Archives for category: energy work

The shaman in each of us knows that “as within, so without”, that we are all so intimately interconnected that transformation of the world around us is rooted in transformation of ourselves.

It is clear that we are called to transform the world; the world is crying out for transformation, and who else is to do it? So, then, surely we are called to transform ourselves as the foundation of this work of transforming the world. And in order to transform myself I must know myself.

To do this knowing of myself is to wrestle with  a great, slippery shape-shifting mystery. How do I come to know myself when myself is forever hiding from my conscious mind, camouflaging, playing the internal chameleon?

One way is to learn to recognise my reflection in the world around me.

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Many shamanic traditions state outright that the way the world appears to us is a direct reflection of our internal state, our self; other traditions take that to be so obvious as not to need stating. Whether or not this is actual, verifiable fact, taking that point of view can be very useful in terms of coming to know myself, so I would ask you to try it on for size and see what you can use it to generate.

In using this viewpoint as a tool, the easiest place to start is likely to be the aspect of your world you find most affecting, that stirs up the strongest emotional response in you. The emotion it provokes in you can provide extra energy for the hunt – because you are hunting. You are stalking your true self, just like an expert hunter stalks her prey.

“Most affecting” in this case could mean most annoying, most frightening, most enthralling or any other most that pops up uninvited as you go about your daily life and grabs hold of your attention, spoiling your mood and maybe even your day – derailing you from your normal, automatic daily routine.

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I (and many others) would assert that whatever it is you and I are finding most affecting is that affecting because it is reflecting into our conscious mind an unacknowledged aspect of our truest self, or of the habits, ideas, patterns, etc. we carry along with us and which hide our truest self from view.

Once the uproar in your head settles down, please read that last sentence again.

In outward aspect, you may indeed be nothing like that aspect of the world that is annoying, frightening, enthralling you. Now take a deep breath. There is, however, something about that aspect of life which illustrates to each of us some aspect of self, or of the baggage we are carrying (frequently mistaken by us for our selves, as we are so used to it and find it so familiar).

Take a quiet moment and sit in your own mind with that affecting aspect of life; allow it to be just as it is, and ask the question:  What is it about this aspect that I find so annoying / frightening / enthralling? Try not to grab the situation by the scruff of its figurative neck in order to shake an answer out of it; just let it be there with you witnessing it. Then go about your business with the question echoing; “be in the question”.

At some point when your deep mind has processed the task you have set it, an answer will float up into consciousness. It may occur as a random thought picture, or as a dream or perhaps as words that float into your ear from an overheard conversation and suddenly ring like a bell. Whatever form the answer takes, you will know it, it will “ring true”.

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Or perhaps the answer will not come, as the tides of everyday life sweep over us again and wash the affect and the question from our consciousness.  Not to worry; that aspect of self will show itself again, soon, in another guise. Then once again your job will be to notice it, let it be what it is, and live in the echo of the question.

Now here is the tough news. You may very well not like the answer. It is possible this reflection is showing you an aspect of your self you have tried to hide from view, something that you do not think worthy or something which runs contrary to your chosen values and your idea of yourself. Once again, not to worry. This is aspect of yourself is not part of a spiritual conspiracy to do you in. Allow it to be.  Do not fight it; do not give over to it and give it license. Just hold it in your heart and allow it to be.

This allowing, without judging or justifying, is what turns you from a hunter into a warrior, full of the right kind of power, able to transform the world by transforming yourself.

As you are still and allowing, this aspect of yourself will gently transform, sometimes without any effort in that direction by your conscious self, and you will have taken another step along the path of becoming whole.

Breathe deep, wiggle your toes and turn your face to the light. Enjoy.

Even now the world is adjusting your reflection. Your next step awaits you.

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(NOTE: If at any point this gets to be too much for you and you are unable to function in your life as a result, seek help; there is no shame in that. Find a therapist or a shaman or some other powerful, compassionate healer and work with that person to become whole. Lean on someone else for a while until you are stronger.)

