The Truth

by Izzy Swanson

The truth of who I am is not pretty. I didn’t come to be who I am today with years of training as a Shaman. I didn’t travel to another place to have the wisdom of the ancestors handed down to me. The truth is, well there are many truths, and one of them is that I was born this way. The other truth is that I had to dig myself out of a pit of insanity, abuse, trauma, and 16 years of drug addiction. The truth is that my spirit and my body have been battered, demoralized, and broken in ways that hurt me to even speak of. Much of what I have seen, much of what has been done was carried out at the hands of my family or abusive boyfriends but if we are talking about truth so much of what has happened to me I did also to myself.

Why I am here? Why am I telling you this? Because the value of my trauma is that I am who I am today. I need to say this to myself as much as you need to hear it. I need you to know it because I have never believed that anything I said or did was right, or valid. I needed to be defined by the opinions of others and yet even when I started to feel like I was getting it right it was never enough. I still would look to someone else and judge the quality of my work by their definition of what is right and wrong. You need to know it because you need to know that the things you tell yourself and the emotions you feel are not that by which you should define yourself. You need to see that there is a way to feel whole, that there is a path to unbrokenness. You need to trust that the pain that I have broken my body with is the strength by which I will help you heal yourself. This is the truth, of who I am, of who you are, of why we do this work.

I will tell you my story, at least as much of it as I can without breaking others who were part of it, and I will tell you how I came here and maybe if you can stay with me through the story you will find that I can show you a way to survive yourself. I will guide you through the darkness in the pit of your soul and show you how to embrace the balance of the dark and the light. I will guard you in the liminal spaces. I will mother your tears. I will show you the peace of the warrior and I will make you a priestess of your own life.

The time has come to shed the lies, to destroy everything that you know, to make your sorrow your biggest gift, to use your pain to achieve your goals1. We are being called to the front lines of a war that is about redefining who we are as individuals, as a species. Whoever convinced you that this needed to happen peacefully, quietly, and completely in the light has not told you the full truth or maybe you did not see the other half of the message. We will have to first stand at the doorway to change and face our fears. We may even have to break, shatter into a million pieces, before we will know the complete truth and power of who we are. For powerful is what you are. It’s what I am and it is what we are together.  Do not be afraid even when the walls fall down and you are overwhelmed. Do not fear. Do not run from the immensity of who you are, of who we are. Warrior Spirit, Queen, Priestess, Guardian, Teacher, Mother, do not run from your soul’s purpose. We are here now for a reason and even if I can’t clearly define it in this moment, I will be here to help you see it. I for one did not come here to run.

02/08/2016

Izzy Swanson of Feileacan MinistryIzzy Swanson owns Feileacan Ministry in Austin, Texas. She is a Shamanic Reiki Master, Teacher, and Priestess. She specializes in healing soul wounds and working with PTSD, trauma, and addiction.

You can find her online at: www.transformationreiki.com as well as on Facebook at www.facebook.com/feileacanministry and Instagram at www.instagram.com/transformationreiki/

 

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Me, The Morrigan, and Pilgrimage

November 1, 2011 – Rathcroghan Complex, Tulsk, Co Roscommon, Ireland

In 2011, I visit her cave for the first time, on a whim. My friend Jamie has featured it in one of her fictional stories, and suggested I go check it out while I am in Ireland.  With my friend’s new IPhone as my only light, I make it half way down before the fear of dropping her phone in the mud is quickly overtaken by the primal fear of the dark and death. I, who loves caves and the dark, am wondering if I am having a panic attack, and if I can make it out. This was the day and way I met the Morrigan. I did not know her by name until I visited the Rathcroghan Visitor Centre a few hours later.

 

July 2012 – Rathcroghan Complex, Tulsk, Co. Roscommon, Ireland

I am hosting a pilgrimage, and we visit the cave with a proper guide who would later become my good friend, Lora O’Brien. She takes some of us down, those that feel called, and again I feel fear, but this time I have my sister with me, and we hold hands in the dark, which helps just enough to keep me down in the cave. The Morrigan asks me many questions, and tells me to devote myself to something. To what will I devote myself? I answer her, and I do devote myself to that answer, and it changes my life from there on out. I am interested in the Morrigan now, and we arrange to speak again soon.

 

December  2014 – North Georgia, USA

In 2014, I get out of Atlanta for some fresh air. I head up North and go hiking. Mid-hike, I hear Her calling me loudly. I feel like I am in the cave again, though I’m not–it’s hot and humid, and the sun is burning me even though it’s December.  As I walk on, I find a sign indicating that this is a Civil War battle site. I ask Her if it’s Her site. She says yes, but it’s not her kind of war. She tells me what her battles look like, and they remind me of my own. Later that week, I will receive the catalyst, a phone call that will kick off years of battle in my own life. I will return to that site several more times to discuss my battle with Her. Battles that have left me stronger and victorious internally, but also with scars and heartaches that never seem to heal. She always tells me “I take first” when I complain about the pain.

