Month: November 2017
It’s been a while since I wrote anything for the Little Bear Chronicles. I’ve grown up as much as my son has grown up. For those interested in reading previous tales of raising a child while being more spiritually aware, feel free to visit the Chronicles.
My son and I have grown apart as well as closer together in certain aspects. It’s been a joy raising him, and honestly I had to let him live his own path for a while. He pulled away from what I was teaching him, and part of it was because he’s young and wants to be with the other kids around him. It’s one of the reasons why community is so important to me. At one point we had a frank discussion, where he detailed that he didn’t like talking to his Helping Spirits because not a lot of other kids did. He fell away from the practice and the teachings, but sometimes one has to choose to let go and let the child discover their own path for a while. After many months, he came slowly back to it when a friend of mine also began teaching him the same things I was, but in a different way. He realized he liked the company of spiritual guidance, and liked the person he was while he was more connected.
He came back to the path in a big way shortly after his 9th birthday, and it showed up in a way I did not expect. It was an extremely embarrassing moment for me, but it proved to be a teaching moment for the both of us. Little Bear had been progressively receding into his own reality, escaping to the imaginary world of games/Youtube videos instead of facing what is out in the world around him while still being intact with his feelings. I had a feeling that the teachings that we were giving him were only sinking in to a superficial level, where he would retain the information and spit it out, reciting what I told him word for word. Well I mean, come on. That’s easy, right? Acknowledging and then escaping is so much easier then facing how you really feel deep down inside.
This great awakening happened this past weekend. A friend I know leads a really great sweat lodge, and Little Bear was very excited about the prospect of being a junior fire tender. He loved playing with fire, and seemed attracted by the glamour of doing an important job. Tending the fire at a ceremonial is something that is sacred to me, and I tried to pass along the importance. He got it… but to a point.
Needless to say, he was upset when I asked him several times to pay attention to what he was doing. There were several little things that built up over the course of the day, all leading toward more selfish and self satisfying tendencies then looking at the bigger whole. When I finally had the last straw, I told him that he wasn’t listening or taking his “job” seriously and had to take away the privilege of being a fire tender. Well… let’s just say it was a pretty big temper tantrum. And of course, it happened at the time when silence from the outside of the sweat lodge would have been preferred.
He’s a scorpio, and born in year of the rat. Calling him stubborn is being polite. Sometimes stubborn isn’t a bad thing, but stomping your feet and crying during a ceremony of release, prayer, and reconnecting is ill timed (to say the best). I called him out on his behavior, and after many long agonizing moments and many attempts at calming him down, I let him have his temper tantrums. Instead I focused my attention on the other junior fire tender who was being quiet, respectful, and following directions. Where your focus goes, energy flows. While this was happening, Little Bear kept voicing he wanted to be a fire tender, but I told him that he couldn’t because it was a position where you had to be responsible. And he wasn’t showing responsibility.
That’s when he told me he didn’t love me anymore.
I was quiet for a while, and told him that I loved him anyway. Despite all of the things he did and said. When he finally was able to process and take a step back and breathe, he finally came around and was open to listening and being more mindful about what he was doing. I was grateful he came back to being him, and prayed hard for guidance about how to best guide him in this to help him see the repercussions of his actions.
The biggest blessing is that the people attending/leading the sweat lodge are child friendly and understand the melt downs that occasionally happen when boundary setting doesn’t go well with children. They were polite, courteous, and pretended not to notice, instead focusing on the highlights of what the children helped with as junior fire tenders. The children responded kindly, and from that more confidence was built.
But I had to tackle this problem with him before it snowballed and blew over…
I waited a day or two before touching the topic again. When I did, he indicated how sorry he was. This wasn’t the first time he has done temper tantrums with inappropriate timing (well, it’s not like there is an appropriate time…) and I brought up the fact that he can tell me all he wants that he won’t throw temper tantrums anymore – but I won’t trust it until I see it. It’s not our words that count, but our actions.
