Lower World Realm Of Ancestors And Spirits

By Viola Woolcott

The lower world is the realm of ancestors and spirits. The lower world is based in the natural world and it is the deepest aspect of our Soul. The root of our deepest thoughts and emotions. It is a beautiful, earthy dimension, where we can connect with power animals. Since the beginning of time it contains nature’s secrets which are instinctual to our nature. This is where all that exists happens. Where the power of the earth, its elements and its kingdoms can be encountered. Where wisdom as well as power may be brought forward into life itself. Every thought and idea planted and cultivated by humans throughout history are imprinted in the Lower World. Here is where the light within the earth may be accessed to bring growth as well as healing.

Travelling deep into the lower world is a sacred journey of initiation for the shaman. To retrieve their power, the shaman makes their descent into the lower world through powerful dreams or through altered states of consciousness.

The portal into the lower world can be entered through an opening like a hollow tree, a cave or maybe even a deep pool. Bringing back the visions from their journeys to their tribes, they will be acted out through sacred rites as well as ceremonies.

To describe the lower world, modern psychology uses the term “collective unconscious“. The lower world is where powerful archetypes dance with the elements of nature and where our personalities today are still influenced.

It is believed that the lower world is the land where fairy stories are set, where Alice’s Wonderland as well as many other cartoons are based on.

Upper World Realm Of Gods Teachers And Guides

By Viola Woolcott

The upper world is an ethereal, bright place. The light tends to be translucent and pastel coloured. It is the world of the gods, of cosmic beings, spirit guides and elders who normally appear in human as well as angelic form. It is not as earthy and practical as the lower world, as their help and guidance is more general and more philosophical. The upper world is a spiritual realm which within itself contains the stars. The world where the blueprints of life can be seen.

In travelling to the upper world, we travel upwards. In order to get there you travel through a membrane which can appear like a cotton wool cloud. The realms are all linked and if you travel infinitely up the upper world, it eventually loops around to the Lower World.

The upper worlds are where you find your teachers and your guides. Where teachings about healing and identity are found with the help of guides as well as the lessons of mutual responsibilities.

The upper world is the realm, where the shaman negotiates with the gods. This world is mainly entered in the most dire cases, for example a deathly illness.

The three worlds are connected and are equal. One would not exist without the other.

Medicine Wheel

By Ina Woolcott

The Medicine Wheel of the Native Americans is symbolic of their spirituality and of the unique, individual ways we go to find our path – a journey of truth, harmony and peace. It is the symbol of the wheel of life, a never ending circle, life without end, forever evolving and bringing new lessons. The Earth walk is built on the understanding that every creature must stand on every spoke of the great wheel of life numerous times to know those truths. and that all directions are to be honoured and respected. Until one has walked in others’ moccasins, or stood on their spokes of the wheel, they will never truly know their hearts.

The medicine wheel helps us with our ‘vision’, to see where exactly we are and in which areas we need to develop in order to realise and become our potentials. It shows us that we are ALL connected and shows us the intricacies of the interwoven threads of life and what our part in it all is. It aids us understanding that without our place in the tapestry the bigger picture would not be as it should be. We ALL bring colour, dimension and life to each other, to all of life. It does not matter what colour, race or creed we are, we ALL need to create a beautiful existence and expression of the Whole. The medicine wheel is a tool to be used to uplift and better mankind, to heal and re-connect with the infinite. Every-one is a realisation of ‘God’ trying to realise self…so find out what part you yourself are.

The Medicine Wheel contains the 4 sacred colours and 4 cardinal directions. Also represented by the circle is the ‘circle of life’, with the centre of the circle representing the ‘eternal fire’. flying toward the east is the eagle symbolising vision, endurance and stamina and also the renewal of life and rebirth of the Cherokee Unity.

The 4 sacred directions and cardinal colours of the Medicine Wheel and their meaning are as follows:

1. East is red – this colour/direction represents spring and stands for victory, success and power. Spring is the re-awakening after an extended sleep – the victory over winter and the power of re-newed life.

RED was the colour of the Native Americans war club which was used to against enemies, and also the one for protection. Red beads were used to call upon the red spirit to guarantee a long life, to get better from illness, for good luck in love, for ball play as well as other undertakings where the benefit of the magic spell was required.