 

September 2015 – Rathcroghan Complex, Tulsk, Co. Roscommon, Ireland

The battle rages on, quietly, internally, behind the lines, and escaping the notice of most, but never escaping Her’s. I once again go and visit the cave with Lora O’Brien. This time, I have plenty to be grateful for. Unwanted blessings released. She tells me the suffering will end soon, my rewards are just, and that life is messy and horrible. It soothes me, and I leave her my blood as an offering. When I come out of the cave, there is a little boy from a nearby farmhouse, with his pet bunny.  While I respect and honor Her cave, I am glad there are little boys with pet bunnies running around the world, and I spend sometime with both of them.

 

June 2015 – Morrigan’s Call Retreat, Orange CT

I have my most profound experience of the Morrigan yet. We are all in paint and feathers around a bonfire. She is calling us Her ravens. “What do you fight for?” She asks, “Are you brave?” I meet one of Her Priestesses, who through great grace, grounding, and devotion, holds the Morrigan for me. She tells me, “You are a star. You deserve what I gift you, take it.” It takes many moons for the message to sink in, and when it does, my path opens up before me and I receive blessings that stick with me to this day.

I now await re-visiting the Civil War battlefield, Rathcroghan, and The Morrigan Retreat in 2017  with equal anticipation. This Samhain, I will spend October 30, the day before Samhain, in Her cave with another group of pilgrims. According to local legend, we will be there the eve of when the cave turns into a portal to hell, and demons come out.  I am already scared, but I will go and hold hands, and see what She has in store for me next.

Vyviane Armstrong, July 2016

 

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Vyviane Armstrong owns and operates Land, Sea, Sky Travel, which has a special focus on Liminal Travel and Sacred Site pilgrimages in North America, UK, and Ireland.

She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She lives outside of Atlanta, in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

You can find her at Land, Sea, Sky Travel

 

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Courage

When I turned 40 my daughter came by and with a smug mouth stretched wide over red speckled cheeks, she handed me a card. Inside the card was pin that declared in a loud font with electric colors “I’ve survived damn near everything” I spit my drink out. We had a good laugh. She’d gone and found me the perfect “over the hill” gift.

When I started to write this, I realized with a lot of trepidation that the reader is going to need some background. At first I thought I’d share in a very general way, because I don’t’ want anyone to focus too much on the details of my encounters (and other reasons). I wrote pages of smart little notes using a different color pen each time I sat down over the last month. I organized quotes. I studied the lore again looking for analogies to use. This morning I prayed to the Great Queen for some guidance or direction again. And then I threw all the notes out. It wasn’t authentic. It wasn’t me. This is how the Morrigan works in my life:

As implied with the birthday pin, which incidentally I still have, I’m a survivor. I’m not sure when I became a survivor exactly because the flash backs go as far back as I can remember. I’m going to try to give you a synopsis of some of the things I’ve survived. Brevity is a challenge so…. I was raised Christian. I feel like our Christianity as a household would’ve been mixed in with the white paint on the picket fence if we’d had one. Inside that false boundary though was something altogether different.

We had a smorgasbord of porn in our house. As a result, there was inappropriate sexual activity. My first sexual encounter outside of immediate family was being infiltrated at 12 by a man my much older sister brought home. After years of this infiltrating, I came out with it. My dysfunctional family could not or would not bring themselves to face what had happened and he wasn’t held accountable. In fact my sister married him and they had two children. But not to worry, the truth eventually came pounding on her door, they divorced, and he very recently hung himself. During these early years I am ever dreaming of snakes. Not one or two, great tangled masses of snakes. My gran assured this meant I was being chased by Satan and I needed to adjust accordingly, or else. I escaped life by walking to a place in the woods on the back side of a pasture with a little brook running near. It always beckoned with it’s soft mossy beds and the smell of trees that had been composting for eons. I named this place the Fairies Mounds. It’s still with me today.

Of course, I eventually rebelled against the family. In no small way. By fourteen years I spent most days anywhere but home. I partied in the surrounding cities with an older “more seasoned” crowd. I was searching for something. What I found was gang rape. The rapists did have the courtesy to drop me off at home later(a different home at this point). I’m very lucky, and I know it. I tell no one. I decide to get married and have a baby, because that’s the obvious answer to my misery. It will keep me safe. Still Christian at this point, pretty darn Baptist by now. And I’m still dreaming of snakes.

