From the Vice President – Samhain 2013

Photo of BeanSidhe

BeanSidhe

In this season we are inundated with the sights and sounds of the macabre. The ghost that says boo and the bloody zombie that slowly chases us. All of these symbols of death lend a lightheartedness to the realization that death is part of our life path. The emotions we experience as a loved one passes can not be fully described. We vary from sadness to anger and guilt with many other emotions that seem to be beyond our control. As druids we are always communing with our ancestors. We hold great honor for those who have passed before us. Samhain gives us the opportunity to work the task of letting go of to the physical, remembering the mind, and honoring the spirit of those who have passed.

As we step into the Celtic Winter we begin to receive the sustaining gifts from The Dagda’s cauldron of bounty. Gratitude is necessary for what we may be gifted with from The Dagda. If your body is craving steak and you receive a can of spam add a little hot sauce and be thankful.

The Dagda also blesses us in the Celtic Winter with the opportunity to renew our spirit.  The earth mother takes a sigh from growth and production. We see nature retreating. Animals secure their beds and rely on the bounty that the Celtic Summer has provided. We too can retreat into our mind and spirit and take this time to enrich our knowledge of the world around us and of ourselves.

The energy of The Mórrigán allows us to simplify and cull negative or disruptive aspects that we may have allowed to enter our life.

This is a time of gratitude and introspection. We now have the opportunity to walk the path of the responsible druid. One who is sustained with gratitude in mind, nourishment of body, and enrichment of spirit.

 Walk with Wisdom,
BeanSidhe

Unverified Personal Gnosis, Truth and Imbas

Unverified Personal Gnosis, Truth and Imbas

by Searles O’Dubhain

Thumbnail photo of Searles O'Dubhain.

Searles O'Dubhain

As Amergin White Knee has taught us in the Cauldron of Poesy materials:

"When the Cauldron of Knowledge is turned by divine ecstasy, rather than by human joy alone, its special grace is a gift that transforms a person, who becomes both sacred and knowledgeable, so that their works include miracles, prophecies, judgments and precedents. It is these people who establish the wisdom that guides our knowledge and regulates the forms of our speech. Though this knowledge comes from within a person, its truth and its power is from the gods and originates from outside of a person."

This is one of the main abilities of the Draoithe (Irish Druids) and the Filidh (Irish Vision-Poets) that distinguishes them from all others. It is the knowledge that illuminates and is known as imbas in Irish and is called awen in Welsh/British writings and traditions. Some modern folks term such inspirations as UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis). This seems to be an attempt to negate prophetic knowledge and inspiration as being only imagined (until it is verified by currently accepted science or through academic logic alone). To apply this term as a blanket to divinely inspired knowledge is to overlook a few truths from that heritage:

In ancient Irish society and tradition, that which was true was considered to have its own power to stand alone in the world or anywhere, to the point that those who heard truth could see its meaning and importance even when it seemed to contradict those things that were supposed to be the “accepted wisdom.”

To this point, it was the Druids and Poets who were seen to be the sources of imbas and the judges of truth in that society. This attitude and basis in that society had an accompanying paradigm saying that no person could be a Druid, Poet or Judge who had ever been demonstrated to have broken the truth and to have presented a falsehood.

Generally, the imbas or awen that was received by a Celtic Seer was seen to be verified in Nature or in the actions/results of the people presented in the traditional tales. If not already a tradition, then  the results of a divine prophecy or a discovered wisdom had to be eventually demonstrated in society by examples or outcomes (remembering that a given for a wise person in Irish Celtic society was that they retained their status and position only so long as they were shown to be true and correct).

