Tag Archives: pagan

OWL KILLERS by Karen Maitland

Owl Killers

During the Middle Ages, a lay group of women dedicated to a life of prayer, hard work, and community service thrived in the Low Countries. Known as the Beguines, Karen Maitland imagines what it might have been like for a group of these women to have struck out on their own to settle in an unwelcoming English town. The atmosphere is tense as the women are seen as outsiders, not part of Mother Church and not part of the resident pagan tradition either. The women bring their ideas of Christian charity to the townsfolk who regard them with suspicion and sometimes open hostility. As the village suffers through a series of disasters, the power of the Church is threatened, dark forces from earlier times reawaken, and the beguines must decide to make a stand or return to the safety of their continental shores.

Karen Maitland novel is well-researched and executed. The story is told from the various viewpoints of the characters in the town of Ulewic. In this way, we learn each of the beguine’s has her own history and her own reasons for joining the group. We understand the struggles of the local priest as he fits into a system that leaves him little room for personal choice. A nobleman’s daughter helps us feel the restrictions of living as a young woman in Medieval society. An array of townsfolk completes the cast. The Owl Killers are a group of masked men who harken back to a day before law and order. They are definitely flesh and blood and do their share of evil, but Maitland has, at times, blurred the line. Although most of the story feels firmly planted in third dimensional reality, there are a few places where things take on an otherworldly creepiness. Man’s ability for cruelty can be disturbing and this book certainly has those moments. The ending may leave you wanting more or maybe something else entirely.

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JUST BELOW THE SURFACE

Secret Rel.

While in Vancouver, I stumbled on a little book called A Brief Guide to Secret Religions: A Complete Guide to Hermetic, Pagan, and Esoteric Beliefs by David Barrett. Barrett has a PhD in the Sociology of Religion from the London School of Economics. On several nights, after an exhausting day of sightseeing, I’d settle down to read Barrett’s work. I know I’m weird, but I found this to be a fun, little history book. For years I’ve skirted the edges of the New Age movement, am happily surrounded by pagans, and lately I’ve been taking classes on Hermetical beliefs so the book interests me on several levels.

Sefiroticky_strom

Barrett divides the book into three parts (the New Age: Hermetic, Occult, High Magic: and Neo-Paganism), but he freely admits that when examining the interrelationship of these groups, the lines blur quickly. So he imposed this structure knowing it’s arbitrary. Interspersed throughout the book are interview responses from different followers of these groups which illuminate their thoughts on various key issues, expressing commonalities and differences. It’s a fascinating read and you begin to understand that these alternative paths have a rich history and a dynamic future. In a culture where we are fast becoming a people who identify as “spiritual, but not religious,” understanding the depth of the roots of New Age (don’t think for a second that Hippies started this), Hermetics, and Paganism become more important. Many of the ideas of these groups are moving mainstream led by new scientific theories, continued interest in environmentalism, and an era supporting individual spirituality. Barrett’s writing reflects that he is a scholar, open-minded and even-handed. Highly recommended!

Pagan_religions_symbols

 

 

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INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR: SHAMAN ELIZABETH HERRERA

Shaman Elizabeth Herrera

Shaman Elizabeth Herrera

Shaman Elizabeth is a healer whose life has been filled with miracles. She is dedicated to helping others believe that miracles are possible and encouraging them to accept these wondrous gifts for themselves. She offers healing and spiritual advising to promote physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. With deep connections to the Divine and help from enlightened guides and teachers, Shaman Elizabeth accesses your spiritual Self through the visionary process of shamanic journeying (Native American spirituality) to heal and offer guidance.

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For those unfamiliar with shamanism, a shaman is a person who accesses the spirit world for the purpose of divination or healing. Shamanism is ancient drawing from multi-cultural roots throughout Asia, Africa, Australasia, and the Americas.

Elizabeth is another author I had the good fortune to connect with through blogging and I’m so glad I did! She has several books published and today we will concern ourselves mainly with a discussion of Shaman Stone Soup. This book is an account of her spiritual life and healing experiences over the course of her spiritual development. It is a delightful, engaging read for both those on a spiritual path, and those interested in the shared human experience.

