Wintertime in the Northern Hemisphere is the time for dreaming, resting, and planning for the next year ahead. As many have noticed and commented, I have been hard core going within. My adventure has taken me deep within my own cocoon of personal development. Since I’m in this 5 year shamanic training program with the Last Mask Community, I have hard core discovered that I was an addict to suffering and a chronic “over do-er”. I consistently pushed myself to exhaustion, fitting thing after thing into my busy schedule. I over planned and even managed to double book my “self care” times. Eagle Therapies is an extension of me, because it is my business. It’s been a reflection of my own personal progress as just 2 years ago I was offering anywhere between 6-12 events per month. It also lent itself to a huge US Tour that was quite an adventure! But it was stressful financially, and a great experiment of trust in Spirit. Overproduction much?
It’s a really sad thing, because our society rewards multitasking and pushing yourself to the extent of martyrdom. I can’t rightly see clients when I don’t practice what I preach, so I have been following the advice that I had been gifting out like candy.
I couldn’t hear my own song. And gradually over the last year, my life has taken an incredible turn. I moved to an intentional community called Living Energy Farm back in September.
I got involved with organic farming, open pollinated, non-GMO, USDA organic crop growing and an off the grid lifestyle. Talk about slowing down! I have been living very simply, and taking a minimal amount of clients (thank the gods for distance sessions and mobile internet!).
But my favorite thing? Well, you see in the 5 year program, the first year is all about our relationship with our authentic self, the second year is all about our relationship with shadow repressed/shamed aspects of self, and the third year is all about our relationship with power. In my third year in the cycle, I’ve gotten involved in this huge project that Living Energy Farm is putting forth. In addition to successfully living off grid for about a decade, they are passionate about sharing this renewable energy model with other people. Their big donation project is all about installing 50 battery boxes with solar panels in Navajo and Hopi territory. The four hubs we will be working with are the Tsaile/Wheatfields Dineh Water Users, The Diné College, Rez Refuge, and the Hopi Tutskwa Permaculture Institute.
That’s right. In my shamanic training year where it’s all about relationship to power, I synchronously got involved in a project of returning power to people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to power.
It’s still sad to know that there are people here in the United States that do not have access to electricity or running water. Many kids move away as they grow up because there aren’t any big paying jobs on the reservations. When they make money, they either send money back to their parents, or they purchase mass produced solar equipment that’s based off of the consumerist model. Unfortunately the solar models that are out on the market at the moment are built similarly to regular electricity running through a house, and are operated with materials that break down within a few years so you have to go back to these companies to replace the parts (which means more money for these companies). There’s thousands of dollars of melted inverters, solar panels, and dead batteries all over reservations in the South West.
Living Energy Farm has an alternative, and is offering an opportunity for people who also want to help people who don’t have access to power or running water. We’re looking for desk lamps that have regular screw in light bulbs. We will be re-wiring them so that they can be used in this donation project. If you’re in the Northern VA/DC/MD area, I can definitely stop by before I go. I’ll be up in the DC area on January 14th+15th. You can also feel free to drop off lamps at the Intuitive Wellness Center or bring them to the Journey Group on the 14th.
Don’t have a lamp? We will happily accept donations! There are three people from the farm going out to AZ and NM to install these solar kits who will be using these donations for food, lodging, and other travel expenses. If you’re looking to gift a larger donation that is tax deductible,you can use this link. After we complete the Arizona project with the Hopi and the Navajo, we also have some installations we will be doing in Ghana, and also some eco-villages in Costa Rica.
Curious about what makes this system different then the conventional solar kits that are on the market? We will be expanding after this big donation project and have begun mass producing this DC Microgrid system and will start selling them beginning in February. Find out more on our sister project site Living Energy Lights (this is our for profit site) where a portion of each battery purchase will go towards funding these charitable adventures.
In order to support myself while I am out there, I will be offering distance journeys and mini shamanic healings for $50. This will include a detailed email with what I discovered on my journey or healing, and will give practical next steps for your healing process. This package deal also includes a recording and a phone call to go over the results. The best part? I’ll be doing this in-between these installations and on the reservations, close to powerful sacred and ceremonial places. Receive the juju and blessings of the South West in this magical opportunity!
I am unsure what events I will be offering when I get back from this big month long install as we help out 50 families/institutions get these DC Microgrids. I definitely know that I will still be continuing the Shamanic Journey Groups. My passion has really come out whenever I offer dance ceremonies, so perhaps I will do more of those! But we shall see 🙂
Thank you to all who have been supporting me while I incubate in my cocoon! The support that I feel as I go inward has been immense and has dropped me to my knees in gratitude more often then I can count. I can’t wait to unfold into the person I was born here to be!
Hope to see you around the fire, in the dream world, or around the sacred circle soon. Many blessings to you and your loved ones.
I know it might sound ridiculous and you’re afraid people might laugh at you or judge you if they catch you doing it. However, being kind to your food actually helps you in the long run.
Sensitive people can tell the difference when someone makes them food, and they really put their love and care into that food. When we get food prepared for us (especially from a fast food restaurant), it’s disconnecting in a way. Sure, it might taste good, but somehow it doesn’t fill us up like Grandmas Apple Pie did.
We can be magical just like our Grandparents and make amazing food with depth and meaning if we just focus our attention on our food in a conscious way. Most people live to eat. We should be making the switch to eat to live. If we slowly stop overconsuming food because the food that we cook or eat has our intention cooked into it, we can become “full” even easier. Thus learning to stop overeating can become easier.
Many people that are Reiki practitioners bless their food with Reiki. Hey, if that floats your boat then cool! I actually pray by singing. I connect my intention with my voice and singing always puts me in a good mood. I intentionally connect with the food that I’m about to cook and will often sing to it. What does that mean energetically? I am blessing my own food and eating my prayers. I’m not as disconnected from my food and I feel a sense of connection to something bigger out there in the big web of life.
Even if you’re a horrible cook and can’t cook for yourself, try just humming something to your microwave dish. Make the intention to connect to your food and give gratitude for the many hands it took to get it to your table. If you’re also looking to deepen your Shamanic Practice, set a little food aside for the land spirits and ancestors in gratitude for the food that is about to nourish your body.
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
If you have found this page, there is no coincidence that you are on a path of self discovery. Even if that wasn’t your intention, you somehow still wound up finding this page. This post directly deals with the Fire as an element, and how we can journey to find out the depth of our relationship with this element. It can be a direct reflection upon us and how we function in this world. We will be going through these journeying topics at the Shamanic Journey Group of Fairfax, however this can also be a “follow along at home” directional for those that wish to take this slowly and in a step-by-step process.
I shall update the table of contents as the blog posts get written.
Table of contents:
Purity and the Elements – Main post, Introduction to four element system and why
Earth – Representation of our Physical Body
Air – Representation of our Mental Body
Fire (this post)
Water (coming soon)
Fire is one of those elements that requires the right balance in order to burn in a way that is healthy. Previously in other blog posts, we have discussed that Earth represents our physical body, Air represents our mental body, water represents our emotional body, and fire is the pivot point of all of these elements – representing our spiritual body. Our Western Contemporary culture doesn’t value (or in the past has not valued) our spiritual body. We do things that go against our integrity all the time: not fully being “present” and in the moment, falling back on what we said we were going to do, not being realistic about our expectations and overestimating the energy that we have left before we commit to a task, etc. In order for our metaphorical fire to burn well, the other three elements have to be in balance.
Let’s start at the base. Imagine your place of power, or the place you have visited with your guides before. Go back to that same place to see you relationship with these elements and be open to the images that pop up. If our metaphorical “ground” is too shaky, porous, or wet, and it not well formulated – is that a good place to build a fire? Is it wise to build a fire on top of a whole bunch of dry grass? Here is where I introduce the concept of judgement, because I know this has come up in previous journeys. When viewing our metaphors, we must not ask is “Is this wrong or right?” because that puts us in a mind frame of judgement. If we label something as “Good” or “Bad”, then we will automatically categorize things into polar opposites for us. Maybe having something a particular way can be beneficial, but we can’t see the value of it until we appreciate it later. Sometimes the biggest miracle is God’s unanswered prayers. Perhaps someone does need to build a fire on top of dry grass, because that dry grass represents a lot of the “burnt out” challenges they have had in their life and they need to clear it all out. Yes, it turns into a fire storm, and that can be chaotic for a time – but perhaps that drained state once the fire burns out is exactly what they need to be receptive for the next lesson. Sometimes we need to be under pressure before we can grow. For example, conifers are a type of tree where fire is vital in their life cycle. The seeds cannot germinate unless they have been cracked open by fire. Everything has its learning opportunity, and learning to ask the right questions of Spirit is key to understanding ourselves and how we operate.
