paganism, sidhehound

Transitions: My Sidhehound Tattoo

I have been wanting to write about my Sidhehound tattoo for some time, but I felt awkward about it because it is so heavily tied up in shamanic practitioner training I no longer stand by. In that context, please enjoy this report on it from November 2020. The tattoo was part of a personal ceremony representing a transitional point in my life, though at the time I didn’t realise how big the transition would be!


Introduction

My original intention for this ceremony was to mark my completion of our two-year course in my own way – with a tattoo. It was supposed to be a celebration! Of course, the spirits give you what you need rather than what you want. Instead this ceremony became a time of deep personal reflection, and for making some decisions about my future as a shamanic practitioner. 

The ceremony was originally planned for June, but due to Covid-19 it was postponed twice. In that time things had changed for me, which will be covered in the transformation part of the ceremony. 

Seperation

To outsiders, my separation may have appeared non-existent. Internally, there was a lot going on. I took a long bath, both to cleanse and because it will be some weeks before I would be healed enough to soak in a bath. I quietly prayed, and gave thanks. I thanked Twobirds for facilitating our training, the Clan for their friendship and solidarity, and Standing Stone for gifting me my name, Hound of the Sidhe. 

I then had to travel, safely, to the tattoo studio. This is the first time I physically separated myself as I spiritually separated. This was a new, and highly recommended, studio to me. As I entered the space, the separation was further heightened. The reception was fantasy themed, mostly around the film “The Dark Crystal”. I used to work with pop culture magic, so having Aughra (the voice of Thra, the world) watching over the proceedings was a magnificent surprise. 

Transformation

This was possibly one of the most powerful transformations I underwent, as it touched my mind, body and soul simultaneously. All of my tattoos have spiritual significance, but there were so many changes between planning and execution with this one. 

As my tattooist, Gillian, inked me, I told her my story. 

I began with my spiritual experiences, my mental health diagnoses, my struggles at art school before a classmate pointed me in the direction of the spiritual section of the local bookshop. Discovering shamanism, working alone, in a group, then alone again. Encountering a shamanic practitioner as a client, and then being pointed towards Twobirds and Anam Cara. How each step helped me understand who I am, little by little. 

I told her about my design, much of which came from our first gathering. How I was gifted a name that resonated with me deeply. How when I was out to journey on the land, I chose to sit beneath an oak tree (a tree I associate with my mother, whose death allowed me to take the course). How after the journey, a ladybird (my mother’s favourite animal) was climbing on my drum arm. How at that moment, everything felt right. 

I then told her about my doubts. About my struggles with being part of a spiritual community, about my doubts about my ability, about my conflict between my practice and my mental health, and about how I wasn’t sure if I even want to be a shamanic practitioner anymore. 

One thing I was certain about was the tattoo though. The pain was excruciating, even with pain relief. It helped me focus. No matter where my path goes, that moment beneath the oak, with ladybird, and embodying my new name was perfect. I will always be a Hound of the Sidhe, no matter what track I follow. 

Incorporation

Aftercare is an important part of both shamanic work and getting a tattoo. 

I took a moment of silence to let some relief wash over me. The physical and emotional pain had stopped. Time had too. Aughra’s eye was on me and I felt safe. 

Gillian and I shared some sugary drinks and snacks as she brought me back to Earth with her aftercare routine. After a clean up, I looked down at my tattoo and smiled. Moments can’t really be captured, but they can be memorialised. 

I am journaling a lot to clarify some things that came up during my eight hours of inking. My attachment to the result (qualifying as a shamanic practitioner) isn’t there any more. I will be delighted if I can catch up on all of the work, but I will be okay if I can’t. It doesn’t change who I am, it just changes the avenues in which I can express it. 

Each time I care for my tattoo (which is several times a day), I have a moment of prayer and reflection. I feel inspired to practice again, something I have not been doing for several months. 


Reading over this now, I can see that I knew then I wouldn’t be completing the course. I just didn’t want to admit it, because of the money I had invested in the training. But I did eventually trust my intuition.

Tattoo artist: Gillian Turner at Aughra’s Eye Tattoo & Piercing

paganism, sidhehound, visual art

Coyote

Photoshop drawing / painting of a Coyote.

“Coyote” 2020

Digital illustration.

Prints, greetings cards, and more in my Society6 Store.

We might be verging into TMI territory. Coyote came to me during one of my shamanic practitioner training weeks, and it was a wild week. Prior to working with Coyote I had considered myself asexual for years, but BAM! I suddenly had a sex drive. It was really frightening and fun at the same time. A few month later, my sex drive calmed down and now I enjoy a healthy amount of sex with my partners. Things also went wrong regularly that week, and I lost many things. Wild times.

I’ve been wanting to draw Coyote, and share this wee story for a while, but I was worried I would be judged for not being asexual when I was so, so sure that I was.

paganism, sidhehound, writing

Story time: Journey to the Great Phoenix

Drawn from a journey undertaken on 11/05/2020

I donned the cloak and antlers of Earth Deer Spirit. Alongside the Blackshuck, I began my journey. 

It was dusk. The pinks bled into purples, then magentas. Pinpoints of light marking the constellations began to appear, and with them the luminous colours of the Starbirds. We were invited to traverse the skies with them. 

