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Posted by on in Paths Blogs




see also - Elemental Spirits and Lore: The Thunderbird

 

 The first time the spirit of the Thunderbird visited me was, as described in the above article, in the spring of 2019. Again over the past week or so I’ve been having visitations and visions, in both waking and dreaming life, of hawks and eagles and I feel their powerful return.

Spring is the season of the Thunderbird. In the fall they take their storms away and in the bright, renewing springtime they soar in with their beating wings and bring the rains and thunder back.

The Thunderbird is one of the few ubiquitous characters across Native American lore. While they have some variations from one tradition to another, there are many attributes that remain consistent, one of the most significant being their dual and contrary natures. As they are essentially allegories of natural forces, i.e. rain and storms, this makes perfect sense. Rain brings life and cleansing to the land and all that grows, but storms can be incredibly destructive too.

We humans are a part of nature and a reflection of the dualities in nature. We are comprised of all the elements, just as the Thunderbirds are, and we are often in conflict with ourselves and with other people. Some tribes believe that there are benevolent and malevolent Thunderbirds that are constantly at war with each other. Other tribes believe that the Thunderbird may be, at different times, either “good”, happy and bestowing blessings and protection, or “bad”, angry and snatching up children and livestock to feed upon.

We have emerged from a very dark and challenging year, in which perhaps we may feel like Thunderbird has been angry and vicious, and sending only storms and destruction into our lives. Though it hurts and may be hard to see, sometimes that destruction is for our own good, as it makes room for better things to grow and it forces us to question the necessity or value of what was destroyed or changed to begin with. Sometimes though there is also unnecessary and wicked destruction. There have been and still are people who are in power and who have great influence, unfortunately for darkness, injustice and chaos, and that is not the purifying destruction enacted by nature.

The chaos has not yet passed, and we don’t know if times just as hard or even harder may still be ahead. Some cities and whole states are relaxing their safety measures against the pandemic prematurely and countless individuals all over the country are still not taking the care they need to. While some things undoubtedly seem much better now than they did for much of last year, on both national and personal scales, we simply aren’t out of the woods yet.

This spring is an important time to reevaluate, to take stock and slow down. Too many people have been over-reactive, impulsive and are much to quick to judge and try to control others and usually very hypocritically so. There is far too much that is out of our control and the wild, primeval nature and power of Thunderbird reminds us of this. We all have our place in the world but we cannot impose our personal beliefs or limited viewpoints on the rest of the world.

This is also a great time to ask ourselves just why we believe what we do, and if perhaps it is time to change or altogether release some of those beliefs. We have to dig up and throw away the old, the dated and decaying if we are to make room for new shoots to come in and new buds to bloom. This is a cleansing and renewing time.

Trance and shape-shifting are very powerful and appropriate rituals for this spring. If you are fortunate enough to have a drum, spend some time sitting either in nature or in a comfortable corner of your home and beating the drum (or simply play a shamanic drum track, many can be found on Youtube) as you imagine the beating wings of the Thunderbird. Fall into a trance state to calm, cleanse and renew yourself, and let the resonating vibrations crumble and shake away any beliefs, fears, thoughts or doubts that are holding you back. Imagine yourself shifting into a mighty hawk or eagle, or even an owl if you prefer, and soar high in the sky and look down on all the vast land below. Try to gain a new perspective and balance your own inner gentle rains and roaring storms.

If you try this, or even if you don’t, try to bring simple awareness to the energy of the Thunderbird, to constant change and to the dualities of nature and yourself. See if perhaps hawks and eagles start to appear more and heed their call to become your own medicine woman or man and seek to destroy that which needs to be destroyed, and heal that which needs to be healed.  

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Viewing the World through Pagan Eyes, IV: The trance of belief

 

This section follows part I,   part II  And part III.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • M.T. Noah
    M.T. Noah says #
    I deeply appreciate your work here. I'm planning some deep reading of your series. And to share this series, if permitted. I ho
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Feel free to share!
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Two other brief points. You use 'trance' negatively. I do not. So you are not addressing my argument here. Look at my two exampl
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Notice I never wrote "uneducated cave person." I certainly do not consider that implied in the term "Trump supporter." I was mak
  • Virginia Carper
    Virginia Carper says #
    I have a question about meme trances and brains. I have a traumatic brain injury which doesn't seem to allow me to hold memes. I e
Minoan Ecstatic Postures: Syncing with the divine

When I tell people that part of my spiritual practice involves ecstatic body postures, most of them look at me like I've grown a second head. The practice of assuming a specific pose and holding it while going into shamanic trance goes back millennia in many different cultures around the world, but it's a practice that isn't very well known in modern times. I'd like to change that.

Ecstasy isn't a word we hear very often in terms of Pagan spirituality, but I think humans are hard-wired for it. In fact, I think the modern world is ecstasy deprived and many of us are looking for that kind of experience, the numinous alive within and around us. We can use the simple, ancient technique of certain body postures to induce ecstatic states that enhance our spiritual experience and bring us closer to the divine.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Notes from a Trance

Summary: in my depths, I find wild, regal self-possession: Queen and Goddess. She knows the answer is always love.

I've vaguely sensed something subconscious blocking forward movement toward a few vital goals, despite my wholehearted efforts to attain said goals. Yet I also intuited this undefinable part of me is a prime, healthy motivator in my life. The intention of the trance is to gain conscious access to this subterranean aspect of myself. In other words, I want to consciously know, explore, heal, and empower this part of me.

Trance:

Diving into the softest waters of my subconscious—most fluid depths—where no censors halt primal womanhood, I'm only momentarily surprised to find the lady. 

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Minoan Ecstatic Postures: Shading the Eyes

Last week I began exploring Minoan ecstatic postures, starting with the most famous and familiar one: the Minoan salute. Many modern Pagan traditions use specific poses and gestures in ritual in much the same way that some varieties of Christianity use the gesture of making the cross. These are meant to symbolize parts of the spiritual belief system and to remind us of those during the rite. Ecstatic postures look very much like ritual gestures - in fact, they can be used as ritual gestures - but ultimately they have a different purpose.

A ritual gesture is a pose or motion you make briefly during a religious ceremony. If you hold it for a few seconds or maybe a minute, it might give you a particular feeling or sense of something sacred. An ecstatic posture is a pose you hold for an extended period of time while undergoing ecstatic (shamanic) trance. If that sounds really deep and freaky, it's not. Most people can enter a light trance state simply by focusing on their breathing for a minute or two. A little drumming in the background helps to deepen the state. You don't have to take drugs or go through extended initiations in order to use these postures to expand your spiritual experience. If you've ever done a guided meditation, you've been in trance.

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Minoan Ecstatic Postures: Beginning the Adventure

One aspect of ancient religious practice that’s not terribly familiar to modern Pagans is ecstatic postures. No, I'm not talking about what you do at the local nightclub when your favorite music is playing! But ecstatic postures are kinda-sorta related to that kind of experience. These are poses or positions of the body and arms that are designed to produce specific experiences during shamanic trance work. At least a dozen different Minoan ecstatic postures appear in the form of little bronze and terracotta figurines from ancient Crete. Many of these were votive offerings at peak sanctuaries and cave shrines, but some have been found in the temple complexes as well. 

A while back I reviewed Belinda Goodman’s excellent book Ecstatic Body Postures which includes a couple of poses that are found in ancient Crete. Reading that book was the inspiration for the shamanic work I’ve done since then that centers around the Minoan postures. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share with you my experiences using these poses. I encourage you to try them out on your own and let me know what you experience.

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At the Root: The Shaman's Journey Trance

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.

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