A Whole Lotta’ Ugly from Scotland: The Nuckelavee

by Rebecca

Many creatures of folklore embody a balance of good and evil. For instance, the Domovoi that we discussed in issue one would help around the house, but if you ticked him off, he might kill you while you slept. See, good and evil, I am not going to give you the percentages  (30% good, 70% evil). It is why I’m fascinated with the Nuckelavee; it’s bad to the bone! Moreover, since it’s skinless you can really tell!

The Nuckelavee hails from Scottish lore. It is a member of the Fuath family, the Fuath are water spirits. Let me tell you, this thing is evil through and through.  We’ll start from the outside in.

You could describe the Nuckelavee as an aquatic centaur, but that does not really do it justice. It is generally described as a mix of horse and man, like a centaur, but unlike the traditional centaur, its legs are part fin. The Nuckelavee’s head is human shaped, like the centaur’s, but larger with a wide mouth that sticks out like a pig’s snout. Instead of two eyes, the Nuckelavee only has one that is huge and bloodshot. Sometimes the eye is described as flaming. It is muscular and strong, just like a centaur. Nasty, right? Well get this, it is skinless. That’s right, it is hairless and skinless. You can see the Nuckelavee’s black blood as it courses through the yellowed veins of its muscles. To quote Cleveland from The Family Guy, “That’s just nasty.”

All right, it’s ugly as sin, but I’m sure it’s not all bad. Guess again. The Nuckelavee’s breath is deadly. If it breathes on an animal, it could very well die immediately, the same with plants. The Nuckelavee is blamed for crops that fail from sea winds, and for livestock that would fall over high rocks near the shore.  At no point have I read of a Nuckelavee doing anything that did not result in destruction, disease, or death. See, bad to the bone!

What now? How do I avoid this bad boy? For starters, do not burn seaweed to make kelp. The pungent smell this creates drives the Nuckelavee to utter vengeful madness. You know, all that killing crops and such is it on a good day! Important tip, the Nuckelavee cannot cross running water. It also cannot abide fresh water. The well informed traveler in the Scottish Isles carries a bottle of spring water on their person, just in case. Also, since the Nukelavee is a member of the Fuath family, cold steel will kill it.

See kids, sometimes you can judge a book by its cover! Ugly on the outside, ugly on the inside; that’s the Nuckelavee.

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Magical Buffet Mythology: Hanuman

Article by Rebecca
Image by Will Hobbs (www.sirwilliamwesley.com)

There are times when, if you’re like me, you look for examples of faith and piety, perhaps someone to inspire you, to teach you the power of devotion. It’s times like that when I think of a particular monkey, and no, it’s not “Monkey” from Dexter’s Laboratory, although he does kick butt! I’m talking about the Hindu God Hanuman.

Following in the fine tradition of Hindu deities with an animal/human thing going on, Hanuman has the head of a monkey or ape (choose your preference) and the body of a man.  In all fairness, to many Hanuman is technically considered an immortal, but that does not stop people from loving him! Although he would prefer you devote yourself to Rama and Sita…more on that in a moment.

At the end of the day, Hanuman is known for his courage, power, and his faithful selfless service. Yet, like all mature deities, he had his wild youth.  As a young empowered being he took flight and tried to catch the sun, Hanuman thought it was a ripe fruit. Hanuman also spent his days teasing and tormenting mediating sages, sometimes taking or moving around their personal possessions. To help keep everybody a little safer, and a little saner, a curse was put upon Hanuman that he would not remember his powers. They only become available to him when someone else reminds him that he possesses them. Therefore, Hanuman’s days of, pardon the expression, monkey business, were over.  On with the mighty heroics!

In the service of Lord Rama, Hanuman accomplished great feats. Mainly, he grew in size. I mean, HUGE! We’re talking walking over oceans, carrying mountains, limitless tail length (it mattered, trust me), levels of largeness. Hanuman’s efforts can be directly linked to Lord Rama being reunited with his Sita. Thank you very much!

At the end of the day, what reward did Hanuman ask for? He asked to live for as long as men spoke of the deeds of Rama. You may be thinking, what a kiss up! Well, you aren’t alone, that’s what many said. To silence the critics, Hanuman tore open his chest with his claws to reveal that enshrined within were Rama and Sita. From that moment forward, no one doubted Hanuman’s devotion.

What can we learn from Hanuman? For starters, he teaches us of the power that lies unused in each of us. It was through Hanuman’s undying devotion to Rama that his powers became revealed to him, thus implying that the same potential lies within each of us as well. Primarily, Hanuman embodies wholly the word devotion, and illustrates to us the strength and power that devotion can provide us. When I think of Hanuman I ask myself one question, one that I pose to you now. If I tore open my chest, to show the world what was enshrined there, what would everyone see? It’s that question, and more importantly, the answer to that question, that illustrates Hanuman’s importance.

Ten Questions with a Paranormal Investigator

1.  You investigate the paranormal?  What exactly do you mean by paranormal?
Paranormal means anything out of the ordinary.  From ghosts to UFO’s to Cryptozoologly (Champy the Lake Champlain Monster, bigfoot, etc) we investigate and research all aspects of it.

