The underground: survival and transformation

If we always got our way, we wouldn’t be forced to work on a true, radical change, one that runs far deeper than political party or ideology.

When a meteor hit earth 66 million years ago leading to the extinction of the dinosaurs, there were some savvy frogs who survived impact by burrowing underground and staying there until it was safe to reemerge.

Nearly 9 out of every 10 of all frogs alive today are descended from just three lineages that managed to survive this mass extinction event. It was the tree frog who led the way for the global expansion of frog species by exploiting a new ecological niche—trees.

The small tree frog is a “survivor” writ large. Just as survivors of trauma instinctively protect parts of themselves in underground, subconscious realms, the tree frog teaches that perseverance and adaptability are the legacies available to those who do their work in the dark, subconscious realms of body, feeling, memory, and dream.

To be plunged into depths, to feel old pain, to find oneself back in the cavernous spaces of darkness once again may feel hollow and without hope, but shamanism teaches that these are the true halls of power, not the celebrated addresses of white marble artifice.

It is within the subterranean caves of psyche and soul that the sacred rites of remembrance and healing are realized. This process of descent is a collective, as well as an individual, labor.

The old patriarchal dinosaurs of this age, those now strutting about and crowing over their “success,” will soon be extinct. The balance has shifted. This age belongs not to the heights, but the depths. This age belongs not to the sun, but to the moon.

The coming change will not originate in the heavens from a meteor strike or appointments from a high seat of power in Washington DC. No, this change, the coming earthquake of transformation, will come through us in our connection to Gaia, the living and ancient Goddess.

We do not have to yield the political sphere to those who crow and bully and lie, but it is incumbent upon us to engage the world from a different center of gravity than the one we have inherited. True revolution implies that we find a new center around which to orbit.

“The master’s tools will never bring down the master’s house,” the poet Audre Lorde once said. Our best efforts to bring about radical change are hindered from within—by us—due to social norms and habits, surely, but more fundamentally through the symbolic universe we have inherited. We dream the dreams of the oppressors. We traffic in the Empire’s maps of reality.

Where to turn? How to betray an endemic rape culture and undermine our internalized oppressor consciousness?

For me, answers are to be found in meditation on Gaia–mother, teacher, and first prophetess–by applying the spiritual and practical lessons of the natural world to our lives.

I am working on a series, perhaps an experiential class, centering on the lessons of the honeybees, that I hope to announce around Thanksgiving to begin in the New Year.

Until Thanksgiving, however, I will offer $60 sessions for those who are seeking to remember their resilience and recover their power in these darkening days of change and collective transformation.

To make an appointment just hit the “book appointment” button at the bottom of any page on this website, http://gaiashamanism.com/

Together, let us remember our strength and wholeness. Together, let us change the world from within and on Election Day.

Summer Solstice and Journey Circle in Eugene

The summer solstice this Thursday, June 21, is the longest day of the year, the day that the sun is at its greatest strength in the Northern Hemisphere.

As the sun has grown in power this year, many of us have become acutely aware of the separation of children from their parents at the US border, the growing epidemic of suicides, school shootings which continue unabated, persistent racism and sexual abuse in every corner of society, to say nothing of the ecocide currently underway thanks to our way of life.

When we are abruptly awakened to what has been unseen, when we are flooded by the light of new awareness, we are likely to become overwhelmed. All of this heady new consciousness, symbolized by the sun, can pull us out of ourselves and send us into orbit.

At its extreme pole, solar consciousness symbolizes a detached, heady consciousness, one that heats the planet and our interactions, turning life into a desert of striving and an endless fight for survival.

Unbalanced, mind-made solar consciousness, taught to us from our first day of school, pulls us up up and away and into our heads, unmooring us from earth and body and all things common–be it common ground, common sense,  or common decency.

In our shared social habit of imbalanced solar consciousness, we unwittingly disconnect ourselves from the sources of our true power–earth, body, and all things common–thereby creating the perfect social conditions for inaction and silence in the face of atrocity.

So if you are lost, if you are horrified by your own passivity and inability to chart a path of action to help address these social ills, know that you are not alone. We were raised to respond this way.

What is coming to light are the symptoms of a sick and diseased collective body. As members of the larger whole, we share in the trauma, dissociation, and disempowerment visited upon our shared body through generations of division and conquest.

