Posted in divine magic, Shamanism

Sacred Clown

I wrote about the healing power of creativity and play recently and that got me thinking about the shamanic role of the sacred clown.

In certain tribal cultures, there’s a community role for sacred clowns. They are called by different names in different tribes, one commonly known name is heyoka, so I’ll use that term here.

The role of the sacred clown is not so much to make people laugh but to make them think. They do that by absurd and often backwards behaviour; they may be nice to an unpleasant person and mean to a kind person. This would mirror what each needs to learn. The unpleasant person would usually be treated dismissively but rarely receive any kindness. The kind person would expect to be treated pleasantly, so being treated badly for no reason presents a challenge to their ego. The heyoka is very tuned in to what people need and intuitively provides it.

In the West, clowns in circuses throw custard pies, mime slapstick entertainment that may also involve the kind of unexpected ‘backward’ behaviour used by the heyoka. We also have comedians whose words may get us thinking about things in a different way. Neither are seen as spiritual roles like heyoka, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything spiritual going on.

Most tribal societies that are healthy, balanced and not adversely impacted by the Western world, naturally thrive on laughter. Every activity can produce humour and fun, even spiritual ceremonies and sacred events are often light-hearted and full of laughter. Laughter is reverence, whereas to us, being serious and not ‘playing about’ is reverence.

Heyoka act as role models for the community, reminding people to turn things around, what we might term thinking outside the box. They mimic and tease a person to help them see differently and challenge the ego. They use the ridiculous and surreal to jolt people out of a complacent mindset. They are powerful and highly respected members of the community who can break taboos that nobody else would dare.

In Europe, we used to have jesters in medieval times. That’s where the term ‘playing the fool’ came from. Jesters were usually close to the throne and could get away with more than most. They were free to insult and name-call by means of japes. Perhaps they once had a similar role to heyoka.

A special skill of the Celtic druids was a form of poetry called satire. In the past, satire was akin to making a curse, a powerful act intended to cause injury. Once a person was satirised, they were stripped of their legendary Celtic pride and could no longer show their face, they were effectively ostracised and banished afar. Today, satire is a kind of humour but to the Celts, it was a powerful weapon. Satire was executed by a well trained bard who understood how to use the profound magical power of words.

Have you heard about the ancient totem poles discovered at Stonehenge, predating the stones? If so, you may realise there are spiritual artefacts shared between prehistoric British culture and native American tribal societies. Despite being separated geographically and by thousands of years, shamanic societies across the world had common understandings and similar ways of expressing their relationship with the land and each other. And some practices are as relevant today as ever they were, like the sacred clowns.

(Image: “Shamanic Sacred Clown Heyoka” art by Amenet Drago)

Posted in artistic, divine magic, healing, Inspiration

Creativity and Play

When creating, we are co-creating with the Divine Source.

Through creativity, we speak our truth and express our authentic self. This is the path of the soul. And this is healing in action.

Creativity is play and being playful is a spiritual activity.

When we play, we relax. In relaxation, we naturally connect with the divine flow.

When we laugh and have fun, ego naturally falls away. We are living life in conscious presence, we are accepting the flow of life.

The universe is our playground and the soul journey transforms life into play and laughter, if we invite it to and allow it.

Let past and future drop away….it’s time to embrace creativity and play!

Posted in divine magic, healing, inner child, play

Sacred Play is Divine Magic

The energies that have been coming forward recently and lighting up my life are a little unusual for me. For a long while, I’ve been embracing the dark, engaging with shadow work, even befriending death. And this is like coming out into the sunshine.

What’s been coming forward is sacred play. I was shown how we, as children are often not allowed to play. We are stopped from play so often by the fears, judgements and limitations that the adults around us carry. Maybe our play is discouraged because it’s considered inappropriate; “You’re a girl/boy, you shouldn’t be doing that. Why don’t you do this instead?” Or maybe circumstances meant we had to grow up quickly and take on adult responsibilities at a young age.