One of the ways that Jesus taught was, like many – perhaps all – rabbis, through the use of parables.  Some of them were fairly straightforward to understand.  Others leave us – or at least, me – to puzzle, trying this interpretation and then that, often for years.  Not without tea breaks, I must add.

One of these long-term puzzlers (for me) is the parable of the bags of gold (or talents, if you were raised with the King James Version). If you cannot remember the story itself, you can find a version here for revision purposes: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+25%3A14-30%2CLuke+19%3A12-27&version=NIV

I have always thought that this parable had to do with duty, obligation and not much fun. And the failure to live up to some secret, unspoken but stringent requirements for spiritual acceptability.  As you can imagine, this could only add to my tendency to step back from organised religion and keep my own counsel.

Recently, however, another view has begun to dawn on me.  Probably you have already figured this out.  If so, just put me down as a slow study.

Nearly every culture, in the story it tells about being human, has a thread that runs like this: Before you are born, the energetic/spiritual source of who you are splits off part of itself which incarnates and becomes you.  When this body dies, that part of the energetic source return to its original home.

Some of us come in to this bodily life with riches already, full of talents and the fire of life.  Others are less generously blessed. However you came into this life, though, throughout your life you are continually becoming; at any point you are the sum of what you came in to this life as and all of the choices, helpful or not, that you have made from that moment on.

All of those choices have an impact on who we are, on the riches we carry along with us, on who we become.  Am I becoming someone who is larger than the person who came in, who has a greater capacity for living, loving, seeing clearly, learning, teaching, blessing, celebrating? I hope that I am – that is certainly my intent.  I be becoming that by choosing to act as if that is who I am at each crossroad I encounter: the momentous ones ans well as the ones which seem minuscule and of no import at all. Or, when I do not choose wisely, by learning from that and making a better choice for me at the next one.

And when we die, we take that improved, expanded self back to our spiritual origin, whatever it is, as our gift to the whole of life. Whatever we have gained – freedom from fear, capacity for love, ability to forgive or be compassionate, clarity about ourselves – all of this comes back at our death to the source of our life and, therefore, to all that is.

So not only are we a gift of whatever degree of delight (or not!) while we are here on this planet, we are a gift ultimately to that which gave us life itself. A chance to say “thank you” with our entire being.

 

How do I bless myself? Let me count the ways….

It is so easy to identify what we do not want and what is doing us harm.  Not so easy to identify and put into words” what is missing, the presence of which would make a difference” – a difference that is good for the expression of my truest, finest self here in this life. So, here are a few examples to get you started.  There are loads more around, books of them in fact, but do be cautious.  Blessing speaks someone more whole, more free, fuller of life and light.  If what you are reading or saying contains words like bind or tie, or negatives like not and no, then that is not blessing.  It may indeed  be prayer, but not blessing.

Blessing speaks things / conditions / situations into being, so it does not bother to exclude. When your blessing find expression in physical reality it will occupy all the space with its fabulousness; anything else fades away.

Here is my favourite blessing on bees, which can use all the blessing available – please feel free to join me in this daily well-wish for these caretakers of the earth.  I live in a valley that faces the sea; hence the first line of this blessing; feel free to change it to suit, or to make up your own!

Bees who have this valley under your care, and bees who have this planet under your care, may you be full of light.  May your queens be strong, long-lived and fecund. May your drones sing mightily.  May your young rejoice.  May the air of your homes and your hives breathe health to you.  May your maidens be wise and capable. May they find nectar, pollen, propolis, water and minerals in abundance, and may the wind be always at your foragers’ backs, coming and going. So it is; so it shall be; so be it.

Currently I am closing all prayers and blessing like this one, followed by a sharply exhaled breath, to seal the prayer or blessing with my own intention.

Here is a short blessing I use for friends and siblings in general, sometimes on a daily basis whenever I sense that they need support in finding and walking their own path (and who doesn’t, really?

May _______ this day find her feet upon her soul’s true path.  May she have the eyes to see it, the ears to hear the invitation, a mind that is clear and calm and a heart that is free to make the choice that is best for her. So it is; so it shall be; so be it.

 

And here is the blessing I use on myself at the end of each day.