But here’s the thing: we may have been raised in a culture big on artifice and long on forgetfulness, but we were born to re-member. We are on the planet now to bring the severed and bloody parts of ourselves—and of our collective body—back together that we might heal and become whole, even holy.

We were born to embark on this great healing adventure of our time. To undertake the sacred healing journey of remembrance is to claim both our birthright and our legacy.

In nature, there is only one day of peak light each year, counterbalanced by only one day of deep darkness. In between, a changing rhythm of light and dark that is always and ever held in exquisite balance.

Let us become the balance in our heady and overly “bright” solar culture. You counter the effect of too much light by tending to the roots of sustenance and connection. We are being called to return to balance, we are being summoned to gather together and enter the dark, lunar realms of heart to listen and learn what Spirit has to say to us.

In ancient days, our ancestors came together in council to seek the guidance of Spirit and decide upon action to meet the challenges of their times The time of waiting for our leaders to act like elders, much less adults, is long past.

This Solstice, let us step up to the challenges and step into a sacred circle of focused intention and ask for guidance to help heal this battered and broken society, which is also our collective body.

If you are in Eugene, you are welcome to join us for the journey circle.  If you are not in the area or cannot attend, I would encourage you to celebrate the solstice by taking some time attend to your roots, be it your body, your people, the earth,  or your Spirit.

If you are interested in receiving a recording of the  journeys from this event, feel free to contact me at aalkin07@gmail.com

******

Join me in a journey circle the evening of Thursday, June 21, the solstice, outside in Eugene on our 14 acres from 7-9 pm.

The intent of this circle is to journey for the healing of the collective. Choose a topic that is of the greatest personal concern for your journey in the circle.

We will journey for guidance and suggestions of inspired action. We will share our intentions with each other beforehand and you may share your journey afterwards if you wish. The idea is to bring the guidance of Spirit to our big questions and to be of support to one another as we seek to find our way to meaningful action.

We’ll have the fire pit going, bring a chair and/or blanket, a snack to share outside if you wish, and a device with the drumbeat.

This circle will be offered to everyone is a free gift, but I suggest that you research an organization before the circle to which to make a donation instead.

Please RSVP to Anna at aalkin07@gmail.com

To change the world

When facing big picture problems, be it school shootings or climate change, I find it helpful to reflect on the image of the net of Indra.

The net of Indra is a Buddhist teaching about our interdependence and the latent power we each hold to change the world. At each intersection of Indra’s net, there is a pearl. Each pearl, from its unique vantage point on the net, reflects back the images of all the other pearls.

This ancient image speaks to the truth of our interconnected wholeness while also honoring the unique gifts and perspectives we each bring by occupying distinct intersections in the web of life.

Now here’s where the power, and the responsibility, comes in: when one pearl changes, so, too, does the reflection in all the other pearls.

We each matter and influence the life of the collective far more than we comprehend. What matters is not if, but what we choose to reflect from our intersection of existence.

Let’s dive still deeper and reflect on the pearl. A pearl is precious, formed inside the shell of an oyster in the depths of the ocean. The origin of the pearl is a piece of grit that somehow slips past the defenses of the shell and lodges itself inside soft tissue.

The oyster responds to grit and the unwelcome feelings of discomfort and pain it brings by marshaling its generative powers, not to shield itself—it’s too late for that—but to transform the grit. In a purely selfish act on the part of the oyster, it creates a thing of beauty, something it wouldn’t otherwise expend its precious energy doing, so that it can take the “edge off” the piece of grit.

This is a metaphor for the work of the soul. The soul’s work is to take the grit of life and to transform that which causes our hearts to ache with discomfort and pain into a thing of beauty. It is a self-interested act, but also an act of sanity and wisdom.

My friends, I hate to break it to you, but as a society we are all (inter)net and no pearls. We are all talk and no reflection. We are all surface and no depth.

We hold nothing sacred because we have forgotten the proper orientation to the big picture problems of our times. The move is not “up” and “out” of ourselves to plead with Congress or the President or even the heavens.

Our real power to change the world is found by diving into the depths, past the screens and walls we have erected, to enter the soft and beating core of our beings. In these innermost depths we must stay with the pain, the vulnerability, and the grit, until we have transformed it into something precious and sacred—a thing of beauty.

This is how you create a pearl at your own unique intersection of life. This is how you change the outer world: by starting with the inside, not the outside; by attending to the depths, not the heights.

