I became a young Mother quite suddenly, but the more challenging aspect of it was coupling a spiritually fulfilled life while being a single parent. At the time of writing this article, my son has grown to the ripe age of 9 years old, and I am continually blessed for his existence here on this planet. I will share with you my heart, my growth and evolution as a parent. I invite you to join with me as I share my background and the struggles of raising an aware child in a society that does not cherish the sacred. I do not come from an indigenous background, but like so many other contemporary Shamanic Practitioners, I come from a broken lineage in an emotionally distant family of origin. Trying to piece together a spiritually fulfilling life while raising a little one can be challenging on its own, but here are some of the lessons and wisdoms that I have distilled from this experience so far, and I’m sure that I will be continuously growing this wisdom base.
With all great stories, we will start with the beginning. The conception of my son was surrounded by confusion, blame, trauma, and chaos. It took me years to understand the emotional baggage I carried with me. Many of my early years of raising him were scary and through the eyes of a child, because I had the emotional maturity of a child. It turned out to be a very magical experience because he is such a blessing to me. Not at the time, of course, but we always have a better view of things in hindsight. It was a challenge raising him since he was emotionally and spiritually sensitive. He was fussier than other babies, sensitive to people having a bad mood, and seemed “tuned in” naturally to the world around him. The blessing behind this meant it was easy to have age-appropriate discussions with him about energy hygiene, maintenance, and the natural world. I saw him for the true light of what he is and I have done the best I could in raising him.
In essence, I taught him things that I was teaching myself, except I would ask my guides to help the teachings be age-appropriate. I was always surprised at the ease and grace of which he answered to some of these meditations and suggestions that I reeled with for a week or two before I “got” them. He helped me develop that sense of ease and wonder, and “growing up” was less scary for me. Years later, as I reflect on that, it seems to be that with true self-healing as an adult, you have to “deprogram” yourself from what society, culture, and your family give you as core beliefs. My son constantly reminds me about deepening my roots and going back to the childlike sense of wonder—the “original” program we get handed by Spirit. In my life, he has been my greatest teacher.
I taught him how to journey at a very early age, and I remember him having to think on who his first helping spirit was. He said he felt them during the first journey, but couldn’t see them quite yet. Knowing that it was possible I could project something on him, I tried to distract myself with other things while he tried to journey again to find out who was playing with him. It made me so proud that by the time he curled into bed that night before story time. He stated plain and simple that his helping spirit was a bear. One of my main helping spirits is a bear, and hence he became my “Little Bear.”
In the early years, it was easy to keep him on the same spiritual path as me. He was joyful, loving, filled with inspiration and hope. Before the age of 6, he loved to journey and dance with me, doing the same activities as I did, and liked taking walks in the woods or talking to trees. But then he started going to school. I prepped him for it, because I noticed his eagerness in telling almost anyone that would listen about the amazing adventures he and his helping spirits would go on. Discernment was a good age-appropriate lesson about how sometimes other adults might not think the same way Mommy does, and he should be careful about whom he shares those thoughts/opinions with. He understood this on one level, but experiencing it in a public school system is a different story. Running home from the bus, he came home crying because another kid made fun of him about talking to his helping spirits under his breath. He immediately started disconnecting from the spiritual, pulling away and resisting me instead of joining along. It wasn’t until years later that I started connecting the dots.
When he stopped responding positively to a lot of the things we used to do together, it became a chore. I started leading journey groups, and instead of it being “fun” for him like it used to be, he would commonly get bored, and occasionally would get disruptive. The meditations we did together were no longer fulfilling; instead it became a thing that “my Mom does” and he would start rolling his eyes whenever I suggested it. The helpful tips that he used to look up at me to give, soon became disregarded. Talking back and becoming rude were growing steadily more frequent. The reflection this made within myself became a pile of frustration, angst, and self-blame. I wasn’t doing enough to make my kid more connected. It was “my fault” for not focusing hard enough on him, even though I thought I was doing all of the right things to feed, clothe and house him.
