Shamanism

SAMHAIN – THE SACRED NEW YEAR The Cycle of Birth, Life, Death and Rebirth

samhain-stags

In the Old Ways that we still celebrate to this day, Samhain is the Celtic New Year. On October 31st, we once again turn the Wheel of the Year and contemplate life and death and rebirth. It is a night of wonder and magic. The past, present and future are one. On this night, we recognize that the fallen leaves are decaying. We remind ourselves that this decay feeds new life to come. We honor the generations that have come before and we shine the light of our best wishes and most beautiful dreams onto those yet to come.

honoring-trees

Samhain is the night when the veil between our world and the spirit world is at its thinnest. Samhain is pronounced SAH-wen or SHAV-na, and it is the night for reconnecting with our ancestors. We honor them for the life and energy they passed on to us through the miracle of our DNA. If we take a Shamanic Journey, we sometimes meet them. An ancestor may show up as an individual personality, or as a general archetype. In any case, we show respect by having no expectations of them and making no apologies for them. We consciously appreciate their efforts on our behalf, and know they watch over us. We can ask for their advice, protection and guidance for the upcoming year. We can converse with them to let them know what we are up to in life. We can assure them that we want them on our side. We want to receive their blessings. We can ask for their blessings for our children and grandchildren, too.

remember-ancestorsThis is the night when the gateway between our world and the spirit world is the thinnest. Tonight is the night to call out those who came before. Tonight I honor my ancestors. Spirits of my mothers and fathers, I call to you. I welcome you to join me for this night. You watch over me always, protecting and guiding me. Tonight, I thank you. Your blood runs in my veins. Your spirit is in my heart. Your memories are in my soul. I remember all of you. You are dead but never forgotten. You live on in me, and within those who are yet to come.

carved-w-moon-stars

Samhain is also a good night to contemplate our own mortality. It is a good time to look at wrapping up the old and preparing for the new in our lives. If anything is left undone, this is the perfect time to resolve it. Once unfinished matters are cleared away, we can begin looking toward the next year, free from restraints and encumbrances. We can then look to see how any unwanted aspects from our personal year can be released and transformed. We can also look into the crystal ball of our mind’s eye and get a glimpse of what is to come in the year ahead. This is, indeed, a most magical time!

 

turning-of-the-year

ANIMAL TOTEMS: THE OLD WAYS ARE NEW AGAIN

Fox Totem

You hear people mention Animal Totems more and more frequently these days. You may also have heard them called Spirit Animals or Power Animals. Certainly, the influence of the animal world on the human psyche is undeniable. It has been with us since the earliest of times. We can observe it in the prominence of paintings on ancient cave walls. We can note the recurrence of animals in fairy tales of all cultures since recorded history. They often talk and give help and advice to humans, occasionally even delivering hard lessons by outsmarting people. Our fascination with animals is so innate that we even have a television channel called the Animal Planet where we can watch them anytime, day or night.  And other channels, like Discovery and National Geographic, are filled with documentaries of many of the animals we find most captivating.

Before modern industrialization we were more in tune with the natural world. We were more connected to animals and their wisdom. We learned lessons about life by observing them, and we saw in them a mirror of our own qualities, both good and bad, so that we could improve ourselves and discover how to live in harmony. This lost awareness is reemerging today. It is, indeed, very accessible through any ancestral roots – European, Asian, African, etc. – but the most common view in our culture at this time is through Native American traditions.

Within these traditions, there are variations from nation to nation, and from tribe to tribe within one nation, but some beliefs are generally held in common. For instance, a common view is that when you are born, you enter this life at a certain place on the Medicine Wheel.  You will traverse the Wheel many times during your life, as the Wheel encompasses all the virtues and imperfections, all the ups and downs that a lifetime entails. However, your particular placement at the time of your birth indicates which life lessons will be most important for you to learn during your lifetime.  Creator gives you help to succeed in mastering these lessons. One such aid is your Personal Animal Totem (or totems, in some cases). In one Cherokee tradition, Creator gives each person seven totems in each of seven categories, for a total of forty-nine. You become familiar with your totems and begin working with them.  You then start paring them down until you discover which totem is your strongest ally. This totem is the most influential helper on your path to becoming a “true human being,” someone who who leads your life “in a good way” by developing your gifts and talents to benefit the people for several generations.

Deer Totem

So how does your Animal Totem help you do this? Well, at the most base level, your Totem helps you muddle through your life with a little more grace and peace of mind. But it can do more than that if you work closely with it. It strengthens and deepens your sense of connection – to family, friends, yourself, your purpose, and to the Great Mystery of life. Your Personal Totem shows you where you belong in the great scheme of things. Creator gives you this gift and asks you to cultivate the bond between yourself and your Totem because, as you begin to integrate it into your daily life, you discover how to use its wisdom to remove barriers to your personal and spiritual development. Unfolding your relationship with your Totems brings self-knowledge, healing and purpose. It deepens your intuition and awareness.  It improves the stamina in your mind and body, and promotes peace and power in your heart and soul. You arrive at a place where you are contributing to the balance and harmony of all things on earth just by being you. Your Personal Totem takes you there.

