Spiritual abuse is real

Spiritual abuse is real, it’s a real thing in pretty much every spiritual movement or religious community. Why? Because in these places there’s a real intersection of vulnerability and power. People are drawn to seeking when they need help, and those who are willing exploit that vulnerability for their own gain will, very sadly, do so.

One spiritual seeker to another, I’m putting this out there for anyone who needs to see this and hear this, the fruits and lessons of personal experience.

*Anyone can call themselves a priest, a healer, a shaman. Literally anyone. I know when you’re seeking, vulnerable, newly called the array of these folk can be dazzling. It’s so tempting to take up that offer healing, of sanctuary, of soul or power work when you’re feeling confused or vulnerable. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take your time and to be discerning. Kind of like a first date. Do your research. It may sound obvious, but if you can’t find a history for this person, or they have a history of lying, thieving, or exploitation, treat that as a big red flag. Glamour and power can over a lot, don’t fall for it. Hang round the edges for a while. Check in with your own gut and guidance. Trust yourself if you’re hearing a ‘no’.

*The capacity to move energy doesn’t make someone a healer. Unless this capacity is coupled with some serious integrity and grounded experience, what it makes that person is potentially seriously dangerous. Shamanism, tantra, any advanced energy practice can harm as deeply as they heal—the harm doesn’t even have to be intentional. Think toddler running through a crowd with a big knife. Got the picture?

*Be highly suspicious of people (men in particular) who want to access your power for their own gain. These people generally have few to no peers, but possibly some (or many) followers. They love people who support their visions of themselves and their power. They don’t take criticism or conflict well. The classic lines like “The Goddess told me we would work together” or “She told me I can heal you.” I know it sounds cheesy when I say it here, but too many fall for it! Maybe you do want to work with this person, but don’t let these kinds of lines be the only reason you do.

Finally, if you have fallen for it, don’t despair. Betrayal is a classic and common part of spiritual awakening. It can make you or break you. Don’t let it break you, friends.

Here a few places where you can find safe and reliable connection

Coru Cathubodua Priesthood

John Beckett

Morgan Daimler

Lora O’Brien

 

(c) Rebecca Wright – August 2017

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What are we fighting for?

In recent times I have been wrangling somewhat with the question of why The Morrigan called me. I’m 5ft nothing and every inch not a fighter of any kind. I was recently heard bemoaning to a fellow devotee that I want to live my life from a place of peace and compassion and I don’t understand why She has called me.

This morning my Facebook feed is full of news about an Alt-Right rally that took place in Charlottesvile, Virginia in the US. A large group of people marched and shouted Nazi slogans. When a peaceful protest came together in response a man got in a car and drove into those protestors, killing one and injuring many others.

In the shower this morning I realised in a flash that I am called because I want nothing less than a peaceful, compassionate and healthy world, where every living, sentient being has value and can live safely.  The only way I am going to get this is if I fight for it.  This is what I believe I am fighting for, this is what I believe She wants from me.

Now there will be those in Her community who will say they believe the same, and yet there is often racist, sexist, misogynistic and bigoted talk in Her communities. People who say they are Her devoted and yet believe that People of Colour and Trans Folx and anyone else who is Other in some way should not exist.

If the world you are fighting for is not one in which every living, sentient being has value and can live safely in a peaceful, compassionate and healthy world then I think its time you asked yourself why not.

Sometimes in Her communities there can be heard the cry of, why are we fighting each other, why are we fighting amongst ourselves. Well, we will keep fighting amongst ourselves until we are all fighting for the right of every living, sentient being to have value and live safely in a peaceful, compassionate and healthy world.

I don’t want to fight with my fellow devoted. If I have to fight, if I have to be Her warrior in this lifetime, then I want to fight for my right to live a peaceful and compassionate life and for everyone – EVERYONE – to be able to do the same. How about you?

(c) Awen Clement – August 2017

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Practical Warrior in a Scary World

A practical warrior thing you can do in a scary world

The world seems a scary place, I’m not going to rehash all the scary stuff in the news recently, but you know what I’m talking about right? When it gets scary it is perhaps a normal reaction for pagans, especially followers of a war goddess such as the Morrigan to think about warrior stuff. Self defense, martial arts even hitting the shooting range. However a lot of people I speak to express frustration at where to begin what can be done immediately. Tragic and terrible events are difficult to comprehend and can leave you feeling powerless and responding to them is the job of the authorities. However there is a fairly simple thing you can do which I believe can help.

