Category Archives: School of the Modern Mystic

Consciously Cultivating Calm this Christmas

I’ve been so challenged recently with keeping grounded, maintaining my self-care practices, and maintaining calm and order amongst so much “busy-ness”.  As Christmas draws nearer, there are moments when anxiety and fear of not being able to “get it all done” sets in.  In truth, there are times when it’s tempting to admit defeat and resign myself to a sea of overwhelm.  Sometimes it feels like it would be so much easier to throw my hands in the air, give up and wallow in self-pity and victimhood.

But I’ve come far enough on my path to know that what seems the easier option in these moments, actually ends up feeling so much worse.

I’m keeping my head above water, and I know what to do to help myself to rise above these challenges.  I come back to my spiritual practices.

Meditation is the basis of my spiritual practice that keeps me sane during good times and bad.  As I shared recently on my Facebook page, it’s often during the more challenging times that we find it increasingly difficult to commit to or keep up with a meditation practice, when in truth, these are the times when we need them the most.  It’s so easy to believe the excuse of “I don’t have time”, especially during the festive season, and yet prioritising the time to commit to this action actually has this seemingly magical effect of opening up more time – it never ceases to truly amaze me.  Then on the other hand, when things are going smoothly, it can be easy to fall into the trap of letting our practice slide here and there because we’re feeling good, and it doesn’t seem to urgent or necessary.  However, it’s important to maintain our practice so that when challenging times do arrive (as they inevitably do if you’re human!), then you have the resilience to face whatever comes your way with more ease and grace.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers.  I don’t pretend to be the perfect example.  And I most certainly do not wish to make you feel that you’re inadequate or a failure if you don’t add my suggestions to your list of “Things That I Really Should Be Doing”.  Been there, done that.  And I’m pretty sure that your To Do list is more than long enough as it is.  I share based on my experience, with the intention of inspiring you, because I want you to feel better.  I invite you to take some serious consideration of the possibility that prioritising meditation can literally turn your life around and create the space and calm you crave.

So today I’m sharing some resources that can help make meditation a regular part of your life.

Chakra Cleanse Meditation

If you’ve been reading my words for a while, you’ll know that I love and recommend Belinda Davidson’s Chakra Cleanse Meditation, which is my daily practice.  It is incredible, and it has changed my life.  Having a guided meditation recording makes things so much easier in my opinion.  I personally have found it easier to focus when concentrating on the guidance of Belinda’s words and instructions than simply focusing on my breath, which finds my mind wandering almost instantly.  And, of course, this particular meditation is specific to cleansing and strengthening your chakras, so whilst you’re getting all the regular benefits of meditation, you’re also intentionally creating a strengthened energetic/vibrational state from a chakric perspective.  This version is 35 minutes.  Read more about chakras and Belinda’s work here, and about my experience with Belinda’s School of the Modern Mystic and my chakric journey here, here and here.

Meditones

If, the concept of meditation is new to you, or you’ve tried it and it all seems too hard, then another incredible tool that I love and recommend is the amazing work of Tahlee Rouillon of Sonesence.  Tahlee incorporates binaural beats into her divine meditation tracks that she’s dubbed “Meditones”, which in layman’s terms basically means this: listen to her Meditones tracks through headphones, and you effortlessly get many of the benefits of meditation.  Tahlee’s music is truly heavenly, and I adore listening to it in the evening before bed as a beautiful way to wind down.  If you’ve attended any of my essential oils classes, it’s Tahlee’s music that I play on loop as gorgeous background tunes to help set a high-vibe tone.  I love recommending Tahlee’s work, because it essentially means that there is NO EXCUSE!  Anyone can sit back, relax, and listen to music through headphones.  You can find out more about Sonesence meditones here and visit Tahlee’s online shop here.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is another pillar of my spiritual practice, which for me is more about the way in which I go about my day, rather than a specific period of time when I sit down with my eyes closed.  Mindfulness is actually quite a broad topic, but to begin with, it can be described as being aware of the thoughts that you are thinking.  People often get caught up in thinking that they’re no good at meditating because they can’t focus, they drift off, and spend their time in meditation thinking about what to cook for dinner or the million things on their To Do list.  The truth is, meditation is not about emptying your mind of these thoughts, but rather being aware that you’re having them, and then re-focusing your attention onto the object of your meditation, whether that be your breath, a mantra, one of your chakras, or something else.  Simply becoming aware that you’re having these thoughts is progress in mindfulness!  So please, don’t give up.

