2020 Hope and Wishes

1 01 2020

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year. Every December and January for years I’ve looked back to see what what I might want to give my energy to in the coming year. Not as a New Years Resolution but as a reminder that where and how I use my energy is a choice. A friend use to say “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

After a couple years overshadowed by the losses of my Mother and Step Mother, I realize I haven’t posted on my blog. So, this is the official annoucment of my intent to return to the blogosphere.

My first message of this 2020 is LOVE yourself. Love, especially, the parts of yourself that you wish to hide. They need it the most. Don’t allow negative self talk to diminish your precious energy. We can do so much when we accept, with love, all the darkness we find inside ourselves. Give yourself the forgiveness you would give to your most precious child.

I’m excited to say, I will be writing again soon.

Treasure yourself,

Linda





Thou Art My Sister/Thou Art My Family

18 01 2016

As requested:

THOU ART MY SISTER

Thou art my sister, because we were born of the same Great Spirit;

Conceived from the same mound of earth;

Slept quietly together in the cradle of unknowing until Great Spirit gently set us in the midst of humanity…

You are my sister, I love you.

 

You and I are destined to be companions on the highway of life;

Together or apart. You are my sister, I love you.

If the color of my skin is different from yours,

It mattereth not, only let the beauty of our souls be kindred…

 

I will honor your wisdom and understanding, as you will mine. Together

We shall seek the seeds of truth in the distant rooms of the Great Spirit;

The reflection of inner knowledge shall wear as beauty upon our faces…

You are my sister, I love you.

 

If death takes from me the lamp of life, and the veil of eternal sleep falls across my eyes before yours, I will wait for you.

I will come to lead you a cross the bridge of night into the meadows of Great Spirit… You are my sister, I love you.

 

Adapted from a poem by Jean Humphrey Chaillie, Navajo 1940

 

MAY THE MOUNTAINS’S OWN GREAT SPIRIT

MAKE YOUR LIFE A SINGING STREAM.

MAY THE TWELVE NEW MOONS NOW COMING BRING A PURPOSE TO YOUR DREAMS

MAY A RAINBOW TOUCH YOUR SHOULDER

WITH A PROMISE OF ITS GLOW,

MAY THE SUNLIGHT FALL UPON YOU

AS YOU WALK IN MANY SNOWS.

 

Traditional Native American prayer

THOU ART MY FAMILY

Thou art my family, because we were born of the same Great Spirit;

Conceived from the same mound of earth;

Slept quietly together in the cradle of unknowing until Great Spirit gently set us in the midst of humanity…

You are my family, I love you.

 

You and I are destined to be companions on the highway of life;

Together or apart. You are my family, I love you.

If the color of my skin is different from yours,

It mattereth not, only let the beauty of our souls be kindred…

 

I will honor your wisdom and understanding, as you will mine. Together

We shall seek the seeds of truth in the distant rooms of the Great Spirit;

The reflection of inner knowledge shall wear as beauty upon our faces…

You are my family, I love you.

 

If death takes from me the lamp of life, and the veil of eternal sleep falls across my eyes before yours, I will wait for you.

I will come to lead you a cross the bridge of night into the meadows of Great Spirit… You are my family, I love you.

 

Adapted from a poem by Jean Humphrey Chaillie, Navajo 1940

 

 

 





Shaman School

30 06 2012

I wrote the following is response to yet another student who wants to learn but doesn’t have the funds to do so. It is based on my experience but I believe it is nearly universal.

Nobody has the money for shaman school.  All spiritual callings are like a burning itch which progressively gets more severe. If you don’t have the money to see a doctor; you can try to ignore it, apply baking soda, other home remedies, or cortisone crèam, or anything else you can think of.  Eventually you just go see the doctor because you have to.

The timing is not important. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but if it is your path, one day you will have to take care of that itch. It isn’t as simple as going down the street to the shaman school but gradually a plan will form and a way appears.

The good news is that before the itch gets too bad (as your personal calling become clearer) there are books, drumming circles, and workshops available to give you a taste of what is possible.