Animals of the East are animals of wings and flight including the hummingbird, the owl, and the hawk. Our words are given to the east that the smoke in the air or the voices in the air may be carried to Spirit.

2. North is blue – this colour represents the winter and also defeat, failure, trouble, disappointment, unsatisfied desire and sadness. This is a season of waiting and surviving. The Cherokee word for North literally means cold.

Uttering the words ‘they shall never become blue’, conveyed the belief that one would not fail inanything they did. When doing a love charm, a lover would literally cover himself in red and pray that his rival would turn entirely blue and walk in a blue path. The meaning of being entirely blue has the same meaning as the common English saying, ‘feeling blue’. The blue spirits resided in the North.

Animals of the North include the white buffalo, Moose and Bear. Each of these prepares themselves to have a layer of fat to sustain them through the winter. They are also the primary source of meat during the winter season for the Native Americans. They know not to waste energy, resting and taking things slowly with the knowledge of what winter brings.

3. West is black – (beaver) this colour/direction represents the autumn and stands for death. Autumn brings with it the final harvest and is the end of life’s cycle.

The enemy’s would be constantly beaten by black war clubs and enveloped in a black fog. When calling upon spirits to destroy an enemy, shamans used black beads and called upon the black spirits that lived in the west, asking them to tear out the enemy’s soul and carry it to the West to be put it in the black coffin deep in the black mud, with a black serpent coiled above it.

Animals of the west -the Beaver shows us the team work and preparation required for the upcoming coming. Snake reminds us to shed our skin to change and grow

4. South is white- this direction/colour represents the summer and stands for serenity, growth, fire, passion, fertility, happiness and peace. Summer is also the time of abundance.

In ceremonies such as the Green Corn Dance and ball play, white food would symbolically be indulge in and after the dance or game the white path was taken to their white homes. The stones pipes anciently used to sanction peace treaties were white. White beads meant all was happiness when used in bead conjuring. The White spirits resided in the South.

Animals of the south represent pride, strength and courage – eagle with his keen sight and strong wings, lion with his strength and courage to speak out, the wolf proud to be part of the pride.

Also, there are 3 further sacred directions:

1. Up above is yellow
2. Down below is brown
3. The Centre is green – the place of the sacred fire, which lies in the centre of their paths.

There are also 2 sacred numbers to the Cherokees – 4, as it represents the four primary directions, and 7, as it represents the 4 primary directions and the 3 sacred directions. 7 also represents the seven ancient ceremonies that composed the annual Cherokee religious cycle.

In experiencing the Good Red Road that goes form South to North in the medicine wheel, one learns the lessons of physical life. After leaving the physical plain and experiencing death, one goes on to the Blue or Black Road, the world of the grandfathers and grandmothers. Here, in spirit, one continues to learn by counselling those left on the Good Red Road. The Blue Road goes from East to West. The medicine wheel is life, afterlife, rebirth and the honouring of every step along the way.

What Are Spirits Part 2

Submitted by Bob Makransky

If you are serious about becoming a magician, then this is where you should start. It’s actually quite easy to learn to channel (easiest during lunar planetary hours). The chief function of spirit guides is to act like cornermen in a boxing match.

When you’re completely exhausted and life has really knocked you for a loop, they’re there to say: “You can do it! You’re doing great! Just get back in there and go another round!”

How spirit guides teach depends on the person they are teaching. Sometimes they hand out information for free, particularly when they spot an opportunity that must be grasped at once. Because they see things with such clarity, guides can give detailed explanations of everything you might want to know about your life and relationships.

Generally spirit guides are there to encourage people to figure things out and take responsibility for themselves. In my own case my guides use a lot of trickery, encouraging me to make an ass of myself, since this seems to be the only way I really learn anything (lose expectations).

Different spirits communicate in different ways. For example, my own spirit guides talk to me via automatic writing, in words in my head. It’s just like having a conversation with another person, except that it’s written rather than spoken. I can only hear my spirit guides talking to me directly when they’re yelling at me for having screwed up somehow.

