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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in otherworld
When the Spirit Goes: Death, the Afterlife, and the Translation of the Soul

Something I didn't expect when I started working at the pet funeral home was how much it would cause me to consider my beliefs about death and the afterlife. I knew I would usher the animal dead through their transformation and transition; I knew I would help individuals and families make memorial decisions while they grapple with fresh grief, and hopefully help them find comfort in that process. I saw myself as a purveyor of healing, not as a student. But, of course, I'm learning through my work as well.

 

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Faeries and Liminal Places

So, apologies for being so long since my last blog post! I’ve been burning the midnight oil, with my new book being launched on 8 July. Now I can take a step back, as I’ve done all I can, and wait to see how the book is received. It’s an anxious time, but also an exciting time for most authors, an in-between time. These liminal times seem to be a recurring theme in my life. And not least to do with the denizens of the Otherworld.

There are certain times of the year when I feel closest to the Fair Folk, the Faeries, the Twlwyth Teg, the Sidhe, however you wish to call them. Beltane and Samhain are the usual portals when the veils between this world and the Otherworld are at their thinnest, but the time around Summer Solstice and high summer also holds a great and powerful bridge that spans across to take us into the most enchanted of places. The long twilight nights are ideal for communing with the Otherworld, and it’s lovely and warm enough on a summer evening.

As a Hedge Druid and a Hedge Witch, I have found several places around where I live where I feel a certain magical quality exists, one that is most definitely fey.

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Setting Out on the Fairy Road

For many people the concept of fairies and the land of Fairy is the subject of children’s stories and cartoons; for some of us though these beings and their home is very real. Finding the truth about them, however, is a difficult proposition in a world that in many ways would rather relegate them to the toy bin and juvenile book shelf. Yet stories of fairies and encounters with them persist, enough that author Simon Young conducted a fairy census published in early 2018 that included hundreds of modern sighting of fairies which filled over 400 pages. Rather than relics of the past or twee kids’ tales we find a rich history of fairylore that extends fully into our modern era and persists today, but which is being buried beneath the more well known and popular mainstream cultural views. And that could be a problem when those mainstream cultural views only show one tiny piece of the picture and leave out the parts with teeth and claws.

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    Christianne says #
    It's always a pleasure spending time with Juleigh in Cyberspace - for now it's where we meet - and getting more of the full pictur
Hedge Riding: An Introduction to The Art of the Hedge Witch

Many know of the Hedge Witch as a solitary witch. The term Hedge Witch was crafted by the author Rae Beth, in her first work, Hedgewitch: A Guide to Solitary Witchcraft. A previous term, hedge priest, has been around for a couple hundred years. This was a priest who belonged to no specific church, and who had no established congregation. Indeed, it was a priest who often preached "from the hedgerow", hence the term hedge priest. Rae Beth took this term and applied it to her work in witchcraft, and now the term Hedge Witch has become extremely popular with many on the Pagan Path.

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Process and Problems in Spirit Flight

Since coming to Paganism in 1998, the otherworlds have piqued my curiosity and stirred my sense of the magical. I view the worlds of the gods and spirits as interwoven with yet distinct from our own in meaningful ways, much like the ocean and the Earth’s water cycles are interwoven with the land and air through rivers and streams, and even underground water, rain, and humidity. The otherworlds are more “worlds” than “other” but there is still something unique and distant enough about them to require astral travelers to enact procedures that allow them to change their location. Basically, the spirit or soul or consciousness has to leave where it is and journey or simply shift to another place.

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The Otherworld and the Sidhe (Shining Ones)

These past few months I’ve been working with the Otherworld and the Sidhe, trying to come to understand them from an experiential point of view rather than a mythological or academic perspective. We can read about it all we want, but the Otherworld must be experienced for it to be truly integrated into a particular tradition.

I’ve written previously about the Otherworld and the concept of duality last year on my other blog site as we approached Samhain, and have been pondering it ever since.  Preparing myself for a conscious encounter, so to speak.  I’ve encountered the Otherworld before, meeting beings on my wanderings out and about the landscape, but haven’t made a concentrated effort to really connect with them, whatever they may be and wherever they may originate.  I’ve had difficulty in the concept of an Otherworld, for to perceive a conscious split between this world and the Otherworld interferes with my ambition of pure integration. Or so I thought.

The premise that I am now leaning towards is not so much a separation between the Otherworld and this one, but more of an overlay, a deeper perceived reality than what we can experience with our physical and mental awareness when it lies half-dormant.  The Otherworld is this world as well, but on a deeper level.  It is a Deeperworld, where beings exist that require a deeper connection to the landscape than on a superficial level. Perhaps I was simply getting too caught up in the name, the Otherworld. For me, in my journey towards pure integration, there is no Other. 

The pitfalls of taking things too literally.

And so I made my journey to the nearest tumuli, a Celtic burial place that lies halfway between an old Celtic settlement and a ritual henge along the Suffolk coast. I had planned to meet with the Sidhe, those beings who dwell in the Otherworld and who can traverse the perceived realities between the worlds with greater ease than we can.  I had a friend come along to share in this Beltane ritual, and also to keep watch.  But the energy was not quite right, the timing was off.  The hawthorn had yet to bloom at the beginning of May, the weather was all over the place, sunshine one minute and hail the next.  As our ritual progressed on the hilltop next to the tumuli, a headache turned into a migraine that left me feeling really rather ill.  As I still persevered in my attempts to contact the Sidhe, the Shining Folk, my head pounded and I suddenly heard “Come back when the May is in bloom”.  And so we ended the ritual, strange energies swirling round our ritual site, the low clouds threatening, and made our way home.

A few weeks later, the hawthorn blossomed and I had my chance to get back to the tumuli. I originally had planned to spend the night there, but plans had changed, and so I was given only a couple hours grace to visit the site. Alone, I hiked there, the scent of the May blossom heady in the hedgerows.  As I approached the tumuli, walking through grazing sheep at the base of the hill, the warm sunshine opened out over the landscape and washed it with light, almost making everything sparkle with life.

I walked around the tumuli as I always do, past a small flock of beautiful black and white goats resting in the shade of an oak tree.  The energy around the site was calmer than the previous time, for which I was glad. It was more settled, but very strong, almost clear.  After circumventing the tumuli I walked to the top and sat down, simply breathing and attuning to the place, a squirrel  running through last year’s leaf fall, collecting nuts and acorns from his hidden caches.

When I felt fully connected with the landscape, not merely an observer or traveller to this land but a living, breathing, active and aware part of it, I placed my hands on the ground before me and let my soul sink into the soil, opening my nemeton to the spirits of place.  Almost instantly I felt a presence all around me, a small group of beings, three or four, standing in a circle looking at my form sitting on the earth, hands pressed to the ground. Not wanting to break the moment, I kept still, my eyes closed, and saw them with my mind rather than my physical senses.

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