Tag: ancestors

Thursday Betwixt – Becoming Self

Photo by Beatrice Murch @ flickrFirst off, thank you for the enormous support and comments on the Betwixt series.  I’ve gotten so much feedback, praise, and insights, and I’m grateful for your thoughts.

In this series, we’ve talked about  how vital it is to incorporate the ecstatic experience into the everyday, if both are to evolve. We’ve covered how the relationship with Spirit Guides must serve as inspiration for self-initiated exploration and healing. Allowing our own insight to guide us was a powerful topic, as were learning to call on the unnameable ally, and how western folks can better approach working with ancestors. In this instance, I’d like to explore how we connect with All Things through the body.

There is an assumption that when we discuss anything spiritual, we’re automatically referring to something beyond the body layer. One of the greatest omissions of New Age “wisdom” has been that of the body. We’ve heralded amazing techniques that teach us to be more mindful and guide us down our spiritual paths,but the body as innately spiritual has been overlooked.We tend to separate approaches to wellbeing into Mind-Body-Soul, as if they are actually separate. We take care of the body (?), we feed it, we give it exercise with amazon exercise balls, though we don’t generally hold the perspective that the body is spiritual. We consider it the vessel of what is spiritual. The thing that New Age dogma hasn’t thoroughly addressed is that the body is the constant through which we experience everything. Without its health, its neurotransmitters, its processing ability, what we intuit has no meaning, certainly no application. It’s more than the temple.

Most of our mindfulness and ecstatic exercises to bolster the mind and soul lead us out of the body. And frankly, many masters of such techniques teach them as such, as if observing life beyond the body fixes everything. It most definitely can expand our understanding of a great many things, though unless we can ground that information back into the vessel housing us, unless we can interpret that ecstatic trip in a way that better grounds our physical reality, trance isn’t worth much.

The reality is, the body is Nature. It’s wild, and it’s already connected to All Things, that is every living thing in Nature and beyond. Cosmology isn’t out there. It’s in our cells, and always has been. We don’t have to journey out to get that.  In fact, only ever journeying out is missing a vital component permanently residing within: the body doesn’t have a relationship to the soul. The body is the soul.  The ability of our body to know this isn’t broken. It didn’t fall, it didn’t disconnect. It’s always been there. All we have to do is remember that fact. We have to learn to witness through it, and develop our unique system of understanding what its information is telling us.

My clients and students often joke about needing an owner’s manual for being human, for getting through the human experience. In reality, that’s what the body is. It’s the perfect system of feedback for our choices, discerning our truth, our health. How, then do we allow the body to become the divining rod? How do we become the fully sentient, between-worlds being we were meant to be? Most of us don’t recognize when we’re fully, deeply in our body. We don’t know how to get there. We want to know our life purpose, the best use of our innate skills, and to help all of cosmology better itself, yet we don’t know how to seat into our own bodies to tend ourselves.

Sometimes changing only a very small part of our ecstatic process produces dramatically altering results. Learning to go more deeply into the body’s wisdom doesn’t have to be any more detailed than that. For instance, take a skill already known, such as shapeshifting, something we all learn fairly early in shamanic education, a skill we generally use to connect with some ally outside ourselves, and apply it to the body. We shapeshift into animals trees, rocks, elements, plants…  Shapeshift into ourselves!

  • In a quiet space (preferably outdoors), close your eyes and alter your breath so that your inhale is more deeply than usual, your exhale more prolonged. Stay with this style of breathing.
  • When breathing in this way is comfortable, bring your awareness to the sensations of being precisely where you are. Notice the effect of the atmosphere on your body. Is it cold/hot? Gentle/abrasive? It’s okay that as you take in your body’s observation of the space around you, that the influence of Nature becomes more pronounced. Your body is at home. It’s natural for it to take in its surroundings.
  • Move as you feel led. If song comes up, sing it to the sounds around you. Engage the elements as they support your body.
  • As you allow your awareness of the space and your body’s interpretation of it, ask your body to fully engage with your mind, your senses. Release thought. Bless it, then let it go. Release programmed response, movement, utterance. The same way that you allow a strange animal, plant, element, or guide to shapeshift into your form, allow your body to take full command of every faculty you can offer.
  • Stay with this process of allowing only the body’s dialogue. Interact with it as feels right for you.
  • When you feel ready, bring the focus back to breathing, and awareness back to the space around you.
  • Open your eyes, and observe who looks out of them.

