For the week of 12 March 2017
A beautiful realization of self.
“Then he began to think of all the things Christopher Robin would want to tell him when he came back from wherever he was going to, and how muddling it would be for a Bear of Very Little Brain to try and get them right in his mind. ‘So, perhaps,’ he said sadly to himself, ‘Christopher Robin won’t tell me anymore,’ and he wondered if being a faithful Knight meant that you just went on being faithful without being told things” ~A. A. Milne, The Wonderful World of Pooh
I’ve been re-thinking the format of my blog, and in doing so would like to create a more open dialogue around modern shamanism and animism.
“That’s not so different from what you’ve been doing,” you say.
Well, yes, but after spending some time clarifying what I need to do on my personal path and in my work, I realize this blog isn’t doing enough. I’m still open to the reader Q&A format, so feel free to shoot me inquiries. The thing is, it’s hard to ask a question when you don’t know the subject well. While we have come a long way, culturally, in the twenty-five years of my study of shamanism, we still don’t talk about the lifestyle around a shamanistic or animistic lifestyle, which frankly, has a lot to do with the problems that arise when learning to journey. To identify my entries on this theme, I will be posting them under the category “Thursday Betwixt,” dedicated space in my blog to address a topic with a foot in both worlds.
And before you say it, I know I’ve always said there’s no veil. There’s no line that says here’s Here, and———-there’s conveniently, separately located There, the official Other Side. Nonetheless, the need to articulate how that between experience feels and works in daily life requires some kind of identifier, and I’m not going to reinvent the conceptual wheel. Rather, I’ll just go with what we’ve got.
So here’s where this new direction starts: life after shamanic journeying. When I first discovered there were classes that taught shamanic techniques, that collection of techniques was put forward as shamanism. Well, they’re not =) What is even harder to process is that many are still presenting journeying and shamanism in that synonymous way–as if the ability to slide into trance makes one a shaman. Without celebration of our natural inclination toward trance states. Without discussion of what to do with the information stirred by the mere process of journeying. Without discussion of how life after that point changes–even if you have no plans to become a shaman. Without plans for how to carry the ecstatic experience into daily life–back to the foot in both worlds thing. Without provisions for how to recreate that ecstasy on your own.
Many present the technique of journeying as the feature distinguishing shamanism from other intuitive/psychic arts. It is. But that’s not all. I’ve said from day one of deciding–and it is a decision–to be a modern shaman, that anyone can see. We’re all seers, all intuitive. Going into trance doesn’t make you a shaman, it makes you human. It’s not a special skill reserved for certain people. But knowing what to do with intuition, how to respond to it, how to incorporate its wisdom into everyday life is a very special skill, that can–and should–be learned, for your own journeys, and especially if you want to work with others. Otherwise, dipping into journeying can make a huge mess, a spiritual crisis bigger than what brought you to learning the technique to start with.
To that end, a lot of people come to me, after a crash weekend course in journeying, needing to sort it all out, because that’s the part that can’t be taught in two days. Apart from the emotional fallout–which spans absolute ecstasy to horror, depression to joy, and everything between–that often occurs after learning to journey, the thing I hear most is how they can’t hold the ecstatic experience. They can’t recreate it the way they felt it in those early soul adventures.
The very first introductions we make, actively engaging the unseen, blow our socks off. Most definitely they alter our sense of self and Life, on a dime. Even people who consider their initial soul travels “unsuccessful,” with regard to meeting allies recognize the innate power of the altered state. In fact, often those with least expectation are the most deeply affected. Without fail, though, eventually the colors fade, the messages obscure. Sometimes communication stops short, and guides don’t even show up. Why?
Sure, part of that can be chalked up to dynamics. There’s something magickal about group sacred space, particularly when it’s created with the intention to facilitate and support shamanic journeying. Creating space in isolation doesn’t always get the same results, though if done with the intention of bringing in the totems in your familiar to help you hold the space, it can be even more personal, more transcendent. Another culprit is not observing ritual for journeying. The key thing to know about not being able to sustain the thrilling, vivid journeys of fledgling soul travel is… no one can recreate it that way, without manifesting through the rest of life what each journey teaches. Journeys become rote because shamanism isn’t just journeying.
It’s not a personal fault; it’s a deep component of our individualistic culture. We aren’t steeped in honoring the unseen through ordinary, commonplace gestures. Our standard mode of operation is one or the other–Here or There. We don’t recognize both at once. Even those of us on religious paths generally aren’t that thorough in bringing those spiritual tenets through all the days we’re not in earshot of the congregation. We are not known for walking our talk.