My mindfulness practice sees me aiming to be aware, as often as I can throughout the day, of the thoughts that I’m having.  I found this very challenging initially, and it’s taken a lot of practice.  When I’m doing something as common as washing the dishes or having a shower, I notice with more regularity what I’m thinking about.  When I notice this, I automatically disconnect from the thought, and then I do my best to focus instead on the experience I’m having: the feel of my hands in the gloves, the scent of the shampoo.  The effect of this practice, over time, has been phenomenal in keeping me calmer, and dealing with my children with less reactivity.

A great book to start with as you embark on your mindfulness journey is The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris.  It’s a simple, easy read and very practical.  The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle is an incredible and much loved “bible” of many a spiritual seeker, but it is definitely a more challenging read, and perhaps not ideal if you’re in a state of overwhelm or new to the spiritual path.  Please don’t dismiss it, but perhaps keep it on the shelf and know that the time will come when you’re ready for Tolle’s enlightened wisdom.

Essential Oils

How can I not mention the new loves of my life as such a beautiful way to support you with a meditation practice?!  I love diffusing my dōTERRA essential oils every time I meditate to help me focus, to help me feel grounded, and to connect more easily to the spiritual realms.  In addition to the physical therapeutic properties of essential oils, there are also the more subtle emotional effects that their chemical composition has on our brain.  When you inhale the aroma of an essential oil, the scent is processed in the olfactory system of the brain, which connects to the limbic system where emotions and memories live.  As you breathe in the scent of the essential oil, the limbic system creates a response in your brain based on memories associated with that particular aroma.  Many times, the responses triggered by the limbic system can be emotional responses that are calming or uplifting, depending on the unique chemical structure of the oil as well as the your unique memories associated with the aroma, so each person can have a slightly different response to a particular oil.  However, essential oils have specific chemical elements that can create a desired benefit.  The following images from dōTERRA illustrates the properties elicited by an essential oil based on its chemical constituents.

I particularly like to use my oil blends with grounding and soothing properties during meditation, such as InTune or Balance, but it also varies depending on my emotional state and what I’m wanting to achieve.  Frankincense is a favourite, but if I’m tired I’ll add an energising oil such as Peppermint.  I’m also finding that aromatic use of essential oils are contributing to my mindfulness and presence practice, as they help me to be less in my head and more in my body – they give me something experiential to focus on.  I become aware of the aroma of the oils in the diffuser, or the scent of the oils I’m wearing topically.  In addition to these beneficial effects, they’re just such a yummy addition to my day and give me a little boost of motivation to sit in meditation and enjoy them.

Find out how to purchase dōTERRA essential oils here.

Delete or Delegate

So my last suggestion is not so much a resource, but a tip for you.  If life is so full and so busy and so overwhelming that not one of the suggestions and resources above seems possible for you to incorporate into your life, please don’t feel bad.  Try this: commit to removing at least 1 item from your To Do list.  In our overstimulated and overworked society, we have the habit of over committing and often overcomplicating things.  It doesn’t need to be this way.  Take a look at your list, and find something – anything – and delete it.  There is something that you can say no to.  There is something that you can delegate to someone else.  You don’t need to do it all.  Just lightening your load that little bit can make a difference to how you feel.  And if you make it a practice to delete 1 item from your list monthly, weekly, or even daily, it will soon add up and free up some space for you.  This practice will help you to consider what you put on your list in the first place more thoughtfully.  It’s about prioritising, about asking for or accepting help, and about knowing and believing that your worth is not determined by what you accomplish.  You are enough, you are worthy, just because you exist.


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Main image credit: Road meditation by Nickolai Kashirin via Flikr.  Used under license.

Demystifying Manifesting

Something a little different today!  I’m feeling called to share what’s currently capturing my interest.  Right now, the topic of MANIFESTING is totally lighting me up!

Manifesting, in the way I’m using the term, is the process of bringing things into being, into reality. When talking about manifesting, many people think only of what they want to create in their lives – things they want to have or experience. What they don’t often recognise, is that everything they already have has been manifested by them, both positive and negative, via the energetic realm. So, consider that you have manifested your job, your home, the food in your cupboard, your friendships, your children, your computer, the holiday you’ve booked, the cold you caught last week, the fight you had with the parking inspector, everything in your life. When we study the art and science of manifesting, what we are interested in is CONSCIOUSLY and INTENTIONALLY manifesting our desires, which might include experiences, physical objects or belongings, relationships, healings, both personal and external. Sometimes people can get stuck in the perception that manifesting is a very egoic, surface level, even selfish practice, but this is not necessarily the case – you can manifest health for your family, an improved social condition, environmental healing … the possibilities are endless.

