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.
The remark has been made many times and I wanted to put the big banner somewhere that I am not a self proclaimed Shaman. There’s a difference between being a Shamanic Practitioner and a Shaman. This is currently a hot bed of a debate, and I don’t want to argue with people. That’s not my interest. But I do wish to clarify where I stand with this situation, and also define myself as a practitioner.
There’s this wonderful organization called the Society of Shamanic Practice that is a collection of Shamanic Practitioners. They organize different events, and have a directory of events, teachers, and practitioners organized by State. If you sign up to be a member, you might want to listen to the audio recording they released back in January of 2018 which has Lena Stevens moderating a discussion between Sandra Ingerman, Jose Stephens, and Ben Boomer. This was a very enlightening conversation between three very experienced individuals that are leaders in their field. Sandra Ingerman is world renowned for her leadership in teaching Shamanism for over thirty years. She got her start with Michael Harner and the Foundation of Shamanic Studies, and has since been on her own path of spreading her teachings that she has received through her Guides. Jose Stephens is one of the founders of the Power Path School of Shamanism and is a board member of the Society for Shamanic Practice. He has completed a ten-year apprenticeship with a Huichol Maracame in Mexico and has studied with the Shipibos of the Amazon and the Paqos of the Andes for the last thirty years. Ben Boomer was raised participating in both traditional Diné ceremony with his mother’s family and traveling to California for Christmas with his father’s side of the family. These experiences created a deep recognition of the validity and importance of the ancient ways of knowing from a spectrum of cultures. His life has created natural fusions between the modern western society and indigenous civilization.
The summary that I took away from that interview really helped clarify a lot of things for me. In order to be a Shaman, you must have a community that you belong to. A weekend workshop or a 1-2 year training program does not count. The community recognizes you as the Shaman and the Shaman recognizes the community. To use the word “Shaman” because it’s something cool and fashionable does dishonor to the role of a Shaman. In this contemporary society, there is currently a glamour around the word Shaman. It also breeds ignorance because there can be a superficial context of which to understand what exactly the role of a Shaman is. Traditionally it would take years of apprenticeship, study, and dedication in order to follow that path. And even further still, the role of being a Shaman is gifted by the Spirits. The Spirits choose who the Shaman is, and a community recognizes and feels the vibration of that choice.
Let’s put this into perspective. In a traditional Shamanic culture, everyone would be able to communicate and talk with the Spirits. It was a daily act of cultivation to be able to interact with the sacred. The Diné have the expression to “Walk in Beauty”, because the Sacred is in everything and should be honored. That is the meaning of respect, and cultivating that respect with the world around you. It’s knowing that the world around you is connected in a great web of life, and seeing the hands of Spirit/God/The Universe reflected in all things.
However, in our culture, those who can talk to Spirits and communicate with them regularly are marginalized. We have lost that point of connection where everyone in community can do those tasks, and it’s only a percentage of the population who are sensitive enough to explore and hone their gifts. There is an emergence of psychics, mediums, and other varieties that are becoming more common. Nothing is wrong with them, and they do have gifts. This should be more commonplace, to recognize the people that have true gifts. We should celebrate this instead of shame them. This would be considered “normal” and a functioning part of a Shamanic culture, because divination is still practiced in active Shamanic Cultures today. This is one of the reasons why I teach Shamanic Journeying (and have been for years now), because it’s a way to begin having these experiences of interacting with a trusted Helping Spirit. We as humans need help from the world around us to begin to see things from a different perspective. To project what we feel is “right” or “wrong” is actually imposing our will on our outside world, and is not taking into account that everything has its own Spirit.
Have you ever walked into someones house and felt nice and calm? Just started relaxing as soon as you walk in the door? And then what happens when you walk into an office building and you feel your shoulders start tensing up because of all of the stress that’s in the environment? Buildings have spirits too, and so does the land that the buildings are on. No one needs to be a Shaman to tap into that.
