Tag: PTSD

Domestic Violence and Soul Release

Woman Smoke by Graham Crumb, Imagicity.com [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsKelley, I survived domestic violence, leaving a marriage 4 years ago (the divorce was 3 years ago). The marriage lasted 14 years. I’m so much happier now, like night and day, but feel stuck in several areas of my life. It feels like the former marriage hangs over me like a gray cloud. What’s going on? Negative thought patterns? Evil spirits? How can I break free of this?  Thanks, P.

Thanks for your note, P. Wow, your ex was a piece of work! When I ask to see the source of the cloud you feel, I’m shown a manifestation of your former spouse. In the distance I see a younger manifestation of you, though I can’t get to you because your ex stands between us. The spouse’s manifestation is a feminine elemental covered in writhing green vines, and the field around her swirls with daggers and blades that slice anything that nears her. She’s cloudy and dark, and her skin is sallow. Her teeth are elongated and sharp, and she lunges at me. My sense is that this manifestation is a component of your spouse that is stuck in your field, though it is more than that. The hold your ex has maintained since your departure has become its own life force–this seething green elemental.

I ask her simply if this is her life’s destiny, to torment you, even after parting.  She stops gnashing at me and stares blankly. I ask her again if this is what she wants to do with her consciousness forever, and she drops to the ground, sobbing. She tells me that it isn’t what she wants, though her life force says otherwise. I suspect she is telling me what I want to hear, and after a few seconds she attacks me again.

I hold up my hand and tell her this kind of interaction is not an option. She can go up for healing willingly, or my guides and hers can take her there. Either way, this stops here. For a few more seconds nothing changes, and I place my hand in her etheric field. When I do I see blood and a gaping wound at her root chakra, and overall she’s generally hurt. She becomes a twenty-something woman then, who is exhausted and in a lot of pain. At this point she goes up for healing to the soulbody workers, and she moves on to her destiny. My guides clean up the scene where she had camped for so long, which also ripples healing out to others she harmed along her path. Finally I am able to reach the manifestation of you that is there.

You, likewise, are war torn and hurt, also very eager for healing. When I bring you up, you replenish quickly, and this manifestation of you is released. As well, the area in which you were held is healed, and my feeling is this clearing of your former spouse from your field is what has been needed.  She is now free to address her pain and reasons for being abusive in a way that doesn’t harm you or anyone else. Likewise, you are in a place where you can choose more freely how to move forward without her influence.

This feeling of a cloud over you has been one long, draining spiritual emergency, PTSD of the soul. With it now cleared, take care to shore up your protection for a few weeks. Often after releasing energy that has weighed us down for years, when free of it we are vulnerable. Any sore sports, memories, feelings that come up from your time with her, bless them as merely passengers moving through on the way to their destinies. You can just hold the door and let them go. New irritations and sensitivities that arise over the next few days are just your etheric field remapping, raw nerves finding new pathways. Try not to get too into the feelings of things, and let them pass through as well, just observing, feeling.

You are wise to realize what a good place you are in now, P. I hope that you can stand more clearly and firmly in that strength as you shift more into yourself. If I can help you further, I’m happy to.

Spiritual Emergency, Awakening, and Tribe of the Modern Mystic

A component of shamanism that makes it different from other esoteric paths is servitude to a community. How one defines community can be as unique as the shamanist, herself. When I began my Masters work in 2010, learning what community I serve was a key focus. From my admissions essay through my thesis, I aligned my work with creating the Tribe of the Modern Mystic.  I don’t know how it dawned on me, as I’d spent 12 years creating and sustaining The Saferoom Project, a peer support nonprofit for adult survivors of child sexual assault. I’d also devoted 12 years to deepening my shamanic path, personally and in working with others. I fully expected my formation of community to comprise some facet of assault survivors, though no matter how much I devoted to that work, I was pulled to mentoring intuitives in spiritual emergency. No matter how I put out the intention for working with survivors to be my community, the clients and students who darkened my doorway were budding seers and healers, every day people reeling from some experience of the wyrd that left them wholly changed and oppressively alone in their transition.

Talking Stick, Tribe of the Modern Mystic, Soul Intent ArtsBut I didn’t want that to be my community.