Welcome Elizabeth and thanks for joining me to talk about Shaman Stone Soup!

Hello! It’s an honor to be featured on your website.

In Shaman Stone Soup, you talk about being an unlikely, and perhaps, reluctant candidate for shamanism. Can you talk a bit about how this path emerged for you?

It was totally unexpected! Although I knew I was searching for something, I never expected it to be Native American spirituality (shamanism). I went from being a Christian to an atheist to discovering shamanism.

When I first began shamanic journeying (communicating with spirit guides in the spirit realm), I didn’t believe the visions were real. All I knew was that every few weeks I would hear a persistent call asking me to journey, which I couldn’t ignore. It was like someone kept knocking on the door of my consciousness and the only way I could get them to stop was to journey.

Two years went by before I asked for a healing for a friend. When the healing came true by morning, it caused me to reconsider the “reality” of what I was seeing in the spirit realm. To see if it was a fluke, I asked for healings for friends, neighbors, people on TV or whomever I thought needed a healing, and the healings would occur just as the spirit guides described. Still filled with doubt, I wondered if I was psychic and simply being shown the future. An opportunity to prove these were miracles came very quickly. My husband was diagnosed with Crone’s disease during this time. It’s a treatable, but not curable, disease with Western medicine. He was in tremendous pain, weighed about 115 lbs., and couldn’t work or do much of anything. I finally asked him if I could request a healing for him. He agreed, probably because he was desperate, since he didn’t (and still doesn’t) believe in a higher power. During the healing, the spirit guide said my husband would be well within two weeks. The spirit guide also said the illness wouldn’t bother him again, but that my husband would always carry a “sign” of it with him. And, just as the spirit guide promised, my husband was fine within two weeks and never had an episode again. Two doctors felt he must have been misdiagnosed and performed additional tests, but both tests proved he did indeed have the signs of Crone’s, but was non-symptomatic.

My book, Shaman Stone Soup, details 20 stories of miracles, including this one.

A Chakapa used by a Peruvian Shaman

A Chakapa used by a Peruvian Shaman

Shaman Stone Soup makes shamanism easily accessible to both those who know about shamanism and those who don’t. Readers have also pointed out that the book really explores universal themes, which unite us all in the human experience. How can an exploration of those human experiences (the search for self, growing love & understanding, practicing forgiveness) bring about a wider audience for understanding the shamanic path?

Not sure if this answers your question, but I believe shamanism, ACIM, Reiki, religion, yoga, meditation, etc. are all tools that help open our consciousness to the Love that surrounds us. My only goal is to fully know Love. Shamanism provided a portal to Love. It’s not the only modality that offers this, but it is the oldest-known spiritual practice.

A spiritual path doesn’t have to follow any specific practice. It could be as simple as loving everyone who comes your way. Everyone we meet is an opportunity to see the divine within them. When we see the divine in others, we remember it in ourselves.

Do you have to believe in miracles to have one happen to you? Does it help? How can openness to spirituality help us in our daily lives?

Considering I performed healings for five years as an atheist, I guess you could say faith isn’t required. The only requirement is to ask for a miracle, then step out-of-the-way. The higher power will do the work.

I meditate daily (or almost daily) to connect to the loving energy. When I do, I am peaceful, centered and have direction throughout my day. It’s a moment-by-moment thing. You don’t reach a state of bliss and stay there without focus and devotion.

How did A Course in Miracles (ACIM) add to your spiritual journey?

A Course in Miracles (ACIM) answered a lot of questions for me, such as: Why are we here?”, “How did we get here?” and “Where are we going?” which I’m sure would have been answered eventually through shamanic journeying. The Course saved me a considerable amount of time, which is what the Course is about…reaching enlightenment sooner. Oddly enough, ACIM is perfectly compatible with shamanism. The two spiritual paths seem very different on the surface, yet their truths are the same.