My most in-depth training in manifesting to date has been through Belinda Davidson’s School of the Modern Mystic (SoMM), in the Level 1 course. We learnt a powerful technique to manifest our wishes utilising the chakra energy system, the White Light, and mindfulness. Some of the things I’ve manifested so far using this technique have included (but are not limited to) unexpected income (seemingly out of nowhere) to buy tickets to a workshop I wanted to participate in, an interstate trip for a meetup with the SoMM community and a workshop, and 3 free tickets to see Danielle LaPorte speak in Melbourne. Through my experience and practices learnt through SoMM, I’ve also manifested many other wonderful things without following the specific technique learnt, simply through changing my energy to be an energetic match for that which I desire (think “law of attraction”, a concept you may have heard about) – free enrolment into an online course, a pro-bono 3 month coaching series, the healing of my son’s ongoing ear infections which prevented impending surgery, and the healing of my husband’s severely debilitating back injury. It’s been a roller-coaster journey, and I’m still very early on my learning path, but it’s thrilling!

Interestingly, I’ve been noticing the parallels between this method and some of the concepts I learnt growing up attending a Catholic school and going to church every Sunday. I remember learning things such as asking God through prayer to take care of all our worries, that God is love, and trusting in the infinite power of God. These concepts and more, in my opinion, are essentially the same as what I learned through SoMM, but just explained with different language. The language of the bible and religion is cloaked in metaphors and hidden meanings, and from what I understand, is misunderstood by the vast majority. For me, the language and techniques I’ve learned through SoMM have simply resonated and made more sense to me – they aren’t necessarily better, they’re just expressed in language that I can understand and apply, and they have been what has worked for me. They have given me a sense of power in my life that was previously missing.  It didn’t occur to me for some time that manifestation is actually referred to directly in the bible – Jesus healed the sick, fed the masses, and turned water into wine. He was, indeed, a master manifestor.

The most important thing I learned in the manifesting module of SoMM was that in order to live our soul purpose, we need to be able to manifest. As Belinda described it, we need to know how to manifest to get ourselves out of the struggle cycle so that our energies are freed up to live and pursue our purpose. Depending on an individual’s specific circumstances, this will look different – for some, they’ve manifested financial stability, but they may need still need emotional support through close relationships. For others, it might mean manifesting a secure income so that they’re not worrying about how they’re going to pay the bills every week. When life is working for us and our needs are taken care of, we can devote our time and attention to the “bigger” picture, to our bigger dreams and desires, to our purpose for being here in this lifetime, to our soul purpose.

It’s a fascinating topic, rich with intricacies and nuance. I’ve been reading and researching to gain some different perspectives on the manifestation process, and the more I read, the more I discover there is to learn and understand.

E-SquaredE-Cubed

E-Squared, by Pam Grout, is a fabulous book to start with if you’re new to this topic (or not!). Grout has a brilliant ability to mix wisdom, science, and humour into her writing in a way that makes this topic so simple to understand and apply. The book is designed as a set of simple (even kid-friendly!) scientific experiments that you as the reader conduct yourself in order to have the principles demonstrated in a very real and obvious way. This is a really fun book, and it was followed up with a sequel, E-Cubed, which goes to a deeper level again.

cars

Since reading this book over 18 months ago, I’ve adapted one of the experiments and I conduct it on an almost daily basis. Every day that I leave the house and I’m on the roads, I set an intention to manifest seeing at least one car of every colour of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. I’m strict with this intention – it can’t just be any red car, or any blue car – the colour must be vibrant and complete. Can I tell you, I have manifested this outcome with a success rate, by my estimation, of approximately 98%! I reckon that’s pretty impressive given that bright, vividly violet cars are thought to be relatively rare! Funnily, on the few occassions where I haven’t manifested one particular coloured car (usually purple), I can rest assured that the following day it will turn up in overload, and I’ll see two, three or four purple cars in one day!  This ongoing experiment has been a brilliant learning experience, teaching me a lot about my mindset, my subconscious programming, and the nuances of the manifesting process. I highly recommend it!

Wishes FulfilledWishes Fulfilled is a wonderful read by the delightful Dr Wayne Dyer. Dyer has essentially condensed and translated the vast array of spiritual teachings that he has studied on the subject, mainly (in this book), the works of Neville and Ascended Master Saint Germain. I’m up to the final chapter, but so far, this book has been brilliant at offering me the ability to understand concepts that before I had zero understanding of, and that I didn’t have clarity around how they related to manifesting. Dyer focuses on how and why we are of God, we have God within us, and that we essentially are God. This informs the tools he provides for practically applying the manifesting process, and offers a bridge to the belief that we are the creators of our reality.

