Author Archives: neometheus

Touched by Pashupati

For some time I have been researching the winding historical trail of the Horned God. This journey has led to many deep and fascinating insights, not the least of which is the identification of the Western Horned God with his Hindu equivalent Lord Shiva. The Harrapan or Indus Valley Civilisation lived along the banks of the Indus river in modern Afghanistan, Pakistan and India between 3300 BC and 1300 BC. Along with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia this was one of the most advanced societies in world at that time. The Indus script used by these people is still undeciphered, as such their beliefs can only be inferred from archaeological remains. A number of seals have been discovered one of which depicts a horned figure surrounded by animals, the figure possibly has three faces and is seated in what appears to be a yoga pose. There is debate among academics regarding who or what this seal depicts however one interpretation is that the figure is a representation of the god Pashupati. Lord Pashupati or Pashupatinath is an incarnation of Lord Shiva and His name means ‘Protector of Animals’, He is revered by Hindus and is unofficially the patron deity of Nepal. Lord Shiva is an important God to me personally since I believe him to be the origin and source of Reiki as well as the originator of Yoga and the patron God of the arts and sciences.

Lord Shiva

Lord Shiva

This is not to mention His metaphysical role within the Trimurti as ‘the transformer and destroyer’, followers of Lord Shiva (Shaivites) believe Him to be the Supreme God or Mahadeva. Lord Shiva is generally acknowledged to be the oldest of the Hindu pantheon, in His earliest forms He was worshipped in his horned form as Pashupati. I have come to believe that the Horned God and Pashupati are one and the same entity. I have a number of reasons for this conclusion which I am not going to cover at this time. However these pictures demonstrate at least the iconographic similarities between Cernunnos (a European Horned god) and the Indus Valley Pashupati.

Depiction of Cernunnos on the Gundestrup Cauldron c200BC -300AD

Depiction of Cernunnos on the Gundestrup Cauldron, Denmark c200BC -300AD

Pashupati Seal from Mohenjodaro, Pakistan. c2500BC-2400BC

Pashupati Seal from Mohenjodaro, Pakistan. c2500BC-2400BC

Recently I have attempted to call upon Pashupati/Horned Shiva during Reiki healings. My reason being that if the Horned Shiva is both the source of Reiki and my primary deity He may lend me aid. The first time I attempted this was when healing myself, I was amazed to feel a slow welling surge of energy. It is difficult to describe the difference between this energy and the usual Reiki energy, whilst Reiki often comes on instantly like a light switch and usually heals over a relatively small area, this Shiva Reiki wells up more slowly but seems to spread further and feels more ‘expansive’ for want of a better word. I soon had permission to try this energy out on Heidi during a healing, she found the experience to be very similar – a great up-welling of energy filling her head with tremendous heat. Despite the volume of energy that is channelled it seems to be just as gentle as a normal Reiki healing. I injured my back at work the following week and asked Heidi to do a healing for me, knowing my affinity for the Horned Shiva she too called upon His aid and was granted it, she described the ‘feel’ of the energy in the same manner as I had experienced it. It is interesting to find that this energy has been lent to both of us, without any kind of initiation or attunement. I would be very much interested to know if this energy is available to adherents of Lord Shiva or the Horned God who are not Reiki attuned, or even to anyone who asks.