May my heart be pure and turned toward Spirit. May my wellsprings of creativity be clean and free-flowing. May my eye be filled with luminous intelligence, and my my feet always find my soul’s true path. So it is; so it shall be; so be it.

Often I touch the bodily part in question: heart, belly, third eye, feet and I speak this blessing.  It is comforting and powerful to bless yourself.  I cannot urge you enough to give it a try and to go on and find / make up blessings of your own for the circumstances of your own life.  It can be a mental puzzle to figure out what to call in.  It is certainly an adventure worth having when you do!

 

May the light eternal illumine your heart and mind. May your body pulse with the joy of life. May all who meet you befriend you, and may your feet always find your soul’s true path. So it is; so it shall be; so be it.

Recently, I was listening to a fellow healer describe with considerable excitement an unusual healing experience which had happened to her that day.  It was a spontaneous healing and extraction that her spirit allies had undertaken on her behalf.  As a result she felt transformed and a bit disoriented, an effect really deep healing work often produces. In summing up her experience, she said, “This is the sort of thing that happens around So-and-so!”, naming a world-renowned shamanic healer. Clearly not the sort of thing one would expect to happen around an ordinary, run-of-the-mill practitioner like herself!

The Shamanic healer in question is a strong personality, deeply flawed (as are we all) and utterly human.  Yet profoundly powerful healing events happen around this person routinely.

Perhaps it is the strong personality.  Shamanic healing requires focus, that one holds an intent firmly throughout the work no matter what happens. A strong personality helps with this, no doubt.

Maybe it is the completely fallible humanity.  Awareness of oneself often leads to humility, very helpful – crucial, in fact – to the undertaking of shamanic healing.

I would conjecture, based on my own practice, that folded in with these qualities is the flavour of the healer’s relationship with spirit. And of her relationship with herself. This is difficult to measure, but easy to see.  If the healing work is going well, the relationship with spirit is healthy, green and springy and full of life force.  The healer is given to spirit. Here be miracles.

If the healing work (or just life itself) is not going so well, look to your relationship with spirit. It may well look a bit dry and dusty (or often post-apocalyptic in my case, but I am given to internal dramatic hyperbole, so take that with a grain of salt). In this case, pick up the thread in the dustiest, most post-apocalyptic place and follow it back to its source. There you have the chance to look the monster in the eye and offer acceptance, an embrace, true spiritual nourishment. For the source is very likely to be in your own soul somewhere. And it is rarely “other”, and very likely to be an under-appreciated and under-nourished part of yourself. I realise you know this, but think it is worth saying again.

My advice is that you follow the thread. When this process begins to feel risky, do not give up, but do enlist help. A friend, fellow healer or shamanic practitioner can offer you the protection and support you need in order to face what feels like monsters in your self, your life, your relationships – wherever they may raise their heads.

Persevere, and persevere wisely. Here be dragons, that is true. But here is the truest, deepest, finest work of human being. And here be miracles as well.

That all being said, and your relationship with yourself being just fine, a relationship with spirit requires nurture, and that implies some sort of discipline. This is the part I do not particularly want to write because I am so flawed in this area. I hate having to do the same thing every day. But I have to admit that having some sort of spiritual discipline, something that I do which reminds me on a regular basis that I am part of a greater whole, something that reconnects my consciousness with nature and with my friends, allies, teachers and guides does green up my soul, re-open wellsprings of joy and cause life to run at least in a more interesting fashion.

It is not enough to think about spirit. I must do.

It is not enough even to intend; I must act, speak, dance, sing my way back into awareness, back into expression of my own truest, deepest, finest self.

When that expression is flowing due to regular practice, the ground is opened up for the miraculous.  Which brings me back to my fellow practitioner.  This person has been forced by conditions in their own life to take the time given on a lengthy daily commute to and from work to reconnect. This happens five days a week as the practitioner speaks with the clouds, the winds, the landscape – thanking them for their gifts, seeing them with an open heart, and blessing them with a lively and full imagination in play.  This is like digging the soil in a garden, adding compost and manure, carrying water as needed.  Anything planted there springs into life.  As does the seed of a request to be whole and fully alive when planted in the soil of this dedicated soul.

