Reiki Master Course October 2018

After returning from an action packed weekend at the All Hallows Gathering in Boscastle, I taught a two-day Reiki Master course.

It is indeed a privilege to teach a Master-Teacher course, sending out new teachers and practitioners into the world. They will then assist, treat and also teach others spiritual development, positivity and healing to those who desperately need it.

 

The two lovely ladies I taught on this course were enthusiastic, accomplished therapists who have already helped their clients utilizing other methods.

Usui the founder of Reiki intended the system mainly for personal spiritual development and enlightenment. Much discipline is needed for the daily meditations and energy exercises.

In Western countries Reiki has been used as a method of treating others and even though have the ability to do this, it is important to remember to use it for one’s own personal development in order to be an effective therapist.

Teaching students how to perform Western attunements is not an easy task as the methods are complex and need constant practice to get them right.

The Eastern attunements are much simpler and will not involve the conscious mind as much when you are familiar with them, so they will increase in power. It is advisable as a Teacher to know both methods and the students are able to experience them and compare both methods.

The new information on a Reiki Master course is fascinating, the use of the new symbols, Kotodama chants, Crystal Grids and the powerful Antakharana symbols are just some of the tools that are available.

 The self empowerments and new meditations on the course prove how powerful Reiki and intent can be.

Preparing the students to teach their own courses is vital as they will interact with a wide variety of people, some will be fast learners, others may need more time. Some will be spiritually experienced and others may not.

I am so fortunate to have found the Reiki Evolution system as Taggart has made so many resources available to his Teachers and also the ongoing support is excellent. I am delighted to be able to pass this on to my students.

My cat Clutterbuck was thoroughly spoilt over the two day course with a copious amount of affection. He certainly enjoys the ‘perks’ from our work!

After an intense but satisfying two days, my students happily received their certificates and their new journey awaits. I wish Michelle and Karen every success for the future.

Review:

“This year is a very special year and October – a special month! Samhain and All Hallows Dark Gathering at Boscastle – and a great opportunity to see Cassandra and Laetitia for our annual photo!  After previously completing Reiki 2nd degree with Laetitia, I felt energy changes that I wasn’t expecting and that were also most welcome. I was very much looking forward to booking in with Laetitia for Reiki Master Teacher course – and many months after – indeed I did! I traveled a long way – spiritually and physically to be there. It was a wonderful magical coincidence that Michelle was training with me – this helped my development. The setting is wonderful –  a wise women’s cottage in the village with Cassandra present and of course Clutterbuck the cat. Laetitia is a wonderful teacher and went through everything thoroughly. I loved learning the attunements. I feel confident and happy and am looking forward to this – no doubt challenging, journey. I’m very glad I connected with her and it was especially wonderful because of Samhain. I recommend that you work with Laeitita not only with Reiki – but the work that both her and Cassandra do in the form of readings and workshops. Always an important marking in my spiritual development.” Karen

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A Special All Hallows Dark Gathering 2018

This year I took on extra responsibility in organizing the All Hallows Dark Gathering to assist Cassandra Latham Jones after the managers of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic informed us they were leaving. We then worked closely with Simon Costin the Museum owner informing and updating him on all arrangements.

Many people enjoy this event each year, but have no idea how much work goes into the organizing of it. As well as caring for the performers, Cassandra also goes the ‘extra mile’ in caring for the community, for example: where they will find accommodation, where they can get refreshments and became involved with the village residents concerning a park and ride scheme so that all could find spaces to park their cars and disabled folk would find it easier to make their way to Boscastle. Cassandra has huge support by the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, the Chamber of Commerce and other members of their local community.

When we entered 2018 I had a feeling there would be significant changes to our lives and this has proved to be so.

At the Dark Gathering this year our special guest was Wolfshead and Vixen Morris. It has been 15 years since I danced with this team and I was looking forward to seeing them once again.

Image-Chris Hicks

Their first dance performed by Wolfshead is known as ‘Four Seasons’. A person is often chosen to stand in the middle while they dance around them and I was delighted they chose me, as it brought back fond memories of the previous time this happened outside the King Arthurs Arms in Tintagel back in 2001.

Later that afternoon, I was asked by the Squire of Vixen to join them in my favourite dance Gemini. It’s a dance I have not forgotten and I know that it is one Beltane Border Morris particularly like.

I had no time to practice it with them, but as soon as the dance began, the 15 years I had been away seemed to disappear and every move was performed as precisely as it had all those years ago.

Here is footage of their dance and the invitation for me to join them at the end of the footage to perform the same dance.

The members of Vixen were amazed that I remembered it so well and were so pleased with the performance, I received a hug from each of them when the dance was over.

The last time I performed in Boscastle with them outside the Museum was 17 years previously on the 12th June 2001.

Taking part in this has given me a wonderful and positive new memory as it is now the best and most satisfying Morris dance I have ever performed at the All Hallows Gathering with a fabulous team. I cannot thank them enough for this moment.

The Gathering goes from strength to strength and has a protective energy about it. Long may it continue.

 

 

The Long-Term Effects of being Raised within a Cult

What Do We Need to Know About Being Born or Raised in a Cultic Environment?

Cult As Family

Father, mother, and children typically comprise the traditional family system. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and close friends of the parents may also be involved to varying degrees. There also is some form of structure or hierarchy, typically with parents deciding and implementing child-rearing practices.

There is much variability in the thousands of groups associated with the term cult, although in general the role of the leader becomes central in the cult family. The leader takes on the role of father and/or mother, deciding how children will be raised. Parents function somewhat as middle managers in the rearing of their children.

Severing of Family Bonds

Parents become relatively powerless within the structure of the group.

In some groups, the bonds between parents and children are actively severed by the leader removing children from parents and sending them to cult-run schools or giving them to other adult members to raise. Shaming of parents in front of their children serves as another way to weaken the family bond.

And as Whittset and Kent have noted:

A common observation about cults is that leaders usually go to great lengths to destroy dyadic bonds among members. …Viewing many high-demand cult leaders as narcissistic, clinicians are likely to state that leaders have insatiable needs for attention and admiration. … Coming to similar conclusions, sociologists emphasize the threat to group cohesion generated by family attachments.

