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.

A Course Taught by Spirit: Shamanic Journey Circles in June

Last month, I taught a course in shamanism. And as is so often the case when dealing with the realm of the spiritual, my plans came completely undone with the first class.

I wrote a piece that centered on the spiritual lessons of the honeybees before we met for our weekly online video conference.

Five minutes into our first class, I realized that the prepared materials were extraneous to the matter at hand: getting to know one another, talking a bit about our lives to set the group journey intention, and sharing the experience of going on the journey together afterwards.

And after our first group journey, I was convinced that the best way for me to “teach” was to write a journey interpretation from the class. The material was that good, the guidance tailor-made for our lives.  A spirit guide in our second group journey congratulated us: “You have embarked on quite the curriculum. You have chosen to participate in a course taught by spirit.”

That first class “taught by spirit” focused on the purpose of our journeying together:

“While the city as a place of refuge was a mirage, the dust storm and the advancing storm clouds were real. I suggested that we get to shelter and frog took us to a cave in a rock wall. As we sat inside and the rain, hail, and lightening commenced, it dawned on me that the answer to the problem of our times, represented by this parched and dry land, was provided by the storm.

…The cave itself bears noting. That I suggest we take shelter in the cave seems a strange reversal of roles with our guide. But the decision to “take shelter” in the ancient and ancestral practice of shamanism as the storm advances is our choice to make. We are always left free by spirit to choose our course in life.

Our human guide, Sandra, pointed out that as we three sat together…we enjoyed community in this liminal and sacred space. By meeting and sharing this forgotten spiritual practice, we are helped—and help—far more than we know.

Here is our “safe haven” from the storm. Here, the creations of a new order are incubated and birthed. Here, together, we can better persist in our efforts and have fun while doing so. This, it seems, is the purpose of meeting together: to journey for guidance and begin creating a new dream for the world in the midst of the storm.”

Because that class was so much fun, Gaia Shamanism is facilitating two group journey experiences 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.

Message from the Earth Day Journey Circle


Photo credit rebrennan.com

Gaia Shamanism held our first online journey circle in honor of Gaia for Earth Day.

The intentions of the circle participants included:

“What can I do? How can I help the earth?”

“Is there something more I can do?”

“How can we prepare our children for the future? What tools can we give them? How do we make change?”

“What I’m doing seems so small.”

And another in our circle spoke of a great sadness and her practice of Ho’oponopono to heal the earth, praying the mantra “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.”

After sharing our intentions, we signed off to take a 15 minute journey for guidance from Gaia for Gaia.

******

My journey for the group for Earth Day was as follows:

The journey circle entered my sacred garden and we sat on the ground in a circle. It was night. We sat silently together, waiting, but no guides came for us. After some time, we walked out of the fenced confines of the garden, downhill along the main path, and seated ourselves in a new circle on giant moss-covered rocks at the heart of this land where three winter streams meet.

Here we stayed holding silent vigil throughout the night while the sounds of coyotes, dogs, and owls echoed throughout the valley. Symbolically speaking, journey circles are a means by which we can step out from our protective frameworks and fences of ordinary “daytime” consciousness to commune with the symphony of life that ever-surrounds us, but to which we are habitually closed off and “asleep.”

It felt vulnerable to be sitting out in the open under the night sky in the circle, but it also felt true, powerful, and full of magic. For a change, this shamanic journey circle placed the dark and wordless wisdom of the earth at the center of our consciousness instead of endlessly spinning around the thoughts, words, and chatter of our species.

Simply put, shamanism is an opportunity to experience Gaia’s wisdom in a new way through an ancient and largely forgotten spiritual way. From Sandra Ingerman, one of the preeminent authors and teachers of shamanism:

“Shamanism is the most ancient spiritual practice known to humankind. We know from the archeological evidence the practice dates back at least 40,000 years. Some anthropologists believe the practice dates back over 100,000 years.

The word ‘shaman’ comes from the Tungus tribe in Siberia and it means spiritual healer or one who sees in the dark. Shamanism has been practiced in Siberia, Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, Greenland, and native North and South America.

A shaman is [one] who uses the ability to see ‘with the strong eye’ or ‘with the heart’ to travel into hidden realms.

The wisdom of the earth is as night to the intellect, signifying that it is of a greater order and hails from a deeper source than that which is constructed by the human mind.

These images underscore why the practice of shamanism can be of help in these times. Shamanism allows us to make use of the rational mind in recording and interpreting our experiences in the unseen world, but the imagery of this journey suggests that the mind is itself powerless to guide us out of the prison of ordinary consciousness. This why “no guide” came to lead us out of the fenced-in garden.

Much as we aren’t going to solve the ecological crisis with the same mindset that helped to create it, these times call upon us to quit the safe and familiar cages of the intellect and journey “downward” into the dark and vulnerable realms of the heart. Here, we can commune with the song of the earth and her creatures, and find fresh guidance for our lives.

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At dawn, we heard the sound of a crow cawing at us. Our guide had arrived. We followed crow on foot, journeying all day across fields and roads, until we arrived at Haceta Head lighthouse on the Oregon coast.

Again, it was night. We each took our places around the lighthouse at points equidistant from one another, creating another circle. We stayed awake—silent, still, listening—through the night, facing inward toward the lighthouse.

The imagery of the lighthouse is one worthy of reflection. As you know, lighthouses are navigational aids for ships at sea and also serve as warnings of danger ahead. That we faced inward toward the light suggests that the practice of journeying can help a people “at sea” to keep their bearings in dark and stormy times. The lunar light of inner consciousness, by which the shaman sees, can help us to avoid crashing into the hidden dangers of the visible world.