And then I brought up his proclamation of him telling me he didn’t love me anymore. He fell silent and immediately stopped fidgeting, busying himself by pretending his hands were very interesting. I had a really great teacher that helped teach me about true love and being a warrior, and he passed along these teachings to Little Bear. I mixed in layers of what I also learned from my Shamanic teacher out in Oregon, and from that, this conversation was born.
“I told you that no matter what your choices are, that I love you no matter what. When you’re over 18 and out of the house, you can do whatever you want to and not have to worry about how your choices affect other people if that is what you choose. But because you’re under my care, you are my child, and you depend on me to live, therefore you have to abide by the rules that I set down. I can’t help you any more then guide you when it comes to your personal decisions, because I don’t want to control you. That’s why I’m letting you make your own choices. It’s your job to learn from your own choices instead of blaming others for how things ended up.”
He finally looked up at me at this point. And I continued, telling that his focus was finally on me fully, “What do you think unconditional love is?”
He shrugged. “I know what love is, but I don’t know what unconditional love is.”
“Well… true love is something that is always there for someone or something to experience. Unconditional love is something that doesn’t change. Can you think of some things that are unconditional?”
He couldn’t come up with an answer, and I could see he was confused by unconditional. “Think about it this way. That no matter what happens, certain things will always be happening and you can count on them. Like the sun rising and setting. Just because it’s raining and you can’t see the sun doesn’t mean it didn’t rise that day. Another example is that in our temperature zone means that winter is cold. Now can you think of something?”
At this point, he gasped and got excited because he thought of one, “Like the moon changes phases! That’s unconditional! No matter what happens the moon has its phases!”
We went over several examples until I felt the concept was stable in his mind. Then I asked the question, “So what do you think conditional means?”
“It means….. it means…. well…. that it doesn’t happen all the time?”
I smiled, “That’s great buddy! That’s right. Another layer to the meaning is that it has to be under the right ‘conditions’ for something to happen.” When he shot me a quizzical look, I continued, “For example, it’s unconditional that a seed has the potential to grow into a plant, right?”
“Well, the seed needs the right ‘conditions’ in order to grow. It’s not always guaranteed that it will grow tall and strong. If you plant an apple seed in the desert is it going to grow into an apple tree?”
“No, it needs the right dirt, water, and sunlight.”
“That’s right, those are conditions. In order for something to happen, things have to be in the right condition.”
I could see this information dawning across him and his beautiful face. Before I continued I made sure to grab his little hands. “True love is not something that needs conditions. It’s like the sun rising and setting. It can’t be taken away. To think otherwise is to be lied to. Something that others will use to control you. Love is not conditional.”
He made a face that made me chuckle. I could see he was already beginning to process this information. He sat still and quiet, squeezing my hand in return and looking up to me.
“Little Bear, when you told me that you didn’t love me, you were hurt. Only people that are hurt want to hurt other people. You wanted to pass the pain along to me and make me feel guilty to give you what you wanted. That’s conditional love, and what you’re exposed to a lot. Many people do that because they don’t know any better. I still loved you no matter how you acted, and I needed to let you swim in your feelings. To you it seemed like I was ignoring you, but I was waiting until you would hear what I had to say. I don’t want to control you or your actions, because that’s conditional love. I wanted you to come to your senses of your own accord. The path of true love requires being a warrior. And it took me a lot of strength to let you work things out on your own, in your own time. I will love you no matter what, but your actions affect how I treat you. And when you chose how to act, I chose how to respond.”
His eyes shifted focus, and I could tell he was about to argue. But then his eyes grew soft and the silence spanned. It had to be repeated a few times, but each time I explained this scenario to him, it peeled away more layers of understanding.
“Honey, this is something that you watch on your tablet through YouTube videos, and what you see all the time happening in school and here at home. For you to be considered ‘good’, you have to do XYZ. When someone name calls, it’s actually trying to control someone else. The thought behind it means that you’re hoping to provoke someone to get them to act how you want them to act. Like calling someone stupid or a brat, it makes a person upset enough to convince you that they are ‘not’. Again, this is conditional love. You are not those things when you ‘do as they say’. Unconditional love is nothing like that. It doesn’t try to control people, and instead there’s this constant support. A lot of people don’t know what that’s like or what it is, so it’s hard to explain it.”
