Throughout time, shamanic practitioners are known for their ability to enter an altered state of consciousness, called a “journey trance”, and visit other worlds. These initiated, trained and chosen spiritual leaders practice as mediators between community members, the spirit realms and the natural world. Understanding the mechanisms for how energy moves, how illness operates, and how healing is bestowed are all the domain of the shamanic practitioner.
A lot falls under the umbrella of the shaman. Many get caught up in web of all the different directions one can go in the study of shamanism. It is important to come back to the foundation from time to time and realize that in the root of the practice springs forth much of what shamanism has to offer.
Today I’m reviewing an unusual book: Ecstatic Body Postures: An Alternate Reality Workbook by Belinda Gore. What on earth does a book like that have to do with Minoan spirituality? Well, the Minoans left us a wide array of artwork that depicts ritual postures, from the one-armed ‘Minoan salute’ to a woman who shades her eyes with her hands to the Poppy Goddess who holds her arms up in an ‘American football touchdown’ type of gesture. Over the years I’ve often wondered if these postures were meant to do more than just symbolize certain aspects of Minoan religion. In fact, like many other ritual postures from around the world, they appear to be designed to induce particular states of mind, especially trance states in which we can receive healing, learn about ourselves and the divine, and undergo spiritual changes for the better.
The introduction to this fascinating book was written by the late Dr. Felicitas Goodman, who founded the Cuyamungue Institute in New Mexico. The institute is dedicated to exploring the effects and practical uses of ritual body postures that are evidenced in figurines that go back in time as far as the Stone Age. The book is essentially a collection of the institute’s work over the years in a well-organized, easy to comprehend format. It details 39 different postures, including several that are attested in Minoan art, so I was particularly interested in trying them out.
There are many aspects of the ancient world that I’m happy to do without: the danger of infection in an era before antibiotics; the difficulty of communicating over long distances at anything other than a snail’s pace; the lack of sanitation and running water in many places (though the cities of ancient Crete did have well-planned sewer systems). So yes, it’s good that we have left some things behind. But in our progress, we have also left behind something beneficial, something the human spirit needs: ecstasy.
I’ve recently been reading Belinda Gore’s book Ecstatic Body Postures and working with some of the postures she describes. This is an extension of the trancework I’ve done for years, and it relates to my activities with the Minoan salute and other gestures the Minoans used in ritual to induce trance states. (And yes, I recommend the book.) One thing that struck me as I was reading Ms. Gore’s book was her comment that the modern world is in a state of what she calls ‘ecstasy deprivation.’ If that’s true, it would explain an awful lot.
On March 6th through to March 8th I attended the North West Tarot Symposium, or NWTS. This was their maiden conference and I have to say I was incredibly impressed. The quality of the speakers and workshops was outstanding. And I include myself and my workshop partner Amy Barilla in that mix. My number one aim at any conference is to network with as many fascinating people as possible. OK fascinating to me. And I was not disappointed.
Over the next few months I will be featuring some of these incredible peeps on this blog, but I had to start with the one person who just impressed me to my core. This goddess is a piece of work and I mean that in the most empowering way possible. Mellissae Lucia is truly a trail blazing diva and her story not only needs to be told, but retold over and over again.
Today's Airy Monday focuses on news of antiquity and our modern attempts to understand the ways of our forebears, especially Pagan civilizations. Sounds from the Phaistos disk?; Greek mosaics in Turkey; who is the god on this Turkish stele?; breast cancer in an ancient princess; 300 year old witch bottle.
For more than a century, scientists have been puzzling over this mysterious 4000-year-old inscribed disk discovered on Crete. Now it’s been decoded. Well, three words have.
On Faithful Friday the Beagle seeks out interesting tales of religion of all kinds. Today, we have: a story of Siberian shamans; the mysterious theft of the Sehkmet statue -- solved; a new website for British traditional Witchcraft; a Buddhist shrine arises in the inner city; and how people of different faiths (or none) differ and are similar regarding morality.
This story from the Siberian Times offers a glimpse into the world of traditional Siberian shamans. (Trigger warning: story includes visceral photos.)
Last year, the statue of Sekhmet from Las Vegas area Temple of Goddess Spirituality disappeared. Now we know the rest of the story.