Queen of Me

Queen Cottonwood Tree
Queen Cottonwood Tree

I have decided that it’s time to be the Queen of Me!

Seriously. I have been exploring the Celtic concept of being sovereign. This was a foreign idea to me until recently; something I had never even considered. But being sovereign in your own life is a key part of the Celtic belief system. And being of Scottish and Welsh descent, I tend to naturally resonate with all things Celtic. So, a few months ago, I began researching Celtic sovereignty. And I have been slowly teasing out what sovereignty means to me. And that’s how I became the Queen of Me. 🙂

My Celtic ancestors viewed Mother Earth herself to be the sovereign ruler of all of life; in ancient Ireland, mere mortal men were made kings only after they acknowledged and honored the sovereignty of the land.  I completely agree with the idea of Mother Earth’s sovereignty; none of us would be alive on this planet were it not for the bounty of food, water and oxygen that our earthy mother provides. Mother Earth rules human life, whether we choose to acknowledge and honor her or not.

But what exactly do I mean by sovereignty?  The dictionare defines it as:

Sovereignty  n.

1. Supremacy of authority or rule as exercised by a sovereign or sovereign state.
2. Royal rank, authority, or power.
3. Complete independence and self-government.
4. A territory existing as an independent state.

Hmmm, yes to governing myself,  yes to being independent and to holding royal rank, authority and power within myself. And the terms ‘state’ and  ‘territory’ imply set boundaries to me, which every human is expected to honor and respect. Yes to honoring boundaries. A BIG Yes to sovereignty over my self and every part of my life.

When I dig further, I discover that ancient Celtic Shaman placed sovereignty at the center of the Celtic wheel of life. In many depictions of the Celtic wheel, the Tree of Life sits sovereign at the center or axis mundi of the circle. The Celtic Tree of Life holds the center, reaching limbs up and roots down to connect heaven with earth. And the tree spreads out horizontally from the center of it all, making connections with the 4 directions of north, east, south and west. I find it so beautiful and appropriate that my Celtic ancestors chose the tree to symbolize holding center and being sovereign.

A Celtic spirit wheel depicts the Celtic view of life in much the same way the Native North American medicine wheel depicts their view of life. When I look at one of these sacred wheels, or physically walk within one,  I get a visceral sense of sovereignty; I understand in a deeper way how important it is for each of us to consciously own ourselves; to claim ownership of our bodies, our thoughts, our emotions, our actions and our beliefs as we live and interact in the world.

In their book, Goddesses Who Rule, Beverly Moon and Elisabeth Benard link the word “sovereign” to the Sanskrit word  sva-raj, which means “self-rule”.  Another meaning for raj is “luminous” or “radiance.”  How fitting – embracing sovereignty is not just about ruling over one’s self but also allowing our inner luminous radiance to shine in the world. When we are sovereign, others are not allowed to control our fate. We empower ourselves. We give ourselves permission to shape ourselves and our fate and create the life we truly desire.

What would it look like if I were truly sovereign in my own life?  Nelson Mandela comes to mind when I try to think of a person that embodies my idea of sovereignty.  Nelson was never Celtic by any stretch of the imagination. But when I look back at his history, I see a man whose entire life revolved around being sovereign; he stayed true to himself and held on to his own knowing and dignity during decades of imprisonment. And after his release from prison, Nelson tirelessly championed the cause of the black people gaining sovereign rule in South Africa long after most men retire from public life.

Ultimately Nelson Mandela became an icon; a symbol of the transformation that is possible when a simple human being lives in the knowing of their true wisdom and worth. He held onto himself and his knowing, even when ridiculed and abused for his views. And he transformed his world. For me, Nelson embodies sovereignty in every sense of the word. As he, himself once put it…

“I am the captain of my Soul.” ~Nelson Mandela

I claim sovereignty over my Self. I choose to captain my Soul through this life in the quiet, eloquent way that Nelson Mandela embodied.  I claim sovereignty.  And  I understand that just my intention of claiming sovereignty over my life changes everything. My journey shifts and deepens. This is another turn along my spiral path.