After we talked about other examples of conditional love/manipulation techniques, we covered what would be conditional love. He finally was starting to get it. He laughed about it when I mentioned him saying he didn’t love me on Saturday, and he replied, “But I love you now!” Almost at the same time we pointed out that it was conditional love, and that the love we shared for each other didn’t change.
I brought the circle back around to emphasizing that I loved him unconditionally, but his choices affected how I treated him. I pushed that he had control over his choices, and not to blame me when I choose to focus on productive things instead of him when he’s throwing a tantrum. If he acted like a warrior of true love, he would step into unconditional love, paying attention to himself and how his choices affected other people. If he acted like a toddler and threw a fit, I would treat him like a toddler and put him in time out. He has the ability to control, but it’s at the power of his own choice. My love for him could never be taken away. It will still be there no matter what path he chooses. Even if it was to hurt people. But sometimes if we love someone, the hardest choice is to let them make their own decisions and learn for themselves. No matter how much it hurts us.
It’s a beautiful time in Autumn right now. Spending time outside in this crisp fall air helps clear my head and reconnect me to the things that I’m processing and letting go of in preparation for Winter.
There are some exciting things happening here at Eagle Therapies. As some may know, Earth Centered spiritualities have just celebrated a holiday called Samhain. It is a day which is like the Pagan new year, celebrating new beginnings and the end of a harvest. As we turn into our practices, let us dive into our spiritual practices with a beginners eye.
Simplicities. Let’s start back with the basics. This month during our Journey Group, we will explore the topic of Deepening our Relationship with our Helping Spirits. In that blog post, we explore the topic of our foundation, who exactly we are connecting to. If our connection to our helping spirits is not pristine, then occasionally we can get stuck in loop holes and stunt our personal development. If we are constantly clearing what is on the surface and not deepening our practice, what we end up doing is manifesting a different version of the same thing. Have you ever noticed any patterns in your life? A common example is wanting the same type of lover, and vowing to not pick the same type of lover, but after a fresh new start – you find out you fell in love with someone whose character is the same of what you broke up with before! Hmm… here is where we get into some discernment.
For those that are interested in joining us in person, feel free to explore the structure of our Fairfax Journey Group. For those that want to participate in a Non-Local Shamanic Journey group, feel free to check out our Joining from a Distance post or our video series on the Distance Journey Group.
Nov 8th – Bi-Weekly Shamanic Journey Group: Facebook and Meetup
Suggested Journey topic: Connecting or deepening our connection to our Helping Spirits. See this post for more details. For more seasoned practitioners, it will be exploring the foundation of the relationship and potentially uncovering any blockages we might have to fully receiving the insight in a non-biased way from these helping spirits.
Nov 17th – Heart Centered Sound Circle for Damascus, MD: Facebook and Meetup
A 2 hour long ceremony that helps one explore their heart space through embodiment, song, dance, and drumming. This one taking place at a farm in Damascus, MD. Outdoors under a shelter 🙂
Nov 19th – Ancestral Healing Circle in Damascus, MD: Facebook and Meetup
A celebration of the Ancestors, and discovering the relationship that we carry either consciously or unconsciously. The topic this month will be about the energy of exploitation. There is a balancing act that happens between gratitude and entitlement, and how do we recognize when we are unconsciously exerting our will on those around us?
Nov 22nd – Bi-Weekly Shamanic Journey Group: Facebook and Meetup
Suggested Journey Topic: This is where we actively engage with our helping spirits and begin crafting the real questions that matter about connection. What does embodying mean and how can we create a closer connection to Source/God/The Great Mystery/All that is?
Nov 24th – Black Friday Drum Circle: Facebook and Meetup
Join us for an alternative to all of the crazy materialism and mass consumption out there! An evening of fun, laughter, and community as we stick out as different and come together in joy instead of stress over making someone else happy with gifts.
