Should You visit a shamanic practitioner?

12 06 2014

I encourage you to visit a practitioner if you want to. What is holding you back?

For most Americans a belief in magic, evil, and/or demons is considered:

  • Primitive
  • is associated with lower income or status
  • is foolish
  • is irrational and unscientific
  • a good way to be victimized by unscrupulous charlatans

Primitive – It is certainly true that the people most connected to undiluted shamanic practice are found in the most remote areas of the world and certainly don’t live by modern western standards. They may or may not have historic records of their civilization going back centuries and have complex medical, social, and political histories. It is very likely that they have not been fully involved in our narrowly defined “western civilization” so I’m okay with primitive so long as we don’t think it means less than, just different. They live in the natural world far more than we, often with access to traditional knowledge we have lost.

Lower Income and Status – Let’s face it, who needs control over their lives most, the wealthy and successful or those of us who struggle with economic reality. Shamanic healing isn’t covered by health insurance. If you don’t have health insurance maybe you are more open to other possibilities. Also, many of our immigrant poor carry shamanic experience with them to our shores.

Foolish I don’t think it is foolish to listen to your intuition, learn from nature, seek an authentic spiritual life, and not allow others to make you fearful of the unknown. If you are afraid of looking foolish just don’t tell anyone.

Irrational and Unscientific – Many things are irrational and unscientific. The scientist who thinks of the answer to a difficult question while standing in the shower doesn’t question it, nor does the composer who has a breakthrough during a daydream, nor does someone who falls in love, or you when you just know your sister is going to call just before the phone rings. I’m okay with that. I believe old knowledge has been lost in the pursuit of all that is new and scientific, especially spiritual knowledge.

Unscrupulous charlatans – they are out there. This work is difficult, often thankless, and a service not a business. Those who seek to brand “their” methods and find followers may make better teachers than healers.

The Last Resort

The most common words I hear from someone entering my door are, “I’ve tried everything else”. They have usually been to doctors, therapists, and an amazing assortment of practitioners before, as a last resort (their words); they came to try something they didn’t believe in. Most likely a friend has referred them after having spoken about their own skepticism, experience, and change of heart. I respect their hesitation because I was there once too.

The Two Foot Rule – If you visit a shamanic practitioner it should feel safe. If it doesn’t, use your two feet to walk away.

 

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What causes the trouble in our lives?

16 02 2014

Dear Friends-
Welcome to those of you who are new subscribers to my website. I value the time you take to read this and hope you find the content helpful.

It has been longer than expected since I blogged last. A wedding, the flu, and now catching up on stuff I postponed while I was sick, have kept me away from my computer.

While I was sick I heard messages I do not hear when I am in the normal rhythm of my life. On one hand I wished to be available to do the things I love, and even some of the mundane chores like cleaning the house seem important and luxurious. On the other hand, I observed how well things went on without any participation from me. I considered a number of topics to blog about and found my thoughts trivial. I ruminated on the question: what does one really need to do to be a worthwhile member of society?

Then I recovered and rushed happily to catch up on cancelled appointments and obligations. Among these appointments I had a number of shamanic healing sessions. As is often the case, I saw clients with a variety of problems who seem to have one important thing in common. It is so common to see clients with a “theme” that I believe it is my focus and not something they bring. That, however, does not prevent specific and unique treatment for their individual conditions.

The theme I am currently observing is that clients seem to intently focus on their personal failings. The events currently causing trauma in their life are viewed as a result, challenge, or perpetuation of their personal failings. This become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But more important, it prevents one from seeing beyond their current perception and leads to them feeling guilty about and responsible for what is happening in their life. They often say something like, “I can’t change because I haven’t been able to in the past, don’t deserve anything better, am depressed and lack the energy.”

Their questions seem to be about how they got where they are, even though they are usually able to explain that to me in detail. There is probably shamanic help for their situation in so far as it involves things outside their control.
But something else is needed that they can only do for themselves.

Self Forgiveness
The important thing is self forgiveness. Focus less on how one got here and a focus on nurturing one’s self, forgiving one’s mistakes, and giving one’s self the loving kindness one would give to a beloved child. That is so easy to say and so hard to do. It is a practice worth a lifetime of work and one that will lead to so many good things.

