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Sylvia Linsteadt Web Banner | SpiritMAMA Blog

Sylvia Linsteadt, the Wild and Wonderful

There are so many really cool people doing cool stuff out in the world right now. And, given that we are supposed to be living in a post modern melting-pot world where nothing new ever happens anymore, it is always such a joy to come across them.

I have often thought that if we make it – wouldn’t it be wonderful if, instead of running 100 miles per hour towards the destruction of everything, that we actually made it through the other side – to the 1000 years of peace on the green earth that Jesus talked about (was it Jesus?) and if the world were populated by thinkers like Charles Eisenstein and Joanna Macey, artists like Rima Staines and writers like Sylvia Linsteadt.

I think we’d be ok.

Sylvia Victor Linsteadt is a writer, artist, and certified animal tracker. Her work—both fiction and non-fiction—explores the tenets of deep ecology and wild myth, and is devoted to radically transforming and broadening our human stories to include the voices, perspectives and dreams of the more-than-human world.

Her books include The Wonderments of the East Bay, The Lost Worlds of the Bay Area and Tatterdemalion, (Unbound, forthcoming 2016/2017) (a project with the aforementioned artist Rima Staines).

For three years (from 2013 to 2016) Sylvia ran a stories-in-the-mail business called Wild Talewort, in which she sent out rewilded tellings of fairytales and myths to the physical-post boxes of hundreds of subscribers around the world.

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Jonah and the Whale | SpiritMAMA Blog

A Meeting with Death in the West

I’m wrapping up a year-long traverse deep down into the medicine spiral. Like a medicine wheel but with Celtic leanings, the spiral takes us into ourselves and back out again, shiny and new.

So much has come out of these retreat weekends, five in all. At the dawn of each season and corresponding direction, and one more for the heart-centre, we meet, we meditate, we cook food together, we immerse in the teachings.

This past weekend was the West, the Fall and Samhain. No matter the lineage, the theme of the West is always the same: death, dying, letting go, receding, resting and digesting. Just think of what’s happening in nature to steer your course (after all we humans are actually a part of it all, even though we vehemently deny it). The trees are bedding down, losing leaves, the plants in the garden receding, dropping into that heavy slumber that protects them through the winter – or perhaps they have been harvested for their gold and then composted, to be digested by the soil. Everything around us is dying, returning to the earth or moving onto the next energetic state, eventual rebirth, but for now the in-between. Samhain is the Celtic fire festival, the last of three harvest festivals and beginning of the coldest part of the year, the feminine half. Also celebrated as the Witches new year and Halloween, this is a liminal time, perhaps the most powerful, when the veil between the world of the living and the dead becomes thin.

Our group is quite big, about 25 of us, so my sharing hasn’t been really up to snuff. I must admit even though I’ve been the DJ countless times, in front of hundreds of people until dawn, and even though I’ve known these people in my group for close to a year now, I still have stage fright.

I want to share with you about one shamanic journey we did, to meet with Whale. Whale is the ancient and timeless record-keeper, recording migration routes and ancestral histories. Here’s what they had to tell me:

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Samhain Altar 2015 with Picture | SpiritMAMA Blog

Samhain Altar Share and Remembering Loved Ones

My Samhain altar this year is dedicated to my ancestors, my family, my husband’s ancestors and our recently departed.

Samhain Altar Share | Spirit Mama Blog Samhain Altar Share | Spirit Mama Blog

In the week leading up to Halloween, I had a very strong dream about an old friend of mine who died young. My best friend actually, in high-school, she was 17 when she died in a freak car crash. Her death effected me greatly for many years but I had not thought of her much lately.

In the dream I was visiting her mom in present time. Her mom was showing me pictures of her and pieces of her handwriting, clothing and other things of hers. In the background a song was playing, The Who’s, Listening to You. The Who was one of her favourite bands so it didn’t surprise me, but as I came up out of sleep into this world, the lyrics played over and over in my head:

See me,
feel me,
touch me,
heal me.

I cried for a while. After digesting the whole thing, I realized that it was a visitation. And that she wants to be remembered.

So I have her here on my altar this year, with some things of hers I still have, mainly that Mudhoney single – we were so punk rock.

Samhain Altar Share | Spirit Mama Blog Samhain Altar Share | Spirit Mama Blog

My altar is seasonal and changes quarterly, so I have items on there that correspond to where we are at on the great Wheel of the Year and to the celebration inside that quarter. For Samhain I have Cat, Crow, Toad, skeletons, dried tree branches, pumpkins, ghosts and witches, candles and incense, along-side pictures and personal items of our beloved dead.

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This is What You Shall Do

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men—go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families—re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.
~ Walt Whitman, Preface to “Leaves of Grass” (1855)

Click image to get it.

Woman With Clouds by Christian-Schloe | SpiritMAMA Blog

My Dear Guide – Shamanism and Grave’s Part Two

My road to recovery from illness has had many facets. Like peeling an onion only to get to the next layer, tears and all. There’s been the physical symptoms to address, but I knew from the beginning that this illness was more complex.

In 2012 my baby son was 3 years old. I started working out again for the first time after pregnancy. I wanted to get back into shape and to deal with the postpartum anxiety that had escalated through the first three years of my son’s life, to an uncomfortable ceiling.

Two months later I was feeling great. I did a body-weight workout three times per week and ran whenever I could. Then, on consecutive workouts I started getting chest pains. This was so strange that I ignored them at first, thinking it was a pectoral muscle strain. But then I noticed that the pain went away if I sat down to rest, which a muscle strain wouldn’t. When I clued in it was my heart I called a cardiac nurse friend of mine who said, “You realize that chest pain means your heart it stopping”.