To be a Shamanic Practitioner means to be able to use Shamanic skills in your everyday life to interact in a healthy and respectful way with the world around you. It’s about constantly improving our language with Spirit and understand the messages we are being given. To Journey to the Spirit of the Land and give respect to the stream in your backyard by tossing some tobacco or cornmeal outside is a great way to begin cultivating the relationship with the world around us. You can honor the Ancestors by setting aside a little tiny plate of food at each meal to give gratitude for the food you are about to eat. These are things that (in my opinion) should be normalized to help us feel more connected to the great web of life. So many of my clients suffer because they feel the strain of loneliness, feeding into the story of separation – that they are separated from God/The Universe/Spirit. In an indigenous culture, everyone would be expected to maintain this relationship with the divine by honoring the Sacred in all things.
So in short: No, I am not a Shaman. I am a shamanic practitioner and shamanic healer. I have not studied or trained with an Indigenous culture for 20+ years. Yes, I’ve had a near death experience and have learned the shamanic healing forms like soul retrieval, curse unraveling, and compassionate depossession. Yes, I’ve talked to Spirits since I was a kid and have been immersed in other books about Shamanism, following a Shamanic Path without realizing it since 2006. But I didn’t really find my path until I found Mary Tyrtle Rooker and picked up Sandra Ingermans journeying book back in 2013. I find myself a beginner on this path of Shamanism. Constantly going back to the basics and spreading the truth of what I have experienced and the wisdom that I have cultivated into the world. If someone calls me a Shaman, I won’t correct them because if they happen to be at one of the events I’m leading, then they are part of the community that’s there. The community has the right to call me a Shaman, but I myself will not call myself a Shaman. I’m just here to do my part in community and to spread ease, joy, love, and laughter into the world.
I know it might sound ridiculous and you’re afraid people might laugh at you or judge you if they catch you doing it. However, being kind to your food actually helps you in the long run.
Sensitive people can tell the difference when someone makes them food, and they really put their love and care into that food. When we get food prepared for us (especially from a fast food restaurant), it’s disconnecting in a way. Sure, it might taste good, but somehow it doesn’t fill us up like Grandmas Apple Pie did.
We can be magical just like our Grandparents and make amazing food with depth and meaning if we just focus our attention on our food in a conscious way. Most people live to eat. We should be making the switch to eat to live. If we slowly stop overconsuming food because the food that we cook or eat has our intention cooked into it, we can become “full” even easier. Thus learning to stop overeating can become easier.
Many people that are Reiki practitioners bless their food with Reiki. Hey, if that floats your boat then cool! I actually pray by singing. I connect my intention with my voice and singing always puts me in a good mood. I intentionally connect with the food that I’m about to cook and will often sing to it. What does that mean energetically? I am blessing my own food and eating my prayers. I’m not as disconnected from my food and I feel a sense of connection to something bigger out there in the big web of life.
Even if you’re a horrible cook and can’t cook for yourself, try just humming something to your microwave dish. Make the intention to connect to your food and give gratitude for the many hands it took to get it to your table. If you’re also looking to deepen your Shamanic Practice, set a little food aside for the land spirits and ancestors in gratitude for the food that is about to nourish your body.
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
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!
To all of my beloveds and family members that supported us as my teacher and I went out to Standing Rock, here is a synopsis of our journey. My teacher and I co-wrote this together, but it’s written in his point of view. I’m not going to bother changing it because I’ve had many other projects that I’ve been working on. Feel free to read, comment, share, and everything else. Based off of my Walk With Buffalo post, I find it very funny that a Buffalo Mother decided to walk up to the car to lick it 😛
Posted on his Facebook page at 7:00pm on March 29th
Greeting my Family, Friends and Earth Companions! I am home from my trip to Standing Rock, N.D, and here is our (Stephanie and my) combined synopsis of the trip and what we found and did there. I traveled there this time with a good friend and shamanic student of mine, Stephanie Seger. She is also a shamanic healer in her own right and runs Eagle Therapies to help others. When we arrived, we found out that all the original camps have been completely destroyed by the government with the approval of the Standing Rock Tribes Chief, Dave Archambault, and the council. You can read more about that here . The work on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is complete and the oil either is or will be flowing through it by the time I get this finished and out to everyone.
