Carve your Soul’s destiny

Here’s an idea to explore…

We have an opportunity in this life to carve our destiny from the possibilities already available to us as creators. We can choose how our future unfolds when we create from a Soul-base grounded in Divine Source.

In the old kabbalistic texts we learn how Divine Source, as the original Creator, ‘carved’ or ‘engraved’ a series of mystical pathways that act as the foundational architecture of the universe. In the same way, we can design and engrave our personal reality. Like any artist, we are grounded in certain basic opportunities, but we can add more options using extra ingredients. Let’s see how we can develop this radical idea of self creation.

Basic qualities give us a starting place

Theolyn Cortens | The Shefa Method

There are three foundational Divine Qualities: Power, Wisdom (or Intelligence), and Love. This trinity supports an unfolding process that leads to the fourth: Beauty.

First, there is Divine Power, which emanates from an infinite Source of Light. Next, Divine Wisdom is the universal Intelligence that provides a pattern-making and archetypal structure that underpins Creation. The next ingredient is Divine Love – benevolent, compassionate and nurturing, sustaining and protecting the gentle development that will lead to limitless abundance and fill our world with Beauty.

Where is the beautiful world?

Theolyn Cortens | The Shefa Method

So why do we not experience Beauty as a constant presence in the world? Why do we often feel Beauty is beyond our grasp, only to be experienced when we leave this life? Divine Power is a constant resource that we can call upon. Divine Wisdom is fundamental and provides a continuing archetypal foundation to everything that is going on. Divine Love offers constant blessings. So where is the problem?

We are the problem.

The glitches in the system occur when we lose sight of our own divinely appointed intelligence and our capacity to love unconditionally. Our Wisdom and Love are the two human ingredients that will allow Divine Power to manifest in our world as Beauty.

Using ancient characters to write a new story

The characters that appear in The Angels Script were originally described as the ‘Writing of the Malachim’. In Hebrew, malakh means ‘messenger’ – or ‘Angel’. We cannot pin down the ancient history of these characters, but similar writing is found in old South Arabian stele collected by archaeologists digging in the Yemen. This geographical area was home to the legendary Queen of Sheba, queen of the Sabians who, it is claimed, became lover to the Jewish King Solomon. Ancient tales tells us that King Solomon made use of this magical writing when he was building his temple. That was three thousand years ago, or more perhaps.

Theolyn Cortens | The Shefa Method
Ancient stele showing the Sabian alphabet.

Whatever the true back-story, I have discovered how we can use these characters to access to a treasure house of angelic wisdom. When we ask for Wisdom the characters in The Angels Script open gateways to insights and inspiration. The similar characters used in The Shefa Method (derived from another alphabet called the ‘Celestial Writing’) can be used as subtle vibrational tools that help reorient our thinking patterns. Shefa characters also release us karmic limitations that inhibit Love being shared, without conditions.

How is a ‘character’ different from a ‘symbol’?

 

Theolyn Cortens | The Shefa Method
Some of the characters from The Writing of the Malachim.

When I first worked with the characters presented in The Angels Script (‘Writing of the Angels’) and in Shefa Healing (‘Celestial Writing’), I described them as ‘symbols’.

Later, I discovered that in magical texts they have a technical title: characteres or, in Aramaic, kalaqtiraia. The Aramaic word can be divided into kol – meaning ‘all’ – and qtiraia – meaning ‘knots’. Ancient magicians considered their spells to be ‘bindings’ and ‘knots’ would fix the spell, binding the result. The little circles found on the tips of the characters could be regarded as knots. So here we have the idea that the charactere is a mini-formula or magical spell in its own right, not necessarily teamed up with other characters to form a word.

Yet another piece of evidence in favour of ‘character’ over ‘symbol’ is revealed by examining the original Greek word. The English word ‘character’ derives from the Greek kharassein, meaning ‘to engrave’, ‘inscribe’, or ‘sketch’. A kharakter is therefore a person who makes incisive marks, perhaps a stone engraver.

Theolyn Cortens | The Shefa Method

Significantly, a kharakter is also a mark made in this way, especially in a system of writing. You are a character in the drama of life. You make your mark, one way or another, consciously or unconsciously. You have the opportunity to choose how to develop your character, so you act out a performance that satisfies the desires of your Soul.

Magical effects

The many layers of meaning we can understand when we investigate the word ‘character’ allow us to realise the magical potency of these alphabets that have been passed down to us. They are also mystical, because they will enhance our inner experiences as we expand our awareness. They are magical because when we change our inner landscape, we provoke outward effects. A ‘character’ in a play, performed on stage or in film, is presented by an actor. A ‘character’ has something to do, something to perform, they ‘act’ on our behalf. The words they speak tell the story. In contrast, a ‘symbol’ merely represents something – it doesn’t have any agency of its own and cannot initiate shifts in our energy field that will lead to results.

The character in a play does not choose the words, which are scripted by the author, who has spent time thinking about what the character will say. But YOU are the author who chooses the destiny of the character you have chosen to act. You CAN choose the words. You CAN choose the thoughts behind the performance you are playing on the world stage.

Choose your building blocks

Theolyn Cortens | The Shefa Method

Mystical tradition tells us that Divine Source created the cosmos from an infinite field of light by introducing vibrations – sounds. These sounds were ‘engraved’ into the light as letters, or characters. These ancient letters become the evenim – the building blocks of Creation. When we work with them inwardly we can redesign the foundations of our life from the inside out. Our fundamental state of consciousness has invariably been ‘carved’ into a pattern at an early age, and has been reinforced as our way of being as we grew into adulthood. Tiny adjustments that fine-tune our consciousness will free up these karmic set patterns and re-code our mind and heart, allowing for new opportunities. As adults we can observe how childhood events may have encouraged us to set ourselves up with a script that will not serve a life full of joy. Then we can choose to clear the slate and engrave a new story. The results may take a while to unfold, but they can often be dramatic. Then you can carve your name in the ‘Book of Life’ with satisfaction and pride.