As Katheryn Simms observed and stated in her article, the “Poetic Brehon Lawyers,” this idea of truth from imbas bringing real results to the people was not just an Irish or a Welsh notion, but was a pan-Celtic concept:

“The pagan belief that the moment when a judge issued his verdict was an encounter between the human and the divine, and that the will of the gods was outraged by an unjust decision, while just judgements drew down divine blessings, is already testified among the Celts of Gaul in the first century B.C. where Strabo remarks that the druids were chiefly trusted to try cases of homicide, and that when there is an abundance of these they consider that there is also abundance of the land, presumably because their many just judgements drew down the gods blessing on the crops. “

Imbas is not a free ride. It has to be demonstrated to be true wisdom from the gods. Such inspiration and universal truth is not unlike Einstein’s brilliant understanding about the ways in which matter and energy are related. The truth of it came to him in a flash and he spent years (if not the rest of his lifetime) proving and expanding upon this insight. I expect that ancient and modern druids also do the same with their own knowledge that is received from the minds of the divine. It is not enough to receive the revelation; one must also do the work of bringing the new truths back to the people in a useful and relevant way.

Being true and wise is wonderful but one must also be useful and productive. That is why the demonstration of imbas is to be found in the results that grow from its seeds rather than in claims or even discussion. The tales are filled with how prophecy and the uncovering of hidden things is accomplished or demonstrated to be true. These tales formed the basis of society’s codes of living and morals to the point that prophecy and divine truth were considered to be usual rather than exceptional (or to be challenged as untrue out of hand, as is often the case in our more disillusioned and skeptical modern society). The use of the term UPG, a classification and claim that something is merely made up or an illusion, as a club nowadays to quash inspirations and unusual wisdom to the point that thinking remains within the confines of accepted wisdom, is also a great wrong. Society must continue to advance in its life or it risks the death of stagnation and rot that accompanies the imprisonment of any idea or material thing. Innovation and inspiration deserve open fields upon which to exercise their creative truths to the benefit of all. To keep these in a box only makes for humus and decay, to the point that only nature in her long-term laboratory can transform them into anything new or renewed.

So, let’s rejoice in imbas and rather than calling it UPG, let’s get up and go out into the great laboratories of existence, science, and Nature, to ascertain what the power of truth has uncovered for us via inspiration and knowledge provided to us by the gods. It is only through the verifiable and proven results that we should be known as druids and not by our own or anyone’s claims, or even the acclamations of others, for there really is a truth against the world. Sometimes, one must journey far to find it and bring it back to the people and the lands where life is lived.

-SO

The Pelegian Heresy

EXCERPT: The Pelegian Heresy

A Possible Druidic Survival?

— Brendan Myers

Photo of Brendan Myers

Brendan Myers

Allow me to introduce to you an unorthodox form of early Christianity, which I think everyone who practices modern Druidry should get to know: The Pelegian Heresy. Named for its chief promoter, a British philosopher named Pelagius, it grew in popularity in Britain during the fourth and fifth centuries, around the same time that Roman Christianity was spreading there. I’ve no doubt that it was a form of Christianity, and not a form of Paganism, but there is some evidence which suggests that it inherited some of the teachings of the Druids. Pelagius’ opponents described his teachings as “full of Irish porridge”, and accused him of attempting to revive “the natural philosophy of the Druids”. This of course is not unequivocal proof of paganism, but it certainly suggests the possibility. Pelagius’ use of triads, in the old Druidic fashion, to explain some of his core teachings is also not definitive proof, but it is another potential indicator. A stronger way to detect the pre-christian thinking in the Pelagian world view is by looking at which of its teachings most enraged the Catholic bishops from the continent. Here’s one that stands out:

“In the year of our lord 394, Arcadius, son of Theodosius, forty-third in line from Augustus, became joint-emperor with his brother Honorius, and ruled for 13 years. In his time, the Briton Pelagius spread far and wide his noxious and abominable teaching that man had no need of God’s grace...”1

I think one cannot stress enough the enormous importance of the idea that ‘man had no need of God’s grace’. It is the idea that it’s possible to achieve salvation, however defined, by means of one’s own effort, and without direct assistance from God. This is an affirmation of spiritual freedom, and also enormous personal responsibility. A few fragments of Pelagius’ own letters to his friends have survived history, and with them we can learn a little bit of his mind with them. Here’s a place where Pelagius specifically rejects the claim that we human beings are too weak to achieve salvation on our own:

Continued...