Effect on Children

Children raised in these environments often have a distorted view of family.

Children also tend to develop a divided identity, one outwardly compliant with the cult’s rules, an identity the child is taught is good; the other inwardly rebellious, an identity the child is taught to consider is evil.

Cult As Socializing System

The cult environment may be viewed as a socializing system, which is much more influential on children than adults because children in this setting are in the process of developing their sense of self, their view of the world, and their identity, while adults who join a cult have an identity formed outside of the cult.

There is a consensus in the cultic-studies literature that adults who join cults bring with them a pre-cult personality and identity that they can then reconnect to when they leave the cult. In contrast, the very personality of SGAs (second-generation adults—people born or raised in a cultic group) is constructed within the cult.

Isolation

High-demand groups vary in degree of isolation from mainstream society.

Some groups limit all interaction with outside society: living in isolated communities; homeschooling their children; refusing outside medical care; eliminating access to mainstream news, television, books, music, and so on.

Other groups allow members to live, work, and go to school in mainstream society; however, they still exercise a high degree of control over how members interact and interpret their experiences outside of the group.

Physical vs. Psychological Isolation

Although the degree to which children are physically isolated from mainstream society may vary depending on the group, the degree of psychological isolation for children in the group often does not.

Children are taught that the world inside the cult is good, while the world outside is evil.

Even when children do come into contact with outsiders, their behavior is often scripted and dishonest.

While adult cult members have also been indoctrinated to fear and distrust the outside world, the impact of the indoctrination is magnified in children because they have no pre-cult identity or experience.

Lack of Multidimensional Influences

Children raised outside of cults come into contact with many different individuals, personalities, and belief structures.

In contrast, children in cults are raised in a restricted environment that limits the amount of contact outside the group and fosters a sense that there is only one way of being and believing.

Suppression

Cognitive Suppression

In many cultic situations, however, where children receive punishment for questioning adults (not to mention leaders), they quickly learn to suppress autonomous thinking. As a consequence, children’s cognitive development is stunted”.

Further, Furnari stated, “Children who are naturally striving to accomplish normal developmental tasks such as identity, safety, and independence, are labeled ‘possessed,’ crazy, or bad”.

And according to Langone and Eisenberg, “They are socialized into an environment that denigrates independent critical thinking, maintains members in a state of dependency, and fosters a private insecurity by attacking members’ while demanding that they not protest and show a positive front to the world”.

Emotional Suppression

Cultic groups dictate what emotions are acceptable and what emotions members will express, with anger and grief typically not tolerated. Therefore, children have little experience with self-regulation of emotions and effect.

Suppression of emotions is as important and potentially harmful as cognitive suppression because the two are intimately connected and have a tremendous impact on each other. People can more accurately observe precisely when they are emotionally involved—that is, reason works better when emotions are present.

Creative Suppression

Creativity remains a somewhat elusive idea. However, in general, it can be agreed that creativity has to do with freedom of thought and emotion, combining and recombining information/knowledge in unique ways, and the creation and use of symbols.

Symbols are a mechanism through which one can communicate, but they are also used to represent and enable one to cope with emotions.

The expression of emotions is coercively denied within the cult environment, which interrupts the individual’s process of creating symbols and meaning. A former member recounts the following:

A child in a cultic group experiences the loss of her mother. In an attempt to grieve and cope with the loss, she uses drawing as a creative medium through which to explore her emotions. A person in leadership finds the drawings, shreds them in front of her, and punishes her for (1) feeling sadness for something that was obviously God’s plan and (2) indulging in selfish pursuits that do not further the needs of the group. Her creativity, her ability to process difficult emotions, and make meaning of the experience have been denied.

One powerful way in which children use creativity and symbols is through play. Many cultic groups discourage play in children, labeling it “foolishness” or “distraction.” High-demand groups may also label creative expression as self-indulgent.

Personal talent is often utilized by cultic groups; however, it is exploited to further the group and leader.

There is an important difference between using one’s creativity to create something and using one’s talent to create something. In a creative endeavor, the output is the unique expression/understanding of the person who created it. In contrast, the output in cults reflects the expression/understanding of the cult.

Creative Suppression: Effect on Children

Those who study child development agree that creativity, especially play, is essential for healthy cognitive and emotional growth in children. Play increases attention span, problem solving, cognitive flexibility, recognition of emotions in others, and bonding between parent and child.

Play is defined as “any activity freely chosen, intrinsically motivated, and personally directed. It stands outside ‘ordinary’ life, and is non-serious…. These are all things that are not allowed within cultic environments.

Looking at play through the lens of neuro-science, play increases neural connections and brain growth. Therefore, children who do not have the opportunity to play show impaired brain development.

Studies indicate that lack of play impacts the ability of children to develop self-control, to internally regulate emotions and behavior, and to experience joy.

Unpredictability

One prominent feature of cultic leaders is a pattern of behaving unpredictably. This unpredictability tends to trickle down from the members to the children.

Consistent with trauma theory, this unpredictability creates hyper-vigilance in children and interferes with their ability to develop a sense of safety and security.

Structure of Cults As Conducive to Abuse/Neglect

Most concerning when one examines abuse and/or neglect within cultic groups are

How the structure of these groups is conducive to abusive dynamics

The physical and psychological isolation of these groups

The normal avenues through which abuse may be identified are frequently not available (e.g., doctors, teachers, friends).

Because children have been taught that the world outside the group is bad, they might not disclose abuse to outsiders (Note: This is an important consideration for those professionals, such as social workers, family lawyers, and scholars, who may come into contact with these children).

When SGAs Leave the Cult/High-Demand Group

SGAs (those born and/or raised in cults) leave high-demand groups in one of three ways:

Leave on their own without their family

Leave with their family (either voluntarily, or involuntarily because of age)

Forced by the group to leave

The manner in which SGAs leave will have an impact on their recovery.

Often, children raised in cults are isolated from family members who are not in the group. As a result, if SGAs leave on their own without their family, they may not know anyone outside of the group.

Even SGAs who leave with their family are often leaving the only people they have ever known outside the family.

Additionally, SGAs are not only losing an entire relational support system, they are in many ways losing an entire world. They are losing the only belief structure/world-view they have ever known.

