Riddles Within Riddles

Sapha

For three days Aké had seen nothing but a sea of dunes, featureless and seemingly endless under the searing sun. He was becoming weary and very low on water, but, on this morning something had caught his attention. He was standing atop a high crest and through eyes half closed against the light and distance was watching an area of turbulence on the horizon, far off to the north and east. He was seeing something moving, rippling in and out of vision. Around it the desert was a blur, the boundary between sky and land become smudged and flattened into a single darkening tone. But, as curious as it appeared to him,  Aké felt this mystery to be the least of his troubles. Having no choice but to find the oasis that he and his mentor Pemba had set out for, his initiation had thrown him into a struggle for survival.

He had taken to walking between first and last light for only as long as he dared, stopping to rest and sheltering as best he could at the height of the day.  He knew to use the sun and stars to navigate, and he knew how to move silently and quickly at night, Pemba had instructed him in these things, but, to Aké it was impossible to tell if he was nearer his goal or not. He might as well have been going round in circles. In fact Aké had come face to face with the true nature of his challenge – only through fully opening up and using the connection between his personal medicine and the beings of the otherworlds would he survive. This is how it was with initiation, and with good reason.

Just how close Aké was to his goal only the hawk hovering far above him could see. But, the desert can be full of deceptions and, at any moment, even an experienced traveller can be led astray by the forces at large in that vast wilderness……


……Pemba heared soft footsteps approaching. Pulling his mind’s eye from the burning sky he looked up in time to see Tuq stepping into the shade of the ancient palms. He squatted beside Pemba, an expectant look on his travel worn face.

“Well….?”

“He’s coming….”

“Ahhh, I knew you would not disappoint Pemba….you never do…”, said Tuq turning to survey the oasis with a satisfied smile.

It was not enough to fool Pemba – he could sense the tension in the tall northerner. “You make me sound like a horse trader Tuq”, he said, needling his old friend.

Tuq made a sour face and gestured over his shoulder. “Did he see you?”

Pemba considered a moment.

“My shadow crossed his path, briefly, but….”

“……ahahhh! So, you are losing your touch old man!”, said Tuq slapping the sand with a laugh.

“Then again, he might be exceptional…”, Pemba continued. The laughter fell from from Tuq’s face and he gave Pemba a sharp look. His piercing blue eyes cut like a laser, but, Pemba smiled and placed his hand on Tuq’s shoulder.

“I promise, he is….”, he added.

Tuq unconsciously stroked the long straggley hair of his sunbleached beard.

“Then we had better make ready for the young master…..he’ll have to be exceptional if he’s going to fulfill your promise”, he said, fixing Pemba with his stare again, “we are all relying on it”. He was right to be nervous. Much would be determined with Aké’s arrival and the moment he and Tuq finally confronted each other. But, the north-man smiled ruefully and with a shrug rose to his feet, seemingly putting his concerns to one side.

“Come on, old man, you’ll ferment under this sun if you sit here much longer”, and, offering him his hand, he pulled Pemba to his feet.

For all his abrupt manners and hidden thinking Pemba liked Tuq. It was true, he could be as hard to read as the sea of mysterious symbols that covered his body.  As they walked back towards the circle of tents Pemba remembered how they had met. It had been further north, up by the Plateau of the Painted Rocks, the people’s old meeting place. Arune the Far-Seer, Pemba’s own teacher, had brought him there to learn of their deep past……on their arrival they had found Tuq, tending mint tea over a fire, as if he had been waiting for them. Arune saw it as a sign that the spirits were intervening, but, to what ends neither the old seer nor his ward were able to foretell. However, in the course of time Tuq’s appearance had taken on a deeper significance.

Having come into our midst out of nowhere, so many seasons ago, the mystery surrounding old Tuq was more than skin deep. He was both familiar and alien, recognised now as one of the far-seers, but, one whose skills and gifts were rooted in a very different soil. And, in the course of time, it was this crucial fact that helped us understand how lucky we were to have such a shrewd ally amongst us, for Tuq brought one factor into our midst that mattered above all others now – he knew the ways of the People of the Dead.

Now, the future and the past were pulling together on all our paths and this place, the hidden oasis, was the crossroads at which they would finally converge. It would be Aké’s task to remember not only his own path to the oasis, but, that of Tuq as well, for their fates had long been tied unto each other.


Aké felt the soft sand beneath him shift as he came to the crest of yet another dune. Beads of sweat dripped from his brow and stung his eyes. The horizon shimmered with seductive visions rippling at the edge of sight. He strained to see through the illusion, unsure of what was real. The eastern horizon looked for all the world as if it were moving towards him. And, were those trees, or some whim of the light and heat, a trick of the Djinn?

He had heard the elders talk of those powerful spirit beings who inhabited the wild places. In their knowledge the Djinn were older than the Earth and had come to this place with the Ancients, the life-bringers and first colonisers of this planet. But, the Djinn were also known as demanding teachers, impartial to the ways of humans, giving favour according to laws known only to themselves. The elders had sung of such things.

As he gazed into the distance a memory arose in Aké’s mind of a song he had once heard his mother singing, an origins song. It was through the gift of the Djinn, the song related, that the people learned to travel beyond the known. Since the beginning it had been the challenge of initiates to follow the ghost paths laid by the Djinn through the mirages that haunted this endlessly shifting and trackless land. As the words of the song came back to him they also reminded Aké of their darker side, of how the Djinn spoke in riddles and that, in this place, the sun’s fingers would try to find their way into the traveller’s mind and ply it away from the body and its senses. He began to understand why this song was associated with initiation – it was itself a riddle, filled with riddles.

However, as Aké remembered the voice of his mother he began to feel as though the memory held an important message, a vital piece of information, a key. He wondered if it was something that would help him find his way to the oasis.

In that moment Aké was rocked by a sharp jolt beneath his feet, followed by another and another, and a sound, so deep it was more felt than heard. It felt like a movement in the belly of the great earth spirit. A violent kick took Aké’s feet from beneath him and he fell, tumbling down the face of the dune.

He slid slowly to a halt and lay clutching at the fragile stillness, waiting…..and then he tasted it, a faint vibration at back of his throat. It was an unmistakable earthy taste that seemed to register in his very bones as its subtle musky scent played with his senses. Water.


Pemba stopped midstep, a look of puzzlement on his face.

“What is it old man, spirits got your back again….” Tuq teased his friend, giving Pemba a knowing smile.

But, Tuq quickly put his joking aside when he saw that Pemba’s face was a study of concentration.

“Did you feel it” Pemba said meeting Tuq’s eyes. He turned again to survey the sky beyond the palms. “I could have sworn…..”

Tuq’s eyes narrowed as he followed Pemba’s gaze. At that moment Demuz, the chief seer of the Blue Desert Tribe came out of the low entrance to her tent and called Pemba’s name. She strode purposefully towards them, her long indigo robe swirling behind her. She was quickly followed by a much younger woman, Demuz’ protégé Sapha. She joined her mentor just in time to hear the old woman begin speaking to the two men.

“Well, it appears your apprentice has company Pemba”, the old woman said, raising an eyebrow. Pemba looked from Demuz to Tuq and turned once again to look beyond the palm trees.

“Earth spirit….by the feel of it” he said under his breath.

“Mmmm…perhaps”, said Demuz, giving her apprentice a conspiratorial smile, “and then again….”

Pemba dropped his gaze. “Strange, the sky shows no signs and the trees remain still” he said, voicing his thoughts.

“Sapha, show our brothers what you saw in your dreaming just now”, the old woman said, giving her protégé a nod of encouragement.

Tuq and Pemba turned to look at the young woman. Sapha returned their gaze and then, squatting to smooth out an area of sand, drew a series of signs with her finger, finishing it off by enclosing the design within a circle. She looked up briefly and then began adding a second set of heiroglyphs, this time enclosing the pattern in a tent shape. Dividing the two designs she drew a deep line. She paused and, satisfied with her work, raised her eyes to look at Tuq…..by his expression he obviously knew what some of the signs meant.

Slowly squatting down to examine the patterns more closely, Tuq glanced at Sapha then pulled back his sleeve to reveal his right arm. One of the signs in the circle was identical to marks tattooed just below his elbow. Sapha nodded and pointed with her chin to the marks on his arm and then to the desert beyond the palm trees.

The young mute seer suddenly swept her hand across the design enclosed by the circle, scooped up a handful of the sand and threw it skywards with a look of alarm. Tuq’s face became grave with concern.

“We must send him warning”, he said, “he’s walking into a trap”.

“But, we cannot interfere Tuq”, Pemba said as he dropped to one knee, looking intently at the remaining design. “The spirits will either help Aké, or…..”

“…or our fate will be decided for us,” broke in the old woman, her face inscrutible and stern, “along with his!”

She had spoken the truth, and the two men knew it. Pemba, however, touched one of the designs in the tent shape and looked to Sapha.

“This is the sign of the water spirit, is it not, according to the language of the Blue tribes, and this….” he pointed at the design next to it, “….what is this?”

“It is the sign of the unkown Pemba…that which can neither be seen nor be foreseen. Your ward has company….but, we cannot tell if it is benevolent or not. It seems to be leading him both to the safety of the oasis and directly into the heart of danger. An unexpected challenge has been set for him…..” Demuz said, driving home the point.

Pemba stood and took a few steps towards the palms. His eyes half closed he scanned the sky and reached out with his mind. Far off beyond the trees the plaintive cry of a hawk was barely audible, but, it was enough for Pemba to relax his shoulders slightly and let out a sigh. Silently he returned the call to his spirit ally and waited.


Aké was sure that he was being watched. He looked around, quickly surveying the valley and the crests of the dunes above. There was no-one in sight, but, the feeling would not go away. He rose from his haunches and, dusting himself off from the fall, suddenly felt the bulge of the water gourd beneath Pembas blanket. A strange thought entered his mind and he quickly took out the gourd. It did not make any sense, as he would be literally pouring away the precious liquid, but, he had the strongest urge to make an offering of water to the spirit in this place. He took the stopper from the gourd and hesitated, searching for words to accompany the offering.

He poured a little water from the gourd into his cupped hand and, with eyes closed, spoke his thoughts into the clear cool liquid. Then, after offering the water his breath, he let it trickle between his fingers. A nebula of small craters appeared at Aké’s feet as the water seeped quickly into the soft sand. Gazing at the pattern as he returned the stopper to the gourd he began to realise – there was something in that pattern.

He reached behind his back for the divining bag and unwound the thong that bound its neck. Reaching in, Aké’s fingers touched upon something hard and spherical. He carefully eased it out of the bag. It was a seed pod, of the kind used by the dancers in his village as a rattle. With a swift flick of his wrist it released a crisp sigh. The sound brought an indistinct image briefly into Aké’s mind. He gave the pod another shake, and another, and as he listened each shake of the rattle began to merge into one flowing sound. In his mind he saw a dancing ribbon of dark energy, sparkling like water as it moved, but, through it he could see the pattern made by the water he had offered. The sound of the rattle swirled about him and the image began to shimmer, just like the mirages at the desert’s far edge. Aké increased the rhythm and within the vision a turquoise pool emerged, surrounded by swaying trees. He could see low dark tents and something indistinct that was moving towards him very quickly. Before he knew it a strange looking face thrust itself before him in the vision. He fell backwards, dropping the rattle and divining bag, and lay on his back gasping.

The face had not just startled him, there was something about it that was unusual, alien, but more than that…..he felt he knew it. No, that was not it – it knew him. A knot of fear pulled at his stomach and, with it, the feeling of being watched returned. He knew that he was not alone.


A shout rang out from the far edge of the oasis quickly followed by a gust of warm wind that set the palms swaying. Another gust sent them dancing, their long leaves hissing, as if shaken by an invisible hand.

“Habūb!” came the cry again.

“By the spirits”, said Tuq under his breath. He glanced at Pemba, but, the old diviner was still and silent, looking to the west in the direction of Aké.

“Your ward will have his mettle tested”, said Demuz, coming to his side.

But, Pemba said nothing, his gaze focused on something far above the horizon.

After a moment he turned to Demuz, a resigned look cast upon his face. He breathed in, his lips pursed, and gave a slow nod. He knew full well what this would mean for Aké.

“We shall see”, was all he said, “we shall see…”


The shadows began to soften and melt into the sand as Aké picked himself up and quickly gathered the diviner’s bag and rattle. The air began to shift, a fine veil of dust washing over the water marks at his feet. But, Aké’s attention was now fixed on the eastern horizon. Beyond the dunes the air was becoming dull and heavy, an opaque blanket obscuring the skies. He had never seen its like, but, it told him enough – he must find shelter. A strong gust of wind stung his face as the desert around him began to shift and scurry.

Then he saw it. A great wall of billowing sand was rushing towards him, rising up into the sky beyond the dunes. He turned to run, searching for a place to hide. Just as he came to a bend in the dunes he heard the roar of the wind at his back. Aké’s instincts took over and he sprinted as he had never done before. Then something snagged his foot and he went flying, tumbling over a hard and unforgiving shape buried in the sand. He had dropped the diviner’s bag and, turning to look over his shoulder, a sharp pain shot through his ribs. The wall of sand was nearly upon him, but, it was then that he saw what had tripped him up. A thin sinuous tendril covered in barbs snaked up out of the sand, like one of the forest vines on which the seed pod rattles grew, and beneath it was an unatural shadow. The divining bag sat at its edge. He scrambled back towards it and, just as his hands reached the bag, he felt the sand beneath him give way. The sky disappeared and a chaotic maelstrom of howling wind and dust swallowed the desert and Aké whole.


Tuq

Demuz’ tent had become a dark cave, its eastern walls bulging inwards with the force of the wind. The sound was deafening and no-one spoke. Pemba sat with his eyes closed close to the entrance as Demuz and Sapha checked the tent’s inner supports. Tuq had gone to check on the animals and other tents. Pemba was waiting to secure the entrance flap when he returned.

Time stretched out in a seemingly endless moment and in the chaos beyond the walls of the tent everything lost its form. Within, the diviners waited for Tuq, but, he did not come.

Pemba looked to the two women and had to shout to make himself heard. “I am going to look for him”.

“Tuq will be safe, in another tent….” Demuz reassured Pemba, ” he is no stranger to the desert”.

But, Pemba was uncertain. A gut feeling told him that all was not well. Tuq should have returned long before now. He knew that what Sapha had shown them had revealed more to Tuq than he had had time to say. He closed his eyes again and reached out with his mind to his spirit ally.

The desert below the hawk had become a churning mass of clouds, engulfing the oasis and the dunes beyond. Pemba bid the hawk look to the west but his vision revealed no break in the turmoil. Amidst the desert storm there was nothing to be done but to sit it out. But, there was something strange at work here. Within the roar of the wind Pemba thought he could hear voices. The old diviner listened intently, trying to make out what was being said. After a moment he opened his eyes and moved from the entrance to sit with the two women. He leaned in close to Demuz to make his voice heard.

“This is no ordinary storm”, he said, “there is something in its midst, I can hear it”.

Demuz closed her eyes and concentrated her mind on the sounds that surrounded the tent.

“It is how it is sometimes Pemba”, she said, her eyes still closed, “you are right though, I feel it too.” She opened her eyes and looked to her apprentice. “Sapha, was this what you saw in your dreaming?”

Sapha put her hand to her ear and nodded in confirmation. She leant over to retrieve her divining bag and drew a small tablet of stone from it. Reaching into her robe she produced small pouch and pulling a finger of charcoal from it drew two symbols on the stone. They were identical to the symbols that Tuq had recognised, one of which he had tattooed on his arm. This one was shaped like a thin triangular pinnacle with a wavey line emerging vertically from its point, a second horizontal one snaking across the middle of the symbol. She looked intently at the two old diviners.

Both Demuz and Pemba knew what this symbol signified, but, the other was unknown to Pemba. He pointed at it with his chin, an enquiring look on his face.

“That is a symbol that belongs to the People of the Dead, Pemba”, Demuz said with a grave look. “It is old, but not of the age of our own language which we have carried from the beginning. We know that its origins are tied up with the desert, but, its meaning is elusive….save the fact that it has destruction at its heart. There are few that can say more”. The symbol took the form of a central disc with three wide rays radiating from it.


Aké had pulled Pemba’s blanket around him and lay curled up beneath it in a shallow hollow, the storm raging over him. The wind swirled violently around him tugging at the blanket. He was breathing hard, the air above him thick with dust and noise, and the pain in his ribs was beginning to gnaw at his mind. For a brief moment he thought that he could hear someone calling through the storm, but, he reassured himself that it must be another of the desert’s illusions.

For a young boy on his way to becoming a man, being brought up in the savannah and forests, there were no memories to draw upon that would tell him what to do in this situation. It was entirely alien to him. He tried to think but the chaos that surrounded him made it impossible – he could only wait it out and hope. But, as he lay there holding on to the blanket with all his might, another sense within him began to emerge. His mind began to still and a curious calmness enfolded him. Aké listened more deeply and this time he was certain of it – from the heart of the wind a voice was calling him.

He heard his name, as if coming from a great distance, and then it was swallowed up in a multitude of voices that spoke in a tongue he did not recognise. The voices rose and fell, coming in waves, increasing with each pulse until a continuous chant seemed to almost drown out the wind itself. The strange face he had seen in his vision of the oasis appeared briefly in his mind again and immediately the chanting ceased. He could not tell if it was his mind playing a trick but a powerful deep voice suddenly said a single word. “Moqsula!”

And then, as if the word had cast a spell upon the storm the wind began to calm. Within a few minutes all was deathly still and silent.

Aké lay there, motionless, not knowing  if he had fallen into a vision or not. He felt Pemba’s blanket resting on his body and slowly released his grip on it. Lifting a corner her peered tentatively from beneath it, his eyes widening at what he saw. Where there had been nothing but soft sand he now saw red earthy ground dappled with patches of gravel and rock streaked with dust. He listened carefully before throwing off the blanket and looking around. The valley was unrecognisable. The dunes around him had now closed off the valley forming an ampitheatre in the shape of a teardrop but at its centre was a flat area of open ground. Then he looked again at what had tripped him up.

A long post was bent over towards him, almost touching the ground. It terminated in a curious flat triangular form, looking for all the world like a totem with a tent shaped head. He could not tell what the post and its head piece were made of, but, it was smooth and shiny at its edges. He noticed that the corners of the head were twisted reminding Aké of a tent flap caught by the wind, as if frozen in time. Around the pole a length of the barbed vine snaked in a loose spiral and reached up over the triangle ending in the snag that had caught his foot. The post was embedded in a hard edged lump of smooth rock, only it was unlike any rock Aké had ever seen before. Whatever it was it had given him crucial protection and where he had huddled the sand still lay. It formed a nest in the shape of his body stretched into a long thin rippling dune by the wind.

He gingerly rose to his feet and found that his ribs had stopped aching, not even a twinge. If that was not curious enough, when Aké saw the other side of the triangle he caught his breath. A very peculiar symbol covered its surface and the sight of it made him feel suddenly anxious…..a central disc in black, three wide rays fanning out from it amidst a bright yellow field, with a black border following the edge of the triangle.


Pemba and Demuz were staring at each other, unsure of what they were hearing. The storm had subsided, but, with a suddenness that defied their senses. Sapha was already rising to open the tent flap before either of the elders spoke. It had become unnaturally quiet.

“Take care now Sapha”, said Demuz slowly rising to her feet, “whatever that was it was not like any habūb I have ever known….”

“I must find Tuq” said Pemba as he came to the tent flap. Sapha lifted it for him and he stepped slowly out. He was greeted by a brilliant light under clear deep blue skies, and the oasis was surprisingly unchanged to his eyes. People were emerging from their tents, the animals were shaking off the dust, and going from tent to tent Pemba asked if Tuq had been with them during the storm. No-one had seen him. Pemba strode to the western edge of the oasis and surveyed the desert, but, there was no sign of Tuq.


Aké ran his hand over the surface of the pole and found it smooth, hard and surpisingly cool under his fingers – and, it shone in the sunlight. He gently touched one of the barbs on the vine, but, this was like no living plant, or, he felt, ever had been living. It was as hard as the pole and wickedly sharp.

At that moment a noise behind him made Aké jump and he spun on his heal to see a tall man dressed in the dark robe of a desert dweller standing at the crest of the dune. The stranger raised his hand and called out.

“Aké?”

Aké felt a wave of relief course through him at the sound of his name, but, when the stranger began descending the face of the dune he quickly gathered up his belongings and turned to put the post between himself and the stranger. When he turned back the man was no longer in sight.

Aké blinked and shook his head, but, the valley was deserted.