If you would like to learn how to use Shefa characters in conjunction with a deep meditation technique, designed to teach you exactly how to recode your mind and heart, check out my online course, The Shefa Method.

A Bridge Over Troubled Waters…

The Chinvat Bridge

Many spiritual traditions use the image of a bridge that connects Earth to Heaven. The Zarathustrian tradition, which predates Judaism, describes the Chinvat Bridge that must be crossed by souls leaving their human lives. As the departing souls cross the bridge they are judged. If their good thoughts, words and deeds outweigh the bad, then Sraosha, the Angel of Conscience, will accompany them to the Land of The Dead.

Bifrost

In the Poetic Edda, a 13th-century compendium of Norse mythology, Bifrost is the Rainbow Bridge that connects Asgard, the world of the gods, with Midgard, the human world.

 

Bridge of Sighs, Oxford

In Christianity we find the Bridge of Souls, or the Bridge of Sighs. So the bridge motif has been with us for centuries and calls to our attention that we all need to travel beyond present circumstances into a brighter future. That future will be grounded in your wise choices.

A pandemic makes us all take refuge

In times of trouble people are often displaced from their geographical homelands. I recently watched an old movie of the musical, Fiddler on the Roof. At the end of the story the Jewish people are moved on from their Ukrainian village. They have to pack up their possessions on carts and walk away from familiar territory, parting from their friends and loved ones as they go their separate ways. They are seeing new opportunities, perhaps across the sea in America. We see the families walking across the bridge that symbolises them leaving their traditional way of life behind.

People crossing the Colombian-Venezuelan border in San Antonio del Tachira, Venezuela in 2016.

Throughout history refugees have crossed over bridges, or mountains, or travelled through dark forests, looking for safety and security.

At this time in human history we can see ourselves crossing a bridge between the old way of doing things and a new vision of possibilities.

Unless there is some kind of spiritual revolution that can keep abreast of our technological genius, it is unlikely that we will save our planet.

— Karen Armstrong: The Great Transformation: the world in the time of Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Jeremiah.

We can see ourselves as refugees from an outdated, unsustainable, approach to living on our beautiful planet. We may even have the feeling that Mother Nature is telling us ‘enough is enough’. Perhaps she is saying:

“Stay at home, Earth children, take notice of your situation and reconsider EVERYTHING. How you eat, how you pray, how you communicate, how you relate to each other and how you relate to ME, your great, sustaining Mother, who is suffering. And if I suffer then, eventually, YOU are bound to suffer. You will all become refugees, on your own planet, disenfranchised because of your own foolishness.”

The Bridge of Stars

I have a very beautiful book in my library called The Bridge of Stars – 365 prayers, blessings and meditations from around the world, edited by Marcus Braybrooke, from the World Congress of Faiths. The title of this book has inspired me to create regular YouTube videos that I hope will support and inspire you during the difficult weeks – that may become months – ahead of us during this transition time.

A bridge can also be seen as a narrow channel, like a birth canal, that we are passing through. There is a time during the last stages of labour when the mother may find the going so tough she will cry out, “I can’t do this!” And the midwife will say, “Yes, you can!” As a woman who has been fortunate enough to give birth to four healthy babies, I can tell you from personal experience that the midwife is right.

But the thing to remember here is that the mother doesn’t have to do it all. The baby WANTS to be born. New life WANTS to arrive. And, as they say, resistance is futile. Mother and baby are both engaged in a process that has to be fulfilled, one way or another.

Some of us are literally in confinement and our wider lifestyles are narrowed. We may run to comforting reassurances – old movies, classic books, sticky-toffee puddings. We wait for good times ahead, when we can ‘get back to normal’. Sorry, says Mother Nature, there is no return. There is only going forward in a new way. Use your time to discover your personal power, search your heart for your true desires. Not the kind of desires fulfilled by online shopping, but the magical, mysterious desires that your unique Soul wants to manifest.

Your destiny cannot be fulfilled by watching hours of Netflix. It’s time to cross our Bridge into a new way of being. Ancient texts describe how every star is a celestial spirit – so let the star-angels guide you.

Now is the time to release your potential

What are you doing with your time right now?

This blog post is a wake-up call. Use this time wisely and you can emerge from your isolation as a new person!

Henry ThoreauHenry Thoreau was an American philosopher who lived in a hut in the woods in Walden, New England. He told an inspiring story, based on a true event he had heard. As he wrote in his memoir, Walden:

Everyone has heard the story which has gone the rounds of New England, of a strong and beautiful bug which came out of the dry leave of an old table of applewood, which had stood in a farmer’s kitchen for sixty years, first in Connecticut, and afterward in Massachusetts, from an egg deposited in the living tree many years earlier still, as appeared by counting the annual layers beyond it; which was heard gnawing out for several weeks, hatched perchance by the heat of an urn.

Eurythyrea austriacaThe beetle had been in the wood for many decades and then emerged to a new, brighter life. Thoreau hoped humanity could also leave its life of dependence on things and emerge into a greater world of transcendental freedom:

Who knows what beautiful and winged life, whose egg has been buried for agesmay unexpectedly come forth… to enjoy a perfect summer life at last!

Thoreau was a member of the Transcendentalist movement. Transcendentalists were, amongst other things, early environmentalists. They believed in the inherent goodness of people and Nature, and that society and its institutions have corrupted the purity of the individual. People, they said, are at their best when truly self-reliant and independent.