These experiences were nothing compared to what was to come. Heidi carried out a distance healing in which she was attacked by an unfriendly entity. Between her, the angels and her spirit guardians she managed to defended herself and the person she was healing and rebuffed the attack. The entity that attacked her was trying to place hooks into her aura, and although these were stopped Heidi asked me to perform a healing on her to make sure none had reached her. When I did this I scanned her aura and found a very small hook had reached into the fringe of her aura. When attempting this sort of healing I make sure to call upon my animal guardians, the Reiki guides and angels for protection and guidance. In this instance I called also upon the aid of the Horned Shiva and asked Him to lend me His strength. After finding the hook and cleansing Heidi’s aura I was guided to grasp the hook and use it like a fishing line to draw in towards me the entity it belongs to. This sounds risky but I have learned to trust such guidance, I started to wind the hook (which appeared to me like a dark filament) around my arm with great speed, which dragged the entity towards me. As the being got close what I can only describe as a great warm wind of energy rose behind me, it felt much like the Shiva healing energy, steady and powerful but gentle. The wind passed around me and pushed against the creature who I was still holding. I was guided to release the filament I had been holding and it snapped back to the creature, the wind of energy then blew the creature into the distance, it seemed like a great space was placed between myself and the entity and it disappeared into the distance, following that a barrier of energy was placed preventing the entity from getting near us again. This whole process took no more than a about twenty seconds, though in retrospect it feels much longer. I knew instinctively that the Horned Shiva had been responsible for the creatures’ ensnarement and banishment, so I gave my thanks and returned my attention to cleansing Heidi’s aura. When I felt the cleansing was complete I again thanked Lord Shiva for his assistance and asked if there was anything we could do to defend against such attacks in the future. To my astonishment I was given a golden trident or trishula which seemed to crackle with some kind of energy, I knew this was the main symbol of Lord Shiva, I instinctively knew that this could be used as both a healing tool and weapon, and that it is an extension of Lord Shiva Himself, I was also given another object, which I could not identify.  It looked like a rounded golden barbell that was to be held in the middle, it was channelled that the object could be used like a shield to absorb energy and also to emit powerful bursts of energy when shaken or twisted. Needless to say I was stunned, and shocked, this is the most dramatic and bizarre healing experience I have ever had. After the healing I explained what had happened to Heidi, but I had difficulty believing it, it was so fantastical. Later on that evening I was reading about Lord Shiva, still in a kind of shocked disbelief after what had happened when I saw a picture of Lord Shiva’s drum, the Damaru, I recognised it immediately, it was the other object I had been given. I read in fascination that the Damaru is a kind of double headed drum, common in India which is sacred to Hindus and Buddhists. Apparently the instrument is known as a power drum and is believed to generate spiritual energy when played, its sounds where used as the basis of the Sanskrit language and it is used by Lord Shiva in the Cosmic Dance. Needless to say I was in awe, this is was a confirmation that what had occurred during the healing was not a figment of my imagination. I have not yet had the opportunity to use these gifts during a healing, but I await the opportunity with anticipation.

Damaru Drum

Damaru Drum

Golden Trishula and Damaru drum, the divine tools of Lord Shiva

Golden Trishula and Damaru drum, the divine tools of Lord Shiva

If before this experience I was drawn to amazing similarities in iconography and function between the Horned God and Pashupati, now I am mesmerised and humbled. This will be a new focus in my ongoing spiritual journey.

Thank you for reading and blessings be,

Neometheus )O(

Post Samhain Post

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Yesterday was is the Pagan festival of Samhain (pronounced ‘sow-wain’) , this is one of the eight major Neopagan festivals and is considered to be New Years’ Eve by many Pagans. Due to the festivals’ significance to the pre-Christian peoples of north-western Europe it was Christianised as All Hallows Eve, later abbreviated to Hallow’een/Halloween. Many of the popular Halloween traditions observed today have their origins in ancient Pagan practices.

The significance of Samhain must be understood in terms of the Wheel of the Year. In the Neopagan cosmology the Horned God is a Solar deity who undergoes a birth-death-rebirth journey every year. The Triple Goddess represents Mother Earth (as well as the Moon), transforming through Her Maid, Mother and Crone aspects with the progress of the seasons . Together the Triple Goddess and the Horned God in their joint journey provide the mythological basis for the changing of the seasons.  At Midwinter the Horned God is born, and the Goddess is renewed as the Maid, by the spring the Horned God has matured to be the Young Hunter pursuing the Maiden Goddess, at Midsummer the Goddess and God are lovers, the Goddess is pregnant with the bounty of summer and the God is in his prime. In the autumn the God transfers his strength and virility to the ripening harvests, whilst the Goddess transforms into Her Crone aspect. At Samhain the Horned God’s strength is spent and He dies, passing on to travel the underworld until He is reborn again at Yule.