Stop giving your power away by looking outside yourself for the answers only you can provide. Create something with the grit that has found its way into your heart. Take the edge off by creating beauty in this troubled world of ours.

Follow the ways of nature and of Spirit: come inside, dive into the depths of your heart, feel, abide there, and learn until you are changed.  Our collective reflection will deepen and grow as a consequence of your efforts.

Become something new, something better. Reflect on life. Shine using the available light. Become as a pearl. Do it as if your very life depended on it, because it does. Do it as if our children’s lives depend on it.  Because they do.

 

Holiday gift offerings

In gratitude for your participation and support of Gaia Shamanism this year, I will be offering two free online open houses and journey circles this Holiday Season: one on the Winter Solstice (Dec 21) and the other on New Year’s Eve.

I’d love it if you would use this opportunity to invite a couple of friends to join you in a circle.  No experience is necessary; I will offer instruction in how to journey in each session.

There will be a 30-minute “open house” at the start of each circle to create a welcoming space for newcomers, provide an opportunity for folks to ask questions, and allow those who have participated in the intensives and circles to share their experiences.

Dreaming a New Dream: A New Year’s Intensive will begin the second week of January, 2017, for 6 weeks. There will be an early bird discount of $50 on the $250 intensive for those who email me at aalkin07 at gmail. com with their interest before 2018. The intensive is capped at 8 participants.

Do consider giving this as a gift to yourself or to a friend as we prepare to enter into the New Year.

Winter Solstice Virtual Open House and Journey Circle

Thursday, December 21, 8:30 am PST for the open house, 9-11:00 am PST for the circle

Because this is the darkest day of the year and marks the return of the sun in the northern hemisphere, the theme for this gathering will be becoming conscious of a new impulse, gift, or understanding that is seeking to emerge from the wisdom of your heart, soul, and subconscious.

Darkness is simply that which is beyond the scope of our limited minds, plans, and perspectives. To become conscious of a bit more of our forgotten truth is to be engaged in a sacred remembering.

The winter solstice, also known as Mother Night, is the perfect moment to bring the light of conscious awareness down into the depths of the heart through shamanic journeying.

Schedule

8:30 am PST:  Open House (optional). This is an opportunity for folks to drop in to say “hi,” introduce friends whom they feel might enjoy shamanic journeywork, ask questions or chat.

9:00-9:45 am: Journey circle begins. We will begin by reflecting on the theme of the winter solstice together and share intentions for the journey. I will teach newcomers how to journey.

9:45-10:15 am: We will adjourn from the online meeting space to take a 15 minute journey on our own and write down the experience before returning to the meeting.

10:15-11:00 am: Return online and share our journey experiences with each other. There is always a rather incredible overlap of images and messages for us all–a soul food potluck to feast on together.

RSVP your interest in attending to aalkin07 at gmail. com.  I will respond by sending you the meeting id and all the information you need to journey with us.

New Year’s Eve Virtual Open House and Journey Circle

Sunday, December 31, 10 am PST for the open house, 10:30 am-12:30 pm PST for the circle

The theme of this New Year’s Eve circle will center upon letting go and new beginnings.  Before the circle, spend some time taking stock of any patterns, habits, relationships, or ways of relating to yourself and life that didn’t serve you well in 2017.

Be gentle with yourself as you take inventory. This is simply an exercise in cleaning out your energetic closets. Gather up all that ill-fitting, ugly-ass clothing you acquired because it was on sale or was a hand-me-down from your family, bag it up, and drop it off at Goodwill.

It is amazing how well the metaphor holds for the interior life, right down to dropping off your bags at “goodwill” instead of harboring resentments (more baggage) about the journey you have taken to arrive at this moment in time.

Together, we’ll journey for a vision of what we do wish to create to fill the vast, clean, open space of 2018. We will ask for guidance, rituals, and practices that will help us to welcome more of the fitting, the beautiful, and the true into our lives.

10:00-10:30 am PST: Open House (optional). This is an opportunity for folks to drop in to say “hi,” introduce friends whom they feel might enjoy shamanic journeywork, ask questions or chat.

10:30-11:15 am:  Journey Circle We will begin by reflecting on the themes of letting go and stepping into a new year together as we share our intentions for the journey. I will teach newcomers how to journey.

11:15-11:45 am: We adjourn from the online meeting space to take a 15 minute journey on our own and write down the experience before returning to the meeting.