The journey started on Sunday, March 12, 2017. We drove for a little over 12 hours to Peoria, IL and stopped for the night to avoid driving in the blizzard that was coming east. It was a good decision, because we missed the snowfall pretty much completely and started driving again Monday morning to complete our trip to Bismarck, ND. We saw many vehicles’ in the ditches and medians that validated Lora and Stephanie’s counsel to stop and got into Bismarck, ND about 2am on Tuesday. A little over 1800 miles with no problems, we were blessed. We spent much of the drive both days exchanging stories while Stephanie worked on her many art projects. She tends to be a very creative person. One of her projects included free hand painting a buffalo on a new drum.
Tuesday morning when we woke up, we rolled out and went to Standing Rock to see what was going on. We were met by a Federal Marshall, who told us that we were not allowed to go into or see the area where the Oceti Sakowin Camp or Sacred Stone camps were. As we had approached Standing Rock, we had seen two small camp areas that had teepees and tents. When we went back to the larger camp, we introduced ourselves to the Four Bands Prayer Camp (Cheyenne River Camp). We met with the leaders (Leon Red Dog and Johnnie Aseron) to find out what they were doing and how we could help. Cheyenne River Lakota Chairman Harold Frazier has authorized the Cheyenne River Camp on the Cannon Ball River. Its purpose will be educational and spiritual. They gave us a copy of their rules for the camp (attached) and said that they need labor, supplies and financial support. So we rolled up our sleeves (figuratively, since it was about 6 degrees out) and help put up tents and clear snow. They didn’t have a general sleeping area yet, so we headed back to Bismarck to sleep since our tent was not going to be warm enough to allow us to stay on site.
It was still light when we left, so we stopped at the second, smaller camp on our way out and found out it was the Wolf’s Den (Sacred Buffalo Prayer Camp). It was an interesting and magical introduction. I stayed in the car while Stephanie walked up and introduced both of us. Stephanie has the gift of working with Spirit Guides, and met the crew outside. They almost turned her away, indicating that this was private property, when somehow her charm and way with words won them over. It also helped that at the same time of explaining her gifts, a Silver Hawk (my Native name and totem) flew in through the middle of camp, catching everyone’s attention. This is a rare occurrence and piqued their interest. It helped us as we introduced ourselves and asked about the camp. The Wolf Den is a smaller, independent camp that is trying to maintain the spirit and purpose of the Standing Rock camps that have been dismantled / destroyed. We went in to their primary tent and listened to their story and then Stephanie was asked to drum on her newly painted Buffalo drum. As Stephanie shared her story of being guided there by a buffalo spirit, the Lakota Song Keeper picked up on the holiness and exchanged song for song. It sealed their acceptance of her and they asked us to come back the next day, since they also didn’t have a general sleeping area yet. They only had one request for supplies to make a good beef stew and maybe some pork chops and bacon. Little did we know, but this camp is home to the “Walking Thunder Buffalo Project”, where they have many buffalo hides available for fleshing/tanning purposes as an educational tool. The hides will be used in sacred ceremony, to teach people about the spirituality that once thrived in these areas before colonialism.
Wednesday morning we rolled out and returned to the Wolf’s Den Camp first and delivered a very large top roast, 20 pounds of potatoes, 20 pounds of carrots, 20 pounds of celery, 20 pounds of onions and several packs of organic beef broth for the stew as well as two large packs of pork chops and two large packs of extra thick bacon. To say the least, it was well received. After catching up, Stephanie was asked if she would like to help with the fleshing of a sacred buffalo hide. She was excited about the opportunity and went out to work in the cold with one of the people. I went on to the Four Bands Prayer Camp (Cheyenne River Camp) to continue to help set up tents and organize supplies and materials. While I was working there, the camp had visits / inspections from the BIA, FBI, and state and local police departments. I believe that the visits were staged to interrupt our efforts, because all of them happened about 2 hours apart and took the better part of an hour. They required we show our ID’s and took photos of our vehicles. Overall it was a good productive day and we were both exhausted by the end of it. Since there still was no general sleeping area available yet, we returned to Bismarck and had dinner with a friend of Stephanie’s who happens to be the lead attorney for the Water Protector Legal Collective. Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC) provides on-the-ground legal representation and coordination at Standing Rock, North Dakota in partnership with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG). Sandra La Huracán went to North Dakota and left her loved ones in Colorado to stand for the people, and is a big reason that many are not still in jail. I truly honor her work and heart. We are all connected.