Artwork by Margaret Ellis

The Wheel of the Year artwork by Margaret Ellis

As such Samhain represents the death of the Horned God, the end of the Year, the end of the Summer bounty and Harvest and ritual preparation for the descent into the cold dark of Winter. The death of the Horned God gives the day its association with the dead, it is the day at which the veil that divides this world from the other-worlds is at its thinnest. Traditionally it was believed that spirits of the dead and otherworldly entities would walk abroad. Many Halloween traditions were originally directed at tricking or appeasing these entities, wearing disguises and collecting communal offerings have gradually transformed into trick or treating. It is possible that these practices are part of the folk memory stemming from the distant past when Pagan priests and priestesses would have been dressed as deities and represented them on Earth, receiving offerings and sacrifices in thanks for the years’ bounty and in promise for the return of the Sun the following year. Since the veil between worlds is so frail this is the ideal time for practising divination, which was often done communally and evolved into practices like apple bobbing.

To me the significance of Samhain rests in its main spiritual aspect – the descent into the Underworld. The Horned God has a great many aspects, included in these is the Lord of the Underworld. The Pagan Underworld is not the same as Christian Hell, it is the abode of the Dead and the realm of the ancestors. However, it is neither limbo nor a realm of suffering, it is more a repository of spiritual history and wisdom, the place where deep and ancient knowledge can be obtained. In His role as the Lord of the Underworld the Horned God plays the role of psychopomp (guiding the spirits of the dead to their spiritual resting place), the master/teacher of arcane wisdom and the holder of knowledge that is by its nature a mystery to living. The Triple Goddess in Her aspect as the Crone represents much the same thing. Both deities can be appealed to for assistance and wisdom throughout the year however their winter aspects lend a harder edge to their personas. Winter and death represent literally and symbolically the subject of destruction and endings, this can be frightening and has ‘dark’ associations though there is no element of evil involved. I find myself drawn to the unknown and unknowable and have a love for autumn and Samhain in particular.

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There are ritual formulas for observing Samhain, usually involving the lighting of a bonfire as at Beltane, communing with the ancestors and divining the coming year. This year we took a relaxed approach to our celebration, we carved a pumpkin and bought sweets for the local trick-or-treaters, when they had finished their rounds we set up our altar and circle with each of the four elements and representations of the Horned God and Goddess, sealed the room and cast our circle in the same manner we always do. We gave our thanks to our ancestors known and unknown for all that they have done and given and poured an offering of mead in their honour. With the formalities over we could have done a vision quest or journey, engaged in shamanic drumming or divination but instead we chose to start working our staffs. Reikiheidi had gathered a number of fallen branches over the past months with the intention of working them into ritual/magickal tools such as staffs and wands. We felt that Samhain would be a nice time to cut them to size, whittle away unwanted pieces and sand them down. This is the first time we had worked wood with ritual intention and we both found the exercise to be very calming and engaging, like any activity that requires full attention it has meditative qualities, and the satisfaction of seeing the item take form. I had not intended to do anything specific but whilst whittling away at my staff I found myself carving the top of my staff into the head of an eagle (one of my power animals). We ended the evening and the ritual with a meal.

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It was a relaxed and understated evening, we both enjoyed ourselves and gave our thanks for an exciting and interesting past year which was full of change and growth and are looking forward to what the new year has to bring.

 

Samhain blessings,

Neometheus

The Song of the Fay

Five years ago about this time of year I went home to visit my parents in my childhood home a few miles north of Swansea in South Wales. I decided that while there I would like to spend a few days walking and camping alone in the bleakly-beautiful hills and mountains of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Part of the Brecon Beacons National Park, look...

