Archives for posts with tag: Facebook
antlered-dreams-2013

Last night I had a vivid dream. It stayed with me all day: I had been invited to spend the day with a group of teenagers. They were unknown to me (meaning that they were not friends of my own three teenagers). Their intention was to show me The Ways of the Future.

They put me in a classroom (it actually had a whiteboard!) Then they started telling me how working with ancient gods and goddesses is no longer good enough. We need to actively create the gods and goddesses of the future. If we do not do this, we will continue to create a future shaped and delineated by the past.

As I have a very great love for (and intimate relationship with) many ancient gods and goddesses I felt some resistance rising. I felt I had to speak in support of  of those ancient deities. The teenagers laughed and gently pressed me down on my chair again.

It is simple! They said. The future will not resemble the past. We young people live in a time of unheard of opportunities and dangers. We need gods and goddesses that patrol the internet. Gods and Goddesses invigilating social media. Facebook needs a Face Goddess and Twitter needs a Bird Goddess. We also need a True Face God and gods in charge of the drugs that teenagers use at parties… As our concept  of reality expands (reality has never been what we think it is anway!) ever more gods and goddesses can enter and fill our consciousness. We conceive them just as they conceive us!

I am feeling dizzy. Here I thought I was progressive in the way I teach and work. The teenagers proceeded to draw faces on the white board. The face of gods and goddesses. They proceeded to name them and invoke them, welcome them.

They said: gods and goddesses are shape-shifters and Reality is the greatest shape-shifter of them all!

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/

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Last week I learned a new meaning of the word ‘ghost’: a person you stay ‘friends’ with on Facebook but with whom you never interact otherwise.

This was in the dentist’s waiting room where I picked up a woman’s magazine as my dentist was running a little late. And it is not every day I learn a new word – though living outside my country of birth it does happen from time to time.

From the same article I also picked up another concept: Dunbar’s Number. This indicated a limit to the number of relationships any person can reasonably maintain and invest time and energy in:

Dunbar’s number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person.[1][2][3][4][5][6] This number was first proposed in the 1990s by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who found a correlation between primate brain size and average social group size.[7] By using the average human brain size and extrapolating from the results of primates, he proposed that humans can only comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships.[8] Proponents assert that numbers larger than this generally require more restrictive rules, laws, and enforced norms to maintain a stable, cohesive group. It has been proposed to lie between 100 and 250, with a commonly used value of 150.[9][10] Dunbar’s number states the number of people one knows and keeps social contact with, and it does not include the number of people known personally with a ceased social relationship, nor people just generally known with a lack of persistent social relationship, a number which might be much higher and likely depends on long-term memory size.

Dunbar theorized that “this limit is a direct function of relative neocortex size, and that this in turn limits group size … the limit imposed by neocortical processing capacity is simply on the number of individuals with whom a stable inter-personal relationship can be maintained.” On the periphery, the number also includes past colleagues, such as high school friends, with whom a person would want to reacquaint themself if they met again.[11]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar%27s_number

For me this raises an interesting question: as someone who professionally deals with “ghosts” – am I a ghost myself?! And following this definition: yes indeed! I am “friends” on social networks with people I have never met or have practically lost touch with (other than keeping a ‘flimsy’ Facebook connection).

About two years ago I left Facebook for three months and deactivated my account. My intention was to free up time and space for other things (like reading, playing the cello, going for walks by the river). In reality I discovered that I lost touch with many people I do not maintain any ‘intensive’ or regular communications with’ but now I never heard from them at all. So I climbed back in (“ghost accounts can be re-activated any time. They never truly disappear. With one click of the mouse I was back in – as if I had never been away) because the social loss still felt greater than the gain of ‘free time’. After all one can ignore Facebook for weeks (months, years) on end without de-activating an account!

The world has moved on since the time my husband and I (living in Amsterdam and Stockholm respectively) wrote each other long poetic old-fashioned letters. The social world is even moving on from emails now. My three children (aged 15, 13 and 11) never check their emails. It is ‘too slow, too old. too dead’ – meaning that they buzz each other through Facebook, WhatsApp and other group sites and apps instead. And they often seem to communicate as crowds too (flash mobs being the extreme end of that phenomenon) and not so much one-to-one. So the long thoughtful emails I get are all from people aged 40+ or thereabouts. And I have started printing off the truly lovely ones – to make them more like old fashioned letters. To be able to treasure them and re-read them.

Yes, and then there are ‘Followers’. Here on WordPress, on Twitter, etc. So a Follower is different from a Friend or a Ghost: it carries no obligation to ‘be in relationship’ with the person. It just means that they receive updates when you post something (if I understand this correctly).

