Throughout the Betwixt Series I’ve emphasized that shamanism isn’t called ‘fire in the head’ for no reason.
“I’ve sent my brightest and bravest men to search for this [grail]. How did you find it?” the King asked.
The Fool laughed and said, “I don’t know. I only knew that you were thirsty.”
— The Fisher King
Kelley, I enjoy reading your insights. I am 28 years old and have been experiencing bouts of depression for about ten years, although the last few years it has been more consistent. I have tried therapy, medication and even making nutritional changes. I have had a mild positive reaction but the depression seems to be getting worse. I also suffer from anxiety, and have a driving phobia that has affected my life. I often feel disconnected from people I care about. I feel like what I want the most is not available to me, feeling loved and affection. I have a lovely boyfriend but I worry about draining his energy and expecting too much. Please help me, Elizabeth.
Thanks for your inquiry, Elizabeth. I am shown a glimpse of your chakra system, in which the root, sacral and third eye chakras are over active. They burn a bright, silvery white. We don’t often think of these chakras as ‘related,’ in that the lower three primary chakras are “earth” chakras, while the upper primary three are “Spiritual” chakras. The middle chakra is the heart, and it exists in both planes (how fitting!) The thing is, all of our chakras are related and are interdependent upon one another.
The root chakra is the first one, located in the base of the spine, and it generally relates to our ability to master the formed realm. literally, it indicates our ability to survive here, at a very basic but needful level. It also indicates that we recognize our tribe and where we fit into it.
The sacral chakra is next, located in the lower abdomen, and it’s associated with how we feel about being in the formed realm, emotions, sexual energy. The second chakra also indicates the places where we do not fit into the tribe, what the ‘punishments’ are for that, and how we will react to the tension of that dynamic.
Skipping all the way up to the brow is the third eye. The third eye is the point that we have learned the mastery of the formed realm, have found balance being a spirit in flesh, and are ready to perceive the unseen aspects of this realm. It is all about intuition and the culmination of wisdom.
Overactivity of these chakras as a unit tells me that you have begun perceiving unseen aspects of this realm and you’re not comfortable with that, or that you are not comfortable being able to do that in your present tribe. Another aspect to consider is how your shift through puberty and adolescence affected how you see the world, spiritually. This is related to the onset of depression. Depression is our power withheld, specifically it is intuition withheld. What intuitive perceptions do you put away in order to make other people comfortable? What intuitive perceptions do you have that make you uncomfortable?
I suggest finding someone to work with in a soul healing capacity. That work could take whatever form seems to address restoring your power and confidence in your own perceptions. When that healing is done, working with someone to develop your intuition and finding a community with which you can share it is ideal. It may be possible that I can help you with these things remotely, though I support your choice to work with someone near. Ultimately Elizabeth, you have a wonderful gift. It’s OK to allow it.
Kelley, My husband has PTSD and major clinical depression. I’ve been married to him for 15 years. It takes a lot of my energy just to live with him. Living without him would be hard, too, especially financially. What do I do? L
Thank you for your note, L. All signs point to observe. If he is not actively in therapy, it is appropriate for him to be. When I see his life force it is an enormous flame, which indicates to me that he is too active in his higher chakras (in his mind). He is in dire need of mental, emotional, and psychological soothing, and that is not something you can provide. You have tried, to the point of your own detriment. There is a myth in our culture that as life partners, we are and should be obligated to provide every ounce of support to our significant other. The reality is, that kind of fishbowl support burns out more relationships than it sustains. If that has been the case, it has to change. When a loved one is dealing with deep trauma, as he is, the insight and skill of a trained professional are required. No significant other can carry that load; no significant other should have to. For the balance to shift between you, both must see the value in finding an objective third person in whom he can confide, or you have to elect to make the changes in your life that you need for yourself. Sure, in relationships we weather the worst of each other. But we must also relish the best of each other, and that has not sustained your joining for some time. You cannot control him or direct him in self care. All you can do is make the suggestions. If he is already in therapy and not making progress, perhaps it’s time for a switch, or for you to start making plans independently of him. There are many styles of therapy, many approaches. It is time for him to do something, or to do something different; again, forcing him will do no good.
It’s also imperative for you to decide your reasons for staying in this relationship. If compassionate coexistence can no longer be honored by you, you are doing neither of you favors by staying together. If you are genuinely vested in staying, changes will be required on your part, as well. While his conditions have created friction in the relationship, the dynamic that has developed has been a joint endeavor. Be very honest with yourself about what you want from this relationship, and clearly discern if you are already finished. Sometimes it’s amazing what progress can be made from merely gathering more info.