Books require no commitment. It is like being a fly on the wall. You don’t have to tell anybody what you are reading or why. Don’t worry, the steps that bring a spiritual seeker to the shamanic path aren’t typically as dramatic as books often suggest. But, books are the gathered wisdom of others who have faced similar desires to learn. Find a bookstore or library with a decent selection of spiritual books and trust your intuition to find the right book.  If something doesn’t resonate with you today, don’t be surprised if it does resonate next month or next year.  I regularly re-read books I have retained from the many I have encountered along the way and find greater depths of information.

Drumming circles can be found in most cities with a simple internet search. Many are open to beginners and are generally run by kind, often knowledgeable, people who proselytize the shamanic way. You can claim “just looking” status. Many sweat lodge ceremonies are similarly available.

A workshop is a learning opportunity with a clear expiration date. They are a change to try on this unique way of life with like-minded individuals for a day or two without commitment.  You won’t instantly become an expert but you will learn and you specific interests will become clearer. Much can be learned which will help you understand and develop your personal abilities. Sometimes you learn what is possible, what questions you can ask, and/or where you can find answers.

What path should I take?

I often say “one water, many wells”.  It doesn’t matter to me which path you choose. Going deep in one tradition is typically more helpful than doing a survey of many traditions. However, as a beginner learning about various possible paths is beneficial. You will learn to discern what resonates for you. Shamanism is experiential.  You judge based on what is personally helpful for you.

Am I called to heal others? Don’t worry about that. Every healer must first heal himself or herself. Eventually you may find trusted friends to practice on.  Be clear that you are practicing to  learn.

 

 





Three Levels of Self Protection

8 02 2012

“How can I protect myself?” I am frequently asked.

Level 1

The first advice many people receive is to visualize a energy shell around themselves. The color of this energy varies depending on who you listen to.   I call this level 1 self protection. This  easy method reminds us we can chose what to allow into our mind, body and spirit.  The most important part of this plan is holding the intention to be protected.  When we focus on an intention with enough power nothing else is needed.

Level 2

As I continued to see the variety of human suffering I became aware of another way to visualize self-protection.  When confronted by evil entities or energy I wanted help.  I realized that we can connect to great power through many spiritual practices. Connecting to this power we are metaphorically connecting to a 1000 watt light bulb. Any evil that touches it is repelled as though it was a bug touching a bug zapper.

Level 3

Eventually I had trouble using the word evil. I think of events and energies which don’t service us an abuse of power. The power itself isn’t the problem.

I do my healing work in my home. I began to think of my home as a goldfish bowl filled with water. The water being the air in the house. I thought of the water as pure loving kindness.  If anyone brought evil into the house I saw them speak and visualized their words as though breathing red food coloring into that water of loving kindness. The water transformed that breath and the water became clear again. Eventually I visualized the earth and its atmosphere  as this same bowl of loving kindness. Perhaps we pollute the earth’s loving kindness as we pollute its oceans.

And yet, how beautifully simple.  Animism and physics both tell us that all things of this world are constructed of the same particles.  Shouldn’t we view them as filled with the same great mystery which created us? More about animism and evil later.  In the meantime, I hope  you can use something here to protect yourself.





Why would a Vegan Juice?

9 11 2011

I went to a gathering of vegan friends last evening and a discussion began about juicing. The facilitator suggested drawing a line and separating what she saw as two camps (juicers and non juicers). That immediately ended the discussion. This made me sad because we need to build bridges, not create boundaries. Also a learning opportunity was missed.

By now, you may be asking what has this got to do with Shamanism?

Frequently I see people who are investigating plant medicines such as peyote and ayahuasca or who are learning to work with essential oils, yet they give little thought to how they eat.  Shamanism, and most spirituality, is about living in harmony in the world. The physical body in the instrument we have with which to do this.  In modern Western society living at home in nature is challenging. Eating raw, vegan, and organic food is one of the keystones of my journey to oneness with all things. If you want to hear nature’s voice, I recommend it. Thoughtful eating is the easiest way I know of to begin to live in harmony with plants. If possible cultivate food, even if it is just a few herb plants. Don’t be surprised how soon you begin to realize, with the first bite, the difference between organic and non-organic food.  When you increase the amount of raw food you eat, you sense what is lost in cooking.

Beyond that, why juice?  Healthy eating and juicing have different intents. Healthy eating such as veganism, eating raw, and eating organic have the purpose of maintaining a healthy body (in addition to political, religious, and spiritual intentions).  The intention of juicing is to restore health by allowing the intake of a larger quantity of vital food nutrients and enzymes than one would ordinarily be able to eat.  Among healthy individuals this difference may not be important, but, for people fighting healthy issues directly or who are attempting to restore health after years of eating a typical modern American diet, this is extremely important.

There are many wonderful blogs on-line and I encourage you to look at them if you have an interest in raw, vegan, vegetarian, and/or organic eating.





The Shaman’s Calling

7 07 2011

In the Nepali culture potential candidates to become a shaman are abducted by the “bon jhankri” between the ages of seven and twenty years of age.  The “bon jhankri is ” a partially human and partially animal Yeti type creature called a jungle/forest shaman. During the period of this dangerous abduction the candidate is introduced to the mysteries of his/her calling. Alternatively, and increasingly more rare are calling received by candidates “aph se aph” or by spontaneously receiving their mantra’s and healing knowledge. Either way, these candidates can suffer shamanic illness as they are attacked by bokshi (evil sorcerers) and lagu (the bokshi’s evil spirit allies). Even with its unique cosmology, this calling fits within the candidate’s world view and is thereby similar to receiving a calling in many traditional indigenous cultures. Their life struggles are often viewed as shamanic illness and as battles with the bokshi and lagu.

In our modern western culture people who have characteristics which would make them candidates for learning and using shamanic knowledge often don’t understand what is happening. Typically shamanic candidates function well in society and are successful in their chosen field. Then something happens which causes them to wonder “is this all there is”. Not everyone who reexamines their life is a potential candidate. However, some are. The precipitating event isn’t important, though there are amazing stories in this area.

My subject today is helping people who have unrecognized callings. Many times their lives contain struggles with shamanic illness and battles with evil which rise havoc but which seem bizarre and unfathomable.  It is important is that the candidate gains understanding of these events and finds a place that feels like home in which to learn to counter negative effects of the struggle.

The current issue of The Journal of Shamanic Practice, (Volume 4, and Issue 1 Spring 2011) has articles on “Taking a Teacher” and “Apprenticeship”. This post isn’t about that. It is aimed at helping anyone who might feel lost, off track, or who has through some participating event reached the bottom on the wheel of good fortune. When we reach this point where we question everything in our lives, even to wondering what is worth living for, learning about shamanism is one way to regain our sense of purpose in our life.

Many times I am visited by people within whom I see a shamanic warrior or potential healer who hasn’t found themselves. It appears that their calling is stalking them, often through shamanic illness.  It will continue to do so until they see and accept this calling.

I list the following sign posts that you might have calling though it is, by any means, an all inclusive list.  Have you had:

  • Ancestors who were healers/doctors, herbalists, etc.
  • A job in the healing field
  • The awareness of healing energy in your hands
  • Strong and correct intuition and the ability to “read” other people
  • A strong desire to spend time in alone in nature
  • An intimacy with animals
  • Imaginary friends or an awareness of spirits
  • Frequent déjà-vu
  • Vivid dreams and an awareness of their importance
  • Where you born with a caul (thin membrane) covering your head (My old Aunties swear this is a strong sign of a future healer)
  • Any physical, mental, or emotional abnormality that set you appear as a child (In Brazil there are hospitals which achieve wonderful results by training patients as mediums to treat illnesses like schizophrenia, paranoia, and depression. In the US these patients would be labeled and often receive powerful medications. I suggest that some of these people who could  be helped by exploring shamanism and the possibility that these illnesses could have a spiritual cause.  I have written on this subject before so forgive me for repeating myself.)
  • Surviving an illness, accident, or unusual event such as being struck by lightning, especially if this included a lengthy recovery or is of a chronic nature
  • An intense interests in learning about shamanism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Primal Path

16 01 2011



Primal Path is the name of a CD I just received. It is musical synthesis by Marc Dorsa featuring the voice of Moon, a medicine man. If you are looking for New Age elevator music, this isn’t it. If you want a guided visualization which will lead you into your deepest wounds and out the other side, this could be it!

Please, don’t listen to this CD while you are driving your car. You could find yourself driving right off the road. Take the time to sit, fully present, and allow these sounds to carry you into yourself. The music is complex enough for the mind to become removed from its familiar groove leaving you free to be carried along as Moon’s voice resonates into your wounded parts.

Moon is chanting and toning the language of healing. This chanting creates a sympathetic vibration within the willing listener. Like a lazar it penetrates into the part of the listener which shares the vibration of the particular pain or issue being explored.  At times like a dentist’s drill, the sounds are sometimes more therapeutic than pleasant.  But then, how often do you have a chance to do deep healing alone, on your own schedule? And you can return again and again!

As one releases deeply held pain, thoughtfully scored music carries one even deeper then buoys one home to the beauty and peace where they belong.

There is so much material here that it might be wise to listen to only a few “songs” at a time. It is overwhelming to try and work through it all at once. I send my congratulations to the producer and artists on bringing this gift of love into the world.

Primal Path is available from: http://www.inrwrldmusic.com

 





The Cost of Being Weird

6 01 2011
Are you afraid to be considered weird by your family and friends? Or do you relish the idea?The time of burning witches and medicine men is not so long past that it can be completely forgotten.   I frequently hear snickered remarks in the workplace about anyone who admits to metaphysical interests. 

Who are these People?

Modern shamanic practitioners come from all walks of life and at first glance seem to have little in common. They are often healers looking for ways to expand their services.  Some folks are vagabond drop-outs wandering the earth happily experimenting with odd traditions. More commonly they are nurses, plumbers, housewives, farmers, or shoe salesmen who are not looking for drama, a guru, or the latest new age workshop. They are simply people trying to understand their place in this universe.

What will my Friends Say?

Many of the people I have met exploring the shamanic path are concerned with what others think of them. Many friends and family members will find the practitioner’s interests weird.  The practitioners may be embarrassed or afraid of ridicule, especially as they experiment to learn more about this path. Some friends will present themselves as happy test subjects while others silently move away.

The more I learn, the less I feel weird.  In fact, people who don’t question their lifestyle choices, who feed on drama, and those who define their life with many common pursuits, seem weird to me.

As I learned about non-ordinary reality I realized how much of what I previously considered real was related more to my view of things than the things themselves. As I became an observer of my actions I stopped, for the most part, blaming anyone else for my choices. I am working on forgiving myself for the difficult ones. No, my choices aren’t perfect.  Some aren’t even rational and I continue to make frequent bad decisions. Still, I find myself to be happier, more compassionate, and less judgmental. I no longer suffer depression of the sort that marred my youth.

While my family and friends may not understand my obsession, I believe they realize it has value and meaning to me. Some friendships have fallen away. Among those that remain strong they have accepted me as I am. Other friends and family members are noticeably more comfortable to avoid the topic.  I am hopeful that with time they will come to trust that I haven’t joined a cult or become a fool. Meanwhile, my growth is more important to me than their judgment.

Yes, you can still hold a job

Unlike a monastic life, shamanism is practiced in conventional societal and economic rolls in one’s customary environment. You don’t sit in a trance 24-7.

The shaman is a master of the two realities, ordinary and non-ordinary. A practitioner’s ability to function in non-ordinary reality in no way hinders her ability to function in ordinary reality.  In traditionally shamanic cultures the shaman joined her community workforce just like everyone else. She slipped into her shamanic roll only when it was called for, by someone’s illness or other triggering event in the community.

Drastic Change

Students of shamanism often fear the loss of important relationships. Why? Most likely because they realize they are changed by what they learn.  Change is hard on relationships. Most people can look back and see that as their life moved through cycles their primary friendships changed.

I experienced great upheaval in my life.  My exploration of shamanism coincided with these changes and helped me make them. However, the desire for change was already there. This desire for change is one of the characteristics many shamanic practitioners have in common.

Common characteristics of shamanic practitioners

I have observed that many people on this path where already set outside the mainstream of society by something. Perhaps it was an aspect of their temperament or a lifestyle choice. Often their intuition has made them aware of things others don’t notice.

While shamanic practitioners vary in many ways I see some commonality in the following areas:

  • Open to change
  • Introspective
  • Independent thinker
  • Intelligent
  • Self-directed
  • Resilient
  • Creative
  • Empathetic
  • Honest
  • Disciplined
  • Nonconformist
  • Strong Intuitive

Interesting Times Ahead

I remember my mom saying to me one day, “your friends are certainly interesting.” Her tone of voice suggested that interesting covered a lot of territory, some of which she wasn’t comfortable with. Her remark was loving and undoubtedly true. My friends are interesting. So, dear friends, welcome. There are interesting times ahead.





To Mentor and be a worthy instructor

30 12 2010

In 2007 I visited Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). After a hectic couple of weeks, I ended my trip with a visit to two history museums. The first was large and expressive. The second had been hastily substituted onto the itinerary for the adjacent craft museum which was unexpectedly closed for the day.

This second museum was lackluster compared to the finer one I had seen that morning. I wandered through the exhibits willing myself to be open to learning something from my time there. I began to wonder how long I needed to give to this effort before I could leave. In this bored state my eyes passed over a small cardboard diorama depicting a unique period of civil rest in Burmese history.

Burma is located at the crossroad between China to the North, India to the west and the notoriously violent Khmer empire of Cambodia to the east past Thailand. Not surprisingly the Burmese people have endured many occupations and conflicts over the years.

At one time in their history the Burmese people enjoyed a rare period of peace and prosperity brought about primarily when a wise leader called for scholars from all parts of the Buddhist world to gather in the Burmese capital to compare and standardize scriptures. He realized no one would attach while their leading theologians were in Burma.

I had seen a video and other exhibits about this time period at the morning museum. As I roamed the afternoon museums my eyes wandered over a small colorless cardboard diorama I recognized as depicting this gathering of scholars. It showed perhaps 50 small figures sitting cross-legged on the floor with scrolls open on their laps. Facing this congregation from a slightly raised dais sat a similar figure. As my bored gaze traveled thoughtlessly over this scene, I felt a familiar sensation I have come to associate with the receiving of shamanic knowledge. Apparently the bored state I was experiencing had shut down my conscious mind sufficiently for me to receive a message.

I became the figure on the dais. In an unfathomable way, I was transported through time and space and became him. With the instant awareness typical to such an event I was flooded with emotions. I felt a sense of responsibility, a sense of fatigue and the overwhelming sense of humility his task took. Then, as quickly as it came, my reverie was gone and I was left to relive the feelings and wonder what they had meant.

I was sure they had meaning. I wondered if they suggested I should teach or organize others.  How could I be of service to my fellow students, scholars and practitioners?

Recurring Themes of my Study of Shamanism

Since I began to study shamanism more than 20 years ago, several themes had recurred and developed.

1.  Early on, I was often the only person in the room who made their living in the business world. Everyone else seemed to be a healing professional of some sort.

2.   Probably because of this difference from my fellow students, I often said I studied primarily to understand myself and grow as a human being.

3.  As I witnessed healing occur on a regular basis I considered it a side affect rather than a primary reason to practice shamanism.

4.  I got to the point where I was learning more from my own practice and healing work than from ordinary reality teachers.  I began to feel that there were too many teachers and not enough healers.

5.  As I got older my compassion for the suffering of others overtook my commitment to the business world. I began to see my business work as a way to support the healing work. I realized what an honor it was to see and facilite healing. I committed to the healing work.

6.  I became a reluctant teacher hoping to let the healing work speak for me.

I write this blog to help others on the shamanic path and as a way of teaching. So, dear friend, this story about the museum in Myanmar is both explanation of one root of my recognition of a call to teach and an explanation of one of the important lessons for a modern shaman.  How does one prepare to receive shamanic knowledge in this culture?

How do we receive shamanic messages?

Intuition resides in the deepest, oldest part of our brains. This is the same place where primitive survival impulses such as the “fight or flight response” occur. On your path of shamanism you need to court this instinct in order to receive clear messages. You court it by paying attention. You need to understand that it speaks most often in a small quiet voice. It is very easy to miss. I can these tiny nudges “flirts”.  They are most often heard as a tiny voice speaking against the flow of your proposed direction and often occur when the mind is allowed a moments rest. Such moments come at odd times like when you are sitting down on a toilet or hanging your coat up. In shamanic cultures this receiptive state is most often accessed with the use of drumming or other repetitive sound which stills the mind.