Fast forward through a divorce (at 18). I spent the following years alternating between working a trade in construction (which I still do) to support my daughter, getting a degree, and partying as hard as humanly possible to kill the flashbacks. I’d also changed my outlook on power at this point. I met my shame head on attempting to master my twisted view of sex by using it to my advantage. And many times it worked, other times I found more misery under those rocks. I did meet an awesome history teacher during this seven years of my “singlehood”. He introduced me to a lot of practices that I now see for the spiritual tools that they were. They were subtle land rituals. I also began to dream of talking ravens(maybe crows but for this, I’ll use ravens. They told me things I no longer remember much of.  I do remember they foretold of a trip I would eventually take with this man up the east coast to NYC and Toronto. A trip that would change my world view. I’d never been anywhere since we’d left the Air Force and settled in tobacco country where my parents grew up. I was happy. I was terrified. So I left him.

I got married again in a flash. It stunts my tendency to turn towards the wilderness right? If only for a while. I’m still a Baptist, but I’d encountered some Greek and Norse mythology (history teacher), and I loved it more than more than I thought I should. Oh, and I’d read Arthurian literature. And yes, I identified with the seemingly tortured protagonist in Zimmer-Bradley’s books, Morgan Lefaye. No, I don’t personally feel she’s at all related to the Morrigan. I do think some who are interested in Morgan Lefaye find themselves wandering through the lore of the Great Queen at some point and that is not necessarily a bad thing. That‘s not how it happened for me.

This 2nd marriage was formed in utter sickness. There was absolutely nothing healthy about it. I’d chosen an abuser with several untreated symptoms. I had untreated symptoms. I’d been through a slew of counselors over the years. He did what abusers do. I seethed over his drinking and did what enablers and battered wives do. I isolated with self-help and “wommyn’s” spiritual books. The ravens started to come back. They told me more things I can’t exactly recall. I’d read about women’s religions, and a tad about Wicca, but always with the fear of damnation on my heels. But it planted a seed and I began to organize an exit plan. That’s when she first made Herself known to me in a way I couldn’t deny.

It was a dream that wasn’t a dream. It’s been about 16 years now and some of the details have gotten scarce. However, I’ll never lose the image of her standing there in a long dress, dark auburn hair, surrounded by ravens or crows, and that voice. A silky, bellowing voice traveling a thousand years to reach me (best description I have). We were in a field with many paths running through it. She pointed and said “You are on the right path”. She gestured towards a path and told me to keep trucking. I found out in the next 48 hours that I was pregnant with our second son, my third child, so I stayed.

I swallowed my fate. I raised my children semi-sanely until they were all in school. After which time I took it upon myself to fight my husband as viciously as he fought me. I drank and drugged away the Morrigan’s attempts at communication. At this point Badb and Nemain are making terrifying appearances. I also ignored visits from the Good Neighbors who had shown up at some point in this blur though they always found a way to affect my life. I became one of the most toxic people I’ve had the displeasure of knowing. I was mad as hell. I fought everything and everyone. I fought everything in this world and the next. I fought myself.

Finally, when a considerable police presence became involved in the marital bliss, we decided to split. I was somehow holding a job as an analyst for a large pharma corp. Not for long. I met a new person at work. I quickly lost myself in that relationship. We were both eventually laid off along with 3K others. And then I dug the deepest hole possible. I watched everything I ever identified myself with or as walk out the door. My beautiful home, car, sanity, my freedom, and finally my children.  I overdosed often. I stopped breathing on occasion and I seized too many times. My vital organs were failing and I welcomed it all. I also railed at my mother’s pastor in ICU “Where is your god now!?” Admittedly, this is all very dramatic. I was consumed by drama. And one day that voice from far away spoke to me again, and I started the long and bloody knuckled climb out.

That was about four years ago. Waking from that nightmare(death) seems likened to waking from a coma. It was raw, knotted, and terrifying. Now I attempt to manage a mean case of PTSD. In that first year I managed to get my children back. It wasn’t hard. The abusive ex had discovered new outlets for his aggressions. I had to take sedatives (under medical care) to get through court. I locked myself in my house for most of 3 years. I healed some wounds. I studied the Morrigan and developed a spiritual practice. I built a thick, tall wall around myself. I felt safe. I felt stronger. I dedicated myself to her in a formal ritual.

After the dedication she promptly decided to shake my little glass globe up again. This time she directed me to find others. I dug my heels in deep for a while. This was scary stuff. Finally, in June of 2015 I went to my first Call of the Morrigan retreat and I was mortified. I could hear the constant rattle of my teeth. I stayed anyway. I did what she directed me to do. I transformed and I grew so fast it was maddening. I reclaimed some of my lost power. And I discovered my shadow self. We didn’t get along.