Part of the Brecon Beacons National Park, looking from the highest point Pen Y Fan (2907 feet, 886 metres) to Cribyn (2608 feet, 795 metres). Taken by Adrian Pingstone and released to the public domain. (UTC) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I spent the first day hiking through thick fog and endless drizzle, carrying my heavy pack and carefully picking my way through the bogs and rocky cliffs of the barren hills. I had not seen another soul all day except for the ubiquitous Welsh mountain sheep. Wet, cold, exhausted and slightly lost; as dusk fell I decided to camp above the bank of a small stream, below the ridge of a dramatic series of hills known as the Carmarthen Fans. I set up my tent whilst fighting the gusty winds and worsening rain. I started cooking a modest dinner on my little gas stove, the tent whipping about, the soft patting of rain all around and the trickle of the nearby stream. This is when I first heard it. The faint sound of beautiful choral singing, intermittent but distinct and prolonged. Wales is renowned for its male voice choirs and at first I thought I must be hearing a choir practice in a nearby village. However, thinking about it the nearest village was 5 km away the other side of the mountain and a thousand feet below where I was camped. I thought for a while it may be an auditory hallucination, if that was the case it has not happened before or since. The singing lasted on and off for about half an hour, I got up out of my tent to have a look around, all I could see through the growing darkness was the mist. Curious though I was I had no intention of risking injury wandering around the mountains in the gloom and so returned to my tent. Shortly after that the singing ceased and I went to sleep.
At the time of this event I was not very spiritually inclined and quite dismissive of any concept of the supernatural. I did not dwell on the event and simply filed it in my mind as curious and unexplained. It was not until a couple of years later I was having a conversation with friends regarding supernatural and strange happening where I related my experience. One of my friends, a long-standing pagan excitedly explained that it was the “sidhe” who are known for their choral singing. It is not until recently that I have looked into this; the “aes sidhe”, pronounced “ays sheeth-uh” is the old Irish Gaelic name for the faerie folk, literally meaning ‘people of the [burial] mounds’. In Irish mythology the aes sidhe were the remnant of the Tuatha De Danann “People of the Goddess Dana” a semi-divine race who retreated to the Otherworld following their defeat by the invading Milesians.
In Welsh mythology the faerie folk are called the Tylwyth Teg meaning “the fair folk”, they are said to be the people of Gwyn ap Nudd their king, who is a Welsh god of the dead and the wild hunt equivalent to the Horned God. Unlike the popular image of faeries as tiny and winged the Tylwyth Teg are the size of adults and invariably described as extremely beautiful.
Wales abounds with folk tales about faeries and many other magical creatures, however it was not until I started researching this article that I discovered that perhaps the most famous tale of the Tylwyth Teg took place at the spot I camped that night.
A larger view of the lake

Llyn y Fan Fach in the Black Mountains, South Wales (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few hundred meters from my camp site, at the bottom of the hill is a small lake called “Llyn y Fan Fach”, which in English roughly translates as “Lake of the Small Peak”. According to legend one night (possibly New Years Eve – in pagan times this would be Samhain [Halloween]) a local farmer saw the most beautiful woman he had ever seen emerge from the lake. She was a faerie maiden, and upon seeing her the farmer set about trying to woo her with bread and cheese! She was a bit picky regarding the bread but eventually he succeeded and the faerie maiden agreed to marry him, one the condition that if he hit her three times she would leave. She provided a dowry of herds of cattle and sheep which also emerged from the lake. They lived happily until for various reasons he hit her on three separate occasions (in most versions of the tale at a christening, a marriage and a funeral), whence she and her herds returned to the lake never to be seen again. It is said that the children she bore him, who remained with their father grew up to be legendary healers.
The Lady of the Lake gives Excalibur to King A...