My wife, who is much more psychic than I am, is able to hear them talking to her directly when she channels them. Another friend of mine, who is even more psychic than my wife, is able to hear them conversing amongst themselves.

I am a priest of the nine Mayan gods. When they have a message for me, they normally communicate with me in words in my mind, as my spirit guides do. But sometimes not; sometimes I just “know” what I’m to do; other times I just feel their mood (especially when they’re happy).

However, when the message is for someone else – for me to give to another person, or for me about another person – then they usually show it to me indirectly, by means of omens.

Omens are odd, unusual occurrences that have a symbolic meaning. My benefactress, the person who gave me the Mayan priesthood, has dreams in which the nine Mayan gods appear. She has told me that they appear to her as longhaired hippies. The only time one of the Mayan gods ever came to me in a dream he was wearing a three-piece suit.

However, Mescalito, the spirit of the peyote cactus, interacts with me on a much deeper level than my spirit guides or the Mayan gods do. I just know what Mescalito is communicating to me, even though there’s nothing verbal about it. Somehow or other it comes from what I take to be a very, very deep level.

The one time the Virgin Mary appeared to me I only felt her presence. I didn’t get a visual, nor did she speak. I had been looking for land to buy in a remote Mayan village, and as I walked around the village I was getting a lot of suspicion and bad vibes from the locals.

My spirit guides suggested that I go to the marketplace and buy a candle, and light it in the village church before the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. I was to ask her to make a place for myself amongst these people.

When I did so I suddenly felt myself transported into the presence of a young woman – perhaps 20 years old at the most. This being was totally loving and compassionate, and she filled me with a sense of complete acceptance, nurturance, and joy.

Ever since that day I’ve prayed to her every morning to help me open my heart, even though I’m nominally Jewish. I was taught to reject Jesus, that that would be the ultimate betrayal of my roots, but nothing was ever said about the Virgin Mary.

On various occasions religious statues in churches and temples have come to life momentarily before my eyes. Indeed, that is precisely what religious images are designed to do. If you are interested in communicating with spirits, praying to statues or images representative of the spirits of your religion can be a fruitful place to begin.

There are also nature spirits, such as mountain spirits, cave spirits, water spirits, tree spirits, and so forth. These spirits can be the most helpful of all to budding magicians. Where spirit guides guide, nature spirits can actually transform us. This is the crux of the spiritual path, the difference between momentary inspiration and real, permanent change.

It has been said – for example by Buddhists and by Castaneda’s teacher Don Juan – that real transformation, true spiritual growth, is impossible without the help of a living, enlightened guru. This is true, but it’s not true.

Near-death experiences can do this for us in sudden fashion; and nature spirits can also do it for us in a slower, more relaxed manner. Nature spirits can actually get in there and work on us on our deepest, light fiber level, gently dissolving our lower selves and liberating our true feelings.

Nature spirits, particularly cave and mountain spirits, often have powerful personalities. They should be approached with the greatest respect. Although every cave and mountain has a spirit, not all of these spirits are useful to humans. Sometimes such nature spirits are indifferent. At other times they are inimical to humans.

For example, the San Pedro volcano on Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan has happy, loving vibes. The town of San Pedro just beneath it is a light, happy place. But the next volcano over, Atitlan, is cold and hard and forbidding. The town of Santiago, which lies beneath it, is kind of an uptight place – famous for its black magicians and sorcery, and the scene of several massacres during and after the recent guerrilla war.

In order to make use of water spirits, it is first necessary to find them. This is not that hard to do. In an arid or semi-arid area, any water hole or spring will house a water spirit. Ponds, lakes, and oceans in their entirety can be considered to house one large spirit.

Along rivers and streams you frequently find water spirits residing at spots where there are deep pools, waterfalls, rapids, or at bends in the river where there is a change in the vegetation or rock formations.

Water spirits also reside at spots that are particularly lovely, different, attention-getting in some way or other. You find them by feel. Water spirits are used for washing off our self-importance: bad moods, self-pity, and negative vibes that other people lay on us.