Celtic Tree of Life

an original design by Welsh artist Jen Delyth  ©1990 

☾ ☽


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

Creating the World

In honor of the Creative new moon in airy Gemini tomorrow, I’d like to share one of my favorite creation myths. This one is from the Hindu tradition:

Hindu God Vishnu
Hindu God Vishnu

Before this time and this universe began, there was no heaven, no earth and no space between. A vast dark ocean washed upon the shores of nothingness in the void.  A giant cobra floated on the waters. Asleep within its endless coils lay the Lord Vishnu. This great blue God slept and was watched over by the mighty serpent. Everything was so peaceful and silent that Vishnu slept undisturbed. Then, from the depths of the waters, a humming sound began; Ohm. The sound of Ohm grew and spread, filling the ocean with throbbing, pulsing energy. 

Night ended, and Vishnu awoke. As the dawn began to break, a magnificent lotus flower grew out of Vishnu’s navel. In the middle of the blossom sat Vishnu’s servant, Brahma. He awaited Vishnu’s command. 

Vishnu said, ‘It is time to begin.’ Brahma bowed and Vishnu ordered him to create the world. A wind swept over the ocean and Vishnu vanished, along with his serpent protector.

Brahma remained in the lotus flower, floating and tossing on the sea. He lifted up his arms and calmed the wind and the ocean. 

Then Brahma split the lotus flower into three. He stretched one part into the heavens. He made another part into the earth. With the third part of the flower he created the skies. 

The earth was bare, so Brahma created flowers, trees, grasses and plants of all shapes and sizes. And he created all kinds of animals to live on the land; birds, insects, mammals and fish. The world was soon rumbling with life and the air was filled with the sounds of Brahma’s creation.

It is said that this Universe will continue to exist until Vishnu closes his eyes to sleep again.

Shadows and Joy

Shadow Joy

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.
When the mind is pure,  joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”

Joy can seem as elusive and slippery as a soap bubble.

Yet once, years ago in meditation, I realized that joy and misery lie just a hair’s width apart within my mind. The image of joy and misery just micrometers apart within me, was so clear that I startled and came out of my reverie giggling. I remember that moment in vivid detail even now years later.  And I know that I choose whether I will feel joy or misery or something in between in this moment. And the next. And the next.

It only takes a tiny shift in the mind to move from misery into joy; a micron of a shift; just a slightly altered point of view.

Breathe. And breathe again. Deep, slow breaths that fill your lungs. And feel whatever body sensations are present now; feel the sensations that joy is hiding behind. Breathe and feel your body. Then allow joy to step out of the shadows and be here now.

Can it really be that simple? Yes. Yes!

“A human being is only breath and shadow.”

Seeing the World with Sacred Eyes

Sacred Bark
Sacred Bark

“The way we see the world shapes the way we treat it.
If a mountain is a deity, not a pile of ore; if a river is one of the veins of the land, not potential irrigation water; if a forest is a sacred grove, not timber; if other species are biological kin, not resources; or if the planet is our mother, not an opportunity – then we will treat each other with greater respect. Thus is the challenge, to look at the world from a different perspective.” 

~David Suzuki

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I climbed up Buffalo Ridge yesterday. I nicknamed this ridge that shelters our home to the southeast Buffalo Ridge months ago –  it just has the energy of buffalo roaming free for me.  Well, yesterday I climbed to the top of Buffalo Ridge. And now, as I stare out my window at that ridge, it looks completely different to me.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been talking about climbing this ridge for 2 years and I FINALLY did it!  Yes, that’s part of the change.

But my internal shift involves more than just accomplishing something that I set out to do; Buffalo Ridge is now known to me in a completely different way. I have an intimate relationship with this ridge now; I look at Buffalo Ridge and see the rocks I scrambled over to reach the very top. And I see the circle of old pines that I sat beneath and rested. I remember startling the deer that were bedded down on its slope in the heat of  mid-day.  And I remember all the cactus just on the verge of blooming as well as the little white flowers already in full bloom.