Selected Practical Concerns

Children raised in cults may not have a Social Security card, driver’s license, or high-school diploma.

They may have no one outside the group to use as a reference for a job or for school.

They may have little or no experience with use of currency.

Grief and Loss

Personal losses including their sense of self, childhood, and their family

Loss of spirituality and a loss of meaning in life

Feelings of Shame and Isolation

Relational Adjustment, Dependency, and Boundaries

SGAs have been raised in a strictly controlled environment, where individual, independent thinking has been suppressed, and where they have depended on a strong leader to direct their lives.

Children raised in cultic environments have come to depend on outside reinforcement; thus, their ability to develop a sense of independence and internal validation has been severely hampered.

When leaving these environments, SGAs may find themselves in relationships that mimic this high degree of control.

For example, in the case of the Branch Davidian children, Perry and Szalavitz (2007) observed,

But none of the children knew what to do when faced with the simplest of choices: when offered a plain peanut butter sandwich as opposed to one with jelly, they became confused, even angry. Having never been allowed the basic choices that most children get to make as they begin to discover what they like and who they are, they had no sense of self. The idea of self-determination was, like all new things for them, unfamiliar and, therefore, anxiety provoking.

“Harsh Conscience”

In her work with SGAs, Lorna Goldberg identified what she terms the “harsh conscience” as a clinically significant recovery concern:

Within cults, there is often a demand for absolute perfection.

Consequences for lack of perfection are unpredictable and often harsh.

There is a lack of consistent modeling of non-manipulative compassion and negotiation.

Children internalize the harsh views of the cult and the leader.

This combined experience results in a lack of a loving conscience that acknowledges and accepts the inherent imperfection of being a human being.

One former member gives an inside glimpse of this “harsh conscience”: From the outside she was a driven, successful young woman. She excelled in school and at work. She had a good marriage and good friends. However, she reported feeling plagued with feelings of inadequacy and failure. Every correction on a paper, every missed phone call, every mistake was a monumental failure. She expected at every turn a catastrophic consequence for each misstep. She was unable to internalize any success, instead believing that it was only a matter of time before she made a mistake and was revealed to be the failure that she knew she was.

I.C.S.A.Home

Children Raised In High Control, Destructive Groups

Introduction:

The issues faced by children born and/or raised in a destructive group tends to be all-pervasive, particularly if the group experience was communal.  These issues, while similar to those faced by adults (former members) who had a “prior life”, are far more consuming.  Therefore, the resolution of these issues require a different approach and understanding

Issues Faced:

1. Identity Issues.  The child/adolescent/adult has no other identity than the one “imposed” by the group.  Usually this person is developmentally delayed

— Destructive groups ignore the stages of human development/maturation.  They seek to “create”/make the perfect disciple, and use verses like “Raise a child in the way he should go…”  Proverbs 22:6

— Young adults who leave destructive groups frequently attempt to regain their childhood.  They may comment, “I was never allowed to be a child.  I never could do the things other kids could do.”

— In the “world” maturation is guided by parents.  It is prevented or controlled or stifled in high control groups.  So when the child/adult person goes out into the world, chronologically they are beyond the age of “guidance” by society, yet they are expected to act and respond as an adult.

— Self determination and individuation is diminished preventing normal decision-making for their age.

2. Ethical Issues.

— Often the child/adolescent/adult person has no moral compass or internal boundaries and there is confusion at the deepest level.  Typically, the ethical framework was built on a religious world view that has been abandoned.

— In the group beliefs and rituals were externally imposed.  There was no real opportunity to determine or begin to “own” a personal belief system.

— Thus, the child/adolescent/adult person often gets involved in circumstances not healthy for them.  They have inadequate decision-making skills.

3. Social Identity/Isolation Issues.

— The child/adolescent/adult person is frequently afraid to tell anyone of past because of stigma of “cults.”

– It is often difficult for them to speak about their past due to the ‘stigma’ of cults

— Because of issues of inconsistent or abusive authority it is difficult for the child/young person to trust.

loneliness and isolation has been very much a part of a child/adolescent/adult’s life

4. Emotional/ Psychological Issues.

— The child/adolescent/adult frequently feels intense guilt for having left (or been taken) from the group.

— Fear is also a large part of the child/adolescent/adult’s life.  The group has told them that to leave is to invite God’s wrath.  The world is also a scary place to the child/adolescent/adult .   Strangers, authority figures, the organized church are all feared at some level.

— The child/adolescent/adult may also feel intense anger at the group for “ruining” their life and family, or they may be angry at God for “allowing” this to happen to them.

5. Social /Cultural Issues.

— Bible based destructive groups create their own culture ( practices, rituals, music, dietary “laws”, ways of worship, etc.)  and world view ( a way to look at the world and society) that is often radically against any culture outside their context.

— Children/young people born and raised in such groups are particularly unprepared to function within a world they do not understand or comprehend, even though they speak the language fluently.  They don’t understand social cues (respecting positions of authority, personal space, standing for older folk, etc.), socially “appropriate” actions (thank you’s, respecting other’s property, knocking, etc.), culturally determined abstract concepts (politically “correct” language, “rites” of passage, equality, etc.).

— The child/adolescent/adult frequently does not know how to set up a bank account, how to handle money, credit, large purchases, etc.

6. Education Issues.

— Education is usually woefully deficient.  Frequently, the child/adolescent/adult will be behind their peers educationally.

— At school, the child/adolescent/adult is often fearful of others, yet desperately wants to fit in and be accepted.  This is more so than with others raised in the “world.”

— Often, education is approached in one of two ways.  Either the  child/adolescent/adult is extremely motivated to succeed, work hard, and do exceptionally well, but at the expense of dealing with issues (they are like time-bombs internally).  Or they may give up on school feeling overwhelmed by the tasks at hand.  The group has told them they won’t do well because they left the cult. This is often a self-fulfilling prophecy.

7. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Issues.

— Many child/adolescent/adult who leave high control, destructive groups suffer from PTSD.  This presents a whole host of issues that must be addressed individually with each one.

Solutions:

— They need to learn social skills (appropriate attachments, follow through, using others financially, etc).

— They need to learn skills to think critically and wisely.