Now to deepen this metaphor. If we go back to our earth element in the form of wood instead of just the ground, we can equate the wood to our materials for consumption. Do we have too much wood? Do we not have enough wood? The wood can represent what we use to feed/nourish ourselves. If we don’t feed or nourish ourselves properly, then how can we have enough physical stamina to burn the wood? If we happen to sleep really well, eat right, and then wake up with a full stack of logs to burn, do we have a tendency to set everything on fire at once? Usually what that looks like in physical reality is the person getting really super excited about an idea, then they proceed to go forward with many different tasks, throwing all of their logs on their fire and expending all of their energy at once. Before they know it, after they get through half their day, their energy is depleted and they are dragging by the end of the day. The question is not “Is this method wrong or right” but “Does this method serve me?” or “Is this a healthy way for me to expend my energy”.
If our mental state is out of balance, perhaps we might have too much wind to add to our metaphor. If there is too much air (too many thoughts circulating), then sometimes our fire can burn out of control and we can run out of fuel (wood) faster then what we normally would. Because of this excitement of ideas, we can burn through our resources so quickly that we still become drained. Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the spectrum, if we don’t have enough wind, our metaphorical status could be “stagnant” and it could be hard for us to burn anything at all, because there is a lack of air. This lack of air could be a feeling of hopelessness, dread, or depression that we can’t seem to kick ourselves out of. If we happen to fall into this category, then some questions we could ask ourselves are: “What is my right relationship with my mental wisdom body, and how does it affect my element of fire?”; “Show me how quickly I burn through my resources when I become too over excited about my ideas”; “What is right relationship with my mental wisdom body, and how can I stimulate/calm it down?”
If our emotional wisdom body is out of balance, then our metaphorical scene could either be too wet, or not damp enough. If the air is thick and humid, then it could definitely be hard to start a fire because of how wet/saturated the wood is. If there is little to no emotion at all, then it could be too dry – and again, our resources get burned quicker then what we can throw on our fire. Most people in our society have a hard time with our emotional wisdom body, because we either suppress our emotions (because boys aren’t supposed to cry, or crying is seen as a weakness) or we over indulge in emotions (those prone to gossip or drama and feed off of it). It’s hard to find balance within ourselves, but again, we see how this very vital wisdom body can influence our element of fire. If we consider ourselves to be “sensitive” and feel more than some other people, then sometimes some protection against another person emotions could be the key. Perhaps someone is “raining on your parade”, and you find yourself drained and can’t build your fire after interacting with a certain type of person. What that can look like, is someone with a lot of ambition, but then after talking with someone, can become really disheartened because that person does not believe in them or their dreams. Sometimes filtering out these people that weigh you down is the type of protection you need to help protect your fire. Great questions sometimes come from this, “What is the right environment for my fire to thrive?”; “Show me how my emotional wisdom body affects my spiritual wisdom body”; “Show me the type of protection I might need to protect my fire, and how my fire gets influenced by others”
All of these things factor into our relationship with Spirit. If we are imbalanced in any of those three areas, it could be hard to keep our energy going. Fire typically represents our passion, our influence, and what drives us in life. If we feel like we have no passion, if we lack creativity, or we stop short – then what are you doing to feed your fire properly? This is a direct reflection to ones spirituality. Our sense of purpose and what drives us is directly enhanced by our relationship with our spirituality. If taken into context, we begin to see that many people can be out of balance with their spirituality, because all of these things are connected and inter-related. The point is not to have a fire that burns too terribly brightly, or out of balance with all the other elements, because too much “fire” can lead to arrogance, aggression, and ambition. How many times have you been bull dozed by someone with a fierce determination without a lack of care for who stands in their way? There is a such thing as too much fire. If we have too little fire, do we feel stuck, depleted, or feel like we are lacking a sense of purpose?
Fire is perfect for those who feel like they have too much on their plate. One of the best things about the element of fire, is that is serves the purpose of purifying, as well as bringing the gift of instant transformation. It is a universal law that energy cannot be either destroyed nor created. So what happens if you’ve got a lot of baggage? If you learn to utilize and work with these elements properly, we can begin to reflect on some of the things we’ve got going on in our life, and bring it to the fire so we can transform our thoughts/perspective, and then “let go” of anything else that doesn’t fit.
I will bring up a few patterns I see most common these days, that are standing in ones way to accessing their full potential of their spiritual wisdom body. One is that people are using life as an excuse not to get spiritual. Many people say, “Oh, I don’t have time to meditate” or “Yeah, I’m a really stressed out person, and I know I should do something for stress relief” and don’t take into account their spiritual health as well as their mental, emotional, and physical health. On the opposite end, I have seen many people take on meditations of “letting it go” and clearing the stress of the moment, but don’t into account why those stresses pop up in the first place or why it triggers them into an emotional/reactive state. If a person is constantly “letting go” and not diving down to why something is making them upset, it is termed a “spiritual bypass” so then they don’t really get down to the core of what makes them upset. Both can be an abuse of our spiritual wisdom body, and can lead to a superficial relationship with our own spirituality.
Many people can be in many different aspects of these relationships, the main point to draw out of this blog post, is what state are YOU in? This is not a linear path where you can “follow these steps and get this result”, but this is part of a guideline that is more holistic in application, and how you can pick up the pieces to strengthen the weak aspects.
Some questions we can ask our guides in regards to our relationship with fire are:
- What things am I refusing to acknowledge at this point?
- What are the challenges blocking me from accessing the full potential of my spirituality?
- What things can I transform within myself to establish a deeper relationship with my spiritual wisdom body?
- What things are standing in my way between me and living my life’s purpose?
As with any archetype, the shadow of fire is the wildfire (if you are confused at what the shadow is and what it represents, scroll down to the bottom of the earth post). The wildfire comes when we become too arrogant, sit on top of our high horse, and put all of our eggs in one basket. A more common expression of the wildfire is when our emotional wisdom body runs out of control, and the archetype of the “Wounded Child” drives the bus. Some people may or may not be familiar about it, but I tend to have a pretty unpopular view of the “Wounded Child”. What this usually looks like is someone who is fired by jealousy or their repressed emotions, and does something out of spite. They become “alive” and “on fire” because they feel like they need to get back at a person, or a group. Another thing is that we could have false passions that can drive us. Sometimes our addictions can fuel our motivations in the world, and we can become feverish to fulfill these desires we have. The wildfire is an example of chaos that can be used to drive us either into a state of madness where we destructively burn things without meaning to, or we can use it constructively in a way where we set forth fire in a way that allows for clear, concise break down so we can emerge as seedlings of a conifer that has been through the flame. The earth is generally extremely fertile after a fire, depending on what was burned. Could this be a new beginning for you that you can be proud of? Or is the wildfire a result of your repressed/unresolved issues that you continue to project on your surrounding situation? All of these are good questions to ask.
Other valuable links:
Journey Track Outline – Lost and need a refresher? Go back to the basics before moving forward
Purity and the Elements – Need a reminder on the element system and how these all play together?
Earth – Representation of our Physical Body
Air – Representation of our Mental Body
To all of my beloveds and family members that supported us as my teacher and I went out to Standing Rock, here is a synopsis of our journey. My teacher and I co-wrote this together, but it’s written in his point of view. I’m not going to bother changing it because I’ve had many other projects that I’ve been working on. Feel free to read, comment, share, and everything else. Based off of my Walk With Buffalo post, I find it very funny that a Buffalo Mother decided to walk up to the car to lick it 😛
Posted on his Facebook page at 7:00pm on March 29th
Greeting my Family, Friends and Earth Companions! I am home from my trip to Standing Rock, N.D, and here is our (Stephanie and my) combined synopsis of the trip and what we found and did there. I traveled there this time with a good friend and shamanic student of mine, Stephanie Seger. She is also a shamanic healer in her own right and runs Eagle Therapies to help others. When we arrived, we found out that all the original camps have been completely destroyed by the government with the approval of the Standing Rock Tribes Chief, Dave Archambault, and the council. You can read more about that here . The work on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is complete and the oil either is or will be flowing through it by the time I get this finished and out to everyone.
