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The Modern Distraction

18 Jun

I haven’t posted anything here in quite some time. The reason for this has quite simply been I have been ridiculously busy organising my wedding, which is very soon. It has been a lot of work: physically when going to various venues, services etc, making the invitations, mentally: looking for readings, sorting the seating plan etc, and emotionally: FAMILY! Therefore I made the conscious decision to not try and think of anything to blog about as I was conserving my energy and also because I do not blog unless I feel I have something to say.

At this stage everything is more or less done and we just need to wait for the day itself, which I’m really excited about and never stopped being excited about even at my most stressed, depressed, exhausted (pick an appropriate adjective). So at this stage of trying to blog what do I have to think about. Well all I can think of is how distracting our modern lives often are. Planning the “Happiest Day of your Life” is not easy even with the most supportive of friends and family. There is so much to do no matter how small and simple you want to make it (big family, therefore big wedding). But there will always be some big event to plan, project to complete or goal to reach in our lives.

I am very proud and happy to say that when things were getting really difficult I did manage to make it a little easier by lighting some incense and just sitting in the moment. I am sad to say though that when things were at their most difficult I did not have the energy or will to even try to do this.

But after going through the whole ordeal/joy of the experience I can honestly say I believe that the next big obstacle will be that bit easier as I look back on the hard times I had and how I managed to pull through. But also the times I was not coping so well and how it still got better. Hindsight is 20/20 but what is the point unless you bring your past experiences with you. Just as I will play back tournament fights and sparring in my HEMA club in my head, trying to improve as a fighter I will play back those moments in the future when things get difficult and remember how I still succeeded. The Warrior grows stronger through her previous battles and when we get through a Modern Distraction and come out the other side we need to remember it in all is good and bad so it makes us stronger the next time.

Keeping the energy

14 Apr

A couple weeks ago I was on holidays in London for a few days visiting relatives as well as attending a trainers certification workshop for HEMA. Had a really lovely time catching up with my relatives as well as getting to visit some of the great museums of London. While I was there though I did notice some interesting things in the feel of the air around me. My home city is very old and parts of it still have that feel. For people who are sensitive to it the energies of the land can be quite obviously felt when walking around. Further in our public parks there is a feel of “residents” be that the energy of trees, the land or other Folk that might be there. Not all the parks, but the oldest ones do definitely have an awareness to the energy in them, this I’m sure is partially due to the semi-wild state of these parks. While they have lovely manicured lawns and nicely laid out flower beds there are also areas of hedging and trees where lots of fauna live. Depending on where in my city you are and the time of day you might easily see foxes, squirrels, badges (late at night) or even raptors such as sparrowhawks. I have even seen buzzards while in some of the suburbs and near the rivers and canals in my city I have lost count of the number of times I have seen herons on top of the usual ducks and swans. So I’m sure this abundant wild life in my city is a definite factor in the energetic feel of it but the age of the sites I’m referring to is also a factor.

While I was in England I was curious how/if I would sense similar energies as London is such an ancient city. On the Thursday that I landed I spent some time walking around Hyde Park. A lovely space in the heart of London but energetically it felt like walking in a giant garden and that does appear to be all it is. There is some wildlife in the park but it definitely did not have any sense of “awake energies”. On my last day there however I went for a walk around Hampton Court Palace with my relatives. For those of you not familiar stealing straight from the wiki entry 

Hampton Court Palace is a royal palace in the London Borough of Richmond upon ThamesGreater London, and the historic county of Middlesex; . . . .  It was originally built for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, a favourite of King Henry VIII, circa 1514; in 1529, as Wolsey fell from favour, the palace was passed to the King, who enlarged it. 

We didn’t enter the palace but rather walked around the grounds that were free to the public as well as the canal beside it and Bushy Park across the road. While walking around this area I felt an energy that was definitely not present in Hyde Park. It was not strong, more like someone half-asleep. But there was a definite presence of the land being somewhat awake. Considering the similarities between the two areas, particularly the two Parks it did have me wondering. 

