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.

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!

Bringers of Gifts

The Slavic ‘Ded Morez’ or ‘Saxta Baba’ – Grandfather Frost.

Ancient mythologies and old folkloric tales always include the archetype of an old man who brings gifts around the time of the Winter Solstice. This splendid white-bearded chap is Ded Morez or Saxta Baba – Grandfather Frost. He is a popular winter folk character in Russian and Slavic countries. Usually he wears blue, but sometimes he is dressed in red – just like Father Christmas. He brings gifts for good children – usually on New Year’s Eve, since this tradition is celebrated in Muslim or secular countries, where Christians are in the minority. Ded Morez has a long white beard, walks with a magic staff, like a magician, wears a fur hat and felt boots. He rides in a troika – a sleigh with three horses – and is often accompanied by his granddaughter, Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden:

Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden.

The well-known Christian story describes the arrival of three men, described in the gospels as ‘magi’ – not ‘kings’ – who bring gold, frankincense and myrrh as gifts for the Christ child.

The three Magi.

The magi were Zoroastrian magician-priests, who were also astrologers. It is likely the ‘star’ they were following was a conjunction between Saturn and Jupiter, which would have been bright in the skies around the year 7 CE.

Both the Ded Morez tradition and the gospel story of the magi are echoes through the ages, echoes of our ancient ancestors who practiced divination and magic. At the time Jesus was born, magic was an accepted reality across the Roman Empire. It was not until Christianity was established as a state religion that astrology and magic were marginalised, we could say ‘excommunicated’. Perhaps that was why the ‘magi’ became ‘kings’ (who have a very different status).

Saint Nicholas – a very papal character.

In later Christmas traditions we meet St. Nicholas. He also brings gifts, often oranges, for poor children who have left out their clogs on the night before his feast day December 6th.. He eventually morphs from a high-minded Christian saint into the jolly Santa Claus we know today. Old images of St Nicholas show him dressed in his bishop’s gown, with his staff and mitre. But Santa Claus and Ded Morez are definitely wearing pre-Christian garb. The trousers worn by Santa, tucked into boots, and the wide belt buckled round his tunic, as well as his fur-edged cap, are most likely derived from the garments worn by Scythian warriors. The Scythians were originally a nomadic people who lived in southern Siberia, but they developed the trade routes still known today as ‘the Silk Road’ and founded a rich powerful empire centred on the Crimea. Maybe the bringing of gifts was associated with their trade in spices, silks, precious metals and gems.

These traditions all tell us a similar story about how, at the winter solstice festival, there is some magic in the air! Jupiter is the god of jollity and he rules the December sign of Sagittarius. Think of the Spirit of Christmas Present we find in Charles Dickens’ story A Christmas Carol:

The ghost of Christmas Present.

So this is definitely the best time of year to bring gifts to friends and family, and to make donations for the poor.


The reason I write my books, newsletters and blogs, the reason I teach The Shefa Method, is to take you by the hand, so to speak, and lead you to knowledge of your own Divinity.

Grandfathers of Wisdom

The appearance of an old man is the archetype for this season, representing maturity and wisdom. In fact, two old men come face-to-face at this point in the year and they are represented in mythology by Jupiter and Saturn. The two representations above were created in the Victorian period for Cardiff Castle, here in Wales where I live. You can see Saturn is carrying a scythe – he is Old Father Time. His Greek name is Chronos.

Astrologically, Jupiter rules Sagittarius, and the last degree of Sagittarius is the Winter Solstice, when Jupiter hands over to Saturn, who rules the next sign, Capricorn. These characters represent cosmic ‘yes’ and cosmic ‘no’. Jupiter is all about expansion and Saturn brings contraction – both essential to the cycle of creation. Jupiter encourages you to spend on seasonal gifts, then Saturn brings the credit card bills!

Both these gods encourage wisdom: Jupiter is about joy, delight and gifts of the heart. William Blake, born under Sagittarius, said the path of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. Beethoven, also born under Sagittarius, wrote Ode to Joy  – included in his ninth symphony – when he was deaf. Nine is the number of Jupiter and December is the ninth month from the Spring Equinox. Nine is the last number before ten, the culmination of the series when using our base ten counting system.

During the coming year the planets named after these two wise archetypes, Jupiter and Saturn, will meet in a ‘conjunction’. There are many changes ahead for all of us. How that will affect your personal life depends on the significations in your birth chart. Whatever intensity or drama lies ahead for individuals, or for the collective social order in Western culture, the most important thing to remember is that you do have a Divine Soul and you can deal with life’s ups and downs when you maintain connection with your Soul through your meditation practice.

Your personal confidence and mental clarity depends on you being able to access the inner wisdom represented by these two wise old men. They teach us when to go forward, when to hold back; when to spend, when to save; when to explore further horizons, when to stay at home.  I am a great advocate for the use of astrology to identify the best timing when making big choices, but adding meditation to the wisdom of the stars brings your decision-making process to a new level. Captains in ancient times needed to understand the tide-tables, but they also need to consult their inner guiding star – their personal daimon – before finally choosing when to set out to sea.