***Learn First Aid***

Learning first aid is a brilliant life affirming thing, often it’s possible to get a degree of training for free, paid for by charities or even your workplace. In the US it is possible to get EMT training via community colleges, in the UK you will have to make do with a St John’s Ambulance or Red Cross Course (or get creative in how you access this kind of training). Even getting a qualified first aider to show you the basics without any associated qualification is better than nothing. As a minimum you need to be able to deliver CPR to adults or infants, deal with choking, bleeding, broken bones, shock and burns. Being shown how to use an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) and an Epipen takes minutes and could quite literally save a life. In an incident a little training goes a long way, add a basic first aid kit and the good you can do expands exponentially. When you are undergoing your training interact with your trainer and talk about worse case scenarios like multiple casualties and responding to the aftermath of violence. First Aiders love to relate the training to real life incidents and I find I learn as much from the conversations around training as the training itself. Also ask them about improvisations for when the incident exceeds the contents of the first aid kit supplied.

When there is an incident in which people are hurt, the immediate seconds and minutes while the authorities respond are vital. The more first aiders there are in the community the faster the response can be. People can be like antibodies rushing to the affected area. They react and try and help as well as they can but without training this can be to little avail and it is a sad fact that sometimes the people helping are just another problem for the authorities to deal with. Where there are multiple casualties, the first responders will often leave people who know what they are doing to get on with it or enlist their help in responding to the situation. Obviously as more responders arrive they will take over and this is right and proper.

Having first aid training will allow you to know what to do in the aftermath of an accident, or violent incident (if it is safe to do so). Instead of thinking “somebody should do something” you can be the person who can do the thing. Finally, first aid makes sense for the really minor stuff, it means you know what to do when someone (perhaps you) cuts themselves with that ceremonial knife or burns themselves on a candle.

 

From a original post made in the Call of the Morrigan Community by Rob Preece

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The Art of Caitlin Urksa

Caitlin Urksa is French, 51, and teaches English to 11- to 14-year-olds. She has always been an artistic type at heart, drawing, painting, sculpting, making things she jokingly says that her Muse is hyperactive.  She has been a pagan for 30 years (sort of Druid-ish Wicca first), and then the Great Queen came barging into her life some 10 years ago, which changed quite a lot of things.

The first painting here is a portrait of the Great Queen that she did in 2010, and the second photograph shows the story of the painting as it came into being. Caitlin says that painting the picture of the lady that she saw was a very powerful experience.  The following two images are some of her more recent work inspired by her connection to The Morrigan.

http://martyberlou.wixsite.com/palette-onirique

 

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A thousand blessings

I was sat in meditation in my temple space, contemplating the retreat we are hosting for The Morrigan in September and She came and gave me these words to share with you all.

***

Come one, come all
Come to my fire
Come seek vision in ember and flame

Travel with me on the winds of the night
Dance among the stars

Take my hand, let go of fear
Feel the strength of ancient warriors at your back

Remembering our beloved dead, never forgotten
Drink of the power of the land

A thousand blessings upon you
A thousand blessings upon you

I am the earth at your feet
I am the light in the sky
I am the name on every warrior’s lips at death

Be as one tribe, protect all the children
Be the wolf, many headed and clawed
Be the ever watchful crow

A thousand blessings in my name
I am the old one, my name carried on the wind
I am the fire in the hearth and in your belly

A thousand blessings upon you
And a thousand blessings more

Awen Clement (c) June 2017

***

If you feel called to join us for this years retreat – The Queen’s Vigil – follow the link for details and do be in touch with any questions.

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Having a spiritual practice when you feel you can’t

Sometimes in life we find ourselves in places that make it difficult to honour our spiritual practices.  Perhaps you have to live with family who are not comfortable with your beliefs, perhaps you want or need to keep it hidden from friends, neighbours or children for safety reasons. Perhaps you are away from home and away from your sacred spaces.  So what can you do to maintain your spiritual practices, to keep honouring your Gods and deepen your connection?

Probably the first thing to recognise is that your connection with your Gods and guides begins within you.  Whilst we may build altars and have devotional practices to help us maintain that connection, these things do not make the connection external from you.  Whilst They may appreciate your efforts in maintaining altars and shrines or in performing devotional rites, they are not specifically necessary (I will add the caveat that some people do have specific direction on this from their Gods but that isn’t the point of this article).

So what can you do when life gets in the way of your devotional practices?

Pray

Prayer can sometimes be seen as bit of a dirty word amongst pagans due to the overtones it has acquired from the Christian faiths.  However, our ancestors were talking to the Gods of their land and people long before Christianity came along.

You can pray anytime, anywhere and it doesn’t have to be out loud.  It’s a really good practice to designate a time and space for it in your life, daily if possible. But if you’re working long hours, commuting a lot or have a schedule that makes truly regular practice difficult, then fit it in when and where you can.

Pray while you’re on the train travelling to work or college, pray on your lunch break, pray in your garden or bedroom when you have five minutes in the evening.  Pray when you find yourself in a space where nothing else is going on, where you can turn your focus and intention to your Gods and speak with Them.