11:45-12:30 pm: Return online and share our journey experiences with each other. It will be a veritable feast of wisdom we will share together in preparation for 2018.

RSVP  your interest in attending to aalkin07 at gmail. com.  I will send you the meeting id and all the information you need to journey with us.

A season of darkness and reversal

While we were in Lebanon, Oregon, this summer camping in the path of totality for the eclipse, I found that I had to stop everything once the eclipse began.

The sunlight wasn’t terribly different for most of the hour preceding and following the eclipse. Even at 99.3% totality in Eugene, my Dad reported that had he not had those eclipse viewing glasses on, the visible darkness would have been about as dramatic as a cloud passing over the sun. In other words: no big deal.

In Lebanon, however, those 2 minutes of totality were quite a big deal. The sun was transformed into an electric eye, corona visible and waving wildly around the darkened disk of the moon. There is really no picture, video, or re-presentation that can convey the experience. It was Truly Something.

But about 30 seconds after totality ended, my son noted that a car was already back on the road and driving with its headlights on. 10 minutes after totality, things started to look like a normal day, and at 30 minutes post-eclipse, most folks had departed from the campground.

Through it all—the hour prior and the hour following totality—I couldn’t do a damn thing. My boy was hungry and I wouldn’t cook. My mate wanted to pack up to leave and I wouldn’t let him. Instead, I sat in my low-slung camping chair and peeked at the sun periodically to see what phase the eclipse was in.

My stubborn resolve to do nothing didn’t make any sense to me at the time, but the phrase “we’re in ceremony” kept running though me. So I observed a short fast from food, work, reading, and screens, as did my family, patient folks that they are.

This idea of “being in ceremony” has returned to me in these days of gathering darkness, both literal and metaphorical. This darkness, I assure you, is in both cases seasonal.

But the point of this wintry season is to teach us to generate that which we are accustomed to receiving from the world around us. This is a time of sacred reversal, not unlike the solar eclipse of August when the moon obscured rather than reflected the light of the sun.

In this season, in times of darkness and reversal, we are to become as stars to feed heaven and earth with our constancy and our love. We are given this opportunity each year to gift the world with a small token of the goodness and warmth we receive all year long.

In these darkening days, we find ourselves plunged into ceremony as a people. May we give ourselves and the world the gift of our undivided attention.  May we fast from busyness as usual. May we be so bowled over with reverence and awe that we fail to do a damn thing, if only for 15 minutes a day.

“Sacrifice” means to make sacred, and it is time, not money, that is our most precious resource. There is no earning back the hours—ever. Do nothing as a sacred practice, and allow your cup to be filled to overflowing with the blessings of this season.

******

New Offerings to announce:

·   A New Year’s Intensive to kick off 2018 http://gaiashamanism.com/dreaming-a-new-dream/

·   Shamanic Wayfinding for weekly one-on-one coaching: http://gaiashamanism.com/shamanic-wayfinding/

·   Online Journey Circles for those who have had a Shamanic Guidance session, participated in an Intensive, or are enrolled in Shamanic Wayfinding.

Please feel free to email me (aalkin07 at gmail.com) with your interest or any questions you might have. And do forward this blog post to anyone you feel might be interested in this work.

Gratitude

To be in the now is to be in eternity in the midst of the flow of time. To be in the now, to bathe in the waters of eternity, is a key element of gratitude.

If you were a glass and Spirit was seeking to be poured into you from above, the way to be filled with eternity would be to hold still, wouldn’t it?

We’re talking about stilling your mind here, though stopping or slowing the body can indeed help to still the mind.

Take a cue from your environment: choose something that might cause you stress or your mind to speed up, and use it to slow your mind and open your being to the waters of eternity.

It can be anything: the red traffic light, the notification of a text. When you encounter these mindfulness bells, take a moment to hold still and be filled.

Gratitude is not something you manufacture.

You can prepare yourself to be in a grateful state by attending to the majesty of nature’s ceremony all around you, but gratitude is first and foremost a gift.

Gratitude is a gift–both for you and for Spirit.

When you are grateful, heaven is fed.

When you are present, you pull the spaciousness of Eternity into clock time.

Practice walking around seeing the world through your heart.  This is the key to gratitude.

 

 

The ground game

Like honeybees gathering the last available nectar and pollen before wintertime, these are busy days for us all. And it is this busyness that I hope to help folks address as we slide into the holiday season.