Nov 25th – Monthly Shamanic Journey Group: Facebook and Meetup
Free group that meets once monthly! Instead of the one journey for the bi-weekly journey group, explore two journeys and practice your journeying skills with other like minded individuals. No suggested journey topic, but extended singing/dancing time as compared to the shorter journey groups in the middle of the week.
Thank you for reading! We hope to see you either digitally or at one of our groups 🙂 Keep in mind that community is always there, you just have to reach out and ask for help. Fly high everyone!
email@example.com or call/text 571.306.3197
To walk down a true shamanic path, it means to connect regularly to external spiritual help/guidance. This involves having a relationship with a spiritual teacher, helping spirit, spirit guide, or a power animal. It takes time and practice to be able to hear/listen to these helpers, and it is a relationship to cultivate. It is a choice to work with helping spirits, and there are many benefits to doing so. Many people may feel called to “walk the path of a Shaman” but then end up not asking for help in the right way, using their own power and in turn becoming sick. If we are able to engage in these relationships, we can do what we came here to do in a way that is good for all living things – not just for ourselves. We can discover what’s in the way, helping uncover the authenticity that is burning within us, waiting for us to live our life purpose – the God given reason why we were born here on this Earth.
To have a viable shamanic practice means to have the discipline to strengthening that relationship through physical reality intention and practices. It can get sloppy if we do not set up the right parameters for asking for help, and our intentions become dilute, losing our focus easily. If we don’t commit to a practice, then our efforts or attempts at a relationship will be as superficial as a Facebook friendship, liking each other’s things and not knowing the depth of what the other has to offer. This is an intentional relationship, and it is best to have Ayni (sacred reciprocity) in mind instead of walking into this relationship, demanding what you want. What makes a practice shamanic is to connect and engage with these helping spirits in a mutually beneficial way. When you first meet a person at a party and introduce yourself, then intentionally pour out the contents of your deepest fear and ask for help getting your life back together. Most people would refer you to a good therapist if that were the case. Same goes for relationships we establish with our helping spirits. Relationships take time to develop, and (in the beginning) really concentrating on yourself and one spirit connection are crucial to deepening your practice.
When first trying to make “contact” with spirit guides, it can be confusing, and many people mistake any spirit as “theirs” if they have a moving experience that was particularly spiritual. This is where discernment comes in handy, asking the right questions and not assuming. Mary Shutan covers this in her wonderful post about relationships with helping spirits as well as in this interview with Christina Pratt. There are many ways to get in touch with a spirit, and with varying degrees of success based off of the strengths of the individual. Everybody is different, and we all experience reality and non-ordinary reality through our physical and extrasensory senses. For every physical reality sense, there is a extrasensory sense that our energetic body has.
One of the ways that we can begin to discern is with the technique of Shamanic Journeying. It’s a wonderful tool to add to our toolbox, and it is easy to begin honing this skill. It can take discipline to become good at it, and creating an altar practice is very helpful to solidify your practice. Here are some helpful podcasts to help support some basics of living energetically well from a Podcast called Why Shamanism Now:
- Energy Body Hygiene: First steps in beginning cultivation of your energetic body
- I bounced off of this topic and created a journey track associated with this
- Energy Cultivation: These are the basics of living well, and essential no matter what spiritual path you walk
- Creating Sacred Space: This goes over the importance of building altars/shrines as the focal point of a practice
Daily practice is something that will help strengthen your relationships in spirit because if you clearly discern what is your energetic baggage and are able to release that which is not yours – you can clearly hear the messages that you are asking to receive. This is also helpful in our physical reality relationships, because if you’re too stressed about what’s going on at work, perhaps you end up projecting some of your stress onto your partner at home – not hearing what it is they’re trying to share because your experience is colored by outside influences and thus affecting your ability to be fully present. If we are not clear with ourselves, how can we expect to establish a healthy intimate working relationship with a helping spirit?
This can be a catch 22 – where do we start? Do we focus on ourselves? Do we focus on this external relationship? Many of us know we are a piece of work (Goddess knows I am one) – but the question is how do we move forward with it?