— They need to learn appropriate boundaries, reasons for them, and then internalize them.

— In many instances life skills will need to be taught to the child/adolescent/adult.

 

They young adult needs to deal with the spiritual dimension.

— They have been living in a “supercharged,” black and white spiritual environment.  They have been told what to believe, who to believe, when to believe, etc., in a context (the group) with clearly defined boundaries.   Now they are in what seems to be a totally open-ended environment.  Spiritual issues can be addressed at the  child/adolescent/adult persons own speed.

There may be a need to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in extreme abuse situations.

— While the symptoms of PTSD will ease over time, they do not go away of their own.

— A trained counselor in PTSD will need to be consulted to overcome this disorder.

— Usually through counseling (and sometimes medication) the young adult can overcome PTSD.

For the child/adolescent/adult person who still has family in their former group there are a number of things they can do.

— In some instances it will be impossible to have a relationship with any family member still in the group.  The child/adolescent/adult person needs to be very realistic at this point.  This may be because he/she does not want to have any relationship, or because the group will not allow it.

— It is important to not “bad mouth” the group.  This will only create further barriers.

— It is important, as much as is possible, for the  child/adolescent/adult person to try to understand where their parents/siblings are coming from, why they joined the group, and why they are so crippled.  The group has not only damaged the  child/adolescent/adult person’s life, but also their relatives’ lives.

— The child/adolescent/adult person needs to have limits/boundaries set for what kind of interaction they will have with their relatives still in the group.  This may involve what can be talked about, where they can meet, etc.

New England Institute of Religious Research.

How Cults Rewire the Brain

A neuro-scientist told me that she is pleased by the recent surge of interest in the brain but concerned because sometimes speculative theorizing is passed off as knowledge. This is especially so in the area of cults, where even the traditional psychological research base is limited.

An assumption of modern science is that every mental event is connected to a brain (and/or other biological) process. If so, why bother with neurological speculations, especially in such an under-researched area as cults? Why not restrict our focus to more accessible mental events and stick with familiar psychological models?

The answer is that sometimes psychological models cannot account for what we observe. There was a time, for example, when psychological models tried to explain schizophrenia. Although life events and internal psychological experiences may influence the behavior of schizophrenic, we now know that biologically autonomous processes underlie the disorder. Schizophrenia is not caused by a schitzophrenic mother “.

Are there phenomena within the cultic studies field that we might better understand if we considered brain research and theorizing? Two come to mind: (1) susceptibility to influence, (2) trauma.

We are influenced by a cacophony of external and internal events every moment of our lives. Some forms of influence, however, are systematic and directed by human beings pursuing strategies designed to induce us to behave, think, or feel as they wish, e.g., advertising, propaganda, hypnosis, and some forms of “engineered” cult conversion. Different people will respond differently to the same influence strategy. Even in tightly choreographed influence scenarios, such as the Moonie recruitments of the 1970s, most people do not respond as the influencers would like. Why, for example, do some recruits wind up fund-raising for Reverend Moon after a few weeks of indoctrination, while others don’t? Perhaps an unknown percentage of the “converts” have brains that are wired in a way that makes them less able to resist the indoctrination strategies of the group. There is, for example, a body of research that suggests that hypnotic susceptibility may, to a degree, be an in-born trait. Perhaps that susceptibility has a biological component that must be considered in order to understand fully why A becomes a convert and not B. Perhaps other forms of susceptibility to influence may have biological components, e.g., the capacity to think critically in environments that purposely overstimulate the brain. Some tantalizing research exists. But much more investigation is needed before we will be able to speak with scientific authority.

Another promising area for neurological research is trauma. Trauma, of course, is by no means limited to cult situations. However, those who have worked clinically with former members report significant levels of trauma among former cult members and especially among those born or raised in cultic groups.

Increasing evidence suggests that experiencing trauma affects brain structure and function. These changes may better account for maladaptive behavior, such as persevering in actions that continue to produce painful outcomes, than psychological models, e.g., the person unconsciously “wants” pain and suffering. A forthcoming issue of our organization’s magazine, ICSA Today, will include an interesting essay, “Why Cults Are Harmful: Neurobiological Speculations on Interpersonal Trauma,” by Dr. Doni Whitsett of the University of Southern California School of Social Work.

Dr. Whitsett suggests that those born or raised in severe cultic environments may develop maladaptive mental templates, or what attachment researcher John Bowlby called, “internal working models of attachment” (IWMs). These templates, which are thought to be based at least partly in brain structures developed early in life, may affect some cult children throughout their adult lives.

Let me close with a note of caution. Neuroscience is and ought to be a science. Scientists propose theories with empirically testable hypotheses. Theories with hypotheses that stand up under empirical testing gain credibility, but the theories are always provisional and never “proved.” This is especially so with theories of human behavior because so many interacting factors affect everything that we do. “Brain” factors may help account for certain phenomena that psychological theories cannot explain. However, brain-behavior research is still in its infancy. If we are to speculate about neurological factors in cult situations, let us acknowledge from the start that we need to know much more than we know now if we are to help cult victims in practical ways.

 

Evening of Psychic Communication October 2018

Yesterday Cassandra and I joined five psychic readers and healers at Sennen Cafe, Bar and Bistro. Debbie and Aleisha were fabulous hosts ensuring that their readers were comfortable and had water at the table in stylish glass bottles.

We arrived at the venue by 3.30pm to prepare our area before the clients arrived at 4pm.

 

Cassandra Latham Jones and I offering Tarot readings and Spiritual Counselling

Jackie offering readings and healing

Katie offering readings

We have worked at this venue on a few occasions now and each event has been extremely busy. Five hours providing fifteen minute ‘taster’ readings is intense. We had a thirty minute break for refreshments after working for two and a half hours and then continued readings until 9.30pm. It was also good to see Lorna selling some of her stock from The Healing Star in Penzance.

There are certain things that clients need to understand when receiving readings particularly with medium-ship. The spirit connection may not always be with the spirit loved one they expect to hear from. A reader will relate the information they receive and cannot select a particular spirit to communicate.