A cycle worth noting in all that unverified personal gnosis above; During the times I turned my back to the call of the Morrigan and walked away from my sovereignty, I caused myself suffering. She poked, needled, and screamed. Some of the time, I cowered and suffered. I could turn away again and try to go it alone. I have a choice in the matter. My experiences have shown me that I am a much better person when I walk this shadowy path.

This past June, one year later, I returned to the retreat. It had become, for me, a sort of scale by which I measured my growth. There were moments I wrestled with my shadow. Panic followed. Not enough to hinder me from strengthening bonds in the community I’ve gotten to know over the last year. I didn’t need to hide in the tent. I did occasionally hold a hand. I reaffirmed my dedication by way of sacred tattoo on the first morning. The following day I served Badb by becoming her eyes. I left there still feeling the effects of her dark energy. I felt strong. And then I came home. Immediately I realized I’d left behind my best friend in a Tarot deck. Next, my family fell to pieces. And I sold the last thing I owned with title attached.(a good thing, towards my sovereignty of self) And then there was an incident that triggered a handful of my demons. I’m still in the process of doing the work it takes to embrace the many faces of my shadow.

I considered sharing many different aspects of what it’s like to be dedicated to this War Goddess who is always with me. I could talk about experiences with her as Prophetess or as Sorceress. Around those aspects I will share that the more I study her culture of origin, their land, language, and people the stronger and more intimate our relationship becomes. I could talk of experiences with the Others who often precede her. I could share more on my practice around the warrior aspects of this path. I don’t currently risk my life to protect others on a regular basis. I do work on strengthening physically with plans to return to martial arts. I stand for right causes and social justice. I also serve the Morrigan and my communities by way of supporting other survivors in their quests for self sovereignty. It’s in that spirit I share this. I read an article last night that spoke to me on this topic. I’ll share a quote:

“The most anti-capitalist protest is to care for another and to care for yourself. To take on the historically feminized and therefore invisible practice of nursing, nurturing, caring. To take seriously each other’s vulnerability and fragility and precarity, and to support it, honor it, empower it. To protect each other, to enact and practice community. A radical kinship, an interdependent sociality, a politics of care.”

I’ve found this community to be overflowing with survivors of all manner of traumas. We’re a hodge-podge of colors, races, paths, and genders. I’ve had chance to witness that common issues most of us struggle with at least once are typically around our worthiness in the form of our perceived weaknesses. I’ve also heard it said more than once that The Morrigan covets, or has affection for the wounded. I don’t feel like she covets the wounded so much as she knows how much we are capable of enduring. I want survivors, myself included, to always know that we’re called because of our strength, not the lacking of it.  We are strength and resiliency embodied. We are valuable to the Morrigan. We also have much to offer this broken world and its people if we fully embrace death of our old selves that so often comes with this call.

In solidarity,

Iníon Préacháin

Quote – Hedva , Johanna. Sick Woman Theory. http://www.maskmagazine.com/not-again/struggle/sick-woman-theory

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Rag Tree Tradition by Lora O’Brien

So, I’ve worked for the last 12 years as a professional tour guide to the sacred sites of Ireland, and let me tell ya, I’ve seen some shit.

8 of those years were spent managing the sites and visitor centre at the royal complex of Rathcroghan, Cruachan; which (as many of you know, unless you’re believing the nonsense that there’s no Morrigan sites in Connacht), is where the Morrigan ‘resides’ – Her primary site in Ireland is the Cave of the Cats, Uaimh na gCait. This site is an ancient cave, worked by human hands in later times, known as the primary physical entrance to the Irish Otherworld, which Medieval Christian scribes referred to ‘the Gates of Hell’ due to the unfortunate amount of monsters and demons (to their perception) which flowed out from this hole in the earth on an all too regular basis.

I’m probably telling y’all stuff you already know here, being folk who are interested in Herself. I’ve been Her priestess for 13 years, and I know how hard she pushes us to do the work, and how important real information is to Her.

But what you might not be aware of, and what I’d really, really, like you to be aware of (and tell all your mates), is the absolute misconceptions and horrific disrespect that Pagan or ‘spiritual’ visitors to Ireland show at our sites.

Let’s talk about the Rag Tree tradition, shall we?

In Ireland, we have long had the custom of the ‘Raggedy Bush’ or Rag Tree, and there’s similar in Scotland, with what they call ‘clooties’ tied to certain trees. The trees are Hawthorn, one of our most prominent native trees/bushes – Crataegus Monogyna, or in Irish, the Sceach Gheal. The Irish name literally means something like, ‘that which makes the hedgerow bright’, and when it’s covered in colourful rags it sure does. Most often, there’s a particular hawthorn, growing near a particular holy well, and this is the local Rag Tree.