The Lady of the Lake gives Excalibur to King Arthur (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The imagery is somewhat reminiscent of to the Arthurian legend of the lady of the lake. As is often the case with Welsh legends, which were not recorded until late into the Christian era it is possible that the Faerie Maiden was originally a Welsh Goddess.
I cannot rationally explain what I heard that night on the mountains, though I will always remember it. Perhaps I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and to hear the song of Fay.
Blessings Be )O(

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Meeting The Horned God: Popular Misconceptions

Following from reikiheidi’s introductory post about the Horned God, I thought I would go into more detail regarding some of misconceptions about the Horned God. Many people are still influenced by ancient Christian propaganda and more or less equate the Horned God with Satan. This is not the case as I will attempt to demonstrate.

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A boil covered Job flees from Satan. From William Caxton’s The Golden Legend, ca 1483-1484.

According to the Bible (Ezekiel 28:12) God describes Lucifer as “…perfect in beauty.” He was created by God as a cherub angel, and is considered the greatest being ever created, outranking even the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. The Bible (Ezekiel 10:10-17) describes a cherub angel as having four faces: one of a cherub, one of man, one of a lion and one of an eagle. They stand at about 18 feet tall, have four wings with hands underneath, and their entire bodies are covered in eyes. This description applied to Satan before his fall from Heaven. Whether his appearance changed following his fall is not, to my knowledge, stated. Alternately in Revelations (12:3), Satan is described as a seven-headed dragon with 10 horns. Evidently there is scant biblical support for the supposed iconographic similarities between Satan and the Horned God.

Detail of Pan from a vase painting depicting the Judgement of Paris. Ca 320 BC

Detail of Pan from a vase painting depicting the Judgement of Paris. Ca 320 BC

So where did this perception come from? It can be traced back to early Christian attempts to convert the old pagan populations of Europe to Christianity. The exact origin of the demonisation of the ancient horned Gods has been lost in the mists of time. Pan is perhaps the best known of these pagan Gods, and shares much of the His symbology with popular conceptions of Satan including horns, goats legs, cloven hoofs and tail. It is worth noting that in most modern and ancient depictions the Horned God possesses only the horns and not the goat aspects. It is easy to see that the libidinous image of Pan with his partly animal form and permanent erection (a symbol of virility), would be abhorrent to the ascetic early Church Fathers. It seems that Pan who is just one of many old horned Gods revered around Europe and the Mediterranean has been used as a blueprint for the most common image of the Christian Satan. There is evidence that Pan had a wide following around the formerly Hellenistic regions of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. For instance a shrine to Pan located at the ancient site of Ceasaera Phillipi near the Jordan River and the borders of Israel, Syria and Lebanon. Archaeologists excavating the shrine, that was erected some time following the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 3rd century BC, found that although the ritual practices seem to change over time, the shrine did not fall out of use until some 700 years later in the 4th century AD. That Pan was not indigenous to the region and yet outlived the Hellenic culture that exported him there by many centuries – even here in the birthplace of Christianity – demonstrates his popularity, at least with rural populations. Nor is Ceasaera Phillipi an isolated case, in Egypt Pan was equated with Egypt’s own horned Gods such Banebdjedet (the Ram of Mendes) and even Zeus-Ammon, and perhaps also the phallic deity Min. The same equivalence and similarities were seen elswhere; the Basque image of the horned God Akerbeltz, the celtic Cerrunos and Herne and the Roman Faunus. To the early Chritians Pan came to symbolise all the pagan Gods and their most dangerous aspect: freedom. The early pagans were absent the idea of sin, Pan epitomised this perhaps most of all, with his guilt free and promiscuous nature he would have been seen as the antithesis of the Abrahamic perceptions of sex and the marginal role of women. Thus he became synonomous with the arch-daemon of Christianity. It seems this perception was formed relatively quickly; in the early 4th CE Eusebius responded to Plutarch’s report of the alleged ‘death of the Great God Pan’, claiming that the Christian God had rid humankind of its biggest demon. By this time apparently the perceived equivalence of Pan, and thus all the pagan Gods, with demons and Satan was already established. The Christian church spent most of its first millennium mopping up pockets of paganism around Europe. Turning the pagan’s own symbology against them was one of the many tools employed in this task. The medieval Church zealously re-iterated this horned depiction of Satan and it is solidly ingrained even today. The simple facts of the matter are that the Horned God symbolism pre-dates Christianity by millennia, and contradicts Christianity’s own biblical depictions of Satan. The success of the adoption and transformation of the image of the Horned God and Pan in particular is indicative of how popular and therefore threatening the horned Gods were to early Christianity, and also of Christian flexibility in adapting pagan symbology into it’s own dogma. It is worth mentioning that another popular symbol of the Devil, the pitchfork or trident is most likely a reference to the Greek God Poseidon who also bore a trident, the symbol is not to my knowledge associated with the Horned God.