“I must be dreaming”, he muttered to himself and waited a moment, half expecting the stranger to suddenly rematerialise. But, he was alone again, and, checking to see that he had all his belongings, he began to climb the dune towards the place he had seen the stranger. When he reached the crest his confusion deepened as he could find no tracks in the sand. He glanced around and then looked briefly back at the curious totem. There was no-one to be seen, but, it was then that he saw something that made his heart leap. A green line rippled just beyond the dunes in the middle distance. “Those are treetops….” he exclaimed with sudden surprise. He rubbed his eyes, but, it was no illusion. “The oasis!”

The young initiate now had no doubt about his direction and broke into an urgent stride in the direction of the green streak amidst the dunes. As he walked he began to notice how everything seemed unusually clear, as if radiating with its own light. He stopped momentarily to look down at his feet and saw the sand sliding away, looking for all the world like gold dust. He knelt down and ran his fingers over its surface. It felt like sand, but, he could see every particle with astonishing clarity and for a moment became mesmerised by its beauty.

Something had happened to him and he realised that he was not only seeing things differently but was hearing and feeling all around him in an unusually sensitive way. He could hear the golden grains of sand as he shifted his feet, whispering softly as it fell away. Everything had become so immediate, as if it were all a part of him, intimately connected with him through his feelings. But, when he connected with his feelings they too began to shift, like the golden sand, reforming themselves into a sense of fullness and solidity he had never experienced before. He felt bigger, much bigger than before, as though he had grown beyond his skin and was being touched by all that surrounded him. He almost had a sense of seeing through someone elses eyes….or something elses.

As he moved the world moved with him and flooded his senses with an ecstatic feeling of belonging. Whatever it was that had happened to Aké he found a great joy accompanying each new sensation. Then it occured to him – this joy was not his alone. He felt held, supported by a great energy field that surged through his body and, at the heart of that energy an even stronger sense was beginning to emerge. The sense of belonging was deepening into a sense of knowing. It was almost as if he understood the sand, the clear radiant sky, the rippling shapes within the desert – the world was speaking to him.

Aké picked up his pace and felt a rush of elation as he crested the next dune and saw once again the green ripple of treetops, much closer now. He felt weightless as he rushed down the dune and effortlessly crested the next, and the next. He was sure he must be very close now, that this must be the last ridge of sand before the oasis revealed itself, but, as he was nearing the top he heard a voice, coming from far above….the cry of a hawk.

Aké looked up in time to see a small speck high above the desert moving swiftly away beyond the crest. He scrambled up the steep slope, but, was stopped in his tracks when someone called out. Standing on the crest a short way off to his left was the stranger.


‘Riddles Within Riddles’ forms Chapter 4 of the story ‘Chenge and the Spider’ – the preceeding three chapters in the story of Aké’s initiation can be found here, Chapters 1 & 2 and here, Chapter 3

‘Chenge and the Spider’ & ‘Riddles Within Riddles’ © Rob Purday 2013-16

The Beetle and the Dragonfly ~ Chenge and the Spider pt 2

water-of-life

“……..I leave no trace…..shadowless, I see all…..I am the eye in the Sun……”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

It was the silence that awoke him. There had been voices, rising and falling, reverberating as one sound, but, far off and indistinct, like a crowded market place heard as if from a hill top high above. The sound breathed, rising like a flock of birds on waves of warm air, before sinking back into the earth like rain on parched ground. Then, suddenly, there was silence.

The first thing Ake felt was soft fine sand between his fingers. He opened his eyes and blinked rapidly in the scorching white light. Then he saw it. Resting on the back of his hand, an iridescent blue dragonfly. It was larger than any he had seen before and was so shockingly beautiful that, in that moment, Ake wondered if he was still dreaming….until, the wondrous insect bobbed slightly and, quickly hovering away over his head, was lost to sight.

sundragonhandHe turned, craning his neck, trying to follow the dragonfly’s flight, but, it had disappeared over the crest of the dune……then, all at once, it hit Ake. He was surrounded by sand, nestled in a hollow near the top of a sweeping crescent. He leapt to his feet, confused and more than a little frightened.

‘Where am I……..!?’ he spoke out loud. There was no answer……

‘How did I get here?! Where is Pemba…..?’

But, he was alone. And this place, it was so hot……he felt the sun on his back, beginning to burn. His eyes began to smart with salt tears and Ake felt his toes curl as a wave of fear rose up through his body. But, the feeling of something against the side of his foot made him gasp.

He jumped involuntarily and, looking down, saw that his head had been resting on the diviners bag, Pemba’s red woollen blanket folded neatly underneath it. He was momentarily reassured and, shaking his head with a sigh, he bent down to touch the precious talismans. But, the sound from Ake’s dream was still fresh in his mind and, with it, he remembered the dragonfly. It had been there on his hand when he had opened his eyes, he was sure of it, but, for a brief moment he wondered if a part of his dream had leaked into the daylight. The sudden compulsion to follow the insect’s flight pulled him out of his thoughts and he crawled on all fours towards the crest of the dune. When he reached the top the sight that met his young eyes was unlike any Ake had ever seen before.

An ocean of sand stretched as far as he could see, majestic and terrifying. Ake had a sense that it was not too long after sunrise, but, even though the sun was not high in the sky, the light and heat was intense. He’d never before left the savanah and the land surrounding him was completely alien to Ake. He turned slowly, surveying the parched horizon. Rippling away as far as he could see seemingly endless shimmering golden dunes were cut with deep shadows. Off to what he guessed was the north the pattern of the dunes was interrupted by a wider valley, but, Ake could see no trees or shrubs anywhere that might give him shade. There was not a living thing to be seen.

But, the dragonfly……there must be water nearby, and……he struggled with a half forgotten memory that wanted to emerge…..he was sure that he had heard someone talking about dragonflies only a few days ago. Ake shook his head and, confronted with the silence of the vastness surrounding him, suddenly felt the need to call out.

‘Hello……’

The sound of his voice in the midst of the vast desert only made him feel smaller and more alone. A tear ran down his cheek and he absent mindedly caught it with the tip of his tongue. Suddenly very thirsty, he retraced his steps, knelt by the divining bag and carefully felt beneath the blanket. The sand below was deliciously cool and soon his fingers felt the stone like smoothness of the drinking gourd. ‘Just a sip now, brother Ake…’ he heard Pemba’s voice in his mind.

‘Pemba’, he said softly as he put the stopper back in the gourd and tied it securely.

It may have been the taste of the clear spring water that triggered his memory, or perhaps it was the thought of Pemba’s advice, but, Ake suddenly remembered where he had heard about the dragonflies. It was Pemba himself who had told him. He had been recounting his own journey to the oasis as a young man. This had been a part of Pemba’s own initiation, but, initiation was far from Ake’s mind in that moment – the oasis was the meeting place Pemba had said they must travel to and medicine people from all directions would be gathering there.

The thought of the meeting was curiously re-assuring to Ake. It almost made sense of his being here, surrounded by desert. But, he had no recollection of the journey that had brought him! And, where was he? Was he close to the oasis – he must at least try and find out.

Gathering up the diviner’s bag, shaking out and refolding the blanket, he returned to the top of the dune and tried to decide on the best direction to go in. He looked back at where he had been sleeping. There were no footprints, save his own, but, he could not see a trail telling which direction he might have come from either.

It was instinct that said he must move, and, since it did not look as though Pemba had been there, he felt there was no choice. Ake looked down the face of the dune below. This was the direction he had last seen the dragonfly heading towards, and so, he carefully began to descend into its shadow. The sand was quite cool out of the sunlight, and he relished the feeling of it around his feet as it seemed to freshen his mind. Just as he came to the bottom of the slope he had another realisation. They had been in the Spider Mother’s cave when Pemba had begun talking about the meeting and had told Ake about the magical beauty of the oasis. He stopped in his tracks and thought hard……

….slowly the memory came back to him and, with it, a strong feeling that he should head north.

Scarab1Just at that moment a movement to his left caught his attention. At first he put it off as a trick of the light, a passing shadow, but, there it was again. Some ten feet away, and running straight towards him, was a beetle. No bigger than his thumb and very dark against the sand, the beetle came to within two feet of Ake and stopped. He leant towards it and, quite naturally, said ‘hello, little one’. A shimmer of dark green iridescence glanced off the beetle’s shell. ‘Do you know where the dragonfly went’ he thought, half to himself, half asking the little creature.

The beetle waved its antennae, seemingly in response, and, after a moment, began digging a hole in the sand. That was it! Images quickly flashed across his mind as Ake felt a wave of recognition and the memory of the day Pemba had talked about the oasis came flooding back…..

……before he knew it, his minds-eye opened wide, Ake was back in the Grandmother Spider’s cave. They had gone to her shrine.

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With the spider’s help the night before, Ake had found the secret cave that housed her shrine. It had been the second evening of his grandfather’s funeral and he had been given his true name, as a part of his heritage. The other part of that precious gift was his grandfather’s divining bag. He could not resist opening it, and that was when it had all begun. But, he was sure that it was his grandfather’s doing that he was now on the path of initiation, following the Spider Mother’s path. She had led him to her shrine safely, but, the night had also revealed the great danger now threatening his people. Pemba had revealed the strange object to him that he and his grandfather had found on the edge of the desert and he recalled with a wince Pemba’s description of its owners, the People of the Dead. But, with his mentor close by, high up in the escarpment where the ancestors are buried, he had felt safe and protected from the storm that had raged over the land that night.

Sleep had taken him quickly and, at first light, he had awoken to find the Spider’s Cave still and calm. The storm had passed, erased with the dawning day, but, Pemba was nowhere to be seen. He had left a small pile of freshly picked fruit next to the fire’s simmering ashes. After splashing cool water from the gourd upon his face and hands, he had picked a couple of small green fruit from the pile and made his way to the cave entrance to greet the day.

A subtle mist was rising from the plains as the world emerged from its night journey. Above, in the growing light a pair of cranes flew out of the south and, high above the caves, sent a plaintive cry to the world below. An orange white shaft of light spilled over the horizon, the treetops below Ake’s perch at the cave entrance suddenly becoming adorned with a golden brilliance.

In those first few moments he had sat in awe of the beauty that flooded his senses, oblivious to the events of the previous night. This was the world he knew, comforting in its familiarity. As he heard the calling cranes and watched them fly overhead  the thought crossed Ake’s mind that he too would soon be travelling north. Pemba had told him that a meeting of the medicine people had been called at a hidden oasis, deep in the desert, and they were bound to go. The path of Ake’s initiation was inextricably interwoven with the journey. He felt his heart flutter briefly as the memories returned of his grandfather, the dreams that had called him to this place, and the unfathomably strange object that Pemba and Grandfather Ake had found….the day suddenly took on a different dimension, became an horizonless field of uncertainty and questions. The People of the Dead! Who were they, what were they, how had this all come to be – Ake struggled to confront the reality that was now challenging his world. The world he knew was itself being called into question……

“I can see that you are beginning to wake up…..”

The voice came from behind Ake, but, the familiar tones of his guardian and mentor quickly washed away the uneasy feeling that had begun to gnaw at his belly…..and Pemba’s words seemed to be asking for a response. But, Ake could find none, save a smile and outstretched arms as he turned to meet his old friend. A hug when troubled with doubts is always good medicine, but, Pemba could tell that his protege was also beginning to feel the veils of innocence fall away. It was always like this. Initiation was a never ending affair in this world.

Pemba sat beside his young ward and nodded in recognition of the task ahead……

dragonfly-blue“I took the path into the desert once, when I was, well, not much older than yourself, younger brother…..it was a journey that your grandfather and I had to make, as a part of our own initiation.” He looked off towards the glowing horizon. “There is a place in the heart of that vastness that is filled with birdsong….tall palms line a pool of fresh clear tourquoise water, so sweet and refreshing to taste, and dragonflies hover and dart like mischevious spirits at its heart. Who would believe such beauty could be found in the midst of the desert heat. Being there is like being under a delicious spell within a dream……”

Pemba’s words cast their own magic in Ake’s imagination and seemed to cleanse his heart of its burdens. He began to relax as the world below returned to his sight and added its own beauty to the vision Pemba was spinning.

“We must prepare before we set off to find that place……I’ve made an offering at the Spider’s shrine to open our path, but, you must do the same before we leave. Come….this too is a special place…..”, and Pemba smiled impishly as he rose, offering a hand to Ake…..that smile was infectious and, jumping to his feet, Ake followed his mentor towards the back of the cave and the crack in the rock.

He watched as Pemba picked up a half burned stub of cut wood from the fire-pit, and, briefly stirring the embers with its charcoaled end, let it rest a moment in the  glowing ash,  then, lifting it close to his mouth, he blew on it. The branch radiated a warm red and orange light and, with a second breath, a small dancing flame emerged from its tip. Pemba tilted the little torch and encouraged the flame to grow slightly. Satisfied with the result, the old diviner turned with a nod to follow and, holding the torch before him, eased into the fissure in the rock…..

“…..this will serve to light the short way to the other side Ake…..its quite easy, c’mon…”, Pemba’s voice echoed uncannily from within the rock.

Ake could see Pemba ahead of him in dark silhouette as he entered the crack. The rock was smooth at his sides, as if an age of watery hands had sculpted it, and the narrow floor of the fissure was softened with a sediment of silt and small stones…..

After following Pemba for a few seconds, his breath held and his heart beating in anticipation, Ake saw his mentors outline merge with the rock off to the right….yet he could still see the soft glow of the torch ahead. Hurrying to catch up he came to the point where the crack in the rock turned a sharp corner and then continued straight for a few steps. He saw Pemba disappear once more as the passage-way turned again, this time to the left. A cool breath of wind brushed Ake’s cheeks as he turned the second corner. The floor of the passage tilted sharply downwards and levelled out about ten steps ahead.

As he approached the bottom of the incline the back of Pemba’s legs became visible ahead, but, Ake had not anticipated what was to meet his eyes once he arrived at his mentor’s side! A ledge that ran off to the left and right formed the lip of an immense chasm echoing with his footfall as Ake came to its edge. A diffuse light radiated down from an invisible source in the roof of the vast chamber giving a soft luminescence to the rocks below. It took Ake’s breath away as he took in the sight. Every few moments a small droplet of water fell from the ceiling of the cave, each a luminous pearl free-falling in space. Ake then became aware of a gentle sussurus in the background. Somewhere, far beneath them, off in an unseen part of the mountain, an underground river was in full speight……

” …..the shrine is down there Ake….” Pemba whispered, taking a step closer to the edge of the ledge, gesturing with his chin for Ake to take a look. Ake tentatively peered into the chasms depths……but, before he could decide what exactly he was supposed to be seeing, by way of a shrine, Pemba turned to face him and, bringing his face closer, looked over Ake’s shoulder and quietly said, “the way down is behind you, along the ledge….let me go first”.

The rock-wall arched overhead and small stones tumbled off the ledge as they picked their way along, gradually descending – Ake caught sight of the twisted shapes of roots hanging from the ceiling of the cave, as if emerging from dark clouds…..then he realised! The whole ceiling was covered in spider’ s webs, waving in diaphanous films, like smoke hanging in night air. The atmosphere closed in and, all around them, Ake felt the presence of a thousand unseen eyes, watching their every move.

“You must be careful here…” Pemba said in hushed tones, turning to face Ake. He had his hand resting on one of the two cut ends of a massive forked branch that rested on the rim of the ledge and disappeared below. It was a ladder, like those that led to the drying and curing platforms in the village, each step a wedge deeply cut into the wood.  Pemba let the torch rest on the ground  and reached downwards with a foot, facing the rock-wall – he did not look at Ake, or pick up the torch, as his head slowly disappeared below the rim.

The branch held firm against the rock with its own weight and Ake tried to imagine that he was simply climbing down from a drying platform, returning to the ground below – but, he had not expected the ladder to be so long, and to begin flaring out as he descended. He wanted to look around, but, dare not stop……and then his feet touched solid rock.

Still holding the ladder with one hand he turned to find Pemba staring at him with hawk like eyes in the gathering darkness. Without a word or gesture, Pemba turned again and, following an invisible trail, confidently walked away, slowly descending into the half light. They had arrived at a shallow concave plateau that Ake quickly  realised was the top of a massive boulder…..hurrying after Pemba he found that there was a path that wound its way amongst a jumble of monolithic slabs of rock, some looking for all the world like the silhouettes of giant sleeping animals. As they descended deeper into the pit of the cave the rocks became smoother, more like river stones…..and Ake became aware of the sound of the underground torrent, rising like the voices and cries of an uncountable host – the memory of his grandfathers dream message, its vision of the ocean of souls flashed across his mind. He felt himself being drawn towards its shores…….

dragonflywings

Two strong hands grasped Ake’s shoulders and the obsidian light of two shining eyes peered with a penetrating intensity into his own. Pemba raised a finger to his lips, making a firm sign to remain absolutely quiet, slowly letting his finger fall away – the sight momentarily pulled Ake out of his vision. Pemba nodded briefly and, stepping to one side, gestured to Ake to go first.

Ahead, the pathway levelled out and then seemed to come to a halt against a wall of pitch darkness. This signalled another fissure, a cave entrance within the cave. He heard Pemba following as he slowly entered the subterranean night, his eyes scanning the darkness before him.

The hard rock beneath Ake’s feet gave way to soft fine sand and, stretching out his hands in front of him, he edged slowly forward. He began to make out very feint filaments of colour in the air ahead, but, was it a trick of the dark, a play of some inner vision that he could not put a shape or form to? He paused and strained with all his senses to find some clue as to how to go forward. A fast moving streak of green light cut across his field of vision and he suppressed a gasp as the memory flashed across his mind of the spider’s luminous thread from the previous night. Then all was still.

It was at that moment that Ake realised that he was not only standing in the midst of impenetrable darkness, but, it had become totally silent. The seering doubt of his confusion span him instinctively on his heels, and then he did gasp. He did not see the way back to the chasm as  he had expected he would, instead, there was no light, anywhere. For a moment it was as if every external sense of the world, save the feeling of sand beneath his feet, had become extinguished and Ake, his head spinning with disorientation, slumped onto to the soft sand in a faint.

In the moment that he came round, Ake wondered if he was indeed awake. He blinked but there was no change to the darkness. He reached out with his hand to prop himself up, but, instead of finding sand beneath his palm he briefly layed his hand on something soft….his hand recoiled. Then he recognised the feeling that his fingers had registered…it was the divining bag. He had forgotten all about it…..but, how had it gotten here. Pemba. It must have been put there earlier by Pemba…..

He reached for the bag and, sitting up, drew it to his chest and let the comforting feeling of its familiarity fold around his heart.

“See……”

The voice came like a finely settling rain of dust upon his ears…….

“See…..my little one……”

The rush of doubt that Ake felt on hearing the voice slowly gave way to a rising fire of recognition in his belly…….he knew that voice.

“It has been so long, beautiful child…..my Chenge…..see……”

Ake suddenly felt his throat constrict and he sucked in a breath, holding it as the memory rose  upon a tide of emotion…….

“Mama…..?!”

A soft shuffling, just a few feet away to his side, pulled his head around……but he could see nothing.

“See…….”

“Mama….is that you….I cant see you…..”

“I am safe little one…….”

Ake hardly dared move, but, this time the voice was infront of him, and closer. The green luminous thread re-emerged before his eyes and began turning about itself, making circles and spirals that left vapour trails of cold mist in the pitch darkness. Slowly they wove a shape in the air and became an oval of softly shimmering light.

Eyes appeared, a nose and mouth, rounded cheeks, forming a face…..and then Ake knew. He was gazing in total disbelief at the face of his mother!

“I have a message for you, my little one……”

Ake was transfixed. He would so have loved to run into his mothers arms, but, there was…..only her face before him.

“Mama…….mama, what has happened…..is it really you?!”

“Listen to the Spider Mother, Chenge…..she is helping you…….I am far away, but…..we will meet again…..follow her thread, little one……”

“We will meet again, Mama? But, when….where are you……what has happened to you?”

“Look for the tall one, the white one, he bears a sign……follow the thread, little one…..”

At the mention of the ‘white one’ Ake’s heart recoiled and a feeling he had never felt before welled up in his belly. It asked him to do something, anything, to bring his mother back.

“The white one mama? Surely you don’t mean one of the people of the dead…..!”

“He bears a sign…..you will know it……follow, little one…..my Chenge….”

And with this the face began to dissolve before Ake’s eyes.

“Mama….don’t go……mama!”

night medicine

Ake heard his voice echo softly as the face slipped away into darkness. He began to weep and clutched the diviner’s bag as if it were the last memory of a world he had once known. Another soft shuffling sound broke across his grief  and, suddenly realising that he could once more hear the sound of the rushing river, he jumped to his feet. But, the darkness remained.

