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Space Hopper

I was in the shop and decided to pick up some nice dog treats for Millie.  She has been coping with the builders really well, but it is an upheaval.  She didn't like the day when they were putting up the ceiling in the room below for instance.  My spidey sense was pinging at the toys.  I have not brought her one of those in a long time.  I used to buy her the squeaky cuddly toys and she would slowly dismember them till a rag of fake fur was all that was left.

It was a space hopper that got my attention.  Red like I had as a child.  I loved my space hopper...  It go Millie's attention too, but it was like she didn't know quite what to do with it... Until Jay showed her just how squeaky it was!

Playing with it later on the bed, I was amazed at her trust and care.  Some dogs would be possessive, or not like you touching a toy in their mouth.  She actively wants to play with you as well.  As always, though my hands often end up in her mouth, she doesn't hurt me.  I try to take it and she knows it's a game of tug of war.  Other thing happen when I want to actually take it away.  She could have made holes in it, but she is curiously gentle, though she looks rough.

I started to remember my old space hopper and there is an obvious reason I remember it so well.  I hit a dog over the head with it.

When I was very small, I wasn't overly nice to the dogs sometimes.  I would pull Tigger, the little squat black mongrel out from under the chair by her legs and Danno, the Welsh Border Collie....  Well I only remember doing one nasty thing to him.

His punishments always matched the crime.  When my Dad would pull his hair brushing him, he would reach round and pull the hairs on my Dads arm.  When I hit him, he launched himself at my head teeth barred.  I fell over, terrified at those teeth launching themselves at my face.  He didn't even touch me, he just wanted to really scare me.  And he did.  I don't remember being unconsciously mean to a dog ever again.

When I got older, I tried to make amends.  I took on a lot of his day to day care.  I knew that as much as he let me do things, more than some of the other ladies of my family as he was very much a mans dog, he never forgot that little child that hit him.  It was the way he looked at me.

Conversations within the community recently have focused on guilt about aspects of our relationships with the dogs in our lives.  It made me think of my dog Amber, who I deserted in her old age to go to university.  But then, she was better off with my parents, her two grown pups and a large garden.  I didn't go further and think of my deeper, older guilt.  I guess it was there though, waiting to be looked at. 

The space hopper has come full circle, turned into something else.  A gift, from one collie to one part collie.

And forgiveness maybe, for one very small child.

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Welcome to My World

March 19, 2017

Awhile back, a woman wanted to come to my Medicine Wheel Circles. She said she wanted to support me, but did not want to pay. I wondered how she thought she would be supporting me by not paying. It made no sense to me. So I asked her, “How would you feel if I came to see you in your line of work, but did not want to pay?” She answered, “But I have a PH.D.

I was stunned. In that moment, I realized how far I was from Western ways of thinking, how far apart our worlds were. In her mind, she had earned her right to charge for her work, but I did not deserve payment because I do not have a University degree in Shamanism. although she knew I had been doing this work for over twenty-five years, with the blessings and guidance from Spirit and my Teachers, I might add. What she doesn’t know is that it takes seven years of ongoing initiations to become a Keeper of the Wheel. She expected me to respect her work and credentials and I do, but does she respect the work I do, does she see it as legitimate and authentic? 

Western logic says that if someone is certified by some well-known authority, they are credible, capable and worthy of being paid well for their work. But even a University degree does not guarantee that someone is good at their job. I know doctors, lawyers, therapists, counsellors... who I would not pay to go and see, because they are not nice people, not caring or considerate of those they are supposed to care for. I have walked out of doctors offices because they were not experts in their line of work. I have fired lawyers because they did not give a dam about me or my problems, they just wanted my money. 

I have no doubt that the woman I mentioned above is very good at what she does, and many are, but having credentials is not always a guarantee that you are good at what you do or that you are a kind, generous, honest or decent human being. 

What is the measure of someone’s worth, the letters after their name or the kind of person they are?

These days many are calling themselves authorities and giving out credentials and certificates. Granted, there are still the standard University degrees that are considered legitimate. But what about other teachers and so-called ‘schools’ that pop up and begin taking in students and giving out certificates? Are they legitimate? 

Who do we trust? Who and what do we put our faith in?

A woman once told me that she does Shamanic Journeying, but does it in a way that does not dishonour Traditional ways. “How does that work?” I wondered. “How did she decide where the line was between what is Shamanic and what is not?” She told me she is not certified as a Shamanic Practitioner. I  had to laugh. I told her that we don’t do certifications, we do Initiations. 

Contrary to popular belief, you cannot become a Shaman in a weekend or even a year long workshop! It is a calling, like that of a Priest or Nun, and there are many levels to go through. It is not something that just happens because you want it.