Without consistent observation of the unseen when we’re not in trance, it’s really hard to sustain exhilarating journeys into the Dreamtime. Journeying is all or nothing, in that to continue having life-altering experiences in trance, you have to manifest what you glean in them, in day-to-day life. What we do Here, directly impacts what we can achieve There. It’s all connected. When we water our houseplants, we have to consider our relationship to them, how our care affects them. When we walk through a space, we have to realize we aren’t just moving through it, but are engaging with it. When we encounter conflict, we mustn’t just rush to heal it, but consider its role in our story.
As seekers on a shamanistic path it’s not just suggested that we root into the unseen as deeply as possible, it’s expected. We don’t just roll up on the Other Side to learn things and heal ourselves or others. Relationships with Guides and totems need reciprocity as much as other relationships in our lives. Also, shamanic journeying isn’t just the formation of relationships to the spiritual allies you encounter in that state, it’s a relationship to journeying, itself.
Journeying is a lifestyle change. It gives you the seeds to grow what you need in your life. Unplanted, nothing can grow, Here or There. Planted, you grow everywhere.
Ehwaz – horse – In the year that I’ve written the Weekly Rune feature, Ehwaz has never visited before now. For its introduction, safely fall back on our common understandings of the horse: it is transportation, taking us from one place to another. In that light, the horse allows us access to accomplish what would ordinarily be beyond our capabilities. It works for us, yet despite domestication maintains a wildness of spirit humanity admires and can never touch. In all, the horse allows humans power. It gives us strength greater than our own, and provokes questions of our own domestication.
That’s enough insight to derive compelling meaning for why the horse would visit us at this time. The last few weeks have focused on personal empowerment, encouraged us to be aware not only that our process is happening, but to be actively involved with how it manifests. Where, then, does the horse carry us? What work is it empowering us to journey more deeply into?
Few know that in Nordic mythology the horse was humanity’s fylgia, or “spirit guide,” one who fetches us to wisdom. This totemic image becomes particularly significant coupled with that of Sleipner, Odin’s eight-legged horse, who carried him to traverse the realms of the Yggdrasil–the World Tree, from which he gained insight into the Runes. This movement between worlds, torment of enlightenment, then inability to return to every day life the same hearkens shamanic death. This metaphor of traveling from the everyday into an etheric expression of it is the original healing story, the ouroboros shamanic narrative we all participate in.
What we need to remember at this time is that initiation is upon us. This time means a piercing of the heart with insight from which we cannot turn away will bring us to a more suitable awareness, that which we crave at our deepest levels. Our travel on the back of awakening is in the process of depositing us on the doorstep of new wisdom.
Let it be. Don’t try to manhandle the rein and control the outcome. This is neither the time to enslave a beast of burden, nor to glide obliviously through scenery without being active in the journey. We are being called to be aware and engaged, to see this journey through to the end. Remember, when the Aztecs and Incas first saw a mounted conquistador, they interpreted it as one animal, a kind of “two-headed centaur. ”  While we know the miraculous technology of riding horseback comprises human and horse, let us not forget the animistic bond of seeker and totem. We’re not alone, and we’re not without guidance.
“Journeying” is the term most often used to describe the process shamans go through to engage the spirit world. The word was associated with shamanic ecstatic trance by Michael Harner in the 1980s, which for those keeping ancient score, wasn’t that long ago. My emphasis on that recentness is that what has caught the attention of those attracted to shamanism in the modern context often isn’t actually shamanism. It’s a fabricated semblance of that spiritual experience distilled to a set of techniques appropriate for western people not to hurt themselves and others (again, Harner). It’s important to understand that journeying isn’t the summation of shamanism, or the role of shaman. In fact, many cultures and traditions don’t “journey” at all. Nonetheless, various techniques of ecstatic trance abound, though the purpose of this post is to unpack the notion of “journeying.”
Seriously. Read on.
Some call it ecstatic journeying or shamanic journeying, starwalking, skywalking. it is all a form of intended ecstatic trance. “Can’t everyone do that?” you ask.