[This excerpt is from a three-page article was published in Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #41.  It is available in its entirety to members of the Henge of Keltria via the Members Home page.  It is available to non-members of the Henge via Mag Cloud.]


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Keltria Journal: Against Over Intrepretation

EXCERPT: Against Over-interpretation

by Nimue Brown

Nimue Brown

Nimue Brown

There are two approaches to using signs from nature for divination. One is inherently quite logical but will only give a limited range of meanings. The second is more creatively intuitive but also far more open to the impact of ego and wishful thinking.
If swans come in great numbers to the UK in the early winter this can be a sign of a harsh season to come. The reason is simply that the wind direction that most helps the swans migrate, also brings the bad weather, and the worse the weather is, the further the swans will go to find a wintering spot. The swans are not definite indicators of weather to come, but a large influx of swans can mean the snow is coming. It’s similar to the ways in which animal behaviour can indicate impending natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis. They are more attuned to the early warning  signs than we are.

Photo of many swans together in the water.

Swans

Building the knowledge that allows this kind of divination is largely about the investment of time and study. Being aware of normal behaviour patterns and how these are modified by weather changes and so forth is all about observation. Every place has its own wildlife. For example, I know now that when the flocks of curlews stop gathering in the fields, it is a sign of winter ending, as they change their feeding patterns. When I started seeing curlews in the fields last autumn, I had no idea what it signified, and did not hurry to put an interpretation on it.

Without knowing the normal behaviour of another living entity, it is easy to mistake normal activity for omen. Just because I normally don’t see something, does not mean my seeing it is meaningful, only that there is something I am now able to observe. My first thought is to consider the meaning of the activity for the creature or bird I am observing, and the implications of this. The swallows leave here at the start of autumn; their return is a sign of summer coming.  The timing has everything to do with weather and insect populations, and nothing to do with whether I should apply for a new job. If the otters are thriving, the whole water system is doing well. If I see one, it may have far more to do with feeding patterns and otter offspring, than my own emotional life. If the small birds all fly in panic, there may be a predator. They may not be warning me of impending financial disaster. I think when looking at wildlife, it’s best to assume that what they do is about them, and learn from that.
Continued...

[This excerpt is from a three-page article was published in Keltria: Journal of Druidism and Celtic Magick, Issue #41.  It is available in its entirety to members of the Henge of Keltria via the Members Home page.  It is available to non-members of the Henge via Mag Cloud.]

Review: Ensouling Language

Ensouling Language: 
    On the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer’s Life

by Stephen Harrod Buhner

Review by Karl Schlotterbeck

TEnsouling Language Book Coverhis is a marvelous that is remarkable in a number of ways. I was excited by the title when I first heard about it. When it arrived, I was dismayed at its heft (463 pages); amused at the irony of its cover illustration of a quill; and sorry when I came to the end of it. In the first pages, I was captured by the little story he told so well to demonstrate the affection and meaningfulness of words, books, and experience. My expectation had been of a formulaic how-to book of which we see so many, but it was itself a journey into the place of perception and creativity where words are as alive as we are, and reveal their sacredness as containers of soul and of meaning – and how to get to that place. Buhner pulled me deeper and deeper into the subject – stacking up meaning behind the words like water behind a dam, as he would say.

In fact, Ensouling Language called me back into myself, a reminder to write for what might be communicated about the interiority of my subject in its meaningfulness, and in the fact writer and readers’ communication occur well beyond (or deeply within) black text on white page, deeper than the dictionary definition of words. Rather, it occurs in the heart of the matter – where creation and some spirit of the nature of things seek to express themselves through the human heart and tongue and hand, and to result in something larger than either.