The journey started on Sunday, March 12, 2017. We drove for a little over 12 hours to Peoria, IL and stopped for the night to avoid driving in the blizzard that was coming east. It was a good decision, because we missed the snowfall pretty much completely and started driving again Monday morning to complete our trip to Bismarck, ND. We saw many vehicles’ in the ditches and medians that validated Lora and Stephanie’s counsel to stop and got into Bismarck, ND about 2am on Tuesday. A little over 1800 miles with no problems, we were blessed. We spent much of the drive both days exchanging stories while Stephanie worked on her many art projects. She tends to be a very creative person. One of her projects included free hand painting a buffalo on a new drum.
Tuesday morning when we woke up, we rolled out and went to Standing Rock to see what was going on. We were met by a Federal Marshall, who told us that we were not allowed to go into or see the area where the Oceti Sakowin Camp or Sacred Stone camps were. As we had approached Standing Rock, we had seen two small camp areas that had teepees and tents. When we went back to the larger camp, we introduced ourselves to the Four Bands Prayer Camp (Cheyenne River Camp). We met with the leaders (Leon Red Dog and Johnnie Aseron) to find out what they were doing and how we could help. Cheyenne River Lakota Chairman Harold Frazier has authorized the Cheyenne River Camp on the Cannon Ball River. Its purpose will be educational and spiritual. They gave us a copy of their rules for the camp (attached) and said that they need labor, supplies and financial support. So we rolled up our sleeves (figuratively, since it was about 6 degrees out) and help put up tents and clear snow. They didn’t have a general sleeping area yet, so we headed back to Bismarck to sleep since our tent was not going to be warm enough to allow us to stay on site.
It was still light when we left, so we stopped at the second, smaller camp on our way out and found out it was the Wolf’s Den (Sacred Buffalo Prayer Camp). It was an interesting and magical introduction. I stayed in the car while Stephanie walked up and introduced both of us. Stephanie has the gift of working with Spirit Guides, and met the crew outside. They almost turned her away, indicating that this was private property, when somehow her charm and way with words won them over. It also helped that at the same time of explaining her gifts, a Silver Hawk (my Native name and totem) flew in through the middle of camp, catching everyone’s attention. This is a rare occurrence and piqued their interest. It helped us as we introduced ourselves and asked about the camp. The Wolf Den is a smaller, independent camp that is trying to maintain the spirit and purpose of the Standing Rock camps that have been dismantled / destroyed. We went in to their primary tent and listened to their story and then Stephanie was asked to drum on her newly painted Buffalo drum. As Stephanie shared her story of being guided there by a buffalo spirit, the Lakota Song Keeper picked up on the holiness and exchanged song for song. It sealed their acceptance of her and they asked us to come back the next day, since they also didn’t have a general sleeping area yet. They only had one request for supplies to make a good beef stew and maybe some pork chops and bacon. Little did we know, but this camp is home to the “Walking Thunder Buffalo Project”, where they have many buffalo hides available for fleshing/tanning purposes as an educational tool. The hides will be used in sacred ceremony, to teach people about the spirituality that once thrived in these areas before colonialism.
Wednesday morning we rolled out and returned to the Wolf’s Den Camp first and delivered a very large top roast, 20 pounds of potatoes, 20 pounds of carrots, 20 pounds of celery, 20 pounds of onions and several packs of organic beef broth for the stew as well as two large packs of pork chops and two large packs of extra thick bacon. To say the least, it was well received. After catching up, Stephanie was asked if she would like to help with the fleshing of a sacred buffalo hide. She was excited about the opportunity and went out to work in the cold with one of the people. I went on to the Four Bands Prayer Camp (Cheyenne River Camp) to continue to help set up tents and organize supplies and materials. While I was working there, the camp had visits / inspections from the BIA, FBI, and state and local police departments. I believe that the visits were staged to interrupt our efforts, because all of them happened about 2 hours apart and took the better part of an hour. They required we show our ID’s and took photos of our vehicles. Overall it was a good productive day and we were both exhausted by the end of it. Since there still was no general sleeping area available yet, we returned to Bismarck and had dinner with a friend of Stephanie’s who happens to be the lead attorney for the Water Protector Legal Collective. Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC) provides on-the-ground legal representation and coordination at Standing Rock, North Dakota in partnership with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG). Sandra La Huracán went to North Dakota and left her loved ones in Colorado to stand for the people, and is a big reason that many are not still in jail. I truly honor her work and heart. We are all connected.
Thursday was another work day for both of us at the respective camps and I was also asked to go and assist with two PTSD veterans who were having issues with the local authorities and were being moved to the VA Hospital in Fargo. While I did this, Stephanie helped dig out the sweat lodge from a good half foot to a foot of snow. The weather had begun to warm up and it was just a beautiful day to be out doors in nature. It was a beautiful enough day that some of the native plants were peeking up through some of the snow, and the Lakota Song Keeper had decided to share some indigenous knowledge with her. I remember her smile as she shared the splendor of the freshly harvested sage and bison berries. This works agrees with her spirit and energy. But our mission and purpose was about to change. Stephanie had been invited to go to the Rosebud Reservation to talk to a chief and medicine man who runs the Sun Dance there. It was a very exhausting day both mentally and physically for the both of us, and we rested well until we packed up and headed out to the Rosebud reservation about 5 hours south of Cannon Ball, ND. Again, our trip was filled with magic, love, craft projects, and stories exchanged between us.
By the time we arrived, Stephanie was very nervous about meeting a medicine man of such power. She felt him miles out from our destination, and was more reserved then what she normally is. It was a lovely meeting that turned into a deepening kinship between people of a shared purpose. It’s hard to describe, but there’s something special about recognizing who your family members are, and realizing that we are all apart of the same tribe. Once Stephanie got her drum out from the car, the medicine man did an impromptu drum blessing for her newly painted drum. She was moved to tears and couldn’t speak for a little, and we continued conversation – all of us respecting the sacred nature of what had been unfolded before us. There was a lag in conversation when the medicine man turned to look at Stephanie as she held her twice blessed drum, and asked, “So are you going to sing?” Again she was taken aback, but obliged anyway. They asked if they could record her song by video, and she happily responded with a yes. It was another magical moment of a blessing exchange (because the song Stephanie sang was a blessing for the Earth). After her song and in between the discussion, I noticed that Gilly (medicine man) kept moving rather quickly through the background, gathering and collecting certain items and writing things down. Our conversation evolved, and when there was a lull in conversation, Gilly invited us to a ceremony in the Black Hills. We both voiced we were interested in going, and then he hands me a piece of paper with information already written down on it, and informs us that he already told people that we were coming. This adventure seemed to not end as we got another tip in our scavenger hunt of a trip. From this meeting, we drove down to Rapid City, SD where we got a hotel room for the night and got some much needed rest and stretching from being in the car all day.
Saturday was our last day in the Dakotas, and we spent it in prayer, ceremony, and blessing. We made it out to the Black Hills, which is a sacred site for the Lakota Sioux. We were gifted by live visits from buffalo, prairie dogs, antelope, hawks, deer, and many other types of wildlife. The buffalo even walked up to the truck to lick salt off of it! Stephanie felt called at one point to gather rocks from a buffalo wallow (this is where the buffalo roll around in the grass and leave a depression of dirt). We found the perfect wallow in the middle of a field where there were no buffalo (because you know, safety). She took some of the sage seeds that she gathered while she was with the Lakota Medicine Man at Standing Rock, and did a small ceremony to bury the seeds at the four corners of the buffalo wallow. She picked the three most perfect rocks, for her, my wife and I. As she was walking back, she smiled brightly as she found a sprig of sage that was broken off from the root, next to a buffalo hoof print. Funny that she got gifted sage from the earth that was broken off by the very animal she visited the wallow of. It was the perfect ending to our magical journey. From there, we gathered some gifts for our families from a local native gift shop and set our sights on the journey back home.
The journey home was a bit longer than the drive out, since we were over 300 miles farther west than Standing Rock. It was evening and I just put myself in Road Warrior mode and off we went. I drove all night and had the pleasure of meeting an Iowa State Trooper around 5:00am when he pulled me over. I was not speeding, but had a headlight that had burned out. He was polite and helpful and only gave me a repair ticket to keep me legit as I finished the drive home. It shook me to see the flashing blue lights and I was just a little rattled when he let us go. Stephanie suggests that I stop somewhere and get some rest and after consulting with Lora, we stopped and slept for a few hours. We woke and hit the road to finish the journey. I drove for 17 hours straight and we arrived back home at 9:30am for a trip total of 6,200 miles.
We both will be going back.
