Tag Archives: shamanism

Oak Man

I intend to do a brief resume of the plot-so-far of my new novel “Oak Man” that I’m currently writing. I hope this update will go out about once a week on a free-for-all day :-).

Here is the first …

Tumulus Dawn

The accompanying picture is by a super artist-friend of mine, Wendy Davies. The story also uses (with her permission) her teenage adventure of finding three 4000 yr old gold torcs on the farm – again in the Wels Marches – where she grew up.

The story is a mystery/magic/romance … as usual for me 🙂 – and set here  in the Welsh Marches, based around the legend of the place where I live.

Elen Sentier

writer artist gardener shaman
__________________________________________

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Celtic shaman – Elen Sentier Oak Man … the beginnings of the plot

What are Rainbow Warriors?

You may be wondering why this course is called Rainbow Warriors … there is a very good reason. They are mentioned in various traditions and you may already know prophecies that relate to the 144,000 Rainbow Warriors, two of them are …

The Book of Revelations says …

the number of the saved is 144,000.

An old prophecy of the Native American peoples says

When the Earth is sick and all the animals are dying a tribe of people will come, of all colours and creeds, who will restore the Earth. They will be called Warriors of the Rainbow.

Rainbow Warriors are hidden in occult and esoteric lore – the word occult just means hidden, occluded. They are the 144,000 “petals” that hold and carry the energy within the energy centres or chakras. You learn how this works early in the course. As we all contain the 144,000 petals – we all have chakras – we are each of us “the number of the saved”. Our purpose is to become conscious of this and able to work with it along with working with Otherworld.

The native American prophecy fairly well describes the times we are living in. Only by being conscious of our place as a vital part of the whole, and one that can – through consciousness – make a difference can we restore the Earth. Our first conscious learning is of how we are made and that we are all made of the same stuff as the rest of creation. Joany Mitchell put it rather well in her song Woodstock, when she said “We are stardust …”, we are indeed. Rainbow Warriors know this and work with it for the good of all.

Turning Back to Serve

This saying comes from a master in the early 20th century and expresses what rainbow warriors do. Please don’t be put of by the somewhat archaic language J, take it all in and ponder it for yourself…

He who faces the light and stands within its radiance is blinded to the issues of the world of men; he passes on the Lighted Way to the great Centre of Absorption. But he who feels the urge to pass that way yet loves his brother on the darkened path, revolves upon the pedestal of light and turns the other way. He faces toward the dark, and then the seven points of light within himself transmit the outward streaming light and lo! the face of those upon the darkened way receives that light. For them the way is not so dark.

This is what we are about, turning back to help light the way for those who follow.

So Rainbow Warriors work for others rather than just for themselves. Of course, personal development goes on anyway – you cannot stop developing once your feet are on the path, you learn continuously from others. But the warriors’ focus is not on themselves. They serve all of creation, including other human beings. Here again, the focus is much broader than humanity alone. As shamans, Rainbow Warriors know the interconnectedness of all life, and know that they play a part in helping everything in creation become its true self. They turn back from personal completion, refusing to be blinded by the light and focused only on self, to shed the light of their own knowing (in so far as they have got) onto the path, to help light the way for others.

The Course

Rainbow Warriors is a 3 year practical course in advanced shamanism.

It’s an experiential rather than an academic course done through the Internet with a two-week workshop at the end. It is based in, but not exclusive to, the Western & Celtic magical traditions. It is about becoming a shaman, not a shamanic practitioner but the real thing. It gives a solid grounding in, and knowledge of, experiential shamanic magic and is designed to enable Students to become Walkers Between Worlds.

I do not give a certificate of graduation.  Shamanism is invisible and cannot be accredited in the common academic way.

You will know for yourself when Otherworld calls you “Elder” … and that will be your initiation at the end of the 3 years. This is why there are no certificates. It is not I who judge you, you bring yourself before Otherworld and they show and tell you where and what you are. You cannot do that in ordinary human terms of pieces of paper.

Being a shaman doesn’t mean you have to go round dressed in feathers and war-paint, although you can if you like. The people who’ve gone through the process, so far, have been all sorts of things … teacher, policewoman, scientist, computer boffin, artist, poet, ecologist, legal secretary, garden centre owner, anything a human being can do. They mostly still do the same sort of thing they did before but they do it a lot differently! RW has expanded how they see the world and so how they relate to it, and how useful they are to Mother Earth.

