Spirit Helpers

This morning as I was emerging from sleep it seemed that I was on the edge of a woodland looking up, and a large bird of prey, like a buzzard but more slender and elegant, was circling above me. It took one more turn, then it glided off towards the woods. I felt that it had been watching over me while I slept and was filled with immense gratitude for its presence. I hadn’t even asked for it.

At other times, having a long history in shamanism, I do ask spirit animals for help, and without fail help is given. Where does it come from?

Spirit animals and other helpers definitely do not reside in the mind, as any “ha ha” linear-thinking western rationalist will happily confirm. They show up in our shadow zones, in the border lands between waking and sleeping, at times of great despair or elation or emotion in general.┬áIt seems that our awareness of them requires an opening of intuition and feeling.

Moonbear

Interestingly, our ancestors probably wouldn’t have seen any difference there. I don’t think they distinguished between their body, mind, emotions and ultimately spirit as most modern westerners do. All equal aspects of their existence. Their surroundings – birds, bees, flowers, trees, rivers, clouds… also equal aspects of nature, of their existence, of their reality. All equally inhabited by life force, by spirit just like them.

From this perspective, communicating with other aspects of nature becomes relatively easy. Indigenous peoples still do it, and it is generally called something along the lines of dream time, or dream walking, or journeying. Why do they do it? To access their animal instincts and qualities. To look at a situation through different eyes. To cultivate their connection with everything else in their universe. The help that is obtained in this way is a change of perspective, and a renewed awareness of connection.

Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. This is something you can actually read about in the papers. How many people have problems nowadays with answering some of their most fundamental life questions? Feel disconnected or lost?

Perhaps they should consider dream walking or journeying.

Spirit Helpers

Why labyrinths?

Labyrinths are ancient tools and have been used by humans since the beginning of time. While the modern world around us may be very different from that of our ancestors, the essential aspects which make us human remain surprisingly unchanged: Among them is our need for contemplation.

Grass footprint of festival labyrinth with central wishing tree
Grass footprint of festival labyrinth with central wishing tree. Bestival, Isle of Wight, 2010.

In a world full of distractions, a labyrinth provides us with a dedicated space and pathway for taking this active pause and ponder our questions. It also gives us the opportunity to connect with our centre, with the earth under our feet, and with the sky above… we can put our lives in perspective.

Unlike mazes, labyrinths do not have dead ends and only have one entrance and exit. Rather than having to ‘search’ for the way, we can trust that our path is laid out right in front of us… all we need is our willingness to take the journey.

As a meditative tool, a labyrinth invariably takes us to ‘the point’ and mirrors our own journey through life, allowing us to examine and direct our intentions from a different perspective. It provides a calm, universal focus which is not tied to any particular spiritual approach and can therefore be applied as required. An empty canvas for our personal bigger picture.

Elevated view of a labyrinth drawn in the tidal zone at Compton Beach, Isle of Wight
The beauty of impermanence. “In Utero”, Compton Beach, 2014.

The process of creating a labyrinth is profound in itself and can be experienced in participatory events. As a labyrinth maker, I use materials found on site or recycled/natural materials wherever possible. Labyrinths created in the tidal zone on the beach hold a wonderful rhythm of ebb and flow and lend themselves to ceremony for all kinds of life transitions.

Walker standing at the centre of a tidal beach labyrinth
Labyrinth walker standing on the threshold. Summer Solstice 2011.

Each labyrinth has its own beauty and purpose and energises both the space it inhabits and the people who walk it.

Why labyrinths?