Rock spirits are found in a similar way: by the feel of the way they look. The vortices around Sedona, AZ are a good example. Rock spirits can stabilize you and give you strength. This is good for athletes training for a contest or soldiers going to battle. Rock spirits also give fortitude – good for women who are weak in pregnancy. They also buttress your discipline, staying power, tenacity, and self-confidence. It’s good to go to rock spirits when you need to be bolstered somehow; whereas water spirits are most useful when there’s something you need to wash off.

You should feel an attraction to the place where a nature spirit resides. If you don’t feel an attraction for the place, don’t use it, no matter how extraordinary it may look. It’s not that going to the wrong spirit will hurt you, although there are evil spirits out there. It’s just that if you don’t have an affinity with the spirit – feel a definite attraction or good feeling about the place – then it wouldn’t be able to help you much. A doctor may be an excellent practitioner, but if he doesn’t have an affinity with the patient then there’s not much he can do for him. The same is true of spirits.

The physical appearance of the spot where a nature spirit abides is a useful check, but it shouldn’t be allowed to be the only criteria. Just because a place looks gloomy or frightens us a little doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use it. Powerful spirits are always a bit frightening. They command respect, and will righteously punish disrespect. They can actually knock us around if we approach them in a casual or offhand way.

A good friend of mine, a magician, was once climbing a spirit mountain with his baby daughter in his arms. Evidently the mountain spirit felt that his mood was disrespectful, since near the top there was a sudden clap of thunder out of a blue sky.

My friend understood at once that he had blown it. He lost his footing and tumbled down. Since he was trying to protect the baby he couldn’t protect himself, and he broke his collarbone in three places. Since then he hasn’t been able to windsurf; and formerly he was the windsurfing champion of Central America.

The point isn’t that we must be in dour, super-serious moods to visit power places and nature spirits. Rather, we must approach them with respect. That’s all.

When you have found a likely nature spirit, i.e. when you feel that you’re in the right place, approach the spirit by making an obeisance. Approach it as you would a wise old person whom you are asking to help you. You can take it a little present, such as flowers or some object meaningful to you.

Try to feel the personality of that spirit, sense its energy. Is it an active, dominating male presence or a receptive, soothing female presence? Does it seem to be young and vigorous or old and placid?

Some of the feeling is usually reflected in the physical appearance of the place. The spirit will tell you what to do there. Whatever it is that you feel you should do, go for it.

Pay close attention to all your thoughts and feelings when you are in the presence of a spirit. In the beginning it’s difficult to tell which are our thoughts and feelings, and which are the spirit talking to us.

After a bit of practice it’s not hard to tell which is which. If you are in a relaxed, open state of mind in the presence of a nature spirit, then probably any thoughts or feelings you have are communications from the spirit. You would probably have regarded them as your own thoughts and feelings unless this fact was to be pointed out to you at the moment.

However, it doesn’t really matter if you can consciously channel the spirit talking to you or not. This is actually a sidetrack, since the real healing work that nature spirits do has nothing to do with thoughts or feelings. They deal with us on a much deeper level than thoughts or feelings.

So if you go to a nature spirit in good faith, with an open heart, the spirit’s power will heal you with every visit.

(excerpted from Magical Almanac free monthly ezine: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MagicalAlmanac)

Click here to read: What are Spirits? Part 1

Also click here to go to Dare 2B aware – because you are entitled to my opinion

 

Middle World Parallel Non Ordinary Version Of Our World

By Viola Woolcott

The middle world is the spiritual dimension of our physical world and it is the world in which we live and breathe. The parallel non-ordinary version of our world. With all its beauty, trickery, strangeness as well as horror it is a world of controlled visionary experience. The world of ordinary reality. A world shadowed by other worlds, so that we may move from one dimension into another it constantly overlaps.

It is the world where vibes, hunches, psychic phenomena, telepathy, thought forms, extra sensory perception, unexplainable things happen. Where disease as well as illness manifest themselves before moving into the physical body. Where psychic healers work and where psychic ‘darts’ are thrown. In a healing ritual, the shaman most often travels to the middle world to gather facts about people, animals and plants, finds lost items or determines who is responsible for crimes or actions which are significant to the condition of the person in need.

The shaman seeks a cure before getting ill. When someone feels ill or dis-spirited they should seek a shaman for advice and to look at their energy field to make sure there is no intrusion or that an intrusion may be removed. Shamans see disease as a result of dis-ease as a result of an invasive force acting against health.