The flash of green light cut swiftly across his eyes and left a single thread of mist suspended in the air. A thin crack of brilliant white emerged from the mist and grew into a vertical fissure in the pitch darkness that surrounded him. The crack widened and Ake could see a movement in its midst…..a figure was walking towards him. He recognised the shoulders and face of his mentor, Pemba.

“This place is the Spider’s shrine, younger brother……Ake?”

Ake was unsure of what he was seeing, he did not know whether to trust his senses.

“Ake?….what have you seen.”

The concern in Pemba’s voice was strangely reassuring and Ake felt his shoulders relax a little, the weight of the diviners bag now helping the world to solidify about him.

Pemba stopped a few steps away and cocked his head, staring at the bag……

“Well……” he seemed lost for words as he stepped closer, raising his hand to point at the diviner’s bag clutched to Ake’s chest.

“The day is full of surprises……this is most unusual….but, a good sign…..heh”

Pemba looked at Ake’s face with a soft concern. Laying his hands on Ake’s shoulders he said, “Come, tell me what happened…..we have an offering to make, but, you look as though…..”

“It was Mama, Pemba….she was here, I saw her and….she spoke to me”

“Spoke to you?!” The surprise in Pembas voice could not be disguised. The old diviner considered a moment and then, reaching behind his back for the drinking gourd he was carrying, he led Ake by the arm to the side of the cave. Ake realised that  he could see the interior of the subterranean chamber quite clearly now. They were in a small oval cavity that reminded Ake of the adobe huts in which the families of his village lived. The walls were smooth and appeared to have a coating of fine clay. The back of the chamber was feintly illuminated from its entrance, but, surprisingly, Ake could see that the underground room was entirely empty.

As they rested their backs against the wall, Pemba caught the look of confusion on Ake’s face.

“I will explain…..all in good time, but….what did your mother tell you, younger brother, tell me what you want to”

Ake related everything that had happened from the moment that he had set foot into the darkness and, as his mentor listened, Pemba gave a nod at everything he heard. When Ake had come to the end of his account they sat in silence for a moment and then, offering the gourd to his young ward, Pemba let out a sigh…..

“It seems the Spider Mother has given to you a gift, brother Ake, and a gift of no small importance – I will tell you just why I am saying this after we have made the offering, if you can wait…..” and, at this Pemba rose to his feet.

A tender smile greeted Ake’s eyes as he looked up.

“….and, we must make it a special gift in return for her kindness, eh?”

Ake was surpised in the next moment to see Pemba scooping handfulls of sand to the side from the floor of the subterranian room – he was close to its center and the sand was dry, sliding slowly back in on itself. But, soon, Pemba’s hand scraped against a solid surface. He brushed the sand aside to reveal a large round circle of stone with a wedge shaped notch cut out of its edge. Pemba carefully placed his hand into the gap and with a strong pull lifted the stone away, flipping it onto its back, revealing a smaller perfectly round hole beneath……

“Bring the divining bag over Ake” he said, as he brushed the sand clean from the edge of the hole. “Now…..see what comes out” he said gesturing with his chin towards the bag…..

“…..go on, don’t be afraid…..theres something in there we need”.

Ake unwound the strap from the neck of the bag and cautiously put his hand inside. The feeling of soft fur met Ake’s fingers and, feeling his way down the sides, he  found several smaller leather bags nestled together. He looked to Pemba……

“Yes….thats it….”

Gripping the neck of one of the small bags he slowly eased it out…..it was no bigger than his fist and dyed a very dark blue that reminded Ake of the night sky.

“Ahhh…..now open it”, said Pemba, obviously intrigued at the choice.

The binding was old, but, once Ake had eased it away, a sharp odour emerged instantly from the bag, making Ake’s nose twitch.

“Take one pinch” Pemba instructed, watching carefully as his protege reached in with his thumb and fore-fingers. He pulled out a small quantity of pitch black powder, just like charcoal dust, but, very slightly oily to the touch.

The core of the Milky Way at a distance of some 26,000 light years from Earth.

“This is ‘black snuff’, though amongst the Spider people it is known as ‘night medicine’. It is one of the most valuable healing preparations we make, amongst the diviners, that is. It is for use only by those who have knowledge of its effects. Without that knowledge it is simply charcoal, to the unknowing. It seems I’ll be teaching you how to make it very soon,” Pemba said with an approving nod. Ake tried to look more closely, without dropping any of the powder.

“Is this what I am to give to the Spider mother, Pemba?”

“Well, it looks like you are being called upon to make this medicine a sign of gratitude to her, yes, but…..it needs a special song to accompany it……”

Ake looked questioningly at his mentor…….but, Pemba simply raised his eyebrows, smiling with a little nod…..

“But, which song should I sing…..?”

“Think of where we are going….and what has just happened here….then let it come out, sing it……and, remember, say thank-you to the Grandmother Spider”

Ake liked to sing, it came naturally to him, especially when he was busy with something that took time….but, he had never tried to make a song out of things that had not happened yet, or feelings as strong and deep as those that the memory of his mother had brought up in him. Then, without warning, as he was pondering these things, a single syllable of sound escaped his lips…..and before he knew it a melody was springing up in him. It seemed to accompany the images that drifted through his mind.

“Sing it into the ‘night medicine’ Ake, then give the medicine to the hole….but, keep singing until the song has run its course.”

The melody arose with a slow dignity from Ake and into the ‘night medicine’. He felt its power gently flowing through him at first, then he began swaying his body from side to side. For a moment it was as if he was sitting in the middle of a small boat on a rolling expanse of water. Stars appeared above him following the motion of the boat. He closed his eyes and let the melody pour into the night medicine. He felt his hand release the black powder into the darkness at his feet…..the song grew stronger.

A gust of wind swept strands of hair around his cheek and he opened his eyes……the stars above remained, swirling around a tall stout pole that extended above him. There was a triangular sheet of ochre skins attached to its top and bottom and Ake quickly realised he was speeding over the water in a hide covered boat, like the ones he had seen in the Lake People’s village.

“You must listen to the stars, let them give their stories to you, brother Ake,” a powerful voice sounded behind him.

Ake spun round to find his grandfather sitting at the stern, his strong old hands holding the end of a steering paddle, his eyes staring towards the heavens….for a moment Ake was speechless.

“….they will take you beyond the horizon and return you safely home.”

“Grandfather!”

“Look!” And the old man pointed over Ake’s shoulder, his eyes widening.

Ake glanced involuntarily in the direction his grandfather had pointed. In that instant a single star suddenly expanded and sent out a blinding flash that stunned Ake. For a moment he could see nothing but white light. Then shapes slowly began to emerge, blurred and vague at first, and there was a tickling feeling on his cheek.

Ake shook his head and caught site of the small green iridescent beetle just as it disappeared beneath the sand. There was a sound like many voices speaking very fast, as if heard from a long way off……then the dragonfly darted over his head and stopped in mid-air just an arms length in front of Ake.

He had been lying on the cool sand, but, for how long! Where the beetle had been there was now a small conical mound of sand. It must have been only an eyeblink, yet, he felt as though it were an eternity. The dragonfly turned on its centre and a second later sped off down the valley between the dunes.

“I’m not loosing sight of you this time,” Ake said under his breath and, jumping to his feet, he slung Pemba’s blanket and the diviner’s bag over his shoulder and set off after the iridescent blue being………he did not see the swift shadow that darted away across the sand ahead of him……..

aqua-libra

 

Chenge and the Spider © copyright Rob Purday 2013
The Beetle and the Dragonfly © copyright Rob Purday 2013

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Look out for the continuing story of Chenge and the Spider at a new dedicated website launching soon!

10 Billion Beats 2012

The 10 Billion Beats global drumming event of 2012 is this year taking place plumb on the September Equinox – as we move deeper into this time of great transition there could not be a more opportune moment for bringing a powerful wave of peace and goodwill to our home planet. As 2012 comes to completion through the last quarter of the year the calling is in ‘bringing the highest and finest qualities of these momentous times into manifestation’, and this years 10 Billion Beats is an energetic gateway to the harmonious and timely realisation of this call.

We should be under no illusions about the potential of this global drumming event. For a start the timing of this year’s event ties it into the solar cycle aligning the wave with the annular creative cycle of Earth. This gives our drumming an extended reach and potential in time that will accompany us all the way through to the much anticipated 2012 December solstice, and beyond. How far beyond depends on how we work with the energy raised, the quality of consciousness brought to it now, and this includes any intent we bring to the drumming. The timing also brings out 10 Billion Beats syncretic qualities, unifying our diversity and placing the event within the ‘bigger picture’, connecting our drumming with the archetypal qualities of our times…….as the drums call around our Earth, Sun culminates in Virgo and enters Libra, and we celebrate the ripened harvest in the north and the flowering earth in the south. The energies of this time are rich in possibilities.

The Virgo/Libra cusp perfectly expresses a significant station in the human life cycle as well – the transition made by the individual ripened through experience into the sharing of the fruits of wisdom within community. There is a correspondence here between the energies within the earth cycle and the calling that is being asked of us collectively to manifest. This is very much about our transit into maturity as a species and it is in essence perfectly in keeping with the ‘elder’ time, the time of year in which our connections with the cosmos deepen. Within the bigger picture ‘community’ here means both those collectives formed through harmonic resonance and the larger community that extends across time, space and dimensions.

Through alignment with the solar cycle 10 Billion Beats 2012 gives us an opportunity to collectively entrain our inner vibrations with those of the planet, the solar system and the Sun in harmony with the greater cosmic processes at work now. This is about working with energy that generates momentum…….

And, talking of momentum…..last years event attracted approaching a quarter of a million participants and, with numbers increasing year on year, in 10 Billion Beats we could well be seeing the beginnings of an important global healing practice emerging. It has been said that it takes only 8,000 people working together energetically with a shared intent of this nature to manifest the most significant change in the world, change that affects the entire planet, that can have lasting effect for the greater good – last years event saw 25 times that number taking part, with over 200,000 people drumming globally. We should expect this number to increase again this year, and, with this the unity and continuity of the wave increases as well.  It may well be too early to say, however, what is emerging in a new form is already a part of a tradition with roots as deep as humanity. We are seeing the emergence, in Martin Prechtel’s words, of ‘new sap in the old tree’. And here, intent is everything…..

IMHO I feel that Carlisle Bergquist and the organisers of 10BB have pitched it just right; there is a global invitation to drum made in the spirit of ‘peace and goodwill’ and the invitation is left open – we bring to it what we each choose……take some time to think on this and the message in the poster. The event offers an opportunity to go far beyond this……

When a group of drummers get together the pulse they create carries a dialogue that speaks the language of the soul. In drumming together we recall an innate gift, as old as humanity, that allows our souls to speak freely with each other within the energetic matrix of Life. Drumming is, in this sense, re-membering. Music motivates at this level, but, when allied with ‘sacred intent’ or when held within the spacial contours of ceremony rhythm and pulse also provides an energetic drive that activates meaning and carries us beyond the physical boundaries we normally experience – when we remember in this context our connectivity carries a restorative as well as a generative ‘soul-making’ dynamic. This itself is a dynamic intrinsic to the Virgo/Libra cusp. At its highest level it is an energy point, like the descendant in the natal chart, of activation within communion.

In the transit from Virgo into Libra we find the culmination of the inner path of individuation transiting into the outer, the initiates path entering into the adepts and our highest levels of achievement becoming shared. These can become naturally nucleated within the collective and this finds symbolic representation in the ‘harvest’. One of the keys to understanding this transition is provided by the Sabian symbols for the degrees that form the cusp, the thirtieth degree of Virgo and the first degree of Libra.

The Sabian for 30 Virgo speaks of the quality of complete focus and it is this that brings about this ‘culmination’, which is akin to the decisive step taken by the initiate at the entrance to the holy ground. Decision of this kind, once made, becomes the backbone of intent. We face these moments of decision at all the major crossroads of our lives, but, if we are to live consciously and with intent, as does the adept, these moments fill our lives. Humanity is at that crucial point and we are being called upon to make the decisive step into adept-hood and maturity. Can we once more recognise our home planet as holy ground……

The Sabian for 1 Libra speaks of the quality of ‘making’ sacred – when living with intent the divine is not simply a given, it is a collaboration and partnership, or better, an affiliation and friendship. How would it be if we rcognised our ‘beloved’ in Nature….perhaps a rhetorical question for this event? The heart is the natural center within our physical frame that regulates the manifestation of this dynamic of connectivity. And, every heart beat echoes this dynamic, literally embodies it – the mutual symbolism of drum and heart beat is a potent reminder to us. Even more so through the evolved part of our beings that we express – there is a richness in the rhythmic cadence of our stride as we ‘walk our talk’ and in the steps of our personal ‘dance of power’ as we mature and let go into the greater rhythms of Life. It is a dance and dialogue built upon experience that can be perfected through pure mindfullness and love, and its realisation is every individual souls gift back to life. If the coming solstice marks a point of transformation it will be realised through our ability to give of this gift, personally within the collective – but, it is also crucial to us building a community capable of transcending and evolving beyond our own limitations.

The planetary affiliations of sign and ruling planet are revealing here too. We normally associate Venus with earth and Mercury with air, yet Mercury is the traditional ruler of Virgo and Venus ruler of Libra – the mutual receptivity of their rulership within the elements mirrors and is expressive of this energy of affiliation and is unique to this particular cusp.

……..as we approach the solstice, following the Sun’s journey from Virgo through Libra, Scorpio and Sagittarius, the energy raised now follows a path of awareness, piercing the veil of the physical, deepening as it creates new connections –  permeating the intelligence of the emotional body awareness becomes a power, bringing the opportunity to mature beyond the physical, before entering the spiritual realms of pure intellect and re-birthing from ‘the heart of the world’, the center of all manifestation, into the generative physical realms of Capricorn. The next 13 weeks give us the opportunity to align fully with this process and through the drums affirm an intent that will help us to do so. But, there are yet deeper levels available to work with here.

With the opening of the drumming we find the Moon, corresponding to ‘the People’, conjunct the Great Attractor in mid-Sagittarius. The GA’s influence gives us the view beyond the horizon, the future we dream of in our innermost selves. The seed dreams embedded in the energy of every participant are connected down the line over the 24 hours of the drumming. At close of drumming the Moon conjuncts the Galactic Center and grounds this influx of dreaming through the energies of the cosmic womb. This may be very subtle and esoteric by nature and appeal only to a few, but, even a small percentage of all those drumming can make the difference and it is the power of the essence carried within the dreaming, its qualities rather than quantity that matter most.

Before drumming this year, since it is ‘this’ year, take some time to consider an intent that arises naturally from the cornucopia of your own innate gifts, that arises most strongly in your heart, and that you can give through your drumming, as a gift to the world…..and give it your all…..

here is the link to the 10BB website

see you there!

In Peace, R

Meetings at the Thresholds – the Spiralling Light

The cross-quarter fire festival of Lughnasadh coincides with the midpoint of the traditional Chinese year whose energies this year are symbolised in the Water Dragon. In previous posts I’ve alluded to the connection between the year of the Water Dragon and the Dragon Paths and, in honouring of this, here is a tale spun from the dragon pathways of Albion at this special time of year, a tale in which these energies are subtly woven together.

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The following is a true story. It is drawn from experiences and journal notes made some years ago – all the events and dialogues are faithfull to the reality experienced, and, while one or two of the names have been changed, everything else is related exactly as it happened – the images here were taken on the journey and are un-retouched colour prints, taken on film using a battered old Canon SLR that has now gone into retirement – I do have digital fully restored copies of these, but, somehow, here it seemed more fitting to show them in their original state! While the main part of the story centers around Lughnasadh time, its seeds were sown one summer solstice two years before and it is here that the tale begins……

It’d been an opportunity that seemed to arrive with perfect timing. My day job was wearing me thin and I really needed a break – but, the chance came and, one summers morning a few days before solstice, I packed my faithfull green Austin Maxi and set off for California Beach. For all I knew I was heading for a two week retreat, the opportunity to go barefoot, rest from the city madness and to breath again, to keep time once more with earth and stars.

Carol had lent me the use of her ocean-side wooden cabin, nestled in the dunes on the Norfolk coast at the eastern end of the Michael and Mary Ley Line, a place out-of-time where dreaming came naturally….I was familiar with this ley having lived close by Avebury in earlier times and Avebury lies on the exact mid-point of the Michael and Mary line. While living there I’d spent much time working with the land and its energies, exploring its seen and unseen realities, so, I was looking forward to connecting with the dragon paths again, but, I could not have anticipated how the dreamings that came out of this would manifest in time and space…….

Nature heals and the cabin gave safe sanctuary and plenty of time for reflection, and it wasn’t long before the realisation came that I needed change and a new direction. On solstice eve I lit a fire and offered prayers, asking for guidance, a path to follow…….and sometimes dreams slip their clothes and dance amongst us, like wind blown birds and rainbow bespattered spin-drift, spinning sparks rising from red hot embers into the star-struck night……and some reside in the timeless memories of stones…….this night the offerings cast to the winds and consumated in the flames of the solstice fire came back in the clothes of a dream.

‘Be patient and allow the course of things to unfold – ask for a sabbatical – regroup and renew your creative energies – and seek out your guides, they  have a plan……’

It took time well beyond the times of this tale before the plan fully came to fruition, but, by the time the seeds had begun germinating, the guides petitioned and their council given, the journey was already underway. The sabbatical marked the threshold and a revolving door swung open upon another world…..

Amongst the guidance received was a map for a journey to be undertaken on the land following an ancient track. This had its beginning at Carn Les Boel, exactly where the other end of the Michael and Mary Line emerged in the land at the very tip of Cornwall in south-west Britain. The journey would unite the seed point of the dreaming at the eastern end of the Michael and Mary ley in Norfolk with the western end of the ley and culminate in Avebury at its balance point.

So it was that, one sparkling morning on Lughnasadh eve, I found myself resting my back against the gatekeeper stone at Carn Les Boel. This stone is, without a doubt, powerful within itself, manifesting a sense of immovable and knowing rootedness that fully conceals the fact that it has been purposefully ‘planted’ at this precise spot to hold a resonant key in place. It is a key that serves the whole of these lands, for, not only does it mark the entry point of the Michael and Mary Line as they emerge from the Atl-antian oceans that surround this ancient shore, but, the stone indicates the initial crossing point of these twin rivers of energy and from there together they weave their dragon path, the ley that draws the path of the Beltane sunlight across old Albion.

At this initial crossing point is a vortex that is, at times, especially potent and complex. The vortex is itself a part of a living energy network, the nature and qualities of which are not fixed but which adjust and change in time – on this journey its energies made itself appear as a living void otherwise filled with an immense broiling ocean of swirling undercurrents, subtle to the physical frame, galvanising to the energy body….!

Within this is a resonant patterning of the different frequency bands within the Michael and Mary lines themselves, these too alter and change the geometric configurations that emerge out of divining the crossing point – and, being living energies, there is intelligence present, one which I found to be benevolent and which does communicate……

As I was walking away from the stone, somewhat bemused by the torque experienced between the physical and non-physical at the vortex, I heard a bird’s piercing call and turned towards its cry…..looking back towards the stone, in the direction of the call, a single flash of light burst from the center top of the gatekeeper stone and sent out a penetrating pinpoint laser-beam of brilliant star-light.

That night another dream came visiting……

I was camped out next to a beautiful old Alder up near Lamorna. Beneath the Alder a large flat stone gave a view through the hedge towards one of the Pipers, these being two 3 meter high granite pillars that are outliers that point directly towards the Merry Maidens stone circle. They are said to have accompanied the maidens in their circle dance and to have been turned to stone for their troubles, but, don’t be fooled – these Pipers, like the circle of sacred women who danced there with the earth and stars, are very much alive.

In the dream someone came and, casting a handfull of pollen in a pillar of light, asked ‘what do you see?’ – I awoke before answering……it was like an invitation, and, pulling the I Ching from my rucksack, I opened a page at random.

Hexagram 35, Prospering…Fire above Earth – “Emerge into the light; advance, be noticed; give and receive gifts……..You will be received by the higher powers three times in a single day”

In the body of this hexagram is the notion of a royal personage, symbolising the higher powers, bestowing gifts in the form many horses following the giving of a divination – auspicious indeed, and horses in the symbolic traditions of the I Ching, as well as the indigenous traditions of Albion, are a symbol of spirited strength in the natural world and are the counterpart of the dragon…..but, the royal visitation was most intriguing.

It was Lugh’s day and, through following an intuitive thread it came to mind to visit a very special ancestral site high on the Atlantic coast known as Chun Quoit. Contemplating the quoits location on the map I noticed that it was next to an iron-age settlement, a walled village known as Chun Castle. The connection between the quoit and the castle is speculative as the quoit is neolithic and predates the iron-age settlement by millenia, but, somehow the I Ching’s message seemed to resonate here…..