Don’t know what to say? There are lots of great prayers out there in books and on the internet. Learn something short off by heart and use it with intention. But otherwise, speak what is in your heart. Tell your Gods how you feel about Them, show them honour with words. Prayer can also be a conversation about something that you may need from Them (and what you will give in return) but fundamentally it is about honouring your Gods and showing your appreciation for their presence in your life.

Think of it as being like maintaining a friendship, the relationship you have with the friend you call every day or every week is stronger than the one you only call once a year or when you want something. Your Gods are going to appreciate a regular five minute call with you over you worrying about having the right candle to light.

Meditate

Some people might not think of meditation as a devotional practice as we tend to see it as a space of emptying the mind or focus on the breath and so on. But actually it can be a really strong devotional practice. It’s kind of like a deeper version of prayer. Above I have advocated for the quick, five minute, when you can approach. But if you can make space for a longer session, then you can go deeper in your connection with your Gods.

To continue the friendship analogy it would be like going to visit somebody in their home for tea every day or once a week.  When we sit down in devotional meditation, we are sitting down for a longer visit with our Gods.

It may be that you combine devotional meditation with prayer or other rites and practices, but at absolute core it is about sitting down and putting your focus on your God(s) for a period of time. To sit and be with Them, be in their presence. To feel Them with and around you. To be open to Them, to listen for Their words or directions.

This may not be an easy practice to begin with, but committing to a regular practice of devotional meditation is extremely valuable in building a deeper relationship with your Gods and guides.

Make Offerings

I have written about offerings before. I wrote about it from the perspective of what you can offer when you have nothing, but actually the principles apply for those people who for whatever reason cannot make obvious or overt offerings due to living restrictions or the discomfort of others.

But in short, offerings of prayer, of story or song, of time in voluntary service or the clearing up of the land or sacred sites are offerings that are well received by most Gods. All of these offerings are things which can be done when our living situation prevent us from making physical offerings or working with devotional spaces.

Be on the land

For me, being out on the land is a massive devotional practice for a number of the Gods and other entities that I work with. Putting your bare feet (if possible) on the land and feeling your connection to the life of this planet, to the connection with all things. To the connection with your ancestors who stood on this land before you. To the connection with all those who have honoured the Gods before you. To feel the Gods in the land.

It is also possible to combine all of the previous suggestions in this article with being on the land. Pray on the land, meditate on the land, sing on the land, clean up the land.  Being outside is free and allows us a powerful connection pathway to our Gods. Whether you sit at the bottom of your garden, go to your local park or take yourself out into the wild somewhere.

 

Deepening your connection with your Gods does not require objects and gifts and fancy rites, though they are appreciated, it is about strengthening the connection that begins inside you, about maintaining and honouring the relationship you desire to have with Them. Whether that’s a five minute call every day or a weekly trip to the local park to meditate.  Do what fits in your life as it is now, add to it or deepen it when life allows. But do the work, every day.

Awen Clement © June 2017

Awen is a priestess of The Morrigan who lives and works in the West Midlands of the UK. She is leading the 2017 Call of the Morrigan Retreat – The Queen’s Vigil in West Wales in September.

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Answering the call

The first time She comes to me, I don’t recognise Her. I see a crow. I’ve never seen one here before. The crow in that place, at that moment, piques my curiosity, and I think, “I’ll come back later.”

I do come back later.

The crow is there waiting. It leads me deeper into a wood of late Autumn birch, leaves a gold and brown carpet on the forest floor. The crow lands on a naked branch above me. It looks down on me, and suddenly transforms.

The crow is not a crow.

She takes me to a cave. It’s empty there, but for us, cool, dark.

She tells me to sing. I sing and there is a merging of time, we are where we are in the dark, and we are in the cave with many women singing, and fire in the darkness.

When it is done, we ascend, and she asks me the first time, “Will you serve?”

I don’t want to answer. Quite honestly, I am afraid. I just want to get away.

I snap out of the journey space into the ordinary reality of my bedroom, thinking to escape.

She’s there, with me. “Will you serve?” This time louder, more insistent.

I don’t want to answer. What answer could I possibly give? I know who She is. I don’t know why She is there, or what She wants with me.

“Will you serve?”

With the force of the question, it’s clear there must be a response. I am silent, and shaking. I don’t want to answer.

And then She says, “You named your daughter for me.” These words echo in my mind. I know that this is true, though when I named my daughter, I did not know that this is what I was doing.

“You named your daughter for Me,”

The resonance of these words hits me like a code unlocking memory, falling back back back deep into time, calling to life pieces of me that She knows, that I have forgotten, an unraveling.

She asks once more, commanding, “Will you serve?”

And I, I find myself answering, speaking from a place beyond who I am in that moment, speaking words that come from me but from a place beyond thought, affirming ancient vows that I have surely made before and even more surely will make again, a gift of memory and awakening.

Anon (c) May 2017

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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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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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