Manifesting MatisseAnother recent read was Manifesting Matisse, by Dr Michelle K. Nielsen. This book is a thorough, well detailed, 10-step “practical system for reality creation”. Alongside the system, Nielsen has documented the story of how she manifested her son’s miraculous healing. Her son, Matisse, was born at 29 weeks, and by age 5 was experiencing severe developmental delay, neurological damage and attachment problems. Whilst his extraordinary healing is a fascinating read in and of itself, it provides a brilliant illustration of how powerful this technique is, that no matter how unrealistic a desire might seem, that miracles are possible.

Manifesting MichelangeloManifesting Michelangelo by Joseph Pierce Farrell is another brilliant book that offers insight into the very real possibilities, or potential, available to us to manifest miracles. The book is divided into two parts – Farrell’s story, followed by his manifestation process steps. Whilst I didn’t personally gain enormous growth from his process (even though I found it completely valid) given my journey so far, I found Farrell’s story offered a marvellous demonstration of the reality of miracles, because it seems so completely impossible. As the book describes, Farrell discovered that he has the ability to transform human tissue using the power of consciousness. Specifically, Farrell has eyewitness medical testimony, scientific evidence and photos to demonstrate that he can heal broken bones, restore facial deformities, heal chronically injured joints, dissolve inoperable tumours, and more. He has even used his abilities to provide cosmetic “surgery”. This is an absolutely fascinating story, and Farrell has dedicated his life to “exploring human consciousness and its relationship to health and healing in order to bridge the divide between science and spirituality”.

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

Deepak Chopra has written a book on the topic of manifesting, called The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success. As the name suggests, this book is particularly spiritual in nature, and quite profound.  I first read this book many years ago, and honestly, it went completely over my head. But I read it again a few months ago, and it took on new meaning for me and made so much more sense. If you’re familiar with Chopra’s work and perhaps a little way in on your spiritual journey, I highly recommend you check it out, because it contains much wisdom. This is a book that I feel I will need to keep going back to as I progress further on my path, and I’m certain that with each reading, more of that wisdom will filter through to my conscious brain!

What the Bleep do we KnowWhat the Bleep Do We Know bookIf you’re not keen to get reading, you might instead like to check out the film, What the Bleep Do We Know (which has actually been adapted into a book as well, so you could read it too!). This film combines documentary with a narrative plot, and offers a view of the universe and human life, linking neuroscience and quantum physics, to illustrate how and why we do indeed have the ability to manifest the life we desire.

The Law of AttractionAsk and it is GivenWhilst I haven’t yet read any of their books but have watched a number of their videos, Esther & Jerry Hicks have provided the world with a wealth of information on the law of attraction that is, at it’s core, all about manifestation.  The source of their information comes from “a group consciousness from the non-physical dimension” (http://www.abraham-hicks.com/lawofattractionsource/about_abraham.php), referred to as Abraham, that Esther interprets (whilst many refer to Esther as a channel for Abraham, they make a point of saying that such a word is inaccurate).  Abraham’s profound spiritual teachings centre on topics such as reality creation, emotions as guidance, and that life is supposed to be joyful.

The Hidden Messages in WaterLastly, this book may seem a little off-topic, but I feel compelled to include it as it gives more food for though regarding our manifesting powers: The Hidden Messages in Water, by Dr Masaru Emoto. Emoto presents a theory of how water is connected to human consciousness.  In a series of experiments, Emoto exposed water in glasses to different words, images, or music, and then froze the water and examined the resulting ice crystals with microscopic photography.  He found that water exposed to “positive” variables produced beautiful, brilliant, complex and colourful crystals, whereas water exposed to “negative” variables produced disfigured, incomplete, asymmetrical, dull-coloured crystals.  Whilst there is much criticism of Emotos work and theories from a scientific standpoint, it nonetheless offers a provocative concept – “since people are 70 percent water, and the Earth is 70 percent water, we can heal our planet and ourselves by consciously expressing love and goodwill”.  If you’ve read E-Squared, you might recognise the similarity between Emoto’s work and the experiment with growing seedlings – directing loving energy towards one set of seedlings, and negative energy towards the other set.  words-healDanielle LaPorte also referenced Emoto’s work in a blog post, and conducted an experiment of her own using an apple.  I find this whole theory absolutely fascinating, and it resonates insofar as it is linked with the concepts of law of attraction, vibrational resonance, and the power of love.  Whatever your take on Masaru’s work, it’s worth trying it out for yourself (although I must admit, I struggle with the idea of having to deliberately direct negative energy towards anything – I don’t want to hold that vibration within myself!).