Chun Quoit’s reputation went before it – reports of lights and sounds heard within its inner space spoke of a living ancestral energy residing there. In approaching Chun the long moorland slope seemed to vibrate with every gust of wind that bright day and as the quoit came into view I could see beyond it the tumble of stones that marked the walls of the castle. Pulled towards the castle entrance way, marked by two upright stones, the village seemed to be held in a silence, listening, waiting….after paying respects to its keepers Chun Quoit called from down the slope. Standing between the gateway stones I heard voices carried upon the wind from below, but, turning to look all around, I could see no-one on the slope of the moors.

The quoit is crowned with a large capstone and gives the impression of an oversized lid to the chamber beneath providing great protection, and, even though the wind this day sang about the cracks between the stones, it was as if held at bay from entering its inner sanctum – this was filled with a sparky atmosphere that fairly crackled with the energy of the crystalline matrix in its granite walls and roof.  The earth within seemed hard baked and gritty – and not a place to be approached without invitation, especially if its matrix were to be explored. I decided to go sit a few yards from the quoit and see what transpired. As I was settling down on the grass near to the stones  I caught sight of them – a tall man dressed in an army great-coat that flapped in the wind with three children buzzing around him was slowly striding up the long slope of the hill.

Paul told me he was a painter of the lands here-abouts and, after I’d told him I was a carver we quickly fell into a conversation about how we worked and began to discover a common ground. We both had an interest in the ancestral indigenous energies of this land and how these found expression, working through our creativity. While the two youngest of his kids scurried off to explore the ancient secrets of the place amongst the stones he and his eldest produced large sketchbooks from their backpacks and began to gather flowers…..’these are our paints while we’re out and about’ he explained. Using carefully selected flowers for different colours and rubbing them directly onto the paper he showed me how their delicate smears of colour brought an earthy vibrancy alive on the page…it was a method I’d never seen before, some of the colours coming from leaf and petal, others from the pollen the flowers carried. Paul went on to say that these would provide the spectrum of colour from which he would build his studio paintings – it was magical to behold…..

We didn’t mention the quoit, it somehow wasn’t necessary, but, contemplated the colours within the land and the shape-shifting forms of flowing cloud shadows as they swept up the slope towards us in a sea of hazy sunlight. Looking beyond them I could see the ocean and the silhouette of a rugged tor some miles away….’thats Kenidjack, a powerful place on a day like today’ Paul said following my gaze and, gathering up their paintings, he and his kids made ready to move on – we bade our farewells and as they were leaving Paul said ‘you should go see the stone circles down below the tor – yeh, and the view from the tor is quite special too’……

It seemed like I good idea and, as I scanned the land it felt that the tor had a certain pull to it – just then a whisper of sound drifted by on the wind. I couldn’t identify it, but, it seemed to have come from very far away. And there it was again, a scintilation on the edge of hearing, shrill and melodic. This time I felt sure it was nearer, but, what it was I couldn’t quite place. After a few moments it sounded again – it was a tintinabulation of sustained rising pitches, very high, like tiny silver trumpets blowing on the wind, only this time there was no doubt about it – it was coming from the quoit!

The wind sighed around the stones as I stood up and made my way over – and just as I approached, within six feet of the quoit, I heard it again and saw two small specks rising from the edge of the capstone, spiralling around each other and weaving a column of energy. The silver trumpets accompanied their ascent until they burst apart and disappeared. Well, that was odd! I could have sworn they were living sparks of dense quick moving energy – I moved closer. There on the top lip of the capstone were two large wild bees – they were facing each other and, moving as close as I dare without wanting to disturb them, I could see that they were vibrating producing a low humming tone. Slowly they pivoted about a central point, and what was remarkable was that although they rotated first sunwise, then changed direction to moon-wise and back, they always kept their heads pointing towards each other across the diametre of their dance circle and made their moves in complete synchrony.

I’d witnessed the bee’s waggle dance before but never in the wilds and never a shared dance mirrored perfectly between two bees. These two were behaving quite differently from the bees I’d seen in the hives – they were very connected in their energy, clearly communicating at a hightened level……

Suddenly they both rose simultaneously in a vertical spiral from their circle, and there was the sound of the silver trumpets….it was a truly wonderous thing to behold…..and they danced this way in the air until an unseen signal sent them careening off at tangents and seconds later there they were together on a different part of the capstone. Their low humming circle dance unfolded briefly again before they both arose, but, this time they flew off in different directions leaving me breathless and elated, holding onto the quoit as if the wind might pick me up any moment and carry me off into the blustering brilliance of Lugh’s day.

It felt as if a dream of ancient rites was come alive in nature this Lughnasadh….but, the tor beckoned and the wind said ‘move on’…..

I failed to find the stone circles below Kenidjack Tor – sometimes the land conceals such things, as if another calling must first be payed attention to. Climbing the granite outcrop the comfortable looking bowl of a high seat revealed itself near the craggy pinnacle. Settling down to take in the view south and west out over the brimming ocean out beyond the land I caught site of distant islands emerging from just beyond the horizon – it was the Scilly Isles. The sea was alive with white horses and the day was filled with exhilirating dreamlike beauty…..the Scillys are also known as Lyonesse, the name of a rich and fertile land now beneath the sea that once joined the islands to the mainland, and it is said that the islands are the all that remains of a city built upon seven hills by the same name……

‘Beautiful up here isn’t it…’, the voice woke me from my revery, but, I had thought I was alone! Leaning forward I was greeted with the smiling faces of an elderly couple seated in a perfect two seater rocky armchair just below. ‘We didn’t want to disturb you, but, its such a beautiful day to be shared’ the kindly looking woman said…

‘Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t notice you were there or I’d have said hello’ I apologised in turn…they invited me to join them in a cup of tea from their flask and, as we introduced ourselves I mentioned that I’d just come down from Chun Quoit, explaining that I was visiting on the advice of ‘some friends’.

They too were recent arrivals, having retired to Kernow some 5 years ago and had soon discovered this place, one of many favourites in this magical land. It was a shared dream that she a midwife and he a keen gardener had held since the early days of their marraige, to live out their golden years in this special place, and, even though it meant giving up certain things that were dear to them, they had no doubts that it had been the right thing to do – one of those things was bee-keeping.

‘Richard here used to be a avid bee-keeper’ Joan explained…..and, with this, I excitedly told them what I’d witnessed at Chun Quoit and asked Richard if he knew what the wild bees I’d seen were doing.

Richard’s face lit up…’well, it sounds like they were two queens telling each other where the boundaries of their hives had been, quite a rare thing to see, infact, in 40 years of keeping bees I’ve never witnessed it myself……they call the sound they were making ‘Piping’….’

There was no doubting from Richard’s wistful tone what a privilage it was to have been at the queen bees dance, but, he assured me that amongst ‘kept’ bees such things rarely happened, if at all, as the hives were fairly settled in their partnership with humans. Wild hives, however, often disband before winter and regroup to form a new hive – the circle dance was a serious exchange of essential information such that the two hives that the individual queens had and would belong to would not impinge upon each other in the future. It was an honouring of sacred law, kept amongst the bee tribes, the royal prerogative to know and keep to on behalf of their hives, in this way keeping the health of the land alive and secure within the honouring of this sacred natural law.

I had much to chew over as I headed back towards the Merry Maidens and Lamorna….

The circle and the Pipers had come alive in these encounters, reflecting in very real and magical ways the deeply woven mysteries of land and enchantment. The day was beginning to wind down and I wanted to pay my respects and give thanks before settling back to camp.

After parking up at the tent I wandered back over the fields. There was a strange light noticable around them in passing the Pipers and it felt right to not dally but to make a bee-line to the circle. I arrived just as the sun began to set.

Making a circuit of the stones I found a waist high outlying stone to rest against. The intense beauty of the sun as it sank to the horizon cast radial arms of light within the circle and I noticed that on this day from the vantage point of this stone the sun set directly behind the tower of a church that peaked out from a valley a few miles away, directly in line with the center of the circle. The image of the queens describing their circle around its centre flashed into my mind. There was a pull from the center of the Maidens and, as I slowly trod the path of a sunbeam towards their center I saw that a man with several dogs had entered the field and was walking towards them too. We met at the exact midpoint of the Maidens, just  as the last rays disappeared and the sky revealed a deeper luminesence.

There was something in the way in which it happened, the time and place, at the sunset of such a day, that gave an appointed feel to our meeting, as if it had unfolded in perfect expectancy. Everything was following a hidden thread through time and space upon which were hung the very qualities and energies necessary to fulfill this meeting at the Merry Maidens.

It was a mystery full of magic, but, it was several days later after travelling the Michael and Mary ley to Glastonbury that the depth of this mystery really began to reveal itself……

The man, who introduced himself as Will, was a stout and earthy character who had, he told me, bred horses in Dorset in the past, but, from what he said he seemed to have deeper roots in the land around old Kernow. He was accompanied by six greyhounds, some dappled, some dark, some light, and five of them were inquisitively exploring the stones and playing around the boundaries of the circle as we spoke – the sixth followed sedately behind and joined us in the center. She was extra-ordinary…..

Will saw me eyeing the dog as she entered the circle….’she’s ‘Queenie” he said, ‘looks after all the others, but, feigns to run around like the young’uns’. Queenie stood with us as we talked and she was unlike any dog I had seen before – not only did she have a dignity and detachment befitting her name that was intense and tangible in some strangely undoglike sense, but, she had red eyes and ears – she exuded an otherworldly aura. ‘Yep, she looks after us all….’ Will said, as if to make sure she knew she was honoured in this.

He asked after my own work and I mentioned how the land here was such a powerful inspiration, bringing a strong feeling of connection with the oldways….Will looked to where the sun was glowing beyond the horizon. ‘Yes, some of the old folk as used to be crafting with the land here’bouts would go along with that. Used to be a fella, fine woodsman and crafter lived down beyond the valley there – give him a piece of timber cut from the local trees and he could tell you which tree, the exact tree mind, that it come from….he were in his eighties as I remember him, when I were a lad.’ Will paused and looked around. ‘Its all changed now tho’, not many folks know the land like they used….the lands changed too, at least as it appears’. There was a sense of knowing in Will’s voice that betrayed a deeper understanding.

Then Will said something that, at first, I could’nt quite take in…..

He cast his hand around the circle of stones and said, ‘I remember the land before these hedges went up and the Maidens used to stand in open moorland. But, that was a long time back, eh Queenie….?’ and, at that Queenie gave a loud snort and slowly set off again. ‘Well, nights coming on and I must get these dogs their walk….goodluck on your journey’, and with that Will set off and followed Queenie, calling the pack to heal as they disappeared beyond the hedges in the falling dusk.

My Journey, as it unravelled, took me further up the Michael and Mary line, stopping off at ancient sites through which the ley’s energy converged and sang, until, some days later I broke off on another pathway and headed for the mountains across the Severn River before returning to the ley at Avebury. The last stop on this leg of the journey tho’ was in Glastonbury, a chance to mull over the events that had unfolded so far – and by chance that day I happened to wander into a bookshop on the highstreet and randomly picked out a book to see what it had to say about it all……it was a history of the folk traditions of the British Isles. I opened the book….

The passage my eyes fell upon sent a shiver through my entire being…….the King of the Underworld, it said, is accompanied by a pack of hounds, and tradition has it that they are greyhounds, but, no ordinary hounds by most accounts as these have red eyes and ears….

It seemed the guides had been spinning their thread in a magical pattern through every event and meeting of this journey and soon I discovered more spinning doorways high up in the mountains in the shapes of menhirs, and amongst caves and hidden valleys that gave way to other pathways connecting this world with the unseen ones. But, there-in lie many other tales….

In truth, everything is deeply intertwined and woven upon these magical skenes, and, in truth, within the meandering rivers of energy of the dragon paths a true and straight track is hidden in plain sight……if we but find the thread and follow…..

Bright Blessings this Lughnasadh!

Diviner’s Tales

Divination is at root a communal activity and, in our times, bringing its practice into a circle of shared space can also mean an opportunity for re-discovering just what ‘community’ means, and feels like…

…..it was perhaps one of the most unlikely places to find a scene such as this, but, on this occasion the circle of people, old and young, gathered around the African diviner’s cloth in a small Austrian house on the edge of the mountains, were enacting a communal event that could have been found in traditional villages the world over in a timeless span stretching back to the very roots of humanity. Three people had already been called to sit with the diviner and the readings had been good – everyone was enjoying each other’s company within this communal ritual space, the sharing of news from both this world and the ancestor’s, as well as the knowledge that those particular problems that had been besetting the divinees were infact an important part of a larger plan or perhaps the calling card of a spirit, but, whatever the purpose, were at the very least already known about by the denizens of the unseen worlds, and the diviner’s allies….help is always at hand, if you know where and how to look for  it.

……the diviner’s cloth was spread in the center of the room and was oriented so that its water quadrant, the place of the spirits of healing, was in the north, where the diviner sat – the divinee would sit opposite, nearest the fire quadrant, the place of the ancestors. Atop the cloth were many objects associated with the quadrants and the diviner’s personal medicine and the cloth itself had a medicine wheel, a cosmic elemental map, painted onto it with representations of the five main elements, the diviners own hands and feet, and various other miscellaneous markings whose meaning contained many mysteries…..at the center of the cloth, covering the earth quadrant, was a pile of cowrey shells with small stones, bones and assorted objects mixed in amongst them. These would spell out the picture, in relation to the elements, that the diviner would read once the divinee had churned them around within the circular medicine wheel at the center of the cloth…..but, there was yet more to this comprehensive healing kit….

….close by and on the cloth the diviner had placed the additional tools and equipment from his medicine bag that wanted to be present. He might not use any of them within this session, as they did not belong directly to the cloth and shell divination practice, but, they were a part of his extended repertoir for seeing into the other worlds and conversing with its inhabitants. Amongst them were a stout natural wooden stick, which could be used in spirit led ‘stick divination’, a small woven basket that looked like a minature beehive and was both the home, shrine and meeting place for two of his main allies, and various organic and man-made objects, shells, roots, coins and bits of bone and hide, amongst other less identifiable material……these could all be called upon, often at the prompting of the spirits, to help the diviner to fine tune and look deeper into the nuances of the reading as things came up, or to see aspects of the situation that the shell divination might not extend to.

Almost everything visible came from the world around, had been aquired by the diviner over the course of time and training and fit comfortably into the diviner’s hide bag, which he could carry with ease slung over his shoulder. This was a practical healing outfit suitable for travel within a global community that, when brought out into our midst, provided a focus of otherworldly and multi-dimensional proportions. Every diviner is a gatekeeper, and those things that did not come from the world around, although they might not ‘look’ particularly out of the ordinary, had infact been gifted or brought back from the otherside of the gateway……

“So…..who’s wanting to come up next” the diviner asked softly, gathering up the shells  into a small compact mound at the center of the cloth. He did not look up until there was a movement as my friend made her way to sit in the center of the circle with the ancestors….”I guess I am….” she said, a little self-consciously….

The diviner gestured towards the cloth…..” you know how it goes – using your dominant hand you move the shells within the circle – the women move the shells moon-wise. If I say ‘stop’ you stop, or you stop when you feel to stop……ok, if you are, we’re ready……”.

There was a pause and the circle settled back quietly, expectant at the events about to unfold……the flame of a candle on the house keeper’s altar flickered momentarily as my friend rested her hand on the pile of shells at the center of the cloth. She closed her eyes briefly and then, on the command of some inner impulse, opened them and started moving her hand counter-clockwise in a circle. Shells, stones and bones began to spread outwards and one or two slipped right to the edge of the circular design – this was usually a sign of either something heading for the spirit worlds or something about to arrive from them. Only, my friend’s hand kept on turning and, as it did, shells began to cross the circle’s boundary….a subtle ripple of energy swept through the room.

I knew enough about my friend, her situation and what had brought her here (and I myself had over two decades of experience in the practice of divination at that time) to know that, although the patterns appearing on the cloth might well extend into the spirit realms, here there was something awry about the spread she had produced and the people gathered around were also picking it up. I was watching the diviner carefully – he showed no sign of speaking but his eyes were riveted on the cloth……eventually my friend stopped churning the shells.

There was an audible outbreath from the village circle and a few quiet whistles and exclamations – the diviner scratched his head and raised his eyebrows. Only now was he showing a reaction, and it was as of one slightly befuddled, astounded even, by the complexity and import of what he was seeing….

“Well…….” he paused, as if looking for the right words…..”what….has been going down with you…..!” It was obvious from the distribution of the shells that this person was undergoing some major challenges and it was not the purpose of the reading to find out what they were, at least not on the outside, that would come from her – no, the purpose here was to disclose what was at their root and find ways of responding.

The aim was to help restore balance and ‘optimise’, no matter how difficult or challenging the situation, but, first we all needed to hear it from the horses mouth, so to speak – this was just as important to the communal aspect of the healing as the practical solutions that would come later.

From the way the shells and objects were spread over the center of the cloth, some spilling well beyond the boundaries of the medicine wheel, it was obvious that this person, my friend, was not all here, that parts of her energy had become dislodged and found their way into the spirit realms, which meant that her integrity, inner balance and perhaps, more than likely infact, the fundamental health of her world situation, was seriously out of kilter – her answer would confirm this…..she was suffering breast cancer, it was impinging on her lymph system and, to make matters more difficult, she was looking after her mother, who was in the more advanced stages of the same disease herself. Without going any further into the details surrounding this situation here, like the divinee’s situation itself the level of healing required in this instance was, in the words of the diviner, going to be ‘radical’!

What I found especially interesting about this reading at this point was two aspects of ‘knowledge’ that the divinee and the ‘village’ circle embodied simultaneously…..on the one hand, the village contained some people who were already well versed in the cowrey shell practice of divination they were taking part in, but, they had not been a party to the divinees situation. There were no visible signs of her suffering. However, the tangibility of the reading, its energetic imprint and effect upon the village circle gathered around the cloth was powerfully visceral, even and most notably, before my friend spoke about her plight……the second, and equally important to the veracity of the reading, was that neither she nor I had witnessed this particular kind of cowrey shell reading before – she had no idea that her actions with the shells would send out such a strong signal to the village, nor how clearly their configuration revealed the extent of her problems, let alone their exact nature and the reality of what lay behind them. The reading taking place here was genuine and true.

It was only when the diviner began to open the dialogue between himself, the shells, his spirit allies and the divinee that the way forward began to emerge, but, in this particular instance, it was a tough and demanding process – so much of this person’s energies were becoming scattered beyond the physical worlds. First steps required a cleansing of the ‘wound’, which was as much if not more spiritual than physical, although the physical was pulling the anomoly into manifestation – this required an otherworldly dressing and application of preventative medicines that reached right into the spirit worlds. The radical nature of the healing would, infact, last over a period of 5 years, require many more readings, strong practical remedies (which, for the sake of privacy, integrity and brevity, I will not go into the exact nature of here in detail), but, would eventually lead to complete remission from the disease. Complete and sustained, largely thanks to two things…..

The first was my friends willingness to undergo the full journey, to stay the course, and that rested on the second thing. Besides ‘radical’ responses there were those that provided ‘maintainence’, that kept things in balance and good health. While the former, the ‘radical’ actions this healing required, could only be overseen and facilitated by an experienced and initiated healer, the maintainence work could be undertaken by the patient themselves.

The second thing was that, in the course of undertaking and keeping up this work, my friend discovered that she herself was a healer within this tradition, that she was naturally endowed with connections to the spirit worlds that this diviner’s tradition recognised, facilitated and supported, and she eventually became a fully initiated healer herself in the tradition of Kontombli medicine and divination. I’ll say a bit more about this kind of medicine in due course, over the coming months, but, this was an immensely important part of her journey through illness, a major part of its inner significance, and it was only through the divination itself and her willingness to follow it through that this itself became revealed. How much of what we ‘suffer’ in this world actually represents an opportunity, a signpost or significant shove in the ‘right’ direction, is an important question in our times – most often, we need the assistance of the otherworld, its insights, and the work of diviners and our own divination practices to help us discover this. Its not so much about ‘self-help’ and evolution, as reclaiming the power inherent in our own path and using it in the most appropriate and advantageous ways, for both ours and the community’s ‘greater good’ – the latter two are synonymous.

I wanted to introduce something of this traditional practice firstly through personal anecdote, as I will be writing up readings working with this method of divination here at Owlmirror, using this as a way of exploring some of the fundamentals and principles, the pragmatic as well as esoteric aspects of the diviner’s art, as well as for looking into the current processes and state of things in the world, in much the same way as we do with astrology – this form of cowrey shell based divination works surprisingly well alongside astrology and complements many other paths and practices, from diverse traditions. Secondly, this particular event also marked the beginning of my own practice as a cowrey shell diviner.

