Outside in

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It was odd. I look at this particular blogger’s page every day…and every day there is a reblog button. On every post. Except today. I clicked into the title, hoping that by going deeper, I would find what I was looking for. Nothing. I couldn’t understand it at all. There were, in fact, few of the usual options and I could not imagine what had prompted the blogger to make this particular piece unshareable. Or why I suddenly had to fill in a form to leave a comment. Or why, when the theme had not been changed, it should look so different.

They must, I decided, have been the victim of some online horror… trolls, ID theft, hackers… all sorts of scenarios began to roil around in my mind. I thought about my own online presence and its security and wondered if I ought to take the hint and tighten things up. I hoped my friend was okay. These things can be nasty and upsetting. Perhaps I should email to check?

In those few seconds, my reaction to the lack of a simple button was going a long way…and the possible causes and consequences were already starting to pile up in my mind and imagination. Until I realised what the problem was. Between clicking the link in the daily email and arriving at the site, somehow, I had been logged out of WordPress. There was nothing wrong with my friend’s page at all. What was wrong was how I was seeing it; as an ‘outsider’.

I was looking at the page in the same way as any casual visitor to a WordPress blog, if they had no account and therefore did not possess the magic password that admits them to the privileges of the ‘inner circle’. It was an interesting lesson. Because I remain logged in unless WP logs me out, it is a world I never see. Equally, there is a world unseen by non-account holders that contains much more than they would see or could know. They might get intimations of it… reading references to reblogging perhaps or seeing the ease with which the exchange of comments can flow, but it is a world to which they do not have the keys. For a moment, I had joined them, looking at my ‘world’ from the outside in and not only was the perspective strange, but it made me realise  how quickly I had accepted a different reality, becoming used to what I do know and forgetting that I haven’t always been ‘on the inside’.

It was obvious as soon as I realised. With any group, of any kind, those on the inside are privy to knowledge that the uninitiated cannot see clearly, even if there are clues of its presence. It doesn’t have to be anything of great importance… it can be as simple as showing the office newbie where to bang the coffee machine to get it to work…. but there is always some level of inner knowledge that brings a group together and binds the individual threads to a common centre.

We’re all aware that looking at someone else’s life from the outside in only shows us part of the picture…and not always a true one. Even though we know that we cannot see the whole story, we can forget it too. We may not see the tenderness of a father when we look at tattoos and bling…yet it may be there. We do not always see the hidden grief behind the outward smiles. As a species, we are not only adept at assuming masks, but we are pretty good at forgetting they might be there and react by forming an opinion based solely upon the surface; for reaction is instinctive, not considered, and springs from that basic fear that fuels our instinct for survival.

It seems even worse in some ways when you consider how often we judge ourselves in the same way. Even just looking at physical surfaces, how many of us feel we are the ‘wrong’ shape, size or style to fit the mould that others deem good? How much more confidence would we have if those comparisons were never made or thrust upon us?Instead of looking at ourselves from the inside out, we rely on the world to mirror ourselves back at us, accepting that incomplete image as the whole truth and basing our actions upon it. We learn to value ourselves by the reactions of others to the partial person they can see, instead of looking at ourselves as whole and unique, with inner depths not visible to those who see only a glimpse of our true selves.

We are not our reflections, we are ourselves. The world looks from the outside in and sees but a fragment of our being. We can learn to look from the inside out, privy to all our secret depths and gifts; knowing that for every weakness there is a strength that is ours alone and that we are more than the two-dimensional trigger of reaction seen by a passing stranger. And if we look deeper still, to the very core of being, we may find that we are more than we had ever thought.

The Journey of the Feathered Seer Part 4: The Magic of Arbor Low by Alethea Kehas

IMG_1528I never made it to Peter’s Rock, although we passed close by it in the car, and as we did I made a vow to visit in a future trip. It is said to be a place of initiation, where one must face fear to move beyond the veil of illusion into the Light of Truth. The shaman took us there during ritual 4, and I felt I knew this place, at least in essence. But to feel its actual presence would have to wait.

During the week, I thought often of the snake I had found coiled like a sacrifice in the middle of my basement floor before I left for England. A symbol of the cycle of life that moves through birth into death in an endless repeat. I knew before I left my home that I would be going through an important phase in this cycle during my journey in England. The stones had whispered this in my dreams, and they did not disappoint.

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After visiting the site where Bratha lived out her life as a Seer, the five of us refueled at a lovely pub, then made our way to the Serpent Stones. It was time to feel the enchantment of the land. Although I had heard Sue, Stuart and some of the others hint about the secrets of these stones, I was not wholly prepared for what I would encounter among them. Which is, I believe, just the way it should be. I had already discovered that stones hold the memory of the land and its children, but I had yet to experience the awesome force of their enchantment. This site, as I soon saw, is not asleep. The serpent stones are more alive than those who walk among them. It is like nothing else I have experienced before. It is, quite simply, magical.

