To Answer a Question: The Return Trip

Greetings from Texas! Hope all is well up North!

I’ve recently begun down a seidr shamanistic path involving trance work and journeying. I’ve been ravenous for information and combing in the interwebs for relevant blogs, texts, articles, etc. and came across your website. I was reading your post, “Defense Against the Dark Arts,” which I very much enjoyed having had similar experiences. I was particularly interested upon reading this,

“Most of the books out there that talk about things like (for example) receiving the call to shamanize, will mention that many become ill but don’t typically mention how. What kind of illness. It’s kind of vague.”

I was wondering if you had anything more specific regarding the illness associated with the call to shamanism. I haven’t been experiencing anything traumatic, but when I go into a trance or journey I’ve been experiencing physiological responses. At first I thought the nausea and dizziness were due in part to the way I was sitting, but I’ve adjusted that and it hasn’t gone away. I had thought there might be some physiological responses to the journeys, I wasn’t quite sure what, but I didn’t think they’d be negative so I’m a little worried I might be doing something wrong. Anything helps!

Thank you for reading this, by the way.



little bit of nausea, light headedness, headaches and dizziness are pretty common after trance and altered states. Even among experienced practitioners. This is sort of like being out of breath after going for a jog. Or you can think of as a reconnecting thing. It can take some time to get yourself sorted out. There are a few things you can do to help decrease how often this happens, or cut down the length of time it lasts. (In no particular order)

* You are already trying different postures, so that’s a good start.

* Take more time on the return trip. The faster you come back, the quicker you try to leave an altered state, the harder it is on you.

* Work on slow and gentle body awareness once you return. Relax you muscles. Stroke your body. Spend more time feeling your breathing and heartbeat. even do a few gentle yoga stretches.

* Have some juice on hand to help bring your blood sugar back up and to hydrate yourself.

* Take shorter trips. If you are using a timer of any sort (such as a drumming CD or having a gentle chime on your phone set to go off after X amount of time) set it for a little earlier.

If the symptoms are very severe, it’s possible that you are experiencing “soul loss” … basically leaving a little bit of yourself behind each time. This is generally a result of traveling too far, too fast and/or making a hasty return trip. If you worry this might the case, retrace your steps and see if you come across anything that you recognize are yours or yourself. Gather the bits back up again (after a thorough inspection) and put them back where they belong. (You can always swallow them if you’re not sure where they go)

Take more time on your return trips and do a “all of me is here” check. Think of it as like checking your purse before you go out. Keys? Wallet? Phone? Jacket? Give yourself a pat down, do an inventory. Is anything feeling a little off, feel like you might have forgotten something? Retrace your steps and see if anything got dropped along the way.

Also if this is happening a lot, you are probably going further than you are really ready for. Like going for a big long hike through a thick forest, the deeper you go in, the more little scratches and bug bites you get along the way (leaving behind little bits of blood, sweat and skin). Eventually, as you become a better hiker, you will learn how to walk through a forest and get hit in the face by trees less, how to get cut by thorns less and how to avoid areas with lots of bugs, or what the the best bug repellent is. So if this is an issue, stick closer to home base. Get to know that area really well as you build up your skills before venturing much further. I hope this helps!

Also do you mind if I post this on the blog (I won’t use your name) Cheers, Juni


Thank you so much for your email!

I really appreciate getting a response about things. After reading your suggestions, I definitely think I may be going too deep too soon and returning too quickly. I’ve been so excited about the journeys I may be pushing myself too hard and leaving things too quickly so I can write. That’s a problem I have in all aspects of my life; rushing. Oh! And I don’t mind at all if you post this on your blog. It’s been really helpful for me, so hopefully this could benefit someone else.


Program for the Witches’ Sabbat at Raven’s Knoll 2014

ws2014 Collage

Theme: Ancestors – Ancient Flame on Modern Hearth

Stang: Mighty Dead Stang/Distaff

Herb: Bog Myrtle aka Sweet Gale

Date: May 30 – June 1

Location: Raven’s Knoll Campground


Facebook Event Page: Click here!

Fee: $60 at the door, $55 for pre-regisration. Click here for more info.

Events will be announced a few minutes before they begin by the ringing of a bell to gather the folk.




* Registration opens around 3pm. If someone isn’t in the registration hut, you’ll find at least one staff member in the standing stone grove. If you need help setting up your campsite, or finding anything, please do not be afraid to approach a staff member either at the registration hut or at the grove.