Occasionally there’s no well or spring to be found, but my theory on that is that there used to be one and it’s gone now, or that the misconceptions around Rag Trees stretch back further than your average modern American tour group, and some fecker just decided at some stage that a single growing hawthorn was actually a Rag Tree, way back in the mists of time, and it stuck. Now, that doesn’t mean there’s no magic there today… just that it probably didn’t start out that way. The water nearby is a pretty important part of the magic here.

What’s it all about then? Well, basically, the tradition goes that you take a piece of cloth from a sick person, tie it to the tree (often with prayers), and the sickness disappears as the rag rots away. The water nearby is most often a holy or healing well, which helps of course.

Sounds simple enough, right? From a magical perspective, we’ve got sympathetic magic in the rotting of the fabric – the visual representation of the illness losing power and strength and eventually disintegrating. We’ve got an energetic loop that’s formed between the sick person (it has to be an item they’ve worn while ill, so imbued with their DNA or essence) for illness to flow to the tree, and back the way then with the healing energies from the water, through the roots of the tree. Make sense? Sure!

You know what doesn’t make sense though? Folk who come along and tie their rubbish to the tree. Or tie strings or cloth so tight they damage the tree branches. I’ve removed everything from crème egg (candy) foil wrappers to junk jewellery rings to plastic covered wire wrap ties from the branches of our Rag Trees on this island. Not cool people, not cool. That, at least though, can be written off as ignorance of a ‘quaint’ local tradition they want to be a part of, by people who are really just here for lip smacking the Blarney Stone and the Guinness.

What’s more worrying is the visitors who come to sites where there’s no Rag Tree, on supposed spiritual pilgrimage, and tie their shit to whatever tree happens to be there.

The Cave at Cruachan is a prime example of this. I was a guardian there for 13 years, and for 8 of those I was paid to be in and out of it most days of the week. There’s a hawthorn that grows over the mouth of the cave, but it’s a relatively young one. Maybe 20 or 30 years old is all. It’s a fairy tree in the sense of it being smack bang over the mouth of a Sidhe dwelling, and it’s definitely magical… but it’s not a Rag Tree. Every week though, there’d be some new bit of tat tied to it. One tour group got a nylon umbrella off their bus, ripped it to bits, and tied the bits to the tree. Then they left the umbrella carcass in the field, got on their bus, and drove off.

There were obviously some who wanted to leave an ‘offering’ at the site, to connect themselves there in some way, and perhaps that’s how some of the cloth strips got into the tree. Maybe some were even cloth from the garments of sick people. But this is not a healing site. In my experience – personally, and collected from feedback of those who energetically interacted with the site – the entities at this site will gleefully follow any connection you choose to make there, go right back to source, and tear down anything weak that they find there. Ostensibly ‘for your own good’, of course, but they are absolutely merciless about it… if you lay a pathway for them they will follow it. This is not a good thing, for most people. Especially unprepared people. People who maybe think that Irish entities and Sidhe spirits are essentially pleasant and good natured, full of the craic, and harmless to let in. People who are perhaps sick, and not at full energetic defensive strength.

There was once a baby’s bib tied through the branches of the hawthorn tree at the Morrigan’s Cave. Just take a moment, and let that sink in for yourself.

You see now why I might be a bit ranty on this topic? Can we not do this anymore?

My best advice is to take local advice. If you want to find a real Rag Tree, there’s websites and books that will tell you where to begin your search, but first and foremost you should be talking to local people. Get exact directions. Check that the tree you think might be the one is actually the one. And remember, just because some eejit has tied something to it before you got there, doesn’t make it a Rag Tree.

Please, be sure?

13625325_10154343445948833_754878224_nLora O’Brien is a native Irish Author and Guide to Ireland, facilitating your authentic connection to Ireland one small step at a time. You can get involved with the excellent Irish Rewards by becoming a Patron of her work at www.Patreon.com/LoraOBrien, or visit her website to find out about her upcoming on-line course, Meeting the Morrigan. You can find Lora’s blog, books, mailing list, classes and more at www.LoraOBrien.com.

 

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Sacred Tattoo – Interview with Morpheus Ravenna

An interview with Morpheus Ravenna of Banshee Arts on sacred tattoo. She shares how she came to this work, one of her own experiences of receiving a devotional tattoo, addresses the question of pain in the context of ritual tattoo, and more.

Morpheus will be joining us for this year’s Call of the Morrigan retreat, ‘Honouring the Blood’ in West Wales, where we will be holding a space for ritual tattoo for the Morrigan at Samhain (27-30 October 2016) – there are still a few spaces remaining, if you’d like to join us you can find out more here.

If you can’t see the video above, you can watch it here.