Maybe each time we shapeshift into ourselves, the same sense of self comes. Perhaps a new one does. It doesn’t matter, because we are infinite. The more we come into our body’s experience of soul, the more we live no division, the more we learn the body as ancestor to everywhere we’ve been, and everywhere we’re going.

Thursday Betwixt – Working with Ancestor Allies

Photo Courtesy of !Serendipity @Flickr The introductory segué into the Betwixt series has focused on lesser realized spiritual allies that assist us along our path.  In this post, my focus is on the ancestors, and how in the western world working with them is a bit different than that of indigenous cultures.

A topic that comes up often in regard to spiritual counsel is the ancestors–those of our family line who have lived fully, persevered through the experience of the form, then moved on to anchor the wisdom of that formed experience into guidance for their earthly successors. Ancestors can also be beings who are not in our family line, though are connected to us in some way. They can also be spirits of place, as often the connection between a family and land is akin to marriage. However when we in the west talk about working with ancestors, generally a great deal of healing must come first.

In shamanistic cultures, emphasis on dying well goes into how one lives, which is to say, people who live with an eye toward the unseen, die without as much (or any?) baggage. They tend not to take the unresolved affairs of life into their deathwalk. Of course this is a very simplified view and by no means categorical. Regardless of culture, people engaging a foot in both worlds tend not to sit on trauma. Their soul retrievals are done immediately after wounding; thus, they don’t carry etheric scars into the afterlife. As a result, healing doesn’t have to be done after death, to ensure them as ancestral allies.

Western culture doesn’t generally embrace living with an eye toward preparing the consciousness for death. We are more likely to experience soul loss that sustains over a long period of time, and isn’t resolved prior to death. When we die carrying those traumas, that life force has to go somewhere. Where it goes is to the living. Our wounds in death are carried on, in the formed experience of our successors.

Also, western culture is typically white western European-descended culture, which means a facet of our ancestral healing must be facing our role in oppression. In every one of our lines is the role of oppressed and oppressor. Until we face the historic violence and harm caused by colonization and how those systems still influence the treatment of marginalized groups today, we carry the wounds. This healing is part of working with ancestral lines.

As our culture doesn’t readily teach skills to release the drama of our own lives, it scarcely embraces the concept of amassed trauma passed to us from our ancestors, let alone how to heal it. Because of this, in order to work with our ancestors as allies, we first have to ensure their wellbeing. We must heal the troubled legacy they have left at our feet.

For some that can be easily done. For others, it may be more involved, and require help of someone who sees the dynamic more objectively. You don’t have to be a shaman to do this work. You don’t have to want to develop intuitive abilities.  This kind of release work can be done purely to release any dynamics held onto by your ancestors–physical, emotional, psychological, or spiritual–so that you, in turn are free of these dynamics, as well.

However best suits your spiritual practice:

  • Call in your spiritual allies and allow them stand with you.
  • Call in your ancestors, and tell them of your intention to release them of anything impeding the fulfillment of their souls’ desires. Express to them your desire to embody their wisdom, and your gratitude for their experience. You do not have to relive their experience for it to release. Honor any shadow components of it, and from the firmest place that you can, show them compassion.
  • Allow your allies to do whatever healing work is appropriate for your ancestors, for you, and for any life force between you.
  • When that work is done, allow it to move through your body. Note any sensations, thoughts, memories, or awareness that comes.
  • Thank your ancestors.
  • Thank your guides.
  • Thank you.

When we give attention to releasing the suffering of those who came before us, we clear the space more appropriately to address our own. Healing them doesn’t mean that we are suddenly free of affliction. It means that what afflictions we are faced with are ours, and not the result of thousands of years of amassed trauma.  From helping our ancestors shift from suffering into release, we gain allies in the work our own lives require. We become ready to realize that relationship and embrace the insight of our lineage.

Know that there is no end to ancestral healing. It is a lifelong commitment to do better than those who came before.

Know that in taking responsibility for the healing of your own ancestral line, you bring healing to us all.

Weekly Rune – Othala

Othala - Intentional Insight's Weekly RuneOthala – property – Remember that journey we took with Raidho last week? Well, we did it right!  Over the last few weeks the story of the Runes has been interesting. Three weeks ago we had Dagaz, second to the last Rune – complete connection. Following it was Othala, the “last” Rune, bringing the inspiration to share within that connection. Raidho came along, a celebration of wild cowboy skills in how we move forward, not just to share the connection, but devise how we can take it deeper. So here we are, right back at that very opportunity!  This is why I love the Runes. Such a clear oracle: the story they tell is our own.