We’re all wired for the capability, though no, we can’t all readily access that wiring, and even those who can’t don’t automatically understand what to do with it. Ecstatic trance requires training to do effectively and well. That training includes learning to set an intention, then traverse the layers of the spirit realm with one’s spirit guides for healing or insight retrieval, with the intention encompassing the duty to bring that wisdom back and make it active in the world. That part is often skipped, as if “journeying” is just the trip out of body. Not so. Effective shamanic trance includes doing something useful with that information, for the betterment of community.
Logistically how do you do it? It’s often done with drumming or other rhythmic induction, specific tempos induce a theta, or light dreaming, brain state. If you’re not sure what those things are or how to use them, this is when you find a mentor. Again, wired, but not active.
Journeying is often confused with pathworking, in which participants are guided in what to see and do. When learning to journey, a general framework is followed to access the ecstatic state, though what occurs once in the spirit realm is entirely organic. Upon mastery of theta trance, the framework used can be as unique as what occurs in the journey, itself, if a framework is necessary at all. As well, it’s associated with meditation and astral projection. Meditation can be any of a gajillion techniques geared for mindfulness–all of which are beneficial to effective trance work. They, however, are not the sum of shamanic trance. Likewise, astral projection is travel outside the body. It doesn’t encompass relationships to a specific destination, flanked with specific spirit allies who assist on that trek, or guidance in what to do once you get there. In short, pathworking, meditation, and astral projection aren’t equivalent to shamanic ecstatic trance.
In the beginning, for most eager shamanic students, journeying is vivid, lush. Deep emotions stir and challenge how we hold our changed psychology in waking reality. For many, those first flights out fulfill a deep longing to connect, or reconnect as it were, with the unseen, that other belief systems or practices don’t provide. In those early stages, journeying seems to provide answers to everything, and for that reason it can be addicting, even escapist if not done with care.
Inevitably, though, the journeying process begs to deepen or to expand in some way that challenges the shamanist. Perhaps getting into trance becomes more difficult. The devices that facilitated it at first no longer smooth the path. The sensual experience internalizes. We begin to see that the spirit realms aren’t wonderland, serving up what we want to see, comfort, companionship. Its messages become less clear. Guides are absent or not as forthcoming. What happened? Why would a process that so fulfilled and provided stop working?
Traditionally, in indigenous and ancient cultures, shamans were chosen by heredity or transformation of a trauma (also called a shamanic death), while some were self-appointed. How they are revealed isn’t as significant as noting how shamans developed and were supported by their communities. Most modern students of shamanism come to it out of personal need, be that trauma or a sense of needing “more.” However, we are not a shamanic culture. We haven’t been surrounded from birth in an animistic life view that fosters our connection with the spirit world in and out of trance. As a result, we leave shamanic circles and classes to return to a mundane that doesn’t support our experiences. We don’t have the network of support to help us sustain the miracle of the ecstatic state beyond the journey. Thus, the journey process, itself, becomes strained. It becomes isolating.
That lack of network also tends to create the pattern of journeying only when something is wrong, when we feel a lack in our lives, or on behalf of others. Shamanic trance isn’t self-help. in fact, shamanism isn’t self-help. In its full manifestation, shamanism is acting as the bridge between worlds, to bring healing to seen and unseen beings. Anyone who remains stuck in shamanic function as a mode of self-help is not a shaman. This is a modern misunderstanding of the role of shaman as distinct from the trance practice, and is largely the result of the renewal of shamanism happening alongside Reiki, tapping, and various other actual DIY modalities. When shamanism is considered DIY and self-help, a constant pattern of taking is established, creating an imbalance in how we relate to the spirit realm. When we take too much from the spirit realm, it becomes ill, unable to assist us. For this reason, balance must be observed in the role of shaman. We must see ourselves as facilitators of healing in all worlds, not just the one of humans.
Likewise, learning this method of soul travel and how to apply it well takes practice, time, and diligence. Without making it a daily practice as part of our personal spiritual discipline, we can’t evolve to be truly proficient at journeying, and we can’t begin creating ourselves as an animistic culture. We can’t become solid anchors engaging in waking what the spirit realm guides in trance. We aren’t proficient at manifesting that teaching if we don’t have solid roots in mindfulness, emotional maturity, and knowing our own boundaries and skills. These we learn from a teacher, a mentor, someone who actually does this work every day. This is why shamanisn can’t be learned from a book or in a weekend class. It’s not a technique, not a method; it’s a way of being.
