Every morning this summer my son (12) makes healing potions, requested by people, in the forest. Today he made Lynx Potion - to help people reconnect with their Wild Self!
I am writing this article in a place where the Forest meets the Sea, in long-hand because I have chosen to be away from my computer and diary. Sweden still has "vildmark": true wilderness, where sea eagles nest in tree tops and there is an occasional sighting of lynxes and wolves.
People who never spend time in "The Wild" lose touch with their innate "wildness". A generation of children now grows up missing out on the poetry, medicine and teachings of All Things Wild. For them a "mouse" is a computer device and a "troll" is an internet bully...
In July 2016 I delivered a presentation on the Shamanism Global Summit (http://shamanismsummit.com/) and my main message was that young people need a spiritual toolkit. This can save their sanity, even lives, in challenging periods. Shamanism offers the most ancient techniques for creative problem-solving known to humankind, through developing a personal hotline to spirit.
People from all over the world wrote in saying that hey had wanted to use shamanism with children but for decades some shamanic teachers told us not to. Indeed children in tribal settings naturally participate in spiritual community life through ceremonies, ancestor worship and rites of passage. Children truly are natural born shamans! However, children in Western culture grow up on a rather odd mix of Christian influences and scientific linear thinking. Their innate spirituality is often not fed .Then there is the world of on-line gaming and extremely young children stepping into ready-made fantasy worlds dominated by fighting and "kill-scores". (Please note: the most powerful characters in those games are always shamans, wizzards or sorcerers!) Babies as young as 12 months old already have their own tablets and play games.
I get heart-breaking emails from people reading my book saying that their (grand) children are showing signs of attention defiicit disorder. "They won't sit still long enough for anyone to talk to them about spiritual things... " Children (aged only 4 - 6 years) will say: "Spiritual stuff doesn't exist ..." So I say (to the adults): "You yourself are the best tool you have!! Young children (even those without attention deficit issues!) indeed do not like sitting still and listening for long periods. They like doing, moving ,experiencing, tasting and making a glorious creative mess!"
Magic is innate, it is our human birth right! It does not require schooling - just an open mind and gentle encouragement. Take children to the forest! Suspend any disbelief by saying: "In my imagination....."
... I can hear the trees singing and I am now going to hum along...
... someone left a message for us, look at this unusual leaf!
Involve them in DOING: growing antlers, climbing trees or making potions!
What starts off "in our imagination" or as "a game" involving all senses quickly takes on the quality of being real. Our perception shifts. We see glimpses of other worlds and their inhabitants. Portals open, we drop through the cracks between the worlds where the Winds of Change and Inspiration blow.
Our Brendan is a city child (he lives in London). He does not know the names of many trees or plants. This does not stop him from picking out ingredients for his potions: a rowan leaf for magic, an owl's feather to help someone see in the dark, a pine cone turning a potion bright red, birch bark, lichen, magical symbols scribbled on pieces of paper.
Brendan has mastered the art of soul-to-soul communication with all sentient beings (and for him mountains, rivers and clouds are included in that!) The plants and trees themselves tell him all he needs to know.
Here are some of his recipes:
Find an old forest, ideally a place where wild big cats live (lynxes, cougars or mountain lions). Find the biggest rock in that forest. Leave a bowl of rain water out overnight under the full moon). Sing a Lynx song to call in the Lynx Powers. - Collect the potion the next morning. Sing a song to thank the Forest Beings. Add a few drops to your daily drinking water - not too many or too often! This is powerful medicine!!
Meeting Your Soul Mate Potion
Use a red container. Fill with water from a lake, river or sea. Pick red berries (cowberries or rowan berries are good). Find other ingredients that call you: two of each, in pairs! Find two trees that have become entwined and grown inseparable. Leave your potion in a hollow cradled by those trees overnight. Collect the next morning. Do not drink but look into it every day.Watch your soul mate get closer. Do until the soul mate appears. Then pour the water out in nature with a prayer and gratitude.
Blessing A New Baby Potion
Find the oldest tree you can find - and the youngest! Ask for permission to pick a twig from both. Put in a bowl. Find other ingredients: birch bark, berries and one pebble that looks like an child or embryo. Sing a blessing song where you ask the wisdom of the Old Ones to passed on to the Young Ones. Leave this potion under a starry sky for one night! Collect the next morning. Use some drops of the water in a ceremony to bless the baby while baby's grand mother sings a Blessing Song!
Oh and one more thing, here is Brendan's recipe for "not getting lost in the wilderness": make forays every day and give names to all landmarks: Frogs Crossing, Rabbit Rock, Horned God Hollow, Blueberry Fields etc. Then you will always find your way home. And if you do get lost - the nature spirits will tell you how to get home safely!
Imelda Almqvist, Kärrshagen, Tystberga, Sweden, August 2016
About the author:
Imelda Almqvist's book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books on 26th August 2016. She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.
Her youngest son Brendan is 12 years old. At age 9 he published his first book: The Love Hall, Brendan's Travel Guide To The Best Places In The Spirit World. His film The Dream Chasm made him the youngest presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit in July 2016 (www.shamanismsummit.com/)
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