Small wonder, then, that miracles seem to spring up unbidden in this person’s life!

I wrote last about gratitude as the first tool of the shaman, and of any human who desires to live a rich and power-filled life.

Today the tool I am considering is not so easily or concisely named. It has to do with the ability to see what is in front of us. Simple,  right? Just open our eyes, and there it is.

I would assert that it is not so simple, that most of us see not what is in front of us, but what is  in our minds. Which is not to say that the computer / phone screen on which you are reading this is a figment of your mental imagining. It is, however, saying something about our consensual way of seeing the world, and it is saying something about our inherited human way of seeing the world.

One of the things we inherit as human beings is an imperative to know ourselves. Put more personally, I have an in-built imperative to know myself. Not my ego-driven persona, so necessary to survive this world, but my truest deepest, finest self – which is, for the most part, invisible to me. So I project her onto the world around me: on people, situations, organisations, landscapes, objects, belief systems, deities, ideas and so forth in order to make her visible. If I can spot these projected aspects of myself and own them, it is a great gift to me and to the universe as I then become a bit more whole, a bit more myself.

I find it difficult to spot my own projected self just from the experience – my projected self looks, sounds,  smells, feels and tastes like something outside myself, something maybe even strange to me.  She is in the dark, so far as my conscious mind is concerned. The way I can recognise her, though, is from the emotional charge on meeting her. A landscape that makes me weep is still beautiful (or tragic, depending on what I am seeing), but may well be reflecting back to me something hitherto unknown in me. A person I revere, hate or fall in love with is just as likely to be showing something in myself as to be my destined teacher, enemy or soul mate.

Which is not to say that I should not have teachers, enemies or soul mates – simply that on experiencing one of those knee-melting encounters that feel like I have met something numinous and fateful, my first question has come to be, “What in my own deep soul am I seeing here, played out on the screen the universe kindly agrees to be, without recognising it?”

And then I wait for an answer….

The other side of this tool, of seeing what is in front of us, has to do with this physical world and our consensual way of seeing it, how we are trained to see only part of what is there.

We live in a society that is very materialistic. By that I do not mean just that we value the accumulation of consumer goods, but that we value only the physical aspect of the world we live in. Many people have said this, but it bears saying again.

From a shaman’s perspective – and indeed from the point of view of indigenous people around the world, those who live closer to the earth than Americans and Europeans do, everything that has a reality in the physical world also has a spiritual (energetic, unseen) aspect which, very possibly, gives rise to its physical self.  The tree has soul. The car has spiritual expression. Just like me. Just like you. Often this energetic aspect of the world is invisible to me, it is in the dark. I have to practice seeing it.

And the unseen, spiritual aspect of the laptop, or the grass that makes up the lawn, or the wind sweeping leaves around the patio, or the hill I see in the distance is connected up with the unseen aspect of everything else. And with me. Who I am is part of a greater whole. Not just as some distant idea, but as an immediate experience. So not only what I do, but also who I am choosing to be, has an impact on all of this continuum of being.

Seeing this reality behind the physical sets me to asking what I am giving to life, to the universe, to the biosphere? And this brings me to a place of being more neighbourly to all those entities who share this marvelous universe with me. I greet them at the beginning of the day. I ask their help when I am not doing so well. I thank them for participating with me. And I listen….

Life fills with wonder, and with joy, when we have the company of our deepest selves and of the myriad participants in this world. This is the outcome of practicing seeing what is in front of us. Like riding a bike, it takes practice to master. But also like riding a bike, once mastered the ability to see what is there is yours forever.

 

One of my teachers humourously called shamanism “The Path of Paraphernalia”. He was right, of course.  Shamanic practitioners tend to collect things like magpies do.  I have a variety of rattles, each with her own voice and specific use.  My florida water is is a permanent fixture on the alter space in my house, along with various gifts that remind me of the givers.  I have a mesa filled with stones and other magical objects. There are bells and crystals with which I work regularly. I am deeply attached to my drum, my conspirator in transformational work.