Thoreau’s writings have influenced the Human Potential and New Age movements. By telling us this story, he wanted to confirm that the potential of our ‘winged life’ may be dormant, but we can be woken up — like a princess in the castle surrounded by brambles.

Sometimes it takes warmth from the outside to stimulate this process. Possibly someone else will have to arrive in our lives. Or we will stir in our slumber and catch a glimpse of new possibilities, as if in a dream. Then we will remind ourselves to engage with an ancient promise we made to our divine selves, before we were born into our present incarnation.

How did we fall asleep?

So many old spiritual stories describe how we forget why we decided to come into the material world. In a Jewish version, the Angel Lailah watches over the newly forming baby and touches it gently above the top lip, whispering ‘ssssh’. They say this is why we have a little indentation just there! The angel has made sure we forget most of what we knew in heaven, but wants us to retain enough deep memory, tucked away in the recesses of our consciousness, so we will always be seeking our Divine nature. The poet Wordsworth echoes this story:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar,
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

— Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood by William Wordsworth (1770–1850).

In this poem, Wordsworth describes how as a small child he experienced the world being apparelled in celestial light. Through his innocent eyes he could actually see the Divine Radiance shining in the world.

But he is saddened by the fact that he no longer sees the Divine presence… a glory has passed from the Earth.

And how can we wake up?

Wordsworth’s poem is a truly significant testimony for our understanding of Shefa… that is what the child sees in the natural world. Children are in a state of bliss before they are educated to analyse and divide the world – which begins to happen almost as soon as they learn language. (Well, they’re happy most of the time, except when they’re hungry, or when their nappy is soggy!)

Jesus told his disciples that they would need to become ‘as little children’, before they could enter the Kingdom. And the ‘meek’ would inherit the Earth. The state of innocence that allows anyone to see Divine Radiance all around, allows us to appreciate the flow of Shefa in all aspects of Nature, including in our own physical bodies. This visionary capacity may seem far from our everyday, focussed, efficient state of mind – we tell ourselves we must be ‘realistic’. But deep inside each one of us is a winged self, wanting – waiting – to be released. This release leads to an interior knowledge, certainty and confidence. It has nothing to do with social expectations, or what you ‘should’ or should not’ do. It is your life task to encourage your little ‘bug’ to wake up and start flying. Regular meditation takes you to this state of innocence and bliss – your Divine playground. And when you add Shefa characters to a regular meditation habit, you can expect magical blessings, healing and abundance at the very least. Easy peasy!

During these strange times, when so many people have to make huge adjustments to their lifestyles, here is something to consider. Perhaps the pandemic virus is like the tea urn on the table Thoreau talked about. Maybe this is Mother Nature’s way of ‘heating up’ the collective human environment in order to stimulate our forgotten wisdom. Under these circumstances we have an opportunity to draw on our natural resources of compassion and our capacity to adapt in the face of challenging circumstances. But much more than that, we are being given an opportunity to rediscover the secrets hidden within our consciousness, like a seed.

In what are frequently called ‘unprecedented’ times, we now have the ‘unprecedented’ chance to wake up to our real, Divine potential.

CLICK HERE to find out how you can learn to combine a powerful meditation technique with Shefa characters, in your own home.

How To Go With The Flow

Unprecedented times…

How many times have you heard the word ‘unprecedented’ recently? Personally, I’ve lost count. Some politicians have been using the word frequently, even within the same speech. I would say we are collectively overwhelmed by a tsunami of anxiety and fear, except ‘tsunami’ is also being used rather a lot as well.

The pulse of life

There is an old story about a Chinese sage who fell into a tumultuous, rushing river. His disciples were in a state of shock. Their wise master had left them to fend for themselves. Some time later, while they were still grieving, the sage arrived back in the village, looking happy and healthy. The disciples were astounded. Their teacher was alive and back in action. They asked, “How did this come about? You were swept away by the raging water, we truly believed you would be lost to us forever.” The sage answered them, smiling. “When you fall into the river, you go with the flow. You allow yourself to go up with up-flow. Then go down with the down-flow. With such surrender, the river’s power will not harm you.”

The Hebrew word shefa means ‘everflow’, and it is also often called or, meaning ‘light’. But this is not static light, fixed like the glow from a light bulb. It is a living light energy that flows through Creation, pulsing, almost like electricity. Sometimes pushy or forceful, dynamic and yang; sometimes soft or gentle, receptive and yin. Its rhythmical flow can be likened to a stream, or a river, that can fill every corner of life. We often identify those two contrasting energetic qualities as ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’. The pulse of shefa is the ‘rhythm of life’, moving between creative and active, then back to receptive and passive.

Tools we use to see the flow

The classic Chinese oracle, I Ching, is a powerful divinatory tool that uses traditional stories to describe the movement of time. The varying qualities of time are delineated by a series of sixty-four hexagrams (figures made up of six lines each) that describe the wide variety of qualities of the time, when you ask a question. Here are all sixty-four:

In the same way, the ancient tradition of horary astrology also identifies the quality of the time, using the mythological language of the planetary gods and the signs of the zodiac. Using divination – consulting the oracle – isn’t so much about accurately predicting what will happen, but indicating what the ‘weather’ – the overall state of the energetic flow – will be like. Then, like a sailor consulting tide tables, you can make wiser choices when faced with significant decisions.The Chinese sage identified the up-flow and the down-flow, the yang and the yin of the river, then he surrendered to it. He didn’t resist or wrestle with it, but allowed the river’s energy to deliver him at the end of his roller-coaster ride, still happy and laughing.

