Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Night Magic Deities

While there are many deities associated with night magic, none is perhaps as spectacular and available as being out of doors in the magic of the full moon. As an oyster farmer I experience both the privilege and the curse of working the night tides, which are filled with magic as well as dread. During night work it is easy to feel frail and insignificant against the towering deities of moon-lit trees, the glitter magic of hermit crabs moving like night lights across the cobble, and the sounds of great blue heron, the only birds I have heard calling and flying at night like sentinels of the ancient Moon deities.

Sometimes the night is filled with a different sort of magic. Last night we heard a dim roar, as if a magic creature were slowly lumbering toward us out of the night sky. The sound intensified until a helicopter topped the forest rim and flew parallel to our beach. We saw it was a Search and Rescue craft flying low, with its massive night lights raking the waters and beach near us, like those special kinds of night magic deities that come to our aid during our worst nightmares. We stopped our work to watch as this flying night savior made several passes, and I sent prayers that who ever was lost on this still cold night would be able to be found. Such moments of connection with the hope and dread that others are experiencing right now in many places on the planet always reminds me that we are all cousins in this elegantly evolving creation. May all our spirit prayers, for all our relations, be answered.
You can see more images and read stories about this and other cards in the Journey Oracle divination deck by going to

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How to make a fire ceremony

In a fire ceremony it is important to court the fire. To do this the most important thing to know is that fire is alive. Shamanic wisdom understands that everything is alive: any distinction being not between animate and inanimate matter, but more accurately, between obvious and subtle matter. Everything alive needs the food of our effort to feel welcome and fully present when invited into ceremony. This means that not just the fire must be courted and fed when making a ceremony; our gifts must begin with food for the earth upon which the fire will be built. And what of the plants and animals already living on and in the earth beneath the fire? These must be honored also, and moved to safety if possible, to be returned after the fire ceremony is concluded.

We therefore begin with food for the earth and its creatures that will loose their homes through our intention, for the tree in its many guises as paper, kindling and firewood that will transform through our action and for the fire itself that will be born and die through the beckoning of our will. So what is this food that feeds the fire ceremony?

Ideally, this food is handmade with our effort because what we make with our hands or our voice is the most delicious food for the spirits in the fire ceremony to eat. Our most particular human gifts are our voices given out on our breath, and the beauty our thumbs can make. But what of the materials used to make these gifts for the fire and earth? These also must receive our gratitude to honor what they are giving. As you can see, making a fire ceremony requires lots of effort and attention, and we have not yet struck the match to bring the fire to life.

Whenever I ask the elements, forces and creatures of the spirit world to come to my aid, I give gifts or songs to show my respect and gratitude. When I consult the Journey Oracle divination deck, I sing a song that tells the story of the oracle to the creatures of this world. This is so all who have gathered into the ceremony of my reading can feel the fire of my loving regard for this powerful sacred tool.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Meaning of Aztec Gods

In my shamanic practice I recently was shown by Xipe Totec to give a client a new skin. This Aztec god is sometimes called Lord of the Flayed One, the God of Rebirth. Although in our time we may feel repulsed at the practice of wearing the flayed skins of sacrificial victims until the old rotted off to allow a new skin to emerge from beneath it, but most of us at some time have wanted our old skin of habits, attitudes and sufferings to peel away, revealing a new person within.

Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec war god, then showed me to ask the client to pay five “hearts” in exchange for the work. Although we consider ourselves much too enlightened now to grab still-beating hearts from the bodies of humans, many of us have collections of hearts made from the minerals and materials of the earth, taken and shaped as if these bones of the Mother were slaves to our desire, without the need of asking permission or offering thanks. When we make conscious what was required to bring these objects in their altered form to our hand, and then give this form back to the earth, we feed back to life our effort to understand the scale of our indebtedness to it.

These energies are still with us. When we tell their stories they jump up and live again in our present awareness to feed our hunger for knowing the forces that flow in the seen and unseen realms. The images and stories of the Journey Oracle divination card deck also feed our ancient hunger to know the seasons, the full moons, the tree spirits and the shamanic journey. These forces speak through the colors, images and associations we make when doing life readings for spirit-filled advice.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How to let go of emotional control

I was recently told that I hold emotional control by taking a teaching role among my friends, and that this would be something good to let go of, where appropriate. I can feel the emotional control clamping down at the mere mention of advice to let go, as if my ego thinks I am about to spiral out of control at the suggestion. I have been a teacher my entire adult life: in some form this always seems to include emotional as well as intellectual control, and so advice about how to let go would be helpful.

For guidance about how to shift my need to control the emotional climate around me, I went to the Journey Oracle divination deck and drew this card. Amazingly, it is the card called “teacher.” As I gaze into the image I see a female figure looking left. She seems to wear a bright smile and has a confident posture; certainly she seems in emotional control. And yet the space between her arms and her lower torso makes a strange, wide-eyed animal face—this juxtaposition of control and wild certainly does not feel very safe to me. The woman does not seem to acknowledge the animal, even though she is made of this energy. Is this a core issue for needing to be in emotional control? The colors of this card are unappealing to me. A murky yellow brown is shot through with dots of brown and black. The feeling I have is that this color needs to be “cleared up.” Is this a visual parallel for how to let go of emotional control?

The statement for this card is “Don’t need to know everything.” When I let go of my emotional resistance at being told not to know, I see how perfect this advice is for the loosening of control. It is just what I need to realize in order to let go.

The writings of James P Carse and Ken McCleod have been helpful for insights and activities that create ways to let go of emotional control, as have the writings of Pema Chodron. You can discover more about this divination deck, and how to create your own readings , at