But none of these is a fundamental tool of a shaman. If all of them were lost, healing would still be possible. Transformation would continue to occur. Information and insight would come available from the other side.

There are, however, some tools of the shaman that are essential to this work.  They are, in fact, essential to living a rich and powerful life as a human being, so essential that they are hard-wired into our human energy systems. It is these I want to discuss here.

The first of these tools will be very familiar to anyone interested in transformation – of themselves, of situations, of lives.

That tool is gratitude.

And here’s why it is important and useful from a shamanic perspective.

Think about how you are being when you feel that something is owed to you. There is a tightness or a dullness to your being, and you are closed, perhaps to receiving anything else in fear of some sort of swindle taking place, of you being given a poor substitute for the thing you want and feel you should have. Anger, suspicion and fear are the flavours of this being state.

Now think about how you are being when you have just received something delightful and unexpected and you are thankful for it. There is an openness and freedom with the way you feel.  This being state is expansive and full of power. Your truest, deepest self is peeping out and can now come out to play.  New and good things have the space to arrive, to take shape and grow.

A shift from the “I am owed” state to the “I am thankful” state is possible at any time. In everyday life we often expect that this sort of shift only happens to us, that we are not able to instigate it ourselves.

The shaman, the human being of power, knows better. Knows that our speaking holds a key that can open the door to a rich life full of joy.

This form of speaking is gratitude. “Thank you for the wind that touches my face.” “Thank you that my sister cares enough about me to become angry when I ….” “Thank you for this challenge to my health and how it is teaching me to step into my own power.” Not always easy, consistently expressing gratitude requires awareness of ourselves and a determined mind.

We have very little direct control over what life brings us.  We do, however, have choice in the matter of who we will be in the face of what life brings us.  I challenge you to become grateful, to give thanks. More than once. Try it consistently for a week, a month, a year, and see the change in the quality of your life and of yourself.

Gratitude is transformational. Practicing it transforms you. It transforms what life brings you from a trial into a gift. It may even transform the world and the people around you.

Go on, try it. I dare you.

 

From time to time I am asked “what do shamans do?”.  Not always.  Some people have a strong sense of what shamans do.  But I do get asked.  And always I have to stop and think.  We are so pushed to be doing all the time, more and more, testing our souls and bodies to the limits of tolerance.  That sort of doing is very human, and shamans do engage in it; after all, shamans are humans too!  But it is not the sort of doing that answers the question.

So I am always returned to the foundation of a shaman’s practice: working together with Spirit.  What I am calling Spirit goes by many names.  In today’s world it may be energy, or essence, God or Goddess; but energy, essence, Spirit – they are all the same.  Whatever is the unseen power that meets us when we are bold and true to our deepest, finest selves: that is what I mean by Spirit.  Without Spirit a shaman is not much use to anyone.  It is the partnership between human and Spirit that makes a shaman.  Spirit brings power, knowledge and insight.  The human brings intention, discipline and the sense of urgency that incarnation in a mortal body guarantees!

Together, human and Spirit are able to work healing miracles from time to time.  Classically, this includes the removal of heavy energy which may be manifesting as a physical ailment, the restoration of lost power or of lost soul parts which will manifest as lack of engagement in life and/or inability to break or alter destructive life patterns, aiding humans who have died but failed to move on for whatever reason, and blessing the land and ecosystem that supports us.  The more the human and Spirit walk together, the deeper the work becomes, so long as the human keeps faith.

So, the doing of a shaman is only half the story.  As in any partnership, a great deal of the “work” together is not the pushing, grinding, soul-destroying thing we have come to call work.  It consists more of listening, asking, responding, and of holding intention for healing to occur.  Less like force and more akin to surrender.  As a friend of mine is fond of pointing out: It all happens in the conversation, the exchange, the dance, the betwixt and between.

Healing… transformation… enlightenment… are mystery. Spirit constantly invites us to step into this mystery.  Help is always available; we simply must turn and take the hand that is held out to us.

If you are in need of healing work, help or information, please contact me on forestpath@gmx.co.uk or 07749996126 for more information.

Laurie McNeill