Your main subjects of study are  ..

  • Spiritual anatomy and engineering: including the chakras but from a place and in a way you probably never thought of before, a Celtic way.
  • Journeying – how to look after yourself doing this, very consciously, retaining choice throughout, AND learning not to harm anything else (even by accident) while you’re out there!
  • Biodynamics – a shamanic way of working with plants, gardens farming in the widest possible sense.
  • Healing – which is about Thread-Twining & Weaving.
  • Mastery – which is about SELF-MASTERY, learning to use your skills for the benefit of all creation. It includes seeing across time & space, and walking between worlds. You’ll understand this better as you go through the work.

Doing the Work …

You get 8 lessons each year – one for each of the 8 seasons of the Celtic year …

  • Samhain
  • Midwinter
  • Imbolc
  • Spring
  • Beltane
  • Midsummer
  • Lammas
  • Autumn

NB – if you live in the southern hemisphere you will celebrate the opposite season to us here in the north.

The course is hard work. It is largely experiential, about knowing of and for yourself, not parroting book learning or someone else’s experience. Then you distil, draw out the essence, the salient points of the knowing you have gained from doing the work.

You have a fair bit of reading, including fiction, in addition to your course notes. Each lesson you …

  • celebrate the season,
  • read and internally digest the lore;
  • make a journey and taleweave that journey into a story, write it up and send to me; you read a story and a book;
  • make one of the hallows, which includes journeying and ritual.
  • tell me what has changed for you. I give you a set of questions at the end of each lesson to help you with this, so you realise what you know, what you’ve learned and what’s changed. It’s the changes I’m interested in :-).

Workshop

At the end of September/beginning of October in your 3rd year there is a 2 week workshop on Exmoor, a very beautiful and magical place, with many sacred sites.

The workshop is experiential. It is an essential part of the process, this two weeks of the workshop, living and working very intensely with me, the other 2 w/s tutors and your colleagues. You live and work in the middle of scared places, tapping into their energy and wisdom, learning to work with them directly, and to work as a group. It is the completion of your three years’ training. It culminates in an initiation ritual, at grove up on the wilds of Exmoor that has been used for this purpose for 4000 years. You devise, this ritual as part of your work during the two weeks.

I share this teaching with 2 colleagues who are RW graduates. Your job is to show the 3 of us what you know – show NOT tell !!! Our job is to trick and tease you every which way so that you know just how skilled and competent you are 🙂

We spend a lot of time outside, working at the sacred sites, including some nightwork, and we do a dream incubation. You will be continually on your toes, being challenged, thinking on your feet … just as you will have to do from then on in your life and work as a shaman.

We stay in a beautiful, old farmhouse just at the top of the hill from one of the sacred sites we use. You will be in single or twin bedrooms; there are showers and baths, washing machine, dryers, dishwasher, wood-burning stove, central heating. we 3 tutors do all the cooking and you students do the washing-up – with the aid of the dishwasher so it’s not very arduous. The food is local, organic and some will be biodynamic, as well as home cooked. I usually make bread every day too. We can cater for all diets – just tell us what you need.

Being a Warrior …

In the course, you come to know (not believe) that the Earth is alive, has a spirit. In the Celtic tradition The Earth goes under several names, but the overall term is Sovereignty, Sovereignty is the spirit of the Land, the Earth herself. The elements – Earth, Air, Fire, Water – animals, trees, plants, fish, birds, insects, the very soil itself, all have spirit. Your work, over the three years, is to learn to contact, listen to and converse with these spirits in order to bring back the gifts and knowledge they have for the benefit of the Earth – not just humanity but the whole Earth and everything that lives and moves and breathes therein. The shaman is the intercessor between these spirits, otherworld and his people. The shaman knows respect for all life, whether it has the same shape as him or her self, the same number of legs, the same language. The shaman knows Life, and soul (anima) and spirit in all things. This is animism. Anima is the soul and animists (and shamans) know the soul within everything – even if many folk cannot see or know it. Shamans learn respect and responsibility, knowing that every action really does have its equal and opposite reaction … in the east, they call this karma, in Britain the ancient word is geas which has more of the idea of duty, respect and responsibility behind it. Geas is the promise, and whatever promise you make you will be held to. The shaman knows this, hence he does not make promises lightly.