As I finally came into my own with my Shamanic Path, I found that it was an echo within myself that my son was reflecting back to me. He is the closest emotional connection to any human that I have, and that hasn’t changed for 10 years (I connected with him very deeply while he was in my womb). As I dove deeper into a contemporary Shamanic cosmology, I found that a lot of the threads I was bringing up were pulling up this constellation of factors that were also reflected in society. Because I was working on them within myself, my son (who is extremely open and emotionally sensitive) reflected the counterparts to the very pieces I was working on. I realized that when I was raising him previously, that he was modeling for me the very illnesses that I was trying to combat within myself. Some main ones being greed, entitlement, addiction to technology, and doing things to “prove” himself to his friends. It wasn’t until I engaged at this depth of understanding that I was able to re-prioritize a way to make him feel like his needs were being met in a way that we could explore this context together. I was exploring the depths of my own Shamanic world while leaving him out of it—which I found that for me was the wrong approach to come from. He is a part of my world, and thus is a crucial part for me to understanding myself.
As soon as I began to cultivate a deeper sense of compassion within myself for the grander vision of the situation I was in, he was of the age where he could make informed decisions about this on his own (this started around age 7). To remedy his pain and insecurities about being teased for having helping spirits in the first place, I found and networked with other parents who openly discuss these spiritual things with their children. I found family-friendly festivals where he could participate in group ritual. If things got to be really challenging and I wasn’t able to find something in the area, I invited him to participate with me during group rituals and ceremonies online via webcasting. As soon as he was able to see that there were other kids that were doing this with him, and he wasn’t the only one with a weird Mom, he slowly started coming back to opening up. Just as finding community strengthened me, finding community also strengthened his connection to Spirit.
When I stopped trying to force his healing because I thought something was “wrong with me” and my parenting skills, I opened up to the fact that there was something bigger going on. I started examining what about the situation was I taking personally, and kept asking my helping spirits questions about how I could improve my relationship with him. This way it didn’t infringe upon me “forcing” things to happen, and instead switched it to “allowing” things to happen. When I organically used the Shamanic principles I was learning from my teachers and applying them in my own life, I deconstructed and then reconstructed a way that allowed my son into the picture easily and effortlessly. I found that what I was doing before was just slapping together different aspects of living a Shamanic life and expected that it was enough. It wasn’t until I leaned into the teachings and allowed all aspects of my life to become Shamanic, did I realize that had a dramatic impact on my relationship with my son. I give great gratitude to the Cycle teachings and Christina Pratt for really driving that home. My own healing catalyzed as soon as I took root in a true Shamanic community that came together to live the same principles. It was the shift in realization that living a Shamanic way of life couldn’t just be condensed to my healing practice, but also opened up to every relationship that I had, seeing the interconnectedness of it all. The best service I did for my son was to step into a true transformational process and see how I brought my true lifes purpose into all avenues of my life, not just certain “chosen” parts.
I originally was trying to prevent him from seeing me in my deep healing, even though he was feeling it without naming it. It wasn’t until later when I noticed that when I was upset, he was acting it out. Christina teaches that young children ground to the parents because they don’t have their own sense of grounding. They depend on us to tell them what’s right and wrong, what is dangerous and what is not. Which means that we have to model for them how to live in a sustainable way. If we want to teach our kids a better way of being, we can’t take their reflections personally. We need to develop the skills that allow us to model a deeper change we want to see in the world. What I was doing before was only allowing a Shamanic life into parts of my life instead of letting it affect my whole life. I was marginalizing myself subconsciously, and in that my son modeled for me the marginalization within our relationship.
