Sometimes people use old myths about faeries, dwarves and wizards to build a cosy, walled cognitive space – in the same way that as children we used to construct camps from blankets and bedspreads in which to hide from the realities of the adult world.
However, the ancient myths were not meant for that purpose, and neither are my books, because these deeply rich allegorical tales contain wisdom keys that provide us with ways of meeting the seeming impossibly difficult challenges of the human condition. These challenges don’t change from generation to generation. The problems that we’re faced with today were also faced by our ancestors thousands of years ago. From the minute we give out that first scream at birth, we’re in a life-and-death struggle between good and evil, whether we realise it or not – and often our adversaries prefer us not to realise it, as they soften us up for the killing blow.
That’s why I chose the archetypal symbol of the sword to begin this series of articles that make up these mystery teachings, which are based on the stories in my own books and particularly The Grail Mysteries. The last article, Part 2, was about the faery woman who raises the sword from beneath the frozen Hart Lake under the stars of Capricorn, and I’ve shown various ways of getting in touch with the faery gold buried within our own frozen emotional pain and forging it into our own Fragarach, the Sword of Truth.
But here’s another way at looking at the same metaphor that I particularly like for a number of reasons.
In this Three of Swords from The Fey Tarot, a male faery is rising up from the sea and we can see that Fragarach has been forged within him. The element of Air is still present, ruffling the waves around him, and although his face seems to be registering deep sadness, there is also a bright dawn on the horizon. He just has to find the courage to use his sword of truth.
There is also an element of betrayal in the Three of the Swords, in any deck, and I find that emotion particularly apt, today, when so many of us feel betrayed by the political classes that govern us.
But I also like the idea of the sea replacing the image of the lake, because I consider the sea to be our spiritual mother and, as a symbol, it represents transformation through purification, and birth and growth. We grow not just through, but because of our pain. Unfortunately, though, our inner Ocean of Dreams is choc-a-block full of icebergs that are bigger than the one that sank the Titanic. We need them to melt, to taste the sea salt of our warm tears before the faery gold can materialise.
So how to get the icebergs to melt? That’s the question, because what we’ve done is perfectly normal. We haven’t done anything wrong. We’ve had to put the deepest of our pain into the freezer because otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to function day-to-day. But it is possible to create a safe space with a beginning, a middle and an end, and use it to sit quietly and locate our deepest wounds and then to express it. This is why sometimes the shaman is referred to as the Wounded Healer. He or she forges their own power weapons from the salty blood of their own weeping inner wounds.
The Wounded Healer
The first requirement from the trainee shaman is encapsulated by the rubric: “Physician heal thyself.”
Shamans blaze a trail for others to evolve along through burning up their own pain and trauma, and for that reason, they are often called the Wounded Healer. Until then they, just like everyone else, have no means or power to help others, no matter how many courses they’ve gone on.
Shamans can ONLY heal through healing their own woundedness first. This means many a long night facing the Shadow, and not flinching when it shows you what needs to be done. The processing work may not even be solely about the you in this life. Shamans are also required to do ancestral healing and so you may have to first deal with woundedness going back many generations, and which is still manifesting itself in the present – alcoholism being a classic example of the kind of vampiric disease that doesn’t end with the death of the alcoholic.
Only when you have processed enough of your own wounds will you be ready to help others and, at first, you will be amazed how those who come knocking on your door are needing help and healing for what you have just faced and dealt with. After a while, you come to expect it and stop bothering to advertise. You realise that the spirits are sending you just the right people who are ready to walk the path of the trail you have just blazed into being.
Next read The Grail Mysteries Part 4: Enchanted Healing at the Gates of Dawn