Every year, I resolve to do the season “better” so that I actually enjoy it. What I need, and perhaps you need also, is to slow down, remember to breathe, savor the crisp air, and engage in practices of warmth–both physical and emotional–in these darkening days.

In the midst of white supremacist rallies, flood, fire, and mass shootings, I have found deep guidance and durable beauty in the practice of shamanism with others.

Like honeybees who lose their way after feeding on blossoms tainted with pesticides, so, too, do we grow forgetful, lose our bearings, and find ourselves pulled out of our essential selves with too much time spent consuming mediated information and too little in direct contact with the natural world and Spirit.

To create a new world we have to actually do something new in our lives. The main game isn’t in Washington DC. Trust me: I worked in Congress. It is here, under our feet, in the soil of our daily lives.

It is a war out there, but the war is over us. Division and distraction are the offerings of this for-profit world, the tainted forage on which we feed at our peril, lest we forget the way “home” to our center, to our common sense, to our power, and to our joy.

The ground game–how we spend our allotment of this non-renewable resource called life–is where the war of these times is lost….or won.

So let us reclaim our lives, our attention, our inner ground. Let’s slow down, walk with purpose, build empty space into our calendars, and fast from toxic offerings in our landscape. Let us cultivate an openness of heart and mind this season of hallowed evenings and giving thanks.

******

Gaia Shamanism will be offering a 6-week fall shamanic intensive starting the first week of November running through mid-December. The cost is $150 and the class is capped at 6 participants.

In addition to the usual offerings of the intensive, I will be sharing weekly practices to help us to experiment with taking things away from our overstuffed lives to make room for the sacred.

For those who would prefer one-on-one support through the fall season of letting go and making room for new life, I am now offering weekly spiritual support sessions for $30. These are not shamanic sessions, but rather a time set aside for listening, conversation, and support of your efforts to connect with the sacred in your life.

Email me with your interest at aalkin07 at gmail dot com. Half-price shamanic spiritual guidance sessions ($50) will be available to those who choose to be engaged in this on-going spiritual support,

In the shadow there is immense power

Day 3 of a 7 day eclipse series: Solar Plexus, Center of Will

After viewing the eclipse on Monday, August 21, from the path of totality in Lebanon, Oregon, I decided to undertake 7 shamanic journeys in the seven days following the event to better understand the messages and energies at play in the first eclipse visible from coast to coast in North America since 1918.

******

In this journey, a bald eagle flew above me in circles. I was in its shadow at times, then blinded by the sun at others.  With time, it becomes clear that I am also to fly as an eagle and after we circle our way up into the heavens, we land in a tree by the Potomac River in Washington DC.

I begin to walk with eagle flying above me when suddenly I find myself in total darkness. It feels confining, like I’m waiting for something. Then a picture comes into view: a woman opens the screen door on her brownstone home and a little boy about six years old comes running out with his lunchbox and over-sized backpack.

She walks him to his school bus stop, sees him safely on board, and shuffles back home. The coming hours are a burden instead of a gift. Once inside, I see a newspaper with the employment listings circled in red. She’s smoking, a TV blaring in the background. She calls a friend. I can feel the weight of it all, needs pressing in on her with not much hope of relief for she who lives in the shadow of the the US Capitol.

I see myself knocking on the door with eagle on my shoulder. I introduce myself to this woman who introduces herself as Tamika. I explain that I’m on a quest to understand the lessons of the eclipse which cast its shadow across our nation just three days prior.

Strange as the visitation from the two of us is, Tamika invites us in. Her openness might be in part due to her loneliness and boredom, but this woman also has a big heart.  She offers eagle some cornbread (which he loves) while she and I drink lemonade at the kitchen table.

I start asking my “big questions” about our nation and how to move forward to a more sane and sustainable way of life, but she’s not interested. It’s all too remote and detached from reality. In a word, it’s too heady. Usefulness is what Tamika has her eye on.

My language, my questions, the approach I bring to this woman’s doorstep is the fruit of what bell hooks would call the “imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.” Our educational system, rooted in the blood and soil of oppression, helps to keep the existing order safe. From the inside.

At an early age, we are tempted to climb the tree of economic striving in hopes of tasting the shiny apple that ever remains just out of reach. We are taught to sit in rows, form lines, and to experience the world as audience instead of actors on the stage of life. We are catechized to live up in our heads, divorced from our grounding in things common like the earth, our senses, and kinship with our own and other species.