So I have Friends, Followers and Ghosts…. I am a Friend, Follower and Ghost myself…

And maybe this is just part of living in a ‘Global Village’. It is also part of being in a profession where I see a large number of individual people and teach groups of people. And do I expect myself to stay in relationship with them all? I may try (I write a newsletter for this purpose) but I know that I can’t.

A very good piece of advice I received once was: “Never let your Inbox become your To Do List!’

But working from home I admit I like making flying visits to Facebook to see what the rest of the world is doing.

And I have just given myself permission to no longer reply to ALL  messages or emails I receive.

There is something to be said for being a GHOST sometimes…

Imelda Almqvist

 Life Force TV Interview about shamanism with Imelda Almqvist

www.imelda-almqvist-art.com

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

Imelda Almqvist is a Dutch shamanic practitioner, teacher and painter based in London, UK

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So what about giving people our PRESENCE rather than our PRESENTS for Christmas?!

The Winter Solstice is just around the corner and I hope it will be a turning point for many people individually and for our whole world. It is time to rethink many of our habits, thoughts, actions and roles in our families and communities.

For every Christmas that rolls around I feel less willing to ‘play the game’: buying presents I don’t want to buy, receiving presents I don’t need or want, receiving Christmas cards that make me think of the trees that were felled to produce the paper…

As a mother of three boys I can’t escape Christmas or Christmas presents altogether. I am Dutch and in the Netherlands we celebrate the Feast of St Nicholas (Sinterklaas) on December 5th. Children receive presents from the Saint and grown ups exchange presents too and write funny small rhymes. Often the present is disguised as something it is not. For instance you are giving someone a book but you use paper mache to make it look like a horse, or an airplane – or anything that wrong foots the receiver about the true nature of the gift but reflects some obsessive interest they have! Then you rib them in a funny little rhyme – but only gently and affectionately!

What I like about Sinterklaas is the fun, the creativity, the together time with family, the hot chocolate and the marzipan – but the gift is the least important thing and it is rarely of great financial value (not in my family anyway!)

My husband is Swedish and in Sweden people do put Christmas presents under the tree – just as people in England do. So, as I recently said to my mother, I can hardly swim against two dominant cultures all by myself, considering that my three Dutch-Swedish children live in London, not the Netherlands!

So our children will receive some Christmas presents in Sweden next week, under a tree harvested from a forest belonging to the family friend we are staying with. (Come boys, let’s step outside for just a moment to get the tree!)

The word PRESENCE jumped out at me late last night (in a post on FB) and again first thing this morning, in a newsletter a colleague of mine sends out. And this got me thinking about the power of words: two letters difference can make a WORLD of difference!

Many of us are so good at being on the run from ourselves’ that we are hardly more present to others than to ourselves. Just look at the way people are using their i-phones: always plugged, always tapping and punching, in the street, in shops, in the doctor’s surgery….. As soon as my clients arrive I ask them three questions: 1 Can I take your coat? 2 Would you like to use a bathroom before we start our session 3 Have you switched off your phone?!

And all that 24/7 ‘so called availability’ means we are barely present to those around us and to All That Is around us: the air, the trees, water, music, clouds, birdsong, crying toddlers, dancing Autumn leaves, elderly people in need of  smile…. and so forth.

So what if we made a PRESENT of BEING PRESENT? Of giving our full and undivided attention to all that surrounds us.  And over Christmas: giving our full and undivided attention to the people we are with?

Speaking as someone who has family visits lined up in two different European countries (with thousands of kilometers of driving between) I know I myself am I going to be tempted to mentally absent myself from what is going on. Daydreaming, my i-pod, a good book, long walks in the forest or on the mountain… And all of those can and will have their place. But my intention this Christmas is to give loved ones the present of being present and also to be present to anything else that presents (Do I need to express love in some way or form? Ar the ancestors asking for something? Other unspoken requests? What are the trees in the forest asking for? How can I honour Mother Earth at this Dark Moon Winter Solstice time? What will my children need from me in 2015 as they grow older and more independent?)

Those are some of the questions I will be contemplating – but isn’t presence the best present of all?!

Imelda Almqvist

www.imelda-almqvist-art.com

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

 

 

Anubis 2013 Pentax

Have you ever taken a moment to contemplate the difference between the words innocence and ignorance? Maybe take a few minutes now  to meditate on this and feel the change in energy?

Jewish people will observe Yom Kippur soon.

