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The World Tree.


Earlier this week, I had a particularly strange day. The number sequences (1111, 333 and 444) were popping off left, right and center, and there were strange symbols and moments of serendipity that got my attention. Then, when driving home, we noticed a unique 4x4 van set up like a safari tour bus- complete with images of prairie grass along the sides. But the best part about the van? It had a name, stamped right on the back of it. Its name was "Yggdrasil", the mythical world tree in Norse mythology.

Naturally, being an official “weirdo”, I rolled the window down to converse with the hilariously Thor-esque looking dude driving the van to tell him we were big fans and that we wanted to “join his cult”. He just laughed and gave us a thumbs up before driving off. It was weird, and I definitely made it weirder…but I’ve learned to pay attention to and not just dismiss these signs.

So, what is this Yggdrasil/ world tree thing, you ask? It’s the foundational element that sustains and connects all of the various dimensions in the ancient Norse belief system. Yggdrasil grows out of the Well of Urd, a pool whose fathomless depths hold many of the most powerful forces and beings in the cosmos.

According to the story, my favorite personal spirit guide- Odin, god of strategy, knowledge and wisdom- became obsessed with the World Tree. Odin, being mischievous and greedy and endlessly curious- a scamp, if you will- decided he was going to get the power of the Norns: the maidens that create the fate of all beings and dwell within the Cosmic Tree across dimensions. To achieve this end, Odin hung himself from a branch of Yggdrasil, pierced himself with his spear, and peered downward into the shadowy waters below. He forbade any of the other gods to grant him the slightest aid, not even a sip of water. And he stared downward and called to the runes.

And yes, if you’re curious, this is the story behind the Hanged Man Tarot Card. It is also the less-known story of shamanic journeying, with Yggdrasil representing our own neural pathways and energetic abilities to navigate various states of mind…or dimension. Think of the branches, trunk, and roots of the tree as parts of our own consciousness, connecting us to the upper, middle and lower worlds respectively.

Long story short, Odin is a rock star and survived (of course he did) and, on the ninth night, the Norns accepted his sacrifice and gave him the power of the Runes: the tools of language, poetry, inspiration AND divination. The Runes were the original Tarot Cards, giving Odin (and anyone he took a shine to) the ability to foresee someone’s fate and destiny through the use of these ancient symbols.

Having been initiated into the mysteries of the runes, Odin recounted:

“Then I was fertilized and became wise;

I truly grew and thrived.

From a word to a word I was led to a word,

From a work to a work I was led to a work.”

So what does this all mean for us? Or even just for me? Well, Odin is a slippery one, so generally his purpose doesn’t reveal itself until the very moment when it all comes together. But all of these hints, signs, omens and portents indicate that we are entering a very interesting time: one in which divination (i.e. fortune-telling) and cosmic insights (from meditation) will become important guides for us to side step the increasingly unpredictable challenges of “mundane” reality. And I’m using “reality” loosely.

It will also be a time in which we, like the Hanged Man tarot card, endure a position of discomfort and sacrifice as we are introduced to new insights, abilities, and perspectives. We will, for a “moment”, not be in control of our surroundings, the economy, or the world at large. But we will be able to control ourselves, receive the cosmic insights, and- eventually- come down from Yggdrasil better than we went up.

I also expect divination, shamanism and shamanic journeying to be increasingly potent tools in the near-term. As such, I’m going to be scheduling a few, more intensive/ longer-format workshops for those interested in diving deeper into the following areas:

Shamanic Journeying: Train your Brain. This four hour workshop will focus on the Shamanic Journeying meditative technique, giving participants tangible tips and tricks to increase their neuro-elasticity and enhance their meditative “ability” via the Shamanic State of Consciousness (SSC) moving forward.

The Divine power of Divining. This four hour workshop will focus on how to “divine”- read the signs and symbols around us in the effort to understand events before they manifest materially. We will focus primarily on Tarot Cards as they are the most tangible form of divination currently available to us, but we will also cover gazing, palm reading, and tea leaf readings as well.

No date on these workshops yet as I’m trying to create space in August for “receiving” the spiritual information that seems to be coming in. I will still be doing 1:1 sessions in the West Loop and Oak Park, though, so if you’re interested in scheduling an individual session just let me know. Expect to get the new, longer-format events in the calendar in September, so keep an eye out!

Things are weird, but they’re about to get weirder. Take care of yourself and your loved ones, and please don’t hesitate to reach out anytime- even if it’s just for a sanity check from a shaman…whatever that means;)

-Rachel

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West Loop: 1313 West Randolph Chicago IL 60607

Oak Park: 715 Lake Street Suite 200 Oak Park, IL 60301

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