The year was 1998…..after practicing astrology, rune-casting, tasseomancy, the I Ching and reading the signs in nature for many years my practice had begun to feel incomplete and slightly out of focus – I came later to realise that, despite all the previous years experience, I had not yet found my own personal center of gravity as a diviner. The pull of that center had begun to become conscious in the early 70’s through encounters out in the land with the ancestral spirits and spirits of nature, particularly in the Atlantic coastal area of North Devon and in Wiltshire in the UK where I had been living. It took a decade of following the twists and turns of the path before I met my first formal teachers and mentors, at which point those encounters became much more interactive and articulated, and I found myself pursuing a training in ‘spirit medicine’.

It felt like a calling, although I was at pains to make something practical of it in the world, and there still remained the feeling that at the back of it all, like a powerful magnetic core was the real center, that I was slowly spiralling in towards, the place that felt like’ home’. Through the next decade I was pulled further into this ‘medicine’ world and I found my old divining practices becoming more like technical variations on this larger theme – the ‘medicine’ work had become ‘life-work’. It wasn’t until finally I arrived in that room in Austria and laid eyes on the divining kit spread at its center that everything changed, came into focus, and the dots all suddenly and, quite ecstatically, joined up – it was an instant recognition, an ancient and familiar feeling, uncanny and so deeply known, beyond any doubt, just as one might recognise loved ones and places one has known in former lives……

……..that moment of recognition was followed by six years of training with the diviner, Malidoma Some, a Dagara elder and shaman from Burkina Faso in West Africa, and through this all the strands of previous training and activity, in medicine traditions, creative work, divination and different modalities of healing, both contemporary western and ancient indigenous, came together and made sense. In that moment was one of the most liberating feelings I had had in my life to that time…..but, as is in the nature of the trials of life by which we truly learn, even this affirmative centering was eventually to become challenged and questioned.

My friend did recover fully into complete remission and I was fortunate to accompany her on the entirety of her journey – I witnessed the immense liberation and burst of life-force that she too experienced in arriving at that moment, when the doctors confirmed what the spirits had already previously revealed to us – the cancer was completely gone……the moment marked a turning point for both of us. A whole series of events was set in motion that would change both our lives, even more radically than this part of the journey had, much more infact, but, thats something that will have to be spoken of another time…….suffice it to say, she pursued her calling within the Dagara tradition and I, largely through the fated intervention of the Kontombli spirits, eventually came to totally rebuild my own life and practice, from the absolute zero point. Hard as it is to convey just what this means, it required most of all that my own work in the world comprise only that which I could truly say ‘belongs’ to me, to this particular ‘spirit having a human experience’.

Divination is a constant resource in helping us to undertake such work on a personal level – I have seen lives changed in profound ways by its intervention, the intervention and advice of the spirits. The stories that people bring back as a result of having taken up and followed through upon that advice are the real reward for such service as the diviner provides – I hope to relate some of these here, but, from this point in I will be including readings working with the shells, as the occasion arises. Unlike astrology, which is a useful vehicle for divination practice, but, which has a utilitarian availability that allows it to be made use of at will, the cowrey shell practice is of itself much more spirit led and comes up almost unfailingly with a ‘certain purpose’ behind each reading. The fact is, as a diviner, the practice can be developed to such an extent that this particular way of working becomes the basis for all divination work, if the path is followed with a full commitment. At its most integrated levels the practice seemingly disappears and becomes the life lived once more, rather than something one does within one’s life…..the implications of this are worth exploring as its effects profound, liberating and ultimately, I would say, bring us home to ourselves.

We will go into the components of the practice, as described and introduced in the above story, in more detail – and the correspondences with other divination practices are many, so, there will also be opportunity to compare and feedback from your own practices as well. The images here show my own working kit, as it was when I was training with Malidoma, and I will be talking about this kit in some depth as well. Over the intervening years it has changed, become more integrated and personal, while retaining the essense of the original. That process of recapitulation, distillation and refinement is key and the kit has become idiosyncratic to my own practice. Within this is the fundamental point – that we can all discover, put together and work with a divination kit (and practice) that is unique to each of us and that this can and does allow us to fully integrate the ways and means of the diviner seamlessly and invisibly into life, such that we can live our purpose in fullness, balance and total integration – such empowerment is, in my humble opinion, more valuable than anything else, both to ourselves and our communities, and supercedes any notion of evolution, collectively or individually.

Within the indigenous community from which this form of cowrey shell divination has arisen the purpose of a person’s life is primary to their identity, health and ability to function within the community – it is the gift that we have come here not only to remember and own, but, to deliver into the community. A divination such as the one in which my friend found her healing also gave her the crucial footing upon the most profound aspects of her own path and, through this, the community was changed, forever – such is the way of the diviner, no matter in which way or at which level we engage with it. It was also the shared knowledge  of her predicament amongst all those present at her reading that enabled them to provide the support she needed to make that journey, and, in the course of time that support rippled outwards into larger fields and communities. This came about not least of all as a direct conscequence of her having reclaimed her power and life-force in the process of entering into the wider community of life at the call of spirit. Everything is connected in this way, and we all are both affected by and can benefit from such interventions, especially when they are consciously sourced from the spirit worlds. The transformative and fundamental nature of divination rests on this basis – it is innate within us.

Times out of Time

…….flying north over the Tassili n’Ajjer plateau in saharan Algeria at the beginning of the year you would have been forgiven for thinking that the plane had been diverted via Sweden, assuming you were in a plane…..at the exact start of the Chinese New Year Algeria saw heavy snowfall along with several other areas of the Sahara and the Middle East – in fact, at that particular time, or so a little bird told me, Algeria saw more snow than had fallen in Sweden up to that point in the year…..not so unusual in the long run of things, what made this especially note worthy is the fact that the last time Algeria saw snowfall of this kind was at the start of the Chinese New Year…..in 1952, exactly sixty years ago – and, as now, ’52 was also a Water Dragon year! mmmmmm……..

Hi Folks – its been two months since a post appeared at Owlmirror and thats too long – so, I want to say straight from the heart, a big thank-you to all of you who have been visiting and dipping into the archives over this time; thanks for your patience – and, more importantly, to all of you, deep apologies for keeping y’all in the dark. Guess I should say whats been going on behind the scenes!

Simple truth is a whole host events and challenges ranging from building websites and tending to readings and requests, to helping my family relocate, which alone has been all-consuming on many levels……fact is, Life took the reins and I have had to follow!…….and in this particular instance that has led to the good ship Owlmirror going into dry-dock for a refit and stock-up on vittles ahead of our setting sail once again for the vast unknown.

So, with a fair wind picking up, carrying the smell of the open sea and horizons new, and  having a small window this evening to pick up the beat, I felt it only right and good timing to break out the charts and say something about the course were setting and where we are heading over the next few months once we weigh anchor….

…….however, in the time honoured tradition of this particular vessel, there is actually a little more to it than all that…….it began back at Samhain.

Did you notice something change back then, a subtlety perhaps about the shape of things – we noted here in the astro readings the lingering thinning of the veils, a deepening call to clear out unwanted baggage and cleanse our relationships, especially with the ancestors, in preparation for whats coming. And, beneath it all, underpinning our sense of the future was an influx of something new, a call to draw breath before shifting gear and to take the opportunity to re-orientate our goals; seems like a lifetime ago that the Moon’s North Node was conjuncting the ‘Great Attractor’, but, with eclipses and solstices swinging open the doorways of opportunity, I truly believe we saw a novelty, a ‘kink in our timeline’ so to speak, kicking in…..be interesting to know how its been for you too! Right now we are in the end zone of that November eclipse’ sphere of influence, before the next one arrives very soon in May, so, its time to tie up all the loose ends from this last six months of change….as ever, the planets have been encouraging us in this.

When we finally saw Mars station in late Virgo (exact on this astrologer’s natal 10th house Jupiter and close by my MC!) and start swinging back over the section of the sky he’d been sweeping during much of this time an implosion of detailed scrutiny began to take hold and, as if in answer to the Saharan snows, the weather just about everywhere has been pretty crazy…..along with the earth’s magnetosphere (Virgo = mutable earth), telluric and tectonic pathways became energised setting off a building cluster of EQs, and Venus received a direct hit from an as yet unidentified interplanetary traveller, as well as a scorching plasma wave, and, yes, the Sun started dancing, showing new forms in its coronal holes and manifesting a series of spikey sunspots and solar tornados – we’re still seeing the rippling out of the uptick that began as the Sun opposed Saturn….as above etc, and all in a galactic days work?

The big underlying theme then as now has been increasing novelty, and inward pressure for change – and, without a doubt the catalyst has been a major reality check and re-assessment of goals. The very laws of nature seem to be up for re-configuration. But, only seem mind; thats the tricky place we’re in. Infact, it seems that lawsuits are popping uplike spring daisies at the moment, eh Monsanto?! Did you catch the ‘trillion dollar lawsuit’, and can you be sure you know what you are seeing there, eh Mssrs Wilcox, Fulford, Wood et al?!……seems, many devisive rip-tides are trawling the depths at the moment in the politico-economic realms, not to mention the media, eh Mr Murdoch et al?! So, while the mundane world re-organises itself with trailers to a false flag global movie, what we may well be seeing are mock manuevers in anticipation of the upcoming seven episode ‘Uranus Square Pluto Show’…..and that is no joke at this time, eh Mssrs Ahmadinejad, Assad, Obama and Netanyahu et al?!

In plain speak, with solar and earth events hitting the ‘all-change’ button, ‘the world’ we are being presented with through the media appears to be slowly going crazy…..and, in the immortal words of Rupert’s Sun newspaper, ‘We Love It’……except, for the fact that the vast majority don’t – in reality its the usual crass, heartless entertainment to your average hack, but, it is carrying an increasingly high tariff to dodge the ‘Truth’ in this time, especially when the bullets are flying in your direction and there ain’t enough food to go ’round. And it might well be worse than that – the dematerialisation of virtually every sacred cow under the Sun is the calling card for Uranus and Pluto’s upcoming re-write of his-story…….perhaps not surprisingly the scientists are revolting and a noticable split is opening up between the orthodoxy and the avant-garde – theres some  divine jesting at work here too as, amongst the really juicy advances now being made in science, there are some real jokers telling us this is not where the real action is……look up said beautiful truth loving Venus – ‘Yeh! Do that…’ came the echo from, er….NASA?!

Life, as we know it, within the solar system is changing rapidly and our complicity with and awareness of these changes is increasing with it, quite literally – cosmological news and daily updates on the prevailing spaceweather are seeing an upsurge across the internet, many independant observers now utilising our enhanced access to solar and planetary science and its technologies via the http://www.  We find regular reports on the state of the Sun, planetary weather-forecasts and the health of our planet’s inner and outer bodies (most of which can be found posted on youtube and at various ‘scientific’ sites on the web (1)). So, it came as a point of some amusement when NASA announced that following the ‘spaceweather’ is going to play an increasingly important role in this, our terrestrial life from now on – as innocuous a statement of the obvious as we might expect from the scientific orthodoxy, but, noteworthy for it having been flagged up nevertheless, it pays to read between the lines with these guys, regardless the fact that their erstwhile identity as a branch of cosmic estate agents dealing in celestial real estate and out-sourcing is barely hidden these days.

The speculative grapevine that surrounds the idea of ‘earth-changes’ is directly feeding this info into the metaphysical and cosmological discussion and the memes are flying. Its everyday now we’re seeing a whelter of new alerts (predominantly via youtube vids) to ‘evidence’ of our immanent arrival at a new state of being, ‘proofs’ of our ascent towards a higher level of consciousness and notions of our ‘return’ to the cosmological community. While there is some serious and ground-breaking science emerging and fueling the debates now,  Entertainment Value within these networks is at an all-time premium…..but, is it true?! Stepping back……

We might well ask as, meanwhile back on earth, the vicarious gravy-train of ‘official’ media and ‘alternative’ news fueled versions of Reality seem to be in confluence and the flood is in full flow. Yes, as we are now fed 24/7, everyone now utilising the very same media of mass comms, endless updates on mounting defections, arrests and ‘trillion dollar’ lawsuits and political wrangling within the financial sector, global upticks in EQ activity, flooding and crazy weather, wars, political scandals, revolutionary struggles and ecological disasters and a marked increase in the visibility of the ‘transhuman agenda’ notwithstanding, the irrelevant and random juxtaposition of this cornucopia of the usual ‘news’, meta-science and conspiratorial knee-jerking with the race for the Whitehouse, obsessively voyeuristic ‘intimate’ details scooped from the lives of celebrities and the latest sports results are conspiring to create an exotic and yet anodine cultural chaos. Even if there is an overriding reality that we cannot ignore at this crucial moment in time, this itself is becoming drowned out by the maelstrom of high and low frequency noise we as a species are creating for ourselves as the soundtrack to our journey through 2012. Its also noteworthy that it has been in the latter stages of the Piscean age, in the overlap zone where  Aquarian influence has been impinging on Piscean ideals, that we have seen the rise of high tech and the internet – and Neptune’s transit through Aquarius has seen its greatest period of innovation and expansion. We are now revisiting the idealogical basis of this upsurge in creativity with Neptune firmly ensconced in the Piscean side of the overlap zone – could this be at the root of the game of charades now being played…..it has become obvious that each of us must look to our own reality for the answers.

So, how are you doing in the midst of all this craziness…..here at Owlmirror the point came where this became the over-riding question…….and the answers?!

We left off last time with a straight piece of counsel that in some very real ways was a direct response to this question…..’making good the shrines’……and, taking up this advice, Time was called and before you could say ‘hyper-space anomolies’ we were pulling focus and had been summoned to the inner sanctum of everyday life closer to home. Sometimes you have to simply call a halt to the madness…….

How unsuspecting are we of the consequences? It is true that Owlmirror has also been flagging up the increase in ‘novelty’ and unpredictability factors at work in our local arm of the planetary matrix for some time, but, that is the easy part – about which, it always intrigues me how little hindsight is paid by astrologers to their forecasting, checking the facts against prognostications, and this itself became an open question that quickly snowballed, Algerian style .

It had not been the crew of this ship’s intent (at least not mine – ed.) to batten down the hatches and unplug the public address system here, but, a diviner’s life, if it is to be lived with fidelity to its ‘sponsors’, is never entirely their own…..and, while our home reality is the only place that really matters, responding to guidance is the whole point. For all the increasing interest in divination, astrology and the unseen that is currently at large in the world, media influence or not, and, while there is always a place for the jester’s wit and wisdom in the midst of our courtly madness, we are at least to some extent sovereign in our own lives. We do well to play our cards carefully now, and trivialise such matters at our own risk……we can also miss opportunities and great beauty. If trivialisation of Life is to be the joker’s card that leads to the denuement of humankind, and if all this noise is actually a reflection of Neptunian fog descending over the Piscean oceans of collective mass media generated archetypel infection, then ‘making good the shrines’ is, without a doubt, a trumping maneuver and major antidote.

It may be a truism, but, in reality, Life is not divided into compartmentalised sectors. It serves us well to be reminded that Life is holy and sacred, even in the midst of the clamour and pressures of the everyday and, if it is your calling to work with the unseen, the shrines may also be that place where the noise of the world drops away, and a connectedness prevails that, while it may have higher energy levels in some ways, is imbued with a sense of timelessness and rich fruitful quietude –  sanctuaries of sanity. In that place we can hear the world and sense its great turnings much more clearly. When the shrines are ‘made good’, our Hara lines strengthened as Ishtar put it in her comment to ‘Pearl Fishing’ (much appreciated), the energy rises and we can hear the big wheel turning as we re-align and balance…..and, sometimes it calls us to go stand beneath the stars and wonder.

Around the time of the our last posting here a thing of great beauty was unfolding in the heavens – Venus was joining in close conjunction with Jupiter close by the Pleiades star cluster. Venus has increased her luminousity in recent times and, while undergoing great changes, like all the planets in our neck of the galactic woods (notably, it has also been recently observed that her axial rotation is slowing and her day has lengthened by a significant degree in current time), her presence has become powerfully magnetic, her luminescence scintillatingly electric. Combined with Jupiter’s brilliance they brought a gift of benevolent beauty from the night skies, further deepened into a rounded sense of time and place and symbolic resonance once the crescent Moon joined with these irridescent beings beneath the stars.  Awakening qualities that could be truly felt if we gazed upon their vibrant luminousity their gift became manifest through bringing many, perhaps for the first time, to turn their gaze skywards not merely to ‘look’, but, to partake in celestial contemplation.

There is a magic of the highest order at work in the celestial realms and if we take our bodies to meet with them it becomes possible to expand and deepen our lives, to begin once more to sense our place within the cosmos and get a sense of perspective – it may also provide us a glimpse of the greater presence of the worlds beyond this world. Such is the nature of star gazing – one of our innate ancestral impulses, ancient beyond our imaginings, it is also where astrology and astronomy reveal their common root, our common roots, within the star nations of the eternal dreamtime……I like to think that the astrological interpretation of such an event is superceded by its direct experience, not least of all for the fact that this is exactly how the very stories belonging to the star nations and celestial family of our solar system came to be with us. Those stories colour our use of the craft with all the mesmerising influence of the archetypes they seem to portray – but, as Sistertongue, another of our esteemed commentors here, has pointed out Neptunes story, for example, doesn’t hold the same kind of water as it used to……

For all the analytical musings and mythopoetic interpretations that accompany the current practice of astrology, the ground of experience is paramount. Checking back upon the fruits of our insights gives us the psychological and intellectual grounding – but, no description can match the direct experience of the planetary and stellar matrix for unifying and integrating the energies of the celestial plane and its inhabitants within our being. There are gateways here for that grounding to manifest, not only as a source of nourishment, but, through which the deepest memories of our source, our true nature and home within the cosmos may became activated. This sense of perspective is intrinsic to astrology and has been since the beginning. Just as our ancestors embraced this the larger reality of the cosmological life we too, first, by virtue of our physical senses, when we quieten enough to allow it of ourselves, can experience our intimate connections with the greater Life as a star-born unfolding moment bringing heightened energies and expanded awareness into our physical being – this is palpable if given enough attention, and if we are prepared to take the further step, towards the second level of attention, and allow these generative energies to work their magic within, we can still discover beyond those gateways, hidden in plain sight, the unseen vibrant lands beyond the physical planes. These are the origins of the Dragon Paths. They are also the source of the very stuff of Life.

Present with and around us in the terrestrial as much as the celestial, Nature is abundant with these gateways. Our souls are resilient by virtue of their eternal presence and the, once regained, familiar eminations of celestial energy, the stars and planets, that have never left us within the soul realms, are as old as Time itself……even now, if the calling is heeded, there is the opportunity to go test this out. Perhaps you will hear the Earth spirit awakening with this knowing and resonating with the expanding frequencies of awareness that are flowing within the cosmos. As esoteric as all this might sound it is good health to do so.

Within the earth realms their energies manifest at frequencies discernable within the physical frame of our bodies, both giving access to the celestial spectra and dimensions, and reminding us of the reality of our physical being. We know that the sacred sites are both sacred and sited upon this foundational interdimensional web – within our realm, our density, their expression finds profound resonance in sacred geometry and gives us the harmonic template for co-operative manifestation of their potential. This is divine potential in its origin, its energy and geometry is at the heart of astrological practice – the stars are here brought to earth; we never left them.

As an astrologer working with these energies is essential – the practice is simply indigenous, however much in contemporary clothing it might be figured and shaped. But, star-gazing is its foundation – the technologies of spirit are its natural expression and extension.

As an astrologer bringing this home makes the practice ‘soul-work’, beyond psychology and archetypal metaphor, and, in my view, is nothing less than the mind of Nature finding its voice within us. We need the quietude and fruitful darkness of our inner sanctum to hear it…..and, once the shrines have been made good once more it indubitably will call us to embark on that greatest journey of all and navigate by the stars a way home to ourselves.

Which brings us back to Owlmirror. The next phase of this journey is deeply tied up with this experiental reality as well as those Dragon Paths – their currents lead us into uncharted territory; remember seeing those places where uncertainty and the unknown reside being marked on the charts and maps of the ancient mariners with that most evocative of sayings – ‘here be Dragons’?!