Um. Nooo. I had not realized this.

Needless to say I stopped working out. Tests revealed that my heart was in perfect condition, but that I had Grave’s: my thyroid was being stimulated to produce too much thyroid hormone, which felt similar to being on a steady drip of adrenaline.

I had been studying shamanism for the year prior to getting sick, and working with a shaman.

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The Fairy Faith Documentary Art by Brian Froud | SpiritMAMA Blog

The Fairy Faith Documentary

Happy Mabon season my friends! Happy flu season. Seems everyone around me is sick at the moment. Have the flu myself today, this morning I sat down to rest and watch this lovely film that came across my desk. It really is quite beguiling. Some breathtakingly beautiful music and shots of fairy glens and mounds in Ireland and Scotland, the home of my ancestors.

Shot and directed by one of Canada’s celebrated documentary filmmakers John Walker, this little film is well worth the watch and watch again. I especially love the return to the old stories of fairies as being rather dark, and not necessarily friendly to humans. The idea that other beings live here along side of us, but have nothing much else to do with us, has always intrigued me. Another race of spirit beings perhaps, that is infinitely more connected to the land than we are, or perhaps even part of the land in an intrinsic way. Maybe the personification of nature in all of its wildness, raw beauty and unpredictability.

Check out the story at the end in particular, told by the construction worker – I laughed out loud it was so astonishing. And hey, bonus interview with Brian Froud, a real treat!

The Fairy Faith (200) at IMDb 

This version hosted on Youtube got taken down due to a copyright claim. Want a copy? Click the image to be taken to Amazon.

Princess and the Bear by John Bauer | SpiritMAMA Blog

How I Met Bear

First, I am mortally terrified of bears. It’s a phobia. Not sure why or when that happened. I grew up in a small town in the mountains. Bears convened regularly at the dump on the outskirts of town, right next to an abandoned field we kids used to play in, building forts a collecting garden snakes. You could see the bears on the horizon, a quarter their usual size, going about their business. I don’t remember ever being overly afraid of them. I was more afraid of dogs, because I was bitten a few times. Bears? You leave them alone, they leave you alone.

But as an adult I have this fear. It could be because of this crazy documentary I saw about this bear biologist who got eaten by a grizzly – what was it called? Oh yeah! Grizzly Man by Werner Herzog. Ak! That movie warped my brain. I hadn’t realized that bears actually eat people, occasionally. Then there are stories in the paper here and there (where I live anyways) about black bear maulings or that time that couple up in the Kootenays ran into a grizzly in the forest and it tried to eat the guy’s head?

Oh I know about those bears, they’ll getcha.

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Tree Carr Dream Journal | SpiritMAMA Blog

Dream Journal: Out of Body in Another Place

 May 27, 2006 – Afternoon
Lucid Dream – O.B.E


I fell asleep on the way back from a tour in Scotland. I was in the tour van. The rest of the band went on a 15 minute break at a rest stop I stayed in the van and fell asleep on my right side across the van’s back seats. I fell asleep with a t-shirt over my face.

The Dream

I woke to find myself looking at my body sleeping. I was sitting up on my knees to the left hand side of my body. I sensed that there was a ‘male’ presence right behind me with his hands on both my shoulders. I got kind of freaked out and somehow went back into my body. My eyes were open now but I was paralyzed and couldn’t move my heavy, heavy feeling body. I could only move my eyes around. The t-shirt was on my face. I could only see a sliver through the side. I could see up to the window with the sun shining through. I couldn’t even move my arms to move the t-shirt to better my view.

I could hear a ‘whooshing’ sound in the van and a whirring sound. Then a slithering sound and I was quite sure that the metal tentacle or ‘snake like creature’ (see Lucid Dream entry Sleep Paralysis, 52 and Alien Robots) was in the van moving around. I struggled to see if the creature was in the van but I could only see my narrow view through the side of the t-shirt covering my face. I saw no creature in my view-point but I could hear it as clear as anything. Then all of a sudden I felt myself being pulled to the floor of the van. It was like a very strange gravity. I slid down off the seat onto the floor.

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1888 Flammarion Engraving | SpiritMAMA Blog

Magic(k), Black and White and Read all Over

Aaah. The inter-webs sends me on rambling inspired journeys. I’m not sure where this one started. I’m sitting at home in bed with a mild concussion this week. I seriously hit my head on the car door, Yes, only I, Sky can get whiplash falling out of bed (another story) and a concussion getting into my car.

Anyways it’s summer holidays and my family is away camping. So, I naturally end up online reading, researching, catching up and falling down rabbit holes.

I revisited an excellent blog, called Rune Soup, written by a chaos magician (more on that it a bit). More importantly, he’s damned funny (no pun intended).  And since when you have a concussion you are not supposed to read anything, or stare at a computer screen, I was delighted to see that he has a podcast.

I listened to an interview with a guy named Jake Stratton-Kent, a goetic magician. What piqued my interest was the discussion of these old manuscripts called the Grimoires – apparently there are many of them, written hundreds of years ago.

I really knew nothing about the subject. I have of course come across the term ‘magic’ before, in the context of witchcraft, you know, standing in a circle, spell casting, black candles and love potions. But, really overall, that’s as far as my knowledge goes and until now, my interest.
I think I:
1) have never taken any of it seriously and
2) have been put off by the gothy stereotypes and
3) well ok maybe it all creeps me out a little bit.

But I got curious this week because I kept coming across terminology that I have heard before but never knew the root of, like chaos magic, The Key of Solomon, Kabbala and sorcery in the real world sense. And I wondered how does all of this compare and relate to witchcraft and shamanism? And where do I personally sit with all of it?

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