Shadowy Worlds Half Seen
In Shadowy Worlds only Half Seen,
Abide those who before have once Been,
All they were and all they Mean,
Are still aware in waking Dream!
With passion and lifeforce they once Shined,
The Ancestors, legion in rank, deeply Lined,
Make contact, share with your Mind,
Wisdom once more for you to Find!
All their hopes and all their Thought,
All they were can still be Sought,
Their presence still can Forth be Brought,
Once more to speak, for us to be Taught!
Aware again of visions from unseen Cast,
Listen hard to the Legions so Vast,
Learn well the lessons from the Past,
Take the wisdom thats meant to Last!
Suzanne Read 13th November 2010
Greetings and welcome once more Seeker! I'm inspired today to look at the existance of the Other Realms, the Ancestors, and the very nature of Balance and Responsibility that exists. A big topic, one that the time of year naturally brings to mind (with Samhain and Remembrance Day and their focus on those who have journeyed from this mortal coil) and a topic that truly can only be understood by the individual when trusting to their own individual worldview and their own Personl Truth. None but yourself can choose what and how you believe in regards to anything, and your own experiences will obviously bring forth your own unique viewpoint, so all I can do here is share my worldview, and some of those experiences that have brought me to my own understandings. I hope they are of some use for you!
If we look to Newtonian physics we find the laws of conservation of momentum, and Einstein points us to the fact that energy cannot be created or destroyed, merely transformed into another state of existance, these all point to the fact that anything that exists must continue to exist in some form when physical life ends. Granted our bodies decompose, we return to the elements that we are made of and become a one with the mundane world around us, but personally I think there is something more to life, our intellect, our thoughts, our very essence and spirit I believe is separate to our physical existance, certain memories and experiences I can remember that I have never experienced in this lifetime point me towards concluding that I have existed before, not as I am now, but as another being, living and learning lessons, some of which I am able to access, some of which I am fated to relearn, but as one who is Witch I do believe I have been recalled to life by the Old Ones, reborn once more to play my part, to do that which They require of me in Their names!
Our bodies are grounded in the mundane, their flesh resident in the world of the mundane, of physics, chemistry, biology, of the 5 physical senses, a product of evolution as much as the shaping hands of the Old Ones, yet our spirits are something more! Our minds, our awareness, our very spirit has the ability to ponder and work within and without the fabric of the mundane natural world around us. Our imagination is boundless, confined only by the limits you put upon it, this ability to transgress the finite and touch the infinite, allowing ourselves to truly become all that our potential suggests is one of our greatest strengths, allowing us to perceive more than absolutes to work in the face of infinity and find our way forwards! As much as our intellect allows us to process the All around us to make sense of it, there is also more that we are capable of, we are capable of abstract thought, belief in concepts that cannot be proven to exist or physically seen, yet we know exist. In the same way that we cannot focus our eyes to a level to allow us to directly observe an atom, yet we can see experiments that prove they make up the fabric of our mundane reality, so it is with the 'realms' in which we reside, we can physically perceive the mundane realm of reality around us quite easily, yet other realms exist that we can become aware of, sometimes by accident, sometimes by deliberate choice!
Science itself is still finding what it believes, string theory, general relativity, multiverse theory, all are plausible, yet we still have no absolute theory of everything, no set of rules that works on all levels of the mundane, yet the universe works without one, minds much superior to my own spend countless hours on finding an understanding of the universe on a physical level, yet most of it is still a mystery to us all!
The first realm beyond the mundane that we can show exists is that of the mind, the seat of our spirit within the physical body, its science is psychology, it exists, it allows our awareness to be and to travel within and without the body, yet cut open a skull and disect the brain and you cannot point to one thing that can show the physical existance of the spirit or intellect in physical existance, it is more ethereal. The firing of pathways in your brain, the electrical activity that forms your conscious thought and allows you to remember, the feelings that make us human, all this still cannot be fully explained by science, yet we know it exists, we have personal experience of it!
It then follows that for anyone who has an open mind, no matter how skeptical they are as an individual, that there must be the possibilities of other realms of existance. Most people will profess a disbelief and some will ridicule those who have a belief (or more). Many who would reject out of hand anything other than physical reality do believe in an afterlife, but what else is a belief in an afterlife other than a belief in another plane of existance?
Take any person, even one with no belief in other realms, and who is unaware on many levels, put them into an environment where they are subject to the influences of Other Realms, and although they may profess that they felt nothing, look to their heartrate, their breathing and let the truth of it actually come forth! Imagine putting them into a darkened haunted house at night, or taking them for a walk in a graveyard at night, their senses will be heightened, they may experience fear, or the feeling that they are not alone, all of which could be explained as nothing more than fear of the unknown. But there we have our clue, they have possibly acknowledged that its the 'unknown' that causes their breath to catch, their eyes to widen in fear, but another name for that 'unknown' could be a touch from the Otherworld, the merest hint of breath from another realm of existance!