They will be guiding us to look into the use of astrology as a mutli-valant navigational aid – the journey around the Wheel of Life is writ large in the zodiac, its correspondences with the physiology of our human frame, the knowledge of the medicine people of old and the connections between the perrenial knowledge, the transcendant potential we literally embody and the energies of the Dragon Paths themselves, all will be a part of the course we take. The journey is going to take us out beyond the divination practices openly employed here so far at Owlmirror as well – indigenous divination has many forms and, as well as discussing how the ancestors brought the stars to earth and worked directly with the energy of the Dragon Paths on the earth plane, we’ll be bringing in one of the main forms of ancestral divination that I have been trained in and work with in unison with astrology – it originated in north Africa, not so far from where the snows fell at the opening of the Chinese new year, but, more on this later……

I thought long and hard during this time-out about how I could best develop and realise the potential that Owlmirror’s journey has opened up over the past couple of years.  It became obvious that alongside the expansion of the divining ‘toolkit’ here there is also an opportunity for a deeper discussion of the art itself.  In the coming months I will be offering readings, both on a personal and topical basis, that bring the focus to particular astrological events in real time – this will provide a platform for investigation of the reality of the practice. There will also be articles where methods can be explored, an opportunity go much deeper into the art and craft of astrology amongst the many other practices of divination. We will be looking at the charts of individuals who have had a profound influence in our world and on the craft, starting with the Elizabethan mage and astrologer John Dee. Opportunities to learn and develop our divination practices will be coming as the year progresses as well, and this will be taking place both off and on-line. Altogether the aim is to follow the calling, work with the opening Dragon Paths and bring a more developed and personal flavour to Owlmirror, one that brings home the beauty and purposefulness of the diviner’s world, how it touches our individual lives, as well as the extra-ordinary times we are alive within. We are all in this together…..

The craft is changing and our art needs to change with it.  And, speaking of arts and crafts, I have a new site that is nearing ready for launch that features the artwork itself, much of which will be work not yet presented here alongside new work as it arises. As an online portfolio/blog it will have its own tab in the header crossbar here. I will be introducing this next time with an article on a commission that came up shortly after Samhain and which came to fruition over the solstice time through the work of my dear friend Rowan Jacqueline. She is an inspirational artist and medicine dancer who has developed a body of work of great beauty weaving the dynamics and presence of the earth, our bodies and indigenous wisdom into an approach to self exploration and realisation that is much needed in our times – Rowan was called to bring her work to (you guessed it) Sweden at the turning of the Sun and commissioned a special carving that was at the center of the solstice ceremony there……this saw the birth of the ‘Sunchild’, the subject of our next post. Theres much to look forward to as the great wheel turns….

……just one more thing; if you were wondering about Venus’ enhanced brilliance just now, she has a long cycle of increasing luminousity that invariably culminates when she journeys through Gemini – she’s traversing Gemini now and will soon be crossing the face of the Sun – this is a rare event as only seven such transits have occured since the invention of the telescope. Nevertheless, this was well known to our ancestors, infact, without her presence and their stargazing observation of Venus much of our calendrics would not have come into being – if ever there was a measure of time……and what better reason to go star-gazing at sunset……..

(1) Although many of the online vids and sites appear to escape critical assessment, peer review and validation, many being based on personal views and interpretations, amongst them are some which resonate with a real sense of veracity – it is up to all of us to be the judge of this, especially as so much of what passes for ‘information and fact’ is recycled from other sources, given a new spin and lustre. But, having said that, the sheer scope and breadth of information and groundbreaking thought alone that they represent is a sure indication that we are undergoing a major transformation at a collective level of consciousness that may well have some grounding in our own experience. And, while in respect of this discernment is very much the name of the game, it always pays to keep some judgement in reserve……experience will tell.

The Wind on the Mountain

The first New Moon after the Equinox arrives just as the Earth is clothed equally in day and night. The light is rapidly sinking in the North and energetically rising in the South. Everything is in motion; the geese are beginning to fly, the wind rising on the mountain speaks of transformation, and on Earth we watch as the Moon comes into alignment with the Sun in the sign of justice, balance, relationships and ‘the other’. Looking out upon the world we can see the energy rising through the lens of the cosmos in tune with the times.

At the crossing point in time and the seasons it is time to take stock. The polarities of light and darkness, growth and decay, are in dynamic equilibrium all around us. In the wider context the times offer us opportunity, as, in bringing attention to the pivotal point around which division swings, we can also choose to work towards bringing an end to all that keeps us divided. The New Moon amplifies the energy, brings it to a needs/must status – we can perhaps sense a tension rising, the balance point is loaded with potential, flashpoint uncertainty…..releasing the tension, with vision and foresight, is a great challenge. Being caught up in the energy of change, having the ability and courage to persist in the midst of immense challenges, let alone look to the future, will push us to the limits of our resourcefulness. Perhaps this will be the crucial fact of our coming experiences that will decide for us how we persist, the nature of the vision we are able to manifest in visceral reality. But, before we consider the implications on the ground, first, it would be wise to get in tune with nature.

Earth Mother speaks to us both through the falling fruits, coming to ripeness, leaves flying in the wind, and the emerging shoots, vigorous with promise, bursting buds, tender in their blossoming – death and birth dancing together in our One World…..

…….from the northern perspective She asks us to awaken our sense of Value as we appraise the harvested fruits of our labours and identify those most fertile with seeds, those that will carry us through the dark time and those that will bring energy and sustainence that will help us stay healthy and bring the warm glow of the dream-time to our wintering hearts – these are the precious seeds of our imagination and inner vision…..

……from the southern perspective  our values can help us identify the new growth, the sprouting life force taking shape, caring for those that need protection, that need feeding and planting out, the healthiness of the seeds that have sprouted within our dreamings, to which we will give most attention in the coming growing time as they unfold their stories, testing themselves out in the world.

If we were to look into the cosmobiological world, the dominant impulse, seismic and volcanic, the global climate and solar activity tell us we are in the Southern half of the cycle – Earth is awakening, pushing the physical boundaries as the life force increases with pulses from the source – the Sun becoming newly activated and seeding the magneto-sphere is driving the weather and charging Earth’s nervous system. The hemispheres hold the balance…….all is dancing together, to the tune of Change…..this dance, however, has the accelerating rhythm of a dance going wild……

In both our gathering and our sowing ‘Care’ and ‘Vigilance’ are our watch-words as we encounter the unpredictable weather of the autumn and spring. In the human world, where we predominantly base our decisions on factors independant of nature, we are at a forward looking moment of choices – and the times have a flavour that says our future remains in the balance, undecided – we can go either way. So, looking to our resources, the better to make informed decisions, has  a crucial edge of destiny about it at this time.

Just four days after equinox a New Moon in Libra brings a re-defining influence to the energetic shift in the seasons. The decisions we take now will be carried forward over the next month through the lens of the Libran Moon. What we decide now will also carry us through to the Solstice – it is a propitious time!

If we were to look into the human world, the dominant weather, our politics and economic climate would tell us that we are in the Northern half of the cycle – and, perhaps our evaluation would have us throwing out most of ‘the harvest’ – so much of it has become rotten to the core, its life force corrupted. War strips us of the very means with which we can stop the rot……increasingly we can see, the people are awake and know that only through waging war on War itself and the divisive infra-structures that support it can we bring justice to bear. We will see how Mars and Pluto are at work in this.

There is an air of rising realism, at odds with the illusions spun to keep our collective power yoked. Uranus is making strong connections here too, not least of all with Mars. The blinkers are off, and soon enough, at each emergent trigger point, the restraints will come off too – Wall Street is the latest in an increasing pattern of unpredictable flashpoint demonstration of the public will and  anger. This is bringing the whole question of resources to the frontline of action……it is not through violence that the voice of the people will be heard, this will fuel only more deeply entrenched division. Intelligent use of resources is supported through awareness and open distribution, communication and fostering integrity – anger is natural when these are denied. Uranus gives us access to the higher mind, Mars brings a crucial sense of realism that will not be denied. 

Our emphasis here is on the higher vibration. A powerful upswelling of Earth changes is very much a part of this process…….at this New Moon Venus, ahead of the Sun and Moon in Libra, gains an uplifting energy from Jupiter retrograde in Taurus. Venus rules both Libra and Taurus, but, here she transits within the constellation of the Crow – in keeping to the higher manifestation look out for deceptions and scornful trickery around resources. Be aware of false promises. Sacred Law will guide us. We must be prepared to defend ourselves against usery.

Our inner resources gain great strength when we connect with Jupiter’s inner expansion of wisdom, of elevated awareness, and this in turn can bring a deeper meaning to Venus’ heart centered infusion of love into our relationships. She is on her way to meet with Saturn soon after New Moon – this will help us ground the Earth centered values she is bringing. Saturnian maturity will help us fully incarnate those values and seed our vision for the future……so much rests upon us manifesting this through our collective power as an agent for change.

In the Equinox template Sun began entering into opposition with Uranus in Aries opening the collective mind with a drive for originality and freedom. Over the coming months we can utlise this energy in breaking the mould of habitual thought through opening to insights and realisations about our collective potential. Mars in Leo trines Uranus and sextiles the Sun bringing original creative power to all that we seek to embody – and, at equinox, Mars was also conjunct the Moon. Collectively, we the people are becoming fired up, finding voice.

Mars will continue to feed this doubly fiery energy into our creative endeavours for change as at New Moon he moves into exact quincunx to Pluto in Capricorn. Here is the push for realism. Systemic change within our Earth field will begin to reach down to the roots and the signs are already there…….they hardly need re-iterating. How we work with these combined influences is key. Watch the financial turmoil increase, but, don’t get sucked into the inevitable ‘spin’ that it will generate……the mesmerising culture of consumerism is dieing, and despite the insidious inroads it has made into our psyches,  its influence is increasingly waning on how we connect with our own deepest personal values, gifts and power. We know these have a better purpose….take care of them and be patiently alert. We would do well to be patient, as an elder would be, and hold back superficial and reactionary judgement by keeping the bigger picture in mind. There is much work to be done within the initiation zone. A shot of Heron medicine will also serve us well here…..

We need to be able to spot the moment when we are called to manifest the flashing energy of Uranus, as it happens, and really feel the power surging from source – we can experience ecstatic joy in our creativity, if we are open to it. The more we quiet our minds and reside in our hearts, the more this will be available to work with and we can grasp ‘the flash of opportunity’ beneath the surface, no matter how clouded the waters become with sudden change. Neptune can symbolise this clouding, but, Mars, Uranus and Pluto will have none of it!

A healing vision for our planet is at work behind this – staying with the higher vibration, Chiron brings the healing waters of Pisces into our New Moon, deep waters that cleanse our world of the wounds of the past, and Neptune in Aquarius, still in partnership with Chiron, brings the connectivity of higher consciousness into the healing process. This is available for our emergence, beyond the competitive mindset, into one of co-operation. Neptune atomises the energy and spreads it through each of us, as fractals of the whole containing the hologram of  wholeness. This influence is present at Equinox and holds.

At equinox, making this all the more powerful and underpinning our creative responses to bring a thorough and realistic clearing, Chiron’s and Neptune’s combined energies have become amplified with Pluto’s unstoppable alchemy of transformation – a great push for total change in how we express our collective power as an achievable goal that heals our collective mind. Again, they feed back to Mars.

The signs suggest that we are ready to work hard to realise this visionary process,  embodying the shamanic paradigm, through our own spiritual alchemy – the Sun recieves this transformative impulse through sextile with Mars and the Moon feeding into the equinox template. Pluto sextile Neptune and Chiron combine in a yod to feed their impulse through Mars and the Moon. When such deeply transformative potential impulses the energised emotional body of the people revolutionary power can course through us – we need to ground this power and let it flow. We can ground it with holistic creativity when we let it flow through our hearts. It will fund us with courage. With courage we begin to grow in confidence and the energised emotional body in turn expands our connections – we get a picture of ourselves within humanity expressing the interrelated polyrythmic nature of the dance. It’s polyrythms tell us it is multi-dimensional, working at many levels in unison. Entering the shamanic state in full consciousness of integration within the matrix of Life initiates us into the shamanic paradigm – if we are truly to become co-creative we must be able to go there. We will come back to this in a moment…..

Courage inspires and helps us raise our consciousness. Sun sextile Mars and Moon at equinox form a second yod back to Chiron and Neptune that manifests a feedback loop for our healing vision – at first we will feel it, then through the New Moon matrix we will learn how to manifest it. Mercury is also at work here and can augment Chiron and Neptune’s influence in ways that will help us raise our consciousness, working with shamanic awareness and dexterity as a part of this process. Intentionally working in this way, now is a good time to utilise the potential here – trust as you do that you will be connecting with others in natural co-operation. Spiritual symbiosis.  Tending to our own soul path enables us to work together without having to even think about it, but, doing so together strengthens the energy – 10 Billion Beats is a prime example and the energy of the drumming will continue to reverberate through our individual work for many months.

We would do well to begin thinking of ourselves as a global community, a village with a strong heart – I would recommend choosing this time to make earth healing rituals, building an earth shrine or altar, as the symbolic heart of the global village and feeding it with inspirational beauty as gifts and offerings to the spirits. Both spring and autumn fund us with immense richness and beauty so our offerings can really speak to the spirits; ask them for guidance and personal healing that will aid you in the coming months….this will pay great dividends, for us all. These sacred focii will serve us in the coming months too; a golden bees wax candle dedicated to the earth-heart and lit in a central place will bring a strong sense of beauty to our home. Remembering all who struggle to find food and shelter can strengthen our bonds and help us maintain a balanced perspective. There is great support in this from the planetary matrix. But, we are also a part of a much larger community……

Mercury in Virgo at Equinox quincunx Neptune – at New Moon, Mercury catches up with the Sun in Libra and this becomes a tight quincunx to Chiron from Mercury conjunct Sun and Moon. The complex dance plays out in quick-time with Mercury’s advance through this period – it is a window of potent opportunity for entraining with Galactic energy – equinoxial Mercury squares the Galactic center. Sun is fueling our Earth changes, recieving the electric impulses of new energy from the Galactic Center. Watch the uptick in solar activity seeding the Earth matrix. At Equinox the visionary charge of healing energy coming through Mercury’s quincunx with Chiron and Neptune seeds the template with intelligent creativity that compliments the Sun Uranus opposition at New Moon. Uranus opposition with the Sun tightens to exact as the New Moon comes into manifestation. Altogether, with Pluto also coming into a square with the New Moon, this potential can be released with ongoing intensity through the next three months. We can really make our otherworldly connections count now. Sacred Law founded in the heart will teach us how.

Saturn in Libra sextiled the North Node of the Moon in Sagittarius at Equinox – natural balance in accordance with Sacred Law is the basis of our soul journey. Collectively, we can bring a powerful understanding of our responsibility towards the future through grounding our role as guardians of the Earth Garden, a role, we know, enshrining and embodying Sacred Law. Cosmobiological awareness is the way to bring it into consciousness. With Jupiter in trine with Venus at Equinox the goddess energies can help us in turning with the tide, pulling us closer together, uniting us with Her great heart.

At New Moon Venus approaches conjunction with Saturn and sextile with the North Node. Our journey into wisdom as an expression of Sacred Law within the heart. With diligence towards our inner wealth and we can forge the diamond body of indestructible compassion through time……the cosmobiological heart of the Earth Mother coming alive within, helping us to manifest a better world into being, and from this our journey towards Solstice will unfold……but, this is a gradual process, one that needs a steady foundation, that flows with the shifting balance of the seasons.

While care and vigilance are the key words as we enter the new seasonal zone, the Libran Moon is upping the stakes. The driver here is ‘the Unexpected’, powerful influences manifesting through events that exacerbate breakdown and push growth in change to new levels – overall, with this Moon cycle a rising groundswell of transfigurative potential is emergent. The planetary configuration shows a hightened possibility that world events will become cumulative, pushing the agenda for transformation. This is a great test for humanity. We are also, it seems, entering into a zone that speaks of ‘instant Karma’.

This will signal a change in focus, an intensifying of awareness. What is wise within us must now come to the fore. It is a good time to strengthen our bonds with each other, to make our connections truthfull and grounded. For all the apparent complexities at work, this is an inspirational matrix of energy, with centeredness, eldership and realism at its heart. The planetary matrix is calling for serious assessment of what will serve each of us best – a pragmatic stock-take of our personal resources will help us ground and stay earthed, both individually and collectively. Alignment with the seasons brings balance and meaning to all our endeavours.

Awareness is a resource of great power. We need to be watchfull and look out for each other. Rising tension between the power of nature and the force for containment asks us to get real. There will be a tendency for those resisting change and ‘keeping their heads in the sand’ to have their personal agendas sidelined, and this applies as much to the political arena and economics as it does to individuals who hold power within those fields. The dogmatism of the older generations must give way to the embodiment of the Elder, even as it emerges amongst the young. And emerge it will, with our care, vigilance and realism. For all the opportunistic rioting and looting that systemic breakdown catalyses, beneath and behind it is a disquiet that ‘knows’ – the challenge of initiation is to connect with this knowing. This is an important time as the way will open for those whose fore-sight and broader vision is based on Natural Law and innate wisdom to step up to the plate.

The first lunation of the new equinox season will help us decide where we stand within the midst of accelerating change……

As intense as the winds of change may become, the as yet untapped resources of humanity are given planetary support so that we can now considerably increase our capacity to meet them with equanimity. We know that we have a great resource within. Together, each of us holding to the center and expanding our heart energies can generate a protective field of fully conscious and fierce compassion – the mountain is our symbol……but, we must let ourselves go into the dance and let its power flow through us for this to happen….the mountains too will have their dance….

We have reached the crossing point. Beyond is the pull of a vision that can ingite our collective soul; paradoxically, gaining access to it through manifesting it……it will take time, but, time itself is changing. When we are able to realise our role as Guardians of the Earth garden, our inner radiance will pervade the earth plane and experiencing time will become ever present access to the whole…..

Hold to the center. Owlmirror advocates giving voice and form to visionary potential as it comes through,  but, it takes more than one voice to encompass the whole, so, have courage and let your voice be heard. This vision, for all its cosmobiological implications, is simply a choice within our humanity…….

The catabolic release of energy that the entropic half of the dance will manifest, as the old balance of power is naturally dismantled, will also fund us with an anabolic empowerment to bring our creative powers into new forms. The vision can be realised. But, it is intrinsic to its realisation that we be discerning and careful not to polarise, to split humanity further. Honouring difference heals division. Healing means making whole. Embracing the whole, light and dark, is the real challenge for our unity. Earth’s equinox seen through the lens of the Libran Moon.

And, it should be said, that regardless of the apparent grandiose nature of such a vision, there is little room for idealism here, we are working with what is, as is, in new ways. Many who feel that the completion of the Mayan Calendar signals our entry into a new consciousness may find that the challenges continue to arise as they have done over the millenia, as they did for our fore-bears. And, as our ancestors knew, the present holds the key to healing all time. They too made mistakes – can we learn? Everything is happening with a purpose, only, be careful of  apocalyptic prophecy, as well as the idea of a day of revelation – for all the portents, they also carry the overtones of the old paradigm that is dieing off…….if the cosmobiological vision holds any weight, emergence from material fundamentalism into gnosis within the living multiverse tell us that fear and denial do not belong to our future….the indigenous prophecies are very down to earth and pragmatic in this respect.

Small steps make a great journey possible, each step at their own time, as the moment requires……our resources are great, our technology ancient and evolving, bringing us to spiritual communion within the animate multiverse – sentient cosmobiological realisation.

 The technological skills we have built up can, if we choose, support this, but, science is not everything and this too is on the verge of great change – the fusion of science with compassionate living born within indigenous Earth wisdom promises much. Would any scientist dare embrace the shamanic vision without it…..a rhetorical question. The electric universe connects us all in the Now.  

Even though we may be reaching for the stars Earth is the Life giver through whom we can truly come to know them and, despite the youthful rebelliousness with which  science also disregards this fact, once we recognise how deep Her love for us is we may also just discover that she holds our deepest memories within her heart. The Earth Garden is the living memory of our stellar origins. Youthful energy becomes mature through the challenges within the initiatic rites. For all the challenges we face on Earth now, this is a golden moment in our evolution….

If at this time we were to view ourselves as a global village we would see that half of the village is being guided by Earth to begin bringing the nurturing of our dreaming bodies to the fore, while the other half is being guided by Earth to begin feeding our creative energies into manifestation through our physical plane. When our creative energies flow from the heart, as artisans of the sacred, we know that these two halves are not seperate, that we never entirely cease from either outer or inner focus working together in manifestation – the two are aspects of one movement, forever in active balance. The times are most propitious now, however, for us to capitalise on all the work we each have done and collectively begun to realise, so that we can also increase our working as one village, with awareness, in ways that manifest this as a single and unified process. The collective spiritual alchemy of humanity is the vehicle through which cosmobiological unity with Earth can be realised. While gradual development along this path is the given theme for this Equinox…….how we can achieve and maintain our sustained development and navigate the path through initiation depends very much on our ability to ride the winds of change.