I was always Shamanic. I was never interested in having a long list of letters after my name. Although I have a University degree, post-graduate training and have done studies in other fields, I always did them for my own growth and healing, not for status or proof of my intelligence. I studied Fine Arts in University to bring out my creativity, which brought movement to my Wheel and opened up a healing journey that led me to my Path. I trained as a Natural Health Practitioner, a three year full-time program, in order to learn how to take care of my own health and body after a near fatal illness. I majored in “Spiritual Psychotherapy” as they called it, in order to learn to fine-tune my senses and develop my latent ‘supernatural’ gifts.

A three-year post graduate program in Art Therapy helped me look at my shadow and childhood traumas. It made me ready for Shamanism. I thought I had done a lot of inner work when I came back on Path, after taking a detour to do all these other things, which I now know were necessary for me to get strong and humble enough to walk a Sacred Path. I was never meant to work in the Western world, but I did get a lot of learning and healing from it. 

~

Still when I came on Path, things got real really fast! Things that I never imagined possible manifested immediately. I learned that there is no separation between the waking and the dreaming and all that work I did for all those years had just touched the very tip of the iceberg that is my Soul.

Over the last twenty-five years, I learned how to be collective, how to take responsibility for my actions; how to accept and not judge my shadow, how to be more balanced in it; how to overcome social and religious programs and indoctrinations; how to admit when I am in resistance, denial, fear, illusion, my own perceived limitations and much, much more…. I learned about the three parts of the Soul - Ego, Totemic and Ancestral. I healed lifetimes of issues and Ancestral stories, on a personal and collective level. I connected with Spirit Guides and learned how to navigate the Waking Dream and twenty-four levels of Dreaming, how to value dreams, and how to walk in harmony and balance with Natural and Cosmological Laws. 

I have pages and pages of stories of things that I lived that are magical beyond anything I ever imagined before stepping onto the Red Road.  And I am still learning as I spiral deeper and deeper into the Teachings, my own Wheel and the Collective Wheel of our community. 

~

In Shamanism there are also tests. We don’t get letters after our names, but we get recognition from Spirit, the Dreaming and our Teachers. 

We are acknowledged for our growth, power, wisdom and the life lessons that we learn. The tests come from the Dreaming, they are not imposed on us by our Teachers. The tests are not made up by Humans. We do not sit in rooms and answer questions or write essays. Our tests are called Initiations

There are big and small initiations along the way, but they are always relevant to our story, our journey and what we need to learn in order to grow and heal on a Soul level. Some of them are so intense that we fall hard and fast. But we pick ourselves up, get the lessons and move on, hopefully. Some people will get stuck and will leave indignantly, blaming us for their problems, not realizing that the initiation is an opportunity to change something. Shamanism magnifies things so they are in our face and we can’t deny them. Not everyone is ready for this. 

But it is not all about hardships, challenges and initiations. Our strengths, power and gifts are also highlighted. The rewards are countless. I am stronger, wiser, clearer and more confident than I ever was in the past. I know more about my path and purpose that includes parts of my Soul that I never knew existed. I have explored my Inner Universe and my Inner Community… at a level that goes beyond anything I ever experienced in the Western world with Art, Art Therapy, Nutritional Health, psycho-therapy, counselling and more. I am not saying those experiences in the Western world had no value, they taught me a lot, helped me heal many of my issues and made me ready for Shamanism. I am extremely grateful for all that I lived and learned along the way. 

~

People come to Shamanism for many reasons: for curiosity, for healing, for guidance, or maybe because it is a fad, or because they are bored or lonely, or because they tried everything else and nothing worked, or maybe they like the phenomena of it (drumming, dreaming, Shamanic journeying, spirit guides, totems etc)

… And some come to Shamanism because they are CALLED. 


Those who are called know it, they feel the Wheel, they get the Teachings, they are excited about learning, they are respectful, they value the teachings and are willing to pay for it, to do an exchange for what they get out of it. They are grateful. They know they found something unique and powerful.

We are generous people. We do not deny those who are curious or are in need of healing, but it is good to be honest about why you are interesting in Shamanism, to come with an open heart and mind, not with expectations, demands, or wanting something for nothing. If you come with openness and integrity and a desire to learn, I guarantee that you will get back much more than what you put into it. 

... And you will be initiated!

As an Initiator, I often test people up front. This is to weed out those who are not in integrity. Initiations after all are about ASCENSION. You can fall into woundedness, arrogance, denial, illusion, resistance, defensiveness, indignation etc… or you can rise to a higher level of consciousness. That is your choice. As Initiator, I have learned to choose carefully who I initiate because there is a contract involved. If the other person is willing to do the whole Wheel to get to Ascension, I must do it with them. And I also get initiated each time. 