Should journeying lose its initial luster, instead of forcing it to suit expectation and demands, dig deeper into formed being. Find a mentor and community who can support soul travels. Connect with the the spirits of immediate surroundings — familiar space, daily relationships, Nature. The more grounded we can be in the awareness that unseen reality is with us all the time, not just in trance, the more we lace spiritual interconnection through everything we do, the more readily trance comes.
Normalization of the journey experience isn’t failure. It’s natural, it’s progress, integration. The act of journeying is a relationship, not just the connections we make from it. At some point, it is right for the experience of trance to integrate, for us to become the embodiment of the community, connections, and wisdom we gain from it. Yet at the same time, we must hold our journey experiences loosely. Let the process unfold as it desires. Along the path of ecstatic journeying, we learn to trust the inner compass, not just to show direction, but when to be directionless, when to become the direction.
Kelley– I was misdiagnosed with epileptic seizures at the age of 15, and was put on many different anticonvulsant medications for over 10 years. None of it helped, and none of my EEG’s showed conclusive evidence of epileptic seizures. I have only recently realized that my seizures are due to some kind of spiritual blockage. I have been able to control them better, but not completely, and would love some insight into what I need to do further to either have them under complete control, or to harness their power. When I was a teenager, and my spiritual awakening began, I had very vivid, powerful dreams, I could dream walk, I had prophetic dreams, I could communicate with my spirit guides easily. I can no longer do this, and it is rare that I have restful sleep. Any insight into this problem would be immensely appreciated! Love and blessings! – Niki
Thanks for your note, Niki. You may find helpful info in a previous post on seizures, though the message that I got from your guides is that some facet of your soul is seeking a different way to express that deeper part of your consciousness. Specifically, this is sought through training in spirit walking, or shamanic journeying. The aspect of your soul that I met with indicated that she is eager and waiting for you to work with her in learning to journey out with purpose to some intended healing. My feeling is that this will sate the part of you needing that release and expression, and it will help manage your physical symptoms.
Also, if you can acquire a naturally formed salt water pearl, this is a powerful fetish to have in your toolbox of spirit travel allies. It came to me very prominently in working with this aspect of you. If you have or can get one, keep it with you when you sleep, and as you adventure into learning to journey. The salt water pearl brings you grounding between spaces, and assures your ability to bring something beautiful from discomfort.
We don’t have to possess every fetish presented to us, though. In fact–we shouldn’t where sustainability (and in some cases legality) is concerned. It’s enough to call in the life force of the salt water pearl and work with it that way. You can even engage it through a picture of one.
Generally speaking, seizures occur when a facet of the soul attempts to leave the body but is confined for some reason. The soul is infinite, and aspects of it naturally come and go as they need to. This is how our consciousness expands, provokes new thoughts and beliefs. When an aspect of the soul wanders out due to trauma and can’t return, shamans consider this state soul loss, or soul separation. Soul loss can manifest in many ways, such as chronic doubt, depression, pain. Soul parts are returned through a process known as soul retrieval. The phenomenon you have experienced can feel just as bad–when a soul part needs to wander out to expand and release, yet can’t. This state leaves you feeling trapped in yourself and spiritually isolated.
I don’t recommend learning to journey alone. Let me know where you are located and I can help you find a teacher. If you are open to distance learning, I can help you with that. I don’t think this means that you have to commit to the servitude of shaman hood or hone the intuitive skills of a mystic, so much as just give yourself this outlet for now. Cultivate it and stay open to what it brings. I wish you healthy, passionate travels, Niki!
I have been on a journey since my Grandmother passed away in August of 2007. There are moments where I have felt crazy, but I know that she is with me and wants me to do something. What that is and ‘why me’ are constant questions. I also see other relatives that have passed on in my dreams. They talk to me, but I can never remember what was said when I awaken. Any idea why my dreams are so lucid, or what Granny wants? Thanks, MM!
Thanks for your note, MM. Sometimes those out of form see things about us that we don’t, intuitively, and your grandmother and thought that showing you something about yourself, rather than just telling, would have more impact. Apparently it did. Your grandmother said that she was lingering help you realize your powerfully innate skill for moving between worlds. She saw this light in you from her vantage point on ‘the other side,’ though she always knew you saw the world differently–a detail that may indicate that she was a lucid dreamer, too. The relatives you’ve seen off and on have truly been visiting you in dreams. For some the skill of ‘starwalking,’ or ‘skywalking,’ as it’s sometimes called, first presents itself through the frequency of spirit visitors in waking, or an odd sense of knowing. For you it has revealed itself in lucid dreaming. Cultivate this skill, and you can program specific dreams that allow you to be more active in your awareness and resolve conflicts. Spirit communication is easily done via dreaming. You can even “bring things back” from dreams, which is an ancient approach to Law of Attraction and manifestation. Dreaming isn’t just a passive adventure, but a valuable tool in empowering the connection between your unconscious and conscious being.