Thanks for reading this post! And thank you to those that gave donations 🙂
If you have found this page, there is no coincidence that you are on a path of self discovery. Even if that wasn’t your intention, you somehow still wound up finding this page. This post directly deals with the Air as an element, and how we can journey to find out the depth of our relationship with this element. It can be a direct reflection upon us and how we function in this world. We will be going through these journeying topics at the Shamanic Journey Group of Fairfax, however this can also be a “follow along at home” directional for those that wish to take this slowly and in a step-by-step process.
I shall update the table of contents as the blog posts get written.
Table of contents:
Purity and the Elements – Main post, Introduction to four element system and why
Earth – Representation of our Physical Body
Air (this post)
Fire – Representation of our Spiritual Body
Water (coming soon)
As we have found out through previous posts, all of the elements are inter-related and interconnected. Through earth, we have cultivated a sense of who we are, why we are here, what we stand for, and why we stand for it. If we don’t cultivate these things first, then we can get very overwhelmed in the element of air. Many people in this society have an excess of the air element. Because the air element represents our mental wisdom body, that means that we can have an abundance of ideas, but lack of follow through. Have you ever heard of the phrase “air head” or thought of the meaning “building castles in the sky”? That is because without the earth quality in balance, we can become very “ungrounded” and can begin to think with fantasy thinking, allowing our brains to run away with us. Air in excess can be manifested physically as anxiety, migraines, and headaches because we are up in our heads all the time. Air in and of itself physically is made up of smaller, less dense molecules then that of earth. The molecules tend to bounce around a lot faster, and sometimes when they are “heated up”, they move at lightning fast speed, bumping into each other and causing all sorts of chaos. Have you ever noticed that when someone gets excited over new ideas they trip over themselves trying to write them all down, but then they burn out before they begin to enact any of the steps? Excited air energy is great and wonderful, but being grounded and methodical is how we begin to plant these seeds that we get from the air. Right relationship with earth helps remind us to take a step back and breathe.
When working with the element of air, it is a direct engagement of Spirit. If we think about it, the first element that we are introduced to as we are born into this world is the element of air. A baby is not marked as fully alive until they “take their first breath”. Air is the element most taken for granted. The same air that we breathe now is the same air that was once breathed by our deceased relatives, animals, as well as ancient beings – including dinosaurs! When we breathe the breath of our ancestors, we can restore ourselves back to the original dream. We commonly engage in ceremony with words and speaking. Air is the energetic driver for taking a particular vow (which most people don’t take seriously anymore because vows are often broken in this society).
The spoken word does have a lot of power, because many words together begin to tell a story. We often tell ourselves stories about ourselves and can portray others and ourselves in a certain light. This is human nature and happens unconsciously. An example of a “story” that we tell ourselves is the story of being “a good husband/wife”, or “being a good daughter/son”. We often get a perception of what is good/bad from the people and community that raise us, so if we grew up in a very dogmatic household – it can be very difficult to unlearn certain behaviors, and we can have trigger reactions when a story that we are telling ourselves is being challenged. For example, if we keep telling ourselves the story of judging our own self worth, it could restrict our decisions. Because we could have a low opinion of ourselves and we see a dream job, we could potentially restrict ourselves from applying to that open job position. The “story” we tell ourselves often comes as a soft whisper that speaks to us like, “Nah, I’m not going to apply for that job. I don’t have the credentials yet”, or “Well, if I apply for the job, I won’t get it anyway”. In the end, that story boils down to our worthiness. Maybe in the past we were told that we couldn’t amount to anything, and over time if things like that keep being told to us – we believe it. When we begin cultivating a healthy relationship with element of air, we begin to challenge these stories and ask if they are grounded in reality, or based in fantasy thinking.
There is a difference between doubt and critical thinking. Doubt is paralyzing, we lose our sense of connection and we only focus on what is wrong. With critical thinking, we are finding what is valuable in the situation and come at the situation from an open place of curiosity and discovery. When you follow the lead of critical thinking versus doubt, you can begin to discern the difference between delusion and imagination, and then begin to make progress forward on how you can move forward with the resources available to you now and in this moment. With a healthy relationship with air, we can begin to cultivate the qualities of truth telling. How often do we lie to ourselves when we think we can accomplish some grandiose task but don’t realize how much energy we really have in the moment? How often do we overstretch ourselves because of the dreams of others and their projection of how we fit into the picture? How often do we lose our sense of boundaries because we really just want the approval of others and try to make ourselves fit into their dream instead of dreaming our own dream? This is where we begin cultivating a proper relationship with air – by asking ourselves these questions. Many times when a person first journeys to find out their relationship with air, they will either find out that they can’t breathe, or that the air is filled with a thick smog. A healthy relationship with air is one that is crystal clear – like unpolluted mountain air.
Within this same vein, there is a difference between stagnation and suffocation. With earth, things feel very heavy – almost as if you can’t move. This is stagnation, when things are unmoving or you are too unwilling to let go of your own beliefs. With suffocation, you are living in something that is dead. Have your dreams died? Have you lost sense of what your dreams once were? When you feel suffocation, it is because we lose our sense of hope, or we drift away from the things that are aligned with our true path. This often leads to fast paced moving thoughts because we keep “spinning our wheels”. When we connect back to our dreams and our passions, that is how we can “breathe life” into a particular situation – by bringing in new ideas from our mental wisdom body and being able to discern which ideas will really be able to take off with the resources we have available (earth based realization). By flowing into this relationship between air and earth, we must realize the choices that we are making. Every time we say yes to something, we are also saying no to at least 10 other things. Earth can help us realize what is important to us, and how to prioritize, while air can help inspire us to take care of the situations we already have growing. We can ask vital questions such as:
- By doing this particular action, what am I feeding?
- What possible actions can I take in this situation that help feed what drives me?
- How is this aligned with my path and does this stray from who I am?
- Show me with clarity the choices I have available to me that I can reasonably accomplish
The element of air is very strongly connected to the element of truth telling. Truth can be a double edged sword in the fact that is can cut both ways. The hurt comes in the fact that it cuts, and the wound can hurt very deeply when we find out a truth. However, the blessing is that it’s a clean cut and it heals faster. How many times have we been fed lies, and the lies feed a blister or an abscess that just keeps growing. Many times people try to ignore the sore spot, lying to themselves that this abscess is not really forming underneath the surface. Doesn’t a clean poke hurt in the beginning but drain the abscess, leading to wellness? How many times have we allowed the abscess to pop because we didn’t realize/ignored that it was there. After it bursts on it’s own, note the length of time it takes to heal as opposed to when it was cleanly cut. This is a metaphor of a healthy relationship with air, and being able to have the wisdom of asking what the “spiritual antibiotics” are so that we continue to not get sick from our choices. When we cut with the sword of truth, it can help breathe life into things that were once dead. It can hurt at first, but it helps with the awareness and healing of it in the long run.
To help cultivate a strong relationship with air, we need to focus on truth telling and find out where we are lying to ourselves. Once we have this sense of awareness about the reality of a situation and begin to move from fantasy thinking (imagining that we are some place instead of actually realizing the state we are in) into a grounded sense of who we are, what we are, and the resources we have available – we become so much more productive in this world. This in turn helps us become more grounded and more efficient in fulfilling our lifes purpose. When our mind and heart move through with intention, we can begin to discern where it is we are really going. By cultivating a place to stand with earth, we can step up and grab some of these ideas from the mental wisdom body. It has no power unless we ground it in physical reality.
As with any archetype, the shadow of air is the tornado (if you are confused at what the shadow is and what it represents, scroll down to the bottom of the earth post). The job of the tornado is to dismantle. Perhaps a new perspective is needed because it’s being encumbered by your limitations, expectations, and views. Because of some of the stories we tell ourselves, we can lead ourselves into set patterns of thinking, and sometimes these thoughts swirl in our head so fast that we can challenge ourselves to question our ability to think. When we have such a strong degree of suffocation where we feel like we have no hope in a given situation, we might need a tornado to come in to “wake us up”. What are you feeding? What are you giving life too? How can we be thankful when a new perspective brings to light a huge story that we tell ourselves in regards to how connected we feel to other people, as well as how worthy we are to receive something. Remember that a shadow is neither good nor bad. It is a natural disaster that can have the positive aspects of wisdom once we clear out the debris/rubble.
Some journey questions we can ask ourselves based off of this article:
- What is the quality of my relationship to the air element?
- What shape is my mental wisdom body in?
- Is there a particular area of my life that is suffocating right now?
- Show me an aspect of my life that is in excess, and how do I calm this down?