Thursday was another work day for both of us at the respective camps and I was also asked to go and assist with two PTSD veterans who were having issues with the local authorities and were being moved to the VA Hospital in Fargo. While I did this, Stephanie helped dig out the sweat lodge from a good half foot to a foot of snow. The weather had begun to warm up and it was just a beautiful day to be out doors in nature. It was a beautiful enough day that some of the native plants were peeking up through some of the snow, and the Lakota Song Keeper had decided to share some indigenous knowledge with her. I remember her smile as she shared the splendor of the freshly harvested sage and bison berries. This works agrees with her spirit and energy. But our mission and purpose was about to change. Stephanie had been invited to go to the Rosebud Reservation to talk to a chief and medicine man who runs the Sun Dance there. It was a very exhausting day both mentally and physically for the both of us, and we rested well until we packed up and headed out to the Rosebud reservation about 5 hours south of Cannon Ball, ND. Again, our trip was filled with magic, love, craft projects, and stories exchanged between us.
By the time we arrived, Stephanie was very nervous about meeting a medicine man of such power. She felt him miles out from our destination, and was more reserved then what she normally is. It was a lovely meeting that turned into a deepening kinship between people of a shared purpose. It’s hard to describe, but there’s something special about recognizing who your family members are, and realizing that we are all apart of the same tribe. Once Stephanie got her drum out from the car, the medicine man did an impromptu drum blessing for her newly painted drum. She was moved to tears and couldn’t speak for a little, and we continued conversation – all of us respecting the sacred nature of what had been unfolded before us. There was a lag in conversation when the medicine man turned to look at Stephanie as she held her twice blessed drum, and asked, “So are you going to sing?” Again she was taken aback, but obliged anyway. They asked if they could record her song by video, and she happily responded with a yes. It was another magical moment of a blessing exchange (because the song Stephanie sang was a blessing for the Earth). After her song and in between the discussion, I noticed that Gilly (medicine man) kept moving rather quickly through the background, gathering and collecting certain items and writing things down. Our conversation evolved, and when there was a lull in conversation, Gilly invited us to a ceremony in the Black Hills. We both voiced we were interested in going, and then he hands me a piece of paper with information already written down on it, and informs us that he already told people that we were coming. This adventure seemed to not end as we got another tip in our scavenger hunt of a trip. From this meeting, we drove down to Rapid City, SD where we got a hotel room for the night and got some much needed rest and stretching from being in the car all day.
Saturday was our last day in the Dakotas, and we spent it in prayer, ceremony, and blessing. We made it out to the Black Hills, which is a sacred site for the Lakota Sioux. We were gifted by live visits from buffalo, prairie dogs, antelope, hawks, deer, and many other types of wildlife. The buffalo even walked up to the truck to lick salt off of it! Stephanie felt called at one point to gather rocks from a buffalo wallow (this is where the buffalo roll around in the grass and leave a depression of dirt). We found the perfect wallow in the middle of a field where there were no buffalo (because you know, safety). She took some of the sage seeds that she gathered while she was with the Lakota Medicine Man at Standing Rock, and did a small ceremony to bury the seeds at the four corners of the buffalo wallow. She picked the three most perfect rocks, for her, my wife and I. As she was walking back, she smiled brightly as she found a sprig of sage that was broken off from the root, next to a buffalo hoof print. Funny that she got gifted sage from the earth that was broken off by the very animal she visited the wallow of. It was the perfect ending to our magical journey. From there, we gathered some gifts for our families from a local native gift shop and set our sights on the journey back home.