* 7 PM: Opening Ritual. (Lead by Juni and Angela)

 Gather in the standing stone grove to begin. We will visit gnome home to greet, meet and gift the land spirits of Raven’s Knoll. Then we will open the outdoor temple before the standing stone followed by blessing the keystone fire pit. This is also a chance to meet the staff and learn a little about Raven’s Knoll.

 Please bring an offering for the land spirits. Ideas: beer, shiny trinkets, little gnomes.


** 8 – 9 PM: Break for dinner and time for people to finish setting up camp.


* 9 PM to bedtime: Bardic Circle (Lead by Gypsy) & Opening Ritual Continued (Lead by Juni, Angela & Judith)

 Gather around the keyhole fire pit to get to know each other better. Witchcraft is an oral tradition, as such; we will tell stories (personal or fiction), share poems, sing songs and get to know each other. This is a bardic circle, not a competition. Feel free to share regardless of your level of bardic skills, reading from paper or electronic device is fine.
During this time, Juniper and Angela will be quietly taking folks away from the fire in pairs and small groups to visit the Crone at the Threshold. In exchange for a small gift, you will receive a little nugget of wisdom from the ancestors, as well as a package to take back to the group. Once everyone has returned from their little journey, we will open the packages together before bringing them to the outdoor temple. Then we will continue to hang out around the fire until bed time.

 Please bring a small gift for the Crone. Ideas: Coins, flowers, a small handmade item.




* 10:30 AM: Preparing the stone soup.

Please bring your contribution. There will be a soup coordinator to track which ingredients go into which pot. Please let them know of any food allergies and confirm with them before adding to the pot. Ingredients will be listed on the whiteboard. We will have at least one vegetarian and one meat soup.


** 11 – 6 PM: Workshops and discussion circle, with casual breaks between. As well as the eating of the stone soup and other goodies.

* Working with Bones. (Lead by Juniper)

The cleaning of a skull. Scraping the hair/hide, digging out and cutting the flesh, simmering in a pot for a couple of hours. Discussions on bone work, funerary rites, tools used, methods of cleaning, reddening, use as a spirit houses etc. Then we will pull out an already fully cleaned and ready-to -work skull and perform a reddening/blessing. We will break to attend other discussions while the skull simmers. Once the skull has simmered and is ready (about 2-3 hours), we go back to it to strain, finish cleaning (as much as time permits) and placing it into a de-greasing bath or cold maceration bath, depending on how clean we manage to get it.


* Practical Tips for the Modern Witch: (Lead by Angela)

What do you do with dead matches in the middle of ritual? What‘s the best way to prevent your wild crafted herbs from going mouldy? And how do you get that unfortunate stain out of your favourite altar cloth? Let‘s face it: while how- to books are great, there are often critical points that they don‘t cover; points that you discover about the time you‘re up to your elbows in a plant that‘s starting to cause an unfortunate burning sensation, or 30 minutes into that critical ritual. If you‘ve ever had one of your Witchy plans go awry, this is the place for you! Come and share you horror stories and the things you’ve learned the hard way.


* All about Bog Myrtle: (Lead by Angela & Juniper)
Our herb of choice for 2014: the dreamy Bog Myrtle, Myrica gale, also known as Sweet Gale. How we will be partaking of it for the Sabbat, what can be expected, medical stuff, different ways you can utilize it, where it grows etc. The Bog Myrtle we will be using was hand picked by canoe along the river, just a short trip from the Knoll. We will have a few options for taking the herb; bundles, tea, tinctures.


* Ancestor Discussion: (Lead by Juniper & Angela)
We shall talk about how we work with the ancestors, how different traditions view the dead, how to build a relationship with them and so forth. Also we will discuss the cunning woman who will be our focus and guest for the tapping the bone ritual.


* 4 PM: Divination and the Ancestors. (Lead by Judith)
A discussion on using divination methods for working with the dead. How we are all connected by the deep ancestors. Judith will demonstrate using her special ogham deck. Juniper will bring along her casting collection. Please feel free to bring your divination sets, as well as share any experiences or questions you have about spirit communication through divination.


* 5 PM: Ritual discussion and ploughing the furrow meditation. (Lead by Juniper & Angela)
We will go over what can be expected for the main ritual, while avoiding spoilers. As well as discuss the ploughing of the furrow, aka treading the mill, etc. Followed by a guided mediation based on how it will be for the main ritual.


