This is the essence of Leonurus Cardiaca. Or at least how she presents herself to me. By the common name, she is known as Motherwort. The scientific name actually means “Lion Hearted”, and boy let me tell you what… Yeah, that’s her medicine.
I spent a few nights camping by myself in the woods two weeks ago. The only thing I knew was that I had to go by myself, and I needed to just receive and be quiet. On the last day, I asked yet again what offerings the land wanted in return for what they gifted me. I finally got a response from the pines. They said, “Nothing. You already gave it. You receiving us fully and without question was enough for us.” In shock, and with them finally speaking with me in a language I could understand, I asked them the burning question that was in my heart. Whenever I’m around people, or certain properties/land, I am heavily affected by it. Certain situations leave me super drained and I have to pay very close attention to who I am around, who I interact with, and the land that I’m on. Out there in the wildlife sanctuary where I camped, I felt back to myself with an abundance of energy. I asked what the difference was, and about how I’ve been working on my boundaries so hard, but it’s not helping my sensitivities at all.
It was like the pine trees pat me on the head, and answered with a question, “Would a frog be able to do the same in polluted water since they breathe through their skin?”
I didn’t “get” the message for more then a week, but it’s been bubbling and resurfacing the more I’ve been working with motherwort. I’ve been thinking that me being hypersensitive to my environment has been a flaw that I needed to work on, but that’s a pattern of mine I’ve been working on. Once I tapped into the flip side and let go of my judgement and harsh self criticism, I was able to accept that perhaps it is in my true nature to be this sensitive.
Over 6 months ago, I was in a field full of metal cages harvesting tomatoes. I was muttering to my ancestors about how nice it would be if I wouldn’t be living my mothers patterns. Within moments I was hit by lightning, and that cascaded me down this intense healing journey. My prayer was answered even though it was catastrophic and I didn’t understand it at the time. It took many months before I finally accepted that a lot of my health challenges couldn’t be fixed physically, and it was on other planes I needed to address it. Motherwort had really stepped up to help me address my self nourishment deficiencies and where I was hemorrhaging energy due to the bad habits I was living because I was acting out a lot of my mothers patterns.
And I got it. One of the reasons why I went into the “Miserable Me” pattern was because I was always in the mothering role to my own mother. Living that pattern was the only way I was able to get energy from others, and doing so distracted me from focusing on just one step at a time. Motherwort highlighted that one of my deepest fears was that I was going to become my mother. In growing up with a primary caretaker that has schizophrenia, I took that technique of scattering myself to try and apply it to a way of surviving. Little did I know that following that example was perpetuating a huge pattern of imbalance and I lived the fear I was so afraid of. Another function of schizophrenia is walling off different parts of the self to the point where they seem like different personalities, and I realized I was doing that to my self. One of the reasons why I didn’t have energy was because a lot of my energy was going towards internal walls that prevented me from fluidly accessing vital parts of myself as needed. The walls being self judgement and bullying to try and control my own behavior. I needed so many years of shadow work just to cultivate the amount of self compassion to allow parts of myself just to be, instead of walling them off. The more I fought myself, the more I separated myself into different sections of self to present to others. I had a self that would show up to yoga, show up as a teacher, show up as a student, or in community, and on and on.
Motherwort shared that it’s not the fact that I have shitty boundaries, but the energy I was putting up towards boundaries internally were what was sapping my strength to functioning well in everyday reality. It especially hurts when I found how much I marked off certain parts of me as “dangerous” or how some parts of me were so vulnerable I needed to shelter them from certain people. It takes the courage of a lion and a lions heart to be this hypersensitive in today’s world. Instead of the energy going towards boundaries, it could be going towards supporting the heart that I need in order to endure the constant heartbreak of what is happening in the world.
Yes, I’m a frog in polluted water where I’m currently living. But it’s because I need to face the heartbreak that I live in a county where conventional agriculture is rapidly degrading the topsoil and certain neighbors don’t know the meaning of a healthy ecosystem, and they choose to control it with chemicals and tilling instead. No, I can’t just live in a healthy ecosystem that stretches for miles, untouched by mankind just so I can feel better and breathe easier. Those healthy ecosystems can help me recalibrate my sense of what “true north” feels like in my body so I can steward this land I’m currently on and work on educating neighbors to navigate more towards that.
The question isn’t how I can have boundaries that help me feel numb to the heartbreak around me, but how can I support my big heart to accept the world as it is and still choose to navigate it as best as I can with the level of sensitivity I’ve been gifted with? It takes a lions heart to choose to nurture myself and show up daily to tend this land with community and help restore it to a healthier state. As I tend the land, I tend myself because I feel how intimately we are connected. The pains I feel, the shortness of breath, the tiredness, the fatigue, no wonder I chose to be out of my body for most of my life. Being this sensitive is exhausting because of how much I have to filter and process on a daily level. When the lightning knocked my mothers pattern out of me, it woke me up to the true nature of my own heart. To have a heart big enough to love it all, no matter how much it hurts. To not try the overwhelming feat of changing so many things at once out of distraction for feeling the bigness of the heartbreak, but in relying on Spirit to help me as a tiny human navigate the extreme complexities of how to repair broken ecosystems one step at a time, while feeling deeply. This includes my own inner ecosystem, addressing the walls within my own emotional body.