Whether we got to play freely and without limitations or judgements as a child or not, we usually received this message by the time we reached teenage years and young adulthood; “Playing is for children, grow up!”

Well, I have news for you. Play is for us all at every age. There are no restrictions and play is healthy, healing, loving and necessary for our holistic wellbeing. It works on every level, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Play is freedom to explore, be creative, let go, express ourselves safely, have fun, it feeds us body and soul.

Sacred play is playing consciously, knowing that play isn’t something we do because we are childish, but something we do to fulfil, complete and enrich ourselves in every sense.

Few adults know how to play with gay abandon without the use of alcohol or drugs. Those that do are often judged for it, as if they are being irresponsible. Maybe that’s why some people take alcohol or drugs, to get past the inhibitions and find a place where they can let go.

When we play as adults it may look different to child play. Sacred play is not recognised by the activity, it’s recognised by the sense of joy, merriment, curiosity, engagement, immersion, creativity, pleasure and freedom all coming together within any given situation.

Have you ever entered a room where two little children are playing together? Perhaps they didn’t notice you were there. But you watched and saw how deeply focused on the story they were, how creative with the ideas, words and possibilities they expressed. Whether a bundle of laughs or totally serious, they are so present in their play. Little children know how to play until adults interfere and start telling them what is acceptable and what is not.

We are still children inside, children who want to play. Each moment of our lives is held within our energy. That fearless, feisty little girl or boy you once were, until it was knocked out of you, s/he is still there waiting to come out to play. So let’s reclaim play, sacred play. Adult play doesn’t mean acting like a child, it means channelling the energy of that inner child through our adult filter, without the help of alcohol or drugs. We allow the energy to flow and yet, we are our adult selves. It’s an attitude. It’s trust, trusting ourselves and believing in ourselves. Embracing ourselves. Play is one of the fiercest ways to overcome mental and physical health issues. Sacred play is divine magic. And it’s such fun! It’s self-care and you deserve it.

Posted in Abundance and lack, divine magic, Full Moon, play

Count Your Pleasures

Pleasure.  It’s something we all need and yet, some of us might struggle in embracing this gorgeous, loving energy.  We can tend to deny ourselves pleasure in so many ways.  And when we do embrace it, it’s often in the form of unhealthy behaviours like food (chocolate, pizza, cake) and drink (alcohol).  If you made a list of your favourite pleasures, how many unhealthy behaviours would be on your list and how many healthy ones?  I know it’s not clear-cut, after all, we have to eat.  Biting into a sweet, juicy mango can be as pleasurable as a big slice of chocolate cake, no?  (I hear you over there, saying no)

In sharing some of my pleasures, let me tell you about last night.

Last night, a beautiful soul sister came around to visit, and that’s pleasure number one.  We made an open fire in my fire pit outside just after dark, under the full moon, and sat together sharing stories, sipping spiced rum and burning incense, pleasure number two.

Later, we decided to go indoors and make cranachan together.  Pleasure number three is, for me, making food with someone, because it can be such fun to do together.

Now, you may not know this, but cranachan is a Scottish desert and it’s become a signature dish for me.  I had already made the coulis earlier in the day – loads of raspberries and strawberries with some water and sugar, simmering in a pot for about six minutes on boil.  The trick with this is not to leave the room whilst making it or you may come back to find a sticky, red Niagra falls of juice pouring out of the pan, over the stove, all the way down the counter and onto the floor, as I did.  Oh my!  I could actually hear it splashing down in a continual pour as I came into the room and there was a veritable lake of it on the floor.  Not a pleasure. 

Still, I rescued it, cleaned up and had plenty left.  I set my coulis aside to cool.