In Britain, the old ways are still handed down, but they are well hidden from ordinary view. Many people are unaware that Britain has a living tradition. Rainbow Warriors is one way of handing that tradition on, in ways which make it very pertinent to the 21st century in which we live. Rainbow Warriors are able to help those they come in contact with in many ways, healing can take many forms besides the simple ‘curing’ of an ailment. Rainbow Warriors are especially concerned with human beings’ relationship with the Land and the Earth. They carry their magical work into their everyday jobs, like accountancy, ecology, teaching, engineering, business, counselling, psychotherapy and the arts. This is practical shamanism. Always, shamans are part of their community and that still follows today.

If you think this course might be for you read my book Dreamweaver. This gives the basic tenets used in the course and shows you how I work. If you find yourself comfortable with this then Rainbow Warriors may be for you.

  • Warriors know themselves, and so are honest with themselves and with everyone else.
  • Warriors honour their commitments.
  • Warriors put the Earth and all that lives and moves and has its being therein, before themselves.

Is this what you want? If so, complete and send the application form to begin the process …

Elen Sentier

writer artist gardener shaman
__________________________________________

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Celtic shaman – Elen Sentier Monarda & Rain

Being a Rainbow Warrior

What are the 144,000 Rainbow Warriors?

You may be wondering why the shaman course I run is called Rainbow Warriors … there is a very good reason. They are mentioned in various traditions and you may already know prophecies that relate to the 144,000 Rainbow Warriors, two of them are …

  • The Book of Revelations says that “the number of the saved” is 144,000.
  • An old prophecy of the Native American peoples says “When the Earth is sick and all the animals are dying a tribe of people will come, of all colours and creeds, who will restore the Earth. They will be called Warriors of the Rainbow.”

The Rainbow Warriors are hidden in occult and esoteric lore – the word occult just means “hidden”, occluded. They are the 144,000 “petals” that hold and carry the energy within the energy centres or chakras. You learn how this works early in the shamanic training.

As we all contain the 144,000 petals – we all have chakras – we are each of us “the number of the saved”. Our purpose is to become conscious of this and able to work with it along with working with Otherworld.

The native American prophecy fairly well describes the times we are living in. Only by being conscious of our place as a vital part of the whole, and one that can – through consciousness – make a difference can we restore the Earth. Our first conscious learning is of how we are made and that we are all made of the same stuff as the rest of creation. Joni Mitchell put it rather well in her song when she said “We are stardust …”. We are indeed and Rainbow Warriors know this and work with it for the good of all.

Wam Barrows & the Soul Catcher

I’ve just been down to Exmoor with two friends. This night we were led to Wam Barrows up on Winsford Hill.

It was beautiful when we arrived on the top. We went first to the trig-point. It always feels as though that is the place used as the central spindle for the hill, the place where the vertical-axis energies connecting Earth and Sky go. We asked if we might work there that evening and got permission.

We took our food, along with water from one of the dark and peaty springs nearby, to the hollow on top of the first of the three Wam Barrows. After having our own water and food, we poured a libation and put out breadcrumbs for the gods and the beasts.

Settling ourselves in the darkening land the sky was clear. As we watched it coloured down from turquoise through the blues into indigo-night. Over our heads blazed a river of stars, the Milky Way. As the night drew on, up out of the southwest climbed Gwyn ap Nudd, Herne himself, the great hunter known to astronomers as Orion. He hung in the sky above us.
And then it came, out of the darkness, the sound of the hounds, the wild-geese call. We were visited …

* * *

Soul Catcher

All along, down along, out along ley
Faster than lightning rides the Sidhe.
All along, down along, out along ley
The hounds are yelping across the sea
The Wild Ones come and the souls flee

Mother! The wild Geese are coming!
Hush child, under the covers with’ee!
But mother, I hear them …
Hush child or the dogs will have thee!
‘Tis the Gabriel Hounds will away with thee!

Down he comes, down and down the winding, twisty stairs.
First sunwise then widdershins,
Darkness blinds him but his feet know the way
and make no untimely steps upon the stairs
down deep below Dun Kerry’s halls

In the dark kennels they scent him now,
Remembering forgotten blood-smells.
A whine. A yelp.
“Quiet!” comes the master’s voice “You’ll wake the dead!”

Mother! Mother! I hear the Wild Geese coming!
Hush child! Or the dogs will have thee!