2.  That’s cool.  If I want to do that, what do you recommend?
First is to read as much on the subject as possible.  Start by choosing a specific aspect…ghost, UFO’s etc…..and read a lot on those.  Then, seek out a local group to join.  Always remember, that everyone has varying opinions, and you do not have to agree with everyone.  Glean what you can, what seems truthful to you, and leave the rest.

3.  How does your group determine if a location is haunted?
We are an interesting group.  When you see groups on TV, generally they are all one sided in their investigation philosophy…either all scientific or all metaphysical.  We have a great marriage of the two.  We use scientific tools such as EMF (Electomagnetic Field Detectors), Geiger Counters, cameras (Digital, 35MM, Poloroid, Video), Digital Thermometers, etc.  We also use metaphysical tools…dowsing rods, crystals, pendulums, and we have a very talented resident medium who also holds a Doctorate in Parapsychology.

4.  There seems to be a lot of talk about EVPs.  What the heck is an EVP?
EVP means Electronic Voice Phenomenon.  It is an audio recording of voices not present during the time of taping.  These voices quite often occur in ranges that humans cannot actually speak in.  You have to either slow these voices down or speed them up to actually hear what the voice is saying.  Some believe these are actual spirits talking…some believe they are voices "etched" into the environment, in other words, residual energy.

5.  Sometimes I see photos with spots on them.  Are these orbs?
Orbs are a very debated topic in the paranormal research world.  The vast majority of "orb" pictures you will see are simply dust or moisture particles reflecting the light of the flash.  However, we do believe that some "orbs" caught on film are authentic.  We believe that these "orbs’ are the simplest form of energy a spirit can take.  The more authentic orbs show movement.  This movement shows that the object was moving faster than the shutter speed of the camera.

6.  I think the place I live is haunted.  What do I do now?
The first thing I would do would be to contact a reputable local group to investigate….like NNYPRS…from nnyprs.com  Then, I would start a journal of the activities…time, date, occurrence, weather conditions, persons present, etc., whatever seems important.  Also, begin to research the history of your home.

7.  Do you ever communicate with spirits?
For starters, we do not promote the use of Ouija Boards.  They are tools, not toys, that if used incorrectly can be detrimental to the users.  With that said, we are lucky enough to have one member who is a fantastic psychic medium.  With her, we have been able to name persons who have died in the homes, etc, and more.  She is very gifted.

8.  Peter, Raymond, Egon, or Winston?
Peter…he was the cool one!!!!

9.  Casper, Jacob Marley, or Sam Wheat?
Jacob Marley, a little scary, yet his spirit came back to help a friend find his heart before it was too late.

10.  Parting shot!  Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question!
How do you like your NNYPRS swag?  (Can we see a pic of you or your "boss" modeling it?)
It seems unlikely that I’m going to get a picture of my boss wearing his gift from www.nnyprs.com.  I mean, he hasn’t even received it as a gift yet!  But just to thrill you all, here is this…..








Merrill McKee is the President and Co-Founder of the Northern New York Paranormal Research Society (www.nnyprs.com).  He has been actively researching with the group since 2001, yet has researched on his own since the age of 8, when he began reading a book about Bigfoot.

Profile: The Order of Bards Ovates and Druids

Article Provided by Damh the Bard

The Druid/Pagan world in the early 1960s, when the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids (OBOD) was created, was very different than it is now. Occult exploration was directed very much by ideas and rituals developed by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the Theosophical Society, which, over the course of a very short time, helped to define the Western Mystery Tradition. At this time, ‘Druid’ and ‘Freemason’ were almost the same thing, with the dominant Druid groups being more like ‘Friendly Societies,’ mainly made up of men, and with very little spiritual direction. One of these groups would begin their meetings by placing a Bible on a table, and then banning the mention of religion. This was the Druid world in which Ross Nichols, the founder of the OBOD, began his life-long love of the Druid tradition, and all things Celtic. So how did Druidry get from this to become the dynamic and thriving spirituality we have today?

Ross had become friends with Gerald Gardner (who many now view as the father of modern Wicca) at the utopian Naturist resort of Speilplatz near St. Albans, Hertfordshire, and it is probably here that the foundations of the modern Pagan movement were laid. Between them, they set about creating the now familiar ‘Wheel of the Year,’ the cycle of eight seasonal festivals that divided the year up into approximately six-week parts. Each festival celebrated the changes in the agricultural and celestial worlds, which symbolically represented the dance between the Pagan God and Goddess of the Land. At that time, Druids only celebrated the two Equinoxes of Spring and autumn, and the Summer Solstice. Gardner introduced the wheel into his then-fledgling Wicca almost immediately. Druidry, on the other hand, had to wait until Ross formed the OBOD.

In 1964, when Ross was 62, three of the main influences in his spiritual life died. These were Gerald Gardner, the Ancient Druid Order’s Chief Macgregor Reid, and the Archbishop of the Ancient Celtic Church. Ross did not get on with the new Chief of the Ancient Druid Order, so took this opportunity to leave and start a new Order, one whose focus would be on re-introducing spirituality back into modern Druidry. So in 1964, the OBOD was born, and modern Druidry began the first steps that would lead it towards the Druidry practiced today.