Yom Kippur (Hebrew: יוֹם כִּפּוּר, IPA: [ˈjom kiˈpuʁ], or יום הכיפורים), also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people.[1] Its central themes areatonement and repentance. Jewish people traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue service  (from Wikipedia)

The reason that I find myself writing about this subject today is because I have been getting into discussions with friends recently about the question: “Can you do wrong, even harm others, without having any awareness you are doing something wrong?” To find the answer to that we only need to go back to World War II, I guess. Much has been written about people claiming “they had no idea what was being done to the Jews” (I have even heard – read – people claim that concentration camps never happened).

A  dear friend (Vicki Semo Scharfman) recently put it like this: “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem!”  That is a great quote and it says a lot with few words! Another dear friend (Sony Baron) was telling (and teaching) me about Yom Kippur recently.

To me there is an even more ‘insidious issue’ lurking in the jungle’ here.  Earlier this summer I wrote a blog titled FORGIVENESS. It sparked off some very interesting discussions on Facebook (I occasionally think it is a shame that what people write on FB does not make it into the comments section on either Facebook or Youtube, or wherever material is officially shared – this means that many people do not get to benefit from the follow up discussion. But that as an ‘aside’!)

I think that we all like to think that on a great cosmic level, things balance out somehow. Evils are righted, forgiveness is obtained, negative energy is transmuted and so forth. But to forgive, or transmute something, the person responsible needs to realise they did something wrong in the first place.

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt terribly hurt by something someone did, yet they seem blissfully unaware of this and not  remotely awake to any shift in energy between you? I guess that this is part of the human condition! I can’t interview all people alive today but I guess a large number would recognise what I am talking about.

So how does forgiveness (or repentence, atonement) relate to things we are not aware we have done – or failed to do?

The word innocence refers to a pure and almost childish quality. It implies a “not knowing” but also a “maybe growing into knowing” by getting older or more mature. Children are often called innocent.

The word ignorance implies a “lack of knowing” but in a sense of “should have known. Should have made the effort. Should drop their blinkers” and take some responsibility

And so I have found myself wondering what  happens on a spiritual level when we are ignorant, or when a childish innocence turns into a more regrettable adult ignorance.

Ignorance can incense! It can arouse extreme anger and indignation!

From doing ancestral healing work I know that whatever the ancestors haven’t resolved is passed on to future generations. Energetically speaking there is a debt, a challenge, something that seeks to come alight, something that “floats up for healing” (depending on how judgmental you want to be!)

I also know that as my life progresses, I sometimes find myself thinking of people I knew (or even met briefly) years ago. Because something has just happened to me and and in retrograde I wish to send them understanding and empathy: NOW I know why you said this, or acted that way twenty years ago…

(An example of this is a man I was thinking of earlier today. I do not know his name or where he is today. Over 20 years ago he told me that he had spent his whole live caring for children and stepchildren and felt he had lost out big time on ‘freedom and space for his own interests’. The day I met him he had just heard that his son was expecting his first baby and expecting ‘granddad’ to provide childcare to he and his wife could continue to work. This man said he loved children dearly but he had had enough of the day-to-day care and grind, after DECADES of it…. He actually burst into tears as he said it. At that time I did NOT have children and it seemed a little….. exaggerated? Aren’t kids great? Is this what we want to hear when we tell Granddad the happy tidings?! However, today, writing as someone who has done a lot single parenting over 15 years, I understand EXACTLY what this man was saying. And today the solution seems pretty obvious: tell your son you are thrilled become a granddad and of course you will be there for them in emergencies, but you cannot provide the day-to-day childcare because you have some dreams to live yourself…. Tough love….)

So today, outside time, I sent a message to this man (a T Mail – a telepathic message!) “I understand completely now. I hope you did indeed take time and space for yourself!” Does it make a difference? \Is he even alive today?  I can’t say for sure. But I hope that some loving encouragement somehow reached him outside space and time.

So how can we avoid ignorance? Can we avoid ignorance?

For me it all goes back to “shadow work” (as it is called in both shamanism and psychology). Don’t just monitor your own thoughts and actions – but also monitor what drives you mad in other people. Those things are likely to be pointers to things, aspects, you hide from yourself. Reclaim them and own them!

If you are really and truly very brave: ask others how you drive them mad! And don’t punish them for the priceless information they produce!

