Archives for category: Uncategorized

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 have been writing about three tools of the shaman, and of anyone who lives a rich and powerful, fully human life.

The last of the three tools in our human tool box is the tool called “Blessing”.

Before we get to the description of what I am meaning by blessing, it will be wise, I think, to address some (western) cultural “wisdom” on the subject. This is the vague opinion that only priests or ministers or someone else who has been ordained as worthy  is allowed or able to bless anyone or anything else. That somehow one has to be above / beyond / better than the rest of the sweating mass of humanity in order to be qualified to bless.

If you are not swimming in the same cultural sea that I am, feel free to skip ahead….

My thinking on this topic is that we are all qualified to bless, for two reasons.

The first is that we are all human, and part of our birthright is that we have the authority and the ability to bless, simply by being human. If you can speak words with love in your heart, then you can bless.

The second is that no one else is standing where you are, so no one is in a position to know better than you what the members of your immediate community (and this means not only the humans, also the plants, animals, fungi, microbes, clouds, winds, stars and everyone else who is a part of the world that you share) might find helpful in fully  expressing their essence here in this world.

So, you are a human being standing where you are. You qualify as someone who can bless.

How, then, do you go about it?

Well, you open your heart, so that it touches not only your bodily self but your energetic / spirit self as well. This lets power flow from the unseen world into the seen.

Then you ask spirit and your finest, truest self, “What is the truth behind what I see (as a problem, person, pattern, etc.)?” while remembering and allowing to unfold your gratitude for life, for this world just as it is.

If you can’t do this last thing, being grateful for the world / person / your life / the situation just as it is, yet, then possibly you should put off using the tool of blessing for a little while until you can feel gratitude for what is.  Because the next step is very powerful and has the potential for doing some damage (not irreparable, but also not helpful to you or the recipient) if you leave out the gratitude part.

So, with your heart open and full of gratitude for what is, your eyes open to see the truth behind the reality, you speak. Sometimes the words speak themselves, but often you have to employ your mind fairly fiercely, so that you describe the truth behind the reality and re-shape it with your words so that it is even more full of light. Blessings are full of well-wishing, of the calling in of help from all sources  – and never of binding or tying or containing. That is another thing altogether, and has its own place, just not here. Blessing leaves the recipient entirely free (maybe even freer) to make the best choice possible of who to be.

Here are some examples of blessings that occur to me.  I am directing them at myself as a reminder to me not to leave myself out of the blessings I speak each day:

“Laurie, may you find your feet on your soul’s true path again this day. May you have eyes to see it, ears to hear the invitation and a heart that is open to your own true nature, so that you may make a free and informed choice of who to be this day.”

“May Laurie find peace today: deep, abiding, astounding peace that opens the heart, heals the soul and energises the body. May her path through life be lined with friends who love her and workmates who treat her with respect, and may her body produce abundant health and a strong, balanced immune system.”

“May the bees who have put themselves under my care, and the bees who have put me under their care, be full of light. May their queens be strong, long-lived and fecund. May their drones sing mightily. May their young rejoice. May their maidens be wise and capable. May the air of their hives breathe health to them. May they find propolis, nectar, pollen, water and minerals in abundance, and may the wind always be at their foragers’ backs.”

We may bless those whom we think need help or a boost; we may just as well bless those who seem fine to us. Blessings all round – you can never have too much of this good thing!

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.