Ross spent the next 11 years of his life exploring, developing, and creating. During the years, that Ross spent, as Chief of the OBOD one of his students was a young man named Philip Carr-Gomm. Ross had a great love of the energy of young people, and regularly included them in the open rituals performed by the Order at places like Primrose Hill in London, and Glastonbury Tor. Philip was a keen photographer, and Ross asked him to help create a photographic archive of the Order’s activities. Then, in 1970 at Beltane, Philip was initiated into the OBOD on Glastonbury Tor. At the time, the OBOD was still a small group, and when Ross died suddenly in 1975, the Order almost went with him; for 13 years, it slept. Then, in 1984, during a meditation, Ross appeared to Philip. He told him that the way of the Druid would become more and more important, that the teachings of the Druids would be of great relevance to our future, and that Philip should make them more widely available. So, for the next four years, Philip searched for anything that Ross had written down, finding the original manuscript of the Book of Druidry, much of his teaching material, and through a series of amazing coincidences, managed to piece together enough material to begin to create a teaching program. Continuing Ross’ structure of the three ‘grades’ of Bard, Ovate and Druid, the material was also so divided, which helped people to sustain a focus, and travel through a personal experiential journey. Then, in 1988, Philip was asked to re-form the Order, and to be its Chosen Chief.

It was the teaching program Philip created, and the method chosen to teach it, that would be responsible for the incredible growth of the OBOD in the late 80s and 90s. Now, in 2004, the OBOD is the largest and one of the most dynamic Druid organizations in the world.

The OBOD Now

Core Beliefs:

The OBOD Druid tradition reflects the teachings of the ancient Druids; it helps provide a way to develop a deeper and more meaningful relationship with the Spirits of the Land and our ancestors. It also addresses a driving need to open up our inner creativity – to learn to see the world through the eyes of a poet. It also teaches the arts of seership and divination. There are no ‘thou shalt nots’ within the OBOD teachings. Each member is encouraged to discover their own individual relationship with the Divine, in whatever way it shows its face to them, be that through God, Goddess or Great Spirit. All the time with the knowledge that, although they develop this personal relationship, they have others who walk the Path beside them.

Organization of Groups:
Since the first people joined the Order in 1988, thousands of members have walked this path, creating a network of Druids with over 80 Groves and Seed groups around the world, and providing the basis of a real Druidic community. These groups are autonomous and are individual groups in their own right. However, what links the members of these groups together is the OBOD course – they have all walked a path that has been tread many times before, by many other people. This kinship is a bond between members of the Order. One of the benefits being that it avoids the intrusion of the ego. In the end, all members, if they wish, can move through the grades (or schools), and as each grade teaches different skills, the Bard is not inferior to the Ovate, nor the Ovate inferior to the Druid.

As a part of the natural growth of this community, the OBOD also hold camps and assemblies in the UK, Europe, North America and Australia.

Although the OBOD’s structure is divided into ‘grades’, they are more like ‘schools’ – each one teaching different skills, each one building on the other in a journey of spiritual discovery.

To provide a training that works on both the surface and at a far deeper, inner level, members are offered the support of a personal mentor. Members can request a tutor from a network of over 70 worldwide, who they can correspond with about their experiences with the course. The mentor’s role is not to ‘teach’ but to ‘walk the path’ with the member as tutor and friend.

The OBOD course takes its inspiration from the ancient Druids, but for it to be of value to us today, Druidry cannot simply be re-enactment. We need to allow ourselves to look at how the ancient teachings can help us grow and become more at one with the Natural World in our modern age. Druidry is not a ‘revealed’ religion, and therefore has no dogmatic ‘thou shalt nots’ – instead it is a living, breathing, thriving spirituality that the world needs now, more than ever before.

The Bardic Grade

The Bards were the shaman poets of the Druidic caste, and much of the knowledge we have about the ancient Druids comes from the old Bardic tales. One of these tales is the story of Taliesin, the Primary Bard of Britain. The OBOD Bardic grade uses the skill of Bardic teaching through story and poetry; we take the same journey as Gwion Bach (Little Innocent) so that through the experiences of the story, we can gain insight into the Wisdom of the Bards. So often people see spirituality as a way of escaping the world. But the Bardic course helps us become rooted in the Natural World that surrounds us, opening our eyes to the wonders that are there, just waiting to be discovered.

The Ovate Grade

If the Bardic grade teaches us of the wonders of the Natural World, then the Ovate grade takes our hand, and leads us into the deep forest. The Druids and trees are inextricably linked, and it is here, in the Ovate grade, that the work with trees and herbs begins. The Ovates were the Druidic seers, so it is within the safety of the forest that we begin to work with the skills of divination, healing and the magic of the Earth. Exploring our relationship with our ancestors of blood and of spirit; stepping into the dark Grove of Yews to commune with them and learn the wisdom of the night, and of the moon.

The Druid Grade

After the re-enchantment of the Bardic grade, and the deep discovery of the Ovate grade, the Druid grade then guides us towards an exploration of the mysteries of the stones and stars, and of those powers symbolized by the Dragon – deepening our learning and experience of Druid philosophy and magical practice. It will have taken at least two years to reach this point, and we will have journeyed to many places, both within and without. Our experiences will have taught us much and it is here, within the Druid grade, that we might be inspired to step into some form of service to the Druidic tradition.