(If you are married you probably get the “goods” free of charge, without even trying…. )

As I said at the beginning: Yom Kippur is soon, the Day of Atonement. If others forgive us – are we free of the need to atone and repent? I would say not. I think that in hurting others, we hurt ourselves at the same time. And even if we receive forgiveness for every thoughtless or unkind (or even malicious) deed – we are not automatically in harmony with ourselves. Not deep down. I am not Jewish but I think having a Day of Atonement is a good practice. Having a designated, and dedicated!, day, also means that many people are doing this tough internal work all at the same time. And that creates a large cloud of energy shifting, of doors opening and healing possibilities occurring. Personally, inter-personally and generationally (back to the ancestral healing work I mentioned earlier).

And what about innocence then: innocence implied a ‘lack of guilt’. Found “not guilty”. The word is often used too in the context of crimes or war zones: innocent people lost their lives.

“Innocent until proven guilty by a Court of Law”…. but ” there is no smoke without fire” are everyday idioms that touch upon this issue.

As a young  teenager cycling home from school I was once attacked by two girls who truly believed I had racially abused them the week before (I had not but I discovered I had a lookalike in the area). They put a knife on my wrist and said they cut my wrist unless I apologised. At that point a man happened to be passing on the cycling path and he intervened – allowing me to escape from the situation.

Was I innocent? Yes, I had definitely not shouted racial abuse at these girls the week before.

Was I ignorant? Yes, because at age I lived in a predominantly white city in The Netherlands where my understanding of racism was lacking and far from what (I hope!) it is today.

And though I pray my own teenage sons will never be held at knife point (I shudder to think of it!) I admit that these teenage girls too have stayed on my mind over the years. They will be middle aged women today, like me. What they did was undoubtedly wrong, but today I realise that being black in a predominantly white city and culture must have been extremely challenging for these teenage girls. I think they truly believed they had captured their tormentor. So today I would like to send them a T mail saying that I understand much better now why they acted the way they did. Today I do shadow work. I root around in the fertile soil that “everything I don’t like about myself” (rich soil indeed and there is plenty of it!) This is not the same as saying teenagers can pull knives on the people that annoy them!!

So my suggestion is that most people could benefit from a Day of Atonement. If all of us do it together – maybe we can shift some of our ‘cultural shadow’ (i.e. the things that all of us together choose to stay ignorant about)? And it would be very interesting to observe such shifts “with our eyes closed” – in the invisible world, the other world, the spirit world.

I am dedicating this blog to my dear friends Sony Baron and Vicki Semo Scharfman – who both got me thinking about this issue very seriously. Thank you ladies!

Imelda Almqvist

www.imelda-almqvist-art.com

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

 

The title of the painting above is THE WEIGHING OF THE HEART CEREMONY (but my understanding is that it is the Jackal God Anubis weighing the heart, not Osiris!)

From wikipedia http://www.egyptian-scarabs.co.uk/weighing_of_the_heart.htm:

 

Weighing of the Heart

The Weighing of the Heart Ceremony

Weighing of the HeartThe ancient Egyptians believed that, when they died, they would be judged on their behaviour during their lifetime before they could be granted a place in the Afterlife. This judgement ceremony was called “Weighing of the Heart” and was recorded in Chapter 125 of the funerar text known as the “Book of the Dead“.

The ceremony was believed to have taken place before Osiris, the chief god of the dead and Afterlife, and a tribunal of 43 dieties. Standing before the tribunal the deceased was asked to name each of the divine judges and swear that he or she had not committed any offences, ranging from raising the voice to stealing. This was the “negative confession“. If found innocent, the deceased was declared “true of voice” and allowed to proceed into the Afterlife.

The proceedings were recorded by Thoth, the scribe of the gods, and the deity of wisdom. Thoth was often dipicted as a human with an ibis head, writing on a scroll of papyrus. His other animal form, the baboon, was often depicted sitting on the pivot of the scales of justice.

Weighing of the HeartThe symbolic ritual that accompanied this ritual was the weighing of the heart of the deceased on a pair of enormous scales. It was weighed against the principle of truth and justice ( known as maat ) represented by a feather, the symbol of the goddess of truth, order and justice, Maat. If the heart balanced against the feather then the deceased would be granted a place in the Fields of Hetep and Iaru. If it was heavy with the weight of wrongdoings, the balance would sink and the heart would be grabbed and devoured by a terrifying beast that sat ready and waiting by the scales. This beast was Ammit, “the gobbler“, a composite animal with the head of a crocodile, the front legs and body of lion or leopard, and the back legs of a hippopotamus.

The ancient Egyptians considered the heart to be the centre of thought, memory and emotion. It was thus associated with interlect and personality and was considered the most important organ in the body. It was deemed to be essential for rebirth into the Afterlife. Unlike the other internal organs, it was never removed and embalmed separately, because its presence in the body was crucial.

