It is a rare treat to have a book in your hands that offers tales and folklore from countries that, in truth, I barely knew existed. We have all heard of  the War in Chechnya (sadly) and I adore Armenian medieval music, to the point of dreaming of going there! Other than that I could not have named or found the following countries on world map: Ingushetia, Daghestan or North Ossetia. Could you?! Hint: they are situated between The Black Sea and the Caspian Sea in an otherworldly liminal zone that forms a natural border between Europe and Asia.

This book tells ancient tales and describes folklore and customs from this area. The author is actively looking for evidence of shamanic practices – and he finds many indication that indigenous forms of shamanism were indeed practiced here. As a shamanic teacher I always love hearing about the cosmology and spiritual practices of tribal peoples. These countries sit on the mountainous “spine” that divides Europe from Asia and because of their strategic position they have seen more than their fair share of upheaval and ideological persecution. This means that ancient tribal practices go strong in inaccessible regions but also that there are many overlays of other religions and influences (from Zen Buddhism and Sufi Mysticism to Communism trying to impose atheism).

I love the wealth of detail Berman shares in this book. This is information I would simply not have had access to had he not written the book. The book is based on his own travels and a lot of research. I also like the way he frames the stories by actually understanding shamanism “from the inside out” so to speak. (I looked at his author page and he himself trained in core shamanism). This is relatively rare: I have read many books about tribal peoples, cave art and folklore where the author ultimately did not understand the “otherworld dimension” of the material they were presenting. That can make for frustrating reading, to see fundamental concepts misrepresented or ignored.

This book is a gem! The only negative, in my opinion is that Berman tends to repeat chunks of information he has already presented. Some chunks or passages appear three times in the book. The explanations of shamanic cosmology are lengthy too and pretty exhaustive (he quotes Mircea Eliade extensively). Then again, as a shamanic teacher I am very familiar with this material – but most readers will not be. They may well welcome those elaborate explanations!

If you are shamanic practitioner, story teller, explorer, mythology lover or keen collector of folklore and wonderful tales – this is the book for you!

This author has written many other books on related subjects. I have just started “Shamanic Journeys Through Daghestan”. Keep an eye out for my next book review!

Imelda Almqvist

About the author:
Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books on 26th August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

http://shamanismsummit.com/

Source: BOOK REVIEW FOR CANDLE MAGIC by Lucya Starza

This week I read this charming small book CANDLE MAGIC: A witch’s guide to spells and rituals.  I started reading it one evening and then just kept on reading because I was hooked!

For a small book it packs a lot of information. It is a very practical book as well. It offers plenty of magical activities you can try with materials from your own home and kitchen. No need to acquire a large amount of esoteric equipment or ingredients!

Even if you have not tried working magic before, this book offers plenty of suggestions. Always with a reminder of the health and safety aspects

I am a shamanic practitioner and I use candles constantly in my work (teaching classes and following my personal spiritual practices). I thought I knew about the use of candles but I now discovered there are new things I can try: using a larger variety of colours perhaps or burning candles to manifest a magical outcome.

I read with interest what Lucya writes about the thorny issue of “ethics and curses” (one chapter in the book). Apparently the issue it hotly debated by modern witches and I am not surprised.  Should you ever cast a curse against someone who has done you a terrible injustice?

I am not going to disclose what the author advises. I will say that I spend an awful lot of time discussing ethics and boundaries for spiritual work with my shamanic practitioner students!! It is a very important issue to reflect on.

This is a book to keep on the shelf and return to from time to time. A book to recommend to people who have just started following a spiritual path and wish to try some magic. Also a book for people who already use candles but want to get more innovative and creative with it.

I invite you to check out this book and other books by Lucya Starza!

Imelda Almqvist

About the author:
Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books on 26th August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

http://shamanismsummit.com/

Source: TRUMP’S TEACHINGS

Yesterday Britain filed for divorce from the European Union, Brexit has been set in motion. Across the “pond in our global village” Donald Trump too is very busy unraveling years of progress made by others.

As a shamanic teacher it is my belief that we human beings are all teachers for each other – but often both parties are not aware of this! Therefore I have been asking myself the following question: What are Trump’s Teachings? Those may well be teachings he is utterly unaware of – but teachings on the global stage nevertheless…

When we, collectively do NOT do our shadow work – meaning that we do not own our dark side (the parts of ourselves we are ashamed of hide from view) we are actively creating a powerful vacuum that someone will step into. In that sense “we have ALL created the Trump phenomenon”, the Shadow Leader, the Nightmare Politician, all of us together.  World history has already served up this lesson many times (think of world war II and how no parent today calls their newborn baby boy Adolf). Did we listen? Did we learn?

Trump is teaching us how NOT to be a true Elder of the Community passing on the hard-earned knowledge and wisdom of our ancestors. This is a lesson we badly need in Western society. We are youth-obsessed and old age-phobic. Maybe a few years of Trump will mean learning (urgently, for once and for all!) why indigenous peoples have Elders and why they play such a crucial role as leaders of their villages and communities?!

I have read articles claiming that Trump displays telltale signs of “narcissistic personality disorder”. If this is so (and medically speaking the diagnosis has not been made), isn’t he mirroring our own self-obsession right back at us? We have, frankly, never had it so good in Western Society. And we have never complained more, ignored issues of global importance in favor of our own lifestyle, personal luxuries and comforts. So yeah, sooner or later we will have a world leader who embodies those values. Are we willing to look in this brutal mirror?!

If Trump, as a man in power, will not model the Healthy Masculine, we women have only one option: accessing and activating the healthy masculine within ourselves. (This is a big theme on all courses I teach right now on two continents, Europe and the USA).