Holidays:

Like many other paths, the OBOD honors the eight seasonal festivals of our modern Pagan traditions. These being:

The Solar Cycle
Alban Arthan (Winter Solstice): Alban Arthan means the Light of Arthur. Some Druid Orders believe this means the Light of the hero King Arthur Pendragon who is symbolically reborn as the Sun Child (The Mabon) at the time of the Solstice. Others see the Light belonging to the star constellation known as the Great Bear (or the Plough) – Arthur, or Art, being Gaelic for Bear. This constellation shines out in the sky and can symbolize the rebirth of the Sun. At this point, the Sun is at its southernmost point almost disappearing beyond the horizon, and the days are at their shortest. This was a time of dread for the ancient peoples as they saw the days getting shorter and shorter. A great ritual was needed to reverse the course of the sun. This was probably calculated by the great circles of stone and burial grounds, which are aligned to this festival, such as Newgrange in Co. Meath, Eire. Sure enough, the next day the Sun began to move higher into the sky, showing that it had been reborn.

This time of year is very cold and bleak, which is why so many celebrations are needed to help people get through the winter months. It is significant that many civilizations welcomed their Solar Gods at the time of greatest darkness – including Mithras (the bull-headed Warrior God), the Egyptian God Horus and, more recently, Jesus Christ

Alban Eilir (Spring Equinox): Alban Eilir means the Light of the Earth. As the Sun grows warmer, so life begins to show through the soil. Small signs at first – the daffodils and crocuses – then more green as the bluebells and wood anemones spread through the woodland. Plants are seen by some as inanimate greenery with no actual feelings and life force. But Druids see life in all living things, from rocks and stones, to rivers and springs, plants and trees – all life is sacred. Have you ever thought about how you recognize the beginning of spring? Is it the plant life? The weather? How does a plant know when it is time to grow? It cannot tell the time or see a calendar. Yet, it knows. If it has senses then it has consciousness; if it has consciousness then it is more than an inanimate life form. So, it is the return of life to the Earth that is celebrated at Alban Eilir, the time of balance.

One of the inner mysteries of Druidry is the Druid’s egg. Life-giving, it is the egg protected by the hare, which is the symbol of Alban Eilir – still celebrated by the giving of Easter eggs by the Easter Bunny.

Alban Hefin (Summer Solstice): Alban Hefin means the Light of the Shore. Druidry has a great respect and reverence for places that are "in between" worlds. The seashore is one such place, where the three realms of Earth, Sea and Sky meet. There is great power in places such as these. Alban Hefin is the time of greatest light when the Solar God is crowned, by the Goddess, as the King of Summer. It also brings some sadness because from now until Alban Arthan the Sun’s strength is declining and we have entered the waning year. At this time the Dark Twin, or Holly King, is born – he will take his crown at Alban Arthan. Of all the festivals, Druidry is mostly associated with Alban Hefin. The wonderful white-robed figures filmed at the dawn rituals at Stonehenge are testament to this. However, to many Druids it is the turning seasons and the cycle of life, death and rebirth – reflected in the Wheel of the Year in its completeness – which is significant.

Alban Elfed (Autumn Equinox): Alban Elfed means the Light of the Water. The Wheel turns and the time of balance returns. Alban Elfed marks the balance of day and night before the darkness overtakes the light. It is also the time of the second harvest, usually of the fruit, which has stayed on the trees and plants to ripen under the Summer Sun. It is this final harvest, which can take the central theme of the Alban Elfed ceremony. Thanking the Earth, in her full abundance as Mother and Giver, for the great harvest. It is the beginning of autumn.

The Agricultural Cycle

Imbolc: On or around the 1st of February – This is seen in the OBOD as the first of three spring festivals. It is hard sometimes to think of spring in what feels like the depths of winter. But if we look at the ground we can see the first shoots of green beginning to reach towards the Sun. Imbolc can be celebrated on either the 1st or 2nd February, or more naturally when the Snowdrops cover the ground.

Imbolc
by Damh the Bard

As the dark, cold morning gives way to light,
And the world shows its face dazzling in her nakedness,
So the twigs and leaf-bare branches,
Bow to the passing danceOf old Jack Frost.

His crystal breathe on the earth,
And the corners of houses weep icicles of joy.
But where is the Sun’s warmth?
Where is life?

A small flower, delicate and pure-white,
Looks to the earth,
As if talking to the waiting green,
"Not yet," it seems to whisper.
"When I fall, then you can return."

And she nods her head,
as the Lady passes by,
Leaving more flowers in Her wake.

Beltane: On or around the 1st of May – Beltane is the beginning of Summer, or the height of Spring. It is thought that the ancients only recognized two seasons, these being summer and winter. Beltane is the time when the Earth is literally buzzing with fertility. Life springs forth in all of its richness, and the land is covered with beautiful flowers and the freshly opened leaves of the trees are a quality of green that they only show at this time of year. At Beltane, the Lady of the Land takes the hand of the Horned God, and together they walk into the forest. Their cries of love bring all life from the Earth. Some celebrate Beltane on the dates given above, whilst others look to the flowers of the May tree as their signal that Beltane has, at last, arrived.