The facet of your grandmother that I met with moved on well. However, you can still meet with her anytime. Cognisant dreaming occurs in the REM level of sleep, or during the theta brainwave state, which can also be achieved when you are awake. If you want to learn more about lucid dreaming, there are some wonderful books on the subject, and about dreamwalking in general. One that I really like is Don Juan and the Art of Sexual Energy: The Rainbow Serpent of the Toltecs by Merilyn Tunneshende. A more thorough mastery of theta, itself, is learning ecstatic, or shamanic journey, in which you train the mind to reach theta then will an aspect of yourself out to engage with the spirit world. This approach should be learned from someone who has already mastered this skill. I don’t advocate learning it from a book. Many find learning lucid dreaming challenging, though you have an advantage there. Furthering your dreaming ability would give your more options, though the skill of shamanic journey has an added bonus, in that your dreamstate becomes more easily navigable as you find comfort moving about the spirit realm. However you proceed, MM, I wish you wild star travels, and see you out there!
Kelley, my question is not personal. Has there been a time in your soul travels that frightened you, that what you saw or learned deeply scared you? Curious.
Thanks for your note, Curious–and good to see you again! In the beginning, there were many times that I was frightened by where I went, what I saw, or what I learned. For me that era was one of releasing preconceptions of how I thought the unformed world and its inhabitants should be, and learning to be amongst what is. I don’t get frightened in that way, anymore. I’ve gained a healthy detachment from the events I witness and locations I visit. If I did not maintain detachment, I would be too emotionally involved to help my clients. That said, learning detachment is a huge part of shamanic initiation. That process in itself is a transmutation of fear into power. Another reason that such detachment can be created is in developing a close relationship with my spirit guides and higher soul aspects, to let them lead things, let them do things, and keep my ego as an information-only vessel. Within those relationships and the confidence I gain by choosing to honor my intuition, fear dissipates.What I learn in travels can be very difficult to hold, specifically because what I learn usually carries charged emotions. It’s not easy to witness someone’s rape, or to learn that someone’s mother hated them from conception… These are very charged situations would cause most anyone to respond emotionally. In that context, I don’t become afraid when I see things for a client; rather, I feel such empathy that I have to detach, so that I am not the one processing the emotions, leaving the client the room to process them. If I anything more than witness those emotions, it becomes about me and my response, not about client’s response. In most cases, the client wanted me to see these things–however specifically or metaphoric–and report them back, so that some deeper validation could occur. Such is a brave process on all points.
Of healing travels for myself, again, I haven’t learned things that frightened me, so much as made very emotional discoveries that pointed to dynamics in my present, or indicated patterns of my past, that astounded me. Even in that framework, the focus has to remain on what releases that emotional charge, allowing the feelings to complete their process and abate so that healing at mental, physical, and spiritual levels can be done. Fear isn’t part of that process for me, but certainly humility, ego, anger, pain, and eventually joy, are.
Without question, I face more fears in my own mind than I find manifest in the formed world or laying in wait in the unformed. For that reason, I do feel that fear plays a role as catalyst in soul travel. Often fears I’ve created in my mind are soothed by my soul treks, and without the fear I may not have made the journey to greater healing.
Thanks for your Curious question!
I’ve observed that the Universe seems to send out memos on topics, as I will go ages without an inquiry about a particular theme then receive several at once. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve encountered people curious about shamanism. On the whole people do not stumble into shamanism, whether that is feeling led to study it or to receive shamanic healing. Even in the world of energy work and holistic medicine shamanism still seems to elude many. In hopes of addressing this spiritual curiosity I am reworking a hand out I give to new clients, information that is also on my website. That information is: What is a shaman? What can a shaman do for me?
There are all kinds of academic, even poetic explanations of what shamans are and what they do. In fact, a very detailed FAQ on shamanism can be found at various locations on the web. Detail or no, the questions from most people are, “What is a shaman? What can a shaman do for me?”
