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Exploring Myth, Divination and the Western Mysteries.

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Wednesday 30 July 2014


This guest blog by bean feasa, Cáit Branigan, explores what it means to maintain and clear the environment where we live and work from a traditional Irish  perspective. How residues, intrusions, trapped ancestors and other factors impact upon our health and well-being is not well understood, but there are ways to bring them to balance that respectful, elegant and effective. 

Cáit Branigan
‘Formerly, great care was taken in Ireland in the choosing of a site for a house, and not merely for its physical attributes. If there was any hint that it might be on a fairy path, or track, it was sensible to avoid that place, and let them have free access to their accustomed route.’

from Meeting the Other Crowd by Eddie Lenihan with Carolyn Eve Green

From the earliest times, humans have sought to ensure the cleanliness of their living space, not only physically but also on an energetic level.  This tending of their space encompassed not only spiritual ‘hygiene’ (a word derived from the name of the Greek Goddess Hygeia, goddess of health, cleanliness and sanitation), but also a deep understanding of their interaction with otherworldly forces and the deep flowing energies within the land.

From those times to these, humanity’s relationship with the land and life has evolved and, in some ways, altered radically.  However, beneath the modern exterior, which presents the picture of our life today, lies still the necessity for harmony with the land and through that, the manifest peace of our home.  The tradition of house-clearing in Ireland and Britain is ancient and still holds a strong place in the spiritual traditions of those lands. To begin with, however, I should address the term “house and land clearing” which is used to describe the practice about which I am to speak.  

Island of the Crystal Keep
by Danuta Meyer, from
The Celtic Book of the Dead
by Caitlín Matthews
The term “clearing’ is somewhat disingenuous as the practice is one of rebalancing, restoration and healing.  Yes, negative energies/entities are removed to give the sense of a ‘clear’ space, yet that removal is based on the grounding principles of shamanic/indigenous healing practices that are balance, respect and communication.  The most important skill of a practitioner involved in house or land clearing is that of listening, of witnessing what it is that the land has to say and, as a follow on from that, the spirits of place.  

As with most healing techniques, first we do nothing other than to listen: we listen and bear witness to the story of the land, its history, its formation, the movement of waterways/leylines through the land and the track-ways of ancestral peoples or otherworldly beings that may traverse the area.  We listen and bear witness to the story of the people currently living there: their health and well-being; their experiences in life; their concerns and hopes; their reason for seeking help.  We take the role of the Weaver, drawing those threads together into a coherent tapestry which portrays the current balance/imbalance of the house or land area.  It is not a weaving of judgement but one of simple awareness through which we come to understand our role in rebalancing that which is out of balance in the arising situation.
Orcadian ruin
As we listen it is vital to be aware that we take in information on many levels and through many senses.  It is not just what is said but what we feel, sense or know that is to be taken into account.  For this is a practice of harmonisation of all elements: land, human and energetic.  Therefore, it is a requirement that we have a deep understanding of our own relationship to energy and our capacity to communicate with it.  It is vital that we listen to our own bodies (among your own senses, which speak with a stronger voice?) so that we learn to clarify and distinguish between the various voices speaking.  We are, through helping to bring healing to one home/family/area of land, helping to heal the soul of the land of which we are but one part.

Many people reading this article may be aware of the phrase “geopathic stress”.  Geopathic stress refers to the effects of underground waterways and ley-lines on human beings living within their home and refers specifically to those that flow beneath the house itself.  Basic symptoms of such stress may include the following:

• Poor sleep: including insomnia; disrupted sleep or not feeling refreshed upon waking.
• Disrupted digestion: including diarrhoea; constipation or irritable bowel.
• Pain in the body.
• Headaches and an unclear mind.
• Depression.

More severe symptoms may include cancers and degenerative illnesses.

However, what is very important to understand is that underground waterways and ley-lines are not negative energetically.  Waterways feed the land and all that live within it.  Ley-lines are the energetic meridians of the Earth – some might say the nervous system - which allows for communication throughout the body of the Earth.  I refer you to the quote at the beginning of the article.  The key to understanding what appears to some to be a modern complaint is our lack of relationship with, and understanding of, the land upon which we live.

In times past, our ancestors did not live on or build their homes close to sacred sites.  Sacred sites are designated as such due to their energetic power.  Such power stems from a conflagration of lines and, what are now referred to as vortexes which are, in effect, the pooling of energy at crossing point where lines intersect.  This power is beautiful, inspiring and allows for deep spiritual contact with the Source/She Who is All That Is/Creator….. Yet, it is a power and by virtue of that fact can affect the balance of the human body when said human lives in a contained structure over such energies.
Svafaradalar, Northern Iceland

Further, until recent times our predecessors ensured that their homes were not built on ancient track-ways much as in Iceland the spirits of land were communicated with by local practitioners before road-building was undertaken.

‘The elders had their own way of testing a dubious site.  One such was to hammer down four hazel branches solidly at the four proposed corners of the house-to-be.  If they were disturbed in the morning, it was unsafe to build there.’ ibid

As a result of the increased reporting of geopathic stress by homeowners, some architects are now engaging with diviners/shamanic practitioners to ascertain the energetic map of a chosen site.