If there is a prediction concerning future events that appears in a reading, it could take months or years for this to develop depending on the circumstances surrounding it. At times a client may expect a ‘quick result’ and if it doesn’t happen for them within the next week, they will conclude that the reader is wrong. Some may also be unhappy if a reader does not tell them what they wish to hear particularly if it involves a matter which needs correction in some way.

Michelle doing Rune Readings

Readers are there to offer guidance and help to their clients. They are ‘spiritual counselors’ who have also experienced life’s ups and downs and by connecting with their intuitive/spiritual energy along with their personal experience are able to offer guidance and advice. Readers do not tell clients what to do, they provide what one could call a ‘weather forecast’ and it is up to the client whether they wish to ‘take their boat out’.

Connection with spirit is not always easy, certain signs or symbolism received in this way may, at times, take a while for the reader to interpret it correctly so that it benefits the client. As we know even with human relationship there can be misunderstandings and wrong interpretations even when in conversation face to face, written communication or on-line. Considering this aspect, think about the complexity of connecting with energies in a different dimension such as the ‘world of spirit’.

If you are considering consulting a reader in the future it would be advisable to keep this in mind.

At this event we were able to help many unique and wonderful people who approached us. The work is intense but also very rewarding. Thank you again to all at the Sennen Cafe, Bar and Bistro for their hospitality and another successful evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dark Season of Samhain

 

John Isaac

Ancient Origins of Halloween

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.

This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31st they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

All Saints Day

On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13th to November 1st.

By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted the older Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D., the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It’s widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related church-sanctioned holiday.

All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-Hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

Halloween Comes to America

Celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems there. Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies.

As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups as well as the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included “play parties,” public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing.

Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing the Irish potato famine helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally.

Trick-or-Treat

Borrowing from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes.

Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

Halloween Parties

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide Halloween parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague some celebrations in many communities during this time.

By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated.

Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats.

Thus, a new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday after Christmas.

 

Soul Cakes

The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives.

The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food and money.

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry.

On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits.

On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

John Isaac

Black Cats

Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world.

Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into black cats.

Halloween Matchmaking

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead.

In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it.

In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.)

Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband.

Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces.

Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Of course, whether we’re asking for romantic advice or trying to avoid seven years of bad luck, each one of these Halloween superstitions relies on the goodwill of the very same “spirits” whose presence the early Celts felt so keenly. History.com

John Isaac

Mythology and Folklore

All the major festivals of the year, from Hallowe’en to Christmas and Easter – have Pagan roots. Some people may not think they’re Pagan and mentioning their root is irrelevant, but if you celebrate any of these dates, you are ostensibly celebrating a Pagan ritual. All the Christians did was roll these Pagan celebrations into their own religion several hundred years later.

Of course, the fact that the Christians did this raises its own questions, but the purpose of this article is not to address such things in-depth [though it may be more appropriate to do so at Yule]. Moreover, the purpose is to break open the hard crust of ignorance that has been formed around Samhain and Hallowe’en and to make the unknowing realize why they are celebrating this event, drawing home the importance of Samhain’s mythology and folklore, which many might think is unrelated to them, but which we carry out routines through every year. This is our history, our ancestry and part of what makes us. We should learn of it, respect it and be proud.

Samhain is primarily a celebration of harvest. The Pagans focus around three major harvest festivals in the year: Lammas the corn harvest in August, Autumn Equinox the fruit and vegetable harvest in September and Samhain, the nut and berry harvest at the end of October. Samhain is therefore a celebration of the third and final harvest of the year before the Winter proper sets in. The word Samhain is Gaelic [pronounced Sawin] and is part of Celtic tradition that has come to form part of the worldwide Pagan banner, the word itself actually meaning ‘November’ or ‘November day’ even though the true etymology stretches back as far as Sanskrit.

As with many Pagan festivals, a lot of the mythology and importance gets integrated from different parts of the world. To the Celts, 1st November was an important time of year because it was the time when the cattle that had been grazing in the pastures all summer were led back to the farmhouses and slaughtered for their meat to be preserved over Winter. The bones of the cattle were burned in bonfires which became something of a related ritual additionally.

Samhain is highly associated with death. All the crop is in, the cattle are slaughtered, plants die, leaves fall. It is the end of the land cycle of birth and growth, now we are entering into a period of widespread demise. Everything about this time of year signifies a downturn in life and an upturn in death – even the light is dying as the evenings draw in ever closer and the daylight shrinks away. Samhain is the beginning of the Dark Half of the year which lasts six months all through to Walpurgisnacht on the 30th April, after which the Light Half of the year commences at the Beltane festival on 1st May. It was seen as a time when the door to the Celtic Otherworld was most open, allowing spirits of all kinds to cross the boundary into the physical realm. It is customary on Samhain night to set an extra place at the dinner table for those ancestors who may return during the evening to visit us: in fact, honouring our ancestry is a major part of Samhain in general. Seeing as it is a time for concentrating on the dead and reflecting in the darkness, discussing our lineage and paying homage to those who bore us is vital. It is because of the link with death and darkness that the colour black is so closely associated with this time of year, as well as orange which represents the vitality within death and the colours of Autumn. Black or orange candles should be lit on Samhain in reference to this, as well as to the fact that black candles are used as a tool of protection and banishment in candle magic whereas orange is used for fertility and stimulation. Black is associated with looking back, whereas orange is related to looking forward.

Seeing as Samhain was associated with the interference and transgression of evil spirits from one spirit world to the next, it was Irish and Scottish custom to dress up as spirits in a process known as “guising” [from the word ‘disguise’] as a means of warding off other spirits. Of course, dressing up as spirits can easily encourage playing tricks and pranks, and it’s clear to see how doing one led to the other, in what is now known as trick or treating, the history of which dates as far back as the 18th century, likely merging with the English tradition of giving soul cakes to the poor on All Saints Day or the custom of going house to house collecting food and fuel for Samhain evening. Of course one of the most prevalent icons of the time of year is pumpkin carving, which is mostly thought of as being an American tradition. Far from it: the carving of pumpkins at this time of year came from the carving of turnip lanterns in 19th century Ireland and Scotland, most likely used to light peoples’ way on Samhain night and bearing grotesque faces to protect the carrier from evil spirits. As for another edible Samhain symbol, the apple, its inclusion comes about through the belief of the apple being a sacred fruit and representative of life and immortality to the Celts, apples being buried at Samhain to give food to souls waiting to be reborn.

