(Full disclosure upfront: I have asthma and chronic bronchitis, therefore I am in the higher risk group when it comes to Covid 19 and I fully acknowledge its devastating powers while trying to engage with its spiritual challenges and teachings in a creative way ).
In a time of Climate Change, Covid-19 is rapidly creating a totally different social, psychological and economical climate.
Emergencies create emergence…
Two weeks ago I had a difficult decision to make: keep a teaching commitment in the US and fly away from my family at time of a mystery virus going epidemic – or stay at home and leave Susan Rossi, my US colleague, to the job of teaching my course and material, based on my spiritual home tradition, not hers. She has seen me deliver this course before, but that is hardly the same as teaching the course herself without preparation, not to mention fielding far-ranging questions about finer points and details. Susan is an amazing astrologer but she is not a seidkona.
I did fly. Susan and her husband collected me from the airport and she said: “That is it! We are putting a ball and chain on you until this course is in the can!” My reply was: “Just show me some books you bought recently and you won’t even need the ball and chain!” It is good to joke and fool around. (The books were fabulous!!) The course did run. However, by the time that the course finished (one week later) the situation had changed beyond prediction or comprehension. An epidemic had gone pandemic and countries were closing their borders. I came close to involuntarily residing in the US for many weeks to come.
The night before flying from London to the US, I had a powerful dream. I saw a flash of light exploding and a disembodied voice asked me the following question: “Who said that the Second Coming was going to happen in human form?!” That is very odd. I have not identified as a Christian since my childhood in a Roman Catholic family. For me it would be more natural to speak of Ragnarok followed by the birth of a new world ( Voluspá - Poetic Edda)! However, the booming question certainly stayed on my mind while teaching in the US.
Susan recently shared a thought-provoking article, written by Gail Faith Edwards on March 6th, and titled: The Pesky Enigmatic Coronavirus; Preventive Care. (https://blessedmaineherbs.com/pecoprcabyga.html)
One key piece of information shared in this article, which I have been chewing on ever since, is that viruses are our ancestors and that, in some ways, they behave like shamans or witches, walking between worlds:
Viruses are enigmatic. They skirt the boundaries. They exist at the edges of life and are very much a part of the animate natural world, an intrinsic part of the web of life. The healer, herbalist, shaman, root doctor or benedetta has the job of remaining connected to the natural world, being informed by it and drawing insight and power from it. In order to do this she must also, like the virus, skirt the boundaries between worlds; between social and cultural boundaries, human and non-human communication, customs, traditions and limiting medical and other beliefs. The healer maintains a heightened sensitivity to the songs, gestures, murmurs of the natural world – the peal of lightning, the flight of a bird, movement of shadow or leaf, roaring of wind, rise of a virus – in order to make contact and learn from the powers of the land, and to bring back meaning to her community.
In Western Europe the concept of ancestor worship was deliberately and fully stomped out by the Church Fathers of Christianity, gone by the 12th century. Every single tribal culture I am aware of places ancestor veneration at the very heart of their culture. For years I have wondered how any ancestral rage at this would manifest and “bite us” right back, because Newton taught us (in his three laws of motion) that every reaction has an opposite and equal counter-reaction. So now we know...
What I do know, based on years of doing ancestral healing work with people, is that the one single ancestral imprint I encounter most often in a family field is A FEAR OF NOT ENOUGH. Our ancestors dealt with wars, failed harvests and epidemics, in a time before medical care, hypermarkets and on-line shopping. The fear of not having our core needs met (food, water, shelter, heat, care during injury and ilness) simmers just underneath our comfortable Western lifestyles. These ancestral voices whisper in our ear as soon as we leave the comfort zone or face the need to 'tighten our belt'. We turn our eyes away from those who face such lack and deprivation daily. We do not want to look in the mirror they hold up. We do not want to believe this could happen to us.
Most people are not aware of ancestral voices and unhealed patterns in our ancestral field. We have been taught that ancestors don't matter because they are 'long gone'. People think that they are stockpiling food or obsessing about the lack of toilet rolls because of their personal fear of lack. That fear is real, but it is fed by a larger well of collective fears. Rather than behaving anti-socially in supermarkets, we would do well to make these ancestral voices conscious. Times of Dire Beauty offer rare opportunities of healing imprints, patterns and memories which remain hidden or buried when life is steady and predictable.
I am observing how this particular virus, Covid-19, is achieving impossible global targets in record time:
- A huge drop in both emissions and the carbon footprint of the average (Western) human being while travel and productivity drop (could this be the start of a move from capitalism and consumerism to sustainable living in supportive eco-focussed communities?)