MORPHEUS RAVENNA – Tattoo Artist, Morrigan Priestess, Spiritworker, and Writer

“I specialize in tattoo design inspired by ancient art and civilizations, and have a passion for ritual and magical tattoos, mythological sources, and Celtic, Norse, Hellenic, and other historical traditions. I recognize tattooing as an initiatory art and in both design and tattooing I strive to serve as a channel to bring my clients’ visions to life as indelible, living art in the skin.

In addition to my tattooing work, I am an experienced artist and spiritual worker. I blend art and ritual through the creation of sigils, bindrunes, and talismans as well as the living art of tattoo.

I’m often drawing, writing, studying Celtic literature, or in the field practicing medieval armored combat. I also serve the Pagan and Polytheist communities as a priest dedicated to the Morrigan.”

You can find out more, or contact Morpheus, at Banshee Arts.  Morpheus will be joining us for the 2016 Call of the Morrigan retreat in Wales. You can find further info about the retreat, and how to book here.

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Standing Tall, Rising Strong: Working with Trees as Devotion and Service

….Her voice whispers through the leaves….these are the guardians of the earth….protect them in my name….if the trees fall then all is lost….

Many of us are called to the service of The Morrigan, to stand as her warriors. For some this is in the shape of fighting for the planet, fighting for the trees.  Fighting isn’t always about weapons or physical force, sometimes it is about our voices, about ceremony and magic, about standing for what is important in the world.

Trees create the air we breathe, the oxygen that enriches our blood, our blood that gives us life.  When we honour the trees, we honour the blood and we honour the Goddess. The trees need us now, their webs of communication are damaged and broken. We are forgetting their wisdom and power. When the trees fall, we will fall.  

Using ceremony, meditation and craftwork we will explore ways of communicating with and healing the trees of this planet as an act of devotion and service to The Morrigan. We will work outside, on the earth, deeply connected to Her.  We will craft wooden amulets, warrior symbols, signs to the world that we stand for The Morrigan, we stand for the trees.

Standing Tall, Rising Strong: Working with Trees as Devotion and Service with Wild Magpie Priestess Awen Clement is the second of our day workshops at this year’s Call of the Morrigan Retreat, 30 October 2016, in Carmarthenshire, Wales.

AwenClement

Awen Clement is the Wild Magpie Priestess, living and working in the West Midlands, UK. She leads circles and workshops to connect people with the sacred within themselves and the land, and is the founder of the popular online programme, MoonWise Woman.  She is dedicated to Brigid and The Morrigan and has made a lifetime promise to be a Guardian of the Trees in their name.

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Strands of Blood, Strands of Fate: Weaving Our Ancestral Tapestry

What does it mean to ‘honour the blood’ in terms of our ancestral inheritance and our legacy?

As living beings, we carry the threads of fate that weave not only our own futures but that of the world itself. Our choices and our actions have consequences that reach far beyond our own lives and the lives of the people closest to us. To be effective in our roles as creators of the future, it is crucial that we understand our place in the process, where we stand in the weaving of the Wyrd.

Strands of Blood, Strands of Fate: Weaving Our Ancestral Tapestry led by Brennos Agrocunos Gunn  is one of our day workshops at this year’s Call of the Morrigan Retreat, 30 October 2016, in Carmarthenshire, Wales.

In this workshop we will explore our place in our ancestral lineages and learn about different types of ancestors and their influence in creating the beings that we are now. Through discussion, visualization, and guided journeying we will learn to recognize the strengths and challenges our ancestors have gifted us with and learn methods to fulfill our role with intention and create a healthy and just world for future generations.

Brennos Agrocunos Gunn

Photo credit: Joe Perri @ Wolf Mercury Photography

Brennos Agrocunos Gunn is an intuitive psychic, spirit worker, runeworker, and activist. A dedicant of the Morrigan for over fifteen years, he serves Her as both warrior and priest. He is also one of the founders of the Coru Cathubodua Priesthood. Through his devotional connection with Odin, he has pursued runic studies for over twelve years. He specializes in dreamwork and Otherworld travel, spiritual counseling, shielding, warding and spiritual combat, runework, and spirit contact with the dead. His spiritual practice is dedicated to service and as a priest, He works towards social justice, environmental healing, and sovereignty of the land and writes about these and related topics on his blog, Strixian Woods and on Facebook.

To find out more about this year’s retreat, or to book on for the weekend or the day, click here or send an email to callofthemorrigan [at] gmail.com

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Drum journey to the Morrigan

This week we bring you a shamanic drum journey to connect with the Morrigan. You can use this journey once or many times, just shifting your intention. If you have never journeyed before or are seeking guidance before you begin, come join the Call of the Morrigan FB Community and ask your questions there before you start.