Reflecting out into the wider scope of entering a public school, if he marginalizes aspects of himself, does that really set him up for success in being able to handle criticism? I don’t outwardly view this as something as “bad,” because I find that putting challenges in front of him makes him a stronger kid. What we should be teaching kids is resilience. Children are naturally resilient to begin with, but when they start inheriting our inability to process emotions, to be taught to “hide” things because other people might not accept them fully, then we have to ask if this is sustainable. Are we truly raising children who can dream of a better dream than us adults have? Or are we raising another generation that a different version of the same thing, inheriting the generational backwash of unresolved energies?
What I have found that works for my child is a rich engagement in the activities I am doing. Going to Spirit and asking directly how I can involve him in the things I am doing now. Admittedly in the beginning of my Shamanic path, I was using my Shamanic trainings as a way to “get away” from having to be a parent, and just an opportunity to be me. As I came to a deeper understanding of myself in the world, I realized that my son is an expression of me. One with his own brain and heart. He has the ability to make his own choices, but I can’t force them. What I can do as a parent is model them as best as I can for him and to allow him to choose his own path.
Our job as parents is not to protect our children for life. It’s to give them the tools that they can help understand their context within the greater aspect of the Universe. Why not involve your kids with your transformative processing? Why not share, be open and more vulnerable with them? If you have helping spirits, try asking them how to make the conversation age appropriate so they can understand what is happening. Most of them do, but they have to have permission from adults to feel into those experiences and be able to name them so they can share and know it’s okay. The more we teach them to be independent and go to Source themselves when they are ready, the more we are empowering them to lead a rich life.
To teach our children to have depth, we have to have depth ourselves. To understand the proper way to raise a child also means to understand the cultural illnesses at hand that influence these greater aspects of our society and how we can better engage with our children to make them more resilient to them. When we build the foundation of mental wellness in our society, we begin to build structures that innately repel mental illness by their very existence. What we need to do, in my opinion, is ground these actions in ourselves as adults first, and then model them for our children. We need a more engaging way to bring Spirit into our daily lives.
Change the dream of one generation, and we can change the world.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
But seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
As living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
And He bends you with His might
That His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
So He loves also the bow that is stable.
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.
For the month of June, it is a hot month here in Virginia. It’s a month when I absolutely love dancing in the rain and celebrating the pleasures of Summer. For those just tuning in, this post is directly in regards to the Fairfax Journey Group that’s based out of the Cardinal Center. There are thoughts of continuing it at the Cardinal Center, but it might be moving to Herndon after this month. We shall see where the wind blows us.
The past four months we have been doing the four elements, and how they interrelate with each other. Through the elements, we connect to the four wisdom bodies – the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual bodies. Last month we connected with the Spiritual Body in the form of Fire. This month we connect with the Emotional body in the form of Water. Whenever we begin to journey for ourselves or others, learning how to speak in metaphor is one of the ways we communicate with our subconscious.
When we are connecting with the emotional body, some of the questions we ask ourselves is “What is our relationship with our emotions?”. If we were to imagine that aspect of ourselves, what quality of water would our emotional body be in? Are we not able to express our emotions in a healthy way, leading to stagnant water? Are we constantly spouting our emotions in a constant flow/stream thats constantly changing course? These are some of the questions we will be exploring as we ask our helping spirits to guide us in the right direction for our own personal development.
Here are some of the suggested journey topics/dates for the month of June:
Monday June 6th – What is water in relation to all of the other elements? How do we make sure our emotional body flows and is not stagnant, which at the same time is in balance with the other three elements. If there is too much water, then our fire cannot burn as bright and we become overwhelmed with emotion and feel stuck where we are. If there’s too little, then our fire can burn out of control because we don’t have enough moisture to keep the fire in check. This leads to an overwhelming sense that we can take care of it all, burning our fire all at once, expending all of our energy, and then feel depleted and overwhelmed after. What is balance to you? What is your relationship with water?