The journey home was a bit longer than the drive out, since we were over 300 miles farther west than Standing Rock. It was evening and I just put myself in Road Warrior mode and off we went. I drove all night and had the pleasure of meeting an Iowa State Trooper around 5:00am when he pulled me over. I was not speeding, but had a headlight that had burned out. He was polite and helpful and only gave me a repair ticket to keep me legit as I finished the drive home. It shook me to see the flashing blue lights and I was just a little rattled when he let us go. Stephanie suggests that I stop somewhere and get some rest and after consulting with Lora, we stopped and slept for a few hours. We woke and hit the road to finish the journey. I drove for 17 hours straight and we arrived back home at 9:30am for a trip total of 6,200 miles.
We both will be going back.
Thanks for reading this post! And thank you to those that gave donations 🙂
If you have found this page, there is no coincidence that you are on a path of self discovery. Even if that wasn’t your intention, you somehow still wound up finding this page. This post directly deals with the Air as an element, and how we can journey to find out the depth of our relationship with this element. It can be a direct reflection upon us and how we function in this world. We will be going through these journeying topics at the Shamanic Journey Group of Fairfax, however this can also be a “follow along at home” directional for those that wish to take this slowly and in a step-by-step process.
I shall update the table of contents as the blog posts get written.
Table of contents:
Purity and the Elements – Main post, Introduction to four element system and why
Earth – Representation of our Physical Body
Air (this post)
Fire – Representation of our Spiritual Body
Water (coming soon)
As we have found out through previous posts, all of the elements are inter-related and interconnected. Through earth, we have cultivated a sense of who we are, why we are here, what we stand for, and why we stand for it. If we don’t cultivate these things first, then we can get very overwhelmed in the element of air. Many people in this society have an excess of the air element. Because the air element represents our mental wisdom body, that means that we can have an abundance of ideas, but lack of follow through. Have you ever heard of the phrase “air head” or thought of the meaning “building castles in the sky”? That is because without the earth quality in balance, we can become very “ungrounded” and can begin to think with fantasy thinking, allowing our brains to run away with us. Air in excess can be manifested physically as anxiety, migraines, and headaches because we are up in our heads all the time. Air in and of itself physically is made up of smaller, less dense molecules then that of earth. The molecules tend to bounce around a lot faster, and sometimes when they are “heated up”, they move at lightning fast speed, bumping into each other and causing all sorts of chaos. Have you ever noticed that when someone gets excited over new ideas they trip over themselves trying to write them all down, but then they burn out before they begin to enact any of the steps? Excited air energy is great and wonderful, but being grounded and methodical is how we begin to plant these seeds that we get from the air. Right relationship with earth helps remind us to take a step back and breathe.
When working with the element of air, it is a direct engagement of Spirit. If we think about it, the first element that we are introduced to as we are born into this world is the element of air. A baby is not marked as fully alive until they “take their first breath”. Air is the element most taken for granted. The same air that we breathe now is the same air that was once breathed by our deceased relatives, animals, as well as ancient beings – including dinosaurs! When we breathe the breath of our ancestors, we can restore ourselves back to the original dream. We commonly engage in ceremony with words and speaking. Air is the energetic driver for taking a particular vow (which most people don’t take seriously anymore because vows are often broken in this society).
The spoken word does have a lot of power, because many words together begin to tell a story. We often tell ourselves stories about ourselves and can portray others and ourselves in a certain light. This is human nature and happens unconsciously. An example of a “story” that we tell ourselves is the story of being “a good husband/wife”, or “being a good daughter/son”. We often get a perception of what is good/bad from the people and community that raise us, so if we grew up in a very dogmatic household – it can be very difficult to unlearn certain behaviors, and we can have trigger reactions when a story that we are telling ourselves is being challenged. For example, if we keep telling ourselves the story of judging our own self worth, it could restrict our decisions. Because we could have a low opinion of ourselves and we see a dream job, we could potentially restrict ourselves from applying to that open job position. The “story” we tell ourselves often comes as a soft whisper that speaks to us like, “Nah, I’m not going to apply for that job. I don’t have the credentials yet”, or “Well, if I apply for the job, I won’t get it anyway”. In the end, that story boils down to our worthiness. Maybe in the past we were told that we couldn’t amount to anything, and over time if things like that keep being told to us – we believe it. When we begin cultivating a healthy relationship with element of air, we begin to challenge these stories and ask if they are grounded in reality, or based in fantasy thinking.