This journey was recorded by Rebecca Wright in February 2014 using an 18-inch frame drum and Dartmoor bone, for the now defunct site, The Shamanic Voice.

About: Rebecca Wright is a shamanic healer and teacher based in the Northeast of England. She is one of the founders of the Call of the Morrigan FB community and UK retreats. You contact her on Facebook at Call of the Morrigan page.

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Whose Ancestors?

Whose Ancestors? by Morpheus Ravenna  is reblogged from The Shieldmaiden Blog

August 29, 2013/77 Comments/in The Shieldmaiden Blog
EDITED, 9/11/2013: In the days since I originally published the post below on 8/29/2013, there have been a couple of developments I wish to acknowledge.

–This post was also published at my PaganSquare blog, The Spear That Cries Out, hosted by Witches & Pagans online. It was subsequently deleted by the site’s editor, Anne Newkirk Niven, specifically in order to censor its content, because she objected to my calling the AFA a racist organization.

–In discussions in the comments both here and at the PaganSquare site (before it was removed), several people have pointed out that I went too far in over-interpreting the implications of the DNA research referenced in the original post. They’re correct, and I appreciate the feedback. I think that the research still supports the overall point of my post, which is that at a surprisingly recent point in the past, all of us are related, and that there is no biological or anthropological basis for racial separatism in religion.

Here follows the original post, unedited:

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Issues of race and Eurocentrism in religion have been increasingly on my mind recently, and the anniversary of Dr. King’s speech seems a good day to write about them.

This came up for me when I found out that a favorite Nordic folk band, Wardruna, would be performing in the US for the first time this fall. I got all excited about this until friends pointed out that the event at which they will be performing, Stella Natura, is sponsored by the unabashedly racist Heathen organization AFA, and is also featuring several performers with strong links to white-supremacist, racist ideologies.

So I ditched my plans of attending. And I feel like talking about this publicly because I think part of the reason racism continues to haunt European polytheism is because we let it. Too many of us take a policy of uneasily gritting our teeth and putting up with our intellectual proximity to racists. It’d have been more convenient and more fun for me to buy the ticket, go to the event and try to ignore the racism so that I could get the chance to enjoy one of my favorite bands. But I’d be supporting the inclusion of these racist elements within the fold of European polytheism, and I can’t stomach it. Instead, I’m refusing to participate. Wardruna, we love you, but if you want me to buy a ticket to your show, don’t sign on with racists as your event sponsors.

It comes to me that practitioners of European polytheist traditions have a duty on us to take a clear stance against racism in our religious communities. Not to do so, I think, inevitably leads us into tacitly condoning racism, because of its ubiquity in the overculture and its history as an undercurrent within European polytheism.

So here’s my stance: Though the form of religious practice I choose to espouse is largely based on Celtic traditions, I reject any ideology that says those traditions belong specially to me because of race. I speak often of ancestors and ancestral tradition, but I affirm that the ancestral root of wisdom belongs to all humanity. I reject all arguments that imply race should be tied to religion in any way or that racial purity is a relevant concept or worthy goal. I challenge my fellow polytheists to also step up and take a stance against racism in our religious communities, as publicly as possible.

Now, here are some facts you can arm yourself with to help put down racist logic when it is presented to you.

Racism in European polytheism is often veiled under language that claims to celebrate cultural and religious diversity. You will need to be aware of this and learn to recognize it for what it is. The argument goes something like this: a) Cultural and religious diversity is good; b) religious traditions arise from and are dependent on the unique ethnic identity of a people; c) therefore to fully realize our spiritual potential we should practice the religious traditions of our ethnic ancestry; d) because of the link between culture and ethnicity, to preserve cultural and religious traditions we also need to preserve the distinct identities of peoples. If you read between the lines (e.g. read “people” as “race”) you can see that by this train of logic, the conclusion arrived at is that races should not intermingle because that will dilute the purity of the European race and its native religious traditions.

This is nothing more than the Separate-But-Equal doctrine of racial politics. “We aren’t denigrating other races and their associated religions, we just don’t want them getting mixed up with ours.” In the name of celebrating cultural diversity, of course. If you think this claim isn’t being made, go look at the AFA website – it’s right there in their statement of purpose:

All native religions spring from the unique collective soul of a particular people. Religions are not arbitrary or accidental; body, mind and spirit are all shaped by the evolutionary history of the group and are thus interrelated. Asatru is not just what we believe, it is what we are. Therefore, the survival and welfare of the Northern European peoples as a cultural and biological group is a religious imperative for the AFA.

 

The belief that spirituality and ancestral heritage are related has nothing to do with notions of superiority. Asatru is not an excuse to look down on, much less to hate, members of any other race. On the contrary, we recognize the uniqueness and the value of all the different pieces that make up the human mosaic.