I struggle to find a descriptor for what he does. He nudges us out of a little ego’s perspective with its petty needs for common currency and approval, out of our humanocentric viewpoint, and out of any illusions of being objective. Perhaps it is this very difficulty in trying to “reduce” his effort to an easy few words that affirms the beauty and depth of his work.

I found him sometimes speaking as a shaman, sometimes as an analytical psychologist, sometimes as a prophet or Druid – and this is the work’s most direct relevance for us. For Buhner, words are not just things to be used to fill the space around us, nor are they something we use to avoid our fears by yakking about superficial things. Nor are they a tool to try to bridge our loneliness as human beings; but they have the capacity to take us to a place of discovery, where our fears are created, where our loneliness is rewarded and relationship is intimate – whether that be with a tree, a dolphin, another person’s experience or our own. As he says:

These moments of touch with the nonhuman world are what the ancient Greeks – the Athenians – called aisthesis. The get to aisthesis, those moments when we are touched in return, our nonphysical touching must go deeper than merely feeling the world. It must go to the place where touching travels both ways. And this, very definitely extends awareness a great deal further than our society wants it to go. It involves a living exchange between the human and the nonhuman world, eventually, with the world itself. By engaging in that exchange, we break a very powerful cultural injunction that is present in many Western cultures. We abandon the view of life that does not allow us to extend interiority to dolphins or trees or stones. (p. 143)

His writing was, in many ways, watching a deft psychoanalyst pay attention to a person’s utterances and what they reveal about the speaker, how they may fall short of their purpose and thereby shows the hidden baggage of the writer. He notes how one’s unresolved and unreflected upon personal issues become revealed and how hiding those issues flatten the work. Facing then directly gives depth and richness. It’s like my own work as a psychologist: not just listening to what people say, but how they say it in terms of the words they use, the tone of voice, facial expression, body language and context.

Something in me found a home in this book or, perhaps I should say, several aspects of me found a common heart through his writing: Druid, shaman, psychologist, writer, poet.

This is an easy book to recommend for its meaningfulness, its intelligence, depth, and genuineness in practicing what it is prescribing. He challenges the readers’ ways of perceiving and relating to the world, meanings put into words, framing of propositions and need to beware of the inevitable hidden baggage. But it’s not directly about a philosophy of genuineness, depth and presence: it’s a how-to manual (as he reminds us). He addresses the tension between “proper” grammar and writing for impact, dealing with editors, publishers and contracts; getting help and the whole business of delivering one’s words to the readers who hunger for them.

This is a book I can highly recommend, not only for aspiring writers, but for anyone who wants to engage the world deeply and recognizes the value of words in the exchange.

Ensouling Language: On the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer's Life
Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Inner Traditions

Kindle Edition available!
File Size: 754 KB
ASIN: B00462RVFK

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Review: Forbidden Science

Edited by J. Douglas Kenyon

Reviewed by C. Leigh McGinley

This book is a collection of articles from “Atlantis Rising,” a bi-monthly journal by the editor. The articles cover everything from aliens to ESP to physics to paranormal phenomena. Alternative medicine and astronomy are also included. These are theories and postulations that are not accepted by mainstream science, and in some instances even challenge the status quo.

For instance, in the article entitled, “Is the Big Bang Dead? A Maverick Astronomer Challenges Reigning Theory on the Origins of the Universe,” the author, Amy Acheson, asserts that an astronomer in the 1960s, Halton Arp, made a discovery about galaxies concerning how they are born and how they progress. Instead of being celebrated because of his discoveries, he was systematically drummed out of astronomy. They denied him telescope time and they censured him until he finally gave up and retired. The problem was that the direction of Halton Arp’s discoveries revealed a major flaw in the currently accepted theories of the origins of the universe.