There is a difference between doubt and critical thinking. Doubt is paralyzing, we lose our sense of connection and we only focus on what is wrong. With critical thinking, we are finding what is valuable in the situation and come at the situation from an open place of curiosity and discovery. When you follow the lead of critical thinking versus doubt, you can begin to discern the difference between delusion and imagination, and then begin to make progress forward on how you can move forward with the resources available to you now and in this moment. With a healthy relationship with air, we can begin to cultivate the qualities of truth telling. How often do we lie to ourselves when we think we can accomplish some grandiose task but don’t realize how much energy we really have in the moment? How often do we overstretch ourselves because of the dreams of others and their projection of how we fit into the picture? How often do we lose our sense of boundaries because we really just want the approval of others and try to make ourselves fit into their dream instead of dreaming our own dream? This is where we begin cultivating a proper relationship with air – by asking ourselves these questions. Many times when a person first journeys to find out their relationship with air, they will either find out that they can’t breathe, or that the air is filled with a thick smog. A healthy relationship with air is one that is crystal clear – like unpolluted mountain air.
Within this same vein, there is a difference between stagnation and suffocation. With earth, things feel very heavy – almost as if you can’t move. This is stagnation, when things are unmoving or you are too unwilling to let go of your own beliefs. With suffocation, you are living in something that is dead. Have your dreams died? Have you lost sense of what your dreams once were? When you feel suffocation, it is because we lose our sense of hope, or we drift away from the things that are aligned with our true path. This often leads to fast paced moving thoughts because we keep “spinning our wheels”. When we connect back to our dreams and our passions, that is how we can “breathe life” into a particular situation – by bringing in new ideas from our mental wisdom body and being able to discern which ideas will really be able to take off with the resources we have available (earth based realization). By flowing into this relationship between air and earth, we must realize the choices that we are making. Every time we say yes to something, we are also saying no to at least 10 other things. Earth can help us realize what is important to us, and how to prioritize, while air can help inspire us to take care of the situations we already have growing. We can ask vital questions such as:
- By doing this particular action, what am I feeding?
- What possible actions can I take in this situation that help feed what drives me?
- How is this aligned with my path and does this stray from who I am?
- Show me with clarity the choices I have available to me that I can reasonably accomplish
The element of air is very strongly connected to the element of truth telling. Truth can be a double edged sword in the fact that is can cut both ways. The hurt comes in the fact that it cuts, and the wound can hurt very deeply when we find out a truth. However, the blessing is that it’s a clean cut and it heals faster. How many times have we been fed lies, and the lies feed a blister or an abscess that just keeps growing. Many times people try to ignore the sore spot, lying to themselves that this abscess is not really forming underneath the surface. Doesn’t a clean poke hurt in the beginning but drain the abscess, leading to wellness? How many times have we allowed the abscess to pop because we didn’t realize/ignored that it was there. After it bursts on it’s own, note the length of time it takes to heal as opposed to when it was cleanly cut. This is a metaphor of a healthy relationship with air, and being able to have the wisdom of asking what the “spiritual antibiotics” are so that we continue to not get sick from our choices. When we cut with the sword of truth, it can help breathe life into things that were once dead. It can hurt at first, but it helps with the awareness and healing of it in the long run.
To help cultivate a strong relationship with air, we need to focus on truth telling and find out where we are lying to ourselves. Once we have this sense of awareness about the reality of a situation and begin to move from fantasy thinking (imagining that we are some place instead of actually realizing the state we are in) into a grounded sense of who we are, what we are, and the resources we have available – we become so much more productive in this world. This in turn helps us become more grounded and more efficient in fulfilling our lifes purpose. When our mind and heart move through with intention, we can begin to discern where it is we are really going. By cultivating a place to stand with earth, we can step up and grab some of these ideas from the mental wisdom body. It has no power unless we ground it in physical reality.