Baphomet, the Sabbatic Goat, by Eliphas Levi, 1855.

The misunderstandings are exacerbated further by the use of aspects of Horned God symbolism by Satanists. The Church of Satan has adopted Baphomet as its official emblem. The symbol of Baphomet has a curious history, which I will not relate here. Instead of being a pre-Christian emblem of the Horned God, it is a post-Christian reaction to Christianity itself, incorporating the horned and goat-like characteristics that, as I have discussed, were taken by Christians from the original pagan sources. For instance the name Baphomet is most likely a medieval corruption of ‘Mahomet’ an old rendering of Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam. The originator of the Baphomet symbol Eliphas Levi derived it, in part, from the ‘Devil’ card of the eighteenth century Tarot of Marseilles and representations of the Egyptian ‘Ram of Mendes’, Banebdjedet. Levi’s image does not and it seems has never been intended to depict the Horned God, but instead depicts Satan or in Alestair Crowley’s words “the hieroglyph of arcane perfection”. It is ironic that Satanism has adopted the very same symbols for use against Christianity that the Christians themselves lifted from paganism in order to discredit it.

Needless to say therefore, Neopagans do not worship the Devil. In fact we do not believe in Satan or even in the Christian duality of good and evil. Rejecting the good/evil dualism does not mean that Neopaganism is amoral; most if not all practitioners follow a form of the Golden Rule, often called the Wiccan Rede, which states ‘Do what thou wilt, though it harm none’.

Detail of a Horned God probably the Celtic Cernunnos, from the Gundestrup Cauldron. Ca 200 BC – 300 AD.

Additionally there is the ‘Rule of Three’ or ‘Law of Returns’, a principle similar to Karma which attests that whatever energy and intent you put out into the world, constructive or destructive, will be returned to you three-fold.

I hope this goes some way to resolve some of the anxieties and misunderstandings commonly associated with the Horned God. The next posts on the topic will go into more detail about who the Horned God actually is, his role, attributes, history etc.

Thanks for reading and blessings be )O(

The Holographic God

A water drop

A water drop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the written record of human history several thousand different deities have been identified. Some you will have heard of many more you will not. Until a few years ago I would have called myself an atheist. I have now come to believe in the existence of the divine, I have my Gods to whom I connect with as often as I can. If I am prepared to acknowledge the existence of any given God, can I rationally deny the existence of any other? Some belief systems maintain that there is only one God or pantheon Gods and Goddesses, mine does not. How then should I regard my relationship to these other deities? If the spiritual and divine realms do indeed reflect the material world, then there is scope for myriad forms of spiritual beings and deities.

Many ancient pagan religions revered Gods and Goddesses under their different aspects, the Triple Goddess of neopaganism has the Maid, Mother and Crone aspects. This triple aspect feature is common among pagan deities and similar to the Christian Holy Trinity. Despite acknowledging multiple deities with multiple aspects I still consider myself a monist, that is the belief that all existence essentially comprises a single reality. That is a single divine reality, manifesting the physical universe, the spiritual realms, the soul of each individual and the Gods themselves; it has been variously called the Tao, Logos and Brahman among many other names.