We can combine some of the tools and techniques and overlap these things. There is no right answer or right formula that fits all sizes/experiences. Perhaps for some it’s a daily practice of yoga, complimented by calling in and sitting in meditation with a helping spirit. There’s no cookie cutter answer, but there is something that helped a stubborn person like me:
Just jump in and do it
I had to blunder through a lot of my own growing experiences, but I know one thing for sure – things became a lot more clear and easier with the assistance of a helping spirit instead of being stubborn and doing it myself. It’s very similar to flowing down the river of life in a canoe with a guide instead of swimming down it by yourself. Some people may be great swimmers, but others might easily be swept away by the current instead of going somewhere of their choosing.
Now, what is this whole helping spirit thing? How do I get one, you say?
One of the easier paths is to explore this with the concept of Shamanic Journeying. You can journey directly to spirit and ask for a guide. If you are in the Northern Virginia area and would like to join a journey group, the Bi-Weekly Shamanic Journey group meets every other week. It tends to be a lot easier for people to journey together in groups, because the energy of the circle offers innate energetic protection that tends to be stronger then just an individual intention. If you are not in the Northern Virginia area, we are just launching the distance Journey Group so you can still join no matter what location you are in. For those that would like to try for a go-at-your-own-pace course, there is the at home Shamanic Journeying outline.
The next step after that is learning to frame your intention. Journeying is a question driven activity, and if your focus is scattered, it will be hard to concentrate – especially if you don’t have a focused intention. A good first journey question for any beginner is to ask, “I would like to meet my non-egoic connection to source at this time”. For more experienced journeyers, it would be good to provide clarity on what type of helping spirit you have.
Egoic and Non-Egoic Helping Spirits
This topic has come up many times in the Journey Group. So much so that I have integrated it into the Shamanic Journeying Basics class that I teach. This concept was brought to me by one of my Shamanic teachers, Mary Tyrtle Rooker and her colleague Mary Courtis PhD. When delving into the realms of non-ordinary reality, it is good to have discernment of the types of helping spirits you run across.
There are two main types of helping spirits you will run across, and many will have a varying degree of a blend. The two types are egoic (ethnocentric) and non-egoic (fully compassionate). Neither one is “better” then the other, and it is healthy to work with a blend.
Egoic spirits are pretty much the same as you or I. They have an ego, an identity, and they have their preferences. They are helpful to receive advice from, however their perspective can be influenced – including being lied and fooled to (thus relaying potentially flawed information to you). In many traditional shamanic/indigenous cultures, it is actually taboo to share your helping spirit. One of the reasons for this is that if the identity of your helping spirit is known, it could potentially be stolen, tricked, or manipulated.
Non-Egoic helping spirits are directly connected to source, are fully compassionate, and cannot be lied to. They view everything as a lesson, and have the ability to give you the universal truth. Variations of Non-Egoic spirits can also be known as the Higher Self, Ascended Masters, or a True Self. However, they can be tricky to work with because they view everything as a lesson. If you have a pattern that is deeply ingrained in you, and you ask certain questions based on assumption, they can give you an answer that can easily be misinterpreted into what you want to hear.
Non-Egoic helping spirits are a wonderful guide for a beginner helping spirit. They tend to be a little more difficult to work with then an Egoic spirit, but that is because you have to frame your questions with focused intention. This can really help with discipline in the long run, and also help improve your discernment even before you get into the journey space (because crafting a question is sometimes a process in and of itself). That being said, there is nothing wrong with working with Egoic spirits. Truth be told, I work with about 80% Egoic spirits in my practice. With Non-Egoic spirits, it’s easier for beginners because they don’t have to tend a relationship as much as they would an Egoic spirit. With Egoic spirits, it’s very common to leave out offerings on your back porch, or to visit a power spot once monthly during a hike in order to strengthen your relationship to that helping spirit. With Non-Egoic spirits, they are completely focused on your personal development, because your Soul’s personal development helps the greater web of life – so therefore just your attention on that relationship and working with the helping spirit is enough to strengthen the bond. Egoic spirits are great for “specializing” in a certain area of personal development that you would like to focus on, but it is great practice to still maintain good relationship with your Non-Egoic in order to ask the question, “What will I learn from this helping spirit” and see if their lessons they offer align with you and your intentions.