As with any archetype, the shadow of air is the tornado (if you are confused at what the shadow is and what it represents, scroll down to the bottom of the earth post). The job of the tornado is to dismantle. Perhaps a new perspective is needed because it’s being encumbered by your limitations, expectations, and views. Because of some of the stories we tell ourselves, we can lead ourselves into set patterns of thinking, and sometimes these thoughts swirl in our head so fast that we can challenge ourselves to question our ability to think. When we have such a strong degree of suffocation where we feel like we have no hope in a given situation, we might need a tornado to come in to “wake us up”. What are you feeding? What are you giving life too? How can we be thankful when a new perspective brings to light a huge story that we tell ourselves in regards to how connected we feel to other people, as well as how worthy we are to receive something. Remember that a shadow is neither good nor bad. It is a natural disaster that can have the positive aspects of wisdom once we clear out the debris/rubble.
Some journey questions we can ask ourselves based off of this article:
- What is the quality of my relationship to the air element?
- What shape is my mental wisdom body in?
- Is there a particular area of my life that is suffocating right now?
- Show me an aspect of my life that is in excess, and how do I calm this down?
- Show me what right relationship with the air element looks like
If you are an auditory person and would like to listen to these same ideas in a podcast, feel free to listen to it on the Why Shamanism Now podcast.
The crest of another month is upon us! So many wonderful events coming up, so be on the lookout for a newsletter in your inbox soon. Here we are at the beginning of a Sun-filled and hot month (at least here in Virginia). If you’re new to Shamanic Journeying, and you’re curious about joining us, feel free to find out about the Structure of the Fairfax Journey Group as well as the “What is Shamanic Journeying” page. If you haven’t already connected in to the community, there is a Facebook group as well as a Meetup for support.
Experience is helpful, but not necessary. This outline provided is always a suggested journey topic. Journeying is question driven, and the little forum at the beginning of every journey group is to meant to spark that questioning within us. Distance journeying is available, but please message ahead of time for a spot. The method we use is either Skype or Google Hangouts.
The main theme this month is going to be taking care of our energetic bucket. All too often we do things, even when we don’t have the energy to. What type of repercussions does that have on our subtle body? This is what we will be exploring this month.
Schedule will be as follows:
Monday July 4th
No journey group! Spend time with your family and enjoy Independence day.
We will be delving into the “Energetic bucket” and finding out exactly what state our bucket is in. We will be sharing self care techniques as well as any helpful advice for finding out when to recognize when our energy is running low. One of the other topics that will be introduced is the concept of Energy Hygiene. We clean our physical bodies, but how about our other 3 wisdom bodies (mental, emotional, and spiritual)?
Further working with the metaphor of our energy bucket, we will be exploring boundaries and what healthy boundaries look like. There are many times when we subconsciously place our bucket on the ground right where someone is about to kick, how much of that is our own control? Yes things happen in life, but when do we start recognizing that we might potentially be caught in the Victim mentality or the Martyr mentality? It happens to the best of us. Learn from others who join in our circle as we discuss boundaries and what they mean to us.
Year of Ceremony satellite option. For a more extended version of this digital broadcast, visit the meetup for more information. Connection with ancestral spirits is an essential part of shamanic traditions worldwide. Like us, our ancestors experienced suffering and healing and —from the shamanic perspective—they remain connected with us through the life energy they share with us. While this dynamic association can provide us with wisdom and support from our forebearers, we may also inherit their unresolved sorrows and pain. When our body’s defenses are down, when we are under stress or ill, it is easier for an ancestor’s energy to affect us adversely.
There are some times when our intentions mean well, but we don’t realize that our actions are being guided by something else. Here we introduce the concept of “whose driving the bus” and who is really in control? Are you letting your emotions drive when you just want to key someones car out of anger? Are you letting your ego drive the bus when you’re too proud to turn down an offer that you know you probably shouldn’t accept but feel you have to anyway because of social status? What happens when our unresolved wounds come to the surface and react before we have a chance too? Join us as we share our coping techniques or our self awareness techniques, and then ask our helping spirits about it and what works best for us individually.
We hope to see you out at one of these! If not, then maybe either digitally or in spirit 😉 Happy July, everyone!
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!