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Developing Resilience – A Shamanic Parenting Story

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.

SurpriseIn 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?

ShamanicPWhat 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.

On Children
Kahlil Gibran

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.

Eagles

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LBC – Journey of Love

Little Bear Chronicles – Journey of Love

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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.

Lyrics:

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

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Beginning Saga of Little Bear

I write this with a happy heart, and a contented sigh as I stare at my son with all of my love that I posses. It took a while for me to debate wether or not I should begin writing my adventures with my six year old son. I know it was a possibility that I might face criticism and harsh judgement from closed minded people – but so many have come to me telling me that they are inspired by us and our story. That drive to get the story out there and to connect to others is what is fueling this movement.

My son shall hence forth be known as Little Bear, and I will be the Momma Bear. These aliases will be for those on the internet that these stories leak out to. I am well aware of the power of the Internet, so if you know us, please be respectful and don’t mention his real name on here.

The reason why I’m beginning to document these chronicles is because Little Bear is so full of wealth and knowledge, and raising my child in a profoundly sick society is hard. There’s a lot of injustice, fear, and harsh judgement. I can’t protect him from it all, and that’s where all of this began. The least I can do, is to begin to teach him how to protect and care for himself, so then when Momma Bear is not around – he is empowered and not enabled.

It begins with the core of the teachings I am teaching him. Whenever I see his tiny little heart slip into fear, I call him out on it and ask “Are you thinking and listening with your heart? Or with your head?”

It took him a long time to understand. I began teaching him how to get in contact and maintain contact with his helping spirits (some might call them guardian angels, others might call them power animals). It’s been a learning experience for both him as well as I. Not a lot of people that I know of shamanically teach their kids these skills, but I am one of the first within my friend circles to do so. I did so with the guidance of my helping spirits, and hope in the future to find more parents doing this with their children. I have a dream of doing this on a bigger scale, but that is a tale for another time.

For right now we begin in the back seat of a car. Little Bear has been annoying the Momma Bear with sighs and protests of “I’m bored. What can I do?”

My response, “What do your helping spirits say?”

He grunts and kicks his feet in the car seat. “…..nothing.”

I smile sweetly in the rear view mirror. “Son, are you listening with your head or with your heart?”

“My heart!”

A smirk. “Baby, sometimes this can be a tricky question. Because we can be tricked by the head to think we are thinking with the heart. Take some deep breaths and see where your attention is, and if you find its in your head, switch it to your heart.”

There was silence as we continue our drive.

All of a sudden I hear a gasp in the back seat, “Mommy! My helping spirits showed me a game that I can play! And my heart is now happy!”

Curiosity perked my ears. “You weren’t happy before?”

“Well… I was. But I lost my happy because I was in my head. But now that I listened with my heart I found my happiness again because I was able to feel it and not just listen to it.”

I don’t think I could smile bigger then what I did. It seems when he gives me those golden gems, he always stretches the capacity of my heart to love him even more.

“I’m glad you found a fun game to play with your helping spirits, baby. And I’m glad you found your happiness.”

May happiness find you, and may this be the beginning of a wonderful blog series to add to the Eagle Therapies vision.