So, begin this practice despite the difficulties, and keep giving yourself that forgiveness, kindness, and compassion as many times as it takes. If we even think we have mastered it, life repeatedly givens us opportunities to practice. As you practice this, also try to become the observer of yourself. With even a little detachment you may start to see other possible interpretations of your life events. Perhaps life is a still precious gift full of infinite grace if we can just lift ourselves out of our sick bed of self-criticism and see beyond our narrow focus. Treasure yourself. Somewhere within, you are a bright, powerful, important, worthwhile person even if all you usually see in the tarnish of life that has obscured that light.





Aama Bombo’s US Visit

8 07 2012

This is a good news, bad news, story.  Aama has been having some significant health issues. For some time it was considered unlikely that she would be well enough to travel to the US this summer.  The very good news is that she will be traveling to the 11th International Council of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers in Montana on July 26 through 29th.

On her past two visits to the US she has also had several healing events in California which included visits to my home.  She will not be making these visits with the exception of a small gathering in the LA area which will not include the type of individual healings she has done here. Please join me in praying for Aama’s good health.

The gathering in Montana sounds to be an amazing event. Having attended one of these gatherings I know that Aama will pour her healing out in their public events, though again not like the individual ones she has done here. Perhaps you can consider traveling there. The cost is minimal and the opportunity to camp on the Northern Cheyenne land is marvelous.

Please join me also in extending our prayers and healing rituals for and to the land, people, animals, plants, and spirits currently threatened by fire in that area.





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.

 

 





Autism and Shamanism

17 03 2012

Theologian turned geologian Thomas Berry postulated that the western humans had become “autistic” in relationship to the natural world as a result of viewing the world as separate from ourselves. I was in awe of the accuracy of this diagnosis and stunned at its profound implications.

If you haven’t thought about autism recently, I looked up numerous and differing definitions. However, a basic definition is that it is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. Anyone who has interacted with an autistic child, and these days that is nearly everyone, realizes that they may act as though others, even loving parents, didn’t matter. The analogy to how we treat the planet is so similar. I immediately visualized a loving mother giving her child everything he needed but he just does not respond. Then I thought of that Mother being the Earth. I could go on, but I’m sure you get my drift.

It goes a long way to explaining why we feel drawn to vestigial tribal people who live close to nature.  This isn’t just sentimental and romantic.  These people have so much to offer us if we can just find a respectful way to learn it.

From the Macrocosm to the Microcosm

This alone would be a worthwhile thought to share but I can’t help but find a parallel between this macrocosm event and the microcosm many families are facing today.

I just looked at the Autism Society webpage and found the following statistics:

  • 1 percent of the population of children in the U.S. ages 3-17 have an autism spectrum disorder.
  • Prevalence is estimated at 1 in 110 births.
  • 1 to 1.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder.
  • Fastest-growing developmental disability; 1,148% growth rate.
  • 10 – 17 % annual growth.

Thinking of this, I remember Frost’s poem, Fire and Ice from my high school English class.

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Autism may have a scientific explanation. Undoubtedly autistic people have much to teach us. They certainly live in this moment.  However, what if so many children are born with autism that society cannot function?  Could that be the ice Frost proposed? Whatever the cause, and benefits, the call for living closer to nature by recognizing our mother, loving our mother, and meeting her needs are imperative. That is probably the greatest gift the resurgence in shamanism has to offer this world.

Help for Families

With so many parents looking for help for their autistic children it seems appropriate to address the question, can shamanic healing help these children?

There seem to me to be three main opinions about the effectiveness of shamanic healing.

  • The first, and most common in this autistic age, is that it is foolish superstition and has no validity.
  • The second is that shamans were the  precursors of modern psychologists and could possibly be of some help with emotional or mentally based issues. Their answer would likely be no, shamanism could not help decrease the unwanted symptoms of autism.
  • The third group, my group, recognize that healing, magic, or spiritual power, does exist. Individuals may define this as a gift from God or as a natural expression of this universe which our ancestors know and used (back when they lived in harmony with nature). It is still available today.

The answer isn’t simple. Any action taken has to respect the individual gifts of the autistic person and even then, in every case, the practitioner can only go to the compassionate spirits and ask for help. Still, there is the possibility of help.

If you are a parent seeking such help, here are some suggestions for finding a practitioner:

  • First, trust your feelings.
  • Only go to a practitioner that you know, feel good about, or who comes highly recommended by someone you trust.
  • Be aware that most practitioners have the desire to help, whether or not they have the ability, experience, and power to do so.
  • The practitioner cannot promise anything but their best effort.