Hampton Court was a royal residence till 18th Century but is still associated with the British Royal family somewhat (at least in the minds of the visitors) and this had me thinking. Hyde Park was largely swallowed up by London and while it has always been a favorite of Londoners it does still feel like a big garden. But what about a Royal association? Throughout European History there was a belief in the divine right to rule and in pre-christian times certain European Cultures especially the Celtic ones believed that the King was married to the land to gain his sovereignty. Perhaps this would explain somewhat the differences in energies. Regardless of the current religious beliefs of the inhabitants of the country there is still often an association between Royalty and the country they are sovereigns of. 

I think that is could explain the different energies in different parts of area. While one is more of a suburb than the other both sites had a similar history but with slightly different associations (Hyde Park was opened to the public in the 17th century) and as such I think it should be expected that the energy of the land would react differently in each place. I don’t think it’s a simple case of energy changing because of use but rather the land going asleep because of a disconnect.

Within Pagan circles the disconnect of modern peoples is often referred to but I think even for those who practice there can be a missing out on the deeper connections which can be made. With practice one can get a sense of the spirits of the trees and spaces around us but what about a sense of the land sensing you?? This is something I have experienced many times in my native country during various ritual practices but also in everyday life. However in order to maintain this relationship I think it important to “use” the land in the appropriate fashion.

Leaving offerings for the spirits of sites is something I would do when appropriate and is not exclusive to when I am out visiting a neolithic monument (in fact I never do that out of respect for the archaeology). Rather I’m referring to the bowl of milk and honey left outside the courtyard of my apartment building  or the glass of whiskey poured into the garden. In these instances I am changing my relationship with the land around me. Instead of treating it as the place I live or work around it becomes a shared space between me and the energies of the space itself. Maybe if similar changes in the “use” of the land were made by more of us we would all feel a re-connection being made?

Fighting the fight in front of you

18 Mar

About a week ago I had an amazing time at the British Federation of Historical Swordplay event SWASH. This event is a weekend long mixture of classes, lectures and tournaments all in the area of Historical European Martial Arts. The classes where inspiring and eye opening insights into various forms of fighting and applications of weapons in ways I have not considered and the social aspect was great too.

On the second day I entered the Longsword Tournament. This is the first time I have ever entered an international Tournament in HEMA. I got to the second round where I was knocked out. Despite this I was very happy with my performance. My opponent was very strong and landed a winning blow the moment I broke my concentration. I learned quite a lot in those 30 seconds!!!!

But before the competition started several people I was talking to were making comments on how they’d be happy if they got to a certain round, or really hoped they didn’t get drawn against certain fighters early on. As I was mentally preparing myself for the tournament I communed with my Power Animals, in particular one that is very strong, aggressive and defiant in demeanor. Through this connection I realised that it didn’t matter what order I drew opponents or how far I got. All that mattered was facing the fighter in front of me.

I think this is an integral part of the Warrior’s Way. To stay strong in Heart and Soul your focus should be on the fight in front of you and not be worrying about what will come next. While I did not do as well as I would have liked that is because I dropped my focus, but by working through my Power Animals I saw what I needed to do right next time.

The trick is trying to apply this to situations where I don’t have a sword in my hand too!!!

 

Connecting with the Trees

18 Mar

Where I live there is a rich mythology and folklore associated with the Fairy Folk or Sidhe. Some people view them with fear, other’s with skepticism (though they may change their minds if they have drawn their attention!) and you are always recommended to treat them with respect. There are certain trees associated with them, thorns such as Hawthorne would be one and the Hazel is another. 

Today I spent the day walking in a very important archaeological, mythological and spiritual site in my country in a rural area about an hours drive from where I live. Rather than climb around the mounds that mark the boundaries of the various Iron Age structures that were built here as most day-trippers do my partner and I decided to walk a path from one Fairy Tree to the next. 

It was a profound experience as we became aware of the distinctive energies of each one. Neither of us had realised just how many Fairy Trees are on the site as normally you only find individual trees in areas several kilometres apart. It was a very profound experience and something I will be doing again. 