- Show me what right relationship with the air element looks like
If you are an auditory person and would like to listen to these same ideas in a podcast, feel free to listen to it on the Why Shamanism Now podcast.
The beginning of February is the middle point between the middle of winter and the middle of spring. It is generally the beginning of spring, as well as a metaphoric time to begin thinking of what we will be planting in the months to come. It can be a rich time as we begin to come out of our hibernation of winter. In winter, a lot of people tend to go inward, reflect upon their year, and take more breaks then normal. It is our time to rest, relax, and recharge to prepare for the coming year.
The Fairfax Shamanic Journey Group tends to look at themes that arise in nature and questions how we can apply the teachings of nature into our very own lives. For the next two months, we will be pulling wisdom from the earth and seeing how the archetype of earth can be applied into our every day lives. If you have not journeyed before, it is helpful to at least read up on it briefly before attending. It’s completely okay if you are new to it and want to give it a try. There is a mixed group of practitioners that come, some that have no experience with journeying, and some that have quite the experience. The more advanced journeyers help hold the space for the beginning journeyers, and we find an interesting array of experiences as we open the forum of discussion to the whole group. Please do not feel pressured to share your journeys – just share if you feel called too.
If you would like to keep up to date, we have a discussion forum on Facebook (which right now I look pretty egotistical and just posting journey group topics in there) that I would love for participants to start commenting on or to sharing their experiences about journeys experienced at home. It’s meant to be a safe space for people to explore their journeys without fear of judgement. It can also be a place for people to share helpful links that they shared during the group. You can feel free to read our newsletter for this month for some of the other events, as well as events from others in the area.
Now – down to the nitty gritty! Journey dates as follows! (Date also links directly to the meetup event so you can RSVP to the event if you wish)
Feb 9th – This particular session will be about the four elements, what they mean, and the interconnectedness between all of the elements. This is where we discuss the concept of complimentary dualism and how that can affect our lives. This is the introductory topic, and explores the four-element-system as a whole.
Feb 23rd – What is the earth element? How does it correspond metaphorically and apply in our lives? Here is where we look at our groundedness, our ability to stay in the present moment, and explore some metaphors surrounding our boundaries. What beliefs do we hold very concretely that are the foundations of what we stand on?
March 9th – How do we create presence and autonomy in our lives? In a world where isolation and loneliness fuel depression, there is big medicine to be found in the ability to work with the earth to create a sense of belonging, connection within, and interconnection with the larger reality.
March 23rd – Where there is light, there is always the shadow that is cast. The shadow is not a bad thing, it is the unspoken aspects of ourselves and of larger archetypes. The earth itself has a shadow, and it is the earthquake. The earthquake is what happens when we hold onto our beliefs too tight, our foundation becomes rigid, and things have become so stagnant that the only choice left is to shake things up. What happens when our world seemingly “falls apart”, and what wisdom can come of it?
So exciting to be doing this with a new community of people! If you guys have any questions or concerns, please feel free to text/call 571.306.3197, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Fly high these next two months!
There has been a great deal of turbulence in the air, and many people have been affected in some way by the issues that are being brought to light. It’s not the fact that more “bad stuff” is happening in the world, it’s just the fact that we are able to see more it than ever. It means that we have to stick together as we peel the rest of this facade off and we get down to really being who we came here to be.
For as many opinions as there are out there, there is a plethora of causes to stand for. With fear running rampant in our main culture, there’s rising amounts of racism, sexism, acts against people of other religions, acts against transgendered or LGBTQ communities/individuals, and more issues of violence and discrimination than we can count. I urge people to pause, breathe, and get out of a reactive state before proceeding forward. We can’t do good in the world if we don’t take care of ourselves first. I know there are many heated emotions flying around, and people are quicker to get reactive because there is so much going on that’s triggering people to be defensive and protect what they “know”. I don’t blame them. But if you’re going to stand up for something, really evaluate your values and morals and see which movements align with them.
The first step after self-care, is to think about things that really make a change in this world. No, putting posts all over social media about how upset you are doesn’t change anything. It might trigger other’s anger and outrage, but engaging constantly in what makes you upset makes more of us upset, and is a trend that has been perpetuated by the masses. Instead, focus on the little things to help make a change or a difference. Here’s a great article from CNN on just this, if you are ready and in a state of mind to take more action that makes a bigger difference in the great scheme of things.
Part of self-care is recognizing what is within our ability to change, and what is beyond the scope of our ability to do. I have two jobs and a kid, so obviously I’m not going to go gung-ho and do everything listed there – it’s meant to be a roadmap for some of what you can do. That goes for joining every protest that’s out there. Be selective, and it’s generally recommended to pick a cause that is close to your heart. It helps because our energy is not scattered, and more focused so that it can effect a greater change.
Now that that’s out of the way – let’s talk about Standing Rock. Why do people care about Standing Rock? What is it? Obviously it’s something that is dear to my heart, but why should we care about it?
I’m sure many people have heard of it at this point. It has finally hit mainstream media to some degree, but mostly it’s through social media that this movement has thrived. The Dakota Access Pipeline is a pipeline being built by Energy Transfer that will be used for transporting crude oil over 1,172 miles and through 4 states. Click here to read the fact sheets on Energy Transfer. Sunoco Logistics (whose parent partner is Energy Transfer) will take over transporting the crude oil once the pipeline is complete. The reason for the pipeline? They claim it moves oil faster over longer distances, and it will help boost the economy in certain areas. Prior to the construction of the proposed pipeline, they have been transporting crude oil via trucks and rail. They claim they take the utmost care and security during transportation, however Sunoco has the highest spill rate of all of the companies that transport crude oil. Their public statement says they will do their best to “minimize spills”. They have also not been documenting all of the spills that take place, stating that they didn’t want to “over-report” their spills. The biggest recent spill happened October 20th, 2016 when a Sunoco pipeline burst, leaking 55,000 gallons of oil about 100 miles North of Harrisburg, PA. Because the oil was leaked from that area, it soaked into the water supply and has reached down as far as the Susquehanna river (it first spilled into Loyal Sock Creek which then flows into the left branch of the Susquehanna) about 15 miles south of where the oil spill occurred.
- Read about other fatalities of other oil spills
- Read about oil spills in other areas and their environmental impact
We now begin to understand the severity of the situation on a physical aspect alone, of the environmental impact of transporting crude oil via pipelines. Another layer to add to this, is the fact that the construction process did not even consult with the owners of the property this pipeline will be going through. Many farmers and people that own private property have been pressured into selling their property so this pipeline could be created. Some of the land that this pipeline runs through was promised to the successors of the Great Sioux Nation in the treaties of Fort Laramie in 1851 and 1868. The government itself has broken the property stated by seizing 56,000 acres for the Lake Oahe project (dam and reservoir) by the US Army Corps of Engineers without prior consent from the Sioux tribe. Technically speaking, the property that the Energy Transfer, DAPL is cutting through military property – and they continued construction on the pipeline even without consent from the US Government. When approached with this legally, the CEO of Energy Transfers released a public statement that equated to drilling first, asking forgiveness later. Even with the Army Corps of Engineers, and President Obama getting involved and sending official letters and documentation, Energy Transfers still decided to proceed with the construction of the pipeline, have dug the trenches and have brought equipment for drilling underneath Lake Oahe on both sides.
As if that isn’t enough, we are also able to witness the layers of inappropriate action in regards to the handling of the protesters. They arrested people at the camp and threw them into dog kennels for “protesting” when they were practicing their freedom of speech and religion through praying. They fired rubber bullets and sprayed pepper spray on a crowd of protesters as they tried to protect sacred burial grounds. The basis for their non-violent protests have been a message of peace. When people come to Standing Rock, there are multiple classes a day that try to educate people about their way, and about how their fight is based on prayer. When beginning any protest, their elders lead them through a ceremony with prayer, and make it a point to include everyone there, including any law enforcement officials present. I was there myself during the protest in Washington DC, and I was there as they gave the blessing that “Everyone was to stay safe and continue to be so.” I was in the back of the protest line that was close to half a mile long, and I didn’t hear any arguing, or fighting. Just the chants for freedom, equality, peace, and the sweet smell of tobacco and sage being burned as we marched to the White House.
If you have questions about what exactly this fight is for, the Indigenous Youth Council put out this wonderful video which highlights the fact that this isn’t just about Native Americans fighting for their land. It’s not just about this one pipeline. It’s about the human race fighting for survival against tyranny and corruption. The blessing of this movement is the fact that a Global Community has been formed around Standing Rock, because they see the value in protecting what is Sacred. There are tales of people not understanding what this movement is – so they go to Standing Rock to see what this change is about – and instead it changes them. This is not just about fighting for what it right, it’s a wave of a mental, emotional and spiritual awakening that’s being led by prayer and ceremony. Its changing lives, the way people look at things, and how they interpret what they see.