Monday June 13th – One of the greatest wisdoms of water is the ability to take the shape of whatever container that is set before it. Water is fluid, moves with grace, and follows the path of least resistance. How then, can we echo this? Do our emotions flow with ease, or do they explode without knowing where the source of them is coming from? Emotions are meant to be flags, they aren’t meant to rule us. Do we ride the wave, or do we allow the wave to ride us? These are all wonderful questions for our helping spirits to provide a more clear and direct answer of who we are as a person so we can uncover the depths of how we work.
Monday June 20th – No journey group, I will be helping out with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax for their Litha ceremony.
Monday June 27th – Shadow aspect of water: There’s always going to be a shadow aspect of every archetype that is out there. Wherever there is light, there is always a complimenting dark. Just because something is “dark” doesn’t mean we should fear it. The shadow aspect of water is the the tidal wave. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves if our emotional life is being lived in the shallow end of the pool, where if we fall down we are safe because there’s not much emotion there to begin with. When we are able to swim out and expose our true/deep emotions – yes, there’s possibility of getting hurt, but when you feel more deeply, you’re able to get more joy out of life because you’re able to feel it for what it truly is. The tidal wave signifies that we haven’t been feeling to our deepest capacity and comes to help free up the stagnation that has settled in the cesspools of our emotional body.
As always, any questions or concerns are always welcome. Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or to call/text 571.306.3197
It’s been a while, everybody 🙂 I’ve taken a step back with a lot of things in my life because life has just been hectic, and unfortunately Eagle Therapies was one of them. However, I write this outline while at an event because I’m choosing to move forward with what has heart and meaning to me. The journey group and the sound circles are some of them. First, a short message of gratitude for those that have supported me to make it to this place in my life. For those relationships that have broken apart and degraded, I thank you for the lessons – for you have helped me grow into the person who I am. Yeah I’ve made mistakes, but who doesn’t? We’re all human, and we are all learning and growing together.
Onward to what is here and now, as well as toward the brighter future! During the less advertised months of March and April, we began a new series of journey topics or themes to explore. Here is a link to the previous blog post explaining the interconnectedness and balance in association with working in an elemental system. No, I haven’t bothered writing blog posts in association with the elements. I will eventually, but for now they will be covered as we go through each journey group together. I like what people bring to the table and the different perspectives they add to these things. Remember that distance option is always an option, but please message ahead of time to get the link and also to let me know and reserve a spot. If all of this is new and you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s an intro to shamanic journeying and also the basics for the Weekly Shamanic Journey Group.
Here is the outline and description for the Month of May:
May 2nd – We will be exploring fires purpose in the elemental system, and how it works in balance with the other elements. As we explore the elements, we learn that they are the doorway to the four wisdom bodies (mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual). How do we make sure all of them are in balance? How do we uncover if one is overactive/underactive and if another element has stepped up in order to compensate for the deficiency/excess? Fire in excess is arrogance, aggression, and overly ambitious. Fire in depletion is an overwhelming sense of depletion, feeling drained, or not having any motivation.
May 9th – NO JOURNEY GROUP SCHEDULED
May 16th – What do we go to the fire for? What has it been used for by indigenous cultures as well as how do we harness it for ourselves? We go to the fire for transformation as well as to dispose of the things that no longer serve us. We can’t accept more or take on more things in our lives if we keep holding onto old patterns, old behaviors, and old relationships with people/things that are actually holding us back. We are meant to grow and evolve, and fire is a wonderful way to transform ourselves.
May 23rd – Balance – what is too much and what is too little? There is always a shadow aspect which represents the crazy logic. When the fire element is in shadow, it can turn into an out of control raging forest fire. The energy is fierce, abundant, destructive, and eating everything in it’s path. Sometimes it is needed, and examples of this can be found in nature. The Conifer cannot procreate without its seed being engulfed by flames. Death frees us to feel the flame of our true passion. When there are times in our lives where the path of destruction sets everything in our life on fire, when the flames die down, it clears the way. Its a possibility for us to start over again.