But what this also highlighted to me was the importance of Tree Lore. I have connected and communed with Trees before through various forms of meditation but not to a large degree. The Ancient Druids, Priests of the Celts, revered Trees as sacred Keepers of Wisdom and today I could see why. I usually turn Shamanic Journeying or more generic Wiccan influenced ritual practice when I’m trying to connect or work through a problem, but from now on when I’m having difficulty I think I’m going to turn to my Arboreal Friends!

Women Warriors

2 Mar

I like to consider myself a feminist. I have protested for more comprehensive abortion rights in my country, follow feminist theory articles, vlogs and blogs such as http://www.youtube.com/user/feministfrequency. Thanks to social media it is now possible for women to tell the world about th

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e problems they face every day. Unfortunately our predominantly male political landscapes mean these often serious issues are not taken seriously at all and instead are demoted to the rank of “womens issues”. Over half the population of this planet is female but somehow problems and hardships faced by women and caused nearly always by the minority (men) are still not viewed as human issues!

In Irish mythology one of the greatest heroes Cúchulainn was trained by the great warrior woman Scáthach of Scotland as a young boy. It was through her training that he became the legendary hero he is remembered as. If the male leaders of our countries and the everyday men of societies truly wish to become warriors again we need to look to our everyday warrior women. If more men can realise the obstacles that women face daily and yet simply “get on with it” would we not be better warriors ourselves as men?

Artwork by Jan Hess-http://fineartamerica.com/featured/scathach-jan-hess.html

Historical European Martial Arts

27 Feb

So my other big interest is Historical European Martial Arts or HEMA. This is a fairly new/old martial art which looks at the
fighting systems of medieval Europe and later in an attempt to better understand how they worked. Most of the groups
Imagewhich study HEMA learn the use of European swords but other weapons such as Quaterstaffs, Spears and Daggers are
studied and unarmed fighting such as wrestling and pugilism is also examined.

One of the things I love most about HEMA is that it is directly relevant to my own European Culture. The other thing I love about it is that when most people think of Martial Arts they think of Bruce Lee and ancient codified fighting styles from Asia. What people don’t realise is that Europeans had their own highly structured systems of fighting and their own Masters that young men would study with. 

It really brings home my own history in a much better way. But also I feel it has helped me working with my masculine energy and helped my confidence which has in turn helped me develop my connection with Male Deity

Finding Connections

26 Feb

I’ve been practising some form of Paganism or other for over 10 years now (Man I’m getting old!) and over the years I’ve spent a lot of time just trying to figure out what exactly Paganism is to me. Well for those expecting a beautifully written explanation sorry to disappoint cause I guess I’m always gonna be figuring it out. But then that’s the whole point really. I do think for me a lot of it is about trying to find a connection with nature and the energies around me and developing that connection in a deeper way.

But one thing which I’ve struggled with a lot is trying to get a good connection with the male side of Divinity in a Pagan context. To non-Pagans this may seem a bit odd but I found (and has been agreed with by many Pagans I’ve talked to) very difficult, extremely at the start to get any information on developing connections with Male Godheads. But in the past two years I have been doing a lot of work using Shamanic techniques and I have found it a lot easier to work on male aspects of Divinity and Spirituality. From my own perspective Shamanism involves a lot more guided journeying and development of journeying meditation. I feel that compared to the ritual work I personally practiced on my own or with one or two friends in college as a fledgling “Wiccan” is much better suited when looking for something.

Over the last while I have found it much easier to developing these connections. Starting with a clear intent and then doing some drumming myself or listening to a drumming CD it would seems I can let my mind and spirit wander off and end up where it needs to be to do the healing work I need to do.

It’s not the same as the directed intent of Ritual Magick but more of an Astral Freewheeling where you seem to end up where you need to be by the end. Also I have personally found the more I do it the more my general awareness of energy and spirits around has heightened.

The only trick seems to be ensuring that you get back after you go for a trip! Though if that is a regular problem a bit of chocolate once it’s done always seems to help!