This post isn’t coming from a place of trying to justify what it is that I’m trying to do. It’s a simple act of transparency to let people know where I am at. It has been encouraged of me to do because there needs to be more transparency about the process of personal development in the world. I am accepting this challenge. Not saying there’s already great work out there – but adding my own flavor to the mixture of how one can find a path to truly becoming “awake” as a fully functioning spiritual adult.
Throughout the recent years, I’ve received a lot of great compliments about how I’ve really changed foundationally as a person. People can actually feel that I’ve changed a lot, and I admit I’ve been constantly burning up like a phoenix in many aspects of my life. Even though many people have said those things about me to my face – they’re only seeing the result of blood, sweat and tears instead of the process. In the past, I have chosen not to share the dramatics about my processing because it is sacred to me. I choose to share my experiences with those that I love and trust, those that I know have gone through something similar to me. Even though the above meme made me laugh until I cried when I first saw it – it’s true. Western Contemporary culture has this big glamour over being “spiritually awake”, but what our culture is prone to is spiritual bypass. Using new age techniques to clear the upset in the moment and not finding the deep motivations behind having those triggers in the first place. I have to admit, I’m proud of the tribe that I have surrounded myself with. When I first started going through my own spiritual awakenings, I felt alone. Strong, sturdy relationships were falling apart around me, home life being shaken up, experiencing being homeless, working my heiney off with 3 different jobs 70-80 working hours a week and have ended up hospitalized because of it (not directly, but the stress of it, in my opinion, was a contributing factor). Amidst all of this chaos, what I found is that when I took the time to focus on myself, new relationships were popping up around me. I just had to slow down in order to appreciate it. The new relationships were people who have been through the same thing and have cultivated similar wisdom from these life experiences. It’s similar to that feeling as a child where you tell yourself the story, “If I don’t have this – I will DIE!”. Well it’s true. In the journey of the awakened spiritual adult, a part of us does have to die in order to give birth to a new truth within us. To stay within that realm of allowing the fear of death to motivate us, keeps us trapped in a state where we cannot move forward.
What I have noticed personally as I have become more aware, is that there’s a spectrum of people learning from experiences. One side is represented by those that go from experience to experience without cultivating the wisdom learned in that experience. They blow past that experience and move right into the next big high that makes them feel something. The other end of the spectrum are those that take the time to slow down, detach from the drama, and begin to see the reflection of the world around them within themselves and their own personal experience. As I stated above, I fill my Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feed up with people that are actively going through this work. I make sure that what I take in inspires me, and to also know that there are other people out there making this journey with me. We don’t have to feel disconnected as we go through this work, and this is part of the medicine that I bring, and that I have distilled from my past. Yes, I’ve made horrible decisions in my life. But I didn’t realize that the biggest “mistakes” turned into my biggest blessings. So here is where I actively start sharing my journey, and I am excited you are reading this.
Stories have a lot of power, and the stories we tell ourselves can either rob you of power, or fill you with power. One of the reasons why I didn’t share a lot in my past is because I would have shared from my old perspective of being the victim. I wasn’t ready for the raw versions to come out quite yet. I have been actively pulling back those stories that make me feel smaller, that legitimized my specific role as a lesbian, single, white-looking woman. Each one of those “labels” put me in a certain role and it’s hard to break those roles and have people see me as who I really am. The stories I was telling before fed into those labels and reinforced some of those very labels that I’m trying to break. Even being a cis-female and owning it has been a journey – to break gender roles and to have people just see “me” instead of those labels. But now I’m polishing up my story telling abilities and being brave about where my path is leading me.
Once the art of story telling is explained, I get to explain the difference of “power of” and “power over”. Charles Eisenstein is a brilliant writer and visionary who speaks to the difference between the Old Story and the New Story. The old story of “power over” is in essence the story of being motivated by fear. In essence, it is manipulating, shaming, or guilting people into doing something because you’re anchoring yourself on external motivations. Most of us (generationally speaking) have grown up with this, having this way of life handed to us at birth. We don’t honestly know any other way. A “new story” that is emerging is one of “power of”. We, as a culture, are beginning to recognize and heal the stories that keep us separated, alienated, and manipulated. We are finding that our true purpose is not outside of us, but inside of us. There is beautiful movie called Moana. It’s a Disney movie about a young girl finding her life purpose, and the evolution of how she claims her power/birthright for herself, and then her people. This is the perfect teaching story, because when she feels as though she “fails”, she realizes that she wasn’t supposed to be looking outside of herself for the hero – that the ancestors and the Universe gave her the opportunity to be the hero. This is a true story of empowerment, and if you haven’t watched the movie, I politely encourage you too.
In my life, I feel like Moana right now. That I’m in the middle of the ocean finding my life’s purpose. I’m in that moment where I’m realizing that my purpose lives within me and I have the ability to bring that out into the world. It’s obviously not an easy path. When I was guided to quit my full time Veterinary job back in November, it was scary. Western Contemporary Culture, my parents, and many others gave me the warnings of not having a “real job”, and of course my inner critic was screaming that I was going to fail. By societal standards – yes I am failing. But to me and my community, I’m not. I’m finding that the stress of living a path of authenticity is tempering the steel of my blade. Stress can be turned into anxiety or excitement. There is no in-between.
You either choose love or fear.