As there is an infinite number of lower worlds, upper worlds and middle worlds, not to mention that time can operate differently there, journeying can be very tricky. You need to be very experienced before attempting the middle world, as it is a very difficult place to navigate.

What Is A Shaman

By Viola Woolcott

The title “Shaman” belongs to many cultures and has been for eons. It originated from the Tungas (extinct Ural-Altaic) language of Siberia where the term Shaman eventually came to be applied to all medicine men and women of indigenous cultures. It refers to a group of traditional beliefs and earth based practises, which have existed throughout the world since prehistoric times.

Shamans denote indigenous healers, divination, visionaries (one who sees‘), spiritual leaders, prophets, therapists and herbalists in tribal societies. They are people who set about to put things right.

Some religious scholars and even some anthropologists describe a Shaman as a “middle man” of the natural as well as the spiritual world we live in. Being able to travel to both the upper and the lower worlds, they travel these worlds when they are in a trance like state. Once they have crossed the bridge into the spirit world, they would interact with the spirits to find guidance. These traditions are said to date back to prehistoric times.

Shamans have also been believed to control the weather, interpret dreams and read astral projections. They have knowledge of other realms of being. They are masters of altered states of consciousness. The cosmology of those regions is the basis of the shamanic perspective and power.

Power is just power – an ability is just an ability. It is what we do with these that makes them good or evil.

Modern Shaman

By Viola Woolcott

The image of the North American Indian, or medicine man is usually conjured up in the mind when one thinks of Shamanism.

Shamanism does still exist today and not only in secluded little villages deep in the woods. A new form of the more traditional Shamanism is taking shape and gaining increasing popularity in the West. The hunger today for spiritual experience and finding meaning in life is enormous.

They had very strong ties in Europe around the time before monotheism. Though Shamanism is still a traditional organised religion in their own right in the cities of Mari-El and Udmurtia, two provinces in Russia. It does exist in other parts of the world as well.

Shamanism is practiced in Siberia of all places. Many people from the Uralic, Altaic and Paleosiberian do continue to practice even in today’s world.

Many hunters and reindeer breeders practiced shamanism as a living tradition in modern times. It was mostly practiced by people who lived in isolated areas. When the People’s Republic of China sealed off the border with Russian Siberia, the Tungas groups that were practicing were confined to the Manchuria and Inner Mongolia. The last of the Shaman in that region died in October in 2000.

Shamanism is still practiced in a lot of locations in Asia. South Korea has shamans but the role of the shaman is mostly filled by women. In Central Asia there is a strong tie to shamanism. The Tibetan Buddhism became associated with the Shamans in places like Tibet, Mongols and Manchu. There were some forms of shamanism that became like an organised religion under the Chinese Yuan and Qing Dynasties. Many people feared shamans in the early 8th century, they believed them to be witches who put spells on people rather than help them. Some people still believe that today.

What Are Spirits Part 1

Submitted by Bob Makransky

Most people rely upon the dictates of their society to know what to do – what they’ve been taught by their parents, teachers, pastors, bosses, advertisers, and the media. Magicians, by contrast, rely upon the counsel of spirits, at least until they’ve got their own intuition and intent operating.

In truth, I don’t know what spirits are; and this is said after twenty years of intimate acquaintance with them. The problem is that we humans tend to impose features of the known upon the unknown. We want to make the unknown familiar and comfortable to deal with. Therefore, we naturally tend to regard spirits in terms that are already familiar to us.

We can’t be wholly objective about them. What I will describe here is my own view of what spirits are, based upon my own interactions with them.

Materialistic science says that spirits don’t exist; but this doesn’t mean that spirits don’t exist. My materialist friends, who reject the existence of spirits, do usually credit my integrity. They don’t question my belief that spirits are communicating with me, but they think that I’m mistaken in my interpretation that the spirits are outside of me rather than parts of my own psyche. However, I do make a distinction between my own thought forms such as inner child, lower self, anima and animus on the one hand; and spirits on the other.

I really don’t know what spirits are, or whether they are inside or outside of us. I do know that every religion and culture in the world except materialistic science is based upon spirit communication.