Flow through the Tree of Life

In Jewish kabbalah – the wisdom received by generations of mystics who certainly did want to wrestle with the flow – we find a dynamic map called the Tree of Life. Here we find a description of the way the living light – shefa – flows through channels and pathways that could be seen to resemble a plumbing system. The mystics tell us that all living processes are underpinned by the same structure, which allows the flow to move easily and harmoniously in Creation. This includes our physical body. Here is the basic map:

Think of the circles as reservoirs, or tanks in a water system – in Hebrew they are called sefira (plural). The flow comes from an invisible, limitless Source outside, above and beyond the top sefirot (singular). In Jewish mystical literature the sefira are also described as ‘gates of light’. Each gate has an Archangelic guardian. (If you want to learn more about the Archangels of the Tree of Life, check out my book, Working with Archangels). The flow moves from one pillar to the next, crossing the central pillar at certain points. If the flow is harmonious, with no resistance, then all will be comfortable and well. It is only when blockages occur in the ‘plumbing’ that tensions, anxieties, or stresses arise, leading to ill-health, individual and collective panic and, quite often to war. When we trust this flow is benevolent, seeking our overall good, then we can allow it to move freely and easily, knowing that…

all will be well, all manner of things will be well.

Julian of Norwich (late 1342 until after 1416).

Each sefirot is named as one of the Divine qualities. Sometimes they are called the ‘faces of God’, or ‘the hands of God’. None of the qualities is set against us. Even ‘the severity of God’ is a necessary quality for our life-learning and spiritual growth. The sefira are also described as blossoms or jewels on the Tree, which is full of radiant light. The living light comes from a single source, which comes into your life fragmented, like light through a prism:

The One remains, the many change and pass;
Heaven’s light forever shines, Earth’s shadows fly;
Life, like a dome of many-colour’d glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity,

— Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

Light and shadow

The Romantic poet Shelley wrote these words after the death of another poet, John Keats, who was only twenty-five when he died of tuberculosis. Shelley himself died in a drowning accident, just before his thirtieth birthday. In the Ode on the death of John Keats, Shelley describes how we live in a shadowy world but, when we die, we will see beyond the dream-like shadowy perceptions and find ourselves back in ‘Heaven’s light’.

The ‘shadows’ are significant for us while we are incarnated. The Ancient Greek philosopher Plato likened our everyday lives to those of prisoners, chained in a cave, who could only see shadows on a wall in front of them. These shadows were cast by a fire behind them, a fire they couldn’t see because their chains held them in such a position that they could not turn their heads. In our kabbalistic Tree of Life map, the light moves through structures in order to create the dance of life, which necessarily casts shadows. They are not ‘evil’ or ‘negative’ in any way. When we ‘go with the flow’ we understand that ‘up’ is not always the best way forward, and that ‘down’ is not always ‘bad’.

Introvert and extrovert

Being isolated was a choice made by mystics like Julian of Norwich. She had lost her family in a time of plague, but she kept her faith. She understood that a personal, life-time retreat would give her the opportunity to commune with God and gain more spiritual insights. (Although so many pictures show her with a cat, so I’m sure she did have someone else to talk to as well!)

The artist Michaelangelo was an extreme introvert. Likely he would have been classed as autistic in today’s world. People who knew him complained about his anti-social behavior, to which he replied: “Unless I have time alone, I cannot hear what God is telling me.”

Take time to listen to your inner voice. There is so much inner wisdom we miss out on when we engage in a constant round of socialising. Don’t even think, “How can I fill my time with more Netflix movies, or catch up with books I’ve been meaning to read?” Use at least some of your time to dive deep and converse with your personal guide, daimon, angel – whatever word you like to use. They are waiting for you and will help you go with the flow.

What is Creative Meditation?

People usually practice meditation simply for keeping calm in the chaos of everyday life. But Creative Meditation is a tool for unlocking your potential.

People usually practice meditation simply for keeping calm in the chaos of everyday life. But Creative Meditation is a tool for unlocking your potential.

Meditation systems usually promise that taking regular quiet time will help you get through your busy day. You will deal with rush hours, demands of family, and bickering in the office, in a state of Buddha-like calm.

Creative Meditation | Theolyn Cortens Shefa Method

But I want to suggest something much more creative. Ancient wisdom tells us that yogis and mystics practiced meditation, not because they wanted to escape the busy world – they were on a mission to change their world. Let me introduce you to some different options in the shopping mall of spiritual practices.

Visualisations and guided journeys

Many personal development teachers offer students recordings of guided journeys, carefully designed to lead you into an inner experience. You will take time out in a peaceful place – by a lake, in a wooded glade, in a temple…

Creative Meditation | Theolyn Cortens Shefa Method

This interior world will be created by your imagination, according to the suggestions of the teacher. But you can take such journeys on your own, without any guidance. You can explore your personal imaginal worlds whenever you wish. These inner quests can be truly life enhancing, putting you in touch with your inner sanctuary and even allowing you to converse with guides or angels. Over the years, I have recorded many journeys for my students and I know how inspiring these inner journeys can be. Some people come back with wisdom and make real transformations in their daily lives. Four stars out of five for a really helpful practice… keep up the good work!

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the now, while still going around your daily business. This practice was popularised by a Buddhist monk and is based on the Buddha’s teaching. He suggested we all needed to find an island of stillness within the busy world.

Creative Meditation | Theolyn Cortens Shefa Method

Practitioners train themselves to observe and be present to their activities. If you are eating an apple… notice every juicy bite, notice the crunch, notice the taste. This is a really brilliant practice, because it also makes you aware of how you are feeling inside, and how your thoughts arise, sometimes provoking difficult emotions. Again, I give mindfulness four stars!