If you’re curious to learn more about this topic, I recommend checking out some of these books and more, as well as surfing the web – there is such a vast variety of information out there, and you can get started on your path of learning and practicing straight away!  I’m keen to expand my reading into the area of master manifestors, the holy people and avatars of the world, to give me more awareness of the limitless possibilities and to help re-program my limited beliefs. I’m utterly captivated by stories of gurus materialising objects out of thin air, of men and women who can do the “impossible”. Whilst at this stage I don’t believe that level of manifestation is part of my path in this lifetime, it nonetheless ignites incredible inspiration for what I can achieve. I’m finding that the more I explore this topic, the more I want to learn, and the more the belief becomes cemented into my consciousness that manifesting is a very real process that we absolutely can take control of, in order to create the life of our dreams.

Do you have any favourite manifesting resources?  Please share your favourite books, websites, YouTube clips, and films in the comments, I’d love to know what inspires and helps you, and I’m always interested to learn more!

Happy manifesting!
X


Main image credit: Chiseld Flurry, by LadyDragonflyCC via Flickr.  Used under license.

The Good Witch of the South Eastern Suburbs

So today is Halloween, and it has prompted me to write about a topic that is currently holding my interest: witches.

I’ve never been a big fan of Halloween, nor have I really gotten into the spirit of it, apart from the one year when, as kids, my brothers and I naïvely decided to carve a jack-o-lantern out of a rock hard pumpkin, and spent hours trying to scoop out the raw flesh and carve a face without stabbing ourselves in the process (pumpkins suited to carving weren’t readily available from the local supermarket here in the early nineties). We were never allowed to go trick-or-treating (I’ve held on to that tradition with my kids – mean mum alert!), and the only time I can think that I would have dressed up would have been if a friend happened to have a themed birthday party at this time of year. I actually don’t remember or know a great deal about the origins of Halloween, other than the fact that here in Australia, it’s really only gained in popularity in recent times thanks to commercial reasons.  Retailers saw a gaping hole in the market that represented millions of dollars in potential revenue. Get Aussies on board with Halloween, and you can sell a truck load of Halloween stuff to them.

When I do think of Halloween, the standard images come to mind: pumpkins, ghosts, skeletons, vampires, and witches. Scary witches.

I used to joke years ago that if I’d been born a few hundred years earlier, I would have been burnt at the stake for supposedly being a witch; I’ve got red hair, green eyes, I’m left handed, and I have knobbly knees and a boney nose. I look the part. It was a throw-away joke, and it was funny to me – it certainly didn’t upset me that I looked that way. I didn’t really think a lot about what I was referring to – the fact that in times past, innocent human beings actually were killed for being believed to be witches.

I’ve learnt recently that the history of witch trials, which hunts and witch burnings is taught in school curriculums in other parts of the world as a part of history education. It’s a significant piece of human history that I’ve been largely ignorant of.

This topic has landed more frequently on my radar since I began studying energy medicine. Many of my classmates bring up the topic of witches, given the subject matter of what we’re studying. Initially, I had quite an aversion to the topic. I certainly didn’t want to identify as a witch – witches were scary and freaky and horrible in my naïve experience. And yet, here were my friends and teachers and soul-tribe, speaking so passionately about this topic, and many speaking as if that’s what they are: a witch.

My aversion to something that was so openly and commonly discussed amongst my tribe perplexed me. This home that I’d found amongst friends felt so right, and yet this subject matter worried me, because it didn’t bring me the joy that I found in every other aspect of this environment. After some time, I came up with a solution that suited me just fine, even if it turned out to be temporary: I could identify to some degree with being a GOOD witch. Yes! If being a witch was a part of this new world, then perhaps I could be just like Glinda the Good Witch of the North, from The Wizard of Oz. She was all pink and sparkles and love. What made this idea feel all the more pre-destined was that in high school, my graduating class produced a special year book, which included a fictional story in which many students featured as special characters. I had been depicted in this story as none other than Glinda.

As time has passed, and I’ve progressed on my journey, I’ve found this subject matter cropping up more and more frequently, and things have begun to shift. Whilst I certainly wouldn’t describe myself in a bio as being a witch, or when introducing myself to a new acquaintance, I can’t deny that there is an aspect of who I am at a soul level, and what I love, that certainly would have had me burnt at the stake in another time and place. I am devoted to my daily energy medicine practice, and it informs every aspect of my life. I use the White Light to heal. I have a fascination with all things metaphysical. I have a tendency towards using alternative and complementary medicine. I have an open-mindedness towards shamanic practices. I have a penchant for crystals which I cleanse under the light of the full moon, and I wear a treasured necklace with a citrine crystal that has been infused with prayers and White Light.  I have a fascination with psychic abilities, and I’ve undertaken education and training to better understand and to strengthen and further develop my abilities. I have undertaken spiritual journeys on different planes of existence. I’ve developed a surprisingly thrilling fascination with hunting for “fairy toadstools”! I’m a student and active community member of the “School of the Modern Mystic” for goodness sake!