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The symbols in this post have come from several readings. The astrological symbolism for the New Moon and Equinox are sourced in the tropical zodiac, the signs, the planetary positions and the Sabian Symbols attached to these, as well as the energy that connects them as expressed through aspects. For the Equinox the I Ching was cast using three different translations for interpretation, Stephen Karcher’s of 2002, Thomas Cleary’s of 1986 and Richard Wilhelm’s of 1950 – the image arising was hexagram 53 Chien, Gradual Progress with two moving lines, 2 & 5, giving rise to hexagram 18 Ku, Corruption/Renovation. Amazingly, the relationship between these two hexagrams exactly mirror the equinoxial shift. A further reading for the cosmobiological aspects of the article was made using a method of Cowrie Shell divination originating in West Africa – this method has been transposed into a new form, incorporating and integrating western indigenous techniques, and will be one of the forms of divination Owlmirror will be writing about over the coming year. Further material was sourced through spirit journeying and ancestral divination, both of which will also be brought into our exploration of divination practices and techniques through the year ahead.

The Lynx’s Tale

When Lynx comes visiting our neck of the woods we’d best be quiet and listen……..she does not always make an overt appearance, in fact, in spirit as in the wilds she is often felt before seen, if seen at all. Her energy is uncanny – she is coy, wiley and elusive, but, she has real presence. Even when Lynx remains unseen she sets a certain tone – stilling, watchfull, alert to the slightest vibration and movement. Her eye-sight is considered second to none, with a laser like clairvoyant quality that can pierce the veils of material reality and give access to the hidden world that fuels its manifestation. With enhanced awareness Lynx can help us experience the world in all its multi-layered complexity, but, all of these qualities have also made her, like the witches familiar, the target of mistrust and suspicion.  

As many of the old stories will tell, when Lynx is about you’d better watch-out. But, it is an ill deserved reputation, born mostly out of fear and the threat of being truly seen that an impure heart will feel in her presence. It is also born out of ignorance, for she brings awareness to the energies that connect us all at the level of the finest vibrations, an area of experience commonly outside the everyday range of humans. This is the zone of interconnectedness through which animals sense apriori physical events in the world. And, if we follow her and allow her to inform our own inner knowing, she will be a powerful and pragmatic ally, especially if we work with her through an awareness centered within the heart. From this place we can both open out, expand and fine tune our awareness while remaining protected within seeming invisibility, seated at the core. For these qualities alone her medicines offer a balm and useful strategy amidst the unrest that is unfolding in the outer world. But, there is much more to her than meets the eye……

Traditionally, Lynx is seen as the guardian of secrets. She knows. This is a role that carries a hefty responsilibilty, that of the protection of power as it resides in the form of hidden knowledge and wisdoms. When she comes into our awareness we know that we are being given notice to look more deeply at our own responsibilities. Active and overt use of those powers is not a part of her medicine, but, for us these are crucial responsibilites which we would do well to pay good attention to in this time, and she can help us here. Through alerting us to them she can help us fine tune our own sensibilities in relation to the innate powers we carry and how we use them. She can give us insight into how others do likewise, and this makes a person with Lynx medicine seem equally uncanny, and, as a result, equally open to projection of those fears that are generated by a heart that is out of balance.

There are no flies on Lynx and very little escapes her attention – in fact  she,  not  so much demands honesty as, requires that we and others face our own dis-honesties – sooner or later they will come out anyway as a result of her presence! She can however also help us find balanced empowerment through admitting them, one of her healing gifts. Elusive and hidden as she often-times is, Lynx can deliver the gift of responsibility without ego investment. In this she is a clarifier of the heart, a wonderous magical being bearing great gifts. And those very gifts, by their active and true nature, help us to source and generate the heart’s true power in the form of courage. It is a special kind of courage that cuts through the spells and illusions cast by the allies of the dark side, that bind us to their will. With Lynx as our ally we can free ourselves from their machinations. The knack with her medicine is to learn to ‘listen with the eyes’ as things unfold in their dance – with this kind of seeing our eyes touch the world with hidden power. She helps us cut through the fog of deception, get our feet back on our path and feel the magic again. If we are to become guardians of the earth garden this gift will be essential to us.

Lynx is also an initiator here as she can also help us evolve our own powers in relationship with those present within the natural environment, and develop our responsibilities around how we work with them. In this Lynx is also an archetype for the spiritual and ethical practice of ‘deep ecology’.

The message Lynx is delivering is always best treated with the utmost respect. She offers us an early warning system for upcoming changes, and often these turn out to be radical. If we are alert to her warnings we can take steps that keep us one step ahead, much as animals do when an earthquake is about to arrive – we too can sense intensities, microcosmic disturbances that threaten to manifest challenging changes at a macrocosmic level. With so many rapid and challenging events now occuring in our world across the board her medicine exemplifies the innate qualities and abilities that can help us begin to bring into the world, and through which we can embody, the emergent shamanic paradigm.

The drawing within the image shown here came through after my first encounter with Lynx some years back – I had been in the high mid-Pyrenean Mountains searching out the lessons of the wilds. This area borders the National Park south of the French Spanish border, one of the last remaining natural habitats in which the Iberian Lynx is found within Europe. With her formidable ability to remain unseen, we can never be entirely certain how many of her numbers, if any, remain in the wild in that part of the world. The Iberian Lynx population has been under increasing threat over much of the last century, mostly from disease and hunting, as well as encroaching human settlement and her presence has dwindled to the very brink of extinction – it is thought that at the most only a handful of breeding pairs remain in the wild, in fact, many conservationists believe the only chance for their survival may now rest with those protected within captivity in breeding programmes. Our relationship with the natural world, the fine balance in nature that our own presence can tip so easily one way or another, is exemplified by the delicate care which we must bring to the Iberian Lynx back from the edge and into the wild. We can learn from her how to be wise and sensitive as guardians of Nature.

A friend, whose partner had a shepherds hut up in the high mountains, told me that his mountain dogs often found Lynx spore, but, the presence of his hounds ensured that he himself had never seen one….I was captivated by the thought of this beautiful wild spirit and felt her presence in the forests, everything became infused with hightened sensitivity. I too never saw Lynx in the flesh while in the mountains, but, there was always the feeling of having been seen and since that time she has emerged out of the dreamtime with uncanny timing, especially in advance of threshold moments. She remains an elusive and yet powerful ally whom we can count on to connect us with the unseen when we most need it. If sylvan darkness, the inner light of the forest, be the place of mystery she is one of its prime guardians and gatekeepers. As a wise man once said ‘When life becomes darkest the eye of the soul begins to see’.

Lynx leaves the signs of her elusive presence as magical markers and, in this, she is also a reader and maker of signs, a way shower and pathfinder. Folklore tells us that where she leaves her spore we may find a hidden message. Her urine is said to turn into pearls of  garnet  – her whiskers, antennae of great sensitivity, are woven into medicine hats, attached to wands and fetishes, as a direct link to the subtle energies that ebb and flow around and through us. She connects us with the spirit worlds. She is an edge dweller, her spirit seeing both ways, seated always just beyond our physical sensibilities, but, calling us over into the other worlds. Her initiatic presence brings us to the inner circle of the initiation grounds, the place where we come alive with the life-force and learn of our own soul presence. Here Life, no matter where we are, can assume the shape and form of this sacred space. If we let ourselves be guided by her beyond the known and into this place of deepened learning she can energise and weave together the subtle strands of our souls innate predilictions, the talents and abilities that belong to our hidden gifts, and help us see how we can make of them a braid, our soul path. These are the very gifts that we have come here to remember and bring into the world. And, if we let ourselves be guided by her we also discover that it is those very gifts through which she speaks – hers is a mythical tongue, a language that has its roots in nature. She helps us find answers that are resisitant to the abstract and rational mentality, answers that are living, open ended and magnetic, funded with an electric current of life-force that connects us with all things in the moment. She connects us with the vast mutable everchanging network of life through which all levels and dimensions are simultaneously interrelated. Lynx sacralises our vision and brings enchantment back into a jaded world. When we learn from her how to listen with our inner eyes and discern, the world comes alive with inner meaning…..Lynx is the diviner’s ally par excellence. In a divination kit, a garnet might be the perfect signifier for her presence, symbolising the ‘eye of the soul’…..

It seems that Lynx is bringing new shoots out of the cinders of recent times….events at this end knocked Owlmirror out of action for a whole lunation, but, she did give fair warning! However, I’m happy to say that we are up and running again and Owlmirror is growing and evolving too….over the coming months we will be bringing in articles about working with and making divination kits, so, look out for garnets!

You may also have noticed that there is a new category in the offing here in the sidebar ~ “Natural Medicines” ~ this article opens a new look at the spirit medicines in nature with the animal power of Lynx, and upcoming articles will include old and new stories that will both honour and remember our invaluable and indispensible allies in the realms of Nature, especially as they pop up and help us transit our times of global transformation. Talking of stories, Lynx has a sister ally who figures strongly in both spirit and body in this path, and that is Stryx Occidentalis, the Northern Spotted Owl. You may remember her as the storyteller who brought out the tale of ‘Storyteller and the Spirit Horse’, as well as being enshrined in the ‘Owlwoman’ carving……she too is a symbol for deep ecology, and the protection of the old-growth Redwood forests…..but, we’ll catch some more of her magic next time when we look into the planetary patterns and their messages for the upcoming 10 Million Beats global healing event! In the meantime, Spotted Owl has a story to relate about Lynx and how she came to be the keeper of secrets……

“Now! There are some who believe that Lynx has a bad reputation…heh heh….isn’t that always the way of things when people let their supsicions get the better of them and start throwing their fears around…..look out when that happens, illusion is the name of the game and Mother! Lynx sure has become marked with that kind of nonsense – just like the spotted coat she wears just so, every dark spot is a place where someones pointing finger has burned its accusations into her fur. Well, there you have it, when the fingers are pointing and the tongues are wagging nobody can see whats before their very eyes or hear what the world is saying to them. But, in the old traditions those creatures who are marked with spots are connected with the star nations, the ancestral fires that fund us with the personal powers we keep in our medicine bags – dappling, like starlight and the blue sparks of spirit are a sign of magic….so, put down those fingers, quieten down those wagging tongues and listen up – heres a tale that puts that little conundrum to rights…….

Well….you see….It was once upon a time that was outside of time that everything was frozen and bound in darkness – seems like everything was standing on its head, just when it should have been warm and sunny there was snow and ice laying everywhere and nobody knew where the Summer had gone and, without the Summer, nothing would grow – everyone was starving…….Jeesh! it was madness in the forests, everyone chasing each other around and trying to eat each other, just to stay alive!! Well, there are some creatures more secretive than others and they have a knack of knowing how to survive that crucial little bit longer……some of them are well nigh invisible amongst the leaves and foliage, know how to blend in well, some of them only come out at night, have keen sight and wear a cloak of silence, and then there are others who stay underground, maybe for long time, sleeping and dreaming of better times, who knows….

….one of those dreamers, maybe the best of ‘em all, was Bear, and Bear always hibernated through Winter, as that was her chief dreaming time…..huh, but, there are Winters and there are Winters, and even a Bear must wake up sometime…..

Well, this time it was a long long long Winter, the longest anyone had ever known, and Bear had just about exhausted her supply of Winter fat – she’d run out of dreaming juice! But, nevertheless, old Bear was still asleep, that was, until Cougar, Bull-Moose, Badger, Rabbit, Mouse, Squirrel, and a whole host of animals all came scumbling by, running circles around each other, trying to evade each others teeth or escape from being trampled underfoot….and up in the air was no different. Eagle, Crow, Heron, Hawk, Goose, and a million little birds were all sweeping and swooping around in the dark grey light screeching and hollering for all they were worth, even Owl was running the gauntlet from Blackbird and Woodpecker, hooting loudly……infact, the racket was so loud, it woke up old Bear…and my, she was none to pleased…..waking up real hungry was one thing, but, being woken up by an unholy racket was another thing entirely….up she got and, pulling herself up to her full height, she let out an almighty roar…….”SHUUUUUTTTTTT UUUUUUUPPPP!!!!!!”

….it was one of those moments, when man, you wish you had a picture….heh heh heh

Everyone froze, just like magic, as if they’d been turned to stone, their medicine bags swinging against their hearts….you can see it now! All heads slowly turned in Bear’s direction…..

“Can’t a Bear have a decent sleep without the whole world going CRAZY?!….and WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON HERE??!! MMMMmmmm????”

Down swooped Eagle and landed between the animals and Bear……”well, Bear, its Summer, or rather it should be – it has gone and we are all getting very very hungry, so…..well, were very sorry for waking you up and all that but……we are desperate!”

Bear was a little taken back, not only by the fact that Summer had disappeared, but, that even someone as lofty as Eagle could have descended into this madness….wooooo, it must be BAD!! She thought a little and then a little more….until a flash caught the corner of her eye….even Bear was a little spooked and swivelled on her heels.

There was Lynx, perched on a rock, fixing Bear with that inscrutible flashing stare…….

“Oh, its you Lynx”, said Bear, relaxing, just a little….it was those eyes….

“Yes, and the one thing nobody has bothered to ask is where has Summer gone…mmmm?” said Lynx.

Bear nodded and turned to the animals, who all shrugged their shoulders and began looking to each other for an answer……but, Bear, being full of dreams from the long long Winter, simply said

“Right….this madness has to stop, we’re going to search for Summer right now……Eagle?!”

Eagle knew right away what to do and up he flew, as high as he could above them and slowly circled round surveying the land for miles and miles around……everyone was watching from below holding tight to their medicine bags, until, that is, Bear’s voice broke them out of their trance….

“Well?! What are you lot waiting for, you all know different places to look…..off you go and don’t come back until you’ve found out where Summer has gone!

There was a flurry of fur and claws, and a cloud of snowy fog rose up – when it settled, there was Lynx still perched on her rock watching Bear with that uncanny eye…….

“Perhaps you should ask the Ancestors”, Lynx said, and, at that moment a sudden gust of wind blew by and Lynx dissolved within another cloud of snowy fog leaving only her enigmatic smile – bear watched as even this disappeared, and, when the snow had settled once again, Lynx was gone…

Bear shuddered…..phew! spooky!!

But, Lynx had a point, if anyone would know, the Ancestors up in the star nation would, but, then, did Lynx know something that everyone else didn’t, was she keeping something to her-self – Man, it was hard to trust that one…..nevertheless……

Bear set about putting her den in order and slowly headed down the valley to see if any fish or berries could be found to quell her terrible hunger……and off she set with a grumble and a rumble of her empty stomach…you know how she is!

Well now, time passed and more time passed and eventually Bear came back to her den….and as she came into the clearing she saw Cougar, Badger, Squirrel and Rabbit waiting there…..

“Any news?” asked Bear…..the animals all looked at each other and then Badger spoke up….

“I don’t know where summer has gone”, he said, “but, I did see Lynx heading up to the ridge after I left….and, she wouldn’t say where she was going”

Then Rabbit added, “y-yes, and she came padding by me…silent as a leaf, but, s-she was definitely heading up to the ridge below the p-pass”

Squirrel was next to speak up

“I was heading that way myself across the tree tops and when I got to the ridge there was Lynx heading down the valley on the other side of the pass”

everyone looked at Cougar

….”she’s heading for the mountains,” Cougar said – “she looked like she knew where she was going, so, I followed her, as far as I could….but……I lost her at the foot of the Great Mountain”

“The Great Mountain ehh?” said Bear scratching her chin and looking towards the ridge above – “come on, that Lynx knows something we don’t…..’ask the ancestors’ she said, mmmmmm….”

Suddenly Rabbit looked nervous and started busying herself with her medicine bag……”er, I-I’ve just remembered that I m-must……” and with that she turned on her heal and shot like a bolt into a hole beneath the nearest tree……Bear sighed, “Come on, we’d better get going”

…..and so, off the four of them set, up and over the ridge through the pass, down into the next valley and off into the foothills beneath the mountains, until, they all stood at the foot of the Great Mountain. Foggy clouds swirled around its peak and shrouded it in mystery, sending fingers of mist reaching down through the forest towards them…..

….”she’s up there, I know it,” said Bear gazing into the mists……”well, theres nothing for it,” and off she strode, the three companions following on behind.

Up and up and up they went until the mist started rolling around them…..but, there was no sign of Lynx, not even a paw-print…..but, on they went…..until they broke above the tree line….still no sign of Lynx, so, on they went in the swirling mist……until, Squirrel stopped all of a sudden….

“Listen,” she said, “there, someones snoring”…..

Cougar took a couple of steps forward….”its…coming from up there,” she whispered, and they all went on tipi-toes getting nearer to the snorry sound, with Bear leading the way…

suddenly Bear froze….just ahead she could see a familiar shape, an oval head with two tufted points sprouting from the top….at that moment a flash cut through the mists as an eye opened….and the snorry sound became louder!

“Lynx!” said Bear, and strode forward with the companions close behind……

….there she was curled up on a rock, her uncanny eye fixed on the huddle of animals that were approaching….she yawned and continued her purring…

“well, I’m very glad you could make it,” Lynx said, stretching her back…..that enigmatic smile spreading across her face

Bear looked around, suspiciously…..”so, you didn’t er ‘find’ it…..Summer, that is?”

Lynx’s smile dissolved….”no, but, if we go a little higher”…….

“what was it you said Bear, about Lynx and the Ancest……of course!,” said Squirrel, “we can reach the Ancestors from up there”….and suddenly she was off past Lynx and up towards the top of the mountain

Badger was hard on her tail and suddenly Cougar and Bear were running uphill too…

Lynx watched them and slowly followed…..

….by the time she got to the top of the mountain the four companions were lying on their backs in a circle, looking up at a veiled pool of light above them…….”we found it! I think….,” said Badger, “I can see it through the clouds”…..

Bear sat up – “yes, Badger, but, how are we going to get it back down again?!”

Everyone let out a sigh of disappointment, all except Lynx….

“we can’t stay up here for ever,” said Cougar, “and, besides, theres still nothing to eat”…..they all let out another sigh of dissapointment with this realisation, all except Lynx….

….”we’ll have to light a fire and make the hole bigger,” said Badger – “that will summon a wind and blow these clouds away…”

Suddenly Bear, Cougar and Squirrel were on their feet, running around looking for kindling, but, there was none to be found!

…”what about if we all blow really hard,” said Squirrel, and suddenly everyone was huffing and puffing into the air, all except Lynx….

The four collapsed exhausted – they had made no impression on the clouds…..

“I know how to do it”…said Lynx

The four animals looked at her expectantly….

Lynx lifted a paw and pointed upwards – “you’ll have to jump up and make a hole”

That was it! Suddenly everyone, except Lynx, was jumping up on the spot as high as they could, but, to no avail!

“Me, me!” shouted Squirrel suddenly – “throw me up there, I can make a hole!”

“Ok,” said Bear, “but, its futher than it looks, take off your medicine bag so that you are lighter, and we’ll throw you up….and so Squirrel did, and they did throw her up into the clouds, only, Squirrel was too small to make a hole that stayed open and whats more, she didn’t come down again!

“mmmm,” said Bear, “you’re bigger Badger, lets throw you up”….so, Badger took off his medicine bag and up he went, but, the hole closed over again, and Badger didn’t come down either!

Cougar looked at Bear, “I can do it I’m sure,” she, said, so off came the medicine bag and up went Cougar – the hole was bigger for sure and for a fleeting glimpse Bear thought she could see Squirrel and Badger peering out of the sky…but, the hole close up again!

“well, theres nothing for it” said Bear, “you’ll have to go next Lynx,” but, when she turned around Lynx was nowhere to be seen….

Bear was disconsolate, until she heard voices above her…

“its here, its here, weve found Summer”……it was Squirrel, Badger and Cougar……if we reach down and you jump up we’ll catch you and pull you up!

Bear thought for a moment, and then another moment, but, their seemed to be nothing else to do, so, taking off her medicine bag and putting it on the ground, Bear took two steps back and….

“OOOOAAAAAOOOOOWWW”…….Suddenly there was a piercing screech and a pair of needle encrusted paws pinned themselves to Bear’s behind…..

”YYYEEEEEAAAOOOOWWWWW!!!” Bear yelped and jumped high into the air….through the clouds she disappeared, as Lynx sat on the ground holding her tail…..

Bear had stepped back and trodden on Lynx’s tail, and she was so heavy, she had broken off a piece, which Lynx was now looking at forelornly on the ground……thats why the poor old Lynx has a short tail…but, then….

…..like magic, everything started to glow with a radiant light and the fog started clearing….Lynx looked up to see a huge hole now opening up in the clouds above and the sunlight was streaming through. Everything started to become warmer, and Lynx was a little happier with this….but, where were the four companions?