Meditation

The word ‘meditation’ is used as a catchall description for many practices with a variety of approaches. Some people describe mindfulness as meditation. The goal of meditation is to briefly transcend your thoughts and come back into everyday thinking refreshed. You can focus on something external, such as a candle, and that process can shift your attention from ‘monkey-mind’ chatter.

Creative Meditation | Theolyn Cortens Shefa Method

Or, you could repeat prayers, using beads or a rosary…

Creative Meditation | Theolyn Cortens Shefa Method

Repetitive chanting aloud is another tried and tested method remedy for a busy mind.

Creative Meditation | Theolyn Cortens Shefa Method
Om in Sanskrit

Transcendental meditation gives students a mantra to repeat – but inwardly, not outwardly. A mantra is a sacred word, chosen from Sanskrit scriptures. Sanskrit is regarded as a divine language and is based on the primordial sounds of the universe. Om is the most famous Sanskrit mantra. Hebrew is also a divine language, again based on primordial sounds. I teach my students to use a zera, a seed word from Hebrew. Many forms of meditation will qualify for the four star reward! So what can I suggest that gets five stars?

Creative Meditation

What we need to take our practice to a new level is a method that not only takes us to the peaceful island (escaping for recuperation), but also gives us the tools to build a boat.

Creative Meditation | Theolyn Cortens Shefa Method

What I mean by this is that we need to explore how to redesign the reality we return to, after our meditation session has finished. As an individual human you contain your own personal unique, immense potential. When you touch base with your beingness, you can harness that potential. You can take authority over your own life. You don’t need to lead a life that is stressful, in which you can only cope by escaping regularly, or being mindful, in order to alleviate your ‘suffering’.

While on the subject of ‘suffering’ – which was what the Buddha claimed we are condemned to – I disagree. I was definitely not satisfied with that suggestion, and that was why I drifted away from being a member of the Buddhist society, after joining aged fourteen.  We human beings are creative, intelligent creatures, so we don’t have to suffer! It’s just a question of realigning the way we use our intelligence.

How do we do this?

Let’s get back to our process. The first thing is to get to the island. A technique that allows you easily, naturally and effortlessly to drop into the deepest realm of your own consciousness is essential. Rather than thinking of an island, think of this as diving deep into your ocean of consciousness and taking time to sit quietly on the ocean floor, beyond everyday concerns and aware only of your own beingness.

When you find this place you will become aware that your individual being is at one with a vast presence, a limitless field of energy. The experience of this will be truly blissful. Why wouldn’t you want to stay there, in this boundless zone of beauty, stillness and tranquillity?

The answer is: you are a creator! When you are there in the stillness, you will know, deep in your being, that you can create what you choose. You are at one with all that is. In that state of innocence you are like a child. You have entered heaven. You are passive, receptive to the wisdom, love and power that will arise easily and gracefully within you. But, like a child, you are inquisitive, curious and demanding. What a playground this is! What can you do now?

You can shift from the receptive to the creative mode. You can build new worlds. You can re-vision your life. You can recall your original choices that you made when you chose to incarnate into this present life. To live a unique destiny.

So first, you must learn how to dive into this field of all possibilities. This is where, as a creative, you get your blank canvas.

Creative Meditation | Theolyn Cortens Shefa Method

You take your inner charcoal and sketch in your vision. You will discover how to craft your chosen life at a subtle, vibrational level. Then your personal reality will start conforming to your picture.

So where do you find your inner ‘charcoal’? Find out more about The Shefa Method – Creative Meditation with extra stars!

What is Spiritual Healing?

Can anyone learn spiritual healing? Or is it a gift? Can we focus on spiritual dimensions and summon assistance in the healing process? And what is spirit, anyway?

Shefa Healing | Theolyn Cortens Shefa Method

‘Spiritual’ healing or ‘energy’ healing?

In the 1990s I trained as a ‘spiritual healer’ in England with the National Federation of Spiritual Healers, now called The Healing Trust. Some of the earliest members of the NFSH (founded in 1954) had been what you might call ‘old school healers’. They believed the invisible power of God could be brought to their clients by a simple technique – the ‘laying on of hands’.

By the time I was following the NFSH accreditation courses, many so-called New Age ideas had crept into their teaching: chakras, auras and crystals had never been in the vocabulary of the founding healers, who would say things like ‘you just get out of the way and let God sort the problem’. The more complex, New Age version of spiritual healing is what people nowadays describe as ‘energy healing’.

Reiki and Seichem healing

Shefa Healing | Theolyn Cortens Shefa Method
Reiki healing is a popular form of energy healing.

Most people reading this blog will know something about the more recent healing modalities that blossomed late last century. You may have trained in the most popular therapy, Reiki, which is now an acceptable complementary therapy. It is welcomed by some conventional organisations, such as medical practices and hospices. I personally haven’t trained in these areas, so I can’t offer any testimony, or considered commentary, but many people report satisfactory, sometimes remarkable, results.

The fact that Reiki has become so popular suggests that this methodology has the power to help people through difficult times. Although, correctly, practitioners do not claim to cure illnesses. When dealing with physically or emotionally challenging problems, clients are always recommended to include Reiki along side conventional allopathic (drug- and surgery-based) medical practices. However, there are stories circulating that, when the regular medics run out of options, people diagnosed with terminal illnesses may turn, as a last resort, to energy healing. They often find their terminal issue goes ‘into remission’ and they continue living, against the odds predicted by the medical profession.

Reiki involves placing hands on the client’s body, Seichem (pronounced say-keem) is a variant of Reiki and involves manipulation of the client’s aura as well. More information about both these modalities can be found on the Reiki and Seichem Association’s website.

How does spiritual healing work?

Experiments have demonstrated that these healing modalities are not simply based on the ‘placebo effect’ – in other words, because people believe they will work. The International Reiki Organisation has some very useful articles on how Reiki works, including an account of controlled trials and improvement in blood health.