Saami Turist Rune Drum Photo by: Petr Broz (2007)

Saami Turist Rune Drum
Photo by: Petr Broz (2007)

How do your power animals facilitate your healings?

My power animals guide me through the spirit realm, taking me to the spirit guide who is best suited to perform the healing. Power animals can be helpful for providing archetype power that instills a person with the energy/confidence they are lacking.

In my book, one of the stories talks about a deer totem animal that appeared in a healing for a client. The next evening, I believe this archetype power saved my life or at least prevented serious injury. Below is an excerpt that explains:

During a shamanic healing session for a client, her power animal appeared as a herd of deer, which was surprising because a power animal usually appears as a singular animal/bird/fish that represents the species as a whole. At the time, it seemed interesting, but not overly important.

The next morning, the client sent me a message that her sister had emailed her an inspirational video of a deer. It was a wonderful “coincidence” that helped to confirm the healing for her.

That night, after returning home late from a friend’s home, I called my sister to stay awake while driving on the desolate highway. She lived out West, so while it was close to midnight in North Carolina, it was only 9:00 p.m. in Nevada. We had talked for 10 minutes when she suddenly became extremely nauseous. She said that it was odd, since she had been fine all day. She needed to end the call and we said good-bye.

A few minutes later, while driving down the highway, I came over a hill and was confronted with a herd of deer crossing the highway. I looked in every direction for a path to avoid them, but there was no visible escape route.

I remembered thinking, “There is no way I won’t hit those deer!” I expected to hit not just one, but several deer, and I surrendered to the inevitable.

Suddenly, my body had a mind of its own! A presence took control of me and slammed my foot on the brakes, the screeching sound filling the night air. Time began to move in slow motion, and as I passed a deer on my left, I looked into his wide eyes that were staring back at me. He was so close that I watched the side-view mirror miss his antlers by inches. When he was safely out-of-the-way, my hand cranked the wheel sharply to the left to dodge the deer on my right, who kindly took several steps in the opposite direction to avoid being hit.

Now, I was driving in the bumpy, grassy median and was about to plow into another deer in front of me, when my hand swerved the wheel back to the right, narrowly missing the doe. I was back on the highway and looked in the rearview mirror to see the deer still standing there stunned. The two cars in front of me had their brakes on, no doubt wondering if they would need to stop and call 911. But, when they saw me putter along the highway unharmed, their brake lights went off and everyone resumed driving.

Time returned to normal and I began to take assessment of what had just occurred. Unscathed, I first thanked God for saving the deer’s lives. Then, another mile down the road, I realized that I could have been killed and thanked him for saving mine!

When speaking with my sister the next day, I told her it was a blessing in disguise that she had gotten nauseous, or I would have had a cell phone in my hand when I encountered the deer. It would have been nearly impossible to avoid hitting them with only one hand on the wheel. She replied that it was the weirdest thing, but shortly after getting off the phone, the nausea went away. Divine intervention is a wonderful thing!

White-tailed_deer

The Meaning of the Deer Power Animal
The archetype power of the deer power animal offers many attributes, among them are the following: Manifesting for a higher good, surrendering to the Divine will, and the ability to move with intention, complete awareness and speed while remaining centered. It also represents abundance, the advent of new adventures, and the power of family or group dynamics.

If someone were interested in learning to shamanic journey, how would you advise him or her to proceed?

Find a teacher. I offer lessons in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, but Sandra Ingerman is a well-known teacher and healer who has a great website that lists teachers throughout the world. My teacher happened to be taught by her as well. If time or money is an issue, Sandra has a book, Learn to Shamanic Journey that takes you through the process.

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?

My latest book, Dreams of Dying, released this January. It features a mother who vacillates between two lives…before and after a tragic car accident that kills her family. As she struggles between realities, Jesus Christ suddenly appears and offers her unorthodox guidance. He accompanies her to the grocery store and for walks on the beach, while answering life’s toughest questions. His answers challenge her traditional beliefs and repeatedly emphasize there is no death, only dreams of dying.