Down and down he comes.
Now ahead he sees the stag’s crown hanging before him.
His hands reach out, pull the ancient helmet to his brow.
The King is come

White tails wag,
muscles ripple under the white fur,
red ears prick and eyes glow like coals in a furnace.
Thirty couple of hounds there are at his wild bidding

Pale in the darkness the white mare gleams like frost in moonlight.
One silver hoof she raises, drops and taps upon the crystal floor.
Softly she calls to him

He rests a hand now on her shoulder.
His fingers entwine the silver mane.
An instant more and he leaps astride her.
The flesh of his thighs caresses her silken coat as he grips her firmly,
knees turning her towards the darkness.
Her silver hooves carry them forward striking lightning from the granite.
The dogs rumble in their throats.
The white mare springs forward.
Earth-Fire rises and the wind carries them out into the world

All along, down along, out along ley
Faster than lightning rides the Sidhe.

Mother! The wild Geese are coming!
Hush child! ‘Tis the Gabriel Hounds.

He sounds his horn as out across the sky they flee.
Yo-yip-yip-yip Yowwww!
Yip-yip-yow the hounds echo.
The clouds muster, gather, bank and mass before him.
Again he sounds his horn.
The hounds tear the clouds to tatters
Ripping apart the decent covering of the night
So Dian’s body round and soft and butter-gold
Shines out above the earth all brazen-bold.

Soul Catcher! she breathes.
Owls and moonbeams tumble from her arms
Horner Woods fills with light and feathers.

The light of night pierces deep down into the graves
and the souls come forth.
Singly now and then in twos and threes
they rise up through the earth like misty goblins,
wandering abroad for mischief.

But the hounds see them.
Working to and fro amongst their woolly flock
they gather in the wandering souls and guide them to the river.
No longer do they fester,
wailing plaintive chants to chill the living,
wandering unknown and unknowing in times past.
Now they hear their Master, the Horned Shepherd-Friend,
and feel his dogs unleashed upon them
but to bring them home.

Quiet now they wait upon the bank.
Soft now he sounds a single note upon the horn.
Then they hear the dipping of the pole
as the Ferryman brings his boat up to the shore.
The dogs nuzzle, nip and push.
The souls crowd the planks and huddle close
for fear of drowning in the river of forgetfulness.

Safe now! he says.

The white mare rears and climbs the skies.
The dogs follow.
A streaming, joyous comet lights the sky
and binds a girdle round the Earth.

Then, sighting the cairn,
her nipple, standing atop the hill,
rising out her heathery purple robe,
he flies towards her.

Soft the troupe,
man and horse and hounds,
sink into the Mother’s Breast.
Down and down they go into the glassy halls.

Dian drifts her naked body across the cloud-wrack, falling homewards.

Mother! Mother! I heard the Wild Geese tonight.

All along, down along, out along ley
Faster than lightning rides the Sidhe.
All along, down along, out along ley
The hounds are yelping across the sea
The Wild Ones come and the souls flee.

© elen sentier 2009   all rights reserved

The painting is by Cheska Potter

Of the Land – What is Pagan for me?

The word comes from the Latin “paganus”, meaning of the land. To say it in Welsh is the word Wledig … reminding me of the story of Macsen Wledig whose legend is that he became the first (& last) British emperor of Rome. You can find one version of his legend at Early British Kingdoms and he’s also on Wikipedia under his Latin name. He died in Aquileia in 388AD. According to , Mary Stewart‘s The Hollow Hills, (a usually accurate author) there is a mosaic of his execution there.

Macsen is best known among Celts for the Mabinogion story, the Dream of Macsen Wledig. His name comes from “Gwlad” – country – nation – “holder of lands”, possibly nowadays meaning is “rural” or “of the land”. A fascinating blog from the Chief Constable of Wales tells more of its meaning and its association with dragons – the Welsh national beast.

My own name, Elen Sentier, comes out of this. Elen was Macsen’s wife, a woman of the Faer, a face of the goddess Sovereignty, the goddess of the Land of Britain. In the story Macsen builds three castles for her and she builds three roads between them – an analogy for the three Cauldrons of Poesy which are the pars of chakras in the Celtic tradition, similar to the three cauldrons of the better known Taoist tradition. Elen’s roads or sarns between them are like the eastern nadis that connect the chakras. Ooof! That was a wallop of heavy Celtic tech stuff, eh?

But I’ve had this lady, Elen, on my tail all my life and when I came to write she told me she wanted me to write in her name. She is called Elen of the Ways, Elen Sentier is that in that “Sentier” is French for footpath … the lady seems to like the pun.