The path to the stones, like all journeys, can be taken more than one way. The land surrounding and containing them is, without a doubt, holy ground. Here one walks the body of the goddess in all her power and glory to rebirth anew in the continual cycle of life. The guardian of Arbor Low takes the form of the living. It resides in the balancing energies of cows, chickens and the humans how tend to them below the mounded earth. Here the magic of the stones is settled into the grounding energies of daily life, neutralizing their force. The mundane nature of these seems necessary once one experiences the effects of the stones.

At Arbor Low, I discovered that when you are open to the magic of the Land, it does not disappoint. The memory of it makes me smile with shear joy, just as I did when I walked among its stones. Here is where the Light of Hope is very much alive, and has been for thousands of years. The land here is in control, protected by a force much larger than the Earth itself. Here, the sacred is not broken by human hands (at least not enough to break its magic).

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The Journey of the Feathered Seer Part 3: Finding Peace by Alethea Kehas

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Bratha left the Raven’s Nest with the gifts of the clan. Now cloaked with the wisdom of a seer, she traveled with her guide to speak Truth to those who sought knowledge. I had a day to process my experience at the Nest, which followed the weekend’s workshop with the Silent Eye School. If you read Part 1 and Part 2 of my journey, you will know that it was a transformative experience that was difficult for me to put into words. To play the role, and then travel the landscape where a seer once walked to share the wisdom of the Light, feels like both a gift and a burden. It is not my intent to sound dramatic, but there is the question that always begs to be answered, What does one do with an experience such as this? 

It is intensely intimate and personal, yet it is also, I feel, one to be shared. Bratha’s need to seed the magic of the land and the truths of the Universe is also my own. It is the inherent longing in all living beings to know Home.

Leaving the Nest was difficult for me, as I imagine it must have been for Bratha and others who have known its presence. Feeling my heart open to the raw and beautiful truth of my unseen guide, and the magic of a now troubled land had stirred a deep longing inside of me. It made me acutely aware of how latent my own senses were, and how separate we often live from Truth. I had never felt such a connection to the Land and to those who have loved it so fully and completely, and whose presence can still be felt in its stones.

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There is a safely to the Nest, but the fledgling is born for flight.

As I walked down from the hight of the Nest, as Bratha once did, I carried with me the feeling of sorrow and longing. In the hours that followed, each time I attempted to process my experience into words, I wept the abuse of this sacred Earth that is both our home and our mother. When we focus on the life we have grown accustomed to living, it’s too easy not to feel the inherent connection we have with our Earth Mother and with all beings who reside within Her.

The Light of Hope, though, was also within me, as well as its tangible presence in the form of a handful of stones of different colors, charged from the collective energy from the weekend’s workshop. There were many others who would be planting these seeds to help “re-enchant” the land and repair what mankind had broken. And, there was the knowing that there are so many beings who reside on this planet who are doing their part to seed the Light within and without.

After a day in Bakewell touring more recent, but still old sites, my traveling companion, Deb, and I got into our car once again to drive to the moors. This time we were following Sue, Stuart, and Sue’s son Nick, to the site where Bratha lived out the end of her days as a Seer of Truth.

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The Journey of the Feathered Seer Part 2: The Raven’s Nest by Alethea Kehas

The ravens travel the skies above the high cliffs of the moors. They appear to both lead and follow, watching to see if you remember the way to the Nest. There are as many ways to get there as there are travelers, and the keen eyes of the raven know the paths of darkness and of light. They observe and take note, recording each footstep in the stones.

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As our car began its climb away from the valley, I felt the pull of the moors, stirring my cells to life. We parked at the foot of a hill where the raven clan dwelled before man forgot how to live in harmony with the land. Here, at the base of the Nest, a river runs turbid memories under a bridge. Its waters sing of fear, but also of hope. They carry the memory of balance.

I turned toward the hill, where a young seer once traveled with her guide to learn the language of the soul. A grove of trees marks the beginning of the ascent, and the fey hold reign of the shadows. They watch like the ravens do. Reading the intent of the seeker, they are eager to play with the mind that likes to wander. I thought of my journey to the Nine Ladies one year ago, remembering the wild urge to roam and never return.

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I stood on the threshold, where the uninitiated can become reckless. The impressionable mind is easily confused, and the moors are places of magic. Both dark and light. Voices call from the shadows. Sometimes it sounds like laughter, sometimes like a scream. Here, in the trees below the Raven’s Nest where the canopy breaks open to sun, sorrel blooms white above green.

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