Up we went, my edges merging with the night sky. The Milky Way sparkled below us, showing the Starbirds the way. The pale lights and sweet scents of the Upper World drew us in, where the Great Phoenix was burning bright in the topmost branches of the World Tree. 

I had to move through the crowd gathered around Phoenix, being careful not to bump into children who were running around in delight. Falling from the azure sky were Her feathers, and the children were making a game of gathering as many feathers as possible. A feather danced into my hand. 

I was called forward by Phoenix to hear her message. 

I am a creature of all three realms. I am born in the Lower World; my nest of ashes is safe amongst the roots of the World Tree. I die in the Upper World; my burning a spectacle in the crown of the World Tree. My body rises, and my ashes fall, through the Middle World; my forms spiraling around the trunk of the World Tree. 

My cycle is ending. My body has almost burnt up. My ashes are falling through your world, gathering ready for my rebirth. 

It takes time for the dust to settle. 

paganism

Ceremony – Beltane 2020

My intention for this celebration was to mark Beltane, to connect with my spirit allies meaningfully, and to offer prayers on behalf of my community. It was a solitary event because of the Covid-19 lockdown. Due to health reasons it was delayed until Saturday 2nd May. Thankfully the weather was beautiful so I was able to celebrate outdoors in my garden. 

Seperation

I created a sacred space using sage to smudge my garden, before calling in the elements of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth at each quarter. I then called in my spirit allies and the local spirits using my bullroarer. 

Transformation

While drumming and moving slowly, I undertook a journey with the intention I journey to non-ordinary reality to speak with my spirit allies and ask them for their prayers.

When I returned I made a prayer rag for each prayer from fabric I have stored away.

I approached my prayer tree, a Japanese maple I designated as such during a ritual when I first moved home, and made an offering to him. I asked him to hold the prayers and carry them to the upper world. 

The altar was made when I moved in, and is simple. A pair of red deer antlers I acquired while I was at art school, and a piece of slate that I bought for 50p from a kid who was chancing his luck in the local park. 

The offerings were collected from my garden: a dandelion, a bluebell, and a rhododendron, along with a tealight.  

Using a blend of incense made by a friend, and some sage, I mindfully cleansed each prayer rag and attached them to my prayer tree. 

While drumming, I undertook a second journey with the intention I journey to non-ordinary reality to shepherd these prayers to where they need to go. I do not feel it is appropriate to share the events of this journey yet.

Incorporation

Upon my return home I sat in silence for a time, and to borrow from Dr. Seuss my heart grew three sizes as I contemplated what I had bore witness to.

To ground myself back into ordinary reality I spent some time creating affirmations and intentions which I burned. I waited for my incense to burn down before giving quiet thanks to all who attended in spirit, then I went to enjoy a late lunch with my partner.

Blessings from under the unfurling ash trees. 

paganism

Join us for the Winter Solstice!

The Winter Solstice is soon approaching, and I invite you to join us in a ritual exploring the two sides of Wolf – The Lone Wolf and the Pack Wolf. Together their magic will see us into 2020.

The ritual is taking place with the support of Green Tree Remedies, and will take place at Strathleven House, Dumbarton on Sunday, 22nd December at 10.45am. It’s free, but ticketed. Tickets are available at Eventbrite [click here].

We will be outside for the duration, which will be around 2 hours, so dress for the weather!

other arts, paganism

Roses and Thorns – w/b 13/05/2019

It will come as no surprise to you that I am not very good at blogging. I spend too long overthinking topics and eventually the inspiration leaves me. To keep me writing regularly, I am going to try and write a bit about what happens during my weeks. Roses (the good stuff) and Thorns (the meh stuff).

Roses

Land healing WIP

As some of you may know, I am training to be a shamanic practitioner and that involves a lot of work. One of my tasks is to perform land healing at the Notre Dame Convent Chapel in Dumbarton. It is an abandoned chapel, formerly a listed building, and was linked to a teaching order of nuns. I spent an afternoon there conversing with the spirits of the land, trying to understand their needs.

First soul retrival

Another part of my shamanic training is to offer services to friends and family. This week I was able to try out my soul retrival technique for the first time away from my classmates. My friend suggested we work outside, which was a wonderful idea. She chose a beautiful spot amongst some trees and bluebells.

Trace

Another friend was performing in a work-in-progress puppet show called TRACE, which explores the long-term impact of childhood abuse. It was harrowing, but shares an important message. that could benefit people (if a group discussion followed). I hope to see it fledge into a full show.

Thorns

This week’s thorns are the same ones I experience near constantly: pain, fatigue, and depression. I had great experiences this week, but aside from these few hours I spent the majority of my time bedbound.

paganism

Trix

Staring into the gaping jaws of the ancient matriarch, a cryptic message was delivered straight into my heart that I have yet to decipher.

My friend invited me to the T.rex in Town exhibition in Glasgow, and I was overwhelmed and overjoyed to be in the presence of “Trix” – a tyranosaur discovered in Montana. Glasgow is the last stop in her European tour before returning to her main residence on the Netherlands, and it is was real privilege to be able to see this incredible piece of natural history.

After walking around her, I needed to sit for a moment and really grasp the reality of what I was seeing. I squeezed onto a bench right in front of her, and tried to comprehend just how far apart our lives are in time and space. I couldn’t. And then I had one of my moments, where I think I blanked out and then felt this incredible expansive energy in my chest – a gift from the tyranosaur.