The New Era of Spiritual Ecstasy

This article was originally published at the O-Books Blog.
When I first read that Alice had an open call for earth-based manuscripts in Soul Rocks Books’ Teen Spirit series, I thought, “How cool,” and moved on. It’s been a long time since I was a teen, and since there are loads of great intro books on shamanism, I thought nothing more of it.
Except that I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
S. Kelley Harrell, author and neoshamanAt the same time, I was implementing the first year of Tribe of the Modern Mystic, a community I created as part of my Masters work, to provide a real-time web of support for those who want to live their intuitive selves more deeply in everyday experiences. As I put the finishing touches on the Tribe, it hit me like a ton of bricks that I first came into the awareness that I had to live my intuitive self when I was seventeen, the same year that shamanism began chasing me. It was a gritty race, and I spent years gnashing my teeth at the lack of resources, enduring crisis after crisis trying to go it on my own, until I finally just gave in and let life guide. As I recalled that baptism by fire, I knew I would write this book for one simple reason:  nobody has to do it that way anymore.
I’m not a world authority on shamanism, modern or traditional. I’m not a hardboiled scholar, though I pretend I am in my spare time. I’m also not interested in pushing my ideas or methodologies onto others. The one thing I stumbled into being very good at is sharing my story, in a way that inspires others to find, honor, and share their own. In the spirit of that timeless approach to the healing story, I wrote Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism.
When I announced the book to the shamanistic community, it got mixed reactions. Most were very interested in a tool to help guide youths who are already interested in shamanism. While there are resources for those seeking guidance and support in other aspects of earth-based spirituality, there are no others specifically focused on addressing the interests and concerns of young adult shamanists. In the west, shamanism is entering a unique phase. We’re not pioneering its homecoming into our culture anymore. It’s here. We’re doing this, and we’re taking it down some amazing and unique paths that can only occur in the modern context. Given that fact, and the rooting of animistic perspective in our greener, more sustainable worldview, it’s no surprise at all the those becoming interested in shamanism are young, and those who want to mentor them need unique support in doing so.
Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism by S. Kelley HarrellLikewise, detractors in the community insisted that young people have no business engaging in shamanic endeavors, that they can’t possibly have the maturity or depth to cope with the experiences that result from embarking on this path. Well, guess what? They’re already on this path, and they can tread it with compassionate direction, or they can bounce from spiritual emergency to healing crisis, which in the end, affects us all. As a culture, maybe even as a human collective, we’ve done that long enough. We don’t have to stumble towards ecstasy anymore, at any age.
In the interviews I did to support this book, for most of us the wheels of intuitive ingenuity start rolling offroad early in life. In fact, I’d even say we’re born that way. It’s life that shoves us back on the main thoroughfares. For some it’s about more than just intuition, but a delicate art drawing Nature, spirituality, and compassionate living among community all in one. For those teen, young adults, and young-at-heart who want to learn about shamanism in a very personal way, I present Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism.


Honoring Cycles

S. Kelley Harrell's Gift of the Dreamtime - Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma For years I thought I had reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I never felt particularly down in the gloom of winter, but in the overwhelming bright sunlight of summer. Funny acronym, SAD. I knew deep down, though, that’s not what it was. This time of year for me is a collusion of cycles ending and beginning, by which I specifically mean birthdays, anniversaries.

Just as there are the micro cycles we see and know throughout our lives all the time, also are bigger ones we aren’t so familiar with, until something happens, until something demands that we respect them.

However sad or appropriate it may be, the last time I was abused was the night before my 7th birthday, which is to say that I remember it vividly. There were candles, a pool party that wasn’t, rallying of troops, and a dire negotiation with the Multiverse–which for whatever reason worked out on my behalf. The juxtaposition of that event with my birthday, the most hallowed of holidays any of us can ever have–the opportunity to stand in the presence of the Multiverse and say, “I’m Still Here…” Well, let’s just say that for a very long time, I wasn’t convinced of that, and even when I was, it wasn’t easy.

I reached a point of quiet on that front some years ago, in my mid-thirties. The sting was gone, though a dull nothingness took up its place. Then something truly miraculous happened, again. On my birthday in 2001, I first held in my hands my memoir, Gift of the Dreamtime. The irony wasn’t lost on me, though I didn’t shrink to that. I realized as I thumbed through those crisp new pages that a new era was beginning. I had to bless the old, take up its weary bones, and let new being take form.

So it has. This year I celebrate my birthday, honor the child who brought me to it, and the support of people from around the world who first read about the crossroads of my birthday in Gift of the Dreamtime. It has become more than my memoir. In the true sense of the ancient healing story, it has inspired many others to listen to their own, to tell them, to share their truths.

This ninth year of its being, you can download the ebook from Amazon for free 28-29 June.

Thanks so much for giving it your blessing on its amazing journey around the world!

Weekly Rune – Nauthiz

Nauthiz - Intentional Insight's Weekly Rune by S. Kelley Harrell, Soul Intent Arts


Nauthiz – Need – Have you noticed that the last time Nauthiz was the Weekly Rune, Mannaz came the week prior, as is the case this time? It’s not a coincidence, and I swear I have more than two Runes in my bag!

By now we know that Mannaz is about learning to call on support and finding mind/body/soul balance, and that Nauthiz encourages us to slow down and be sure of our process.  What does it mean that at this time we are being repeatedly called to be certain of our personal cosmology? That the way we order ourselves and observe how our order is supported by, supports, reflects, and fosters our authenticity? It’s a big question to ask.

So often we turn ourselves inside out to get into a routine that provides spiritual discipline, mental focus, physical strength, and emotional nourishment. Specifically, most of us don’t find that clarity without baptism by fire, without deep crisis prompting life change. We wouldn’t even look at ourselves at that level without deep personal emergency. Taking the step to take charge of our core wellbeing is perhaps the most important one we take in our whole lives. So then, how do we respond when the Universe asks us to change that routine, or to question its current relevance? We are used to questioning whether we’re in balance, not the method by which we sustain it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, yes?  The very idea that what works needs to change can generate crisis all its own.

This week gently consider where soul sustenance has become rote.  This is a bold undertaking from inside the comfort zone. We may gaze upon the scape of our spiritual discipline and see that it works fine, all is well, stability abides. Bless it, thank it, then look again. The message of repeated Mannaz then Nauthiz is that something somewhere in our personal spiritual path isn’t as it seems, even if that thing is reluctance to change the spiritual path. Recall, that which nourishes and guides us to expand our consciousness isn’t meant to be comfortable. It’s not meant for escapism. It’s meant to grow.

As you examine your personal spiritual path and find so much as a crack, address it now. This is your furlough of the soul. This is your opportunity to step back and find the glinting threads that bind your passion to your footsteps again, and find the way that meets your current needs in carrying it through everything you do.

This Runic duo heartily encourages us to use the resources at our disposal, to make the changes needed in our lives, however very personal and sacred.  This combination is saying that we can either make that change of our own volition–initiate controlled crisis–or the Universe will initiate one for us.