Basically, what we learn is that a ‘life force’ flows through us and creates a harmonious energy field around us. This can be vulnerable to disruption due to trauma or life-situation – external influences – or from negative thoughts and feelings – internal influences. When either of these happens, the successful flow of energy to our cells and vital organs is inhibited.

For healing to take place, a Reiki healer promotes changes in the energy field by introducing various energetic symbols they learned when they were ‘attuned’ by a ‘Master’, who claims lineage from the original Japanese Reiki Master and ascetic shaman, Mikai Usui, who died in 1926. Gautama Sakyamuni, the Buddha, ‘gave’ it to him, according to Usui. The Healing Trust doesn’t claim to ‘attune’ people, they just teach a series of general hands-on healing techniques. Other healers feel they have a natural gift.

Is there more than one kind of life force?

Shefa Healing | Theolyn Cortens Shefa Method
Henri Bergson, French philosopher (1859–1941).

Early in the last century, the French expression elan vital, meaning ‘life force’, was coined by the French philosopher, Henri Bergson, in his book, Creative Evolution. Bergson was an immensely popular speaker, a philosopher rock star who drew large audiences to his talks, especially in America. This was how the term elan vital filtered into Western culture. People who didn’t want to use the word ‘God’ felt comfortable with the idea of ‘life force’. What is a bit puzzling in modern spiritual healing descriptions is the idea that various healing therapies are accessing different kinds of life forces, as though there is more than one!

Shefa Healing | Theolyn Cortens Shefa Method

The Chinese word qi, sometimes spelled chi or ki, means ‘life energy’. In Hindu philosophy, the Sanskrit word prana is translated as breath, life force or vital principle. In this system there are several ‘types’ of prana and an elaborate model describing the flow of energy in the human body. There are three major nadis, or channels, through which energy flows up and down the spine. Here, seven spinning wheels of energy called chakras process the energy flow. I always think these are rather like the lock-gates we build when we channel water through canal systems. According to yogic practice, the chakras are always spinning at different speeds. Hindu scriptures suggest this powerful energy emanates from the Sun.

By the way, the original yogic systems do not identify colours for chakras. That’s a Western overlay, developed by modern New Age teachers.

Many words, one life force

Other words for the life force, the ever-flowing power that sustains and animates Creation are:

shefa Hebrew
anima Latin
ruh Arabic
pneuma Greek
mana Polynesian
orenda Amerindian

They’re all different words, but they describe the same energy, the same life force. My conviction is there is only one life force – we just experience the energy in a variety of ways. This means we can establish a variety of reliable options for working with this power. Some of these may stimulate very positive results. The effects may be livelier with some systems than with others. Like a pianist, the energy field of the healer will also have an impact. Yes, anyone can learn to play if they persevere, but only a limited number will become concert performers who move their audiences.

So… what is spiritual healing then?

Shefa Healing | Theolyn Cortens Shefa Method

Any system designed to encourage the harmonious flow of the life force is a spiritual healing modality. When the life force is flowing easily, all levels of our being will naturally tend towards well-being. Any of these modalities can offer such an opportunity.

Shefa Healing

You probably already know that I teach a creative meditation technique, The Shefa Method, which rebalances your shefa while also taking advantage of the unique creative possibilities that open up to you when in a deep place of meditation. This technique also offers powerful healing possibilities. People who learn the Shefa Method for personal use find a variety of health issues gradually lifting. I also train students to use the Shefa Method as a healing modality. Click here to read a case study by a qualified Shefa Healer.

If you want to learn the Shefa Method – perhaps with a view to training as a Shefa Healer – follow this link for all the information. Any questions, please do email me.

Ceremonies, Calendars and Pilgrimages

Many years ago, when I lived in Oxfordshire, we used to invite friends to celebrate the seasons with us. Meditation, poetry, music and yummy food were the ingredients for a magical evening together. We put together a calendar to include eight festivals, based on the celebrations that have been popular for thousands of years in the Northern hemisphere. These special events mark the turning of the solar year: the equinoxes and solstices, as well as the cross-quarters – dates midway between a solstice and an equinox.

A friend of ours, Sally Morgan, gave us a magical silk painting to illustrate the eight festivals, which we named after the annual cycle of growth, blossoming, fruiting and decay of a deciduous tree.
First Fruits | Theolyn Cortens Shefa Method

Date* Astronomical Our festival Selection of other festivals
20 March Spring Equinox Sticky Buds Ostara, Easter, Persian and Muslim New Year.
5/6 May 1st Cross-Quarter Blossoms May Day, Beltane.
20/21 June Summer Solstice Golden Boughs Ancient Greek New Year, Sioux Sun Dance, Litha, Midsommar, Ukon juhla, World Humanist Day(!)
7 August 2nd Cross-Quarter First Fruits Lughnassad.
22/23 September Autumn Equinox Falling Leaves Harvest Festival.
7 November 3rd Cross-Quarter Deep Roots Samhain, Guy Fawkes Night, All Saints Day, Hallowe’en, Mexican Day of the Dead.
21/22 December Winter Solstice Yule Christmas, New Year’s Day.
3/4 February 4th Cross-Quarter New Shoots Candlemas, Imbolc.
*Dates may vary by a day or two from year to year.

It felt important to me that we identified these celebrations with names that had no connection to the various religious festivals that take place around those significant points in the year. I didn’t want to identify them as a particular tradition, so we also avoided using the old Celtic names, such as Imbolc, Beltane, Samhain, and so on.

Our gatherings were mostly informal, with people bringing poems, songs, circle dances and food to share. And we always had a bonfire! It is a very magical experience, to create sacred ceremonies with like-minded folk, invoking the nature spirits and honouring the invisible powers that sustain Creation.