The first time I heard the phrase “spiritual emergency” was from my therapist in 1994. It had just been added as a diagnosis in the DSM-IV  the year before. The day we met she told me that she could help me with symptoms of dis-ease in my life–depression, low self-confidence, PTSD, though she said flat out that she felt my distress was of a spiritual nature. She explained spiritual crisis as an awakening, in which the soul or consciousness is expanding more rapidly than the emotions or psyche can process. I can’t express what a unicorn she was, in the mental health care profession back then, able to make that statement with certainty. I spent just under 3 years working with her, experiencing great improvement of my symptoms, though the day we terminated, wholly affirmed that I was still experiencing spiritual crisis. Within two weeks of that last session I committed to deeper teaching on my shamanic path, had a soul retrieval, and felt relief from crisis for the first time in my life.

I didn’t want to walk back through that. To explore my capabilities in helping others assimilate spiritual crisis into soulful awakening required me to re-examine my rootless beginnings as an intuitive. It would force me to recall decades of knowing I was different in a way that defied vocabulary, the endless frustration and depression around feeling called to something that had no boundaries or guidelines, the loneliness of a solitary path, and the fear of many inexplicable phenomena that were part of my norm. I didn’t want to walk back through any of those things or the feelings they stirred.  Yet in greeting the stories of others, mine re-emerged as a strong shamanic narrative, encouraging others to stay the course and affirming that they weren’t alone. Along with reviewing my history of spiritual emergency came unexpected emotional snarls tangling my abusive childhood once again with my spiritual path, even if only that both were occurring at the same time, that despite trauma from those different sources, the pain felt the same.

[learn_more state=”open”] An isolated hour with someone who utterly understands you can’t sustain next to weeks, months of inundation from others who don’t, and likely can’t. [/learn_more] I also began to see patterns of those struggling into awakened life coping with mental illness, separation from lifelong beliefs about self, religion, and cosmology, and a resounding lack of support from loved ones during this intensely jarring time.  Their therapists didn’t understand, and neither their clergy, community, or other caregivers.  I found myself at the center of a gathering of people who badly needed support in an area that, like it or not, I was providing. Yet, in those tenuous relationships, I realized they needed more, just as I needed more.  They needed to hear it from someone besides me, more frequently than their routine trip to the local shaman, from a voice that could be engaged as needed, from others who understand what they were going through. An isolated hour with someone who utterly understands you can’t sustain next to weeks, months of inundation from others who don’t, and likely can’t. Most of them never spoke of the supernatural events in their lives to anyone but me.  They entrusted me with their most precious secrets. How in the world would I create community when we had all been so ostracized in our personal lives that we couldn’t even speak our truths unless we thought only the Divine was listening?

In indigenous cultures, this dialogue would likely never happen. Not that they don’t experience spiritual emergency.  They do–it’s called initiation. It’s called enlightenment, because they understand that enlightenment isn’t a sudden, dazzling solution to all of your problems. It cracks you open from the inside and requires you to rewire, start over, and do nothing the same. Shamanic cultures wouldn’t have this dialogue because they are born into their communities. They come into the world with the support system to witness, honor, bless, and grow their wild, intuitive selves from day 1. Such is not so clear in the west.

I’ve been on my healing path since I was six years old. From the age of seventeen I began my shamanic path. At twenty-seven I began working with others as a facilitator of healing. I realize now, as with all spiritual truths,  the shaman doesn’t find the community, the community finds the shaman.

If you feel a need for such support not only of your experience, but in the development of your mystical life, learn more about the Tribe of the Modern Mystic. My life’s work, my heartsong, and my compassion welcome you.

Plight of the Spiritual Renegade: Finding a Respectable Soul Worker

I’ve been sitting with this article on the shaping of shamanism as a dangerous industry in South America, particularly with the use of entheogens as induction into ecstatic trance. I don’t condemn or condone the use of substances in trance work, though everyone I know who uses them never does so alone, always with a trusted master of such approaches to the spirit realm. The use of such chemicals is the focus of the article, though I’m not convinced it should be.  I think something more compelling is at work.

That said, I’ve written several blogs and articles on the pattern of believing enlightenment hides in some far off land, and that trend concerns me deeply. Again, whatever works for you. Whatever gets you there. It is with all caution in mind that I say, the trade of spiritual tourism isn’t limited to tribal nations or economically oppressed countries. A thriving business of spiritual healing exists right here in the US, with potential wonders and dangers of its own. Recall 2009’s James Arthur Ray sweatlodge fiasco. The truth is, we’ve never had to travel far and wide to find charlatans, anymore than we’ve had to in order to find enlightenment.

Culturally, we are perched on the border of very interesting territory. We see old regimes falling, organized religions crumbling. Many seekers readily identify a hunger to connect with deeper meaning in life, a need to caretake self at every level available. Yet, even though many are leaving those old systems, we still carry with us old engrained truths. Foremost is thTheosophie & Alchemiee belief that we cannot, should not,  find enlightenment for ourselves, that we must defer to a schooled master of esoteric truths, who will instruct us along the journey to find our own.  Punishment for seeking enlightenment through ourselves is deeply engrained. As well, so many are deeply hurt or turned off by the established institutions that we run to anything that doesn’t resemble them for help. We don’t believe that enlightenment lives in our backyard–literally in the faces that look like ours, the Nature that graces our every day, the circumstances of our own creation.

These seem like small concerns, though they actually manifest as widespread cultural spiritual emergency, leaving people vulnerable to all manner of healers, energy workers, shamans, and exotic adventures that promise great release. Coming from historic frameworks that taught us no spiritual autonomy, the senses to intuit what is in our best interest are often undeveloped. Particularly for those in pain, every healing modality sounds promising, every practitioner is a saviour. Given that, I think it’s important for spiritual renegades to feel supported in finding the path and soul healing approaches that are right for them.  In fact, I think the following considerations are good guidelines for anyone taking their spiritual path, direction, and healing into their own hands:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Just because a modality is spiritual doesn’t make it magickal, or honest. All healing approaches take work, usually of the disciplined mindful variety. They also take time. Anyone who says you can be fully healed in one session and offers no support for processing the results of the work after that session likely will do more harm than good.  As well, anyone who says s/he can heal you is working through ego more than soul.
  • Seek services from practitioners referred by someone you know. If you don’t know how to choose a practitioner best for you, ask a deeply trusted friend for insight.
  • If you have no referrals, do lots of research. Read. Study. Ask tons of questions. Any practitioner who won’t give you free insight into their work and how they do it isn’t worth your time, let alone your money.
  • Work only with practitioners who honor you. If you feel disregarded, manipulated, further hurt, insulted, or otherwise compromised by a practitioner, this person is not acting in your best interest. Please also know that this person is not representative of other such practitioners.
  • Above all, honor your gut feeling about a modality, as well as the practitioner. If a modality is right for you, but the practitioner isn’t, find someone else. If the practitioner feels right but the modality doesn’t, ask if the work can be done a different way. Wherever you are on the path of cultivating your intuition, you have deep signals that tell you when something isn’t good for you. Honor them. They are your best ally.

Though many of us have been on alternate spiritual paths and/or held the role of soul wellbeing facilitator for decades, this road still looks wild and daunting to those who are newly seeking support and direction. I encourage other spiritual healing practitioners to become involved in an active effort to educate clients and the general public about your work, why you do it, how you do it. Education will be the thing that not only informs our culture of its shamanic legacy and potential, it will also be the force that heals us all.

Tragedy, Collective Soul Loss, and the Healing Story

In shamanic work is the concept of soul loss, or when an aspect of the soul has become distanced (I describe it as “shelved”) and can’t re-engage with the earthly consciousness. Souls are infinite, made up of limitless soul parts that travel in and out of our awareness. This soul traveling is the natural progress of growth, widening our awareness, expanding our consciousness. In times of trauma, when a soul part leaves and can’t return to the earthly consciousness, that’s when problems arise: chronic illness, feelings of depression, lack of motivation, feelings of not being completely present. Such is the path of soul loss in an individual. When considering collective soul loss, these factors plus another comes into play, making mass soul wounding more challenging to heal.

Horrific, heart-wrenching tragedies, such as the killings at Sandy Hook, in Nigeria, China, Portland, Colorado, at Virginia Tech, Columbine, 9/11, cause collective soul loss. Natural disasters such as Katrina, Sandy, the 2004 tsunami, the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, which caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, result in mass soul wounding. As a population watching tragedy from afar, once we can process beyond our instinctive reflex to assess self and realize we are physically unaffected by the disaster, our hearts go out to those who were. We grieve for those lost. We mourn for those who lost loved ones and survived. We devote compassionate support to the affected community, through donations, prayer, providing manpower. We watch through the haze of the media circus, judicial process, and/or legislative attempt to prevent future disasters, seeking release, perhaps even hope, vindication.

Somewhere along that road we begin to realize that we are more affected by the tragedy than we realized, and we feel guilty for that fact. We feel that because our lives were not directly impacted by the disaster, we shouldn’t be disrupted in the daily honoring of life. We shouldn’t be stunted or disconnected from our joy. We shouldn’t feel it as much as we do. We feel selfish for thinking that we need healing, and for turning that heart focus to ourselves, rather than those in the immediate community.

Guilt and ego are the key inhibitors to healing collective soul loss. To devote healing to the whole dynamic, to treat the wound of collective soul loss, we have to include ourselves in honoring what happened, how it left us feeling, and in the healing offered. We must grieve the dead, even if we didn’t know a single one of them. Have compassion for the survivors, and all of the dark days ahead of them as they put their lives back together. Support them and their community in the way that we best can without depleting our own resources. Then repeat that whole process for ourselves.

Animism teaches us that we are all connected in the web of all things. As trauma in our personal lives creates perceived fragmentation of our souls, so collective trauma results in the perceived tear in that web. Only by remembering that we are all connected do we heal. Nothing heals in isolation, but through the combined efforts of us all. We must do what we can to express support for the immediate community, then our healing efforts must turn to our own wounds, knowing that what we heal in ourselves generates healing for others. This is the shamanic narrative. Through the creation of our own healing stories and sharing them, we inspire others to speak their stories. We create a bond focused on collective healing, assuring wellbeing for all.

Take time to reflect on your healing story. Write it down, if it helps, or draw it, paint it. Express all of the feelings wrapped into your experience of the healing process, and know that in doing so, we all heal. We all move closer to wellness.

Originally published on The Huffington Post.

Gift of the Dreamtime Reader’s Companion

Gift of the Dreamtime Reader’s Companion

Buy it now!

Thank you for taking this journey with me through the Gift of the Dreamtime Reader’s Companion for the second, revised edition of Gift of the Dreamtime. I created this Companion to discuss what changes were made to the original text, detail peripheral events and processes brought up in the book, and to respond to reactions I received when Gift of the Dreamtime first came out in 2004.

The book was first published by Spilled Candy Enterprises. I’d spent a year to the date shopping the manuscript when publisher, Lorna Tedder, acquired it. I was thrilled to work with Spilled Candy and remain ever grateful for the experience.

At the time that I wrote this book, the publishing industry didn’t allow much expansion on the understanding of shamanism beyond academic and anthropological assessments. In short, they only understood, thus published, what I call “rearview shamanism,” a perspective that accepts shamanism as a thing of the past and not a thriving spiritual practice of the present. Books that had managed to be published extolling modern shamanism generally fit the formula of self-help books. They followed the formula of introspective memoir, followed by interpretation of shamanic events in mundane life, then closed with insights to engage the reader’s personal reaction to the text. None of them shared their shamanic narrative. None of them offered a glimpse into the other world experiences that brought healing.

I chose to write Gift of the Dreamtime from within that journey space so that reader’s could understand how shamanic healing really works, and Spilled Candy understood that purpose when other publishers didn’t. I remain grateful for Lorna’s insight and professionalism.

Thank you for taking that first formed trek with me into the Dreamtime. Thank you for returning.

For those of you new to the journey into The Dreamtime, welcome and blessings along your way.

I’m very excited to present this new edition, along with this Reader’s Companion. First off, if you haven’t met Christina Pratt, who wrote the foreward for the second edition, you need to. She’s author of An Encyclopedia of Shamanism, and the founder of The Last Mask Center. She’s an amazing shaman and wonderful person. Know her. Listen to her radio show, Why Shamanism Now, and you will find great support on your path, as well as direction.

If you’ve read the first edition, you will notice subtle changes to the text. The most evident change is the removal of the introduction to ecstatic journeying at the end. I chose not to include this section, as to really do justice on soul travel requires an entirely other book, which no doubt, others have already written more eloquently than my hurried end notes. Instead, for this edition I chose to stick more closely to my original intention for the text, which was to provide grounded insight into my process in creating initiations into shamanhood, thus leaving some sort of map for readers to do the same. The book now closes on an introduction to the role of the shaman in a community.

I had no idea where my foray into shamanic healing would take me. As such, resources for mentorship were slim. Gift of the Dreamtime tells my personal story of soul healing. At the time that I wrote it, I didn’t realize that it also chronicled a collective tale of finding initiation along a broken path, as many modern shamans have done. I’ve written extensively about this cultural quest in my column on The Huffington Post and at my blog, Intentional Insights, and look hopefully toward the future of what modern shamans bring to The Dreaming.

Enjoy the ebook, available at SmashWords and Amazon. Gift of the Dreamtime is also available on both sites, as well as the print edition is available on Amazon. It can be ordered by any local book shop. If you would like a signed first edition, please contact me directly.

Read an excerpt and praise for Gift of the Dreamtime.

Gift of the Dreamtime – Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma

Gift of the Dreamtime – Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma

Available on Amazon.

In the 8th year of its journey, bestseller Gift of the Dreamtime is now available in its second edition, in several ebook formats. With a foreward by shaman and founder of The Last Mask Center, Christina Pratt, the second edition of this fantastical memoir chronicles a modern shamanic journey from pain, to healing and accepting a calling to work as a soul healer of others. Groundbreaking at the time of its first publication in 2004, still no other modern shamanic work shares an experience of soul healing told from within the shamanic narrative, bringing relatable and credible insight to contemporary shamanic healing. Through that rare glimpse into her experiences traversing the spirit world, Harrell’s story becomes the reader’s adventure.

Not always easy to read, there are unflinching passages examining hurtful childhood memories, confrontations with overzealous spirit guides, and challenging personal obstacles she must overcome in order to heal. The book combines Harrell’s personal journey with instructions for creating similar soul journeys to help the injured child in all of us look at the hurt, understand it in a spiritual context, and forgive both ourselves and others.

Gift of the Dreamtime has remained a bestseller in modern shamanism since its publication, and has stayed in the Top 100 New Age Bestsellers at Tower Books since its publication 2004. Enjoy Gift of the Dreamtime in ebook for of various formats, print from Amazon, or order it from your local bookshop.

 

Read an excerpt and praise for Gift of the Dreamtime.

Supernatural Experiences and Spiritual Emergency

Hi Kelley my name is Lucy. When I was around 14 I went to church on a regular basis. One night after saying a prayer I got in bed and I started feeling a weird sort of electricity running up my legs, then suddenly I couldn’t move, scream, or think. A really disturbing voice next to my ear whispered bunch of random numbers. At church they’d said demons sometimes attack and told me to pray, “In God’s name I repel you.” Since I couldn’t scream or talk I said it in my mind until this thing finally let go of me. It was horrible. I was terrified at being paralyzed, though the voice scared me.

I’m 24 now and I can’t get over that event, or all that happened after. I still sleep with a light on, and when alone I feel someone is watching me. I cannot walk alone in the dark because I feel I’m gonna see something I even have panic attacks. I really need help I don’t want to be afraid anymore.

Evelyn de Morgan's Night and Sleep  - S. Kelley Harrell's Supernatural Experiences and Spiritual Emergency

Evelyn de Morgan’s Night and Sleep

Thanks for your note, Lucy. My feeling about what you went through and how it has affected you is one that is common for many intuitives: spiritual emergency. A spiritual emergency or crisis occurs when we have an experience outside our belief system, or when we experience spiritual growth in a way that we can’t emotionally process. In short, it is PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) of the soul. On an unconscious level, a switch gets flipped, that compounded by fear, doesn’t just unflip on demand. The result of this heightened state of consciousness is that you feel is if you never left the moment the voice spoke to you. Part of you feels like you are still there, creating a state in which everything feels frightening and predatorial. Some symptoms of spiritual emergency range from irrational fear, changes in personality, feeling attacked by atmospheric forces, depression, hypervigilance.

Often a trauma induces this reaction, though it can also occur after intense wonderful brushes with the supernatural. Some refer to such an experience as the classic “shamanic death” or “initiatory shamanic wound.” Regardless of the nature of the catalyzing event, when you have a spiritual experience that alters your ability to enjoy your life, you have experienced and are in spiritual crisis. Having established that, the question then becomes, “What do you do about it?”

You are a very sensitive person, who demonstrates an ability to connect with the unseen. Whether that is something you want to pursue under your control is for you to decide. What is important at present is that you find a way to reclaim your power and release the pattern of PTSD from this experience.

When I look at the moment that you heard the voice, I see that you experienced soul loss. This is a naturally occurring result of trauma, in which an aspect of the soul leaves and can’t return. A soul retrieval with a shaman can bring the soul part back, or help it return to All Things. What is peculiar about this particular moment is that your fear doesn’t center around the voice, or even the experience. The ongoing PTSD is about your fear that if you return this fourteen-year-old soul part, that it will happen again. The thing is, this soul part is highly intuitive, and she has information for you about how to use this ability, control it, set boundaries for it. In fact, by not returning her–thus your personal power–a self-fulfilled prophecy is being sustained. Without the wisdom of this soul part, the experience of the voice–the fear–is repeating, constantly. By bringing back this soul part, it can finally stop, you can set some limits on how you engage your intuition, and you can feel in control of your life again.

I recommend that you find someone who can stop the spiritual emergency with a soul retrieval. There are other approaches; this is the one I am most familiar with. I can help you with that remotely, or I can possibly recommend someone near you, to help you do it, in-person. However you move forward, I understand that you are asking for help. This means that you are ready. In order to move beyond that experience at fourteen and feel whole in your life now, you will have to face the fear. In doing so, you won’t have it anymore. You will finally step out of that frightening moment, and have your life back. The anxiety and the hpyervigilance will end.

My best to you, Lucy.

Gift of the Dreamtime – Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma. Revised second edition now available, with a foreward by shaman, Christina Pratt.

Along with it, look for Gift of the Dreamtime Reader’s Companion

Recently released is Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World, my collection of true paranormal experiences as a lifelong intuitive.

Michele Rosenthal of Your Life After Trauma on Gift of the Dreamtime

Recently the wonderful Michele Rosenthal interviewed me on the re-release of Gift of the Dreamtime.  If you’re not familiar with her work, check out her radio show, blog, and book Before the World Intruded.

~*~*~*~

My friend, colleague and survivor-sister, Kelley Harrell, has a new book out entitled GIFT OF THE DREAMTIME (GOTD). It’s a terrific read and a very compelling look into one way that we can access healing potential.

I asked Kelley to answer some questions about the book so I could share it with you….

1. What is GOTD about?

Gift of the Dreamtime is about my experience of spiritual emergency, from childhood through young adulthood, until I sought the help of a shaman to release it.  “Spiritual emergency” is a state in which consciousness is expanding at a rate or in a way that is not readily emotionally processed.  It is a state of PTSD on a soul level.

At the time, I was just seeking healing for myself.  I had held an animistic life perspective, connected with my spirit guides, and embraced shamanism as a way to heal myself, but I hadn’t planned to work as a shaman with others.  The book describes how I moved through various levels of awareness of myself, to embrace facilitating healing for others.

2. What inspired you to write this story?

I always knew that I would write about my experiences as a survivor of childhood incest, though every time I sat down to write, it just never felt right.  Approaching it in a dry, autobiographical way somehow flattened the experience.  I didn’t know how to approach it in a way that wasn’t clichéd or sentimental.

In the spring of 2001 I had a dream, which occurs around Chapter Ten in the book, and that dream jarred my vision of how to write about my experience:  from the inside.  I realized I wasn’t to write about the experience of my life in the mundane, but in how I experienced the Dreamtime, or spirit worlds.

At that point in the industry, books on shamanism were very academic and anthropological.  They described what I call “rearview shamanism,” as something only ancient or indigenous cultures did, not a practice actively growing in modern lives.  As well, self-help books followed the same formula:  memoir-interpretation-introspective questions for the reader.  I didn’t want to write either of those styles, because they weren’t the way shamanism worked for me.  I didn’t want to describe my experience to the reader, I wanted to offer an experiential invitation to the reader.  Animism is the belief that all things have a soul.  I didn’t want to write my life story; I wanted to write the story of my soul.

3. GOTD is your personal journey.  How did writing it influence and/or affect your path?

Through the book I’ve gotten to meet people all over the world.  As I never planned to work as a shaman, I also never planned to keep writing autobiographical works.  Many of my clients met me through the book.  After it came out, many opportunities opened to me to publish and sustain the momentum of writing my soul’s story.  Primarily, I started my blog, Intentional Insights, which answers reader’s questions on shamanism, paranormal experiences, and modern spiritual paths.  Gift of the Dreamtime has given me many opportunities, that I didn’t have before.

4. What do you think is most important to believe as one seeks to heal from trauma?

We have to remember our true selves, the part of us that no matter what happens, happened or will ever happen, is untouched and empowered.  That’s a very charged, difficult to hold concept for someone who is experiencing PTSD, particularly when victimization is involved.  Yet, there it is.  Reconnecting with that core self is everything.

5. What do you think it’s most important to do in order to find your strongest inner guide?

The most important thing to do to connect with your authentic self is to remind yourself to do so.  We forget that it’s there, or we think of it once then assume all’s well.  This is where mindfulness and spiritual practice meet.  This is the “practice” part of spirituality.  We are responsible for reminding ourselves of our divinity, and through the power of our minds, we will start to remember.  The reminding becomes easier, then does everything else.  When we realize our connection to our true selves, hearing its voice behind everything we do becomes easier.

6. What do you hope readers will learn from GOTD?

I hope they will learn that they can rise from their ashes and be powerful.  Our culture teaches us to be wounded, and talks about thriving in the wound.  We have to move beyond the wound.  We have to commit to finding our truths, even if that means letting go of beliefs or thoughts that don’t serve us.  I hope that my book imparts insights for how to look beyond what we perceive ourselves to be and find something even greater.

To read an excerpt from GIFT OF THE DREAMTIME, click here.

Kelley Harrell is a neoshaman and author in North Carolina. She has been on a shamanic path since 1988, and since 2000 has served her local community and an international client base. Her book, Gift of the Dreamtime: Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma, chronicles her pivotal step into the role of modern shaman. To support her shamanic work, she draws on energy work, hypnotherapy, and flower essences. A modern Druid, Kelley is an ordained interfaith minister. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity. Kelley writes for several publications, including the Global Goddess Oracle and The Huffington Post, and has been published in many journals and anthologies. Her shamanic practice is Soul Intent Arts, and a major focus of her work is helping modern intuitives assimilate spiritual emergency through private sessions and mentorship in The Tribe of the Modern Mystic Mystery SchoolClick here to read more about Gift of the Dreamtime.

Originally published at Your Life After Trauma.

Reiki – Simple Healing, Powerful Ally

Hi Kelley. Some of my Reiki friends get upset because I use Shamanic techniques during my Reiki practice. These same friends, however, will use “psychic surgery” techniques including the psychic extension of their fingers to reach into a client’s etheric/physical body to dislodge or remove energy blocks. My question is: isn’t this “psychic extension of digits” essentially the same as shape-shifting? If so, that is a shamanic practice. If not, I can see little difference between the two, other than degree of transformation of the energetic/physical body. Thanks, R.

Just for today –
I will not worry.
I will not be angry.
I will do my work honestly.
I will give thanks for my many blessings.
I will be kind to my neighbors
and all living things.
The Reiki Principle, Dr. Mikao Usui

Thanks for your inquiry, Roger. Before going into the specifics of your dilemna, I’d like to tell readers a bit about Reiki, as it may not be familiar to them. I describe Reiki as a Japanese form of hands-near energy healing. I’m a Reiki Master and have worked with two different forms of Reiki for many years, one form of which is the original Usui practice, and another called Ascension Reiki (ask me why two approaches in another inquiry). The word ‘Reiki’ translates roughly to “spirit healing.”

There are many takes on the history of Reiki, leaving it steeped in a bit of conflict. As best I can tell from the divergent perspectives on the modality’s origins, it began in the early 1900s, when Japanese ascetic Mikao Usui had a vision that led him to powerful healing. Not an uncommon story in the halls of enlightenment, Usui’s experience spawned a great following that continues to captivate those interested in energy healing.

Heavily influenced by Shintoism, the religion predominant in Japan prior to Chinese influence, Usui honored the spirits behind symbols, believing that incorporating them with other components of etheric healing allowed the practitioner to embody a Universal life force capable of healing. Usui formalized his ecstatic experiences into a system of energy healing called Usui Reiki Ryoho, originally comprised of three levels of study.

Usui’s practice moved into western culture in the mid-1900s, where it took off like wild fire. Today it is likely the most-taught “New Age” healing practice. At best, we in the west practice hybridized Reiki, though that statement attracts all sorts of speculation. There is much argument around what Usuis’s true teachings were. That it is a spiritual practice and energy healing modality taken out of its native space, elements, and teaching, shaped in the form that best adapts to our culture–is what we know, and adapt it has. There are as many forms of Reiki as you care to look into. Given that, Reiki is culturally appropriated, a fact that goes without mention amongst many modern energy medicine circles.

