Journeying through the unseen

In his second article on astroshamanism Franco Santoro tells how the zodiac can be used for more tha

Astroshamanism provides a map and tools for journeying through the path of life in search of Truth. This is acted out by using a strategic cosmology based on 12 sectors. The sectors are associated with the astrological signs when used as representations of the fragmented parts of our nature.

The 12 sectors portray the entire range of human potentials and possibilities that the astroshamanic seeker accepts to acknowledge, explore and integrate in their original unity. They are pathways of deep understanding about all the features in life. They include the highest and the lowest forms, and their aim is to teach us how to express them at their best.

In astroshamanism the zodiac is not used for horoscope readings or other forms of interpretation, but is explored through pragmatic healing actions and spiritual practices aimed at providing a direct experience and tangible results.

Astrology is probably the oldest form of symbolic language and shamanism is the most ancient method of healing. The distinctive feature of shamans is represented by their familiarity with states of consciousness that allows them to explore the spiritual dimension of reality and to help their community, themselves and their planet. To face these journeys, shamans connect with healing guides, spirits, angels and ultimately God. The relationship with this unseen world is the chief distinctive feature of shamanic cultures and constitutes one of the main tasks of astroshamanism.

The connection with the unseen realms, far from being an evasion from everyday reality, is aimed at healing our visible world. I cannot see God or spirits with my physical eyes, but I can see them through other human beings and the environment, when I decide to lay my prejudices aside and meet them as they truly are. By unveiling their nature, God will be embodied in them and I will uncover their essence.

As I learn to acknowledge God through them, I will also learn to become aware of how God operates in me. In exploring the mystery of the unseen realms and God, or whatever name, we use to describe That.

What this work basically underlines is the healing function of forgiveness. Forgiveness is learning to perceive all relationships as a proof of our sacred original nature, rather than as sources of grievances. It is about letting go of the garbage I have projected on others, which in the end is the same garbage I have projected on myself.

To forgive means to move beyond our limited perception and eventually even correct the whole idea that somebody did harm me or something went wrong. It is forgiveness for something that the other never did or that never happened, not for what occurred or was done. It is an ongoing scanning of our life aimed at releasing the blocks to our true perception, ultimately unveiling the authentic vision that abides beyond.

Franco Santoro is a shamanic facilitator and a member of the "Findhorn Foundation". He is the author of Astroshamanism: A Journey Into the Inner Universe and Astroshamanism: The Voyage Through the Zodiac. He lives in Findhorn and runs astroshamanism workshops in Scotland and other parts of the world.
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“I felt very lonely”: addressing the untold story of isolation among young mothers

With one in five young mothers lonely “all the time”, it’s time for employers and services to step up.

“Despite having my child with me all the time, I felt very lonely,” says Laura Davies. A member of an advisory panel for the Young Women’s Trust, she had her son age 20. Now, with a new report suggesting that one in five young mums “feels lonely all the time”, she’s sharing her story.

Polling commissioned by the Young Women’s Trust has highlighted the isolation that young motherhood can bring. Of course, getting out and about the same as you did before is never easy once there’s a young child in the picture. For young mothers, however, the situation can be particularly difficult.

According to the report, over a quarter of young mothers leave the house just once a week or less, with some leaving just once a month.

Aside from all the usual challenges – like wrestling a colicky infant into their jacket, or pumping milk for the trip with one hand while making sure no-one is crawling into anything dangerous with the other – young mothers are more likely to suffer from a lack of support network, or to lack the confidence to approach mother-baby groups and other organisations designed to help. In fact, some 68 per cent of young mothers said they had felt unwelcome in a parent and toddler group.

Davies paints what research suggests is a common picture.

“Motherhood had alienated me from my past. While all my friends were off forging a future for themselves, I was under a mountain of baby clothes trying to navigate my new life. Our schedules were different and it became hard to find the time.”

“No one ever tells you that when you have a child you will feel an overwhelming sense of love that you cannot describe, but also an overwhelming sense of loneliness when you realise that your life won’t be the same again.

More than half of 16 to 24-year-olds surveyed said that they felt lonelier since becoming a mother, with more than two-thirds saying they had fewer friends than before. Yet making new friends can be hard, too, especially given the judgement young mothers can face. In fact, 73 per cent of young mothers polled said they’d experienced rudeness or unpleasant behaviour when out with their children in public.

As Davies puts it, “Trying to find mum friends when your self-confidence is at rock bottom is daunting. I found it easier to reach out for support online than meet people face to face. Knowing they couldn’t judge me on my age gave me comfort.”

While online support can help, however, loneliness can still become a problem without friends to visit or a workplace to go to. Many young mothers said they would be pleased to go back to work – and would prefer to earn money rather than rely on benefits. After all, typing some invoices, or getting back on the tills, doesn’t just mean a paycheck – it’s also a change to speak to someone old enough to understand the words “type”, “invoice” and “till”.

As Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton explains, “More support is needed for young mothers who want to work. This could include mentoring to help ease women’s move back into education or employment.”

But mothers going back to work don’t only have to grapple with childcare arrangements, time management and their own self-confidence – they also have to negotiate with employers. Although the 2003 Employment Act introduced the right for parents of young children to apply to work flexibly, there is no obligation for their employer to agree. (Even though 83 per cent of women surveyed by the Young Women’s Trust said flexible hours would help them find secure work, 26 per cent said they had had a request turned down.)

Dr Easton concludes: “The report recommends access to affordable childcare, better support for young women at job centres and advertising jobs on a flexible, part-time or job share basis by default.”

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland