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

 

 

 





Summer Shamanic Events

3 07 2011

WHEN: Wednesday Nights, July 6, 13, 20, 27

6:30 for visit, start immediately at 7:00

Finish by 9:00 sharp

My summer is as crazy as anybodies but it gives us the change to do shamanism outdoors. The only way to get it happening is to make it fit. If you want to join my shamanic work group, RSVP and be here. As much as possible, these activities will be outdoors so dress accordingly. A shamanic work group isn’t about cleaning the yard, it is about doing deep personal work to prepare us to help others. No fee but donations accepted.

Experience not required in this specific work however basic shamanic knowledge is required. If you need to get up to speed email me with a request. I can do basic training with small groups for a small fee.

 





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.





Being in the Flow-The Mind/Body Relationship

30 12 2010

When you consistently practice shamanism, you begin to recognize that events seem to happen easily with little thought or effort on your part. You need a job or a place to live and it appears. Conversely, when you are not in the flow, your best efforts are thwarted. You feel like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill. You can be working very hard to complete a project and despite your heroic efforts, you can’t think or work yourself out of the situation. This is another important principle of shamanism – when you can’t think or work yourself out of a situation, become an observer and step back away from the situation.  Give up the allusion that you have control.

In traditional shamanic societies the shaman lived closer to nature and is more physically active. Many shamanic traditions utilize “the gait of power” or “passes” or some other physical activities to manipulate and focus power. That is, they use their bodies in a way that helps them align with the flow of energy which is not best helped by thought.

The recognition of charkas and meridians, and the release of emotional responses during massage are examples of the interconnection between the physical body and the other levels of energy such as the emotions, mental and spiritual bodies.

Second charka – it would take a long blog to address charka energy but this is an important topic and one that requires a different approach in modern society than in traditional shamanic cultures because of the increasingly sedentary nature of our lives.

Shaktipat, the possibility of instantly communicating enlightenment from a guru to his student or the possibility of instantaneous healing is always possible. However, the opportunity is greatly increased by preparing the body to receive greater energy flow. Therefore the physical fitness and free flow of chi are highly desirable.

 





A Serious Discussion about Ayahuasca

16 12 2010

If you are looking for a little light reading, this isn’t it. It starts of easy enough but gets tougher.

It is such a pleasure to be in Santa Cruz. This is a place where everyone seems to be searching for greater understanding and a better quality of life in one way or another. Some are seeking it through time spent in nature. Others sample the infinite smorgasbord of spiritual practices available here.  Still others work hard at living healthy lifestyles by eating nourishing food and building strong relationships with family, friends, and animal companions. Actually, many people here are pursuing most of these goals simultaneously. It probably isn’t surprising then, that recently a number of people have asked me about the use of peyote, ayahuasca and other mind altering plant medicines. Other people are reporting their experiences to me. Many people are interested in these powerful teachers.

To put it in perspective, these hallucinogenic plants are only a few of the many helpful medicines derived from nature. There is a rush among pharmaceutical companies to discover more plant medicines and duplicate them chemically for profit.

The primary difficulty I see, aside from the fact that their use is often illegal, is that people are trying them without proper preparation and guidance. Their use is a sacrament and deserves preparation and respect.  Comparing our lifestyle with that of the Shipibo people demonstrates my point.

The Shipibo People

The Shipibo are a group of about 35,000 people in northeastern Peru along the Yuki Yaki River, a tributary of the Amazon River. They come from a land near the mountains, somewhat higher and dryer than the Amazon. They have lived in this area for 6000 years and are not nomadic.  They are a combination of two peoples, the Kanebo and the Shapibo. The Kanebo were aggressive people knows as headhunters who, fortunately, adapted the peaceful ways of the Shipibo.

The Shipibo have a very different concept of life than we do. Their language is all present time which makes it hard to organize tours or commerce. There is no concept of doing things for the future.

The Shipibo believe they were formed from the patterns on the back of the anaconda which is the pattern they associate with protection. This pattern is said to include movement and balance which can also be experienced as music. The Shipibo believe healing comes from using our reptilian brain, which is one of the oldest parts of the human brain.

The Shipibo are known as the singing people. Their “Icaros” are songs infused with prayer. These songs are usually not written nor are they fixed. They never sing a song the same way twice. This concept seems strange to them.

The Shipibo avoid conflict. For example, when they cut down a tree they first consult with the spirit of that tree for permission. When they harvest a crop, they offer thanks. When they walk on land, they ask the land’s permission. Like many societies that live off the land, they live in close harmony with all of nature.

As part of their plant culture they use ayahuasca to have visions. They look for visions relating to fishing, marriage, childbirth, illness, community issues, etc. During these visions they memorie the patterns of the plant visions they see. The patterns of the plant songs are woven into fabric which can be looked at for a guide in how to sing that particular song. These fabrics are also used in healing. The patterned fabric is placed on the body to work against imbalances in the body. There are basic easy patterns everyone knows and more complex ones that only the elders remember. Unfortunately this information is being lost as the younger generation move away from this way of life.

The Shipibo do healing work with the plant patterns.  They move their hands along the patterns and see the tangles as explaining the problem. They can sing a thread out and unwind the tangle. They commonly sing several songs for several weeks as they work through an issue.

The patterns of the plants can also be accessed by putting the plant juice into water. It is then consumed as the patient sings the song of that plant medicine. There are plants and patterns for each organ, such as the circulatory system and muscles. The song can be put into veins, bones, kidneys, eyes. Old trauma patterns, emotional shock patterns and patterns associated with the spirit of heart and mind can be seen. They don’t analyze or compartmentalize the cause of illness or trauma as we do.

Shipibo healers who have visited the United States expressed horror at seeing so many unreleased shock patterns and traumas. They expected that because of adequate food, housing, doctors, and other the availability of other necessities we would be balanced.

According to the Shipibo, when you sing you open your body, emotion, and spirit. It is a way to start to share with people without being overwhelmed

They often eat special plant diets while avoiding some activities. Specific dietary restrictions are prescribed according to their needs, songs, illnesses, etc.  They ingest specific plants to have the spirit of that plant help them. It is a way to have that plant’s special ability velcroed to them. Then sing their intention into plant, bless with tobacco, while also following a regime such as taking plant baths while carrying the intention that the plant spirit enters through their skin. They emerge with the songs of those plants, with familiar spirits, or the spirits associated with power places. They may visit a power place, ask permission, connect with the guardians of the place and make an exchange – leave something and absorb power.

Shipibo fabric represents Amazon River. They sing songs of fabric telling of love and joy. They sing the song while they make the fabric. Later they sing its patterns to activate the fabric which may be worn or hung on a wall.

Their choice of which plant to work with is not random. The healer will start by observing a person’s energy and may feel the person’s pulse. Healing may include extraction or massage. The healer sometimes uses their own breath to send energy to cause something negative to move out of a person.

Recommendations

The use of plant medicine, including ayahuasca, is only one part of complex healing processes among people like the Shipibo. Alone it is less effective than when it is part of a complete regime. It has merit. Anyone considering its use should also consider other choices, such as slowing down, dialoguing with nature, and especially seeking out help in releasing old trauma patterns. Trauma patterns, such as an emotional shock pattern from past fright can interfere with a person’s present harmonic pattern. Dangers such as may  come from someone or something interfering with a person should also be released. For instance, a person can be negatively affected by angry relatives.

Final Words

The beauty of blogging is that I get to say how I see things. We Americans are, dear friends, addicted to quick results. I call it short-attention-span theatre. The use of plant medicine is, like the use of many other healing modalities, best used as part of a total program of work allowing time for the work to integrate. This work requires commitment and dedication and time.  Workshops, gurus, and books have much to teach us. However, we need more time spend on fewer lessons, rather than more lessons. If you often experience deep healing but your life does not change, slow down. You have everything you need.  Do the things that help you find it inside yourself.

 

 





Letter to a Young Shaman – It is a rough road

1 12 2010

Are you asking, why me?!

If you have suddenly found yourself on a spiritual pilgrimage this is for you.

Welcome to the road. Shamanism is a journey without a destination. The same could be said about all of life but nowhere is it so evident. Whether you arrived on this road because of a trauma (which is very typical) or because you have finally admitted you have always been seeking some kind of spiritual understanding (also very typical) or an extraordinary combination of things has brought you to the road, you are now learning a new way of seeing and contextualizing your life.

The traditional methods through which a shaman was selected seldom apply in our society. We aren’t likely to be abducted by forest spirits or taught by our father. Somehow you have been bonked on the head by your life and need answers.

A shamanic practitioner of my acquaintance recently said he had retired from his shamanic practice. Another friend was disturbed by this and asked how could he retire? Since he didn’t chose to share more, I will give my own answer. I believe you can retire from your healing work but not from the spiritual practice. You can stop doing ceremony but you cannot stop endeavoring to live an authentic life. The practice of shamanism calls each participant to live impeccably. To live impeccably requires you to scrutinize all your actions to be sure you are doing no harm. This subject is worth further discussion, which I will hold for another blog entry. For now, I want to address the implications of this for a person embarking on the journey.

Living impeccably means you don’t get to whine about a difficult situation you find yourself in. For example, if you stay in a job that you hate you have to take responsibility for your choice. Yes, so your boss is cranky and demanding. You have the choice to stay there or look for another job. If you stay in that job you don’t complain about him. Those negative words you put out in the air about him have consequents and are a form of sorcery. If you thank those negative thoughts, that is a form of self-sorcery. This is a waste of energy and isn’t going to help at all in creating the authentic life you strive for.

I spoke with a young woman yesterday who has taken a big step toward living an authentic life. She left a satisfying job to concentrate of her goal of bringing balance to her life while juggling; a home-based job, the needs of an active family, and nurturing her spiritual growth.

Nurturing spiritual growth can seem selfish, indulgent, unrealistic, narcissistic and self-absorbed.  Yet, for many women ignoring this imperative results in depression, weight gain, apathy and a host of symptoms that leave her walking through life unable to appreciate it. There is usually little or no support as she attempts to satisfy this desire to grow. The nagging awareness that something is wrong remains as she struggles to meet her and her family’s basic needs.

Driven by her sense of unhappiness she fluctuates between the need for independence (personal growth) and societal dictates of being a responsible adult. This push-pull leaves her wondering why she thought this was so important.  She may long for the busyness and camaraderie of her past and face her quest for spiritual fulfillment alone.  The forces working against her are formidable and, make no mistake, there are evil forces working against her.

An energy war is taking place. The ego, in an effort to keep her safe, is leading the charge to continue in the “usual” way.  Ego is supported in this energy war by a society which places very little value on a spiritual life. From her early school days there was an emphasis on math and science in schools. Art, music, physical education where cut. She finds herself alone watching television in her home rather than spending time in nature or with others.  She goes to a church to celebrate the spiritual experience of a long-dead leader rather than have a spiritual experience of her own.  She meets the needs of her family and friends.  She has only an odd hour here or there for her personal spiritual quest.

While all these forces are at work outside of her, her sacred inner healer is locked away in a closet most of the time. It is no wonder the inner healer doesn’t respond instantly to support the woman in this energy battle.  The woman’s efforts to coax her inner healer out are feeble and infrequent. If she does coax a burst of creative energy out of her inner healer, the woman feels a bright glimpse of the joy and peace. But, any energy released is soon devoured in this energy war. The woman is left to retreat to staring out the window wondering where she will gather the energy to make supper. She watches as other women scamper breezily through life while. She sits on the sidelines wondering what is wrong with her. Perhaps, like the character in The Matrix, she wishes she made the other choice and could return to a time when life was simpler.

She needs to be reminded that she isn’t crazy, selfish, or foolish. She was called. Many people’s hearts are filled with compassion for the suffering of others. These people are called to take the treasure of their time and dedicate some of it to personal growth.  By restoring the sacred to the center of their lives they become able to provide service to others.

I vaguely recall reading a story of a mining tragedy. A group of women, unknown to each other, were called to walk through the streets of their town praying for the community though-out the night before a mountain collapsed on the town, killing many. Today many people in the United States are being called to heal their spirits and help balance our society.

Last year, returning from six weeks in South America, I arrived in Los Angeles and was herded into a long, meandering security line. As I scanned the people in line, I was overwhelmed with emotion.  I thought they were concentration camp survivors because their energy fields were so depleted. I saw versions of “the Ugly American.” There was a man proclaiming loudly, “I’m an American citizen. You can’t make me stand in this line.” There was a family of refrigerator people (in “as big as”). This couple and their two huge teenage children carried mammoth McDonald’s Bags and literally stuffed French fries into their mouths by the handfuls. There were people with such large carry-ons that they appear to be moving houses. Yet, my overwhelming impression was of pity.  I admit contemplating jumping on the next plane out of the country.  But, I felt compassion for these people, my countrymen.  Nowhere is the need greater for a grass roots movement to integrating personal spiritual growth and compassion for the suffering of others.

If you identify with this struggle, take a moment to celebrate an important victory. You have stepped back far enough from the front-line of this battle to realize this war is bigger than you. You are now in a position to create a battle plan. Regardless of what it took to get you to this point, this war is turning in your favor. You may have lost battles because of what you thought were your personal failings and inadequacies.  Congratulate yourself on surviving what you have been through.

You are now ready to create a strategy to prevail in this energy war. Include in your strategy:

1.       Do something to memorialize your recognition that your struggle is important.  There will be difficult times ahead.  Create a touchstone, talisman, or shield.  Make and intensely personal and positive affirmation to hang on your bathroom mirror, or get a tattoo, or whatever will bring you back to this realization.  The important thing is to be able to touch the memory of how it feels to be in the flow of healing energy. Magically remembering this feeling can bring you back to it. This is what called you to this battle and it is the weapon you will use in this battle.

2.       Enlist the help of others. Are you keeping yourself in solitary confinement? You are not as alone as you think you are.  While it can be frightening to seek like-minded warriors, it is well worth the effort.

3.       Use all the skills you have to take action.  Everything you know is a tool you can use. For example, if you are good at making plans, set a five year goal and make a plan for this year that will start to get you there.  Leave room in the plan for things to change. If your skill is making cookies, take some to the assisted living center down the road with your prayers.

4.       Be open for synchronicity, the greater your movement toward right action, the greater is the universe’s response to it. Expect sudden opportunities and realizations. Don’t be afraid to change your plans. When you realize that something no longer works for you, examine why you are doing it.

5.       Realize you don’t know what this is suppose to look like. I am reminded of a woman who was constantly aware of spirits around her and kept asking them for a message. By suggesting that they might have been spirits who needed her help rather than where there to give her help, she was able to shift her expectations. Accept it that you don’t know what this looks like. We are all standing in a dark room feeling a part of the elephant and trying to guess what the whole elephant looks like. I can tell you, for sure, that we all have sticks in your eyes which prevent us from clear vision.

6.       Be humble and kind. This starts will self acceptance. You are a gentle person doing your best. Sometimes things will work and sometimes not.  You aren’t in charge of everything and you can’t force results. Accept this and forgive yourself whatever you deem yourself a failure.

7.       Bring your practice to every part of your life. It is the constant practice that slowly brings results. This may manifest in such things as creating rituals, listening to your children’s dreams, or letting go of friends who no longer complement your changing goals.

8.       Spend time in nature.  This is our natural habitat and great teacher.

9.       Be the change you wish to see by consistent and gently effort.





Shamanic Divination

27 11 2010

When I first began my search to understand why I spontaneously knew some of the things I knew about people, I read voraciously. I became a scientist dedicated to learning all I could about metaphysical knowledge and the paranormal.

In my search I decided to pull the veil off anything that I feared. One of my early investigations was into Tarot. I purchased half-a-dozen decks, compiled a ledger of notes from various experts, and seriously applied myself to learning how it worked. Because, for me, it worked. Eventually I created and published a deck of my own.

When I was working on introducing this deck to the public I participated in a Psychic Fair. I found it unusually difficult to read a person in a room where, as I felt it, the energy of so many people was hanging out. I felt as overwhelmed as I had years earlier when visiting a family member in a mental hospital.

I hung an out-to-lunch sign at my table and began to visit with other readers in the room. I also observed the clients of various readers.

I asked readers whether they read from their intuition of from the strict guidelines inherent to each card. Generally, they claimed only to go by the traditional meanings.  This may or may not have been true. For me, tarot, or any other divination tool I have used, is only a way to open the channel for intuition. Having done shamanic divination or reading for over 25 years, I know that no tool alone is as effective as any of these tools in the hands of an intuitive and empathic reader.

I focus on shamanic healing rather than shamanic readings because a healing session not only puts me in touch with the client’s underlying issues but gives permission to do something about them. I don’t just say you have soul loss, I restore the soul part. I don’t just say your mother-in-law has put a hex on you, I remove the hex.  I don’t say you are suffering from loneliness, I work to heal the reason you put protective  barriers around yourself that cause the loneliness.

What I observed with many of the clients at that psychic fair was that they intuitively sought out the reader who would tell them what they wanted to hear.  Some seemed to pick a healer who would wallow with them in their shared woundedness.  I believe that each person selects the healer to work with who suits their current need. It might be a different choice on a different day or at a different stage in their healing. That tends to be me when you are ready to break your consensus reality.

I am happy when I meet a former client who has moved ahead to different healing methods. I know that my part in their healing was surgical. I often peel away enough layers of the wound to allow them to go to another for the delicate work of a psychologist or therapist. I sometimes learn that they have committed themselves to a healing or religious practice.

I see people as blocks of pain. Through healing, we break off this pain bit by bit as they can handle it. The spirits direct how much work can be done at any one time. When I have the blessing of being present at the release of the final big block of pain it is an amazing experience. It is overwhelmingly emotional and painful to let go of something so familiar and comfortable that has been with one so long.