** 6 – 8 PM: Free time to socialize, have dinner and do as you please.


* 8 PM: Construction of the stang.

Together we will assemble the stang and bless it. We will also choose our stang bearer.

Gypsy and Nic will be gathering food and items for the main ritual, so if there is something you do not wish to carry during the processional, they will collect it at this time and take it to the Crop Circle.


* 9 PM: Main Ritual

 We will process the stang to the crop circle and together perform a tapping the bone ritual. We will process the stang to the grove, invite our ancestors to celebrate with us. We will call, pay respects to and then ask for wisdom from a cunning woman of old.
Please bring an offering for the cunning woman. Ideas: Milk, honey, beer, hand crafted items.


* 11 PM to bedtime: Folk Fire

 Gather back around the keyhole fire in the standing stone grove to hang out.




* 11 AM – The Nine Herbs Charm: (Lead by Erik)

 The Nine Herbs Charm is an Anglo-Saxon charm recorded in the 10th century Lacnunga manuscript. Erik will lead us through a well researched discussion of the charm, it’s history, the herbs used as well as how and why it was performed. Juniper and Angela will come armed with other folk charms, from different cultures and time periods, for comparison.


* 1 PM – Closing Ritual: (Lead by Juniper & Angela)
Gather in the standing stone grove to begin. We will visit gnome home to thank and farewell the land spirits of Raven’s Knoll. Then we will close the outdoor temple before the standing stone and give a final gift of thanks to the ancestors. Completely optional offerings for the land spirits and the ancestors, bring if you wish, we will make sure they don’t go empty handed.


* 3 PM – Discussion and planning circle.
Here we discuss what worked, what can be improved as well as choose our theme and herb for next year. It is totally optional to attend this discussion, we understand some people have far to travel home and need to leave earlier. You can always share your ideas and suggestions on the Facebook group later.


** Time to pack up and head home.

To Answer a Question: Wicca

(excerpt from a conversation on the Witches’ Sabbat Facebook Group page)

Out of curiosity, Juniper Jeni, what is the difference between inner circle lineaged Wicca practiced in private covens and the “Wiccan-styled neo-paganism-light”? Is it that there is more scholarship and rigour?

Oathbound secrets!
But seriously, what we have to keep in mind is that what we find in books about Wicca (which heavily influences the overall pan-pagan practice) is largely dedicant work, initiate level, and first degree workings. So it’s all the beginner stuff, the foundational materials.
For example, ask most Pagans and solitary Wiccan WHY we call the quarters and what exactly the watchtower are, what the elements are in the circle FOR. The most typical answer is vague and along the lines of: “Because that’s how you do it!”. Yes darling, but why?
Another example. Drawing Down the Moon, followed by the Charge (and then the ritual, as written in those books, often moves on from there). As a spirit worker, I’m sure you know that it seems wasteful to call a goddess into you for the sole purpose of delivering a scripted monologue. Looking at this with a critical eye of an experienced esoteric practitioner, it’s obvious that there are other things that go on after the Drawing and before the ritual continues with its seasonal celebrations or whatever.
So yes, inner court traditional Wicca has a lot more content than the average pagan might be aware of. There is a lot more scholarship and rigor in training, research and the actual practice within ritual.
As well as the personal spiritual upkeep on your own time. Wicca is a religion of being clergy. The degree structure exists to train you be a priest/ess of the Lord and Lady of your Tradition/Coven. As witches and spirit workers, we know that there is a lot of upkeep and work involved with creating, building and maintaining a relationship with deity. All to be considered and acknowledged by the deity as one of Their priest/esses. Far more work than one can do 8 times a year in middle of seasonal rituals and fertility rites. Far more than can be done during esbats once or twice a month celebrating lunar tides. We all know that true devotional work requires often daily practice.
Have you ever noticed when reading Wiccan rituals, that it seems as though the setting up (purifying, circle casting etc) and the tear down, lasts longer and is more labor intensive than the actual ritual body itself? Hmmm … that seems like an awful lots of work to set up proper ritual space for some quick and largely content-free seasonal celebration, and maybe some cord magick thrown in for good measure. Ever wonder what’s missing?
Food for thought.

The Rambles and Wandering of a Canadian Hedgewitch