It’s obvious the acts of disrespect have been seeded by the creation of the pipeline, which was started and continued without consent from the indigenous people, OR the hundreds of private landowners that the Energy Transfers Partners have cleared out/bought out. We need to be more mindful about what we are manifesting in this world. A good majority of this Western Society is founded on profit, and emphasizes sacrificing many things in light of convenience.
A good majority of the humans running things are doing so with power, greed, and without thought for the communities or environment. What would happen hypothetically if the pipeline was created, and everything went through and a major oil spill happened just like what was witnessed on October 20th? Lake Oahe feeds into the Missouri river. Obviously there’s going to be the immediate area that would be affected, but who’s to say what will happen when the other contaminants leak into the surrounding water supply? What happens if all of those chemicals associated with crude oil get into the water supply that feeds into the bread belt of the United States? We already have a large number of people that are allergic to wheat or developing gluten intolerances with the amount of preservatives in our food, and other factors. If the food that we grow is being fed by water that is contaminated, what do you think that is going to do to the food that is grown? It’s a chain effect.
The Standing Rock movement isn’t just about the DAPL. It also is a call to action for all people to wake up and see what is going on around them. What is the environment we live in now like? What pollution is around us that we are contributing to, for the sake of ease and convenience? All of these are big questions, and we turn inward to find the answers. If we are not in a stable place as we ask these questions of ourselves, then how can we be in a position to think about the greater world/community that is stitched together because of this simple thing we all need.
This movement isn’t JUST about the Oahe Lake and the surrounding water of North Dakota. It’s about all of the water that the Oahe Lake feeds into. It’s about ALL rivers and ALL life. Water is Sacred. #WaterIsLife
If you want more up to date information on Standing Rock, visit the Sacred Stone Camp Facebook page. Find out facts about the Dakota Access Pipeline and the protesting.
Feel moved by what was said here? Feel inspired to help now that you have a broader understanding of what is going on? Then congratulations, you just took the first step by reading this article and educating yourself more on the situation. This blog post is not meant to be all inclusive, but provides only a small sampling of the information available to you about why people are making such a big fuss about the situation. I encourage people to do their own research and to double check all of the facts provided here. There will be many sides and perspectives, and the side of the story you get will often be filtered through the eyes of the person seeing it. I know that my view point of the world is very different then others, hence why I encourage you to find your own truth.
If you’re so called to help with this particular protest, then here are some things that you can do to support this movement:
The Sacred Stone Camp is the compilation of different camps at Standing Rock. They are on the front lines where they are directly bordering where construction is taking place. They are keeping an eye on the pipeline construction with drones, and are keeping themselves informed on the progress. Many people here are praying, surviving, and doing their job to protect the land. These protectors are being called to stay at Standing Rock, and have either left their jobs or have taken time off work in order to come support the cause. A lot of people that have gone there are living off of donations.
- Here are Frequently asked questions and how to Support the Camps at Standing Rock.
- They are winterizing their camp so the Land Protectors can stay warm during the oncoming Winter. They have an Amazon Wishlist for supplies.
- There are many people who have gotten hurt at the protests, and that have acquired injuries. Click here if you would like to donate to medical funds.
- If the Standing Rock movement is something that moves you, but you would like to support the Non-Profit organization that is helping them legally in this matter, then find out more and donate to Earthjustice.
Don’t have money or supplies to donate? There are other ways that you can help. In order to “starve” the Black Snake (oil pipeline), there are efforts to defund the project.
- Letters to Officials to stop DAPL – email list to stay in contact with the movement
- List of Banks to write to – Banks are much more susceptible to pulling their funding from projects. Especially if large numbers of people write to them asking them to change their minds.
- Largest Bank in Norway pulls its assets
- DNB bank threatens to pull their assets
- Latest update as of November 14th – still a chance! Our hope is growing! Obama administration and Army Corps of Engineers have stomped down their foot because of protesting
- (Not immediately connected, but by proxy connected because of the awareness the movement has brought about) Interior Cancels Oil Leases On Sacred Tribal Lands In Montana
- As of November 16th – NADL in Financial Jeapordy (Letters to Banks have been working)
Shadow side of this movement
Obviously with the majority of people following along in the Standing Rock movement and its footsteps, we also have those that have become so moved/touched by this movement that they jump in without really knowing what it’s all about. These extremists do not understand the true meaning of standing with Standing Rock, but that shouldn’t be the whole example that can appear to discount what this movement stands for. With every act of balance, there is always a side of the argument/movement which is done with good intention, but their actions come out as warped and twisted. Read about the Killing of Buffalo “in the name” of Standing Rock. It would be unwise to pull up all the wonderful facts about Standing Rock without understanding the other aspects of what some might be reading about. We must embrace all sides of an argument and understand that they exist and are still apart of us – even if it is misguided.
When someone says that they’re “holding space” for a person, I have to ask myself, “What does that mean?” In this article, we will explore the heart as an energy center as well as a container for transformative processing.
This is my perspective on energy work, and is neither an absolute nor “the truth.” This is also my personal cosmology, so I can share my understandings and present them to the outside world. Measure the information found here against your own truth chord to find out if this resonates with you. May you find something useful in this article and go forth in a positive way to spread the productive medicine that has helped create a deeper understanding within you.
Let’s start off with the first concept to grasp before we fully dive into this subject. As a lot of people are awakening to energy work, some may be overwhelmed by the complexity and logistics of intricate energy systems like the chakra system. (Not to say that they don’t work, but just to approach them as another way of looking at things). For simplicity’s sake, I consider there to be three main energy structures within the body:
- Head – Mental understanding; the root of the mental wisdom body
- Heart – The meeting ground between; the root of the emotional wisdom body
- Belly – Gut feeling/intuition; the root of the physical wisdom body
In a lot of cosmologies, the heart is the connecting piece between all of the energetic bodies. If we simplify our understanding to three energy centers, the heart would be the meeting place where the passions of the belly, as well as the clarity from the mind, commingle.
This commingling is the perfect atmosphere to have a Transformational Process: the process to permanently change a pattern or belief you have. A transformative process is a specific event where something happens, you are impacted by this event, something changes within you and you can’t change back. The first mistake that I see people making is not grasping the fundamental difference between change and transformation. With change, you can always change back. With transformation, on the other hand, you create something entirely different, and you cannot fathom being what you once were. For a more in-depth explanation of this element, visit my article on Change and Transformation I posted a few months back.
As we break things up into segments, there are three categories that we will break transformation down into. Most of the time, it is a mixture of one or two of the categories, but this identification will come with time. These three types of transformation are:
- Personal Transformation (relationship with self)
- Interpersonal Transformation (one on one, relationship based)
- Group or Community Transformation
Some obvious physical examples of this include becoming a parent or getting a high school diploma or college degree. On a personal level, that experience transforms you because you can’t think of yourself differently after that. You have something (or someone) as a product of that transformation. The community at large looks at you differently, because in some jobs you can’t excel until you meet certain credentials and achieve certain marks of transformation. With group or community transformations, we hold ceremonies like graduations or coming-of-age parties like bar mitzvahs/bat mitzvahs or Quinceañeras.
All of those are examples of the outward marks of transformation – a memorable point in time marking things we’ve accomplished in the physical world. Half of the people in our culture don’t value these experiences for what they really are. Most kids graduating high school don’t really realize what it means before they enter the “real world.” Celebrations of transitions and transformations have been devalued because we don’t mark transformational processes for what they are worth. These are transformations that are larger in scope, but let’s refine this topic now to the smaller-scope transformations that can occur in our energetic body.
The thing is, emotional, mental, and spiritual transformation is unexpected, and we have to set up the right container for them to take place. It can often feel like a major shift or an “AH-HA” moment. There are a lot of times when a transformational process begins to happen, and we begin to change; however it’s not recognized as a process. Because we don’t allow the space for that transformation to take place, we resort back to the way we used to be. This is very similar to trying to get to the core of the problem, but then bailing on the full process and merely peeling off another layer off the onion instead of diving deeper. Transformation is an art, and an art that has been diluted and is easily confused with “changing.”