The beauty of motherwort has shown me that the one step I am on is all that matters. Not two or three steps ahead. Not dwelling on the past. Sure there are times for planning and dreaming, but living is different. The present is meant for holding that space in the now, preventing me from sliding backwards and repeating old patterns I’m trying my hardest not to choose. The more I tried to focus on multiple steps at a time, the more I fragmented and parts of me slid backwards while at the same time other aspects of me moved forward. Perfect example on why I walled off different sections of myself, so I would be blind to my own disorganization. But Motherwort helped me see that I needed this orchestration of getting “all of my parts” to the current moment/current step. Talk about whole hearted.
Another flower that’s been speaking to me in this spring time. Dandelion. They are perfect for degraded ecosystems where the top soil has been eroded. Their deep tap roots dig deep down to bring up nutrients that other plants can’t access because of their superficial roots. In the midst of me learning to be lion hearted, I’m also learning the benefit of being deep rooted so I can be a dandy-lion.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. It touches my heart that you got this far. May the blessings of spring be abundant in your own life.
Hey guys! I sure have been busy this past month, with my recovering from deaths doorstep and heading out to Standing Rock and all. I somehow managed to write up a Journey Track outline for beginner journeyers because my inbox was becoming full with people who had questions about doing it by themselves at home. With all of that being said and done, the next few months are probably going to blow by fast for me. I’ve taken up training with an indigenous teacher, as well as going out on my first retreat with Christina Pratt in June (I’m in her four year training program and starting year 1 this year). So that means that we are going to move a little bit quicker in the journey group.
The last two months we have been working on the topic of earth as an element, and exploring that relationship as a metaphor of our physical body. The rest will be as follows on this big medicine wheel we will be taking a dive into 😉
- Main Post: Purity and the Elements – Exploring the four element system, what it means, and the inter-connectedness/inter-related aspects of it all
- February and March: Earth – getting the grounding, boundaries, and centering under wraps. This is a crucial part to understanding the element of earth
- April: Element of Air – Exploring the mental wisdom body and how to bring about the clarity of the mind
- May: Element of Fire (post coming soon) – Exploring the spiritual wisdom body and how we can use passion to fuel our drive in the world
- June: Element of Water (post coming soon) – Exploring the emotional wisdom body and how we can use our emotions as a useful processing tool instead of drowning or being numbed by them.
Along with the basic journey group meetups, there is also a Shamanic Journeying Basics class on April 8th, as well as the Open Heart Path class on April 18th. Hooray for fun events this month!
Event listings for Eagle Therapies:
April 2nd – Heart Centered Sound Circle
This is the extended version of the 5-10 minutes of singing/chanting we do before we journey. It’s a ceremony that lasts for an hour. Begins at 1pm.
April 6th – Element of Air: Shamanic Journey Group
Today we will find the inter-connectedness and inter-relatedness of the element of air, and see how it fits in with the element of earth. Earth helps us cultivate a sense of wellbeing, as well as a sense of place, presence, and grounding. Earth helps us ask the question, “What do I stand for, and why do I stand for it?”. As earth helped pave the ground work, now we can step into the realm of air and be able to take on responsibility and power. The element of air helps us connect to vision as well as clarity, clear sight, and truth.
April 7th – First Friday in Fairfax – Drum Circle!
This is just a fun get together with drums, rattles, and shaky things 🙂 Come join in community!
April 8th – Shamanic Journeying Basics – The Bare Bones
This is meant for everyone from beginners who know nothing about journeying, all the way to experienced journeyers who want a refresher. This will also include a journey group right after, as well as a question and answer.
Cost: $15 – Please bring cash or paypal ahead of time
April 18th – The Open Heart Path workshop
This is one of my favorite workshops to teach, because the Open Heart Path is very near and dear to my heart (pun intended). Come find out what it means to live in todays world full of courage, and to bring your medicine to the table.
Cost: $15 – Please bring cash or paypal ahead of time
April 20th – Element of Air: Shamanic Journey Group
Whenever there is a light, if the light falls on an object of attention, it casts a shadow. The shadow aspect of the element of air is the tornado. Sometimes in life, we reach a point of hopelessness that it feels like an aspect of ourselves is suffocating. We feel stuck and can sometimes feel like we cannot move forward without being restricted in some ways. The tornado can help breathe a breath of life back into the stagnation that was there.
Fly high, everyone!
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 email@example.com 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!