So, how do you know what your personal animal totem is? And how do you make its acquaintance? Sometimes an animal enters your awareness because it startles you by flying across your windshield or darting in front of your car as you are driving down the road.  Or maybe you just begin seeing a particular kind of animal everywhere you look. People can mistakenly assume that this is their personal animal totem. Usually it is not. Often this is an animal that has come to give you a message for a particular time or circumstance in your life. But your true personal animal totem is there with you throughout your life, all the time, even if you don’t notice it.  The way to discover it is through a traditional method called “journeying.”

A journey is a very deep meditative state arrived at by traditional grounding methods and calling on the assistance of the Four Directions, Mother Earth and Father Sky or Great Spirit. Usually  you have a guide to lead you, accompany you through the Journey, and bring you safely back. The guide does this through guided visualization, which may or may not be accompanied by drumming.  Once you are in the receptive state that Journeying induces, your guide gives you the traditional suggestions that lead to recognizing your Totem, both within you and as a separate being who will assist you. You will be able to ask questions of your Totem, and it will give you insights and answers to what’s been on your mind.  You can see your circumstances from a previously unimagined perspective, and new information is offered for considering whatever is at hand.

Horse Totem.

Meeting your Personal Totems is a profound experience. It connects you deeply to yourself and to the Great Mystery – Creator, Spirit, God, Goddess, or however you conceive and call the awe-inspiring wonder of creation. Developing your relationship with your Totems brings self-knowledge, healing and purpose.It deepens your intuition and awareness.  It improves stamina in your mind and body, and promotes peace and power in your heart and soul. Its value is timeless – as uplifting and meaningful today as it has ever been.

It has been my great good fortune to have met and studied with some amazing teachers and healers over the years. Medicine people of four cultural traditions have graciously put enough trust in me to give their endorsements so that I might guide others on traditional Journeys to meet their Totems and Spirit Guides, open their Energy Centers (Chakras), find their missing soul pieces (Soul Retrieval), and other such Old Ways of healing. It is a blessing to have received this knowledge ~ and even more so to be able to share this beautiful Medicine with others.

MORE ABOUT SHAMANISM

ABOUT SHAMANISM

Everyone wants a little magic in their lives.  Well, there is a certain kind of magic always around us here on Earth.  You can recognize it whenever you feel that surge of delight that courses through your cells as it permeates the space around you.  It is the joy of throwing off your jacket in Spring because the sun is finally, again, all you need to warm yourself.  It is the delicate explosion of pink that enchants you at cherry blossom time.  It is the acute awareness of peace and expansion brought on by the thunderous yet tranquil sound of a cascading waterfall.  It is the sensation that accompanies the inspiration for a painting, the pleasure you get from the smile that bursts from a child, the awe you feel in your heart and soul as you gaze up at the Milky Way.

These experiences open you up and you feel “connected.”  Time is suspended and you find yourself in a state of exuberance and gladness that is, yet, so serene.  You are in a state of connectedness – to nature, to the Source, and to yourself.  Shamanism is a means of entering that state at will.

A BRIEF HISTORY

Human beings of all cultures have practiced shamanism in one form or another since the beginning of time.  Archeologists and anthropologists have found evidence on the markings of antlers and bones that date back at least 30,000 years and suggest shamanic rites and practices took place in deep caves.  There is evidence as far back as Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic eras that shamanism was widespread in many indigenous cultures.  It is apparent in Greek and Roman myths, and it is obvious in the present-day indigenous cultures of the Americas, where it is enjoying a resurgence. Likewise, it is reemerging in Europe and Asia, and growing in the United States.

The word shamanism, itself, has its roots in many languages.  The Manchu-Tungus word, saman, comes from the verb “to know,” so the shaman is “one who knows.”  In Sanskrit, shaman means ascetic.  In Japan and Korea, shamanism is called mugyo (alluding to the Great Void from which all springs) or shingyo (referring to the sacred in everything).  In Mexico, it is called curanderismo.  Most cultures do not use the word shaman and shamanism.  They have their own word for their connection to Spirit and healing.  However, there are common elements across cultures:

Within the society, shamans are typically the spiritual and secular leaders, the teachers, healers, herbalists and midwives.  Their ability and authority comes not from dominance, but from a strong relationship with Spirit that provides vision, guidance, healing and protection to the community.  The shaman understands the importance of harmonious relationships – with one’s own mind and body, one’s own family and friends, with community, with nature, and with spirit.  The shaman develops and refines his/her relationships on all levels to benefit and enrich the community, and to be in service to the people.  To that end, shamanism grows and changes with the evolving world, yet never looses its essence or relevance.