A shaman can help you heal whatever you are open to healing. Shamans are intermediaries with the spirit world, not just links to the spirits but explorers of the spirit realm, itself. “Aren’t we all?” you ask. Yes, we all have the potential to be, though not all of us readily know how. We are not all active participants in the worlds within and around us, though we all have the ability to be.
Shamanism is not a religion; rather, it is a perspective entailing that everything is alive. A base shamanic view holds that everything, everything has a soul, and is connected to every creature and energy. Through that connection we are able to travel out of our bodies beyond our egos to communicate with souls of the dead, ourselves and other humans; plants, animals, Earth, the elements; even “higher” spirits, such as guides, helpers, our own High Selves, and our Higher Power. How shamans accomplish this act is perhaps most telling, and most individual.
There are some basic tenets of shamanism that pervade ancient, indigenous cultures, and neoshamanic practice such as we all have animal guides and spirit guides; the concept of soul retrieval; extracting an illness or entity from the body for physical, emotional, mental or spiritual healing; psychopomp work, or death walking–guiding the dead to Spirit; and divination. Beyond the basic functions a shaman performs the similarities across cultures largely stop there. Shamanic cultures are diverse, as every cultural history records a social role of a person performing some facet of the role of shaman. Called medicine men, wise women, skywalkers, nagual, and many more titles and roles, today the purpose of the shaman is no different. Neoshamanic work draws on these same primary tenets creating many outlets for learning indigenous and contemporary shamanic practices for daily life.
Given the range of techniques shamans use, it’s important to understand how these skills apply to everyday life. In the most broad perspective, shamans promote healing. Opening communication with the spirit realm can open you to your own healing ability, body, mind, soul, and emotion. Bear in mind that no shaman, doctor, surgery, or medication can heal you. You heal yourself. You make the conscious decision to allow whatever healing modality you receive to actually heal you. Healing is your personal agreement between yourself and Spirit. Know that when you interact in the journey state, which is the theta brain wave level of deep cognizant deep dreaming, you are in the space to directly access yourself at the central levels of being. You can reshape your physical and spiritual DNA, taking command of the creative ability with which Spirit blessed you. With shamanic healing you are an active participant in your wellbeing. Through understanding your ability to co-create your own life with Spirit, you not only improve your own quality of life, but that of All Life.What a shaman can do for you depends on your reasons for seeking one. Perhaps you have a chronic illness that doesn’t seem to abate. Perhaps you are depressed, or want to be rid of a disruptive pattern, relationship, belief, or habit in your life. Perhaps you feel you have unlimited potential, but can’t seem to manifest it into what you need in your life. Perhaps you just want to find meaning in your life, or want insight into your own abilities. Maybe you want to meet your spirit guides. The reunion with your guides can help in each of those things, as well as the reunion with your High Self. Remembering these relationships allows you to reconnect to Spirit, empowering you, and giving you intimate knowledge of your own strengths, abilities, and love. You will never feel alone again once you have remembered your spiritual allies.
Additional work could also help, such as a soul retrieval, in which spirit aspects that left due to trauma are returned and integrated, allowed to heal and age to your current maturity. In some cases soul aspects aren’t returned to the Earth consciousness but move on to Spirit. The effects of this technique usually include ending the pattern of chronic illness, depression, or other pattern that you have become locked into. In some cases, memories are returned, and certainly abilities that you may have missed as you have aged.
Another way to specifically address patterns, thoughts, or habits that have become harmful, such as addiction, obsessive behaviour, a disruptive relationship dynamic, or even chronic illness is life regression and progression. Often seeing the origin of these patterns helps one to clear them, as well as talking with a future self to see the healing as it has manifest and carried through one’s life.
In some cases, an extraction of an intruding entity is needed to release a pattern or offending condition. Some refer to this as depossession or exorcism, though it is rarely theatrical as it is depicted in fiction. It is, however, quite profound. In the most base terms such interferences are merely energy that is no longer functional in its current place. Symptoms of this may be physical issues, radical shifts in mood or temperament, an imbalance of power in a relationship. When the energy is removed and health flow to the etheric form restored the flow balance on all levels can be better maintained.Another way to bring about balanced flow in your life force is a technique called “dismemberment”. In this technique, your animal guide is asked to do the dismemberment, and allowed to completely destroy your physical body. The animal may “re-member” you immediately after, or it may recommend that you take time in this re-membering. The end result is your body fully re-membered, without the affliction. It is new.