As for the witches we spoke of, they have a long history of being associated with the time of year, primarily because of ritual gatherings at Samhain and Walpurgisnacht, the cauldron used as a symbol of the witches’ control over life and death, the cauldron shape alluding to sexuality which is such a prevalent feature of this dark festival. The black cat has always been related to the supernatural as well, a thought process which goes back to Ancient Egypt. Cats wonder at night and black cats can conceal themselves in the shadows so they were seen as the diabolical supernatural servants of evil and were even slaughtered because of it.

Samhain is a time of heightened sexual awareness and activity. The act of sex itself is extremely emotional and powerful – the seed and fruit of human beings connecting with the seed and fruit of the harvest, the power and energy raised by sex being seen as a portal through which the dead are able to return. Sexuality is intrinsically linked to witchcraft with sex magic being used for deific worship and ushering in a spiritual and mystical connection.  The birch and willow brooms were ‘ridden’ by witches through fields, the jumping height signifying how high the crop would grow the following year, the hallucinogens in the flying ointment on the broom giving the belief of real flight. Once again, we see everything returning to the harvest.

Before the arrival of the Christian missionaries, Samhain was celebrated widely by the Celts. Christians did all they could to wipe out celebration of the event but in the 7th Century, missionaries such as Pope Gregory saw the advantage of contorting the focus. He let people worship the objects they wished to so that their resolve remained intact, but he gave the worship a Christian spin so they effectively became devotees to the new religion. This tactic was massively successful in spreading Christianity and weakening the old religions, redefining the old meanings for new benefit. Seeing as All Saint’s Day traditionally falls on the 1st November, Samhain was rolled into All Hallows’ Eve and was seen as a highly spiritual time where the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was at its thinnest as the evil spirits fled before Saint’s Day.

With Samhain only a few days away and with the spiritual power of this event increasing, it is time to not only celebrate this intense and fascinating occasion, but also to inform ourselves further as to the history and the importance of it. The folklore of our ancestors created and defined belief systems, societies and ways of living, and the old ways are still with us now hundreds of years later. The grip of large corporations – like that of Christianity – has allowed us to literally buy into this event without consciousness, but the real reason and respect for this occasion should never be lost. This Samhain take the time to honour the evening, the rituals, the history, the mythology and your own individual ancestry. Its personal implications and applications are more than most realize. Heathen Harvest

John Isaac

Celebrations

Early in the evening at Samhain we begin our celebration in our village of St Buryan when local residents escort their children around the village for ‘Trick or Treating’ and visit a real Wise Woman’s cottage. We also visit the St Buryan Inn for a celebratory drink before the preparations for our private group celebration at midnight. It is indeed an active time in the spiritual and physical worlds as the Celtic year ends but it is also extremely rewarding.
I will conclude this post by wishing you all a joyous Samhain and a prosperous and successful new Celtic year. The link below has evocative music and an explanation of the season. Enjoy!

Update for the Dark Gathering 2018

All Hallows event update 🙂

All Hallows Gathering

There a couple of items that need updating in this year’s line up at the Dark Gathering.  Firstly, the Mari Lwyd Workshop will not be taking place this year after all.  However, we hope that we can reintroduce this again at a later date.

The other main change to the schedule is that sadly, the Boscastle Buoys are unable to perform for us this year.  In their place will be a demonstration of traditional Welsh dancing by Cwmni Gwerin Pontypwl.

Given these changes the Programme of Events will be as follows:

2 pm – Warm up act from the Salt Sisters.

3 pm – Dark Morris performances from Beltane Border Morris, Domesday Morris and this year’s Guest Side, Wolfshead & Vixen

4 pm – Display of Welsh Dancing

4.30 pm – Dark Morris performances

5 pm – Comfort Break

6 pm – Procession leaves from main car park

6.20 pm…

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Understanding High-Functioning Autism

Autism is a widespread condition and I have clients, friends and family who have been affected by this condition. Researching this subject and how to deal with the individuals affected can assist in coping with difficult relationships.

What is it? 

Autism is a disorder in the development of a persons’ social and communication skills. While that is a basic answer, it gives you an idea of the areas of life that ASD can affect. The range of severity will vary and how that manifest in each individual will be drastically different.

High Functioning Autism doesn’t exhibit itself easily to those that aren’t already aware of an individual’s diagnosis. The ticks, fears, social and sensory issues, along with mild communication struggles are often easy to overlook if a child is labeled high functioning. Their delay in speech and language may not be as obvious. Many people only see the current state of a child and have no idea what progress they have made in the past.

Some signs of High Functioning Autism

Delayed initial speech but functional communication as child ages.

Above average intelligence and logic at an early age.

Difficulty in social situations – inability to understand or relate to peer groups.

Lack of social comfort – seeming “mature” for their age. Not being able to understand jokes, sarcasm, humor, or typical roughhousing among peers.

Obsessive actions regarding appearance, cleanliness, fears and social situations.

Sensory issues. This applies to oral, vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile, auditory, and visual.

Shortened attention spans.

Prone to tantrums or meltdowns when overly tired or overly stimulated.

Research: Parenting Chaos

At this point in history, there is disagreement about how many people on the autism spectrum are on the high or low-end of the spectrum (or whether most people with autism are “somewhere in the middle”). It is clear, however, that the lion’s share of media attention goes to folks at the high and the low ends of the spectrum—that is, the profoundly disabled and the very high functioning.

Myth: People High Functioning Autism Are Unusually Intelligent and Successful

If the media is to believed, the high-end of the autism spectrum is peopled largely by eccentric geniuses—Bill Gates and Albert Einstein are often mentioned, along with Dan Aykroyd and Daryl Hannah—who by and large do very well indeed, though they march to the beat of their own drummer. The reality, however, is that “high functioning autistic” and “genius,” “business tycoon,” and “Hollywood star” rarely go together. In fact:

People with high functioning autism, while they may or may not be unusually intelligent, rarely have the kind of intense motivation for public success that sends a Bill Gates to find funders or an Einstein to find a publisher.