- Airplanes have (largely) stopped flying
- We are actively grateful for technology that allows us to stay at home yet feel connected to others (a move away from criticising young people for their on-line lifestyle, for being born with an I-phone glued to their hands)
- If we like it or not, the only way forward now is to build strong local communities (rather than interacting only with our “bubble communities of choice” via social media)
- We finally question "growth" as a guiding economic principle ("as without so within", please note that obesity is a high risk factor for Covid 19)
- We are rapidly re-discovering values and virtues which served our ancestors well: mend, make do, go without (or even make personal sacrifices. I teach all my sacred art students that the word sacrifice, derived from Latin, means "making sacred, by offering to the gods")
- The people who have done crucial challenging work for decades without much appreciation or fair pay (teachers, nurses, train drivers, rubbish collectors, undertakers, prison wardens) have suddenly been named KEY WORKERS (here in the UK at least), the ones we cannot do without, the ones who must go to work even when the rest of us stay home. We observe these people risking their lives (and putting their family at risk by extension) because they do not have the luxury of self-isolation or working from home. Will we make sure that their pay and standing in society reflects this from now on?
- ELDERS TO THE RESCUE: retired doctors and nurses are coming out of retirement because their medical knowledge and experience is vital at this time. We are being invited to re-evaluate how we perceive and treat the elders in our communities. Some of them have lived through (and survived) several wars. All of them have lived through initiations and trials by fire. They should be our treasured Council of Wisdom Keepers, not people made to feel ‘beyond-their-sell-date’
- For years people have expressed a desire for greater work-life balance and the option of working from home, even those who never wanted this just got it… (had it enforced on them)
- Perhaps a certain segment of humankind will rethink their craving for three foreign holidays a year when they face being stranded overseas and not being able to get home safely… would we travel somewhere knowing we might end up living there for months? And if we cannot afford that, and possibly do not even feel welcome in these locations longer-term, will we finally look at refugees and homeless people with different eyes?!
- Yes, we can continue to ignore the twin issues of climate change and overpopulation, as many people have been doing, but ultimately the climate will ‘bite back’ and it is a far more powerful force (and also far more long-lived) than a few generations of human beings. Lesson: we need to learn to set priorities beyond our own lifespan, to honour the Seven Generations who came before us and consider the Seven Generations who will follow us, in all we do. (This is the Iroquois concept of seven generation stewardship).
- As a person with asthma and chronic bronchitis I have been rethinking my relationship with the element of Air completely. Rather than taking Air and oxygen for granted I make it a meditative practice to receive every breath as a gift. Air does not owe me life – I exist courtesy of Air having surrounded me from birth!
- And if we are not willing to learn and take to heart any of these lessons, are we collectively creating the need for an even more severe teacher, killer virus or ancestral change agent to appear?! (Please no, could we learn the lesson NOW?!)
- My home tradition (The Northern Tradition, the ancestral wisdom teachings of Northern Europe) is clear about one thing: every gift requires a return gift so the greater cosmic balance is maintained (this is one of Odin's teachings in Hávamál, The Sayings of the High One)
- As any (good enough) parent will be able to tell you: children (as well as the sick, disabled, elderly or otherwise vulnerable) go first in times of emergency and emergence (I am seeing ancestral images of mothers who fainted, from hunger, while they served their children the little food they managed to put on the table)
The question whether God/Goddess exists has occupied some of the greatest minds without being solved. My blog will not solve the mystery either but I am struck by the ferocious, razor-sharp, intelligence expressed through the way Covid-19 operates.
I am also struck by its ancient yet non-human precision. The prehistoric technology of virus-survival hits all of us in every single place where it hurts most: every breath we take, our elderly parents, our vulnerable children, our income, our homes, our access to food, our freedom of movement and social interaction.
I have heard people say: “If the human race is to survive we need reprogramming”. Well, is this happening? Did we call this in by not voluntarily changing our ways?
Viruses are ancient. They are our ancestors. They have billions of years of evolutionary history and experience on this earth and far predate both plants and animals. Viruses co-evolved along with bacteria, long before we arrived. In fact, viruses and bacteria share a common ancestor that lived around 3.4 billion years ago, not long after life first emerged on the planet. From this single cell, bacteria evolved in the direction of increasing complexity, while viruses took the opposite approach; they have gradually shed genes to become increasingly more simple. And, all the while, they’ve been changing, adapting, altering themselves to accommodate the climate, temperatures, atmosphere and available hosts for the purpose of reproducing.