The reason I write my books, newsletters and blogs, and the reason I teach The Shefa Method, is to take you by the hand, so to speak, and lead you to knowledge of your own Divinity.

Spirits of the Ancestors

Most pre-Christian cultures maintained ceremonies for honouring the ancestors. Traditionally, the quietest period of autumn, just as winter is settling in, offers us all a between-the-worlds opportunity to summon ancestral spirits and commune with the dead. The shaman lights fires and beats his drum to call the ancestors, hoping to gain wisdom and inspiration for the tribe.

At this time of year, the Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead. On the eve of November 1, the Celts lit bonfires for Samhain. The invisible worlds open their gateways to human visitors – but this is a time fraught with danger. The dark gods of the underworld may be tricksters. This is how Hallowe’en originated. The Christians converted ‘spirits’ and ‘ancestors’ to ‘saints’ – and the festival was renamed ‘All Saints’. But the underlying archetype remains the same: you can choose to enter the dark night in order to meet other-world helpers. Be willing to get spooked and hold on to your amulet, talisman, crucifix – whatever. Remember, the dead are not automatically or necessarily wiser because they have died, although they may bring a new perspective. They can help us realise that the flowing process of life will always come full circle to a point of dissolution and death.

When we explore the archetypes and discover their power as guardians to the gates in our inner worlds we can open our hearts to revelations, especially at this time of year. The god Pluto, also called Hades, is ruler of the underworld, and he demands a high price if you want to explore his treasure house. What is the price? It is dedication and commitment to the quest. You only get to find the Holy Grail, hidden secretly in a quiet chapel in the mystic forest, if you are obsessively driven to explore your own inner kingdom. You surrender daily concerns in exchange for a pearl of wisdom beyond price. You dive deep and meet the Divine where the darkness encloses your heart. As the mystic George Fox said, this is a journey across an ocean of darkness to discover the ocean of light.

The name Hades is Greek, meaning ‘not-see’. In the myth, Hades is not a dark god, hidden away. This is not why we cannot see him. He has created a mask to conceal his true brilliance, because humankind cannot, as the poet T.S. Eliot said, bear too much reality. Hades’ hidden light reminds us of the story of Moses, who asked to see God ‘face-to-face’. ‘Hide behind the rock and peep through a crevice as I pass by,’ God tells Moses: ‘You cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live.’ (Exodus 33:20)

In the turning cycle of the year we recognise our own mortality. We look Pluto/Hades in the face and realise this god is gatekeeper to a bright world. Pay the coin. Step into the boat. Enjoy the ride down the river. Your ancestors – all the ancestors of the human race – have taken this journey before you. They are a constant presence reminding you: death has no dominion over your Soul.


The reason I write my books, newsletters and blogs, and the reason I teach The Shefa Method, is to take you by the hand, so to speak, and lead you to knowledge of your own Divinity.

Wild West Wind

When I was a small girl my mother quoted from the Romantic poets – while she was washing up. Some of her favourite lines were from Percy Bysshe Shelley:

Oh Wild West Wind! thou breath of autumn’s being…

We lived on a high hill in the Oxfordshire countryside. Our family home was a bungalow, quite exposed to the elements and when it was windy we really noticed it! I walked half a mile to catch the school bus and the autumn wind would sometimes seem to blow me along the path. But I always enjoyed the wind whipping around my face and through my hair. I often had to keep hold of my school beret. The lines from Shelley’s poem had an effect on my Soul. Although Shelley was famously ‘sent down’ from Oxford University after writing a pamphlet in defence of atheism, in this poem he seems to be saying that the wind is ‘breathing’, it is animated and we get the impression he experiences the wind as Divine.

I always felt a mystical delight in being with the wind, as one of the essential elements in the natural world, and I’ve often felt my isolated childhood was perfect for a nature mystic. The rolling Cotswold landscape is spacious and inspiring. Like the poet Wordsworth, I ‘wandered lonely as a cloud’ and felt very close to the sky and the clouds as I walked to school.

Human breath, called prana in the yogic tradition, is essential to life. In Jewish mysticism the ‘holy spirit’ is Ruah ha’Kodeshruah means the breath or  wind and ha-Kodesh means the Holy. Soul and breath are almost identical in spiritual traditions in many cultures. In deep meditation you can often observe your breath naturally falling into a slower rhythm. The in and out breath begins to settle into very deep, very slow pattern, until you may even feel you have stopped breathing for a moment, almost as though your body is hibernating. The ‘wild west wind’ of daily thoughts, blowing your emotions hither and thither, settles into a gentle breeze, or becomes becalmed. Then the pure blue sky in your mind opens up a great inner vista for you to experience – this is where you meet your own Soul and realise you are a Divine being.

When you go out into autumnal weather and the wind chases you, threatening to turn your umbrella inside out, remember the wind is an aspect of the Divine – just like you. Greet the wind and give gratitude for all the seasons.

Bless the weather.

The reason I write my books, newsletters and blogs, and the reason I teach The Shefa Method, is to take you by the hand, so to speak, and lead you to knowledge of your own Divinity.