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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Let the mystery find you

7 07 2011

 

There is an old story in which everyone’s problems are placed in a pile in the middle of the room. After seeing the challenges of their friends, each person gladly takes their own problems back.

As a shamanic practitioner I am constantly aware of my own good fortune. And yet, when I undertake to help another person I am also aware of a resonance of my patient’s problems and issues with aspects of my life. For example, during a diagnostic journey I recently saw what I thought of as an image from the American Revolutionary War. There was a line of British solders walking smartly down the center of the road in a nice neat line with white uniforms and red hats while a drum announcing their presence. Meanwhile, a rag-tag band of rebel soldiers hid behind trees and picked them off one by one.

In the context of my client’s inquiry, it seemed to be a warning to my client that he might be too rigid regarding that particular issue. After he left, I reexamined this powerful image for personal meanings. I am an artist and sometime referred to as a “raging creative” so I didn’t see an immediate connection.

Several days passed before I found myself in tears as it relevance occurred to me.  I was thinking of myself on a typical trip. When I travel my attention is too fixed on my plan. My desire for safety, economy, and achieving my goals, leaves very little room for deviation. My tears were because I realized that I had passed unaware by many wonderful discoveries because I was so set on my goal.

I vow to allowing space for the discoveries find me, to being more open to beauty and mystery, and to remembering the journey is more important than the destination not only during summer travel but during all of life’s journeys. Dear friends, enjoy these beautiful summer days wherever they take you.





If you are a post menopausal woman with poor health, is a past life the reason?

3 07 2011

In past ages, the cure for menopause was death. When people talked about the wise elders they were usually talking about people at the advanced age of 40. It is a modern phenomenon having “baby boomers” reaching retirement age in great numbers. This is an event of great magnitude. What does it mean apart from being a significant result of the industrial revolution and ensuing breakthroughs in: reduced physical work, better quality of food, and modern medicine?

Metaphysical books from the past each claim to be at a pivotal moment in history. Our current aging population is one thing that sets this time in history apart. It has not occurred before. It is a part of the macrocosm of time in history and has a great potential for good. It may be a financial burden for society but it is also an amazing opportunity. I, for one, am proud to be here to see it. Great things are possible in a way they have never been before.  Why am I so optimistic?

Most shamanic and spiritual events I have been involved with are most heavily attended by women. A typical breakdown is 70 percent women and 30 percent male. Of the women, it tends to be more heavily post-menopausal women. I guess this breakdown is also 70/30 favoring post menopausal women. It appears that with their child rearing, household, and income producing responsibilities reduced, they are giving attention to their spiritual needs. For some this means helping out at their church. For some, it means looking at alternative spiritual practices.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states that we meet our primary before reaching for self actualization and transcendence. I can only be excited by having so many people reach a time in their lives when their primary work is to achieve a goal of being their best selves. Rather than facing retirement as an end, it is possible to see it as a new beginning.

It saddens me to see so many women whose vitality has decreased at this crucial time. As a trained fitness professional and long time student of aged healers in other parts of the world, I can tell you that the perception that we are suppose to be old and feeble isn’t valid. There are many fit and vital older adults in this world. The ideas is to reduce the time between decrepitude and death through healthy living rather than accept that is it all over and sit waiting for the inevitable.

We have more older Americans. There is no coincidence that this is happening when the world is in such dire need of champions. You, my friends, are these champions.

If you see that your vitality is not up to the task, I challenge you to ask why. Many of us are defeated by the limited thinking that our beloved society has set for us. Once we pass the golden age of youth we may cling to it with the latest beauty products or give up completely. Many of us have given up on being able to change health issues, weight problems, bad relationships, or bad habits. It is possible and actually, it easier than you might think.  Yes, you know some of the common tools, such as:

  • Not denying the problem – facing it head on
  • Not trying to do it alone
  • Setting a reasonable time frame for results
  • Making changes in a way that you can stick with

 The Most Important Tools

There are other tools equally or more important in changing a downhill slide into old age. They involve getting to the root of your issues. This can involve some deep work. Many people are afraid of this work or don’t even know it is possible.

It is possible to address these problems in many ways. Even psychologists and other western trained medical professionals are now realizing the validity of shamanic tools in reaching and relieving these deeply held issues.

If you suspect you way have such issues, think about one issue that you currently have then remember back to earlier times in your life when you can see this issue. If you can remember to where it started, you are ready to start changing it.

I have seen people whose issues where so deeply ingrained that I suspect they came into this life with them. I don’t believe or not believe in past lives but it certainly fits as an explanation of what I see. Regardless of whether the issue is from this life, or a previous one, there are excellent ways to eliminate them. Eliminating these issue will not only change how you live your life but will made a great deal of vitality available for you to do other things in your life which you care about. Is there something you want to do but just can’t find the time, willpower or energy to start? We can change that.

I am not promising you will live longer, though you might. Even if we just face our deaths better prepared, we have gained a lot. Who knows, it may mean we don’t have to come back here and suffer the same pains again. We will all be together of the other side of the veil soon enough, lets live with joy and help others while we are here.

If you are interested in learning more, email me and I will invite you to an event to hear more on this important topic.





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.





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.

 





Seances

27 11 2010

The word séance is not particularly associated with shamanic practice. However, the role of medium is one of the roles of a shamanic practitioner. On some occasions the practitioner will merge with a healing spirit in order to complete a healing ritual. In other cases a practitioner will merge with a spirit to procure or relay a particular message for a client. An example of this is when a recently deceased loved one will reach out to a client through the practitioner.

Often a client will contact a practitioner with a request to assist a loved one who is about to die or has recently died. This work is called psycho pomp and is the work of helping a person cross-over.

A séance is slightly different in that it typically involves a group of three or more people with the specific intention of contacting one or more spirits. The practitioner works as a medium to bring these spirits into contact with this group. Generally this is done by merging with the spirits.

A séance is more social than many shamanic undertakings. It is often characterized by a heightened state of excitement and nervousness among the participants.  Once the session is underway the difficulty for the medium is not to bring spirits through, as there are many waiting for such a chance. The challenge is to connect with the specific spirits connected with the individuals present.

I am often saddened by how many spirits are wandering this earth without direction. I think this is due to traumatic deaths such as from natural disasters and from the number of people who die without having worked through their challenges through religion or spiritual practice. By contrast, I seldom meet spirits who have passed from illness. I believe that as their illness progressed, they worked through much of the process and move more easily to the other side.

One way to obtain the most from a séance is to let go of expectations of what it will look like based on old movies. It is also helpful to focus on a specific question rather than just wanting to connect with Grandmother to see if she still loves you. I can assure you she does. However, she isn’t just hanging around with nothing to do on the other side.

Most people have felt the presence of a diseased love one at one time or another, especially just after a person has died. Our loved ones do retain ties to us and will occasionally appear when we need them.

My experience with the spirits tells me that the best way to connect with our ancestors is to continue to do our personal healing. We share the wounds of our ancestors. When we heal ourselves, we heal our lineage in both directions, back to our ancestors and forward to our children.