As for men: hopefully they too see clearly what is not working and they will conclude that “Male Medicine” is leadership from a place of integrity and spiritual maturity, always in service to the Highest Good for All. It’s not unlike abolishing slavery: it takes both a higher level of awareness and activism, but it is not impossible. American history proves this!!

If we cannot trust decisions made on our behalf on a global level (the level of world politics) it seems to me we have only one option: taking our power back and putting our focus on building strong and healthy local communities.

If we no longer believe in the decisions made about Education for instance, we may need to look at home schooling and local apprenticeships for young people.

If Trump abolishes “Obamacare” (and here in the UK we are rapidly dismantling the NHS or the National Health Service) I see all of us being forced to make a move back to cheaper and safer medicine such as herbalism, homeopathy and shamanic healing. (Personally I’d prefer not to lose mainstream medical care altogether, it has its uses!)

Last but not least…

If we cancel all measures protecting the environment it seems to me that the Earth will survive and cleanse herself through earthquakes and tsunamis – but the ultimate loser will be the human race. Plants and animals will adapt, given the truly vast time scales of geological Earth Time. However human beings might not make it. And would that be bad news for our planet?!

Actually I think so… because Mother Earth herself wishes to evolve and I believe that she is doing so through her relationship with the whole Web of Life – the human life form not prioritized over all other life forms. Our Mother does not want any of her children to die but, like human mothers, she gives her teenagers and young adolescents space (and says a heartfelt prayer).

To sum things up: I think we have  a powerful Teacher “on stage” and on our screens. (Trump is not alone, obviously there are many politicians on stage right now!)

The question is not: what is he doing? The real question is: what are we going to do about this? How are we going to respond?

Do we, perhaps, hold the Trump Card?!

Imelda Almqvist

About the author:
Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books on 26th August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

http://shamanismsummit.com/

This Autumn I hit upon a very simple recipe for a more balanced life. You could call it “the litmus test”  (and it is the second definition given here that I am interested in): litmus t…

Source: THE LITMUS TEST: FAIR ENERGY EXCHANGE

myth-an-unicorn

This Autumn I hit upon a very simple recipe for a more balanced life. You could call it “the litmus test”  (and it is the second definition given here that I am interested in):

litmus test  n.
1. A test for chemical acidity or basicity using litmus paper.

2. A test that uses a single indicator to prompt a decision: “The word ‘hopefully’ has become the litmus test to determine whether one is a language snob or a language slob” (William Safire).

As Jack Frost has arrived in London and we rapidly approach the Winter Solstice (the great turning point!) , I thought I ‘d share the recipe. It is very simple:

For every single relationship in my life I ask myself just one simple question: is this relationship balanced? Is there fair energy exchange? Does what I receive match the energy I invest? (This is very much related to joy: truly balanced relationships are JOY-FULL).

And if I arrive at the conclusion that no: things are 60 – 40 or 80 – 20 (or even 95 – 5, this has been known to happen!) , I make tweaks. I do not announce a revolution and trumpet the changes off the rooftops. I just give myself permission to step outside the established pattern, to not respond the way people expect from me.

Now I appreciate that we all have relationships where The Litmus Test cannot be applied in a straightforward way. The most obvious example of this is the relationship between parents and children. We honour our parents and it is the duty of parents to give to their children who, one day, may well give to their own children in the same way. (This is the great cosmic version of our modern “giving forward concept”).

Work  relationships are tricky too: when you are paid to perform a job, where do you draw the line? Do you go “above and beyond the call of duty” or not? Or just  a bit? Are you valued for going the extra mile?!

My younger self wasted a fair amount of time trying to define relationships as “good or bad” and people as “generous and selfish” etc. I now know that all of us have all of these aspects in equal measure.  And we all bring out different facets in different people. This is why we may never quite agree in any take on any  situation or person – and that is fine! This is the rich Tapestry of Life!

So this Autumn I have done my spiritual homework. I have gently put everything on the cosmic scales. Whenever I have perceived an imbalance in give and take, I have renegotiated – most of the time just within my inner world. I have said no to more things. I have told people that I was not going to prioritize doing whatever they expected me to do. I am also slowly learning The Art Of Not Responding To Emails. I let things drop. Time and energy are precious resources.

Then I am learning the trickier lesson that I have often agreed to co-create imbalances out of compassion: I felt sorry for people, I wanted to help them, make a difference. This is the Do-Gooder instinct in me that I now keep an eagle’s eye on. It is also the maternal instinct in me going strong (some of my friends call me Momma Bear!) I have learned the tough but liberating lesson that the only people in the whole world I actually need to mother are my three children – and no one else. It sounds so obvious doesn’t it? Yet I have fallen for that one many a time…

The most wonderful thing is that I have been able to move through this process (applying The Litmus Test)  without being sucked into great moral judgments or character assassinations  (on either  myself or others!) . The truth is that when there is no fair energy exchange in a relationship, all joy seeps away and resentment will build up. Not acknowledging or expressing this just leads to some inappropriate explosion (or “acting out of character” some time down the road). So I have experienced being at a far greater peace with myself and who I am (and also who I am simply NOT and will never be. For instance I will never be a gregarious cook who gives dinner parties… I am a hermit who needs serious doses of solitude to function socially and cope with Big City Life!)  I have felt empowered. My load has lightened.

Though I live and breathe (and teach) shamanism today, I was brought up as a Roman Catholic in an all-pervasive atmosphere of sin/guilt and divine retribution.  Today I believe in neither Heaven nor Hell. I do believe in what is commonly called the spiritual law of karma: unresolved issues return for further exploration over a series of lifetimes. I do not see this as punishment. I see this as balancing: things floating up for healing. In other words: an amazing opportunity to get it right this time….

You have my full encouragement to experiment with the same Litmus Test!


About the author:

Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books on 26th August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.


www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

http://shamanismsummit.com/