In the section entitled “The ET Factor,” there are two articles that discuss alien technology making its way into our lives. The first article proclaims that the government participated in a cover-up and gave alien technology to certain companies to figure out how it worked -- companies that consequently sold the technology as their own inventions, thus making billions of dollars. For instance, the author alleges that Bell Laboratories did not invent the transistor, as it has been portrayed in history, but that Bell was actually given part of the downed alien spacecraft from the Roswell, NM site. It is assumed that all the technology discovered at Roswell has not been released yet, and the second article explores a small computer company’s claim that the government is blocking them from exploiting the technology from Roswell.

There is an interesting section called “Medicine of Another Kind,” wherein the article “The Malady in Heart Medicine: a Doctor Shatters the Myths Behind Popular Treatments for Heart Disease” by Cynthia Logan discusses Dr. Charles McGee, who wrote a book called Heart Frauds: Uncovering the Biggest Health Scams in History. Dr. McGee alleges that many Americans undergo unwarranted heart procedures under pressure that amounts to scare tactics from their attending physicians -- in other words, “Have this procedure or you will die.”  He asserts that the tests we use for detecting heart disease are highly inaccurate and the interpretation of the results varies radically, depending on the doctor. For instance, he claims that cholesterol isn’t the number one factor causing heart disease, nor is it an indicator of subsequent heart disease.

There is also an article about one of my favorite people, Dr. Masaru Emoto, and his pioneering work with water crystals. Dr. Emoto has done extensive testing of the emotional reaction of water crystals to words, music, phrases, and concentrated energy such as prayer from humans.

Overall, I found the book to be an interesting read. They broke the biggest technical aspects down into layperson's terms rather well and made it fairly understandable for those of us who aren’t scientists. Many of the theories presented are very plausible and the articles seem very well-researched. There are even websites given for further research. This book has something for everyone, including conspiracy theorists! Recommended for those with an inquisitive nature.

    • [amazon_link id="1591430828" target="_blank" ]Forbidden Science: From Ancient Technologies to Free Energy[/amazon_link]
    • Paperback: 336 pages
    • Publisher: Bear & Company (February 22, 2008)
    • ISBN-10: 1591430828
    • ISBN-13: 978-1591430827

Druidism: The Druid and the Littlest Unitarian

By Tony Taylor & Wren Taylor

Photo of Wren & Tony Taylor

Wren & Tony Taylor

The small, dark haired girl eyed me owlishly. Her mother stood directly behind her with her hands resting lightly on the child’s shoulders. She explained that her daughter’s classmates told her that Druids were evil, and if she ever met one, surely she would be sacrificed to Satan in an instant. This is the reason that she brought the child to my presentation. The woman wanted her daughter to see for herself that people who follow a different religious path are nice, normal people, with jobs and kids.

I received an invitation to speak at a Unitarian church in suburban Minneapolis. The congregation was interested in learning more about paganism in general and more specifically Druidism. Dressed in a sport coat and tie, I focused on our similarities rather than our differences, and continued that theme into the question and answer period. The queries were intelligent and pointed.

As the end of the session neared, a gentleman said that I made my point regarding similarities; however, he was more interested in the differences. In a space that was just more than a heartbeat, I blurted out, “Dominion over the Earth.”  That’s when the fun began.

Relationship to Nature.

Druids of all types develop a personal relationship with the Earth. Understanding the three Celtic Worlds of Earth, Sea, and Sky is fundamental to Keltrian Druidism.  Also, developing a close relationship with all creatures, seen and unseen is important to many Druids. Within Druidism, nature is not separate from man nor was it given to man for his domination nor even stewardship. Nature is not something to be subdued nor overcome; people are a part of nature and need to live in harmony with it.