 

Just so long as you keep your non-European uniqueness over there and don’t get any on us.

This isn’t just nasty racial politics, it’s also utter bullshit. Here’s why.

This entire argument is predicated on the idea that race and religion are tied, that traditions are native to and transmitted by ancestral links. The traditions of our ancestors and all that. OK, but whose ancestors?

Guess what: Your ancestors are everyone’s ancestors. We are all related. No really, that’s not a kumbaya hippie truism, it’s a documented mathematical and biological reality.

“The fact that everyone has two parents means that the number of ancestors for each individual doubles every generation… By using basic mathematics, we can calculate that ten generations ago each individual had a thousand ancestors, and 20 generations ago they had a million and so on.”

By the time you count back to 40 generations, the number of ancestors each person has far outstrips the number of people alive at that time. That means between 30 and 40 generations back, all human beings share ancestry. That’s somewhere shy of 800 years ago. This mathematical modeling has now been confirmed by DNA evidence. Here’s a handy graphic that’s been making its way around the web illustrating this new research:
Screenshot 2016-04-29 10.28.34
I haven’t verified the specific dates and figures in the graphic, but the principle is clear as an illustration of the research.

Think about what this means: The historical time frame within which the Nordic and Germanic cultural lore on which Asatru is built includes, roughly speaking, the Iron Age up through the Viking era – that is, a few centuries BCE up through about 800-1200 CE. A similar time frame is the basis for much of what now constitutes Celtic polytheism.

In other words, when the Hávamál was created, every single person alive at that time is an ancestor of yours. When the legends of Cú Chulainn and the heroes of the Red Branch were being developed, every single person alive at that time is an ancestor of yours. So was everyone alive in the ancient Somali states. The Etruscans, the Mycenaeans, the Thracians, the Kushites. The people of Catal Huyuk, the ancient steppe tribes of Eurasia, the forefathers and foremothers of the Khans, the people who settled the Polynesian islands, the tribes who crossed the land bridge to the New World. They are all of them, all of them, your personal blood ancestors.

So cultural traditions can’t be inherently dependent on race or ancestry, because race and the purity of ancestral lineage are fictions. You personally are the blood lineage inheritor of every human cultural tradition on the planet.

The truth is, cultural purity also a fiction. People have been traveling all over the globe trading with each other since time began. The ancients were in contact with each other across enormous distances via trade routes and migrations. The skull of a Moroccan Barbary ape was found in an Iron Age royal site at Navan Fort, Ireland. The famous Viking swords were made from steel sourced from Afghanistan. Iron age mummies with red hair and Hallstatt material culture have been found in the deserts of China. I could go on all day with examples like this. And in every case where there is evidence of contact between peoples, there was cultural exchange. Culture is a social disease – it is transmitted on contact. There has always been sharing, borrowing, and synergizing between cultures.

This is an important point, because it proves that distinct cultural traditions do not require racial or cultural separation to preserve them. If the mingling of peoples led to dissolution of all cultural boundaries, we’d long ago have been one big mishmash of culture. Because the mingling has been happening for millenia, as demonstrated above. What the racists claim to be protecting against would have happened long ago if racial purity had anything at all to do with the integrity of cultural traditions. Cultures arise from shared language and shared experience – DNA doesn’t come into it. The varieties of human experience will always tend toward a diversity of cultures regardless of ancestry or cross-cultural contact. Any argument for separatism in the name of cultural diversity is just a cover for racism.

So by all means, celebrate the ancestral traditions that move you and touch your soul. That is what I do. Let us just remember whose ancestors they are: the ancestors of humanity.

About:

MORPHEUS RAVENNA – Tattoo Artist, Morrigan Priestess, Spiritworker, and Writer

Professionally trained by Idexa Stern of Black & Blue Tattoo, a legend in the Bay Area.

I specialize in tattoo design inspired by ancient art and civilizations, and have a passion for ritual and magical tattoos, mythological sources, and Celtic, Norse, Hellenic, and other historical traditions. I recognize tattooing as an initiatory art and in both design and tattooing I strive to serve as a channel to bring my clients’ visions to life as indelible, living art in the skin.

In addition to my tattooing work, I am an experienced artist and spiritual worker. I blend art and ritual through the creation of sigils, bindrunes, and talismans as well as the living art of tattoo. I’m often drawing, writing, studying Celtic literature, or in the field practicing medieval armored combat. I also serve the Pagan and Polytheist communities as a priest dedicated to the Morrigan.

My first book, The Book of the Great Queen, was recently published in 2015.

Whose Ancestors?  is reblogged from The Shieldmaiden Blog

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