Lughnasadh: On or around the 1st of August – Lughnasadh is the first of two harvest festivals, the other being Alban Elfed (the Autumn Equinox). At Lughnasadh we see the fields of corn being cut, and for some this is the true time of the festival. In the fields John Barleycorn, who laid with the Lady in the woods at Beltane, has grown old, and now stands bent and bearded with a crocked cane. He looks to the Sun as he has changed from green to gold, and he knows that his time has come. His life will feed the people, and it is this sacrifice that we honour at Lughnasadh.

Samhain: On of around the 31st of October – This is the festival of the dead, a festival of remembrance and honoring of our dear departed friends and relations. It is said that, at Samhain, the veil that separates the worlds is at its thinnest. So our world, the world of Faerie, and that of the dead, blend as one. It is no wonder then that this night has become so wrapped in superstition. It is a night of wonder, and magic. On this night the Cailleach (the Crone) comes to strip the leaves from the trees, to quicken the decay of the flesh of the year, so that it may feed the new life to come. We can also ask Her to take the unwanted aspects of our personal year away, so that this too might be transformed. Yet even on the darkest night of Samhain, whilst our minds ponder our mortality, if you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of a new-born child crying for its Mother’s breast, for shortly it will be Alban Arthan, the Winter solstice, and the Wheel will turn once more.

Oh that I could see to the Other Realm –
that I could learn the magic of the Ancients.
Oh that the secrets of the Druids
could be whispered in my ears
that I might know their beauty and their power –
that I might love again this land
and hear the voices of the Goddess and the God
in the trees and in the rivers.

Reading and Other Resources:
Phillip Carr-Gomm. The Druid Mysteries. Rider 2002   
Druidcraft. Thorsons 2003   
The Druid Animal Oracle. Connections 1996
Ross Nichols. Book of Druidry: History, Sites and Wisdom. Thorsons 1992.
Emma Restall Orr. Druid Priestess. Harper Collins 2001

To find out more about the OBOD or to contact the Order:
OBOD
PO Box 1333
Lewes, E. Sussex, BN7 1DX.
44-(0)1273-470888
office@druidry.org
www.druidry.org

It’s just a Circle, Right?: The Wheel of Life

By Rebecca

There are many different kinds of wheels, but this month we’re going to be talking about the Wheel of Life, big with the Tibetan Buddhists.  A wheel that itself has many different names: Wheel of Existence, Wheel of Rebirth, Wheel of Samsara, Wheel of Suffering, Wheel of Transformation, and I’m sure there are more.  What is this particular wheel?  What makes it different than, I don’t know, the one on a BMX bike per se?  Well this wheel helps you find enlightenment.  Do you know of any other wheels that do that?

The Wheel of Life is a visual representation of the various states of being.  The Wheel is supposed to remind people that the goal is enlightenment.  To look at it’s imagery one might feel bummed, it’s not called the Wheel of Suffering because it’s all sunshine and daisies, but it’s actually a symbol of affirmation.  It’s a reminder to seekers that enlightenment is out there and available to any who wish to take the journey.

Now at a glance there seems to be a lot going on, and well, there is.  So let’s start in the dead center.  There is a pig, a cock, and a snake in a circle, each biting the tail of the other.  Each of these animals depict a human failing, each is assigned a slightly different attribute depending on whom you ask.  Bear in mind that these animals are used to show human failings, thus revealing the animal beneath our civilized behaviors and these are considered the core problems that keep souls trapped within the Six Realms (their coming up kids!).

Next is the circle that surrounds that nasty core.  Traditionally one side of the circle is light, the other dark.  One side is referred to as the White Path or Path of Bliss, which shows how your soul can rise towards greater spiritual heights.  Where as the dark side, known as the Dark Path, show people that have chosen a dark path and have thusly descended to gloomy depths.

After that, you’ve got the Six Realms, told you we’d get to them.  Each of these depicts a different level of existence.  The Six Realms are The World of the Devas (Gods), The World of Asuras (Demigods, Fighting Demons), The World of Humans (you know, people), The World of Pretas (Hungry Ghosts), and The World of Hell.  These Six Realms show all the possible states of existence in the universe and all beings tend to cycle through all of these states depending on their Karma.

Next, there is the outermost ring, which is divided into twelve parts.  These are particularly handy because they demonstrate behaviors that keep people in the Six Realms that we just talked about.  These are kind of a cause and effect representation.  There is the blind man, which is ignorance.  The potter at his wheel is showing volitional activities.  There is a monkey in a tree, which represents sentience.  There are men in a boat, which is name and form.  The house with empty windows represents the sense organs.  A couple is shown embracing, which is sensuous impressions.  The man with an arrow in his eye represents feeling (like maybe ouch?).  There is a woman offering drink to a man, that shows us craving.  The woman on the tree plucking fruit represents grasping.  There is a couple making love, and they represent bringing into existence.  The woman in labor shows us birth.  Lastly is the coffin, which represents death and decay.

This whole thing is being held by one horrific looking creature, who in most versions is the Lord of Death.  He’s there to remind you that we are held by our fear of death, but in Buddhist thought death is just a crack at a new existence!  There is also something in the upper left and upper right hand corners, generally the moon, a Buddha, or a Bodhisattva.  These represent a chance at achieving Nirvana and links between the mundane and the Transcendental.