Be well, L!
Question: Dear Kelley,
I have been very concerned over my son Ian. He has been troubled with symptoms of depression for about a year or more. He seems like a different boy and I am very worried. Can you give me some insight? I would really appreciate your help.
Sincerely, Elissa Ray
Thank you for your note, Elissa. Initially meet an aspect of Ian sitting in a small dark pit where he is staring straight ahead. I ask him what brings him to the pit and he says, “I don’t have to think.”
Although I don’t really expect an answer I ask, “What is it that you don’t want to think about?” He stares ahead, nonresponsive.
I ask him if he will let me take him to another place that has a lot more color, but he doesn’t have to think and feels better. Agreeably, he takes my hand and I lead him up to Spirit for healing. As we near the Source Realm, he starts to cry. He lets go of my hand and looks back at me but moves into Spirit space eagerly.
I ask his guides to lead me to a place that will feel comfortable to him when he is ready to talk with me. After a few moments he returns with the gold-tinged souls of three older people (two women and one man) following closely behind him. He seems to be very happy that they are with him, and they seem to be souls of the dead that he somehow knows.
I ask Ian what his depression is about and he replies, “I feel sad all the time.” I ask him what the source of that sadness is and he does speak, but I feel very clearly that it is related to the death of someone significant to him. This person is a teenager, but someone that Ian views as in his own age range, and the death of this young man was very distressful to him. I do not have the impression that this young man was someone that Ian knew very well, but could likely be a soul that came to Ian after he had already died. The significance of this teen seems to be that his death was Ian’s first brush with his own mortality and that of those he loves.
As we sit in this very uplifting space I ask Ian if he experiences death a lot, and he says that he does, and that it scares him to the point that he is afraid to live. He is afraid everyone that he loves will die. We talk about that for a bit, about how everything in form eventually moves out of that form to be formless, yet still exists. Then we talk a bit about how he has had the opportunity to reunite with souls of those the dead that he has felt close to in this Higher space, and that he always has that availability. He understands from this that he can revisit this space and those that he loves.
I ask him what he needs to feel a connection to his own ability to be in form or out of form, and a young man approaches us then. It seems as though this is the soul of the young person for whom Ian has felt the most sadness, and Ian hugs the teen. They talk privately for a while. The young man looks over at me and smiles reassuringly, and after a bit Ian returns to sit by me and the three souls that are waiting. Ian’s life force feels different to me now, more willing to flow and participate in life. I ask him if he is ready to go back to Thinking Life now, and he says that he is. I leave him in front of his house, where he walks gingerly inside.
I ask his guides what else I need to share with his mother about his close proximity to the dead, and one replies, “Ian is well protected. He needs creative outlets—art—to express his feelings. He is sensitive to the dead and the death realm and needs validation for his experiences with them. When he hears them or sees them he needs to be able to tell his mother about them and receive acceptance of his abilities and perceptions.”
Ian is in possession of a very special ability as a communicator with the dead, and possibly as a Deathwalker—one who leads the dead to shift out of form peacefully. Some people refer to it as ‘midwifing the dead.’ As you can imagine, without a really healthy perspective on that shift, the reality of death can be very daunting, particularly to a young human. It’s not something that many in our culture will admit to or have an operative framework for understanding, let alone be able to explain to someone else. Being receptive to the plight of the dead can also take an incredible emotional toll when one can’t sift out one’s emotions from those of his or her formless visitors. Nonetheless it is a powerful ability that can also create an empowering depth of compassion and self-assuredness. A book that may be of interest to you is Shamanic Guide to Death and Dying by Kristin Madden.
Be well, Elissa!
Question: This week the question for my column comes from myself. I haven’t featured a personal inquiry in my Q&A before, which after some thought made no sense. I’m on as much a quest for insight as anyone, and somehow in opening myself up to that observation, I decided to share.
I’ve been wondering why I’m not very emotional lately. In fact, life has been so level that I wondered if I’m depressed. Except that life is good. I’m relaxing into it. I’m challenging myself in needed directions and flowing with the insecurities and jubilation such new territory brings. So why am I not overrun with emotion about this newfound stability? I am feeling. There is no lack of feeling…
Then I considered… what if this is the way life is when your neurotransmitters are finally balanced? What if this balanced state is the way functional polarity feels? Given my history of chronic depression, it would make sense that I don’t recognize it. Whatever it is, it’s manifesting in livelihood, productivity, motivation, the ability to feel comfortable creating myself as I want to be and not as I feel I should be, for others or for my contrived self. Life really is pretty good.