With sunrise, crow flew upland, above and behind the lighthouse, taking us through forests until we ended up on top of a rocky sea cliff looking down at the ocean below. Then a strange thing happened: as we stood out on the cliff, each of us standing apart and forming another circle, I saw what appeared to be the massive stones of Stonehenge where each member of the group stood. Then I saw the people again. Then the massive stones again. Then the people.

This continued until I realized that we, ourselves, are as sacred stones, holding vigil, staying awake, rock-like and unmoving, each holding her own space, yet doing so together. This was nothing less than an image of our outsized, ancient, weather-beaten, and determined souls standing vigil in this time of climate change and colony collapse.

Our guide crow then shape-shifted into the form of a woman who called herself Raven. When she drew close to each of us in turn, our intentions and emotions welled up inside, bringing each of us to tears.

Raven explained: “When I am close, your wound opens. This is true north for you, your guidance for safe passage through dark seas. Use your concerns, your sadness, your love of the natural world, your yearnings to guide you.” She then kissed each of us gently upon the cheek.

“Be rooted and fiercely awake in your connection to the earth. The answer is not to do more. Know your ground. Hold it. Be true to it.”

“Yours is not a path embraced by the larger culture. That comes later. Do not look to others to affirm your value or your methods. Be willing to stand firm, stand apart, and sound your tone loud and clear out into the world. Connect to the earth with reverence and attention each day.”

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Ravens and crows are birds of carrion and they were a common sight on the battlefields of old. At present, we live on a bloody battlefield where two-thirds of the planet’s wild animal population is predicted to die by the year 2020. Pause a moment to let that sink in.

With crow and raven as our guides, we are called to feed on the carnage of these times and use this senseless slaughter as fuel for a true revolution in human consciousness with regard to our relationship to the earth and her creatures, our own species included.

How to do this? Here I take the liberty of weaving together the messages from the journeys of those of us in the circle:

Pay attention to the elements and use the raw material of your life to awaken. Feel the sun on your face, listen to the wind, give thanks for the support of the earth, pray for the water as you drink.

We may not be rooted in an indigenous tradition, but the winds still blow and though we inhabit a harsh and rocky landscape, it is wild and beautiful and we belong to it.

Should we awaken, as individuals and as a people, the carnage of our times will have served a purpose. Sacrifice means “to make sacred.” It is up to us to make sure that the sacrifice of the animals and of the environment are not in vain. Honoring these lives begins with each of us.

To awaken means learning how to show up for relationship to the earth and to life itself. To awaken means learning to live from the heart. The depth of our sorrow is equal to the depth of the love we feel for the earth and this love will enable us to endure the pain of our grief.

Wounds are the result of initiation. As our physical senses come from wounds or holes in our bodies (sight, smell, hearing, taste) so, too, the emotional wounds of living in this world can teach us to see with the eye of the heart and navigate well in dark and stormy seas.

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Stonehenge is a mystery to us, not unlike Life itself. The consciousness of those who built and used this sacred place is so alien to our own that we have scarcely scratched the surface of the intent underlying this ancient circle of stones.

With the help of ground-penetrating radar, however, we have discovered that Stonehenge is not only what we see above the ground. Far more of this healing land of stone is now to be found underground —an apt metaphor for the purpose, power, and mystery of the soul.

This underground Source of ancient wisdom awaits our rediscovery still, even as storm clouds gather on the horizon of this age. Everything we need for the future is already given, already present, and as close to us as the ground beneath our feet.

We are not as small and insignificant as we believe, but to awaken, to hold our ground, to join the symphony of life requires that we gather in circles of intention and explore the underground realms of feeling, spirit, and soul. In the words of one in our Earth Day circle: “[O]nly because we were journeying together and I had that strength of our circle to hold me, to contain this intense sorrow, [could I] experience it without collapsing….”

Stonehenge gives us a beautiful image of great souls standing together while also standing apart, united in purpose to foster an experience of the sacred while also standing distinct in position and gifts, each one connected to the unseen power of Source beneath the surface of the visible world.

Sounding our unique and pure tone, learning to live in pitch-perfect alignment with our immense and soulful selves, standing unmoved by weather or praise or the mindset of our times—all of this is captured by the standing rocks of Stonehenge.

All are equal in the circle of life. All are needed that the symphony of life might ring out across the land with fullness and healing power once again.

From Wikipedia

“Researchers from the Royal College of Art in London have discovered that some of the monument’s stones possess “unusual acoustic properties”—when they are struck they respond with a “loud clanging noise”.

According to Paul Devereux, editor of the journal Time and Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture, this idea could explain why certain bluestones were hauled nearly 200 miles (320 km)—a major technical accomplishment at the time.

In certain ancient cultures rocks that ring out, known as lithophones, were believed to contain mystic or healing powers, and Stonehenge has a history of association with rituals.

The presence of these “ringing rocks” seems to support the hypothesis that Stonehenge was a “place for healing”, as has been pointed out by Bournemouth University archaeologist Timothy Darvill, who consulted with the researchers. Some of the stones of Stonehenge were brought from near a town in Wales called Maenclochog, a name which means “ringing rock.”

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Join Gaia Shamanism for the next free online journey circle for Gaia on the full moon, Wednesday, May 10, 6 PM PDT.

For those who have never journeyed before, you might want to check out this blog post. All levels of experience are invited to attend, but do let me know in advance if this is a first for you.

Email me at aalkin07 at gmail dot com to RSVP.