These are just a few of the techniques shamans use, and only a vague description of the reasons that you may feel led to a shaman. Wildspeak is a great resource of articles on shamanism, animism and a quite extensive animal totem dictionary. As well, for insight into working with helping spirits, Lupa’s DIY Totemism: Your Personal Guide to Animal Totems is brilliant.My book, Gift of the Dreamtime: Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma gives a thorough presentation of shamanic healing in a useable modern context and may be very helpful in determining if shamanic work is appropriate for you.
I wish you deep healing and prolific power!
Kelley–I don’t know if this is particularly shamanic, but I’m an avid dreamer, though rarely can I figure out what my dreams mean. Can you recommend a good guide to dream analysis? Thanks! Compass-less.
Thanks for your note, C. One of my first observations that I was on a different path was in the depths of my dream world. I’ve always been a vivid and lucid dreamer. Recommend a good guide? Sort of. There are two excellent resources for interpreting dreams. The first lies in cultivating the bridge between your conscious and unconscious minds. Dreams can be many things–a mirror of yourself, messages from your unconscious, messages from your body, travels out to/memories of other planes/experiences of yourself, messages from other beings, or visits from other beings. Sometimes a dream is a combination of these. My general approach to decoding my dreams and those of my clients falls mostly in that order. First I determine if the dream was coming from me or another consciousness (Yes, I know, ultimately we’re all one consciousness, but in order to comprehend metaphors and symbols they must be filtered through a coherent legend, which resides in your unique unconscious/conscious mind connection.). Most people who dream prolifically seem to have their own measure for determining the origin of the dream. Myself, I just know. Dreams that don’t come from me feel foreign, to put it simply. The quickest test I can suggest for this determination is to ask your High Self to step into your conscious mind and pose the question, “Did this dream originate from me or from a separate consciousness?” Go with the immediate answer you get, whatever fashion that answer comes in. Depending on that response I go in different directions. If it was my unconscious communicating with me, I consider how the personalities and symbols in the dream are a mirror of myself. By that I mean, I assume that everything in the dream was really me, even if the figures in the dream are other people that I know. From there I break down the archetypes by gender, age, emotional state, physical condition, etc. Even the setting I examine archetypally to decode any message it may need to convey. Probably 80% of my dreams are facets of myself expressing needs or hurts that need to be addressed, or beliefs, habits, relationships, or thought patterns that are no longer functional in my life. By considering that everything in the dream is mirroring some aspect of myself I intercept messages from my unconscious mind or body (which has its own symbolic communication system), not only do I cognate the message, but I “write in” what that symbolism meant so that if it comes up again I have direction right off the bat. Retaining this personal meaning is where keeping a journal is invaluable. Most of the time once I unravel the meaning of a symbol, I don’t dream about it again; thus, recurrent dreams are resolved. Remember, as with all truths, what was meaningful in a certain way one time may be meaningful in a different way subsequently. Even though the symbolism may have been sound at one point in your life, allow yourself the freedom for it to mean new things later. As you grow your consciousness expands. So does how you carry and interpret archetypes.
Frequently I wander off in a dreamstate, which arguably isn’t a dream at all, but perhaps the classic “vision.” Nonetheless, it’s a particular kind of spirit journey that only occurs when I’m sleeping, so I still consider top snoring aids at emsafety.net. In these visions, I experience going out of my body, or perhaps I experience a different manifestation of myself. This could be some simultaneous life, some experience of myself from a past, or perhaps an entirely different plane of existence that I know isn’t Earth. Sometimes I visit someone in this type of dream, or I see things from an animal’s perspective. Again, distinguishing this type of dream for me is typically easy, as I am consciously aware that I’m dreaming. Some consider these journeys “lucid dreams,” in which the dreamer is observing the dream from a detached perspective while also participating in the dream, and directing its progression, to some degree. If you’re not sure if you are wandering out, the same “High Self” test as above is appropriate to do to determine if you are astrally traveling in your sleep.
Another type of dream that I think falls under the category of “vision” involves messages and visits from other consciousnesses. Once you determine that a dream did not originate from your own consciousness the task becomes one of clarifying the message. Perhaps that requires a little research and a bit more skill, very much of the shamanic sort. I find that dictionaries for dreams are one dimensional, at best. Without question I support the collective influence that archetypes and symbols have, and encourage becoming familiar with those across various cultures. However, I feel that stopping there is missing a vital reason for why the symbol visited us. In addition to collective relationships to symbols we experience personal relationships to them, and those meanings are only culled out when we consider the symbol is its own consciousness that has intelligent insight to deliver specifically to us, as individuals. While brown bear may mean protection and confidence as an archetype, to me, specifically it may also carry a message of hope and the ability to sustain through hard times. The way to create those personal bonds with symbols is through meditation and shamanic soul travel.