Christians, for example, often forget that their religion is spiritualistic. Jesus is a spirit; the Virgin Mary is a spirit; and of course the Holy Spirit, needless to say, is a spirit.

When Christians say: “Jesus talks to me and guides me, ” that’s what magicians call channeling. Christians and magicians use different spirits, but the technical basis – communication between spirits and people – is the same in all religions.

Have you ever noticed how rituals in many different religions have basically the same accoutrements? They all tend to take place in darkened rooms with candles and incense smoke, with monotonous chanting or litanies repeated over and over. The reason for this is because spirits themselves like such things: darkness, smoke, repetitive incantations.

Originally, and still today in traditional religions, the purpose of religious ritual was to make contact with the spirit world. Participants enter a light trance state to make them more accessible to spirit messages. Religious rituals originally were magical acts. In the Roman Catholic mass, for example, bread and wine are magically transformed into the body and blood of Jesus.

Recent converts to any religion often experience a high, a state of grace, which usually doesn’t last very long. These epiphanies are gifts of spirits who have the capacity to temporarily lower people’s sense of self-importance and self-pity, which in turn opens their hearts.

This often happens when people are at the end of their rope with nowhere to turn. It’s often at such times of complete desperation that they open to the Spirit and allow grace to descend upon them. This state of grace is channeled through spirit intermediaries such as Jesus, Krishna, or Buddha. This grace is usually temporary because the people still have inner work to do in order to embody the state of grace permanently in their everyday lives.

Spirits can temporarily bestow grace to people who are open to it – usually because they’ve exhausted their own resources. But it’s not the spirits’ job to carry emotional cripples on their backs forever.

Spirits can reveal a temporary glimpse of open-heartedness to animate people to seek such spiritual goals on their own. Having been given a model of what to strive for, it becomes the responsibility of the individual to continue the work begun by the spirits.

Everyone is receiving messages from spirits, both angelic and demonic ones, all the time. However in our society “hearing voices in my head which tell me what to do” means that you’re crazy. Therefore nobody takes a close look at where his or her thoughts are really coming from.

Even people who aren’t consciously aware of receiving messages from spirits nonetheless know that they experience hunches, inspirations, or dream messages that guide them in making decisions. Spirits are the source of these communications.

Moreover, lots of people are possessed by spirits – both angelic and demonic ones, but in our society mostly the latter – whether they know it or not. Spirit possession is not a bad thing when the spirits involved are benevolent, like Jesus, Krishna, or Buddha.

This possession occurs when people invite a spirit to take possession of them. When Christians “make the decision for Jesus” or “invite Jesus to come live inside” them, or Buddhists “take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha”, they are inviting spirits to take possession of their souls. Possession by a good spirit fortifies people’s faith and dedication to the spiritual path. It gives people backbone, something to rely upon in times of doubt.

However in our society demon possession is much more common than is possession by a benevolent spirit. It’s easiest to see that someone is demon-possessed when they get old, since by that time the demons have eaten up most of the people’s souls and left uptight, angry or depressed, self-pitying, burned-out hulks in their stead.

Life is a bitch, no question about it.

However it tends to mellow out people who are not demon-possessed. Demon-possessed people, on the other hand, tend to get worse and worse the older they get. When people are still young, there’s usually enough of the original person left there so that you can’t see the demons as readily. As the people get older, however, the demons eat up more and more of their souls and their joy.

If, as people age, they get lighter and more joyous, then they’re not demon-possessed. On the other hand if they get more uptight, nastier, depressed, or more self-pitying as they age, then they probably are demon-possessed. This is why it’s so hard to deal with those old people – you’re not dealing with the person anymore, just with a demon.

People call demons in to possess them when they feel especially vulnerable and in need of drastic protection. For example, a baby may call in demons at birth to protect against abusive parents. Demons can be called in at any stage in life, usually unconsciously, to alleviate pain or sorrow by providing a protective shell of hardheartedness or self-pity. Luckily, it’s not that hard to cast out demons. The hard part for demon-possessed people is wanting to cast them out in the first place. We’ll discuss this subject in depth in a later article.