Just call me "The Toadstool Hunter"! ??

Just call me “The Toadstool Hunter”! ??

Interestingly, I received an energy reading last week, which included a reading of the energy that  I am currently emitting which originated in past lives – energy that came about as a result of events that took place during past lifetimes, which has stayed with me and is affecting me in this present lifetime.  In one of these past lives, I was a healer. My healing work was my passion and purpose – it lit me up and made me feel brilliantly alive.  The circumstances I was living in at that time meant that I had to practice healing in secret – the stereotypical, almost corny image of the woman meeting with her patient under the cover of night in the safety of a darkened forest.  This need to hide my true nature angered me, but didn’t stop me – I was brave in my actions, and my passion fuelled my courage. This lifetime did not end well – I was eventually betrayed, and killed for being a witch.

So I’ve begun to research, and learn more about what this word “witch” actually means. I’m very early in my research journey, but I’ve already discovered some things that put my mind at ease, that reassure me that I’m not a freak, I’m not crazy, and that it’s perfectly acceptable for me to embrace this part of who I am.

A preliminary web-surf of Wikipedia has shed a surprising amount of light on the subject. The following except from the entry on “witchcraft” sums things up rather succinctly:

Witchcraft (also called witchery or spellcraft) broadly means the practice of, and belief in, magical skills and abilities that are able to be exercised by individuals and certain social groups. Witchcraft is a complex concept that varies culturally and societally; therefore, it is difficult to define with precision and cross-cultural assumptions about the meaning or significance of the term should be applied with caution. Witchcraft often occupies a religious, divinatory or medicinal role, and is often present within societies and groups whose cultural framework includes a magical world view. Although witchcraft can often share common ground with related concepts such as sorcery, the paranormal, magic, superstition, necromancy, possession, shamanism, healing, spiritualism, nature worship and the occult, it is usually seen as distinct from these when examined by sociologists and anthropologists.

This says a lot for me: witchcraft means different things to different people, particularly across different cultures and societies though out human history. There is no one singular definition that encompasses all the practices, beliefs and nuances that fall under the umbrella of witchery.

What I have discovered is that there have been numerous periods throughout history in which a terrorising fear of witchcraft has led to mass hysteria, resulting in witch hunts, witch trials, and witch killings. Ignorance and religious influence have played key roles. Men, women and children believed to be witches have been subjected to assault, abuse, torture, and killing. Wikipedia states:

The period of witch trials in Early Modern Europe were a widespread moral panic suggesting that malevolent Satanic witches were operating as an organized threat to Christendom during the 15th to 18th centuries. Those accused of witchcraft were portrayed as being worshippers of the Devil, who engaged in such acts as malevolent sorcery at meetings known as Witches’ Sabbaths. Many people were subsequently accused of being witches, and were put on trial for the crime, with varying punishments being applicable in different regions and at different times.

A painting in the Rila Monastery in Bulgaria, condemning witchcraft and traditional folk magic. The inscription is translated as: “Magicians and healers are servants of the devil. That’s why the devil rejoices greatly, jumps around, and dances in front of people who come to them. And what they [the healers] give them to drink and eat is devils’ filth. Those who abandon God, the laws, and the church, and go to the healers, are servants not of God, but of the devil.” Source: original photo by Nenko Lazarov 06/12/2005; adjusted by Martha Forsyth 4 April 2008, via https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rila_Monastery_wall_painting.jpg#mw-jump-to-license

Punishments for those found guilty of witchcraft have included imprisonment, exile, fines, and capital punishment by hanging, beheading, or burning at the stake. Methods for determining guilt throughout these periods included such bizarre practices as tying the suspect up and throwing them into a body of water. If they floated, they were deemed guilty and sentenced to death. If they sunk, they were deemed innocent, but many drowned in the process. The estimates of how many people died as a result of these witch trials varies greatly, but the “scholarly consensus” according to Wikipedia seems to be in the region of 40,000-60,000.

1533 account of the execution of a witch charged with burning the German town of Schiltach in 1531.

image

Execution of alleged witches in Central Europe, 1587

Burning of three witches in Baden, Switzerland (1585), by Johann Jakob Wick.

Burning of three witches in Baden, Switzerland (1585), by Johann Jakob Wick.

