Printed in the Fall 2013 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: Spangler, David. "The Sidhe and the Guardian Exercise" Quest 101. 4 (Fall 2013): pg. 148-151.
By David Spangler
All of my life I've been aware of the nonphysical realms and the beings that inhabit them. For years I've thought of myself as an explorer of these realms, a kind of "naturalist" of the subtle worlds.In my work, I have long been in collaboration with subtle colleagues.
I mention this because in 2011, a different kind of collaboration began, one that was unique in my experience. In the spring of that year, I was contacted by a representative of the Sidhe (pronounced "shee"). According to my friend John Matthews, the British spiritual teacher, author, and expert on Celtic spirituality, Sidhe is the "oldest known name for the faery races of Ireland" and means the "people of peace" or the "people of the Hollow Hills."
The nature of this contact was different from anything I'd encountered before. While the three individualities who came to meâ€”a female and two malesâ€”were nonphysical and invisible to ordinary sight, they did not at all feel like any subtle being I'd known. I later came to realize that these beings dwell in what might be thought of as a parallel dimension, not in the subtle worlds as such. They consider themselves our "cousins," and, as I understand it, share a common ancient ancestor with humanity.
For reasons too lengthy to go into here, these beings asked me and my colleague in the Lorian Association, Jeremy Berg, to create a deck of cards that could act as a point of contact with them. My task was to write the text material, and Jeremy's was to paint the pictures. In undertaking this project, we were given strict instructions. For instance, we were limited to thirty-three cards, no more and no less. We also could not depict the Sidhe themselves in any of the cards.
There were three reasons why they made this last request. The primary one is in order to prevent imposing a particular form either upon the Sidhe themselves or upon the imagination of a person using the cards. A second reason is that the Sidhe are protean beings,able within some limits to shape-shift or configure their appearance to meet the demands of a situation. And a third reason was that they are attempting to help us throw off older images of what they look like. This was confirmed for me later in a conversation with John Matthews. He said he'd had a recent Sidhe contact in which he was told to stop thinking of them in a medieval context, as if they were knights and ladies and beings of the past. "We are of the present and the future," he was told, and I have received similar messages as well since working on this deck.
The end result of this collaboration, The Card Deck of the Sidhe, is what I believe to be a very powerful tool that allows attunement to a related species of intelligence that shares this world with us and is concerned about earth's future. The deck can also be an oracular portal into a user's own intuition.
Once this project was finished and the deck published, I thought that this contact might end. As I said, it is very different from my usual inner work, and there are others, like John Matthews and the British occultist R.J. Stewart, who have much more experience in collaboration with the Sidhe than I. But in fact the contact has continued in a sporadic way.
I write a quarterly esoteric journal in which I share the field notes of my explorations into and work with the subtle realms. I call it Views from the Borderland, and it's available by subscription on the Lorian Website, www.Lorian.org. In addition to the printed journals, a subscriber also may take part in two online seminars with me in which the topics in the journals can be discussed, questions can be asked, and a group of likeminded seekers can temporarily form an online community for mutual support and conversation.
A year after the publication of the deck, I was working on an issue of the journal when I was contacted again by the same Sidhe trio. The results of that contact formed most of the field notes that went into that issue. When the subsequent online subscribers' forum took place, most of the discussion focused on the Sidhe and their relationship to us at a time of global environmental challenges. Towards the end of the week that we were online together, the Sidhe woman appeared and gave me an exercise that she said they would like people to try. "This is an experiment," she said, "but the intent is very real. We are seeking partners among your people willing to join us as guardians of the portals and pathways between our realm and yours, and between the spirit of Gaia and the physical world. We are seeking collaborators in a mission of fostering wholeness."
At her request, I gave this exercise to all the participants in the online forum. Many took up the offer to try it out, and many interesting, exciting, and inspirational experiences came out of it.
