Prayer for the Elder

January 14th, 2014

Simple teacher, I pray of thee.

Wisdom from Wonder,
Love from Courage,
Strength from Healing,
Gnosis from Balance,
and Wonder from Wisdom.

Teach me to see from where I come,
and to learn of where I go.

Silent memory, I pray of thee.

Your legacy left so slowly still,
amidst the sleeping guardians.
A journey joined and formed of will,
where querents call your name.

Teach me to speak when words are well,
and voice winter words when still.

Wild spirit, I pray of thee.

As a mighty horned beast,
rutting in the wood;
Lay yourself in Cauldrons feast
your wisdom to be shared.

A birth in wonder waiting there,
for sacrifice complete

Song of the Shaman

December 29th, 2013

A whisper in the dark,
Your presence by my side.
Walk the worlds, you say to me,
And I will show you secrets vast.
The key you hold within your grasp,
Know thyself and you will know all.

The shadows wrapped around you.
Like a cloak, pinpricks of light,
Stars shine in your hair.
“I have been to the edge
And seen, will you walk with me?”

Fearful of what lies ahead
I know that you will never let me fall.
We must begin at the beginning .
And suddenly I am a child again,
Sitting at my father’s knee.

Pain! There is no other word.
You push into my mind,
Delving deeper than I
Have ever dared to go.
Pulling me apart
Piece by piece.

I am no longer a person,
No longer a man.
I am a collection of parts
That once fit together.
Till there is only one spark left.
And understanding dawns,
I am Thee and Thou art me.

I smile to myself,
If one can smile without a mouth.
My spark begins to spin,
Pulling myself back together.
Choosing who and what I am
Who and what I will become.

Walk the worlds, I say
And I will show you secrets vast.
The key you hold within your grasp,
Know thyself and you will know all.

I am the Walker!
All paths stand open to me.
My branches reach unto the stars themselves,
And yet my roots run just as deeply into the earth.

I have been to the edge,
And I can give you that key.
But you must be willing to face your greatest fear,
Your cherished dream and worst nightmare.
For I am also all of these.
I have achieved gnosis.
And I am He who stands across the threshold.
Mediator of the spirit world.
That we may achieve ta key te with all life.
I am the Bridge.
I am the Teacher.
And I am the Guide.
Through me you can touch the gods.

Perhaps you know me by a different name.
I have been called Baron Samedi, Gwydion, Wepawet.
I am all of these and so much more.
I am the Shaman!

In the Season of Shadow Dance

November 28th, 2013

 

There is a chill in the air (at least in the Northern climes) as Autumn hurtles down the long slide into Winter. This is the season of Shadow Dance, or Samhain, Sovvan, Blood Harvest, whatever you want to call it. For me this time always feels like that last gasp of energy to get everything done, but with a sense of beginning to turn inward. It is that liminality between outward activity and inward stillness that calls to the Shaman, the in-between where possibility is just as strong as reality.

The Shaman dances along the edge of two worlds, walking the paths of the Otherworld and bringing back wisdom to his tribe. Often we focus on that first part, the search for Gnosis. But that second part is just as important as the first. He needs to live in this world and be a part of it to understand the people he is serving. Without that grounding the pursuit of Knowledge is purposeless. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for the Shaman as a mountain –top guru dispensing wisdom from on high, but I tend to see the Him more as the “ready to get his hands dirty” type.  Of course my image of the Shaman is also a bit rougher than most. I see Him as often in leather or rubber as in furs or robes. But I am called to the Ordeal Path…what else should I expect. He’s as likely to order me to do something as He is to smile and ask how I’m doing. He is the Trickster, the Sage, and the Master.  He is always ready to help when needed, thought the way He helps is rarely how we expect, and isn’t always pleasant.

I just finished a really interesting book called My Babylon, a mostly straight, slightly kinky tale of goetic sex magick.  It was a fun read for a couple of days. But more importantly it reminded me of one of the gifts of the Shaman. The protagonist in the story is a ceremonial magician who tries to create a succubus but gets way more than he bargained for. Throughout the book the character is constantly talking about the dedication and discipline required for his art. This got me thinking about how I apply discipline in my own magical practices, and if there were differences depending on my level of adherence to said discipline.  When I am doing some sort of daily practice I feel more connected and more confident in my abilities. When I let that slip I start feeling more isolated and powerless. To be able to walk among the worlds as the Shaman does requires practice and application of will.  Taking on the Saturnian roles of Constrictor and Teacher, He calls on each of us to find that balance point that grows into wisdom.

Communing with the Shaman

November 15th, 2013

This is my favorite season of the year, both in spirit and in weather. The air is crisp and constantly changing. The winds are loud and harsh and wet, driving me inside to hot tea and a book (or popcorn-fueled movies with friends). Jack-o-lanterns and scarecrows signal a call to retreat.

Where my body goes, spirit follows. This is when I do my deepest searching, when I begin the internal transformations that will peak during the silence of winter. Late autumn is when we gather knowledge of ourselves and the world around us, to be reflected on in the deep dark of winter and acted on with the first shoots of spring.

In the Brotherhood, we call this ShadowDance, both the season and its beginning festival day. ShadowDance is the season of the Shaman, and that means being open to hearing truths both glorious and difficult. We ask the Shaman for the gift of opening ourselves to the subtle messages of spirit and deity, for the sudden inspiration that comes from speaking with our gods and guides. We call this Gnosis, and it’s what we’re seeking when we approach the Shaman.

 

The Shaman as seen by Brother and IO Mentor Belthor

The Shaman as seen by Brother and IO Mentor Belthor

 

On the festival day of ShadowDance, we join together in spirit to celebrate the Shaman and commune with him, whether we can be together in ritual or not. For the solitary practitioner who feels called to approach the Shaman, here is a short and flexible devotional outline.

A Devotion to the Shaman

  1. Gather supplies. You will need, at the least, a candle (preferably black), a bowl for offerings, and the offerings themselves. After that you can make the rest of your altar or space as sparse or decorated as you wish, whatever feels right to you. Try another representation of the Shaman or fruits of the season.
  2. Breathe and Center. After your space is prepared, close your eyes and breathe, centering in whatever way works for you.
  3. Build an image of the Shaman. Light the candle. Focus on the image of the Shaman, or close your eyes and conjure a different image in your mind’s eye. Focus on this image in as much detail as you can using all five senses, whispering His name if you wish. Imagine how the Shaman would smell if you encountered him closely, how he would feel in an embrace, how he sounds when he speaks.
  4. Welcome and introduce. When you feel as though you have sufficiently built up the god within your mind, welcome him into the space and introduce both yourself and your purpose. You can recite stories, poetry, or prepared prayers if you desire.
  5. Listen. After you’ve said (or silently recited) any words that you feel are appropriate, quiet yourself and be open to messages, signs, or feelings from the Shaman. Remember that these won’t always be words in your ear. Messages can come in all forms, so just keep your heart open.
    1. This is also the place in this short, personal liturgy where you can incorporate any guided meditations or spell-work that you feel is needed or appropriate.
  6. Offering. Give Him offering, based if you wish on the suggestions at the bottom of this post.
  7. Thanks and goodbye. Cross your hands over your chest. In your own words, thank the Shaman for any gifts you have received, using the words “Ta kya te“, if you desire, which mean “My heart is open to you.” End with “And now I go forth, into the world, renewed by the bonds of this Brotherhood. Out of the Flames, Into the Light.”, extinguish the candle, and take a finishing breath.

Let us know if you celebrate ShadowDance in the comments!