Realizing that fact, I’m left pondering: how much of depression is habit? How much of it was me getting to this point of balance before, sensing the lack of drama, and creating one to fill the FEELINGS void? What I’m noticing is that I don’t act out of emotion anymore. I no longer REact to everything predominantly at an emotional level, and that is saying a lot for a Moon girl (I’m a Cancer). I spent my early life’s development priding myself on my ability to feel beyond empathy (to feel others as if perceiving their feelings) to connecting directly with the feelings of others. I took on so much crap that wasn’t mine, and what was mine I dressed up in lace and had tea parties with (I’m dead serious here– I used to personify my feelings as invisible playmates and talk with them). For me sliding into the feeling state of all things and walking around in their shoes (I do love shoes) was a way of life. Even my own emotional dynamics I played and replayed so many times my synaptic response couldn’t have been anything BUT a seratonin rut. I gave it nowhere else to go, even when it asked. I don’t fault myself too much for that masochistic behaviour. That learning process and heightened state of being sensitized me to parts of life and myself that I would have been too insecure to feel otherwise.
Other aspects of an All-Feelings existence are becoming very clear too. Quite often I have thrived on the feelings more so than the person, the situation, or the occasion. The result of being more tuned into the sensation of an experience than with the experience itself is not living in the present. This sinister technique delays feeling until after-the-fact. It’s a means of staying caught in the cycle of processing and recycling the feeling, and never really connecting or knowing the person, the event, etc. In truth, it’s a means of never connecting with real feelings, and an elaborate way of saying I was a drama queen. I’m not anymore. I’m lighter, leaner, burning on at least more cylinders, and living really well. So it is no wonder that at this very balanced place in my life I am looking around and seeing that I am not re-creating any drama to thrive on. I am connecting with the people, the places, the events, the situations. All there is is Now. And in my self-obsessed history of dramatic flare, I find I have the nerve to consider it dull. The extreme highs and lows I always thought were inspirational, motivational and cathartic (and they truly were) were also gutting me from the inside out. I don’t have to split myself open to be creative anymore. I don’t have to have my life upheaved, or be constantly bowled over by passionate waves to realize how good I’ve got it or how deeply in love I am with my personal life.
It’s ironic that when I reach the mental health goal in life that I have wanted, my reaction is to assume that because it doesn’t meet a projected (and inflated) outcome, something’s wrong. Hypnotherapy has it right-on with the idea that we play tapes over and over until we learn:
I am catching myself in the act of putting in the same tape. Because there is no drama, I think I must be cutting off from my feelings, when in reality I’m very happy and choosing to live out of more of my Self than just emotion. I am living out of sensation, intentional thought formation, co-creation, my soul… Most of us can recognize the point where we have the option to go in a different direction. It’s the point that feels like freedom and sheer panic all at once. It is the greatest moment of power we can have as humans. The ancients called that moment alchemy— the magickal point of integration between opposites combining to produce something new. The thing is, because we don’t arm ourselves with the knowledge of What Comes Next, we stick the same tape in and keep on going. Why? It’s familiar. It’s easy. It’s comfortable, even if deep down we know it’s not working.
Not this time. I have nothing to recreate. I have battled depression my entire life for a plethora of reasons. Not one of those reasons is as powerful as I am. Throughout my life I experienced a space that my spirit teachers referred to as The Great Sadness, this fiery well, the overwhelming presence of all emotion of all beings at once consuming. This space felt like tapping into the collective consciousness of all suffering. I realize now that this dimensional space is a place we all pass through on the way to What Comes Next, and that I do not have to contribute to that well anymore. In that wisdom I create the space within myself to welcome new healthy ways of processing my feelings and living the experience of life through All That I Am, not just All That I Care To Perceive of Myself. Moreover, instead of discarding my feelings now for being less because they are not so charged, I value them more because I am in a more level place to find my truth through them. I am in a more stable place to honor the truth around me.
Depression is nothing if not a refiner of perspective, and I can now raise my teacup in toast to my having an abundance of that. I know now what feelings are mine and what ones aren’t. The world inside me and the world outside me are finally safe enough places for me to experience The Present.