Whew!  That’s a whole lot in one wheel!  The Wheel of Life is found in every monastery, usually painted directly on the wall, but sometimes on paper or cloth.  It uses powerful symbols to remind it’s viewer of the Four Noble Truths: the existence of suffering, its origins and causes, its ending, and the ways to achieve this.  That’s not too shabby for a glorified circle.

Obviously this is a very basic breakdown of a very complex symbol.  If you want to learn more you definitely want to check out this groovy site: http://www.buddhanet.net/wheel2.htm

Angel Communication 101

by Rev. Sheri Kozdron

There are two common questions that may come to mind when hearing the term Angel Reader or Angel Medium.  “What’s that?” And “How do you do it?”  

What is an Angel Reader, and how is that different from other readers?  There are some differences among all types of readings, but the main underlying purpose is very similar.  An Angel Reader may use angel oracle cards like the beautiful collection of oracle card decks created by Dr. Doreen Virtue.  Some people feel more comfortable with a reader who uses angel cards versus a reader who uses the Tarot.  While Tarot can be a very accurate prediction tool, angel guidance is more difficult when it comes to predicting time; the concept of time is our creation and does not really exist in the Angelic Realm.  However, some individuals who may not completely understand the Tarot may also fear some of the cards or images, like the death card, and will prefer an Angel Reader just because they are more comfortable with the images.  Whether you go to an Angel Reader, Tarot Reader, or Crystal Ball Reader, it is vital that you first feel comfortable with that person so that your energy will be open to being read.  The process of an Angel Reading includes calling in your personal Guardian Angels and Spirit Guides (including your Master Guide), your deceased loved ones, the Archangels and Ascended Masters, and only the highest energies for your highest good.  There will never be any lower energies or Earth Bound Spirits (souls who are stuck here) intruding in your Angel Reading.  While it is definitely possible to connect with those individuals if it’s needed, lower energy beings are not generally called upon to give you guidance and messages by an Angel Reader.  Readings are also performed with the understanding that those being read have their own free will and are not bound to adhere to any guidance received.

How does someone learn to communicate with angels?  Learning to connect with the Angelic Realm means learning how to communicate with Guardian Angels, Spirit Guides, Archangels, Ascended Masters and Deceased Loved Ones.  The truth is that anyone can learn this.  The biggest secret is not to try too hard; angel/spirit communication is really not as difficult as you might think it is.

My favorite question of all time was asked of me in the bathroom of an event where I was offering my services.  An attendee happened to see my name badge with my company name, Angel Messenger.  She asked me if I offered angel readings then asked if I had studied under Doreen Virtue.  I answered that I had not ever met Doreen but loved her work and had read almost all of her books.  I could see the look in her eye, and then she proceeded to tell me that I really should study under Doreen as this was a way for me to basically be good at what I do.  I politely thanked the woman for her advice but laughed inside at the same time.

Ask yourself, “Where did Dr. Doreen Virtue receive her gift from?”  She received her Divine gifts and talents from the same Source or Spirit as John Edward, Sylvia Brown, Rev. Sheri Kozdron and you.  Yes, I said “and you”.  It wasn’t until someone asked me my favorite question that I realized how people misunderstood this.  Anyone can learn to communicate with their angels, guides and loved ones.  All you have to do is develop the ability by gaining the appropriate knowledge and practicing that knowledge.  No one is born knowing how to ride a bike, but just about anyone can learn.  You may need training wheels at first, but you can do it.

We are all born with the ability.  As children, we may have had imaginary friends that were actually angels or spirits.  We were more likely to be able to see things that others did not including angels and spirits, auras, or even knowing things about our own past lives or that of our loved ones.  It’s as we grow older that we learn to doubt what seems so obvious when we’re children.

I once worked as an assistant in a day care where one day a little boy was coloring a picture of his family.  Everyone was colored in as you would expect . . . shirt, pants, proper hair color all colored within the lines – except for the dog.  The dog was purple and colored as if there were no lines at all.  In fact, it just appeared to be a mass of purple scribble.  The teacher had good intentions when she jokingly suggested that he had made a mistake.  “Dogs aren’t purple,” she said.  It wasn’t until years later that I realized how that dog was in fact purple.  That little boy saw the dog’s aura – purple!

Another commonality among children is their ability to recall past lives.  One of my clients has a little girl who enjoys sharing tea time with her great grandmother more than playing with children her own age.  She told her mother all about her “old family” . . . names, where they lived, etc.  Guess what?  Those people are still alive!  This child’s eighty year old past life husband is still alive!  It’s amazing the ability we throw away as we grow older . . .

It is amazing the ability we throw away as we grow older, but the good news is that we can get it back.  Some people, like Sylvia Brown for example, are born with the gift and nurtured by family or other influences to develop their gift.  Others, like John Edward, learn to turn the light back on so to speak.  John Edward was a skeptic until he met a psychic who changed his life.  John was still only a teenager when he began to reopen his gifts; but, if a teenager can be open enough to a new idea and accept such amazing ability, there’s a good chance you can too.  Not all of us are meant to be famous Psychic Mediums as we all have different paths, but it is an incredible gift to be able to receive guidance or reassurance from your own angels and guides or to communicate with someone you’ve lost.