I’ve begun reading a book* about the “Salem Witch Trials”, in which two dozen innocent men and women were hung from the town gallows in 1692 in newly colonised America (New England). This horrific injustice came about for many complex and startling reasons, but was largely influenced by ignorance, religious and spiritual beliefs, a profoundly deep-seated fear of God’s wrath, and a religiously motivated desperation to build a colony that upheld the morals of Puritan Christianity, in addition to a shockingly inept justice system.

Disturbingly, this isn’t a topic confined to the past. In various parts of the world today, men, women and children are still accused of witchcraft and subjected to assault, abuse, torture and killing. According to Wikipedia, approximately 750 people were killed for witchery in India between 2003 and 2008, 1000 children over the past decade have been murdered in the name of witchcraft in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia continues to issue the death penalty for sorcery and witchcraft, and in Britain there is an ongoing problem with (particularly immigrant) children being accused of witchcraft and subsequently being abused and tortured, including money making scams in which a pastor accuses a child of witchcraft and the family subsequently pays for an exorcism.

I’ve also read a little about Paganism and Wicca, sub-categories which are certainly worthy of further exploration, but that I don’t feel are especially relevant to my particular interests.  Presumably, further research would also expose evidence of people who did (or are) indeed practice malevolent forms of witchcraft, justifying accusations and promoting the fear-inducing archetype we’re used to associating with witchcraft in popular culture.  This convoluted narrative of history isn’t only about innocent victims.

As already outlined, it’s evident that the concept of witchcraft and witches is complex and variable. The witches that we associate with Halloween in modern Western culture are largely a product of folklore, story-telling and Hollywood’s characterisation of this multifaceted and mercurial archetype. I have a long way to go in my research (Wikipedia doesn’t really cut it for a thorough and in-depth education!), before coming anywhere close to fully grasping the intricacies of this topic, and this brief overview barely skims the surface of this broad subject.  Nevertheless, my preliminary reading has brought me to a place where I can drop the fear associated with witches.  What does being a witch mean for me in my personal experience? Well to be honest, the word itself still doesn’t quite sit comfortably with me, but it represents the wise woman, the healer, the seer, the psychic, the magician, the shadow-hunter, the light-worker, and the holy, the regal woman who knows her power as the individualised expression of God.

For me tonight, Halloween presents an opportunity to do something different and somewhat unexpected: to light a candle and say a prayer for the souls of the men, women and children accused of witchcraft, who have suffered assault, abuse, torture and murder across the ages.


* Francis, Richard (2006) Judge Sewell’s Apology, The Salem Witch Trials and the Forming of a Conscience, Harper Pernial, London.

Main image credit: by gliss.gliss, used under license.

School of the Modern Mystic

Two years ago, I became a student of Belinda Davidson’s School of the Modern Mystic (SoMM). Enrolling in the level 1 course set me on a path that I never dreamed I would walk, and the most exciting part is that I’ve really only just begun.

SoMM opens its doors for enrolment once a year, and that window of opportunity for 2016 is approaching in a few days. I am an affiliate for the course, because it was the catalyst that transformed my life, and I’m SO PASSIONATE about the teachings. I’ve experienced transformation for myself, I’ve seen so many other SoMM students blossom into their most joyous and soulful lives, and I wish that opportunity for everyone on the planet. The opportunity to finally break free from the pain and struggles that are holding you back, to connect with your soul, and to live in truth and joy. And so, I’m sharing with you today my experiences. Following are some of the most significant shifts I’ve experienced thanks to SoMM.

MOVING BEYOND DEPRESSION
My main motivation for enrolling in the school 2 years ago was because I believed that it could help me to break my patterns of recurring depression. At a time when I was recognising the early signs of onset, SoMM entered my radar, and I saw it as an admittedly unconventional alternative to yet another round of psychological counselling or medication. My intuition told me that this could be my answer. I’m not advocating that abandoning traditional mental healthcare treatment is the answer for everyone. For me, I knew I needed to break the cycle, and I needed a different approach if I was to have lasting results. I sensed that SoMM was MY path. I was so right.

During level 1 and beyond, I became so much better able to cope with the everyday stresses of life as a Mum that had previously brought me to my knees. I was calmer, more effective at solving problems, and had more mental resilience. I no longer felt broken. It wasn’t that I hadn’t tried to reach this place earlier – I read books and blogs, attended workshops, practiced yoga, took advice … and whilst these things were all definitely helpful, they didn’t effect lasting change. The difference with SoMM – I was clearing the energetic blockages that were responsible for my subconscious ways of operating, so my mental patterns changed without effort, without me consciously realising.

I was elated. My husband was happy. The kids had a healthier and happier mummy. I believed I had the tools to effectively move through life permanently depression free.