Buffalo Ridge Flowers
Buffalo Ridge Flowers

Today I look out the window and I don’t see a ridge that I climbed. Instead I see an ally that watches over my home and neighborhood. I see a friend who shared some beautiful secrets with me. I am connected to Buffalo Ridge in a new way, and it will never again look like ‘just a hill’ to me!

Living Ground
Living Ground

Conscious Tidbit – Modigenous

Modern Shamanic Drum
Modigenous Shamanic Drum

I love what my friend Jon Crowder shares below about integrating ancient tribal traditions with our modern ways. What a potent way to honor the old and create something new that we can own and embrace on every level:


Birthing the Modern/indigenous Person

“I’ve been facilitating drumming/rhythm programs with diverse groups for about 12-15 years.  The programs are rooted in indigenous ceremonial wisdom that I adapt to the modern world.  Something strong has been growing in me.  I experience and see how so many people respond to the drum, circle, indigenous principles adapted in a way they can connect with, etc…  I’ve also been observing the growth of sustainability, green movement, etc…  Spirit has been telling me that a new kind of person is being born.  And, it’s not necessarily a function of age in physical reality.  I believe the modern world is reconciling itself with the indigenous world.  And, vice versa.  Both need each other to survive.  Somewhere in the middle energetically, a new kind of person is being born, who is a reconciliation of the modern and indigenous.  The word that Spirit has offered me is modigenous.  It’s a new word because it has to be.  It’s a new kind of person that has a foot in both worlds. 

How do we embrace the best of both worlds and reconcile so many seemingly conflicting energies?  It’s possible and happening.  A fundamental part of the process seems to be an opening to a deeper connection with the Earth, then drawing that energy into our modern lives in order to live in deeper relationship with all of life.  It’s also honoring and liberating the spiritual  connection that the vast majority of people have experienced with nature.  And, I see ways to reframe and infuse the modern world with indigenous energy, which is happening in business, politics, religion, education, etc…  

I’ve been writing about this and offering pieces to groups, but will offer more soon.  It feels very important to speak about this because I see many people trying to reconcile this energy in themselves.  Last, if this speaks to you, please contact me.  I want to connect with more people to hear how it resonates with them.”


~Jon Crowder, Peak Rhythms Inc.


Dream Flow Experience

Mermaid Girl
Mermaid Girl

Our dreams can help us heal by reconnecting us with aspects of ourselves that we have suppressed, or lost touch with. Below, I share a dream flow experience that was deeply healing for me personally. In traditional Shamanic terms, this is called a soul retrieval journey:

The Return of Mermaid Girl

“I lie in my bath, and I daydream about the power of trees in dream journeys. Suddenly, I can see my favorite tree from childhood – the one where I spent hours perched on a branch reading Nancy Drew and King Arthur stories.  

In my mind, I go back to that tree on the edge of the cow pasture; I can feel the rough bark and the curve of the branch under me. I imagine myself shrinking and climbing down its roots into the earth.  I spiral down the main root in my mind – seeing the dark rich soil. I go further and further down until I find myself in a huge cavern with a slow moving underground river Flowing by.

I know I have traveled this route before – it all looks so familiar.  I jump into the water. I wonder about a guide and imagine dolphins – no manatees swimming with me, guiding me. we swim downstream through a series of 3 pools, each a different color.

In the last pool, I see my 7 year old self sitting on the beach with our old dachshund under her arm.  I get out of the water crying, I am so happy to see her – she is mermaid girl – the part of me that KNEW she was destined to grow gills and swim away. And so she did.

I ask her to come back with me, telling her how much my life has changed.  She is reluctant at first to return to this reality. She didn’t like this place much!  We finally agree that she will come back and be my treasure hunter part; she will hunt for stories that I can use in my writing and in my classes. It is the perfect job for her – she adores books; myths and stories especially.

