The initiate had made the commitment to learning the WAY. She entered into the hole in the Earth willingly where she was warm and nurtured. The lessons came and she submitted to them–learning with curiosity–but allowing the lessons to “break” her. She understood that lessons might sometimes hurt, but she still had to learn them. When the lessons were finally complete she was birthed from a tree and set out on her mission…
When I stumbled upon the words, “Celtic Shamanism” – a bomb went off in my head. I was gathering information for a class in my Master of Divinity Program. The class was called, “Death: An Intellectual History.” I had decided to explore the concept of Sin Eating for a presentation I was giving. Upon closer examination I found out that it was a lush mix of mystical Catholicism and ancient Celtic Shamanism–in which a Shaman is requested, upon the death of a person, to come “eat” away the sins of the dead so that they can make their way into the Otherworld. In order to understand this concept adequately I read the book: The Sin Eater’s Last Confession by Ross Heaven. It followed the author as he became an initiate of the last known Sin Eater in Great Britain. I was so engaged in the book that I read the entire thing on a bus ride.
This is it! I’ve found it! –– kept erupting in my skull. See, I had been looking for a PATH since I was a child. And during that search I meandered onto many roads, past many trails, and stumbling blocks. But at each crossroads I kept going! Spiritual development was my obsession and, regardless of how few answers I found, I kept looking anyway. This was the moment in my life where all of those trials and tribulations finally made sense. This is what I am…okay…now what?
So, I did one of the practices in Heaven’s book called, “Omens in Nature,” where you ask a question and then go to in-between places (doorways, edges of shadows, crossroads, etc.) and close your eyes, turn around, and upon opening your eyes–focus on the first thing you see. You do that three times, noting the things you see, then construct a story that enables you to answer the question. This was a way in which Celtic Shamans divined answers for those who came to them with problems.
On October 27th, 2013 one of my nearest and dearest friends, a Tattoo Shaman and healer came to visit me. We always love to do mystical things when we get together, so I suggested that we go out to the nature preserve near my house and try out, “Omens in Nature.” She agreed and off we went. We spread out our blanket next to a sleepy Oak and settled in. A coyote, curious about our magic, passed close by with a quizzical look on his face. We settled into our meditation space.
WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP ON MY PATH?
We asked our questions and then went off amongst the brush and trails to divine our answers. I stopped at the edge of a tree shadow, the crossroads of two trails, and the edge of a cliff. These were the signs I saw:
1) A hole in the Earth
2) A broken stalk of hay next to the sharp leaves of a holy bush
3) A yoni-shaped hole in the branches of an oak tree
The story above is what I constructed from those images. The lesson being that it is not until you learn from committing and submit to those lessons that you will be able to emerge.
Commit I did. I pored over the Sin Eater book and then went on a hunt to find another book with which to could start my journey. I found, The Celtic Shaman: A Practical Guide, by John Matthews. Over the following months I began reading the book. And on Imbolc (Feburary 1st/2nd–Brigid’s Holy Day) I dove head-first into that hole in the Earth, ready for the lessons that will break and nurture me…