Dreams of Dying is found in the visionary fiction genre, but it’s a difficult book to categorize because, although it features Jesus, it’s not Christian (much like my life!). If someone is exploring the concept of Oneness or ACIM, they’ll love Dreams of Dying.

dreams-of-dying-front-cover

I’m working on my third book, Earth Sentinels, which is also visionary fiction and will release this spring. It offers compelling insights into current environmental concerns woven into a fictional story. Its filled with characters, such as the fallen angel Bechard, Master of the Elements, shamans, spiritual beings and earth’s creatures, who collaborate using supernatural powers to fight against greed and corruption, demanding that mankind changes its way…or else.

The idea for the Earth Sentinels started while eating breakfast with my family at Burger King. Nobody was talking, so I thought I’d liven things up with an impromptu story. In a scary voice, like one might use over a campfire, I described animals attacking mankind in retaliation for all the damage to earth. When I finished, my gentle 14-year-old daughter exclaimed, “Yes!” and clenched her fists. It then occurred to me that I might be onto something. I wrote it for adults, but I am considering a second version for young adults.

earth-sentinels-cover

Thanks Elizabeth for sharing your experiences and introducing us to the fascinating world of shamanism. For more information about Elizabeth’s work please visit her social media sites. 

www.shamanelizabeth.com (healing site)

www.shamanelizabethherrera.com (author site)

www.blog.shamanelizabeth.com

https://twitter.com/ShamanElizabeth

https://www.facebook.com/ShamanElizabethHerrera

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SHAMAN ELIZABETH Joins Me for Author Interview- Get her FREE Book Now

FREE “Shaman Stone Soup” eBook — Limited Time!

Shaman Stone Soup

Shaman Stone Soup

Shaman Stone Soup is an Enchanting Memoir Featuring 20 True-Life Stories of Miracles. It’s available free on Amazon.com during a special promotion on January 4-8 (Kindle eBook) to help promote her new release, Dreams of Dying.

In Shaman Stone Soup, Shaman Elizabeth Herrera shares personal stories of spirit guides, angels, and enlightened beings answering calls for help through miracles. You’ll read about the spirits of ancient wise men who provided a miraculous cure from cancer for a friend; Elizabeth’s vivid dream of a pastor who needed guidance and their later “chance” meeting; a client’s husband, who was visited by three spirits showing him the past, present and future; and many more!

“Unique and captivating!” — Awareness Magazine

“Clearly written from the heart.” — Sandra Ingerman

“Beautifully written and heartfelt stories.” — Hal Z Bennett

Shaman Stone Soup will take you on a journey to the mystical side of life, where miracles and healing are natural occurrences. 

FYI: the Kindle app can be downloaded to computers and smart phones.

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IMAGINE COMPASSION NOW

photo: Kopp, 2006

photo: Kopp, 2006

Back in 2008, Karen Armstrong, a religion scholar gave a TED talk. In it, she proposed a movement by multi-faith, multi-national groups which would promote compassion worldwide by activating the Golden Rule. Her idea led to the development of the Charter for Compassion. The Council of Conscience, consisting of representatives of many faiths and many national groups, together with input from thousands who responded online resulted in the current Charter for Compassion. The goal of the Charter is to highlight common ground amongst all major religions and all religious traditions. Specifically, they all share compassion and the Golden Rule.

Since that time, tens of thousands have signed the Charter online. Public events, discussions, and readings of the Charter have taken place bringing compassion more and more into public awareness. Now it’s our turn. This is a call to action to connect to the heart and manifest a bigger Truth than any one of us. How Karen’s idea takes form (or fails to take form) depends on our actions. I don’t really know what my part in this will be and I don’t know what your role is either. I’ve read and signed the Charter and brought it into my consciousness. Now it’s your turn. Here’s the Charter.

THE CHARTER FOR COMPASSION

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

To sign the Charter for Compassion: www.charterforcompassion.org/the-charter
If you do sign it, let me know in the comments below. Please feel free to reblog, FB, or tweet this.

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