This week’s Destination Othala is telling us to look no further than our own backyard for how we can deepen our connection with All Things. Othala is about all things clan, which goes far beyond being related, shared resources, and protection in numbers. To our forebearers, Othala represented a unified spirituality, a community of soul that transcended corporeal boundaries, like time and space. The ancestors remained alive and active, informants of every facet of life. They maintained a voice in the direction of how their descendants carried the line forward.

The memo here is we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, in focusing our life force. We don’t have to feel alone or isolated on our journey deeper into All Things. Take time to explore ancestral roots this week. This could be the literal family tree, or it could be connecting with the nature of  immediate surroundings. It could mean now is the time to be active in determining what roots are put down, how we stretch into manifestation.

Because if we can’t find our connection with All Things in our own backyard, we never really had it to begin with…

Weekly Rune – Othala

Othala - Intentional Insight's Weekly RuneOthala – property – How telling that last week Dagaz appeared, the second to last Rune, and this week we greet Othala, the final Rune in the Futhark. Dagaz encouraged us to enjoy the fruit of our work, and now Othala instructs us to take that bliss to heart.

Often concerned with what we own, inherit, then pass on to others, Othala is about our center. What sustains us, what grounds us into Nature and All Things, what carries us when all else crumbles. It’s hard to think in these terms when life is going well. Yet how we develop our awareness in the good times is what allows us to make it through the hard times. Holding to discipline amidst bliss can be as challenging as scrambling to know bliss, at all.

Where Fehu, the first Rune, is about wealth, that which must be tended, collected, accounted for, Othala calls our attention to a different kind of prosperity. With this Rune we focus on the value we have created with our time here, that which will go on long after we’re gone. Othala is about the legacy, the one we pick up and do our best with, and the one we leave for others to step into.

That sounds romantic and fulfilling, yet consider what is passing on. Our smile? Our fears? Our wisdom? Our garden? Our wounds? All of these things have legacies, and they do go on without us. The responsibility of Othala isn’t just about finding and sustaining our own joy, but in determining how we pass it on, deducing that we ‘re passing it on.

In truth, when we touch the face of elation, the miracle of experiencing it is one thing. The grace of sharing it is another.


Weekly Rune – Othala

Othala - Intentional Insight's Weekly RuneOthala – property – Week before last Othala visited us with a message of keeping things close to home, protecting the familial clan. This week it reminds us the same, however, with a more internal emphasis. The whole point of banding together is strength in numbers, which etherically speaking means impeccably knowing what falls on the inside boundary of the clan, and what lies on the outside. In other words, understand what we are protecting, as clearly as we understand from what we protect it.

Human nature is to demonize the unknown. The fact that it is unknown often exacerbates fear. Once we begin to process what we fear, the object of fear becomes tactile, approachable.   That intimacy doesn’t necessarily mean we can overcome it alone, though it gives us a starting point to gather the clan and come up with a strategy. It allows us an opportunity to reach into our community and find support. As well, being able to hone in on the object of fear eliminates unnecessary worry and angst, the wasting of precious resources.  With refined focus, the object of fear becomes known. That knowledge becomes the domain of the clan, and a plan can be laid and put into action.

This week consider a family concern that seems to be beyond understanding, thus without resolution. Let go of the concern, and look to fear to inform. Ask the spiritual manifestation of that fear to speak its needs, its purpose. When fear is clarified, precious information, wisdom comes. With that wisdom we can not only address the concern at hand, but cache the interaction for future reference, for self, for clan.

Only when we are comfortable with the unknown can we begin making peace with the unknowable.

Weekly Rune – Othala

Othala - Intentional Insight's Weekly Rune

Othala – property– This week we tend the hearth fires, and bring our focus to our immediate clan. This isn’t a time for bold adventures out of the familiar, or for wide eco-centric nurture. Something close to home needs our focus, requires our undivided attention.

Othala is about our direct lineage, distinct to each of us, even within the greater tribe. The steps the ancestors took that resulted in us, the strides we make now to further that legacy rely on our choices, our reactions to the challenges immediately before us.

Know that in dealing with this concern, the wisdom and guidance of the ancestors is with each of us. Realize the responsibility being asked of us, and the inherent finesse we posses in meeting it. Through this rich tradition and our ability to carry it through in our present, not only do we address the pertinent issue, we prosper, we grow.