If the deceased was found to have done wrong and the heart weighed down the scales, he or she was not though to enter a place of tourment like hell, but to cease to exist at all. This idea would have terrified the ancient Egyptians. However, for those who could afford to include Chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead in their tombs, it was almost guaranteed that they would pass successfully into the Afterlife. This is because the Egyptians believed in the magical qualities of the actual writings and illustrations in funerary texts. By depicting the heart balancing in the scales against the feather of Maat they ensured that would be the favourable outcome. The entire ceremony was, after all, symbolic.

Following the Weighing of the Heart, the organ was returned to its owner. To make quite sure that this did happen, Chapters 26-29 of the Book of the Dead were spells to ensure that the heart was returned and this it could never be removed again.

 

 

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A few days ago I was shocked to read one woman’s post on Facebook: “I only lost my Dad a few weeks ago and today my baby boy passed away too”. There was something a little strange about this post and the responses it got  so I went back the next day to see if had missed something. Indeed I had: there was now a picture of a dead cat on her wall and the ‘baby boy’ she had lost turned out to be her cat.

Now I appreciate fully that people become ‘mums and dads’ to their animals, but I would have appreciated a small ‘feline pointer’, I suppose.

Her post triggered an avalanche of prayers – and personally I don’t feel we can pray for people without their consent (it’s a form of psychic intrusion, done without permission). Please don’t pray for me unless I ask you to, THANK YOU!!

Another thing that this particular post ‘flashed up’ for me was how some ‘Spiritual People’ choose to see our temporary incarnation in a human coat as quite irrelevant to the larger journey of the the soul. Other people, just like me, had understood this post to refer to a human baby boy and I was quite horrified to read comments like “Death is an illusion! He is with your Dad now, can’t you see?!”

Now I am a shamanic practitioner and teacher and well versed in spiritual perspectives on Death & Dying. Indeed, I actually teach the course: “Shamanic perspectives on….” Having said that, if one of ny children died today, I would NOT appreciate such comments on my Facebook wall. In fact I doubt I would be logging into Facebook at all for quite some time to come.

I also admit that this thought-provoking incident could occur because I have Facebook connections with people I have not met “in the flesh” or “face to face” (to stay with the ‘facebook’ concept).

That leads us to a discussion about ‘friends’. How do we define the word “friend”. Some people have said to me categorically (and rather hardline!): “Oh those people on Facebook aren’t friends of course, it is all a big game”. Personally speaking I do not agree with that. Through Facebook I have ‘met’ (maybe not in the ‘human coat’ or flesh, but still!) people who have touched my soul, shared beautiful uplifting material with me, who have laughed and cried with me as life unfolds. To me these people have become friends, yes, I do not hesitate to use that word and no inverted commas. My life is richer for them and I would really miss them if the connection broke and they dropped away.

Facebook does also allow me to stay in touch with ‘old friends’ who live on other continents in other time zones and whom I would hardly ever hear from, if Facebook did not exist. I know this for sure because 18 months ago I deleted my Facebook account for three months, but the social cost was too high, I returned. Kind of creepily my page came back up as if it had never been gone – something a friend of mine called ‘a bad version of the Akashic records’!

So I am well and truly a citizen of the 21st century then…

I suppose that my final perspective on Facebook is that ‘it is what you make it’. I choose to share mostly funny or inspirational things. Paintings, dreams, hilarious or profound comments my children make. I do not share every personal challenge on my wall. (If I do share something challenging there is always a Spiritual Person ready to point out to me that “It’s all for the best and life on Earth is one big illusion any way”. That kind of stops me and keeps my posts light and bright!)

Does sharing something on Facebook mean that I am asking for advice? I don’t think so but of course it can easily be understood so!

I accept friend request from complete strangers. I know I am not supposed to do this. Facebook actively tries to discourage it. I tell my teenage son NEVER to do this, so it’s madly inconsistent of me too! Yet, the innocent and naive part of me thinks: I will  give (almost) anyone a chance, if they can’t handle that, I can ‘unfriend them’. Terrible as it sounds, there IS an ‘unfriending option’. Unfriending only takes one click. Quite different from village life or tribal life where people are/were stuck with the same crowd for life, admittedly! Not so in the ‘Global Village’… (To this I will add that if any friend request gives me a bad feeling I delete it straight away!)

Well, this posted started with dead cat and I feel it needs to end with a big ‘thank you’ to the people who enrich my life on Facebook. You know who you are!!

Imelda Almqvist

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