Archdruid Karl summarized it extremely well.  “One of the essential differences between mainstream Christianity and Druidry is traditional Christianity’s vision of self-fulfilling alienation: in alienating itself from the world, it also alienates humankind not only from direct contact with Divinity, but also from the natural world and from themselves as well. In that unnecessary chasm, “redemption” occurs only within a narrowly defined relationship with their nominally singular god and that god’s exclusive chosen people (or church). Thus, mainstream Christianity lives out a mythos of exile along with hope for only a partial redemption. It can never be whole because the wholeness of each human being is not admissible. It is a distortion of an ancient myth of incarnation that should result in ever-widening circles of soul-expansion that lead not only to a higher state, but a deeper one as well – roots growing not only into the heavens, but deeply into the earth as well.”

The connection that Druids have with the earth and all its creatures is a defining characteristic of Druidism.

Relationship to Divinity

Christians and Keltrian Druids have complex views of divinity.  Many Christians believe in one God; however, polytheism underlies much of Christian thought when describing the Trinity.  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are often viewed and treated as individual entities. Druids embrace a wide range of perceptions regarding deity from monotheism to polytheism and even panpolytheism. Others hold the concept that individual gods and goddesses are aspects of or manifestations of a single, unifying, unmanifest deity.

One key difference is Keltrian Druids are not told what they must believe; rather, if they follow the ritual formula, they are practicing Keltrian Ritual. In Keltrian Druid practice, the individual is free to experience the gods and goddesses in a way that suits his or her sensibilities. The idea is that deity is flexible.  We do not dictate dogma.

Relationship to Life

Keltrian Druid belief #4 states, “We believe that all life is sacred and should neither be harmed nor taken without deliberation or regard.”  Druid practice encourages us to live life in its fullness and develop our spiritual relationships with this world, the Otherworld, and everything in our universe.  Animals and plants are not resources to be exploited nor dominated.  Rather, we seek cooperation with them.

As mentioned previously, man is not separate from the world.  Keltrian Druids interact with the divine and its endless aspects and manifestations in the natural world. We are not dependent upon external redemption nor a Messiah for salvation.  Each individual must cultivate their own growth and evolution through the development of personal, social, and spiritual relationships with all life and with all spiritual entities. Life is a wonderful thing.  It should not be filled with terror, pain, and suffering.

Wisdom

 

Photo of Wren Taylor

Wren Taylor

One of the key goals of Druid life is the mastery of wisdom. A Christian approach to viewing the world usually limits perception to two options such as yes/no, good/bad, black/white.  To gain wisdom, Keltrian Druidism encourages practitioners to employ triads in problem solving.  The Druid looks for alternate ways to understand the Earth, her inhabitants and the universe.  There is always a third perspective to consider and understand; sometimes there are more.  Certainly there are some techniques that can be used to simplify the process. For example, how does a particular issue affect Mind, Body, and Spirit?  Employing the specialized disciplines of the Bard, Seer, and Druid, how do these perspectives enhance the understanding of a particular issue?  A dualistic view of a situation or question creates argument and righteousness.  A triadic view creates discussion. compromise and creative solutions.

As an exercise, try to balance a playing card on the tips of two fingers extended in a peace sign. It can be done, but it is unstable.  Now add a third so that your fingers resemble the legs of a three-legged stool. The card is now stable.  This demonstrates thinking in triads. Referring to the black/white example of dualistic thinking, the third leg of the stool - the triad - is not grey.  Grey merely continues on the same line, the same path.  The triad is pink, or sunset. Perhaps it’s a coffee pot. It needs to be a totally different perspective.  This is difficult to master; however, you will succeed with practice.

Religion Evolves

Druidic religion changes; the beliefs, practices, and relationships of modern Keltrian Druids would be unfamiliar to Druids of a hundred years ago and alien to the Druids of the ancient past.  Druids adapt to a changing environment as the relationships between them and the spirits around them evolve.  Codifying beliefs into creeds in response to millennia-old heresies is not in the Druidic playbook.

Texts are not sacred because they were handed down by the divine; rather, they are sacred if they produce the effect of making our spiritual relationships with others stronger. Likewise, a place becomes sacred when its effect is to foster stronger or better-defined spiritual relationships with others.