When my three sons were younger I observed a trend for negative or even frightening words to become trendy.
“Oh man, that is SICK!” (Meaning extremely cool)
For a time the, so called, Mutant Ninja Turtles became extremely “sick” (cool, popular). They are four teenaged anthropomorphic turtles named after Italian Renaissance artists (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael) and they battle crime while trying to stay invisible.
Having spent years studying (for lack of a better word) contemporary shamanism, Norse seidr and the magical dimension of vibrational languages, their name has always worried me: if we start referring to mutant creatures often and fondly, what are we calling into existence?! Abracadabra is best translated as “I Create As I Speak” in Aramaic. Abra means “I will create” and cadabra means “as was spoken.”
Viruses are invisible, at least to the human eye (if we do not have a microscope at hand). They exist courtesy of a host. They cannot grow and they cannot make their own energy – their host provides the “accommodation” (organ tissue) and energy. Viruses attach themselves to human tissue (in the case of Covid 19 this refers to human lung tissue). They then insert their genetic material into a human cell’s DNA in order to reproduce and their ‘host’ is really going to feel it, they are affected in many ways (physically, emotionally, psychologically etc.)
Viruses mysteriously inhabit a gray area between living and non-living. In fact, they deeply challenge our concept of what “living” means. They carry genetic material, reproduce, and evolve through natural selection, but lack important characteristics (such as cell structure) that are considered necessary to count as life. Viruses are the constantly shifting boundary between the worlds of biology and biochemistry.
From the article I learned a whopping statistic: nearly 10 percent of our human genome is made of pieces of viral DNA!
For the most part, this viral DNA is not harmful. In fact, scientists are discovering that it actually has a beneficial impact. For example, some viral-repair enzymes, which excise and resynthesize damaged DNA, mend oxygen radical damage, and so on, are unique to certain viruses and have existed almost unchanged probably for billions of years.
Most known viruses are persistent and innocuous, not pathogenic. They take up residence in cells, where they may remain dormant for long periods or take advantage of the cells’ replication equipment to reproduce at a slow and steady rate. These viruses have developed many clever ways to avoid detection by the host immune system. In fact, essentially every step in the immune process can be altered or controlled by various genes found in one virus or another. And, some scientists and researchers, such as Philip Bell of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, contend that the cell nucleus itself is of viral origin.
I urge you to read the article in full. What I am hearing loud and clear is that viruses are the original "mutant ninja turtles", in some ways. They constantly (ingeniously) create new genetic material and new possible paradigms along the way. They make an essential (if at times deadly) contribution to evolutionary change.
While teaching in the US last week I had dreams where Covid 19 appeared as a prickly ping pong ball with runes attached to its surface (for an impression, see the picture at the top of this article which I have drawn for you). It gave me ideas for magical work to be done to create protection, spiritual runic vaccines – but that subject deserves its own article, or likely its own on-line seminar! (Watch this space, I am just talking to Christian Thurow about organising this!)
Oh and one more thing: I find it fascinating how toilet rolls have become one icon of this crisis (who would ever have thought that?!) In Western countries, in a time of climate change and severe pollution, we flush toilets with drinking water and paper (sources from trees and unsustainable logging). Eco-aware people have long promoted a return to compost toilets. Harder to create in inner city environments, for sure, but just another issue coming to attention with deadly precision.....
Imelda Almqvist, London 21 March 2020
Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. So far she has published two books: Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) in 2016 and Sacred Art: A Hollow Bone for Spirit (Where Art Meets Shamanism) in 2019. She has presented her work on both The Shift Network and Sounds True. She appears in a TV program titled Ice Age Shaman, made for the Smithsonian Museum, in the series Mystic Britain talking about Neolithic arctic deer shamanism. Her third book, Medicine of the Imagination - Dwelling in possibility (an impassioned plea for fearless imagination) will be published by Moon Books on October 30th in 2020.
Imelda was a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit in both 2016 and 2017 and on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She is a regular presenter on The Shamanic Path with Sounds True. She appears in a TV program made for the Smithsonian Channel (the series is called Mystic Britain) about the Mesolithic site Star Carr in Yorkshire talking about arctic deer shamanism! Imelda divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. She has just finished her third book “Medicine of the Imagination: Dwelling in Possibility” and she is currently working on her fourth book, about the pre-Christian spirituality of The Netherlands.
I invite all readers to check out Susan Rossi's website dedicated to astrology: https://openchannelastrology.com/