak tree taught me: that regardless of what forces impact upon it, it stands. When buffeted it moves just a little, is pliable, and doesn’t stand so rigid that it breaks. Oh no. It ‘gives’ just a little. The noise it made wasn’t a cry of pain, but a delight that it was ‘dancing’ to the tune of the wind. And the rain it collected and which fell down on me was like the effect of a shaggy dog shaking itself to get dry and soaking everyone else in the process – something which ‘includes’ me, rather than excludes me, and which can bring on a wry smile. It was as though there was some giant, invisible aspergillum ‘flicking’ holy water on me, and blessing me. And it was comforting.

‘For a true contemplative, a green tree works just as well as a golden tabernacle’. Richard Rohr.

Now drenched, I realised that whatever life sends us, we are in control of our reactions and have the ability to come through the storm. As I sat there I could have been angry at being drenched, and angry that that oak had not provided sufficient cover to keep me dry. However, positive thoughts flooded my mind like warm honey. Coeden dderw hynafol had, in its own way ‘instructed’ me that I (and you, so ‘we’) have the resources to face adversity, and though we might ‘bend’ a little and feel the wounds, we will prevail. Coeden dderw hynafol also blessed me with the rain it had collected and which was now falling on me at quite a pace. It was a though this ancient friend was blessing me with holy water and including me. To be befriended by an oak tree is an amazing thing.

‘We inter-breath with the rain forests, we drink from the oceans. They are part of our own body.’ Thich Nhat Hanh

Soggy, cold, drenched but feeling blessed, I headed back to the house. I hadn’t gone too far when I stopped. It seemed wrong just to walk away. And so I stopped, and as mud oozed between my toes, I turned, and for just half a minute gave my silent thanks to coeden dderw hynafol, nodded and acknowledged my indebtedness to the lessons it had taught me that night.

Ofcourse, some might say it was crazy and puerile to regard that tree in such a way. A tree is just a tree, they might say. But, it didn’t (and doesn’t) feel like just a tree, in its presence. Ofcourse, if people regard it as just a tree, I would add that something deep still stirred within me, and I learned invaluable lessons.

However, I’d like to add that it is more than just a tree to me. There is more. Mae mwy, as they say in these parts, there is more. Coeden dderw hynafol is a silent teacher, and if you and I give ourselves time to draw aside and be still (wherever we are), each day we can learn something from these (and it may not be an oak tree) silent teachers that cross our life-paths.

‘And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play with your hair’. Kahlil Gibran