For example, although my relationship with trees is significantly different from  an ancient Druid’s, we both would have a profound experience encountering a giant sequoia for the first time.  The way in which we experience such an encounter may be very different, but the importance and the impact of the experience would significant for both of us.

The Henge and Keltrian Druids adapt to new discoveries and scholarship. If recognized experts agree on an aspect of a new discovery, which affects our practice, we embrace it.

Cyclical Time

Most Druids see time as cyclical. It is a world without end; there is no “end of days” nor a linear creation of all. Was there a “big bang” which started it all? Probably. Could it have been the aftermath of another universe, which collapsed into a singularity to start the cycle of our universe? Quite possibly. All things come into existence, have a life, and then cease to exist only to nourish the birth (and become part of) of something new.

Three Foundations in Keltrian Druidism

Keltrian Druidism is a complex set of beliefs and practices. Individuals are free to interpret the information gleened from the required reading and come to their own conclusions as long as they are in direct support of the three foundations of Keltrian Druidism:

  • Honor the Ancestors.
  • Revere the Nature Spirits
  • Worship the Gods and Goddesses of our Tribe.

In my preparation to speak with the Unitarians so many years ago, I focused upon the similarities of our traditions. How were Druids the same as other traditions the Unitarians would know and understand? Persecution exists today, but twenty years ago the atmosphere was extremely hostile. We wanted to demonstrate that we were not all that different. We merely had a different perception of the universe and our relationship to it.

During my visit I grew in my understanding of the differences between Druids and other religions and learned much of what makes those differences important.  And the little Unitarian learned that Druids may be a little different, but they don’t have two heads and really aren’t very scary.

 

Review: The Seeress of Prevorst

The Seeress of Prevorst: Her Secret Language and Prophecies from the Spirit World, 
by John DeSalvo, Ph.D.

Review by Karl Schlotterbeck, MA, CAS, LP

This is a mixed bag of a book. To be sure, there are interesting sections, particularly those about the life of the Seeress (Frederika Wanner Hauffe) and her physician (Justinus Kerner) who, though initially skeptical, became convinced of her genuineness and took her into his family for the last years of her short life. The Seeress was an interesting character, with her prophecies, visions, communication with spirits, idiosyncratic language and script, beliefs about the world and her strange illness. In addition, there is a chapter on Mesmerism, which was used as a treatment for her illness.

Seeress of Prevorst

Seeress of Prevorst

Some of the interesting features of the story of the Seeress are:

  • Her physical frailty
  • Her descriptions of  the deceased
  • A practice of scrying using a mirror or glass of water
  • Speaking in an unknown language as well as a form of German she hadn’t learned
  • Her tendency to sometimes speak in verse when in a clairvoyant state (as Bards would have done)
  • Her practice of psychometry
  • Her magical use of numbers (each human being having a personal number)
  • Healing with herbs that were used both as medicine and as amulets
  • Diagrams of circles that she used to express some of her prophecies
  • Philosophical statements such as that

o    Soul is the bearer of everything

o    Animals are less isolated from the spiritual world than human beings and more sensitive to the presence of spirits

o    “The world of nature, as seen from within, changes itself thus into a spiritual one. . .”

Despite these interesting features, there is much extraneous material apparently intended to prove the value of séances and spiritualism, including Abraham Lincoln’s séances in the White House. The first chapter of the book is about “The Language of the Spirits” in which DeSalvo asserts the existence of a secret wisdom found in the “Primal Language,” the knowledge of which allowed people throughout history to perform magic or display unusual wisdom. His thesis is full of speculations and leaps of faith that go well beyond logic, rationality and known history. He too often crafts his thesis with questioned possibilities such as “could it be. . .” or “perhaps. . .,” assumes a positive answer, and then goes on to additional speculation as if something has been proved. Thus, he builds one speculation on top of another. It was not convincing to this reader.