Christianity tells us there are 3 realms (if we simplify things a bit for the sake of brevity), the physical world, and then Heaven above and Hell below, yet is this a Truth? Is this all there is, or is it something else, possibly a construct in order to use a carrot and stick to convert and subjugate native peoples to their religion? Only your own worldview can answer this for yourself, but I know what I believe!
As Witch I am somewhat aware of Other Realms, Other Worlds that surround me, a part of who I am is that my awareness is present in more than one reality at a time, though my focus may stray from one to another when I will it. My own personal experiences have proven to me (beyond doubt) that Other Realms, Other Worlds exist, exactly how many, where they lie in relation to one another, whether you can journey (physically or mentally) to them and what rules apply when you are there I will leave to the individual to decide for themselves, I have my own experiences of some of them, that tell me they are real for me, but only you can make your own journeys to experience them and garner whether their 'Truth' becomes a part of your own!
I will however talk about 3 of the Realms I have had the most experience with, the Astral Realm, the Otherworld and the Ancestral Realm. Some consider them to be the same, but for me they are 3 separate realms, akin to each other, but different in how I perceive them and interract with them.
For me the Astral Realm is a place I can journey to through meditation, guided visualization and through pure thought processes, it is a place where I can interract not only with those who reside their, but also a place that I can experience contact with others of the mundane world who have also journeyed their. Constructs can be made and left, and will still be there when you return, places claimed and used, and magick exists in all its forms, the mundane laws of physics can be suspended, if you know how and will it to be. I have journeyed here to a friends Astral home, and recounted the experience, including descriptions of what he had changed recently and left there for me to see, and had them confirmed when I next spoke with him!
The Otherworld is another thing, it shares similar facets with the Astral, but generally is inhabited by those not of our mundane world, it is a place that some of our Beloved Dead and Ancestors also visit, a place you can interract with them and with other inhabitants, those of the Shadow World, the Fae (not fairies, but the Aelfkind, not the benevolent 'fluffy' otherkin of fantasy literature, but the tricksters, the fierce and proud inhabitants worthy of respect and honour in their own right! The Otherworld is all around us, a shadowy reflection of where we are, our perceptions are heightened here, it can be journeyed through without moving in our mundane world, and magic again is rife here!
The Ancestral Realm is a shadowy place for most, some see it as the Summerlands, some as the Elysian fields, some as heaven, it is a place that those who we have loved have journeyed to, to rest, recouperate and reflect before they move further on (either to rebirth or to another level of existance, or simply to be absorbed back into the All). It is not a place ot journey to easily, normally those who reside here will meet us halfway, coming when the veil is thin to the Otherworld in order to communicate with us, as happened at the Goddess Hall Samhain Rite a few weeks ago for myself! It is a place where we do not belong until we are called to pass over, it is where those who now reside their make their choices and decide what they need to experience next, it is a place we should honour and respect and leave alone, it is not for us........ yet!
Having said that though, for me personally I feel we do need to acknowledge and pay repect and honour to 'Those Who Came Before', the legion upon legion of our Ancestors, both those of blood (from who we physically descended) and those of Spirit (who shaped our world, the knowledge and wisdom within it and our own personal beliefs) and Whom now inhabit those shadowy worlds half seen and often unperceived by most. I may light a candle in their names, or choose to include them in our Rites, not just at Samhain (when it is traditional to do so), but whenever I can!
Without our Ancestors, then we would not exist, without their passion, their sacrifices, their triumphs and failures, their will and intent, then we would simply not be here, either as human beings or as Pagans in the modern world! Yet many folks rarely think upon them, rarely honour them and rarely seek the wisdom of ages past, either within their workings or within modern life! As has been said many times by many people, 'If we do not learn from the mistakes of the Past, we are fated to repeat them!' (Look at the Easter Islands and the deforestation and environmental calamity that the islanders brought upon themselves, yet as a species we do not seem to have listened to the lesson and seem intent on repeating their mistakes, but perhaps this time on a global scale?)
Now when I speak of the Ancestors, I am not just talking of the nameless and faceless multitudes from distant past, those from prehistory (whom are those I usually visualise) but also those of a more modern era, those who have died in all walks of life, those whose contributions were small compared with others, but wove with the all to create the rich tapestry that is the world we inhabit. I include those on all sides of all the wars ever fought, I honour their sacrifice and beliefs, the fervour and honour they showed in their beliefs and commitments and the price they paid for it, I honour those they left behind to suffer grief, and those who whatever the circumstance tried their best and did right as they saw it. No-one ever truly starts out as an evil person, we are all victims of Fate, doing our utmost to be the best we can, yet things do go wrong, folks learn behaviours (or fail to learn lessons well enough) that brings their worldview out of alignment with what we perceive as right or wrong, yet who are we (without their experience set) to judge them?