May 30th (Memorial Day) – Completion for Fire. What is our relationship with our spiritual body and the connection to our own fire that burns within us? Fire symbolizes the passion that we have for life, how deeply we love ourselves and others. We will be sharing tips and techniques in the group of how we rekindle our own flame and recognize when we need to step back to preserve our own fire. When is an appropriate time to stoke the fire and keep adding fuel? When is there too much fuel and we burn ourselves out?
Thanks you guys! Hope you guys have a wonderful month 🙂 Hope to see you at one of the journey groups or sound circles!
Winter is typically a time to go within and to rest, reflecting the Earth and how it gets covered by a blanket of snow. As we enter into the spring in the Northern Hemisphere, there is a tendency to emphasize a theme that leans toward planting seeds and beginning to emerge from the slumber that is winter. As we unfold and begin to awaken, the Journey group shall reflect upon basic foundational understandings and go back to the simplicity that is the elements. What are the elements? How do we relate to them? Can we harness the wisdom inherent in them to find deeper meaning within ourselves and others?
There are many cosmologies out there that deal with the foundations of the elemental systems. They span anywhere from a three element system, to a seven element system (sometimes even more). They are akin to an operating system on a computer, and each works better for different individuals and for different purposes. There’s nothing wrong with preferring a Mac over a PC, or vice versa. The problem that we encounter most is that a lot of people are running on autopilot, not aware of how they operate on a foundational level. All of these systems are right in their own way, and the purpose of these journey groups is to find out what your personal foundation is, and to create/maintain an operating system that is right for you.
I will be introducing these concepts from a four element perspective because that is what I am most comfortable with. I do not want the individuals attending to limit themselves to condensing to my viewpoint of how I see things. If you follow one of the other numbered element systems, feel free to read through these blog posts and take what you need. Come to the groups and share your knowledge. Find the hidden gems to deepen your own practice. All paths are welcome, and I encourage others with different viewpoints to come. It brings diversity and a clarity of shared vision to the whole.
If we go back to the elements, we go back to the simple nature of the way things used to be before humans even got here. Human beings have this tendency to add layers of complexity. I have seen many of people anthropomorphize the elements in a negative connotation, because interacting with another human is what makes them feel more comfortable. This creates a complexity that sometimes muddies the clarity we receive from the oldest of ancestors. By not opening up to allowing the river to interact with us as just a river, we can sometimes project human qualities onto natural forces. What that does is add the “baggage” in association with being a human. Human beings are beautiful, creative messes. But humans are fallible. Not all anthropomorphizing is bad, because there are underlying archetypes that relate to our psyche on a subconscious level (Mother, Father, brother, sister, etc.)
The reason why I work with the elements? Because they’re pure and simple. They just are. They do what they do and there’s no motivation to be anything different than what they are because they have been that way since the beginning of time. There is a story that I will tell, that one of my Shamanic Teachers first taught me when I was learning from her. This is a shared story by a lot of shamanic cultures, and these are the roots to a lot of “creation” stories.
Back in the beginning, there was nothing. There was a void. For us as humans, it’s hard for us to understand the vast nothingness because we are something.
But for some reason, this nothingness dreamt. And out of this dream was birthed a spark of fire, and crystal of ice. As the first two manifestations of these dreams emerged from the great nothingness, they began to dance.
The spark of fire grew bigger, and it began to melt the ice crystal. The ice began to melt, and the water began to flow. As the water flowed, it began to put out the fire. When the fire was almost out, it grew cold and the water began to crystallize. When the water crystallized, the fire began to grow stronger again.
This was the first dance of our oldest of ancestors. Grandfather Fire, and Grandmother Ice. And because they were born of the great dream – they too had the ability to dream. Because all dreamers that come from the big dream have the same ability to create and have dreams of their own.