They may also have significant challenges which stand in the way of living a comfortable life, succeeding in work or romance, or achieving a sense of self-worth. Those issues are made more challenging, in part, because they surprise and upset others who don’t anticipate odd behaviors or reactions from people who “pass for normal” in many situations.

While people with more severe autism are not generally expected to just suck it up and get through difficult moments, people on the higher end of the spectrum are expected to do just that.

Lastly, people with high functioning autism are, in general, very aware of their own difficulties and extremely sensitive to others’ negative reactions.

Fact: High Functioning Autism Is Very Challenging Every Day

Here are just a few of the issues that get between people on the high-end of the autism spectrum (including those diagnosed with the now-outdated Asperger Syndrome) and personal success and happiness:

People at the higher end of the spectrum are just as susceptible as people in the middle or lower end of the spectrum to sensory dysfunctions. These include mild, moderate, or extreme sensitivity to noise, crowds, bright lights, strong tastes, smells, and touch. This means that a person who is bright, verbal, and capable may be unable to walk into a crowded restaurant, attend a movie, or cope with sensory assaults, shopping malls, stadiums, or other venues.

Social “cluelessness.”

What’s the difference between a civil greeting and a signal of romantic interest? How loud is too loud? When is okay to talk about your personal issues or interests? When is it important to stop doing what you enjoy in order to attend to another person’s needs? These are tough questions for anyone, but for a person on the high-end of the autism spectrum they can become overwhelming obstacles to social connections, employment, and romance.

Anxiety and depression. 

Anxiety, depression and other mood disorders are more common among people with high functioning autism than they are among the general population. We don’t know whether the autism causes the mood disorders, or whether the disorders are the result of social rejection and frustration—but whatever their causes, mood disorders can be disabling in themselves.

Executive functioning describes the skills we use to organize and plan our lives. They allow typical adults to plan schedules in advance, notice that the shampoo is running low, or create and follow a timeline in order to complete a long-term project. Most people with high functioning autism have compromised executive functioning skills, making it very tough to plan and manage a household, cope with minor schedule changes at school or at work, and so forth.

Emotional disregulation. 

Contrary to popular opinion, people with autism have plenty of emotions. In fact, people with autism can become far too emotional in the wrong situations. Imagine a 16-year-old bursting into tears because of a change in plans, or a grown woman melting down completely because her car won’t start. These are the types of issues that can arise for people with high functioning autism, who are capable of doing a great many things ONLY when the situation is predictable, and no obstacles arise.

Lots of people have a hard time with change, but people with high functioning autism take the issue to a whole new level. Once a pattern is established and comfortable, people with autism (by and large) want to maintain that pattern forever. If a group of friends goes out on Wednesdays for nachos, the idea of going out on Thursdays for chicken wings can throw an autistic adult into a state of anxiety or even anger.

Difficulty with following verbal communication.

A person with high functioning autism may be more than capable of doing a task—but unable to follow instructions provided. In other words, if a policeman says “stay in your car and give me your license and registration,” the person with autism may process only “stay in your car,” or only “give me your license.” The same goes for instructions given, say, at a ballroom dance class, at the doctor’s office, or by a manager in an office setting. As you can imagine, this can cause any number of issues, ranging from serious problems with the police to inadvertent mistakes at work.

As you can see, the term “high functioning” does mean what it says. But high functioning autism is not an easy or simple diagnosis to live with. For those caring for, employing, teaching, or working with people on the higher end of the spectrum, it’s important to remember that autism is autism.

Very Well Health

High functionin autism can be hard to spot; few people with HFA exhibit obvious autism-like symptoms such as rocking, flapping, or really unusual use of voice or language. This is one of many reasons why people with HFA (sometimes called mild autism or — until 2013 — Asperger syndrome) may be diagnosed as teens or adults rather than as young children.

Why Autism Can Be Hard to Diagnose

There are a number of answers to that question.  For example:

Higher intelligence and language skills may have masked certain symptoms.

The ability to do well in school, communicate effectively, and pass an I.Q test with flying colours, are all impressive — and may set parents and teachers down the wrong path when looking for reasons for a child’s unusual issues or behavior.  Even general practice pediatricians can miss signs of autism when a child is able to communicate intelligently using spoken language. In some cases, kids’ strengths carry them through early elementary school with only minor issues, but become serious concerns when schoolwork becomes more abstract, demanding, and verbal — and when social interactions become more complex.

The individual may have been born before the diagnosis of Asperger syndrome or high functioning autism was included in the diagnostic literature.

There were plenty of kids with symptoms consistent with HFA before 1988 when Asperger syndrome was added to the diagnostic manual along with other “milder” forms of autism.  These folks may or may not have received a diagnosis of something other than autism (autism would have been far too extreme a diagnosis for a high functioning individual) — and they may never have thought of seeking a new diagnosis as an adult.

The individual may have developed means to hide, manage, or overcome his or her symptoms.

People with high functioning autism are, by definition, of average or above average intelligence.  If they are told often enough to make eye contact, stop rocking, flapping, or talking about the same things over and over again — they are often able to either hide, control, or actually overcome the need to present overt symptoms.  When that happens, the obvious external signs of autism are not present, making a diagnosis very tricky indeed.

Some research suggests that women and girls are under-diagnosed with autism.

While 4 times as many boys and men are diagnosed with autism than women and girls, the reasons are not clear.  Are girls really less likely to be autistic?  Or are their behaviors (apparent shyness, discomfort with public speaking, difficulties with motor coordination, confusion over social communication in situations such as team sports) considered “feminine” rather than problematic?  Or do girls with high-functioning autism actually behave differently from boys with autism, tending to be less aggressive, more imitative, and more likely to work hard to “fit in?”  While the reasons are not well understood, it seems clear that being a female on the spectrum may make you less likely to receive a diagnosis.

Individuals from poorer and/or minority backgrounds are under-diagnosed with autism.

There seem to be two major reasons for this disparity.  The first and most obvious is that people with less money have less access to behavioral health-care — and so are less likely to be able to access services, particularly for a child who is not obviously autistic.  The second reason seems to relate to cultural differences: in some communities, the “oddness” associated with high functioning autism are not considered to be particularly problematic. And, of course, for recent immigrants, it’s not surprising to hear that their child is not fitting in perfectly with American or “First World” cultural norms!