WHAT  SHAMANISM OFFERS 

Shamanism offers us ways of accessing the exquisite peace and beauty found in the silence between our thoughts.  It is a very special stillness where you can hear your guidance whispering to you, and where you can find healing for your mind and body, heart and soul.  Shamanism directs you to a deep honoring of life – – your own life and all life in this miracle of creation. It helps develop your relationship with the Source of All Being, and you begin to have a more fulfilling and satisfying life.  When you honor life, you begin to notice your own place in the grand scheme.  When you see how you fit into the design, you can recognize your gifts, realize who you are, and offer your contribution to peace and goodness on earth.

WHEN  TO SEEK SHAMANIC GUIDANCE

Recurring Issues – Sometimes there is an issue in your life that you have been trying to resolve for a while.  You have tried everything you can think of but cannot find a solution.  The issue just repeats or continues, despite all your efforts.  You know you must be missing something but can’t figure out what it is.  Shamanism will give you another approach, another view, previously unseen, that can help you get to the next level.

People In Your Life – You may look around you and notice that the people who fill your life are angry, jealous, needy or generally unhappy. You wish you had companions who were more  loving, caring and compassionate.  Know that the people who surround you reflect your orientation toward the world.  Your orientation can only change when you do.  Shamanism offers the tools to make that change “in a good way,” as the Native Americans say.  In Celtic shamanism they say “if it harms none, do as you will.”

Times of Transition – You may be experiencing one or more of the top three stressors in life: 1) moving (home or career/job); 2) divorce; 3) death in the family.  Perhaps a mid-life crisis has grabbed hold of you.  Maybe facing the empty nest is more difficult than you anticipated.  More support than you could have imagined is available to you through shamanic avenues. Your personal allies and your personal power to handle the transition are within reach.

Restlessness – Maybe you are in a good place in your life right now, but things are happening that you don’t understand. You may be feeling restless or ready to break free of old restrictive patterns.  You may get tingles or shivers on your scalp or skin.  Events seem to flow with more synchronicity.  Perhaps you have more energy, and yet you feel a little lost, or waves of emotion come upon you suddenly, for no reason.  These can be signs of spiritual awakeningthat calls out for the kind of direction that centuries-old shamanic wisdom and meditations offer.

BLUEPRINT OF A SHAMANIC GUIDANCE SESSION

The first thing that happens in a session is an in-depth about your personal history and what is going on in your present life that has you seeking shamanic counsel.  Next, a sacred space is formally set up and prepared, both spiritually and emotionally, for you and your session.  The guide prays to be of service and connects with Spirit to hear what is needed for your personal development, healing and spiritual evolution at this time.

Sometimes you will learn meditations or techniques to build you up and make you effective in your area of concern.  Other times you may receive healings that erase negative self-images or old beliefs that do not serve you. Usually you will receive messages suggesting specific attitudes and practices that reinforce your hopes, insights and endeavors.

Almost always, depending upon the directive of Spirit, you will learn to “journey.”  Journeying is one of the most commonly used practices of all shamanic traditions.  It involves going into a meditative state to meet your guides.  They can be angels, animal totems, spirit guides . . . They are the beings given to you at birth by Creator to help you through your life. They are your allies, and you can rely on them for advice and assistance.

WHAT  I PROVIDE AS A SHAMANIC GUIDE

A shamanic practitioner is especially beneficial during those periods when “going it alone” isn’t really working that well and you could use a little boost to navigate the ups and downs of life.  The services I offer include a variety of journeys and healings that will get you in touch with your inner voice and guidance, and help you identify tools and practices for improving the quality of your life.  Some of the most common traditional methods, across all shamanic cultures, are:

  •  Grounding
  •  Connecting with the Elements
  •  Employing the Four Directions
  •  Meeting your totem animals
  •  Identifying and retrieving your Soul
  •  Chakra development
  •  Messages from your angels and guides
  •  Hands-on or off-the-body energy work

Neither you nor I get to choose when a particular method will be used.  The timing and sequence of events unfolds according to a greater wisdom.  In a prayerful meditative state, I listen to hear the message from Spirit of how to best serve you, and proceed accordingly.  It is always Spirit that directs what will happen in a session, depending on your need at the time.

It is my aim and endeavor as a shamanic practitioner to walk evermore deeply in harmony with All That Is.  This is much to your benefit, for it is the power of that well-established connection to Earth and Sky that helps me bring Spirit closer to you.  When the two of us are together in the same space, you will feel the strength of that connection, and it helps you identify your own connection.  Working with Spirit and my own guides, I will do everything I know to give you clear access to your own spirit . . . and to Great Spirit . . . and put you in touch with your unique guidance system.  I will introduce you to the shamanic realm, where you will learn how to reinforce your bond with Spirit and elevate it to the next level.  We can then orient these new skills and knowledge toward the areas of your life you want to enhance or improve.