House-clearing deals with those houses that were built without such preparatory awareness by rebalancing and gently diverting such lines and streams around the building.  Some might say that humans do not have the right to interfere in such a manner.  In an ideal world we may be able to remove the problem:

‘Building houses, now, when the foundation of a house was laid out, if the masons came the following morning an’ if there was things knocked, they might remove it. It might be in the path.’ ibid

Sabrina: River Severn
However, for most people this is an untenable solution when, perhaps, their home is completed or purchased in an estate etc., which brings us back to the whole point of communication.  Listening is the first step; working out/negotiating a solution with all involved is the next.  It is never a question to blocking or interrupting the flow of waterways or ley-lines.  It is a simple re-direction which is decided upon by the spirits of the land and mediated through the skill of the practitioner called upon to help.  In Ireland this was traditionally achieved through the use of iron rods which were buried into the ground with the effect of diverting water.  Some modern practitioners are known to use many other techniques including the use of earthing wire.  In my practice I use no physical tools anymore for diverting lines, instead choosing to work only with light energy to the same effect.  Such diversion is done to the benefit of all concerned – not just the household within which you are working – so waterways or lines are not directed into another home even if the house within which you work happens to be a terraced one!


Ancestral Inhabitants of a House
There is much now in books, on television and radio about communication with spirits.  Perhaps it is the time within which we live that people seek to affirm that there is a life beyond our own.  Whatever the reason, it is a thing of promise that people are beginning to open once again to what was always a known reality for human beings: that there is more to life than that which we see with our eyes.

It is a common feature of house-clearing, that practitioners often have to engage with spirits.  Some of the spirits, as mentioned above, are spirits of place.  Some are spirits of family who draw close to help/support their loved ones.  However, there are also spirits of those who have stories yet to tell – some of harrowing or unexpected deaths; some of loss or fear.  The role of the practitioner is to witness these stories and to help to guide that spirit to a place of rest.  Other spirits may be found to be malevolent and need to be brought to a place of light.

This brings me to the next vital aspect of healing land/home.  Light is a word much misused in New Age practices as there is much misunderstanding of its significance.  Light is life, love and Source.  Light is the strongest aspect of existence without which we wither.  When we clear a home or a tract of land it means that we infuse it with light.  Light that is directed through the heart – ours and that of the land.  Light that is powerful and cleansing, vast and unknowable in many ways but is ultimately the most sacred energy of all.  It is not our agenda at work, not our idea of what is required but that which is communicated to us through Light from the Source.

Kirbister House, Orkney
Every practitioner comes into this world with their role to play and the variance of those skills is what creates a rich and vibrant community of healers.  The art of house/land clearing is one area where that question is applicable.  There are those diviners whose work solely concentrates upon relationship with water, that being an ancient and noble art.  There are those whose role encompasses communication with spirits.  There are others who work on more than one level and so can facilitate the work in a broader way.  There is no better or worse, no hierarchy.  It is simply a requirement to examine with honesty our gifts and skills and hence our role.

Whatever the outcome, the most important point of reference for practitioners and non-practitioners alike is the remembrance that we are of the land; a part that is of the whole.  As such, it is within us to come into relationship once again with All That Is, to remember who and what we are and so to come into harmony with the land and the body of this sacred Earth.  To tend the hearth of our most sacred Home.

Cáit Branigan is an Ordained Priestess Hierophant of the Western Mystery Tradition, a Bean Feasa (Shamanic Practitioner) and Healer working within the traditions of Ireland.  She works with individuals at her healing centre in Co. Wexford.  She also teaches groups and conducts ceremonies throughout the country and internationally, work which includes Women’s Mysteries, the facilitation of Rites of Passage and sweat lodges within the Irish Tradition.  She is an Ovate with the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and a member of the Fellowship of Isis.

Cáit Branigan and Caitlín Matthews will be leading a course teaching these skills:

21-24 August 2014 TENDING THE HEARTH: Traditional Celtic House Clearing  at Hawkwood College, Stroud, Glos, UK.

 We will explore the core elements of house-clearing, focusing on work with ley/dragon lines and underground streams; clearing of negative/blocked energies; communication with spirits and the 'hauntings' and the blessing of the home.  Learn how to apply these skills from an experienced bean feasa who clears houses professionally.  Participants need to bring dowsing rods and a pendulum. 

This course is for those have strong access to inner guidance as experienced through, for example, journeying, spiritualism or deep meditational practice.   

Single £415, Shared  £365, Non Res £300.  Please send your non-returnable deposit of £90 payable to Hawkwood College, Painswick Old Rd., Stroud, Glos GL6 7QW (01453 759034) info@hawkwoodcollege.co.uk9


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I really like how you use ideas from ancient people to incorporate in your land clearing. You can make your land look really nice if you do land clearing right. You have to be careful to avoid different negative effects of land clearing like mudslides and erosion. If you do it right, you shouldn't have to worry about things like that.

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  3. My husband and i are moving into an area that needs land to be cleared. We are both excited that it is not our job that clear out all the big tree's. We are grateful that it is another person's job. http://smittystreeservice.net/