The Card Deck of the Sidhe is divided into two parts. One is a series of images of standing stones that can be arranged to form a stone circle. The other consists of images representing different aspects of the creative energy of the Sidhe (and of humanity as well) that weave in and out around the stones. Because many people in the forum had decks, I had them use them to create the stone circle, but as the exercise says, this isn't necessary, as it can all be done in your imagination.
Here is the exercise as it was given to me to offer to the forum. I offer it to you now, with blessings.
The Guardian Exercise
If you have a Sidhe Card deck, keep it handy, but don't use it to begin with. Its use comes later in the exercise. If you don't have a deck, you can do all the steps perfectly well in your imagination.
You begin by imagining yourself in front of an ancient stone circle, one that is rooted deep in the earth, the stones covered with moss and faint carvings. You can feel an energy radiating from it. Just as if you were going to enter someone's home, identify yourself and ask permission to step into the circle. Wait just a moment in silence, allowing yourself to be seen. The permission is granted.
Step into the circle. As you stand within it, surrounded by the presence of these ancient stones, it feels like you are in a great cauldron held by Gaia, the World Soul. Into this Grail have poured over the centuries energies of consciousness and life brought into this world across the threshold of this circle from sources distant and near: from stars, from the sun and moon, and from the deep fires of life within the heart of the earth. Although the cauldron is empty as you stand in it, you can sense the power of holding within this place. You can feel the Grail in your own heart and lifeâ€”your own powers of holdingâ€”resonating with it. Take a moment just to go deeply into the felt sense of this circle cauldron.
Behind you and around you, felt but unseen, you sense the presence of the Guardians of this circle and of its powers, Guardians of all it contains and all it connects. These are the Sidhe, and they welcome you into this place and their presence. Take a moment to go deeply into the felt sense of their ancient lineage of protecting and caring for the life and presence of circles like this one.
You are now asked, "Will you share this guardianship with us? Will you take on the mantle we have worn? Will you be part of the lineage that guards the thresholds, opens the cauldrons of loving spirit, and releases new life into the world?" Take a moment to feel deeply and fully into what is being asked of you and what you think its implications may be for you personally in your life. How will you stand in this lineage, wear this mantle, and be a living circle/cauldron/Grail in your world? When you feel ready, you can say "yes" or "no."
A "no" will not disconnect you from the Sidhe or cast you out. It is simply a statement that you feel this is not your path or that the timing is not right or that you don't fully understand what a "yes" might mean or bring. A "no" is a statement of your sovereignty and is fully honored and blessed by the Sidhe. If you do say "no," then receive the blessing of the unseen Guardians and step out of the stone circle. You can always reenter at another time that may be more appropriate.
If you have said "no," take a moment to stand in your sovereignty, and then go about your business in your everyday world. The exercise is ended.
If you say "yes," then take a moment of silence standing in the circle among the Guardians, of whom you are now one. Be attentive in a calm way to anything that may occur or pass between the Sidhe and you.
You have always been a power of love and holding in the world and a threshold between the worlds. You have always been a Grail. Taking on the mantle of Guardianship which the Sidhe have offered only adds to what you already are, affirming it, anchoring it, giving it a new flavor and potential. Just what this means is what you will discover in your own unique way.
At this point, the stones in the circle begin to shimmer with light. They dissolve and flow joyously and easily into your heart. Take a moment to feel the presence of the circle shining within your being, your life, your heart. You are the circle, the portal, the cauldron, the Grail. You have always been these things, but now you engage with them in a new way that will unfold in the days and months and years ahead.
If you have the Sidhe Card deck, now is the time to lay out a Stone Circle with one of the cards, the Howe, in the middle. As you do so, see yourself externalizing the power of the circle into your life and world. The Stone Circle has transmigrated from the land to your life. You are a Guardian of its power and presence within your life.
If you do not have this deck, simply imagine standing stones flowing out from your heart to take shape around you. Take a moment to stand in the midst of the circle of your own life and feel what it means to you.