The second key to understanding your dreams lies in connecting with the feeling they evoke. Feelings are precisely the compass that connect the dream to your waking life. When you can clarify the way a dream left you feeling and see how that feeling manifests in current circumstances you have decoded the symbols of that dream. In that brilliant inner light you can’t get lost.
Be well, C!
Intentional Insights is a Q&A column inviting you to look inside yourself. If you have a question that you would like for me to address in my column regarding a brief Soul Reading or questions about spiritual healing and shamanism, please send them to me at Kelley at soulintentarts dot com, or contact me to schedule a full-length Soul Reading. Intentional Insights is a production of Soul Intent Arts. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!
Question: Dear Kelley, I am a Leo and I am halted by an unfulfilled desire for love, intimacy and relationship. I live in Japan (I am American) where the M:F ratio doesn’t work in my favor. My career is growing at light speed and I am improving my finances. How can I reach my partnership goals. What am I doing wrong? Is this apart of a bigger process? Leo Lisa
Hi Lisa. Thanks for your note. When I enter the Dreamtime with your intention in mind, I am led to an aspect of you that is incredibly faerie-like. She is quite small in stature, dressed in a simple dress, and has small wings. She is talking with flowers and makes her rounds doing deeds that help Nature’s smaller wildlife feel better. What stands out about this aspect is that she is very demure and nurturing, and to the unfocused eye she would seem to be an ineffectual child spirit. In reality she is quite powerful and wields a sharp incisive ability to care for what the rest of the world would likely overlook. I am struck by the common contemporary assumption that powerful archetypes of women are usually “Xena” warrior heroines, decisive maternal watchdogs, or crones of speculative alchemy. The culture we live in wouldn’t see this little wonder of nature as the empowered being that she is.
I observe that she works her way through a little dome of nature, which is held separate from other realms that I see in the distance. I step out of her dome into a space that is very bland and unattractive, characterized by the feeling of a complete lack of feminine influence. It feels like a space in which many women are trapped in masculine roles, unable to express their true Selves. I have the distinct feeling that this aspect of you wants to avoid this space. I see another division just beyond that one, a wall of dark blue water in which I see women in their 40s-50s wafting through, some just floating. This space feel very womblike and maternal, and yet smothering at the same time. My feeling is that this fae aspect holds a reluctance to grow through all the phases of the Feminine and as such keeps herself locked into an adolescent idealistic state of being. The results of that restriction are limitations on attracting other energetically mature people and limiting relationship possibilities. Nonetheless, she wants to grow.
She takes my hand and I lead her out of the pastoral fae realm and into the blank strata. “I don’t like it,” she says, and she stops walking.
“I’m not sure that anyone does,” I tell her, “but passing through this space is part of our human cultural heritage and can’t be avoided. No one has to stay here. It can be transcended.” She smiles, and holding hands, we move into the watery blue wall.
“I don’t really like this one either,” she remarks.
We continue to move through this one, though it is much wider and takes us quite a while. Our passage through the Maternal realm leaves us standing abruptly on the edge of a cliff looking out over oblivion. Literally, this ledge leads to nowhere, barring dark star-speckled space. I feel the fae aspect panicking, hear her breathing turn ragged. I tell her that I will go into it with her and see what we find. Gently we step off the cliff and begin our fall, hands still clasped. Soon, though, we are not falling but gliding, observing the void from which all things are created—from which we create ourselves as we wish to be. We do not speak, but I feel that she has begun to realize the freedom she has in choosing how she grows into her Chosen roles as Woman, and soon she flies off on her own, confident, still fae, capable, caring and assured.
I place myself back in my Lower World and ask Lisa’s guides how moving through the various archetypes of Femininity enhances her ability to fulfill her partnership desires. One of her guides indicates that by not growing, Lisa had not met “grown” people who could meet her where at a wise and mature place, who also know how to fly into the void to create themselves out of it. Her guide leaves me with the sense that having moved through those realms of herself and the Feminine in this journey, Lisa has freed up aspects of her life for like companions to come in.