The eight points of the year’s turning wheel feel like natural opportunities to recognise the abundance we receive from Mother Earth. You don’t have to be ‘religious’ to find inspiration and delight from simple celebrations like these. But you need to be willing and open to the magic of the natural world, and be surprised when you voice your personal needs at a ceremony, and later find they have been answered. Nature recognises your willingness to be supported. She creates a cradle, a hammock, in which you can rest after making your contributions – which must always be according to your dharma, your life’s destiny. There’s no point in making offerings to invisible powers unless they come from your heart, from your own deep-seated REAL presence in the world. What the German philosopher Martin Heidegger called your Dasein: your essential, primordial being-ness. When you offer from your root, from your core (or your coeur – your heart), that’s when the magic begins.

Fire ceremony

At a heart-felt ceremony you will be doing magic for yourself, for others present, and for people beyond the limitations of the time-space dimension where the ceremony is taking place. In order to participate in any ceremony at such a deep level it is essential to be adept at accessing realms of inner space through your regular meditation practice.

From before history, spiritual practices have always included festivals according to the astronomical calendar, as the Sun progresses round its annual cycle. This in turn has been linked to significant agricultural stages of the year, as well as specific religious and other stories – Christmas, Easter and Hallowe’en being obvious examples from the Christian calendar; Guy Fawkes Night is linked to a non-religious historical event, although its origins are really to do with the astronomical cycle I’m talking about here.

The other essential spiritual practice, since time immemorial, has been the pilgrimage – a visit, often entailing a long haul journey on foot or by simple transport, to a sacred site. Why would the site be regarded as sacred? Perhaps because a saintly person had been born or died there. For instance, Canterbury Cathedral in England became a very famous focus for pilgrims, after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, was murdered at the altar on instructions from the tyrannical King Henry II. In the early Middle Ages, between 1387 and 1400, the poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the famous Canterbury Tales, in which he describes various members of the pilgrimage travelling to pay respect at the tomb of the martyred saint. They prayed he might answer their prayers – perhaps to cure their gout, get them a ticket to heaven, or absolve them of sins so they had no need to fear hell.

Canterbury Pilgrims

Perhaps a famous mystic had seen a vision on a mountain top, or by a spring of water. Over generations, the site becomes more intensely sacred in its atmosphere, because hundreds, even thousands, of pilgrims have focussed their attention, love and heartfelt desires in that very same place, invoking help from saints, angels, or from the in-dwelling nature spirits (who are generally the precursors of the saints and angels anyway). A mountain here in Wales has a special reputation. Locally known as Carn Ingli (‘The Mountain of Angels’), legend tells us that the 6th-century Saint Brynach lived there as a hermit, in a cave on the mountain, where he communed with angels.

Carn Ingli, Pembrokeshire

There is a powerful, life-changing, karmic-shifting opportunity when we go on a pilgrimage. We can travel alone, or with a small number of friends, family or like-minded folk. Individual and group intentions carry the energy that begins to increase its vibrational potency, even before you set foot outside your front door. Your focus recalibrates the flowing cycles of time and space already in play – your choice to be a pilgrim makes a difference, for your own life and others.

We tend to think that reality is ‘out there’ waiting for us to step ‘into’ it. We have been taught that time and space are pre-existent, historical structures into which we have emerged, to be surrounded by material things and time-based events. But this is not true. Definitely NOT TRUE. Think again.

We are not in time and space. Time and space are in us. We create and co-create the world we experience. When we decide to make pilgrimage we are saying: What we are doing is sacred, because we have chosen to be sacred. We choose to conduct our lives as divine beings, creating and participating in a dance we are choreographing according to delightful patterns. We have designed those patterns according to our divine desires!

Cosmic nebula

The turning cycle of natural growth within the year and the cycles of the heavenly bodies reflect each other. Watch the cycles of change and take delight in them, but never feel you are subject to time. You are an eternal being who has stepped into the flow of history and your contribution will be simply to enjoy and give thanks.

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth

There are still spaces on the Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth Pilgrimage (March 24-28) and last-minute places are presently being offered at a big discount. If you are on a low income, you can also apply for a bursary to support you. Click here for details.

Thank you for your second Review

Check your email Inbox for a copy of your answers and retain for future reference.

This is important, as you will need to refer back to this later on in the course.

Many blessings,
Theolyn Cortens

How to be Happy in 2020

Being happy and fulfilled in life is important to us all, yet somehow we miss out on it. Why is this? Why can’t we just be happy?

Well, maybe we’re paying too much attention to the news of the day. At the beginning of 2020, threats to collective human happiness and prosperity seem to be looming. News feeds and social media are laden with foreboding. Astrological omens are gloomy. The present transits of heavy-duty outer planets through the stern sign of Capricorn are bringing up challenges for everyone.

Can we survive climate change? Can we survive the mad behaviour of tyrants and politicians, whose toddler temper tantrums seem could escalate to another world war? Can we cope with economic issues, both at a personal and a national level? How can we go about our daily business, free from anxiety for the future for our children, grandchildren, for all those we love?

If we have any spiritual maturity at all, then we are aware that life will always include events that we don’t enjoy. We also know that what does not kill us makes us stronger (so said Friedrich Nietzsche).

To find the good news that makes us happy, we need to look towards eternal truths and avoid allowing our mindscape to become entangled with the temporary noise of the day. The mystical poet and painter William Blake said:

Joy and Woe are woven fine,
As clothing for the Soul divine,
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.