Tamika, whose name means “people,” spends her days isolated and alone. She kills time looking for work in hopes that one day she can kill time and make a “living” at it. Tamika, representing the wisdom and the struggles of the people who live in the shadow of this crumbling empire,  tells me she doesn’t see the point of this life we’ve created.

With a roof over her head and her basic material needs provided, Tamika is not sold on the American dream, but instead feels the hollowness of this “dream” acutely. This is the shadow-side of what “we the people” are living in this nation. Tamika’s struggle is not only that of an unemployed, single, African-American mother in DC. As her name suggests, Tamika’s struggle is our own.

So where do we begin?

The task before us is one of undoing, instead of doing. Our work is akin to waiting in the dark path of totality instead of blithely going about “business as usual” now that Nazi flags are unfurled and human lives are toppled and broken in the plain light of day. We need to create something entirely new under the sun, something beyond the simple dualities of light and dark, black and white, good and evil, by which we navigate our world.

We begin, as shown by this journey, by listening to and learning from those who live in the shadow of this nation. We start by listening to ourselves, acknowledging the shadow that follows us everywhere, no matter how dogged our practices of optimism and gratitude, no matter our social location or skin color: surely there is more to life than this. For the love of God, there has got to be more to life than this.

Perhaps, one day, we will be able to begin listening to one another. It is terrifying to live in the shadow of a crumbling empire, to be complicit in perpetuating a system which rewards and abuses us all, though in unequal measure. Tamika’s struggle is our own. We are more alike than we acknowledge, we who live in the shadow of the American dream.

One lesson of the Great American Eclipse is this: in the shadow there is immense power. For in the shadow, in the path of totality, you can turn your face towards the sun and begin to see everything in a new light.

******

This third day of the solar eclipse ceremony has centered on matters of the third chakra or the solar plexus, the seat of will power.

Tamika is a reminder to us that the American dream, in which the will of the people rules this land, is yet to be realized. But the power of this vision endures through the centuries and across this varied land, calling upon us to make good on our collective dream.

How to marshal our energies of will, how to stay on task and guard our precious reserves of time, energy, and attention is something that this third day of ceremony asks us to contemplate before moving into action.

May we learn to use our energies wisely and well.

 

A Clearing in the Sacred Forest of the Soul

The following is a transcript from the journey circle that Gaia Shamanism held at the end of July.

We entered the sacred garden, raised our hands for a journey, and day turned to night.  No guide came for us, so we walked down the path to the heart of this land, and as we descended the hill, saw that the winter creeks, now dry, were alight with the dancing flames of thousands of tea light candles.

People from all of our journey circles, past and present, were lighting the votive candles. Each moment of conscious gratitude and thanks given for gifts received, instead of overlooked, lit a candle. With time, practice, and intention, the band of light grew to fill the scene; a Milky Way of human love and gratitude on the ground, our gift in return for the ever-present ancestral love in the sky above us.

We sat on the moss-covered rocks at the base of the hill and while we did not see our guide, we heard the call of the Great Horned Owl. After some time sitting silently in meditation, amidst our Milky Way of candles, we realized that we were to follow the river of fiery light in the direction of the ocean, signifying a journey back to Source. So our gratitude becomes the light by which we see in the dark and the path we follow on our way “home.”

As we walk downstream (a path of relaxation and ease rather than struggle) we find ourselves in a clearing—a circle of light—in a forest. We step into this circle of light, illumined by the moon, and we stand there, still, hands linked, faces turned upward, bathed in reflected light. It is magnificent. Still. Peaceful. Restorative.

True to form, I want something to “happen,” but with time I realize that this moment of gathered stillness in the reflected light of Spirit is the main event. This is why we circle up together to undertake a shamanic journey: to soak in the light and the unspoken Love of the Unseen.

Eventually, we sit, then lie down upon the moonlit earth with our feet at the center of our circle. Like a 5-pointed star on the ground, we begin to dream.

Dawn comes and we awaken to a campfire in the round clearing. My guide, Chief, is making us coffee. We are awakening to the Spirit world, it seems, with the dawn of this “new day.” Sipping coffee, I ask about the intensity of life for us all in our circle today, as well for those who could not attend.