The real act of transformation is a MESSY process. It’s very similar to the caterpillar trying to transform into the butterfly. The caterpillar builds a chrysalis for itself, and its body literally breaks down within the confines of its structure, liquefying into a primordial ooze and swirling around inside of itself. If we happen to metaphorically be the chrysalis and we falter in being that structure/container, that ooze will melt through to the outside and the transformational process will feel incomplete, often leaving ourselves feeling incomplete. Transformation can often feel painful, like we are “dying” in the process.
There are varying sizes of containers that we can create for ourselves and others. Sometimes we need a personal-sized container for little changes/transformations, and sometimes we need a much larger one for a hard-core belief pattern that needs some altering.
- Personal transformation – being there for ourselves and not harming our own process
- One-on-one transformation – confiding in another person, personal relationships
- Community transformation – finding a group of people who set up and create a space to change and transform together
Transformation should always start at the individual level. We should be caring about our personal development and how we show up for ourselves. If we do, this leads to healthier relationships without the need for control or co-dependence. When we begin to focus on ourselves as a container for these processes, that’s when we begin showing up for other people in the same way.
Sometimes, however, there is something a little bigger that needs to change, and we need a little help from another person or group of people while going through this process. It can be hard to both be the liquid of the process and hold the container for that liquid. If what we are trying to change is overwhelming and we get lost within our own shadows and wounds, we might need a community or a group of people that will help set the container so that we have the ability to transform and break down together. We are all human, and many of us have similar problems. It can help our own processing if we realize we are not alone.
Some of you may have only a vague sense of what this post is about, while others will be reading this and having goosebumps. Let’s bring in some real-world examples to help solidify this concept so it’s not so “woo woo.” A common example of a personal transformation is someone trying to quit smoking or drinking. It’s very difficult because it’s a habit or pattern we are trying to break. There are some who have the discipline to successfully quit cold turkey, but many others will only “change” until they are able to transform their mind frame of how they approach it. Sometimes consistency is what is needed to build a container, and it’s small repeated actions daily that will over time have that “Wow, I’ve done this for this long” moments that can lead to us no longer identifying as that label (such as smoker).
A healthy interpersonal transformation depends on whether the other person can act like a good therapist. It takes strength to ask the right questions to the person that is breaking down without adding your own emotions to the mix. This is especially evident after break-ups, when we go to our friends to hold us while we feel vulnerable. Sometimes even the most well-meaning “advice” isn’t helpful, because part of us identified with being in that relationship and we become defensive of who we used to be. We are “transforming” from being out of that relationship and identifying ourselves without a partner.
For community transformation, let’s consider the example of ceremonies. There’s usually some motivational speech given before a ceremony that connects people together, like a valedictorian’s speech at a graduation or a eulogy at a vigil for the victims of a disaster. Sometimes when people pass away, it’s hard to mentally transform our own image of them into someone who is gone until we have some sort of ceremony to honor their passing. These ceremonies are just as much for honoring the people that have passed on as they are for providing closure for the people still here.
Before we go into what makes up a container, let’s talk about some of the things that can derail a transformative process:
- Mental judgements – ultimately succeed in impeding the transformation
- Emotional extremes – pollute the transformation and add extra distraction
There are so many times when we inadvertently get in our own way. How many times have you talked yourself out of going to the gym or eating healthfully? How many times have we tried to talk about our feelings with someone that we cared about, but then in our moment of vulnerability they say something that hits us in that wrong way and completely derails where you were trying to go?
Mental judgements throw us off track because we are trying to “control” the process before it even begins happening. When we begin directing it down a path that we think is right, we are not trusting it to flow and allowing the process to take its course. There are way too many people out there that believe they “know the right thing to do” and always believe they’re right. These are signs of egotism, and are something to watch out for. The greatest practitioners are those who don’t know what they’re doing because they are in the moment and supporting what needs to happen in the moment. They carry a sense of presence, instead of worrying about the future or the past. When we look to the future, we worry about what the product will turn into. When we look to the past, we think of all of the creations we have made in the past and how we want it to turn out the same or not anything like that. This is the art of projecting, and the mind is extremely good at it. It’s hard to let go of expectations and to let things happen. However, projecting is the exact thing that will make the chrysalis begin to break down and allow the ooze to slide out before we even realize that there was a transformational process that tried to take place.
Emotional extremes are an overindulgence in our own feelings, and this distracts us from what’s really going on during the process. When we are going through a true process, we are trying to decipher all the different things happening to us, but old feelings rise up and we don’t know why. We need to analyze what is happening, what we are feeling right now in the moment and what the emotions are that are coming up from the past. For example, if someone had a loved one pass away and they have unresolved emotions (resentment, guilt, shame, anger), these emotions will surface and they will relive those within moments of remembering that person. It becomes what they are feeling in the moment because they haven’t processed through how they really felt at the time it happened. When people “offer advice” when we are this vulnerable and trying to transform, they certainly mean well, because they see us in pain and they want to help, but this is contrary to the path of transformation. They know that transformation hurts and they want to make us feel better. However, expressing our feelings while someone else is trying to transform can “pollute” the process. Sometimes, someone just needs to be heard, and not told someone else’s opinion. If we are being this container and we allow our emotions to affect the transformation, a defensiveness can rise up in response to the “pollutant.”
Our job at that point is to create a container that allows for these transformational processes to happen. Everyone has this container within their own heart, and evaluating whether or not we utilize it appropriately is a wonderful form of self-reflection. The goal is to have the container be made out of non-reactive material. Remember in chemistry class when they had either a glass, metal, or porcelain container to hold reactions in? That’s the goal we need to keep in mind when we try to look at our own container and how it appears in our mind’s eye.
If you journey, this is a perfect opportunity to go within and ask yourself what state your container is in. Your container is a reflection of what you also offer to other people, not just yourself. Is your container porous? Does it react when certain chemical reactions take place within it? Does it have holes, or is it cracked or broken?
If your container is broken, cracked, or has holes in it, this is generally evidence of our mind getting in the way, resulting in self-sabotage. We ruin the process before it even begins to take place. If your container is porous, or is made out of a material that is extremely hard to clean, then that represents the fact that you allow emotions to pollute your transformations and you can’t really see the transformation for what it really is because you base so much of it on your past. If we have a container in our heart that is made up of a reactive material, when things heat up, do we throw off inappropriate comments? Our task is to create a container within ourselves that is healthy, expressing ourselves in the appropriate way.
The right transformations take the right crucible formation. If we look to our own heart, do we jump to emotional extremes and throw in mental judgements, ultimately derailing our own transformational processes? If we can’t show up for ourselves, how can we expect to show up for other people?
Our job as a good human (in my opinion) is to hold transformations in the heart. Create a heart that is not going to react emotionally to every transformation that’s trying to happen. Sometimes, we don’t need to be healed; sometimes we just need to be reminded of our strength. It takes a lot of strength to be a sacred witness and to just be there for someone going through a process. In order to break down and transform, we need to be vulnerable and feel safe enough with other people. We need to ask ourselves if we feel safe enough with ourselves, or do we judge ourselves for the actions that led us to this point?
The catalyst for this post is from my teacher Christina Pratt, with whom I will be studying beginning in 2017. If you’re an auditory person, you may wish to listen to her podcast specifically tailored to this post here. For the rest of you, I hope to see you at the Fairfax Journey Group so we can learn together.
Little Bear Chronicles – Journey of Love
I know I haven’t written about Little Bear in a while, but that’s mostly because of the business and the way that life becomes so distracting at times. This past Monday night was a very unexpected night for me, and I wish to share what unfolded because sometimes Little Bears wisdom surpasses my own.
There was a period of a few months where there was some turmoil, and Little Bear had actually distanced himself from the shamanic world. He went away for a week with family, and after he came back I had to work long shifts, so it was almost like I didn’t see him for a while. When we finally started spending time together, he didn’t want to journey, he thought it was pointless, and he got disappointed because other people/kids weren’t talking to their “helping spirits”. The way that I explained it to him, is that there is always someone with us all the time, watching over us. “Helping spirits” are like guardian angels to some people, and we just happen to see them as animals. He was sucked into the wetiko and lost his way a little bit. I held space for him and never really forced him to be spiritual. I just merely continued being who I am, and kept exposing him to it. Gradually over a month or two, he came back to accepting again. Over time, he realized there was a difference between when he did talk to his helping spirits and when he didn’t.