So here are my suggested seven activities that can reveal the ‘silken twine of joy’. Get going as soon as possible to make yourself happy…

1. Be happy by meditating twice a day

Meditation makes you happy

As you know, I offer the Shefa Method as a remarkable and powerful ‘super meditation-plus’ technique. If you are already happy with a meditation technique you have tried and tested, then continue with that. But 2020, with all the additional pressures on your life — personal and global — is a time when you need to expand your consciousness. This will benefit you, your family, your community and the whole world. So take an advanced course or retreat, and refresh your spirit, mind, heart and body. Everyone needs you to be at your peak this year, so do some about that now!

2. Declutter your environment to bring joy and happiness to others as well

Declutter your way to happiness!

This is a heart-expanding exercise and 2020 is a year when as many people as possible need to find way to be open-hearted. This counteracts any tendency we may have shrink into fear mode and become overly self-protective. Choose your charity with care, so that the whole process becomes spiritually meaningful as well, as an act of personal cleansing. Also, give ‘stuff’ away, and find opportunities to offer your time to support  charitable activities that call to your heart. If you are selling unwanted goods on eBay, opt in to their system where you can give a percentage of your earnings to a charity of your choice. You can find some good help in your quest for a decluttered life here.

3. Make sure real fire plays a part in your new happy life!

Sacred fire is happy fire

It would be brilliant if you could find a place for a regular bonfire, preferably in your own garden or back yard. There are excellent outdoor products designed for gardens that keep fire well contained, even if you only have a small area. (I found a basic fire pit on Amazon for under £30).

Fire is the most powerful spiritual element – Zoroastrian priests have kept a sacred fire burning in Yazd in Iran for over 1,500 years! (See it in this YouTube video).

Your personal fire ritual can include cleansing your life of old papers or photographs. So this process could be an extension of your de-cluttering activities (see above). But this could also be an act of reconnecting with your divine spark, the fire inside you. Don’t just use the fire to burn rubbish. Make a ceremony on a special day and add incense, especially frankincense, to your fire. Invoke Archangel Michael, who is the planetary spirit for the Sun. This ritual will be especially helpful during the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere, when sunshine can be scarce.

4. Find a place where you can bathe happily in natural surroundings, preferably naked

Nothing is more joyful than skinny dipping

Do this in on your own as a spiritual exercise of surrender to the element of water, from which you were born. Make sure you dip right under the water, like a full baptism, or mikveh. This is not only emotionally refreshing, but reclaims our innate awareness that Nature is benevolent. A very good time to do this would be on, or near, your birthday. Much more joyful than eating cake! But you could also celebrate by lighting candles.

If your timing coincides with cold weather, or if natural water is not available for you, then create an at-home version. Make a ritual in your own bathroom. Make sure you will not be disturbed for at least an hour. Use quality natural mineral salts, such as Epsom, Dead Sea or Himalayan Pink, but not bubbles or commercial bath products. However, filling the room with natural aromas, such as pine, cypress or other essences will help create a feeling of being in a natural environment. Surround your bath with tea lights.

Read more about bathing naked and maybe even join in one of their summer events at The Great British Skinny Dip.

5. Plant anything you can, anywhere you are allowed

Plant trees to bring happy vibes for generations

This is a lovely thing to do, especially with a view to the long-term – trees are brilliant. If you don’t have your own space to plant trees, check out your area to see if there are any tree-planting projects, or community activities focussed on reclaiming neglected land. (A good list of tree planting organisations can be found on Dr James Borrell’s blog page here).

The least you could do is grow your own herbs in pots by your kitchen door, or on your windowsill. Whenever you plant anything, make a ritual process to honour the spirit of the plant, and make a commitment to nurture it as it grows. You might like to explore which herbs and plants are special for your significant zodiac signs (your Sun, Moon and Ascendant signs).

6. Go on a pilgrimage to a place of special joy

You are at your happiest in a place that is special to you

This doesn’t need to be to a religious site (although there are still places on the Chartres Labyrinth pilgrimage I’m offering in March!) This is a personal exercise to make you happy. You could choose to visit a place where you felt joyful as a young child. Or the place where you met your partner. This could be a building or town with personal connections, or a place in a natural environment that just makes you feel truly happy! You could use this pilgrimage to pay respects to someone you want to honour, either in your own history or ancestry, or someone you revere as a wise teacher, or a creative who has inspired you. Remember also, pilgrimages are about the journey as much as the destination, so it begins as soon as you leave your door. You may want to watch this YouTube conversation with Rupert Sheldrake, who, as I’m sure you know, is not just a great scientist but also a great fan of pilgrimage as a spiritual process.

7. Create a special meal – for any reason you can come up with!

Happy food means happy people

Not the usual birthdays, anniversaries and so on. Just make an excuse to spend time making a feast, then invite people round for lunch, afternoon tea or supper. Make sure the table is beautifully laid with any lovely decorations you can find. Include greenery and flowers growing nearby. Choose dishes that challenge your cooking expertise. You might like to identify a special theme and keep all the food within certain culinary traditions. Or you might like to indulge in nostalgia and make party food that your guests would have enjoyed when they were children.These days, even mainstream chefs are embracing vegan food. Jamie Oliver, for instance, has some good ideas.

As this will be like a party, you might like to have a lucky dip gift box. Cover a large cardboard box with decorative wrapping paper. Fill it with shredded paper or packing raffia (which is reusable). Ask everyone who comes to bring a surprise low-cost but fun gift, purchased from a local charity shop. Let them know the maximum amount to spend. They need to wrap their gift and hide it in the box, with no identifying label.


I enjoyed writing this and I’m already mulling over ideas for my number seven – I’ll keep you updated!

Thank you for your first Review

Check your email Inbox for a copy of your answers and retain for future reference.

This is important, as you will need to refer back to this later on in the course.

Many blessings,
Theolyn Cortens