Furthermore, he says he does not believe all the stories in the Bible, but then goes on to use numerous Biblical statements as support for his theories. And, where he used Biblical statements as support, he often seemed to make errors in his reading of the Bible, as well as accepting it as historical – even where it is contradicted by well-known history. [For example, he suggests that this Primal Language was possessed by the early Hebrews and taken into Egypt by Jacob; and he accepts the myth that humankind had only one language before the mythical Tower of Babel. The facts of history tell us that the Hebrews did nothing unusual until after their stay in Egypt where Moses (whose name is Egyptian for “child”) apparently absorbed “the wisdom of the Egyptians” along with the monotheism of the pharaoh Ikhnaton. Also, the Tower of Babel myth was invented as a teaching story, which used the by-then ruined temples in Babylon as the foil for their tower story. He also asserts that we are not told why the God of Eden did not want Adam to eat of the Tree of Good and Evil when, in the story, God explains that they (people) “will become like us. . .” (Note here the plural form for deity.) He also claims that Adam and Eve lost their original state of cosmic consciousness when they “willingly” left the presence of God – while the text actually says they were driven out of the Garden by God for having eaten of the Tree.]

Dr. DeSalvo’s naiveté about the history of Egypt is curious as he also authors a website regarding the pyramids of Giza and is the director of “The Great Pyramid of Giza Research Association.”

Among his unsupported and unreferenced claims is that one of Columbus’ motivations for seeking out the New World was related to his presumed Primal Language. Another was that Leonardo da Vinci was a recipient of this mythical secret language who, the author asserts, may have also been the author of a mysterious yet-untranslated manuscript. A final example is when he claims that Carl Jung attributed “the origin of all his ideas” to a series of séances with his cousin. There is no doubt that Jung was deeply interested in “occult” matters, but such a bombastic assertion as this demands its reference. In DeSalvo’s bibliography, there are no books referencing Jung, and several that bear little relevance to the topic.

Although many interesting anecdotes and factoids are scattered throughout the book, it is tainted by its unreliable versions of history, narrow Eurocentric religious perspective, speculation misused as facts, and too many detours for this reader.

Not recommended.

Review: Weather Samanism

REVIEW: Weather Shamanism:

Harmonizing Our Connection with the Elements

By Nan Moss, with David Corbin

Review by Karl Schlotterbeck

Book Cover Weather Shamanism

In our Celtic mythology, weather working was one of the “magical” activities of the Druids. As Moss and Corbin note, humankind has had an interest in influencing weather well into history and they give many examples of weather workers into modern times. The format of their book is a description of their discovery through their shamanic work of what the spirits expect of us. “Weather dancing” is how they describe their method and, for them, “the path of weather dancing is necessarily about your unfolding relationship with yourself and your soul, in partnership with compassionate helping spirits.” Thus, weather shamanism is not about the wish to command or dominate nature but, rather, about the development of relationship with the spirits behind the forces of nature. They note the cross-cultural recognition that “the forces of weather are spiritually alive and sentient,” and have their own lives, personalities and purposes in the world.

They build upon the idea of interaction between our psyches and emotions, and the natural world. Moss and Corbin give considerable time to addressing the issue of our conditioned view of the world and how that view shapes the way we perceive, what we think of the world, and what we believe we might do. They present messages of their own spirit teachers as well as many participants in their workshops over the years.

Weather Shamanism is much less about formulaic technique than about the quality of our relationships with the natural world. Ritual is a support to this relationship, but it is not a defining element. Rather, ritual is a means of reciprocity and honoring those who work with us. Those looking for quick pointers of ritual magic will be disappointed at the call for the development of one’s perceptual habits, preconceptions, and capacity for relationship with the spirits of the natural world.

I found this a mature, valuable, and enjoyable rendition of what it means to be in relationship with the spirits of nature – and how we’re all in this together.

Highly recommended.

Weather Shamanism: Harmonizing Our Connection with the Elements, Published by Bear & Company, 2008, ISBN 978-159143074-2, $16.00

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