Layers of Complexity
If you are a beginner, skip this part unless you want your brain to hurt. With the distinguishment between Egoic and Non-Egoic helping spirits, here is where we get to the blend of the two. For every Egoic helping spirit, there is a Non-Egoic or a “True Self” that is connected to it. This is hard for some people to grasp, but think of it this way. It can be hard for one consciousness to be represented in just one presentation, so therefore you can view an aspect of this greater consciousness with an interface that is cultivated just for you and your strengths. An Egoic helping spirit is simply a facet of a larger consciousness, and we must remember that in a shamanic cosmology, we are all one.
Where we can run into problems, is if an Egoic helping spirit becomes disconnected from the Higher Self. Yes, sometimes spirits need shamanic healing just as much as a human. They can experience trauma that separates them from the greater collective or web of life. When this happens, and one interacts with one of these helping spirits without conscious awareness of this severed connection to source – they can receive answers that can reflect wounds or shadows of the pristine information a helping spirit connected to source would receive. This can stunt personal development and keep you running in circles, when otherwise you could be receiving great strides in self awareness rather then perpetuating wounds in a multitude of degrees.
Biggest example that I can think of, is that Archangel Michael is a popular spirit guide with a large Non-Egoic connection. However, middle world Archangel Michael was the helping spirit behind leading the Inquisition in the late 1400’s with his flaming sword and righteous demeanor. This goes to show you that the questions you ask are directly correlated to the lessons you choose to learn. And when you are only focused on certain areas, without keeping the balance of the whole in mind, what you actually could be doing is perpetuating a state of imbalance because the questions you are asking are coming from a state of imbalance. Which is why maintaining good energetic hygiene and personal development are critical in choosing the experiences you wish to learn.
For each Egoic spirit, they can have a certain degree of themselves that is connected to the Non-Egoic spirit. It can be a sliding scale of how much one spirit that is connected to source. Usually if you have in your awareness to ask for a pristine connection to source, you will end up with a great start to interacting with Spirit and high degree of self actualization through a Non-Egoic guide. When you deepen your practice and ask for more help, it’s very possible you will enter into the realm of interacting with more Egoic spirits. As your experiences build, remain true and don’t forget your connection to your Non-Egoic. They will always show up in your practice (even if you consciously forget) with a stark realization that’s similar to having a bucket of ice water dumped on you.
Now… we have this picture of Egoic and Non-Egoic spirits in our mind. How do we apply this to Shamanic Journeying? If you are a beginner, journeying with the question, “I would like to meet my Non-Egoic connection to source at this time” is a great way to begin. Allow the journey to unfold before you, and don’t force it. Allow it to happen. For those that are more experienced and the points above has brought up some questioning within you, still do a separate journey with the intention of, “I would like to meet my Non-Egoic connection to source at this time”. Don’t question the spirit help you already have, but instead just enter into Non-Ordinary reality and allow your Non-Egoic guide to step forward. If you’ve journeyed a few times and have gotten a guide or two, it’s very probable that the helping spirit you receive is one that you’ve already worked with. Just be open to what you receive, and if you need help discerning, that’s what a community or a Journey Group is for! If you live in a non-local area and need help setting up a Journey Group of your own, feel free to reach out for guidance via email or phone.
So now… What are you waiting for?! Get cracking! We got a world to clean up! And it all starts with our own personal journey.
To highlight the main points of this blog post, here are the bullet points:
- Maintain good energetic hygiene
- Having some form of daily practice is very helpful in practicing clarity/discernment
- Keep working and inviting your helping spirits into your daily life
- Remember to ask for help
- Keep at it, even if you mess up. When you mess up, you have permission to ask “What went wrong”
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 571.306.3197. Please keep in mind that this information is free, please share it. If these posts or teaching move or influence you in any way, consider donating so that we can continue to support other individuals and groups.
If this post resonates with you, but you find it hard to create a lasting change, read this helpful blog post.