Chief looks at me, offering no words, but directing me nonetheless to feel into the circle. I silently catalogue the longings in myself and of each member of the circle and I realize that it is a hole—a lack—that I feel most acutely in my heart. But in this setting, in this circular hole in the body of the forest, the painful feeling in my heart takes on a new meaning.

Here, in this sacred circle, I understand that these challenges and feelings of loss are the way the love and the reflected light of Spirit can enter our world. Our difficulties are meant to be held with reverence. These are the clearings of healing and silent ceremony in the sacred forest of the soul.

The soul sees things very differently from the personality. The soul is willing to endure pain for a larger purpose, and that purpose is one of growing in connection, trust, and appreciation for Spirit’s presence and role in our lives. The purpose, simply put,  is one of awakening to a new day.

To experience journeys and to receive guidance like this, consider enrolling in Dreaming a New Dream: A 6 week Shamanic Intensive in Daily Life starting in September.

 

Diving Beneath the Surface Noise

Sound in many spiritual traditions is held to be the creative source of life, be it “the Word” of Christianity or the cosmic sound of the OM chanted in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Similarly, the drumbeat is used in shamanism to enable one to take a journey beneath the surface noise of the mind and follow the life stream back to its origin in Source.

The whale in the ocean is a picture of the soul at home in the vast waters of spirit. And the relationship of our souls to Source can either be one of collaboration in song or one of antagonism with noise. The song of the whale is both beautiful and purposeful, allowing whales to communicate with one another over long distances, mate, as well as navigate in the dark depths of oceanic oneness.

To listen solely to the chatter of the mind is to remain on the surface of life, immersed in noise, unable to create anything that doesn’t add more noise to the collective environment. Whales beach themselves due to the sound interference of ships, much as souls find themselves separated from the native environment of spirit, hung up on sand bars of man-made noise, chatter, and diversion.

Spirit’s wisdom is upside down and backwards from the reigning viewpoint of the world: you go inward and downward, not up and out, in order to reach the heights and become as light. That our spirit guide was a whale named Stella, or “star,” implies that spiritual greatness is a function of learning to sing and move from the vast watery depths of the heart.

Diving beneath ordinary consciousness to return fed and refreshed to the surface of daily life confers benefits to the individual: “I feel more peaceful and my b.s. detector is a lot stronger” said one participant in our weekly journey circle. Adopting a regular shamanic practice helps to stir up the waters of consciousness, bringing new perspective and fresh insight to life, but might this practice help the collective, too?

The example of the whale suggests so. Here’s a wonderful four-minute video on the ecological benefits the whale confers to the whole of the ocean in her repeated journeys down to the depths and back up to the water’s surface:

https://www.facebook.com/SustainableMan/videos/10154809382637909/?autoplay_reason=all_page_organic_allowed&video_container_type=0&video_creator_product_type=0&app_id=273465416184080&live_video_guests=0

You listen to noise, you can only create more noise. If you stay confined in the mind, you remain on the surface of things, never really mixing up the waters of consciousness, never creating anything truly new to feed life at its source.

At best, awash in endless chatter, we go in circles. At worst, we get so disoriented by the noise of mind and world that we run aground, which is pretty much describes where we are now as a collective.

Like the whale, it is our nature to dive beneath the surface concerns and noise of the world, but we come from a long line of souls beached on the sands of time.

Estranged from our soul’s natural habitat in the oceanic depths, exposed to the sun of ordinary consciousness for far too long, we have grown weak: we no longer believe that once we knew how to swim, we no longer remember how to find our way through the dark waters of eternity with song.

*************

The above is from the “class taught by spirit” offered by Gaia Shamanism. Each class includes a group shamanic journey with a follow-up journey interpretation, as excerpted above. The first class was so much fun, Gaia Shamanism is offering two groups in June:

Introduction to Shamanic Journeying:  An Online Experiential Class

$40 for four 90-minute online classes in June.

Day and time to be arranged based on participant schedules.

Introduction to shamanism materials included.

To register email Anna at aalkin07@gmail.com.

A Course Taught by Spirit:  An Online Shamanic Journey Series 

$30 for four 90-minute online classes in June.

Fridays from 9-10:30 AM PDT June 9, June 16, June 23, and June 30.

You will receive journey interpretations from the class each week.  Here’s a sample from the last class.

To register, email Anna at aalkin07@gmail.com.