It seems to me that the nature of reality and therefore the divine is holographic, meaning that each part contains within it the entirety of the whole. Normally when each of us encounters the divine we see one (or more) of its many faces. The face we see differs from person to person and culture to culture, whether or not we see that which we expect to see or whether the divine presents a face which is most appropriate to the time, place and expectations of the observer I could not say. Whoever we are and whatever Gods we call upon, it is the same divinity that gazes back at us all. This is not to say that Yahweh is identical to Odin, or that Zeus and Shiva are the same. They possess different personalities and attributes, potentially different spheres of influence and powers. They are all manifestations of the divine reality in the same way that each person is a different manifestation of the same ultimate divinity.

It has long been the goal of the wise to know the divine reality directly, it is agreed by those mystics that have experienced it that the divine is unknowable except through direct contact and practices such as Yoga and meditation. The Gods in the various forms in which they recognised are more accessible – perhaps that is part of their purpose, perhaps not – through prayer, Shamanism, meditation etc. Whilst Brahman cannot be understood except by the most elevated, the Gods represent a more discernible face that people can to connect to. If this represents intention on the part of the Gods, or whether we have evolved to be able to interpret the Gods in a way which makes sense to us I do not know. That many if not most of the Gods are anthropomorphised to some extent suggests to me the latter.

Some people may feel that this belief in some way diminishes the Gods, from being absolute in and of themselves. However this misunderstands the nature of the Great Hologram, since each part contains the entirety of the whole, each deity is no less than the entirety of reality; as incidentally are each of us as individuals. As the Hindu Vedanta philosophy says There is only Brahman.

I feel this idea accounts for the diversity of human experiences of the divine whilst maintaining the principle that we (people, nature and Gods) are all essentially one and the same infinite and divine essence. This vision of reality serves as the basis of a flexible, tolerant and all inclusive belief system, it allows me to rationally follow my chosen Gods whilst still aiming for the realisation of the understanding that I am one with Brahman.

Does this conflict or fit with your own beliefs?

Many thanks for reading, and blessings be )O(

Venta Icenorum

Reikiheidi and I are very fortunate to live in Norwich, it is a wonderful city and positively seething with history, much of which can still be seen in the architecture and place names. I regret that I take it somewhat for granted and don’t know nearly as much of our local history as I would like. Many waves of history have left their mark on the area, but there is one time period in the history of Norwich which holds a fascination for both reikiheidi and myself.

At the time of the Roman conquests of Britain the Iceni tribe inhabited an area roughly corresponding with the modern county of Norfolk. The ancient capital of the Iceni Venta Icenorum (meaning ‘Marketplace of the Iceni’) lies close to Norwich, in the village of Caistor St Edmund. It has long been my intention to visit the place, and being free of the children this Tuesday reikiheidi and I did just that.

Our reason for the visit was primarily to make a small pilgrimage to connect with our ancestors, those people who walked the land we call our home before us, fellow pagans and a people whose culture has provided inspiration for the way we personally relate to the divine.

Neither reikiheidi or I hold much affection the culture and history of the Romans and tend to view them as being responsible for the destruction of much of Britain’s indigenous religions, traditions and mythology, although I concede this may be somewhat inaccurate and unfair. As such, to me Venta Icenorum represents a sad chapter of our history, more so because this land was once the home of a personal heroine of mine.

Boudica the queen of the Iceni is remembered for instigating and leading perhaps the most ferocious British rebellion against Roman rule. In AD 61 after her public beating and the rape of her daughters Boudica incited and led her own people and neighbouring tribes in a rebellion which led to the sacking of the Roman towns of Colchester, London and St Albans and the destruction of a Roman Legion, before her eventual defeat and massacre of tens of thousands of her followers.

English: Venta Icenorum, near to Caistor st Ed...

