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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Labour is a pioneer in fighting sexism. That doesn't mean there's no sexism in Labour

While we campaign against misogyny, we must not fall into the trap of thinking Labour is above it; doing so lets women members down and puts the party in danger of not taking them seriously when they report incidents. 

I’m in the Labour party to fight for equality. I cheered when Labour announced that one of its three Budget tests was ensuring the burden of cuts didn’t fall on women. I celebrated the party’s record of winning rights for women on International Women’s Day. And I marched with Labour women to end male violence against women and girls.

I’m proud of the work we’re doing for women across the country. But, as the Labour party fights for me to feel safer in society, I still feel unsafe in the Labour party.

These problems are not unique to the Labour party; misogyny is everywhere in politics. You just have to look on Twitter to see women MPs – and any woman who speaks out – receiving rape and death threats. Women at political events are subject to threatening behaviour and sexual harassment. Sexism and violence against women at its heart is about power and control. And, as we all know, nowhere is power more highly-prized and sought-after than in politics.

While we campaign against misogyny, we must not fall into the trap of thinking Labour is above it; doing so lets women members down and puts the party in danger of not taking them seriously when they report incidents. 

The House of Commons’ women and equalities committee recently stated that political parties should have robust procedures in place to prevent intimidation, bullying or sexual harassment. The committee looked at this thanks to the work of Gavin Shuker, who has helped in taking up this issue since we first started highlighting it. Labour should follow this advice, put its values into action and change its structures and culture if we are to make our party safe for women.

We need thorough and enforced codes of conduct: online, offline and at all levels of the party, from branches to the parliamentary Labour party. These should be made clear to everyone upon joining, include reminders at the start of meetings and be up in every campaign office in the country.

Too many members – particularly new and young members – say they don’t know how to report incidents or what will happen if they do. This information should be given to all members, made easily available on the website and circulated to all local parties.

Too many people – including MPs and local party leaders – still say they wouldn’t know what to do if a local member told them they had been sexually harassed. All staff members and people in positions of responsibility should be given training, so they can support members and feel comfortable responding to issues.

Having a third party organisation or individual to deal with complaints of this nature would be a huge help too. Their contact details should be easy to find on the website. This organisation should, crucially, be independent of influence from elsewhere in the party. This would allow them to perform their role without political pressures or bias. We need a system that gives members confidence that they will be treated fairly, not one where members are worried about reporting incidents because the man in question holds power, has certain political allies or is a friend or colleague of the person you are supposed to complain to.

Giving this third party the resources and access they need to identify issues within our party and recommend further changes to the NEC would help to begin a continuous process of improving both our structures and culture.

Labour should champion a more open culture, where people feel able to report incidents and don't have to worry about ruining their career or facing political repercussions if they do so. Problems should not be brushed under the carpet. It takes bravery to admit your faults. But, until these problems are faced head-on, they will not go away.

Being the party of equality does not mean Labour is immune to misogyny and sexual harassment, but it does mean it should lead the way on tackling it.

Now is the time for Labour to practice what it preaches and prove it is serious about women’s equality.

Bex Bailey was on Labour’s national executive committee from 2014 to 2016.