As 2016 swung into gear, around 6 months after completing level 1, I began to experience some depressive episodes again. Not full blown clinical depression, but certainly not pleasant. I freaked out. THIS WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HAPPENING. Life was supposed to be easy and joyful and pain free now, filled with rainbows and unicorns and fairy dust!

As I’ve re-emerged from that dip on the roller coaster of life, I can see through hindsight a number of things. Firstly, I had unrealistic expectations of what post-SoMM life “should” be like (i.e. unicorns etc.!!?). Healing yourself and improving your life does not mean that you will no longer face challenges, hardships, or disappointments. Secondly, the massive energetic and spiritual changes I’ve begun negotiating thanks to SoMM have raised a lot of fear and uncertainty, fine fodder for the ego to go wild. The status quo is no longer a viable option in my life post-SoMM – half truths don’t cut it, hiding is futile, and the truth can be painfully uncomfortable. This stuff can feel terrifying! This is where I discovered that my mindfulness practice, from the third module of level 1, was not yet as strong as I had naïvely assumed it to be.

But … this was all a part of my healing journey, teaching me along the way. And, it was the SoMM teachings that brought me back online, back to my centre, and back to mental health again.

I believe with all of my heart that these teachings are rock solid. Foolproof.

The take-away for you from this experience is that SoMM offers you the UNIVERSE, but it sure as heck isn’t for the faint hearted. It is amazing and transformational and literally miraculous, and it will fill your life with light and love, IF you devote yourself to the spiritual practices that it teaches you. It will also crack you open, and demand that all that is not love, truth, and purity, all that is fake, all that is playing small and hiding, all that is conformity, be shed. I know from experience that that is not easy, and it’s not for everyone. It’s a choice. But if you’re willing to make that choice, you’ll find magic.

I could probably stop there, but I’d like to share with you some of the other beautiful gifts I’ve gained through SoMM.

TRIBE
The online SoMM community – my SoMM sisters (and the odd brother here and there!) – is an absolute joy and treasure. To have found a tribe of (mostly) women whom I didn’t even consciously realise I was desperately searching for has been an incredible gift. Like minded women, on a journey of the soul in this physical life, together. So much love. So much support. Connection. Friendships. The opportunity to meet with many of my SoMM sisters in the flesh has been extra special – I’ve been craving this kind of connection all of my life.

INTUITION
Putting aside my new-found fascination for psychic perception, my own intuitive abilities are steadily building in subtle ways. I imagine something, and then it actually happens. I have insights that enable me to prepare for what would previously have been unforeseen circumstances. I have the ability to solve problems based on intuitive hunches, often preventing further complications from arising. So far, this phenomenon is intriguing, helpful, and warmly welcomed.

COMMUNICATION
I’m discovering my voice, on many levels. It’s still emerging. An example: my husband and I mutually acknowledge that open communication has never been our strength, is something we must constantly work on, and is something we easily slip into avoiding. Post SoMM – it’s an ongoing work in progress, but we’re having the conversations no matter how difficult. WIN. As I said before, there’s no more hiding.

SPIRITUALITY
My prime motivation for enrolling in SoMM was to overcome depression and gain mental health. I got so much more than I bargained for, but that somehow, on some subconscious level, I was yearning for and could sense that SoMM would give me.

The spirituality of SoMM is what has transformed my life, and is what now informs every waking moment of my day. I have a new relationship with God. I have a new relationship with myself. I’m finally coming to understand a lot of what I was taught in my Catholic upbringing. Things that hadn’t made sense to me previously, things that seemed like fictional stories or outright lies, I’ve been able to reframe and discover the truths that they hold. SoMM is not a religious course, but through it and discovering my spirituality, I’ve been able to develop an appreciation and understanding of what was being taught to me through religion that I’d never managed to absorb. It turns out there is more than one path to God.

GLOW
The last thing I’ll mention here is kind of random and unspecific, but I attribute it to the spiritual practices I learnt in SoMM. People tell me I look different – in a good way. I have a sparkle in my eye that wasn’t there before. I look well. Personally, I think it comes and goes relative to how I’m showing up for my spiritual practice, but I haven’t tested that theory out for external validation. Whatever the case, I like it.


If SoMM is right for you, you’ll know. You’ll be curious. You’ll feel drawn in. Something about it will call to you. If that’s you, I encourage you to follow where your curiosity leads. In my eyes, if you choose to dive in, it will be impossible to regret it. You will be held, and supported, and loved. Strap yourself in for the ride! If you’re in, be sure to let me know, and I’ll see you in the school yard.

To find out more about School of the Modern Mystic and sign up to be notified when enrolment opens in the next few days, click here