From a spiritual viewpoint I include within the Ancestors all those who sought to truly follow their beliefs (whether I agree or disagree with them) and did their utmost to follow their beliefs and share their worldview, but only when it was done out of a sense of wonder, awe and love, something not all religions can truly claim.
I also include within my Ancestors all those whose work has now been discredited, think of Margaret Murray, she did what she could using what was available to bring back some interest in Pagan beliefs and the Divine Feminine, her intent and belief I believe were true, for her worldview, yet other scholars took delight in shooting her ideas and theories down. Perhaps at that time they were not yet ready for a Reconstructionalist viewpoint.
In fact, although we individually can honour those Ancestors that are our direct kin (in both blood and spirit), those who inhabited the Land we occupy before us, in order to truly grow as a species, we should allow our net of influence to go wider, accepting all those who have ever lived in this world, accepting their truth, their honour, their beauty and their failures, their depravity, their mistakes and the horror of their actions! Only by all upon the planet accepting them all as our forebears, by accepting that we also have a responsibility to learn from their actions, can we as a species learn from the past and grow to fulfill our potential! If we believe that anothers actions have no effect upon us as individuals, allowing others to commit atrocity without our sanction, then we are pacitly giving our permission for them to continue!
We should be aware of the world around us, active in our observation and active in using our voices and energy to share our observations and effect change wherever we can! Without our actions, then the world will remain out of balance, those who have will keep it and remain comfortable, those who have not will live their lives in poverty and fear! Thise who are safe will stay that way, those in peril will have to fight to protect themselves and to remove the threat, and as always when it comes to conflict, those who are stronger will dominate the weaker, both physically and economically. As the world approaches an energy and resource crisis as the population outstrips the planets ability to support us, then things can only descend into darkness as we loose our balance! Only if we begin to act now, finding other ways to live that reduce our impact upon the planet, that live with the Land instead of raping it for our harvests, respecting the Land and all those who live in it, can we possibly find a way forwards, one that will allow us to respect and honour each other and for all to continue living, finding a balance that prevents others from gaining power over us!
This brings me onto my final point, we are all damaged by being out of balance, in the mundane and in our spiritual lives, the mundane is not something I can talk about for your own individual circumstance, but the religious / spiritual side of life is one I can comment on, if only in general terms!
For the past 2000 years or so, since the start of the prevalence of the Patriarchal religions, we have become something less on a spiritual level than we once were, with the rediscovery of the Divine Feminine we have a chance to regains some of what we lost, honouring the duality of Deity as much as we honour the duality of the sexes, we are one species, but two (or more?) genders, we need to be as balanced in our mundane as we do in our spiritual, and vice versa! The Samhain Rite we attended at the Goddess Hall in Glastonbury a few weeks ago brought a vivid and deep experience our way, a connection to the Goddess that made me even think of looking to complete their Priestess Training at some point in the future, but on reflection and having searched my own soul I find that although I admire what it is that they are doing, for me personally it is not a Path I can take. The reasoning, simple, they are (at least it appeared to me) solely Goddess focussed, I admit that in the current world it is probably something that is desperately needed, for some to be so focussed that they begin to redress the balance in favour of the Goddess, returning the world itself to a balance of sorts, but for me I have to find that balance for and within myself, I could not choose to be solely focussed on one side or the other, I have to follow both the aspects of our natures, honouring both the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine, the Lord and Lady, the Goddess and God, as the messages I received said,
'I am the Mother, from whom all that exists flows, for without Me there is nothing, Fear me for I am the destroyer, Love Me for I am the provider, I nourish and nurture, I bring change and growth but also death and decay! Worship Me in all My Glory and Might, Cower before My awesome power, Take comfort in My dark embrace, Draw Power from Me when you have a need, but never ignore Me!'
'I am the Horned One, I plant the seed from which all grows, for without me the Mother is barren and life cannot exist! I am the Hunter, the protector and the Horned One of the Forests and green places, I am He who is cut down so that all life may continue!'
Without both aspects we are nothing, without both sides of our nature being equally honoured we run the risk of repeating past mistakes, swapping a Patriarchal society and religious focus to one of Matriarchical and Feminine focus, no bad thing in itself, but allowing the swing in polarity to go too far would I feel be as disastrous as it has been for the past 2000 years! We need to find that balance, to honour both sides and to work with both!
Thanks for reading, I hope something within caused you to pause for thought or stimulated some process within!