One thing that makes it easier to communicate with the other side is knowing who you are talking to.  Guardian Angels and Spirit Guides are the two main beings you will have with you at all times.  Your Guardian Angels are with you throughout your whole life, from birth to death.  Guardian Angels have, for the most part, have never lived a lifetime on Earth.  So, your Grandma Pearl is usually not going to be your Guardian Angel.  Spirit Guides, on the other hand, have lived on Earth.  They are considered teachers in the after life and are guiding you on something they have some expertise in.  Spirit Guides do change throughout your lifetime; however, your Master Guide remains with you throughout your whole life.  Both your guides and angels can appear to you as a feeling, animal, or even another human being.  They can appear both in your dream and wake states.  There are also Archangels and Ascended Masters which are basically a level up from Guardian Angels and Spirit Guides in that order.  The main Archangels you should know are Michael, Gabrielle/Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Metatron, and Sandalphon.  There are many important Archangels, but this is a good start.  Although it is important to point out that you do not need to know which Archangel does what, the following is a basic rundown of the above:

Archangel Michael – courage and protection; helps with changes
Archangel Gabrielle – nurturing and children, communication and the arts
Archangel Raphael – physical healing; also helps healers find money for education, brings in clients, and anything to do with helping the healer to heal
Archangel Uriel – “psychologist angel” – emotional healing; sheds positive energy onto any situation; also for travel and world healing
Archangel Metatron* – Crystal and Indigo Children, Sacred Geometry, Abundance; was prophet and scribe Enoch from the Bible in his life on Earth.
Archangel Sandolphon* – Carries prayers to Heaven; was Prophet Elijah.

*Metatron and Sandolphon are the only two Archangels who were once mortal men.

Lastly, the Ascended Masters are people like Buddha, Jesus, Mary, Moses, Saint John, Aphrodite, Athena, Brigit, Dana, Maat, Maeve, and Merlin.  Basically, the Ascended Masters were those people who became spiritual leaders in their Earthly life.  They are considered masters of their realm and were granted high position in Heaven.  Masters are relevant to all faiths and can be called upon for assistance whenever there is a need.

Now let’s talk about some ways that you can begin to communicate for yourself.  Dreams are a very common way for angels, guides and loved ones to try communicating with us.  It is the easiest for us to see and hear the other side upon awakening or when we’re just falling asleep.  Being in a dream state puts our ego on hold, and our subconscious is in charge.  While the ego likes to tell us that everything is just coincidence, our higher self (soul) breaks free in the subconscious.  To begin communicating in your sleep, you must first hold the intention of wanting to do so.  Say aloud or within your mind, “Dear _______, I want to talk to you in my sleep.  Please come to me tonight, and help me remember my dreams in the morning.  Thank you.”  You can ask for a loved one, angel, etc.  Don’t be upset if you don’t have the dream you expect or don’t remember any dreams.  Holding the intention and trying is the first step.

Important suggestions are #1 to keep a dream journal.  Keep a spiral bound notebook and pen at your bedside and write down anything you can remember upon awakening . . . colors, feelings, people, etc.  If you wake up in the middle of the night, be sure to also note the time you awoke.  You may not notice anything immediately, but the colors, numbers, feelings, situations, or other things may mean something to you in a few days.  (Be sure to also date your journal.)  Suggestion #2 is to get an amethyst and put it either in your pillow case (tumbled only) or again at your bedside.  Be sure to cleanse the crystal by using the smoke of white sage or another cleansing method and ask the crystal to help you to have intuitive dreams that connect you with whomever you wish.  Suggestion #3 is to protect yourself if you are afraid.  This can easily block you from remembering, and can prevent you from connecting at all.  If you are afraid, ask your Master Guide to guide you during your dreams.  Unlike regular Spirit Guides, your Master Guide has been with you since you were born into this lifetime and is your main guide.  If you don’t know your Master Guide, or prefer extra protection, call in Archangel Michael.  Archangel Michael is the “Guardian of Guardians”.  If you are ever afraid or needing courage, calling in Michael is calling in the “Big Guns”!

Meditation is another wonderful tool to help you connect with the other side.  The most common response to the idea of meditating is “I don’t have time for that!”  But you do have time!  Do you take a daily shower?  Let’s hope so.  It’s this simple . . . while taking your shower, imagine the water as a waterfall of Divine White Light falling down over your body and cleansing away negativity and impurities.  Allow the light to enter through the top of your head (your crown chakra) and flow through your body and out the palms of your hands and soles of your feet.  Just stand there and allow yourself to feel the warmth and love of this Heavenly energy.  This is a great little meditative exercise that will energize you for the day, help you stay positive, and begin to introduce you to the energy and simplicity of mediation.

Meditation Recommendations for Communicating
Angels & Guides Meditation CD by John Edward – This program discusses the differences between angels and spirit guides then walks you through a guided meditation to meet your own guides.
Take a bath!  Relax into a hot bath to get some quiet relaxation time.  Tell your angels and guides this is their time to talk to you, and allow your mind to drift into nothingness.
Experiment with different aromatherapy scents or colored bath salts.