Lynx waited and waited but, no-one came back down and eventually the whole sky cleared….and night began to fall….Lynx sat and looked into the night sky until the stars came out, shimmering and dancing above……Lynx knew what to do and, picking up the four medicine bags and stringing them next to her own against her heart, she headed back down the mountain.

By the time Lynx reached the clearing where Bear’s den was it was pitch dark with dappled starlight sparkling in the forest, but, she of all creatures, with perhaps the exception of Owl, was best equipped to find her way….she had decided on the way back to bring the medicine bags of each of the four companions to the place where they each had their homes and so, she stealthily crept into Bear’s den….and stopped in her tracks!

There, curled up in a mound of leaves at the back of the cave was Bear, sleeping like a baby! Lynx gently layed Bear’s medicine bag at her side and crept out…….she found all the other animals too, all fast asleep in their beds, and returned their medicine bags to each…..

When they woke up just before dawn the next morning, Bear, Cougar, Badger and Squirrel all met in the clearing – they were all exited and wanted to share their dreams…..they were amazed to discover that they had all dreamt the same thing, about losing Summer, about Lynx and the Ancestors and jumping up from the top of the Great Mountain to make a hole in the sky….but, none of them could remember what happened after that….maybe Lynx would be able to tell them, but, could they find her!?

….maybe she found out what they all have in their medicine bags……..but, she’s keeping that very close to her heart…….heh heh heh……..after all, when we see with the eyes of the heart, we touch all the world with a deeper knowing…….”

 

The Moons of Zuvuya

Hold tight, seems the Universe has a sense of humour, and, the joke could well be on us – but, first….

A Question : Do you think Eckhart Tolle is right?…….

As far as inner transformation is concerned, there is nothing you can do about it. You cannot transform yourself, and you certainly cannot transform your partner or anybody else. All you can do is create a space for transformation to happen, for grace and love to enter.” Eckhart Tolle

I doubt if Terence Mckenna would agree! But, old Eckhart is also surfing a very particular and clean wave here, one that belongs more in the ascetic tradition than that of the psycho-active shaman. Eckhart is a smooth rider, no fancy turns or popping the tube, more your smooth grace-ful arcs and crisp lines, all stripped down to the present moment – and yet, and yet, the ‘ocean’ can be a boiling cauldron too……

I’ll never forget surfing under the full Moon for the first time – somehow in the luminous darkness it made sense of the power of the wave and gave the water a visceral quality of dark primal energy that wove together the planetary dance with the elemental, brought everything to an instinctive level……then there were times when the Sun was setting and shining its light right through the wave, rainbow bejewelled spin-drift and glassy water spirits shimmering all round…..the Neptunian fields sighing at the shore….a total contrast by day and night, two sides of the same coin, and, oh boy! Getting a little nostalgic? Well, invite Neptune into your dreams this night and you may discover that She, yes She, is the great Oceanic Mother who is bringing the full breadth and depth of the Mysteries back from the deeper realms of our consciousness so that we can all surf the Zuvuya (1), all the way into the shores of the coming times……but, then, there were also those times when the storm waves arrived and surfing became transformed into a dance of total exhiliration between survival and a psycho-somatic art-form, turbulent ecstatic madness for the watery hell of it – short of the metaphor this is pretty much where we are at right now, the big rollers are beginning to whip up and its time to get the long boards and the ocean going canoes out….get ready, once we pass the balance point of light and dark at solstice this is going to be one hell of a ride……meanwhile……

We are coming into an eclipse cycle that will bring the Solar and Lunar energies together in ways that cut across the ‘standard time’ experience and open a three strand wave of opportunity that we will miss surfing at our peril – no more ‘for the hell of it’,  more the ecstatic dance in which survival depends upon how well we have developed our skills as spiritual warriors and navigators, and, how well we can let go into the frey – perhaps not everyone on this planet is ready, there could be some serious wipe-outs (first signs are there for all to see) and the view from the shore may well begin to look like we’re closed out – but, this is exactly where all that inner preperation finds it purpose – those who are ready will feel the pull of the ocean and know what to do. Neptunia will make sure of it…..

At this Gemini New Moon we enter a quick-fire and potentially transformative eclipse cycle of 3 consecutive eclipses within the space of 1 month – while these are not the only eclipses this year, this cycle initiates lasting influences that will imprint the next 6 months – how we fare through this time will lay down a template that will affect everything that comes after through this year, and our ongoing story also depends upon adapting to that way of thinking. ‘The Power of Now’ (2) gives us access to all time. As if to push the point home, this cycle also straddles the June Solstice. The effects tie in to the seasonal cycles, a different measure of time, more familiar to our ancestors, that was a primary influence on the emergence of contemporary human culture. Duality was born here, emphasising the balance of light and dark on Earth, Life and Death, and how we work with them. And, there is more, much more, but, the turbulence in the world now being thrown up by the rising chaotic complexity of many cross currents is one of our potential stumbling blocks, so lets keep it simple and start with a little technical data…..

The new Moon on June 1st is a partial Solar eclipse at 11º02’ in tropical Gemini – it is in the Saros cycle 118 and will be visible from Northern latitudes initiating in northern China/south-eastern Siberia at 19:25 UT, maxing on the north coast of western Siberia at 21:16 UT, and ending just north of Newfoundland at 23:06 UT – northern Finland and Norway will see a partially eclipsed ‘Midnight Sun’, so, if you are living or visiting up there this could be a great time to make some powerful medicine as well as witness amazing beauty – we need this, a great photo opp. to spread on the net and remind ourselves of the mystery and wonder of Life on Earth – this alone is good medicine! It is also a powerful reminder that in the midst of the constant light of the north beyond the arctic circle at midsummer an eclipse interrupts the natural order of light and dark…….this is of its nature, and a clue to how we can work with its energies and the opportunities they bring.

The Saros cycle 118 is in its final phases and this first eclipse is considered a ‘grandmother’ of the cycle – by contrast, the July Solar eclipse, the third of the 3 will be the first of the Saros 156 cycle, a ‘new-born’…..the middle eclipse of the 3 will be a total Lunar eclipse, midway through Saros cycle 130, and this really is the one to watch for spiritual and earthwise tectonics as it centers on the meeting point of the Antarctic, African and Indian/Asian continental plates – it could trigger some very strong volcanic and EQ activity….infact the whole theme of this triple cycle is heavily Earth oriented, and ‘heavy’ is one of the operative words here…..the three eclipses also remind us of the trigram for ‘Water’ with one Yang line between two Yin, so ‘flow’ is another key word…..and remember, water has the power to shape the hardest substance…..

…..remember also, at the last Moon we saw the focus shifting very much towards the sensual, heart centered and earth-bound, the Taurean/Venusian effect, well, this coming cycle is going to reveal just why this was and is so important now. The inner planets continue to carry this imprint forward, but, the planets do not compel, they impel, which means they ask us to pay attention. And paying attention to how we are intergrating on the earth-plane is challenged by the tensions building through the outer planets. In the midst of growing unrest how well are we able to develop our appreciation of the beauty and values of this incarnate Life experience, and work through the ‘manifest’ to further our inner work while taking this into our practices in this world, the ‘middle world’ – even on the most basic level; how many people just don’t have a clue about growing plants? This is precisely the focus we are now asked to develop further. We do not need to engage with the death oriented consumer culture any more than our intelligence will prevent us from doing – we can help each other in this, sharing rather than selling our expertise to each other and, since Gemini is the field influence for the eclipse, we should pay some attention to Mercury’s disseminating intelligence in our personal charts.

Mercury as go-between is in late Taurus accompanied by asteroid Hecate, the no messing crone mother, emphasising that our very ability to be self-reflectively communicative is open to a new and deeper level of understanding, expression and experience, one with different drives. We need real dialogue that doesn’t hedge the issues – network without fear! And as Mercury is purveyor of hinge point mentality, literally ‘becoming articulate’, this eclipse is an opportunity for some really juicy ‘left-field’ thinking – Saturn trining the darkened Sun will make sure of it being related to our shared issues, in every sense, well outside the ‘norm’. Whatever we feel most strongly will manifest, so, watch your temper and tune in to the buzz on the outer and inner grapevine.

Perhaps a little more emphasis or gravitas is needed after all though and, amongst other things, this eclipse cycle is highlighting even further the escalating effect that our presence on Earth has had this last 13,000 years, as if that perspective hasn’t already become screamingly obvious. But, this harkens back to that very ‘moment’ in which our ability to articlute reality and to be articulate in describing it became superceded by its own product, the false face god of logical thinking, and its despotic little fascistic ruler, the ego. Once this set up kicked in, then, we have polarity, abstraction and a different order of ‘Time’ dictating to us. So, bear this in mind – the ego is an illusion creating our experience through outward appearances, appearances that say ‘everything is coming to a polarised condition’, one that must be controlled or must give way! Don’t buy it! No one is in control, the Ocean of Being is coming alive……

The intention here is not to scare or spread confusion, rather it is to offer a pragmatic reflection of where we are and where we are going, the better to be prepared……the alternatives? Well, we could just carry on ‘as normal’, and it is easy to approach astrology and divination practices in a frivolous and light way, the popular media do it every day, however, it is essential to test out your experiences against the messages all of us receive – they need to be grounded to have any bearing, Neptunian influences demand it. While our emphasis here has been on nurturing and carefully attending to our own ‘seeing’ abilities, we are already fully capable of collectively becoming ‘seeing’ beings, its just a matter of critical mass, so everyone counts. However, how many times do we seek divinations and then fail to follow through, and its when the stories come back of what happened when someone did follow through that are the real soul food that we all as diviners love to receive – that dialogue too is a necessary part of our practice. It helps us to know where we are at. And, since opening our ‘seeing’ eyes is intrinsic to the transformation of our consciousness…….the quality of our awareness is what helps the transformation and brings us fully into the process.

I mention this for two reasons – firstly we are being asked by the planetary process to give serious attention to the very nature of reality at this time, within which our personal and collective blind spots and resultantly destructive inclinations are under severe scrutiny, not least of all as they directly affecting the reality we are experiencing in unconscious ways; how many times have you heard the exhortation that we must become ‘co-creators’ – we already are, its a matter of realising it consciously, and the trouble is, when we are not consciously creating we are like open doors for the 4th dimensional low-life to work through – Neptune’s shadow! Astrologers disagree on who rules Virgo, opposite Pisces, some saying its Mercury, some Ceres and some Chiron….all of whom are figuring here, as we will see, so, look to their placements in your charts for seruptitious indicators of where that Neptunian shadow might be sneeking in and out….

Secondly, while we have also been emphasising the importance of Neptune’s ingress into tropical Pisces, Neptune’s domicile sign, the very nature of Neptunian influence is collective, and, while being the mystic in such times also has its purpose, we will be challenged in taking Neptune’s messages seriously here as well. It is easy to get confused – how many people call a mystic in an emergency?! Truth is not easily won in such circumstances and we will miss the boat if we do not pay attention here as well. Although Neptune will soon slide back into Aquarius for 6 months, the current brief Neptunian domicile time gives us a taste of the new underlying reality for the next 23 years, the length of stay once the mystic planet moves back into the spiritual zone of Pisces next March. Here-in lies the key for a whole generation of incarnation, those born with Neptune in Aquarius. This in itself is astonishingly pertinent, as transformation of Global consciousness is manifesting through ‘the people’ even in the midst of apparent disorder and the big shift in the coming years will come from this generation – it really is not about the shit thats hitting the fan as the old order disintegrates, its about the ability of those who have to clear it up to do so while holding a collective vision, and that begins a year last Tuesday in Galactic time – Neptune in Aquarius also tells us we have to have a new reality within ourselves that we can communicate in order to transcend the old one outside! The indigo children and the rising archetype of the child with stars in its eyes are our future. This, as an opportunity for ‘seeing’, is what eclipses are all about…..we are talking about initiating collective spiritual realities through the generations…..and, as ever, everyone counts in the holographic universe.

So, we have something of the tenor of this opening eclipse, as an old cycle of Solar eclipses is coming to a close, a grandmother is holding open the crack in time, a moment of opportunity to step outside the old structuring principle and press the inner reset button…..and, what of the other planets……

Seems all very complicated, but, again, simplicity is the order of the day, and to re-iterate, this eclipse can be characterised by two perspectives that are interwoven very tightly – one, as the old structures and safety nets are withdrawn a certain willingness to accept that we are not in control, that control is not the issue, and, two, accepting that letting go and getting with the flow will allow our true nature to emerge into the world….in order to live in and experience the ‘holographic universe(s)’ we need to ‘flow’ with inner balance…..its a lesson in surfing…..and is no less a discipline for that.

Heres a ‘time’ check…..speculation on the plane of the outer planets, over the next 2 years. Uranian energies will vie with Plutonian to ensure that both of these strands happen simultaneously – Neptunian influences upon our underlying realities will become increasingly supportive of the process, and, as the Moon’s North Node and Saturn converge upon each other (they will meet exact conjunct, with Venus, in the 9th degree of Scorpio 3 days prior to the September Equinox 2013), we should be finding increasingly powerful ways of manifesting our new reality. By the time the North Node reaches Saturn’s current degree in Libra, the final square between Uranus and Pluto will be manifesting the culminative phase of their ‘joint’ input into this massive transformative process. And once Uranus transits the South Node, he will have helped us manifest our new humanity, ‘singing the body electric’ (not the song from Fame!) by remembering where we came from, our stellar nature, and how we got here…..we are talking March Equinox 2015……

Yes there are many powerful and significant astrological alignments all through this longer period, but, its what we are about in the meantime that will make all the difference to how much we are able to manifest their high side when they arrive……so, what of 2012? Well here is the gift not only of Neptune through the run-up to ‘that’ date, but, also of this flurry of eclipses……and, zooming in to present time once more, the key aspects to this first Solar eclipse are also very simple, but, no less radical for it – on the contrary! Saturn trines the June 1st eclipse to within 1º, and Ceres squares the Nodal axis exactly from late Pisces. Remember, Oct 28th 2011 sees the end of the current cycle in the Mayan long count by one method, December 21st 2012 by another – these twin strands also work together and the intervening time is our time of ‘grace’ – in many ways this is the entry into the experimental zone. All this re-weaving of strands can be seen as a description of how our DNA is evolving – we know that we have 97% of it waiting to kick in consciously, and thats the creative powerhouse that connects us into the cosmic matrix. Relating will take on a whole new meaning!

Saturn continues emphasising how important our ability to relate is at this time – he will turn direct again just 3 days before the second of our 3 eclipses, so there we have the self-reflective process of our inner work turning tangibly outwards again. Neptune and Chiron go retro in the meantime so here the personal focus of this process becomes fed by our how our outer perceptions relate inwardly – the two work together, as within, so without – so, perhaps this will help us see how the dynamic towards intentional activity that ‘goes with the flow’ develops.

In trine to the June 1st eclipse Saturn brings strong unwavering focus and presence to our awareness as the crack in time opens. But, could be this is not only about hitting the ‘reset’ in our connectivity through time and space…Ceres will feed directly into our most precious visions and resources at this time, the Earth Mother teaching her fledgling children about the true nature of our souls’ journey. Jeez its getting to look pretty much like cosmic soup, but, wait……..! Wasn’t there some mention of ‘grounding’ back there……this is where Ceres ruthless pragmatism can really help at that soul level……

“Look around” she will say, “and feel it! – See how much grief is present in this world? Have you let the Plutonic powers steal your soul……our souls, Earth’s soul? No not mine, oh, my children!” Ceres sits at the southern waning square to the nodal axis, which means she is alerting us to whats around us, the incoming from outside, so that we can digest it and make of it soul food as well as jetison what no longer metabolises. So, actually she is working independantly on the same agenda as Neptune and Chiron. Ceres great message is that we are soul makers, transmuters of spirit in matter, infact she is teaching us here in very tangible ways that matter and spirit are one – if we don’t get the grief of the seperation, we continue in the illusion and stand to go down with it…..if we get it and let it teach us we will become the clearer, less burdened and stronger for it.

Ceres grief at the loss of her soul child, Persephone, gave her the unbending determination to find her daughter and bring her back, a mother’s instinct – symbolically, out of her journey (Earths emergence from the last Ice Age, and the myth we encountered at the Dharma Moon) our new seasonal experience through nature of the dance between light and dark emerged, and with it our agricultural relationship to the land and the fertility cycle. We can begin to put the pieces together again on this eclipse……remember Her connection with the Mysteries…….

Do you doubt it?! How is it that the planets provide us with a  synchronistic and cosmic reflection of this unfolding reality….well, how about, this is the very thing that the cosmos wants us to become aware of – if the past and the future are also present in the present, then we live in one great divining self-reflective consciousness that is witnessing itself becoming in eternity……here comes the new reality! And as fledglings this is also a vulnerable time……

We can be swept away with realisiation of just how much of the shit that is flying around is of our own mis-guided creation – grief and soul loss are serious issues…..take a step back and take a few deep breaths, help is at hand.

Mars is joined by asteroid Euridike in mid Taurus and they are quintile Chiron in early Pisces, a positive and creative aspect. Euridice (‘she whose justice spreads widely’) reflects the soul loss back to us, the result (the myth tells us) of snake-bite in an unconscious moment of ecstacy, and her story with Orpheus carries the warning ‘pay attention, do not doubt – hold fast to your intent, focus, carry the intent of the return through – and don’t look back!’ The latter is just what Euridice’s lover Oprheus did and he lost her to the underworld as a result. Chiron’s role will be to help us live ‘in the wound’ so that it can be healed and here the wound is reclaiming our ancestral souls – we have to go, like Orpheus, to the roots to do so. As a mentor once said ‘the juice is in the tragedy’! We will come back to this story when we look at the Uranus Pluto square off in a future post….

……in a waxing sextile to Ceres we find Venus entering the last decan of Taurus conjunct asteroid Hephaistos, the master smithy whose ax split Zeus head so releasing Athena – the means to release and realise our higher mind and bring earth-wisdom to bear, to craft the medicine (Venus is also in a waning quintile to Chiron). Further on in Taurus, Mercury conjunct asteroid Hecate is squaring up to Neptune – that crone wisdom helps this eclipse become communicated through Mercury’s interventions in the dreamtime. We are, they remind us, getting into serious business here and when Chiron goes retro Mercury will be square the shaman too. Hecate cannot be phased by the urgency of the moment, and it is as well that Chiron’s healing gifts are given a stellar boost here that will lend us the very confidence we need in our ‘left field’ creativity as a healing tool – here are our means for dealing with the challenge of healing our collective wound from within. Life as Art. Chiron’s grounded knowing of ‘Death as our advisor’ releases us from fear – how else can we wise up to our limitations, and understand that sublimation of ego to Life leads us towards embodiment of wisdom. Chiron conjunct fixed star Deneb Adige is atavistic, cunning, clever quick-wittedness and creativity in service to healing and bridging the worlds. Let us not forget that Chiron is the ‘Rainbow Bridge’ to the outer planets (3) – he makes of Mars the spiritual warrior, he emphasises Venus love of the sensual in appreciating our creations and working with nature as a gateway to the other worlds, and he meets Mercury with the creative facility to open the mind to greater knowing as we swim out to meet the stars on the oceanic tides of the Solar plane beyond this eclipse….

…..well, Eckhart has a point, we might well be tadpoles in a very big pond, and, we really are in for one hell of a ride either way – however, perhaps the whole point is that once we make those preparations, for grace and love to enter, even though transformation happens ‘to us’ it is in allowing and enabling this to really happen that we realise our true co-creative role and become the transformation, as it is happening, finally coming home to the cosmos.

The flow of time becomes the ever changing present, a time-out-of-time opened up within this by this first eclipse – and, as Neptunian waves of consciousness flood the field, we turn inwards to find that there are no boundaries…..in that place fear falls away, we are no longer crucified on the cross of time, no longer torn apart by dualism….and as Terence McKenna once famously said “the further in you go, the bigger it gets!” Best not forget our sense of humour then…..

The holographic universe opens through the everpresent Flower of Life in our hearts – each point within the matrix knowing each other point, all contained within the one, endlessly enfolding and expanding along the fractal scale of the space-time continuum – our chance is right here, a break between the breakers, a rip tide in time that will take us out on a journey into the heart of mystery beneath the Black Sun of the 5th World.

(1) Surfers of the Zuvuya: Tales of Interdimensional Travel. José Argüelles; Inner Traditions/Bear & Company. 1989

(2) The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment :Eckhart Tolle; Namaste Publishing, Vancouver: 1997

(3) Chiron : Rainbow Bridge between the Inner and Outer Planets ; Barbara Hand Clow; Llewellyn Publications, US; 1987