The Old Story is based off of fear. And I’m trying my hardest to choose love. Yes, I trip every now and then. Every action I take is stirring up even more chances for that voice of fear to be prominent. To say, “get a real job”, “you’re not doing it right”, “you’re an idiot”, “you’re a failure”. But you know what? Each voice that tells me those things – I am choosing it to be the hammer strike that hits the hot metal. The hot metal is my soul, and I constantly am giving my life, spirit, and soul up to God/Spirit/the Universe right now. I am choosing to heat myself up through the dance of life and am letting these life experiences shape me into the person I truly came here to be.
I have tried searching for spiritual communities that would be accepting of me. I apprenticed under a Seminole Elder, and worked with Native American Grandmothers for close to a year. I chose to step away because I found that to not be “my path”. That time was not wasted. I deeply love and treasure the gifts, medicine, and wisdom that was bestowed upon me by that time. I am honored and humbled I had that opportunity. What I learned was to respect my elders, and to honor/acknowledge where “traditional” spiritual paths have come from. But what I bring forward into the world is not traditional by any means. What I found was that the acceptance had to come from within myself first before I sought it outside of myself.
Which is what led me to the Last Mask Community. I found Christina Pratt through my first physical reality Shamanic Teacher, Mary Tyrtle Rooker. I started listening to the Why Shamanism Now podcasts, and felt this immediate gut punch. There was this sense of what I was looking for, but didn’t know how to express it. I heard about the Cycle teachings associated with Christina through many of the podcasts, and tried to go for 3 years, but something always ended up coming up. Finally, on the third year I got in and finally went to Masks of Illusion and the Authentic Self last year. It wasn’t until the second retreat when the dots of my experiences began connecting themselves when I sat still enough to listen.
I grew up as a sensitive child in a physically abusive, neglected household. I learned how to suppress my gifts of emotional and spiritual sensitivity until it exploded out of me sideways when I was in High School. I find it to be a funny coincidence that right around the same time frame that I was in the mental institutions receiving grandiose visions of being apart of something bigger then myself, was around the same time period that the Last Mask Community came to know itself and began to form itself as a community. I knew I was looking for something, but I didn’t know it was community. We aren’t meant to do this work alone.
We are supposed to be finding others like us with similar stories, and banding together to change the stories we tell ourselves collectively as a people. To hold each other accountable for our actions and progression as people. Yes, there was that in the 2 year Shamanic Training I took with Tyrtle, however it wasn’t sustainable and all of the graduates of the program lost touch with each other. We check in every now and then, but it’s not the deep sense of intimacy that I get with opening up to a community of people that are moving through the same waters set up within a contemporary cosmology specifically crafted for this time.
Within the context of community, I learned that I contributed to the juicy energy of the community just by being me. I couldn’t have poor boundaries and depend on them to build me up. My own personal development is what matters. That’s why I found that for myself, I had to distance myself from a “real job” because I was measuring my own self worth by how much I was being paid. It wasn’t until I decided to charge sliding scale, stepping into my work full time as a local community leader/shamanic practitioner and getting paid what people could afford, that people reflected my worth to me. Not because I used their dollars as way to measure myself, but to find that what they had in their hearts was enough of a gift. Instead of looking to my clients as affirmation that I was a “good practitioner”, I instead learned to find that value within myself, and have my clients reflect a mirror to what I found I was already discovering. It wasn’t until those in my circles that kept choosing to come back to events really showed up and let me see them, that I was able to see how the groups I led helped them. To see their transformations as they grew and changed as people.
We can’t do all this deep transformational work on our own. We need witnesses to see the person that we once were and to help us become the people who were truly meant to walk this Earth. That is why I choose to step up into the public eye and share my experiences with those that choose to read. It’s scary for myself personally, but what I have to offer is a non-traditional, yet authentic set of experiences that is based off of a cosmology meant for this culture at this time. We need context in order to explore our spiritual awakenings in a way that is embracing of our true selves instead of riddled with judgement/spiritual bypass.
In order to live a life led by Spirit, it requires that you are able to clear yourself of all of the “stories” you tell yourself that keep you from living your lifes true purpose. Once we peel off the layers, living authentically is filled with ease, joy, and love. One thing about my experience right now, is that I am living very humbly. I don’t have “extra money” at this time, but my basic needs are being met. My enrichment at this time is coming from other sources rather then just monetary. People are gifting me food, offering up their houses for me to use as community spaces, paying for gas money, boots, power objects, and altar items. My son has not gone hungry, and we have always had a roof over our heads. Spiritual awakenings can be scary, but what we really need is a safe context of which to ground ourselves into as we “come online”.
Which is another motivating factor for me crafting this US Tour. I genuinely believe that we have the ability to come together and find others like us that want to either explore the beginnings of the work, or to deepen our practices together. Too long have we all fed into the lie of separation. It is now time for us to step into the story of well being, and finding or making communities that support that. Even if you’re not along the route, feel free to visit our Facebook, YouTube, or Forums to join us from a distance. We will even be live streaming certain events, so stay tuned for more adventures.
I plant this virtual blessing here, that as I continue to learn and grow about myself and my experiences, that you continue to learn and grow about yourself and your experiences. May we all take that step today that leads us closer to our authenticity and ignite that passion in our belly – the true calling of why we were born on this Earth.