Here’s a favorite method of mine . . . Ask a question then forget about it.  Don’t constantly look for the answer to your prayer.  Really, I just ask something like “Please give me sign about ________.”  Then I go on with my day and forget about it, all the while having faith that my question will be answered in its own time.  My answer usually comes when I’m in a meditative state by accident like when doing the dishes, cleaning, driving, etc.  All of a sudden, I will just “know” the answer.  Or, an important message may come from a song on the radio or overhearing a conversation.  For example, I wanted to know if I should continue to work on a specific project that I had put on the back burner for a while.  I accidentally came across a book related to my project but thought it might be coincidence, so I asked for confirmation.  Then, I received a phone call from a client I hadn’t heard from in a while that discussed a specific name that means something to my project.  The final confirmation was when I was at an event recently where a woman walked up to me and specifically asked if I had anything like my project.  Once you at least begin to notice the guidance coming to you, more will come, and it will become more and more difficult to ignore.

Once you have learned some basics, you can begin to practice some of what’s called “The 4 Clairs”. . . . Clairsentience, Clairvoyance, Clairaudience, and Claircognizance.  Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by the titles; it’s really not that hard.

Clairsentience is probably the most common way that people receive messages from the other side.  Named “The Force” in Star Wars, Clairsentience is the physical and emotional reactions we have as an intuition about different places, ideas, people, and events.  Gut feelings, hunches, spiritual senses; it’s a strong sudden sensation or emotion unrelated to current surroundings.  It’s when you “just have a feeling”.  Clairvoyance is the most well known form of “seeing the future”; however, it’s not always about having detailed visions like Phoebe Halliwell on Charmed.  Clairvoyance also includes having detailed or lucid dreams.  Although Clairsentience is known as “clearly seeing”, it is not always related to seeing with your physical eyes as visions usually happen within the safety of your mind.  Clairvoyance is from the Third Eye Chakra which is in the middle of your forehead just above your physical eyes.  Clairvoyant messages may come to you through snapshot mental images or whole scenarios you see within your mind’s eye (third eye).  Seeing colors/auras and angel lights/orbs, having corner of the eye visions, and seeing visual signs or symbols (objects) are also forms of Clairvoyance.

Clairaudience is when you hear guidance or messages.  Considered the still small voice from within, Clairaudience can come in the form of overhearing a conversation, a song on the radio, your own inner voice, a voice outside your head, or evening ringing in your ears.  Doreen Virtue tells a story about how she was saved from being harmed by someone trying to steal her car because of a loud voice that came from nowhere.  Joan of Arc also heard voices.  Although she was considered crazy, many believe that Joan did really hear the Voice of God.  Fear of being considered crazy is a big reason that many Clairaudient people are closed off to this gift.  But, rest assured, you are not always crazy when you hear voices.  Just be sure you know the difference between true guidance and something else.  True Divine Guidance from Heaven will be supportive and loving while false guidance will compare you to others, may ask you to hurt yourself or others, and may be just plain creepy.

Claircognizance is when you all of a sudden just “know” something without any reason for knowing, and it is also the most difficult form of communication to trust because of the fact that those who are most likely to be primarily Claircognizant are highly intellectual people.  They are the people who cannot be hypnotized, those who are more scientifically minded, and those that are the most likely to doubt information which seems to come from nowhere.  These intelligent people are more likely to believe that they’ve just made up what they’re thinking on their own.  Claircognizance is when you receive sudden revelations, insights, foresight, or other knowledge.

To help open yourself up to connecting with the Angelic Realm, it could be very helpful to have an Angel Reader/Medium/Channel give you a reading where you can begin to understand what it’s like to work with the Angelic Realm.  You may even be able to uncover past life issues that might hold you back from opening up to your own abilities.  This is also where healing sessions can be helpful in removing any blockages and jumpstarting/balancing your Chakras (internal energy system).  Of course, there are many types of healers including those who use angel energy, Reiki practitioners, Shamanic healers, etc.  Whether for a reading or a healing session, it is best to go with what makes you feel comfortable.

To find out more about connecting with the Angelic Realm for yourself, there are many products on the market you can consider.  Some products I personally recommend are as follows:

Divine Guidance by Dr. Doreen Virtue
Archangels & Ascended Masters by Dr. Doreen Virtue
Angels & Guides Meditation by John Edward or Developing Your Own Psychic Powers by John Edward which includes the other meditation.

Rev. Sheri Kozdron is a Spiritual Intuitive and Teacher who offers her readings and healing sessions to clients all over the world.  She offers angelic guidance and messages for past, present, and future through her work as an Angel Medium.  Rev. Sheri is also Certified Master Crystal Healer who uses her knowledge of crystals and Divine ability to channel Angel Energy to heal energetic issues within the body and all levels of the aura and soul.

Rev. Sheri’s most popular class is her Mediumship Workshop where she teaches students how to communicate with angels, guides and loved ones for themselves.  While Rev. Sheri believes that that seeking “professional help” from a Psychic Medium like herself is important, she believes even more in the necessity of learning to communicate for yourself.

Check out www.AngelMessenger.net for the Angel Moments Podcast and Free Online Angel Card Readings!  You’ll also find an Online Store with products to help you develop your spiritual and intuitive self.