When we channel spirits we usually receive the information as thoughts or feelings. This is because thoughts and feelings are all we know. We don’t know how to process information in any other fashion. Therefore, we interpret the communications we receive from spirits in terms of thoughts or feelings.

However, that is not how the spirits themselves view this communication. Spirits see it as a mingling or bending of light fibers – an interaction within the aura, or shell of luminosity, which surrounds every being. In other words, spirits’ cognition is very different from humans’ normal, socially-conditioned mode of cognition. For example, spirits see time in terms of potentialities rather than concrete events.

Moreover it is undoubtedly anthropomorphic to believe that spirits have sex (male or female) and personalities (jolly, somber, laid-back, strict, etc.). However, that is how they appear to most people.

My own spirit guides are rather indulgent and soft, probably because I am indulgent and soft and get riled unless I am indulged and treated softly. On the other hand Mescalito, the spirit of the psychedelic peyote cactus, is cold, hard, and detached. I find him terrifying, in fact, although I still go to him on occasion. Mescalito doesn’t indulge anybody.

In other words, spirits have different personalities, just as people do. They are not amorphous energies or something of the sort. Possibly it is a feature of human cognition that we humans apprehend spirits as having sex and personality, rather than that sex and personality are properties innate to the spirits themselves.

This is similar to Carlos Castaneda’s conundrum about psychic apprehension, what he termed seeing, being so visual, when it had nothing to do with vision whatsoever – whether his eyes were open or closed. But to him it seemed visual. His teacher Don Juan’s explanation of this was that we humans come to magic as adults, with our perceptual biases already formed.

Therefore when we learn a new form of cognition we tend to try to fit it into a familiar mold. Similarly, we tend to experience spirits’ communications as thoughts or feelings, since these are our usual forms of communication. We relate to spirits’ personalities because we are accustomed to relating to others through their personalities.

In actuality spirits are not as individuated / separated as we humans fancy ourselves to be. For example, my efforts to get Mayan priests to explain exactly who’s who in the Mayan pantheon have always failed because it’s not that simple – the various deities overlap or join together: they’re not separate entities per se.

On several occasions during ceremonies I have felt the presence of the Mayan earth divinity Tzul Taka, Mountain-Valley, as a male being. The priests have told me that this is my interpretation because I am a male, that Tzul Taka is neither male nor female, nor is even a single entity but is a union of entities, or a link between the Heart of the Earth and Heart of the Heaven. In other words, to the Mayans the divinities are ineffable, or at least can’t be pinned down or defined by mental constructs.

The easiest spirits to communicate with are your own spirit guides – what some people term “angels”. More detailed information on what spirit guides are and how you can contact them is given in the Channeling Spirit Guides article which can be downloaded for free from http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MagicalAlmanac/files.

(excerpted from Magical Almanac free monthly ezine: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MagicalAlmanac)

Click here to read: What are Spirits? Part 2

Native American Church Peyote Meetings

By Ina Woolcott

Amongst Native Americans today, the most widespread religion is known as the Native American church. It merges elements of native spiritual practise from different tribes and symbolic elements of Christianity. The main rite is the peyote ceremony. Many of the ills that sadly came about due to colonisation – alcoholism, crime and gambling to name but a few – have been combated with considerable success.

Many Native Americans say their religious practices are a form of spirituality, rather than religion. They are the only known ethnic group in the USA who require a federal permit to practise their religion. The Eagle Feather Law states only those of certifiable Native American descent enrolled in a federally recognised tribe are legally allowed to obtain eagle feathers for spiritual, or religious use. The value and validity of this is frequently challenged by Natives and non-Natives alike, charging that the law is heavy with discriminatory racial preferences and infringes on tribal sovereignty. The law dictates that Native Americans may not give eagle feathers to non-Native Americans, a common traditional and modern practise. There are many non-Native Americans who have been adopted into Native American families, made tribal members and been given eagle feathers.