To answer your question, my understanding of Reiki is that it is an alignment with the true self–in other words with All Things–in such a way that there is no ego involvement. There doesn’t have to be. Working at that level of awareness there is no intellectual process driving what is done during healing. The job of the Reiki Master is to be out of the way and merely allow the life force to move through.  In that light, that means no elements are brought in from any healing practice, belief system, or viewpoint, because Reiki happens well above the level of those things. I think this unconscious (?) need to bring other modalities into Reiki is why other forms of it were created.  Is it that we can’t stay out of the way of Source?  Must we project ourselves into/onto it?  Or do we need to custom fit healing methods to what best suits our elements, our space, our teaching?

It is not my experience that you can lift a single technique out of a culture, bring it into another, and expect it to behave the same way.  This has been a concern around the appropriation of tribal healing practices for centuries.  This consideration generates questions like is it respectful to the originating practice to append your beliefs/symbols/deities/methods to it?  Is it respectful to the culture from which it came not to honor it at all in your application of the modality?  How do you honor the originating culture if you occlude it with your ego? Are you doing the same “kind” of healing if you change the foundation of the technique?

These are personal questions that require deep contemplation before you undertake working with clients, IMO, and are components that I teach in my Reiki classes.  To me Reiki is a spirit ally, much as a totem or fetish is.  It is a tool that allows us to connect with the Divine in a way that we can consciously process–symbols, movements, chants, often all at once–what might otherwise be too foreign to hold.  Reiki engages both hemispheres of the brain; thus, brings us fully present in our power. It allows us to be part of the process without having to worry about the process. I do not tell my allies what to do. In fact, I do what they tell me, and Reiki tells me to step aside. Can it tell each of us different things? That is the question, though given Usui’s original teachings, we’d never even ask that.

There are striking distinctions between Reiki and shamanism that should be noted. Part of the role of a shaman is to be active in the process.  Reiki in its true application is only passive. The Reiki Master embodies the life force, and that is the only role. A classic quote is attributed to Usui, though I’ve never read that he actually spoke it: “We do not master Reiki. Reiki masters us.” To me, that is what this quote means. We surrender.

Shamans have many roles, depending on what is needed, and those roles call on active knowledge of plants, animals, elements, symbols, so that we can engage our knowledge with our soul work. In shamanism, we engage the physical layer with the etheric. We spend years distinguishing between being active or passive in our work, as needed.   In short, we know the difference and we fall back on the best tool for the job.

Despite difference, these approaches to healing are very compatible. In terms of actual healing and benefit, I find that a combination of modalities is required, each in its own time. Reiki is often best-suited to people who are early in their healing process–those recovering, gaining strength, not ready for the full marathon. In the presence or absence of Rekik, at some point in the healing process, though, we must all become active participants. At that point Reiki gracefully steps aside for more involved techniques.

That said, I don’t mix modalities; rather, I do them in separate sessions.   I am in the camp that the whole point of Reiki is that I am not part of the process.  For me, Reiki is THE go-to tool that I don’t have to consciously direct.  I don’t drive it or tell it where to go, what to do, or how to do it.  In reality, this passive healing is a very Eastern (feminine) approach to accessing All Things, which flies in the face of the typical western push to be the active (masculine) principle in everything we do (which I hasten to add, “forcing” healing is common in modern shamanism, though ancient and indigenous cultures honor more of a balance–again, another article).  Perhaps this is the real reason that mutations of Reiki permeate western culture? As well, perhaps Usui shaped Reiki as a more passive system in an effort to promote healing without threat of spiritual emergency.

In short, I’m not in favor of psychic surgery or the use of shamanic techniques in Reiki sessions, especially if a client doesn’t understand the distinction, or hasn’t expressed a more active approach to energy healing.  There are plenty of energy healing modalities that do allow us to engage, use our intuition, be an active part of the process.  I reserve Reiki as a gift that is just sweetly here to use, without my or anyone else’s interference.

When we decide to go down any healing path as someone who will work with others, we have to consider the origins of the techniques we are learning, how honoring the originating culture factors into our work every time we use that technique, and how we can find integrity in upholding that heritage without undermining our own innate truths. Moreover, we have to consider when we’re doing none of the above.

Learn more about Reiki and energy healing from the following resources:

Gift of the Dreamtime – Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma, revised second edition now available, with a foreward by modern shaman, Christina Pratt.

 

 

 

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