When kids journey, it’s really quick. For adults, the average journey tends to last about 7-10 minutes. For kids, they’re so innately connected that their journeys tend to last 3-5 minutes. I can’t say that’s the same for all children, but for the children I have worked with (including my own), that tends to be the average in the DC metro area. I admit that I’ve never forced him to journey along with the adults at the Fairfax Journey group. If he wants to participate he can, but for the past few months he colors or plays with toys, and everything works out. He’s quiet, respectful, and tries not to make too much noise when people journey.
He’s been back on track the last 2-3 weeks, and tells me wild stories of what lessons his helping spirits taught him that day. However, this past Monday was a different story. He actually wanted to journey today. Well, admittedly I was late in posting about the journey group on the internet and didn’t create the events until earlier that day (hooray procrastination) so no one showed up. That gave me the beautiful opportunity to spend one on one time with my son.
We started talking about power songs, and then he said that he loves listening to the recordings from the sound circle (the past two months he hasn’t been able to go because he’s been visiting with family). He wanted to record a power song too, because he told me that “I want to be as powerful as you when I sing”. I asked him what his power song was, and he replies the compassionate heart song. I explained that I have a different song for different helping spirits of mine: bear, eagle, spider, and otter, etc.
He replies, “I know. But all of them say that the heart song is my power song. It’s because my helping spirits live in my heart.”
My smile gets so big and I say yes to the recording (it’s down at the bottom of this post). After we sing it, he tells me about how good he feels and how much love he feels. My heart melts.
And then he states, “Mommy, I’m going to journey about love and what lesson love can teach me right now.”
I think my heart exploded with cute, as well as awe for this beautiful child. I wish sometimes I could craft questions like that when going to my helping spirits. The way he said it with such confidence, and how he wasn’t ashamed of being different any more… that really hit a sweet spot down in the recesses of my soul. It hurt a little bit, but a good type of hurt that lets you know your heart is expanding.
We did the drumming and he did the little bells. When we came out of it, we told each other our journeys. His eyes were bright and he was excited about sharing his adventures with his helping spirit. Finally I asked him, “So what was your main lesson that you learned about love.”
Without hesitation, he looks up at me with the biggest smile, “To love everyone.”
But then I threw a monkey wrench in his state. “But what happens if someone is mean to you. Do you still love them then?”
He paused and looked down at the bells. Obviously thinking and checking in with his helping spirit because he didn’t consider that. “Mommy… my bear told me yes, but that seems like it’s really hard.” His big eyes turned up. “What if someone makes you so upset you cry?”
With big bear arms I took my Little Bear into my lap. “Baby… there are going to be people out there that will make you cry. But one thing to remember is that the people that hurt you are hurt themselves. Half the time they don’t even realize they’re hurt. It takes a lot of courage to love the people that hurt you. Sometimes they mean it, but most of the time they don’t. Have compassion for them. You can still be sitting next to someone and be far apart from them emotionally in order to protect yourself.”
He is still looking down, obviously thinking. “How can you be far from someone emotionally? That doesn’t make sense.”
“Well, do you tell the nearest stranger everything about your life?”
“…. No, I don’t.”
“That’s right. Sometimes you need to not open up to someone when they hurt you and to put up protection so their hurt feelings don’t hurt you. It’s like when someone falls and they hurt their body. Sometimes people fall emotionally and their feelings get hurt. And sometimes people give voice to their ouchies, not realizing that it’s not their true self speaking. Throughout life you’ll be close to people that hurt you a lot, and you do need to learn to protect yourself. You’re a beautiful kid, with so much to give. You can choose to get hurt, or you can choose to protect yourself. Realizing when someones ouchie is speaking helps me get out of my own ouchies when I talk to someone that hurts me. Because when we fall and hurt ourselves, we can sometimes stay in that ouchy place and hurt others. It’s sometimes hard to love everyone, including yourself.”
By golly, this kid just soaks this in and I feel his little brain turning. It’s almost as if I can feel the last puzzle piece click into place when he grins this big grin. He hugs me with the biggest hug and tells me he loves me. I of course, love him back.
This kid… sometimes I don’t have words. And I’m surprised at the depth of which he gets what I’m saying sometimes. I can tell whenever he gets something that I’ve explained, because he gets quiet and his actions reflect his pondering demeanor.
Anyway, here’s the video I was talking about. He has given his permission and was admittedly a little nervous when recording this video. But he wanted to share his power song with the world (is what he told me). I have to give thanks for my Alchemical fire family, for I picked up this chant at one of the all night drumming ceremonies. Little Bear always loved it when I sang to him, and this was one of the first songs he learned by himself.
Could this be the healing
That we share this feeling
And find a compassionate love
Flowing from my heart to yours
Flowing from my heart to yours
After a nice long mini vacation, I’m ready to dive back down into the work. This blog post is going to be the brief outline for August, and a breakdown of the overall topic of what we will be exploring this month at each Fairfax Shamanic journey group. Click here if you’re unfamiliar with Shamanic journeying.
So what are we exploring this month? Last month we explored the energetic bucket. I have plans to record more guided meditations and post them in accompaniment with the energetic bucket. That was the month where we explored what our energy body is, and how we take care of it.
This month we will cover transformations and transformational processes. A lot of people are not differentiating between change and transformation, and in doing so they are not acknowledging the steps of a process. With change you can always change back. With transformation, you cannot even fathom going back – something has happened to you and you are a different person because of it. As we grow, and as we transform into different people throughout our lifetime, we are being given the opportunity to create our own containers for transformation. We sometimes spend years working on transformations, and then there is this big event where we break down, transform, and step out of the other side as another person.
These are some examples of transformation. When a woman becomes pregnant and gives birth to a child, she is no longer considered the woman who she used to be. From that point on, she is considered a Mother and has undergone a transformation. It took 9 long months to get to that point, to set up the container. Perhaps even longer than that if she’s been trying to have a baby for a long time. Another example is if we get our high school diploma or college degree. We are recognized by the community and a ceremony is held for our “graduation”. After we walk that stage, there is no taking away our diploma. That is something that is earned and no one can take that away from us because it’s ours.
These are physical examples of a transformational process, however what we will be talking about this month are emotional ones (more to expand in the upcoming blog post, will update this when it is done). There are some times in life when we are exposed to something that changes the way we learn, the way we behave, or how we think. Sometimes these processes still take years to “build the container” so that we can turn into a different person.
Again, the fundamental difference is the difference between change and transformation. How many times have you heard someone say “I’ve changed”, but hanging out with them after, you notice they have superficially changed and not really changed as a person deep down inside. Those are markers of “change” and not “transformation”.
The question we face this month, is are we allowing these transformations to take place? If we set up these containers within ourselves and having others hold space for us – is it healthy? What is a healthy transformation? A majority of us know that transformation on an emotional level is a messy process, and it can hurt. Let’s explore that this month.
August 1st – No journey group (Momma needed a vacay)
August 8th – What is the difference between change and transformation? What is a transformational process? How do we set up a healthy container and what are some things that could pollute a process trying to happen? Change comes about because we realize deep down that something is not working. We can sometimes set up the container for us to transform, but we sometimes wreck our own process and instead of a transformation we emotionally settle for a change.
August 15th – Personal transformation – is our container for our own transformation healthy? What makes a good and healthy transformation? Are we polluting our own process and sometimes derailing a process that is trying to happen? If our emotions or mental processing gets in the way, we resort to a short term change instead of a long term transformation. How much are we willing to hold onto these old patterns? How do we recognize them?
August 22nd – Interpersonal transformation – sometimes it feels like we are going through something that’s so big that we need at least one other person to lean on. Humans by nature are social creatures, and even if someone is an introvert – finding a friend to talk with and help them through something helps transform them. Sometimes we don’t need someone to heal us, we just need to be reminded of our strength. How do we find that strength and how can we be there for someone else in a healthy way?
August 29th – Community transformation – after we go through a process, how does the community see us after? After getting to know and connecting with a certain group of friends, they notice that you might have changed in some way. In what way can we do a “rites of passage” ceremony for another person? If someone went through a really tough time, can’t we do a “you survived and you’re a badass!” type of victory party? We will also cover processes that are sometimes too large to be held by one singular person, and sometimes for big shifts, we need the backing of a community in order to safely transform – where many people see our process and hold us in this safe space while we transform.
Heavy stuff this month! But I guess that’s why you guys keep showing up for journey group, eh? Journeying is a wonderful technique where we can go to ask our helping spirits/inner guidance/spirit guides/power animals for help. Haven’t journeyed before and don’t know what spiritual guidance is? No worries. Message me before you come (not required, but helpful if you do). Even if you can’t journey or are unsure if you can, feel free to attend and see what happens.
Shake a rattle this month, guys!