When my friend and I set to it, we only had to blitz the coulis, toast some oats and make the thick cream with honey and whisky (spiced rum in my case).  I put some oats under the grill to toast and set about blitzing.  My friend and I were chatting away, when all of a sudden, she screamed and I looked at her face, she was staring with horror at something behind my back and I couldn’t think what was causing her reaction.  I turned around and there were flames inside the oven, the oats had been forgotten and caught fire.  We had talked about the full moon being in fiery Aries, looks like Grandmother Moon was really bringing fire into our lives! 

I rushed to the oven and opened the door.  And you probably already realised what a mistake that was.  A great deal of black smoke billowed out, threatening my smoke alarm that didn’t go off (hmm, troubling) and oxygen fanned the flames.  I quickly slammed the oven door shut again. Did I mention that, as I flung the window open, I knocked over my cactus and got prickles in my hand?

I had slammed the oven door shut on a much bigger fire and we waited and watched after switching the oven off at the wall.  Eventually, there were no more flames and it was safe to take our oaty burnt offering out of the oven.  No oats for the cranachan, then. 

As we calmed down and felt the release of tension, as the situation ended safely, we both started laughing.  And laughing and laughing.  And all of a sudden, what I felt was pleasure, it was like looking in on this moment from outside and seeing the pleasure of sharing something really memorable and hilariously funny with a dear friend. Pleasure number four.

One of the main reasons cranachan is a signature dish for me is that it’s so easy to make (I know, I know!) I’m not one of the world’s intuitive cooks, as you can see. However, I’m not ditching the cranachan on the back of one little mistake, even if it did threaten to burn my house down (not really that bad).

If you fancy giving it a go, you now know all the possible pitfalls. When you’ve safely made your coulis, toasted oats and thick cream with honey and whiskey added, simply fold your oats into the cream and layer the coulis and cream into dishes or glasses. And don’t forget to keep a few raspberries back to go on the top, it looks pretty.

We enjoyed our oatless coulis beside the fire under the moon and stars, although I was making a gluten-free, vegan version with coconut cream and that wasn’t very successful either, the tin contained mostly liquid that wouldn’t thicken and we couldn’t spread the cream layer out properly over the coulis.

Nevertheless, we shared many pleasures last night.  My friend had brought her paintings to show me for the first time and I was blown away by her talent, I loved seeing a new side to her that I didn’t know existed.  And we decided to set up a painting day together.  Painting is one of my most frequent healthy pleasures and sharing a painting day with a good friend, that’s like two pleasures stacked together at once.    

What are your healthy pleasures?  When did you last enjoy them?  What are you going to do to bring more pleasure into your life now? (Try not to burn anything down)  

Posted in Inspiration, Personal Story

Bringing in Laughter, Joy and Play

When was the last time you laughed so much you cried and got a stitch in your side? Maybe you even went so far that you had a little accident, know what I mean, ladies? Yep, I mean a real full-body laugh.

When did you last play, feeling really joyful, channelling the delight and fun of your inner child? How many people do you have in your life who know how to do these things? Do you know how to do this? How often do we see adults really let go and play, run and skip down the street, splash about in puddles, kick leaves in the air, laugh so loud people turn around?

Oh, how I crave to be this person, to laugh and joke and play. To have fun, beautiful, natural, heart-felt fun. I have realised there is nobody in my life right now who does this, that I can do this with. I realised just how serious the people in my life are. I wonder if they do bring out their cheeky monkey, but not with me. I hope they do, but I wish we could do it together.

It takes more than one person to play this way, you have to have a buddy who gets it too, who gets you. Someone who knows how to live with gay abandon, to completely let go. Can you be that buddy for someone? I used have a buddy like that, we used to have such a scream together. It was freeing, released so much stress and life was much more enjoyable. Let’s bring back the fun, engage in play, embrace our cheeky monkey self and release our inner child’s free and innocent spirit. If we do, we’ll feel so much better for it.

The photo is courtesy of Medical News Today in an article about the ‘feel good’ hormones that are released when we laugh, making us feel great. As I was saying…