The Native American Church was officially incorporated in 1918, with the help of James Mooney, an anthropologist from the Smithsonian Institution who testified in favour of Native American at congressional hearings. Lucky for the natives, for he had advised peyotists of various Oklahoma tribes to obtain a legal charter to safeguard their religious freedom. If he hadn’t, they may have been driven underground. He had researched Peyote meetings among the Kiowa in Oklahoma. He also studied its use on other reservations, as well as its use by the Tarahumara in Mexico

Peyote became the inspiration and remedy of many Oklahoma tribes during a time of torturous cultural disintegration, which peaked during the 1880s. By 1874, the Kiowa and Comanche, the once proud warriors of the southern Plains, were enclosed to reservations in Oklahoma. The severe loss of freedom and liberty that came with life on reservations brought unbelievable, unimaginable suffering to all Native Americans. Peyote religion spread like wildfire – today peyote meetings are one of the most popular Native American gatherings.

Another HIGHLY influential figure in keeping the peyote meetings alive was Quanah Parker, a Comanche, was the most famous of all Oklahoma peyotists, helping to bring Half Moon style Peyote meetings to members of the Delaware, Caddo, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Ponca, Oto, Pawnee, Osage, and other tribes. Half Moon meetings aren’t as heavily influenced by Christianity as those of the Big Moon branch of the Church which a Caddo, John Wilson, pioneered in spreading. By1910, both of these meeting styles had spread far beyond the Oklahoma reservations where they started.

Of course, as was to be expected, as soon as Christian missionaries found out about the sacramental use of peyote on their reservations they began to go against it with force. Indian agents joined the missionaries trying to get peyote outlawed. The Natives defended their religious freedom in their respective states and in Congress.

The church has around 250,000 members. Of the church’s devotional ritual, about 60% is singing. Often this is done in the local Native American tongue, although phrases such as ‘Jesus only’ can be heard now and again. Around 25 worshippers sing along with a gourd rattle and a small drum that is beat fast. Members also drum, pray and meditate, ingesting peyote during all-night meetings, with the majority of the meetings being held for healing, baptism, funerals, and birthdays.

Peyote is revered as a gift from God. Peyote opposes alcohol craving, it heals and teaches morals and goodness. It is eaten, or drunk as a tea, after a formal ritual and is not eaten for the visions it brings. The church members pass it around clockwise a number of times in the course of all night meetings. there is no professional, paid clergy within the church and members are free to interpret Bible passages in line with their own understanding. The need to forbear alcohol and be faithful to one’s partner are stressed, as well as truthfulness, fulfilling one’s family duties, economic self-sufficiency, praying for the sick and for peace.

Related link: Peyote, Visions and Alternate Reality

What Is A Shamanic Journey

By Viola Woolcott

The Shaman is said to be walking with one foot in the every day world and with the other in the spirit world. Different cultures may express their views on the two realities in differently, but the basic idea is the same.

Shamans are explorers of doorways from ordinary reality into non-ordinary (NOR) reality through portals leading him from the physical to the spirit world. They are moving between those two worlds. In order to bring about a balance between the physical and spiritual worlds the shaman uses mystical powers to journey to other worlds or realities and communicates with spirits.

The Shamanic Journey is a way of finding answers, information, healing, wisdom and knowledge as well as guidance or help with one’s personal life. During the Journey he meets with spirits who may be regarded as ancestors, elders, gods, goddesses, deceased shamans, spirit guides, power animals and angels. These beings are seen as beings with great wisdom, power and the ones who are willing to help with guiding the living.

A shamanic world is made up of three parts, the lower world, the upper world and the middle world. The shamans see these three worlds as a climbing tree to the next world. The tree represents power and courage and is used in the initiation ceremony. None of these worlds are above the other. They are equally important.

Each shaman begins there journey with a theme, if they are looking for guidance on a specific issue, their theme would be whatever the issue is. They form a phrase or a sentence they repeat it over and over again. This phrase or sentence helps to transcend them into the spirit world. Shamans also finds a place of tranquillity in his mind, there can be no other noise around them, and they must achieve a totally calm state of mind with no outside distractions.

Shamans do rely on their instincts as well as their powers. They have no limitations, they ascend into each world and they stop in each world and get the wisdom and the power they need from each world before going to the next. Once they have achieved the last world, they are ready to descend back into the present, into reality. From each world they have received word from the spirits and the knowledge to help who have come to them in their hour of need.