When the water and fire grew, they needed land to support them. That is when Mother Earth was dreamed of, and then birthed. When the rivers had a place to run, the fire found that he needed more fuel to grow. Father Sky was dreamed into being and we get the introduction of air. From the dreams of the earth, air, fire, and water, the first ancestors began to dream of the things to be grown in the ground. They dreamt of plants, of trees, of mountains and landscapes. The dreams of these natural landscapes gave birth to creatures that walked the land, swam in the water, and flew in the sky. Eventually humans were dreamed into creation. And because we come from that dream, we have the ability to dream ourselves. We can create things that still carry that spark of dreaming that comes from the great dreamer that gave birth to us all. This dream weaves us all together, as we are all a part of this Big Dream. Nightmares happen when we feel we are apart from this dream, and there is this lie of separation where we feel disconnected or isolated. The simplest way to connect the closest to these dreams and to have our dreams synchronize with the big dream – is going back to the first ancestors. The elements.
The reason why I shared the story of shared story/concept of creation is because we are all born out of the big dream, and we have the ability to return back to the big dream if we align our thoughts, actions, and behaviors with simplicity. In this creation story, we are introduced to the concept of complementary dualism. In a lot of Eastern Traditions, it’s best explained as yin and yang. Most westerners get confused between the concept of dualism because there is a difference between antagonistic dualism and complementary dualism. Most are accustomed to an antagonistic dualistic perspective, so it’s hard to sometimes see the flip side of the coin without bias. Antagonistic dualism is believing that there is a concept such as good and evil, and that they constantly battle each other. Antagonistic dualism feeds the “lie of separation” because the sides tend to be clearly distinguished between good and evil, and there becomes this “other” that people view themselves as separate from. For a lot of westerners, it’s hard to wrap their minds around the concept of complementary dualism when their major core beliefs and values uphold the lie of separation. They may grasp these concepts in smaller doses and say that the concept of duality can be applied in certain aspects of life, but it is a process of opening up to this system of philosophy that encourages a state of “one-ness”. In a lot of shamanic cultures, there is a core belief that we are all a part of this bigger unity, and everything is connected to each other in ways that are interconnected and interrelated.
When one begins to drop the “lie of separation” and see everything from a more “holistic” sense (and being a part of that whole), then they understand that everything in life is a balance. Yin is a word used to describe the inner aspect, while yang represents the outer. Everything has a yin and yang aspect. When there is too much yin energy present, that leads to a stagnation. If there is too much yang energy, that leads to a depletion. When looking at the elements in this four element system we will be exploring, the elements that represent more of a yin quality are water and earth. These are the elements that are restorative, that which we lean into when we feel tired or exhausted. They are replenishing. The yang elements are represented by the fire and air. We typically go to these elements to carry out certain actions, or to be viewed by other people in a larger setting. They are how we interact with each other (one of the main archetypes that air typically brings is communication). Fire is interesting because it’s an element that requires the other elements to even be initiated. The environment has to be right, and the right potential for combustion needs to be present. Fire needs to constantly be fed, and all of the other elements need to be in balance for a fire to be more properly utilized – otherwise it burns out of control and causes chaos.
There is a simplicity to the elements, but there is also an implied complexity that is intuitive. The four element system correlates to the four wisdom bodies of the human consciousness. Earth is directly correlated with the physical body. Water corresponds with the emotional body. Air corresponds with the mental body. And finally Fire corresponds with the spiritual body. When we apply the four elements to these four wisdom bodies, we can harness our own elemental alchemy for personal transformation. When we bring these questions of self discovery to uncover our own “operating system” to spirit – we get personalized answer back from our helping spirits through journeying.
Journey track as follows:
Month of March: Earth/Wisdom of the physical body
Month of April: Air/Wisdom of the mental body
Month of May: Water/Wisdom of the emotional body
Month of June: Fire/Wisdom of the spiritual body
Remember that even if you are in a distant location and cannot make it in person, there is the option of joining us through Google Hangouts 🙂 Hope to see you there!