I am aware that organic diet, some vitamin supplementation, and interactivity with nature such as through animals has provided help to some autistic people.  I prescribe time in nature for all of us.   I also send my prayers to those whose lives are so profoundly affected.





December 2011 Events and First Quarter of 2012 Events

6 12 2011

Dear Friends-

Everyone seems to be learning from the same teacher, the economy. This forced letting go of our identities is sometimes harsh and difficult but also opens the door for learning and growth. As I let go of identities which no longer serve me new visions appear.  Chief among these is the desire, finally, after years of saying no, to step humbly into the role of teacher, mentor, and workshop leader.  I am happy to announce the following activities. Some are designed for those seeking tools for self-healing (Basic) and some are for those seeking growth as healers (Advanced).

(Basic)Self-healing and basics of shamanism

 

Basic Journeying – this is an introduction to the terminology and cosmology of the shaman’s world. Learn about power animals, spirit teachers, and nature spirits by experiencing them, not by hearing about someone else’s experience. Come prepared to participate. This is a six hour class being offered twice. Since this is a great preparation for the advanced program I am offering it despite the hectic season and will consider offering it at other times if requested to do so.

  • Saturday December 17, 2011.  9:00 through 4:00 with a one hour lunch break. $60

Or

  • Saturday January 7, 2012.   9:00 through 4:00 with a one hour lunch break. $60

Power Dance and Shamanic Healing

Experience a traditional community ritual including the opportunity to receive multiple healing in a shamanistic style.

  • Saturday, January 14, 2012 7:00 p.m. through 9:00 p.m. $10
  • Saturday, February 11, 2012 7:00 p.m. through 9:00 p.m. $10

(Advanced) An apprenticeship/mentoring program

This program requires a one year commitment to the members of this working group. Membership will be closed once the program begins. The three month sessions are simply a way to make the cost more affordable. Please do not begin if you do not intend to stick with it for the year.

This program will be a series of four Three Month Sessions.

The First Three Month Session is scheduled for:

Saturday, January 14, 2012 9:00 a.m. through 9:00 p.m.

Saturday, February 11, 2012 9:00 a.m. through 9:00 p.m.

Residential

Friday March 9, 2012, through Sunday March 11, 2012

  • Friday March 9, 2012, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Sunday March 11, 2012, 9:00 to 12:00 a.m.

One working definition of a shaman is “one who goes into an altered state of consciousness at will to bring back information for the healing of others, the community and/or the planet.” This program includes instruction in typical shamanic activities such as extraction, soul retrieval, de-possession, curse removal, divination, psycho-pomp, space clearing, and working with nature spirits and other compassionate spirits to achieve these results.

Approximately one-half of our time will be spent outdoors and will include visits to local power places. We can’t learn what our shaman teachers have learned through a lifetime of living in harmony with nature on a Saturday afternoon. The weekend sessions will provide a time to be still in nature and go deeper into our lessons. At least as important as learning the techniques of healing is learning about the spiritual wholeness that makes it all possible.

While this is not designed as a program for those seeking healing, there is not a healer alive who does not receive healing through helping others. Be prepared to learn about yourself, your ancestors, your fears, and your strengths. Learn to trust and utilize your abilities and receive affirmations and validation of them.

Since this is Santa Cruz, I add the following. You cannot use mind altering drugs (including marijuana) and participate in this program ergo the words “go to into an altered state at will”. Participation is at my discretion.

Cost of Program:

$400 for each 3 month commitment payable in advance of the first meeting of each quarter.  In some cases there will be additional modest costs for camping or other accommodations for the weekend events.

Schedule for the three remaining quarters will be presented to participants at the first session. The schedule is somewhat flexible at this time but will generally be the second weekend of the months with a weekend event culminating each quarter.
Registration Form:

Event for which you wish to register: ____________________

Name: ____________________

Address: __________________

City: ________State:__Zip:___

Phone: ____________________

E-Mail: ___________________

Amount enclosed: ___________

Send Registration Fee to:

 

Fee will be cost of event except for the Advanced Program. For that program you can send $100 to hold your place with balance payable before first event.

Location will be announced. Instructions will be given once registration is received.





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.