English: Venta Icenorum, near to Caistor st Edmund, Norfolk, Great Britain. The remaining wall on the northern side of the famous Roman town, market place of the Iceni. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In view of these events and my feelings about them I had expected the place to have a solemn, melancholy atmosphere, and was surprised to find that despite the bitter cold, the bare trees and ruined walls the place emanated a sense of vibrancy even cheerfulness. The wounds I had expected to encounter had healed and life had long ago moved on.

As soon as reikiheidi and I entered the gate to the place, we heard the crying of an animal and to our astonishment saw a weasel attacking a rabbit not 30 feet away from us. The rabbit struggled free from its attacker and ran towards us before stopping and huddling in the grass in front of us. The weasel sat watching the scene a little further away. I slowly moved towards the rabbit to see if it was injured. It lay still until I got close then bolted away into a burrow apparently unhurt. The most curious thing about this event is that I was half expecting we would see rabbits or hares, Boudica was reputed to have released a hare from her dress as a method of divination, with augury being determined by the direction of the hare’s flight. Hare’s are rare in the UK today, I have yet to see one, was this a sign from Boudica? If there is a divinatory or symbolic meaning to this event I am unsure of its interpretation.

At the south-west corner of the walls we found a hollowed tree stump nestled below a Hawthorne tree, this seemed to be the perfect place to make our offering to the ancestors. We lit an incense stick and buried a coin in the ground at the heart of the tree stump, thanked those who came before us for their gifts, sacrifices and contributions and assured them they were not forgotten.

At the far west end of the site is the Tar, a beautiful little river narrow, clear and fast running. Here we made an offering (of catkins! – the only thing to hand) to the Goddess and Horned God in thanks for nature’s bounty.

We spent the next two hours exploring the ruins and a church built within the ancient walls, before returning home grounded, calmed and at peace. I feel we succeeded in our aim of touching both the past and land, closing the distance both spiritual and emotional with our ancestors and bringing something of that beautiful place into our hearts and minds. If the very land itself has memory then it is worth listening to what it has to teach.

Blessings be )O(

 

Twisting Paths

Welcome to ‘The Eagle and The Serpent’!

For the first post on this blog I wanted to write a brief introduction to the paths I choose to follow and the reasons I am writing about it.

What does it mean to be a pagan? For me it is primarily about feeling a deep reverence and awe of nature and all it encompasses. It is about expressing that reverence in a way that is meaningful, fulfilling and personal. It is about connecting to the inner and outer divinity that we all share and celebrating that bond. Spirituality to me is the very act of connecting to that which is greater than oneself. The strengths of paganism lay in its vivid and profound manner of making that spiritual connection live everyday.

Where paganism brings spirituality to everyday life, shamanism provides the tools to delve directly into the spiritual realms themselves. The depth of experience that shamanism can provide is extraordinary and humbling allowing the practitioner to come face-to-face with their Gods within their own realm, to meet their ancient ancestors and converse with celestial beings.

Reiki is usually described as a energy based healing technique and although this is correct it falls far short of accounting the effect Reiki has had on my life. Whilst Reiki does heal it also spiritually elevates. Perhaps most importantly for me it proved beyond my capacity for doubt the reality of phenomena that could not conceivably be explained by materialist science. It opened the floodgate for the exploration of paganism, shamanism and many other things that I would have previously dismissed out of hand. Much like the internet I don’t know how I ever lived without it.

Curiously, I came to Buddhism through the study of physics. Science has always held a fascination for me, but it was not until I came to learn of the nature of quantum reality and its parallels with the Buddhist and Hindu concept of Maya (that our perception of the world is illusory) that I became entranced with Buddhism. Buddhism profoundly changed my priorities and opened my eyes to the vacuity of the materialist ideals that our culture so forcefully promotes.

Each of these paths represent a journey rather than a destinations, each augments the others. These are the journeys Serpent and I are inclined to share in our future posts.

Blessing be )0(