Despite the fact that Dad thought I might grow up to be more ladylike if he sent me to school at a convent (LOL) I’ve always been pagan, always been of the land. I was born on Dartmoor and lived most of my childhood on the edge of Exmoor, two ancient and wild places down in the old kingdom of Dumnonia and full of British legend. My first novel, Owl Woman, is set there and built around the legend of the sacred well in our village that was owned by my aunt, and actually set in the wall of our garden. It is about the meeting of worlds, promises made and broken to Otherworld and the consequences.

Dyfrig dances Ceridwen Between the worlds
Dyfrig dances Ceridwen Between the worlds

I now live in the smallest of the old British kingdoms, Ergyng, in the between-worlds land of the Welsh Marches, absolutely bung-full of British legend – we even have our own Merlin-figure, Dyfrig, with his school and his oak tower about five miles up the road from me and born in my local village. Dyfrig has inspired my latest novel, Oak Man, on which I’m working frantically at the moment, it’s about a teenager, Jenni, who meets an old tramp who asks for her help … of course, the tram is Dyfrig, in disguise and with some memory loss. Jenni helps him, learns magic and they win out the day by the skin of their teeth. The story is set here where I live and in the ancient deer-park where Dyfrig had his school and his oak. It’s the first in a series, all set at sacred sites in Ergyng, with Jenni at their centre. I’ve got no write-up for it yet as it’s not finished … but I have done the cover ad this is it.

 My whole life has been formed around “the land” where I live, even the twenty-five years I worked in London. There I had so much to do with “Fountain International” and knew Hamish Miller (he helped me learn to dowse) and so got very involved with the Star Patterns of alignments in the city. London too is an ancient place, with a great mythos about how it came to be, I found working there fascinating and stimulating … and again, always the connection with the land.

This connection with the land goes out from sensing the moods of rocks, earth, magma, all the mineral kingdom, expanding into the vegetable kingdom – promoting my passion for gardening – and to the animal kingdom, the loves of my life. It even gets me into the human kingdom, the fourth kingdom of nature, although I do have serious issues with many on the selfish way humans treat the rest of creation.

And that’s another thing about being pagan. The connection with the land, being “of the land” makes it impossible to treat anything else as a lesser being just because it isn’t human, doesn’t look like me, and maybe I have difficulty understanding it when it speaks to me. That must be ultimately frustrating for non-human beings! We must appear deaf and stupid to them the way we take no notice. And that reminds me of one of my favourite books, Jinian Footseer by Sheri S Tepper. In that the heroine, Jinnian, gradually discovers that her “talent” is to be able to speak with and hear other creatures. When she finally understands this she realises how patient they have all been with her complete lack of realisation that they’ve been understanding her and speaking with her all her life … a very embarrassing place LOL.

All of this, all this connection, of being of the land, has drawn me to write. And to teach. My novels – as well as being mystery and exciting – are about walking between the worlds. This is the theme of my whole life, walking between the worlds. The phrase comes from one of our ancient and famous British shamans, Thomas of Erceldoune, probably better known from the song “Thomas the Rhymer”. This quote from Wikipaedia tells a little about him …

Thomas Learmonth (1220-1298; also spelled Learmount, Learmont, or Learmounth), better known as Thomas the Rhymer or True Thomas, was a 13th century Scottish laird and reputed prophet from Earlston (then called “Erceldoune”). He is also the protagonist of the ballad “Thomas the Rhymer” (Child Ballad number 37). He is also the probable source of the legend of Tam Lin. Sir Thomas was born in Erceldoune (also spelled Ercildoune – presently Earlston), Berwickshire, sometime in the 13th century, and has a reputation as the author of many prophetic verses. Little is known for certain of his life but two charters from 1260-80 and 1294 mention him, the latter referring to the “Thomas de Ercildounson son and heir of Thome Rymour de Ercildoun”.

True Thomas’ coined the phrase “walking between the worlds”, his ballad-story shows how it happened for him, how he met with the Queen of the Faer, travelled between worlds with her and gained his magic. The Queen of the Faer is yet another representative of Sovereignty. I walk in his footsteps.

Yes, walking between the worlds, that’s pagan for me. Being in continuous touch with the Land, the Spirit of Place, this gorgeous planet that supports us despite what we do to her, that’s being pagan for me. Being “of the land” …