Mermaid girl and I merge energetically. I am ecstatic. I jump back in the water and swim with the manatees up through the pools to the cavern. I climb up the tree roots and fly home on eagle.”

The Shamanic World

Ponderosa Guide
Tree Guide

 Shamanism is the oldest spiritual practice on Earth. It has existed since the beginnings of our human tribe. Ancient cave paintings in Australia, the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa depict Shaman performing rituals tens of thousands of years ago.  “Shaman” is a Siberian word that means “one who sees in the dark”.  

Throughout history there have been many different types of Shaman and practices vary from tribe to tribe. But the hallmark of every Shaman, both ancient and modern, is the ability to intuitively “see in the dark” and travel beyond this physical plane into non-ordinary reality. The Australian aborigines call non-ordinary reality the Dreamtime. The Celtic tribes of Britain referred to it as the Other World. And modern Shaman continue to use ancient methods to enter a deep meditative or trance state and see in the dark, beyond this reality.

Maintaining Balance

Shaman believed in the “web of life” long before modern theories of ecology were formulated; I consider Shaman to be the first environmentalists.  From a Shamanic viewpoint, everything is alive and has a spirit; grass, pine tree, fox, flower, stone and river are all infused and flowing with spiritual essence and consciousness. To the Shaman, Mother Earth is a pulsing, flowing living system where humans are completely interwoven and interdependent with every other form of life. All of life is interconnected; any belief that humans are separate from other life forms is an illusion, according to Shaman.

One of the Shaman’s primary roles in the community was (and is) to maintain balance between the members of the tribe and all other forms of life on Earth. In indigenous cultures, Shaman performed many sacred ceremonies and spiritual rituals for the tribe in order to maintain balance; e.g. blessing every hunting expedition, divining where the tribe should settle or when to plant crops, welcoming newborn babies into the tribe, and helping the dying make their transition to spirit gracefully.

Shamanic Healing

Shamanism is also the oldest form of healing on this planet. Long before antibiotics, surgeries and heart stents, Shamanic healers journeyed into non-ordinary reality to learn about the nature of illness and help their tribe heal. And today, modern Shamanic practitioners such as myself continue to journey, seeking guidance and help with the healing of many different kinds of physical, emotional and spiritual wounds.

Shaman are said to see with their hearts, rather than logical minds. And Shamanic healing practices have a deep spiritual and emotional focus. Psychopomp, spiritual intrusion, soul retrieval, energy extraction, depossession… there are many Shamanic healing practices with odd and intimidating names. These ancient healing practices are designed to help you:

  • locate and release energies from your body-mind-spirit that do not belong there
  • regain power and other energies that are lost or stuck in your past
  • locate and unlock aspects of your Soul or True Self that are frozen or “lost”

Shamanic healing is very effective for understanding and healing painful or traumatic experiences. And because of the Shaman’s focus on balancing the entire web of life, Shamanic healing practices tend to be innately holistic,  integrating all aspects of body, mind, heart and spirit into the healing process.

The Journey Process

A Shaman journeys in trance state in order to perform ‘divination’ and gather spiritual information about your illness and its cause. The shaman acts as a “hollow bone”, becoming a channel for healing energies and spiritual wisdom. You may travel to non-ordinary reality with the Shaman, or they may go alone. During the journey, spirit allies help the Shaman to uncover the cause of the illness. The spiritual helpers may also assist the Shaman in performing any process required for healing during the journey. The Shaman may merge with a helping spirit and/or elemental energies in order to help you heal. 

When Shaman travel into Dreamtime in search of healing, they seek guidance from allies and guides in spiritual form; e.g. angels, ancestors, departed teachers – Shaman call on all sources of wisdom. And the answers may be found in non-human forms as well;  a power animal or totem, a wise old tree, a flower, a gem stone or even a place of power on Mother Earth may hold wisdom that is the key to healing. In the Shamanic world, healing wisdom is found in all forms of life. 

Everything is Connected
Separation is an Illusion
All is One