Does your “adult-child” with Aspergers (high functioning autism) often resist your guidance?

As the parent of an adult child with Aspergers, you may have discovered that as he gets older and feels the need to assert his independence, it may be harder and harder to take advice from you. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s important for our older children to learn to solve their own problems, especially as they become our adult children. Still, it’s tough to see the effectiveness of, “Because I said so,” recede into the distance.

If you see a continuing need to be involved in your child’s life as he grows into an adult, you may need to acknowledge that he is becoming his own person, and find appropriate ways to influence his decisions. This can be a real challenge.

Individuals with Aspergers often have trouble with subtle distinctions. They may think, “Adults are independent. Being independent means making my own decisions. If I take my mother’s advice, I’m not acting like an adult.” So, what do we do when we want to respect our adult child’s quest for independence and still help them over or around the obstacles he will likely face?

Are Autistic People capable of being Manipulative?

Being autistic makes you more empathetic (Sometimes), socially disabled (To some degree, almost always), and occasionally verbally impaired (Often).

Absolutely none of those make you act like a good person.

It’s more difficult for an autistic person to learn the social nuance to be particularly manipulative, but it’s a far sight from impossible.

If you feel like you’re being played, act cautious. Anyone can try to take a gamble on deceiving you, including those with a natural handicap in that department.

Higher-functioning autistic people do arguably have a mild advantage, as a matter of fact, in that they tend to learn their social habits through mimicry instead of as a natural subconscious process.

In other words, they mechanically can dissect the rules of engagement. This makes miming emotions, leading people on, and controlling them while using your gimp as a facade extremely easy for the opportunistic and craven-minded.

Nobody is incapable of being dishonest, rare developmental cases aside.

It’s good to trust others, and better to be on good terms with them. However, you should never take someone’s developmental flaws as a guarantor of their behavior.

Autistic people can also lead others on without really meaning to – often, in those examples who become manipulative, it’s very possible they just act a certain way to reap the rewards and never consider the implications of those actions. The same as normal people, really, just with the occlusion of a hazier understanding of social rules of engagement making that moral quandary easier to fall into.

So if you think someone who you know, who is autistic, is trying to control you or others – confront them. They many not realize that they do it.

And if they do, then you deserve better than to be their puppet. Feel as sympathetic as you want, but the people who you care about should care about you enough to put your best interests before their schemes.

That last bit is just a general rule, but it applies here.

None of this means that autistic people should be especially distrusted.

It just means that they work under the same rules of trust as you or anyone else does.

The following article is written by the mother of a son with Aspergers. High Functioning Autism and I am sure many can relate to this:

“There is a dark side to raising a child with these challenges. My son’s honest expressions can be downright mean. He will say that I am lazy. He will say that I don’t ever do anything. He will say that I am selfish or a hypocrite. Of course, he is a teenager and I am sure from his narrow perspective what he says is truth.

Meltdowns are more frequent now than in the past. The physicality associated with his meltdowns now reminds me of when he was 3, more than when he was 10. These meltdowns are more disturbing and scary in the body of a 5’11” young man than they were in a small child. The glimmers of the sweet boy I remember are few and far between.

There are a lot of aspects of life that we as humans do not include in the stories we pass down. We don’t talk about the messier and darker aspects of common life occurrences. A great example is our tendency to remain silent on the terrifying nature of postpartum depression and psychosis. We don’t want to admit that even the most joyful parts of life can come with a dark lining.

As a parent of an Aspergers child, I live in a strange world. Strangers do not understand and even from friends and family there can be a lot of judgment. I have been told that I am not consistent enough with my son. I have been told that I am not disciplined enough. Even when there is no overt comment, there is the change in body language, tone of voice and the distancing by people who are affronted by my son.

On the other hand, my son judges me as inadequate, unfair, lazy and hypocritical. He expresses hatred for the help that I sacrifice to give him. I stand in the middle making the decisions as best I know how. This is an emotionally draining position.

My NT son sees all of this and so he asks if I regret having my Aspergers Son.

“No!” I responded without hesitation, “Raising him is challenging and there are times that he can be such a jerk but I have learned so much about myself and life through this process. I have learned to look beyond the external and set aside a lot of my preconceived judgments. I have learned to make my decisions based on who I am and who I want to be, not based on what that decision will get from others in the way of approval, acceptance, etc. It has made me so much stronger. I am proud of the person I have become and if this is the road that it took to become this person, well that is fine. I love him because he is my son, not because of what he can give me and I believe that he is an amazing person traveling his own tough road.”

That statement reflects the decision I have made. I don’t always feel the feelings that would inspire that statement therefore I don’t despise the mother that said she hated her son. I am thankful that my NT son didn’t ask me 20 minutes earlier. I don’t know that I would have regained my balance enough to answer the way I did. Just because I don’t act on the dark moments doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

My Aspergers son is mismatched to the world we live in. It seemed that My son is the round peg to the outside world’s square hole. I thought I was accepting this fact.

I have realized that I my acceptance was conditional on a belief that I could fill in the gaps between the outside expectation and my son’s reality. I believed I could make the world accept my son and acknowledge his successes. I had a distorted perception of who I needed to be in my son’s life.

I can never do or be enough to make my son and the typical world’s expectations mesh. Accepting my limitations, opened a new path. Instead of seeing the world as rigid, I saw flexibility. As I expanded my view beyond the world of the public school structure, I could see the endless variations that our world allows. My role is to guide my son as he creates his path in this world and finds his purpose.

My Aspergers-son is an important part of my life, but he is not my whole life. I did not cease to exist when he was born. Additionally, there are other small lives in my care. The loudest need cannot drown out the other needs. My son and my typical children learn from how I live. How can I tell my son that I believe that he can be an independent adult and then do everything for him?

When I give my focus to the moment at hand, I honor all the parts of my life. My time with my husband is for him alone. My time with each of my children is sacred and preserved. The time I set aside for caring for myself is spent doing ONLY that. This is a practice I have yet to perfect but the practice alone has increased my self-awareness and increase the balance between the various aspects of my life.”

Asperger’s Mum.