In the case I described above it was boredom and fatigue which invited a message into my conscious mind. Pay attention to the flirts which you receive, note them, and they will increase in strength and frequency.

Pau Wangchuk’s passing

Another event triggering this blog was the death of Wangchuk, a Tibetan shaman who lived in a refugee camp near Pokhara in Nepal. Wangchuk was a tiny very elderly man whose face beamed a smile and whose presence lit whatever space he entered.  He would often be seen spinning a small prayer wheel constantly as he walked and talked, accompanied by his equally tiny blind wife. Wangchuk was recognized as a living treasure by the Foundation for Shamanic Studies and as the reincarnation of a famous healer by the Dalai Lama. I had the good fortune to visit him in his home to learn from him and watch him perform healings.

I recall watching sadly as this frail man undertook healings for the small group of American healers with which I traveled. To my eyes, he glowed with love and light but I felt great concern for his frail body’s stamina to perform healing, even as I was aware of the power and spiritual support he received.

On the day I received the email announcing his passing I began to cry. My sadness and tears continued for several hours. I began to think my tears had more to tell me than just that I was experiencing grief. This tendency to examine my actions for deeper messages is also a characteristic of my shamanic path.

I began to realize my tears where due to my own sense of guilt. I felt incredibly fortunate to have received the gift of traveling to Nepal and learning from Wangchuk. What had I done with what I learned? I saw that it was possible to be a light for others; a commodity is short supply in this troubled world. Yet what had I done with the knowledge he shared? I had told no one. I had horded it for my own education, that’s what I had done.

In the past I had been mocked for my beliefs. That wasn’t too hard to take. I recognized they were unusual. What had been harder to take was the criticism for sharing knowledge too freely.

Yet, I treasured Wangchuk’s example. I found myself inadequately reflected it onto others. Wangchuk’s message is not new. He didn’t talk much. I feel he had the absolute conviction that magic was possible and that it came from love and the realization that we are all one. Separation is an illusion.

I examined why I hadn’t taught more. As I thought back to the 20 plus years of exploration of shamanic knowledge. I felt my teachers were better prepared to teach than I am. I don’t want to dilute, exploit, or plagiarize their lessons. When asked to teach eager young students I generally referred them to my own teachers.  I also felt they taught much more ritual and structure than I was interested in. I am primarily interested in experiential learning. I have learned the most from my spiritual teachers. Among other things, I credit my ordinary reality teachers for helping me formulate the best questions to ask of my spiritual teachers.

Anyone can teach

I remember a particular beginning practitioner who was rushing out to teach others after her first class. Oddly, I remember this same student asking me a year earlier why I wanted to help others and truly not understanding my explanation.

I was happy for her desire to help others. I remembered the young mother who has nursed her new born child for one day and who became the very best teacher for me, another new mother, as we shared a hospital room on the first day I was a mother. Sometimes the best teacher is someone who has just learned the lesson and also understands what it feels like to be a beginner.  I also believe that we each chose our own best teacher.

About the same time Wangchuk died, I received an invitation from a prestigious shamanic teaching organization to attend a class. The class was being taught by an individual whom I had taught informally a few years ago. I took this as an affirmation that I did have something to offer. This is another awareness to cultivate – the awareness of synchronicities and affirmations.

I hope, dear friends, that you find this information helpful. I will continue to write, and teach when asked. But mostly, I will continue to do the work.





Shamanism and Menopause

30 12 2010

In the ancient temples such as Delphi, the priestess and oracles were middle-aged women because of the recognition of the spiritual power which is released after menopause. It isn’t a coincidence that so many spiritual seekers are postmenopausal women. In general the statistic is 70/30 female to male ratio in workshops I have attended. There are probably many reasons for this. There is often an unfortunate imbalance of power in workshops – both from this female to male imbalance and also from the inability of individuals in the group to control and balance their individual power.  In an effort to be effective, participants often use their own power rather than connecting directly to the source. This is neither successful nor appropriate.