So you see, I have lived in your world, but you may not have lived in mine. Yes, I can respect your credentials and expertise, your skills and your worth. 

Can you respect mine? 

MaryRose Lessoway  (Wapi-Neseq Pokothasu)

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Ecology for the Wheel and Dreamers: Environment

Ecology is the study of life.  From the largest to the smallest, and everything inbetween, all the varied interactions between lifeforms, as well as with their environment.  It includes how species adapt and change over time and how they move materials and energy through a community, as well as the abundance and diversity that exist within an ecosystem.

The concept of an ecosystem is central within ecology.  An ecosystem can be seen as consisting of tiers, with plants often being considered the lowest tier, which supports herbivores, and then a succession of carnivores. Personally I believe this view of tiers neglects the lowest tier of all, the inorganic environment. On land, the lower the tier, the greater the biomass.  This is literally the weight, so that on the great plains of Africa, the biomass of the plants is greater than that of herbivores because there is literally more plants than herbivores.  The energy available at each tier is literally lower, so it forms a pyramid shape.  At the top are apex predators and these are often few in number and require larger territories to support them.

At a large scale, the Earth can be considered to be an ecosystem.  The energy that enters this system, that powers it, comes from the sun.  The sun radiates energy, we are aware of some of this in the form of heat and light, but there are other manifestations of the energy of the sun, such as the Northern Lights.  Clouds reflect some of this energy back out into space.  Some of the energy that reaches the ground is also reflected back up, where it may or may not be reflected or absorbed by clouds.  This is why a clear night in winter is a cold night.

Down on Earth, the amount of energy received by each part of the planet is one of the defining factors of an ecosystem.  An ecosystem that has more sunlight (energy) can support many more forms of life and many more tiers of life within it.  If you compare the abundance of a tropical rainforest to that of the arctic... 

Another important factor is water.  It is very difficult for life to survive where water is not available, from environments where water is completely frozen to those where there is no water in any form.

The Namib desert is exceptionally dry.  Local weather conditions result in the descent of dry air, there literally is no water in the air to become rain, or dew.  During the day the temperature can reach 45 degreees C in the Summer but fall below freezing at night.  The main source of water is fog that rolls in from the sea, lowering temperatures near the coast.  Few plants grow here and there are few people, limited to small settlements on the edge of the desert and some pastoral groups. 

Given enough time though, life will always find a way, a strategy to survive.  Life evolves and adapts, every mutation is an opportunity to try a slightly different strategy, those that work and lead to survival are repeated, again and again.  The Namib is an ancient desert, so there are probably more species that are found only here than in any other desert in the world.

In the UK, many tree species have been introduced over time but the longer they have been here, the more relationships they have evolved with other species such as lichen and insects (The value of different tree species for insects and lichens).  Oak trees are able to support the largest range of species with known relationships with 284 species of insect and 324 species of lichen.  Birch and Willow also support a large number of different species, while generally, introduced species support the fewest number of interactions.

Another factor in an environment is that of available nutrients / toxins.  Mountain Ibex will scale dams to gain important nutrients but on an even more basic level, the type of nutrients dictates the type of plants that will grow.  Chalk grassland contains different plants to other grasslands, even where they are quite close together and the environment is otherwise similar.  Coastal areas require plants that are tolerant of salt while salt marshes take this one step further and require plants tha can survive periodic inundation by tidal waters.  These are very specialised plants.

Some plants are able to alter an environment so that other species are then able to gain a foothold.  In the UK, there was no plant that could stabilise sand dunes.  Towns were often in danger of being engulfed.  There is a bay near where we live.  At the south end is the town of Perranporth with a river marking the boundary of the dunes and at the north end is the village of Holywell, also with a river.  Sand was regularly blown into the towns and was a real issue.

The first church in Cornwall was built here by St Piran who arrived from Ireland on a millstone.  The stone oratory, which replaced an earlier wattle and daub structure, was eventually engulfed by sand by the tenth century and another built the other side of a small stream.  Mining caused the stream to dry up and this church was also engulfed with the last service held in 1795.  A new church was built inland.  The site of the oratory remains of huge importance locally as St Piran is the patron saint of Cornwall.

One family that lived in this area was friends with Sir Walter Raleigh and he knew of their plight and loss of land.  On his return from the new world he gifted them with a cutting of a species he had found, marram grass.  The grass has taken over and largely stabilised not only this set of sand dunes, but many others all over the UK and beyond.  It is now hard to believe the difficulty caused to earlier generations, but this environment has been completely altered.  The anchoring of the sand has allowed many other species to move into the dunes and they provide a rich and diverse habitat.

Succession is a very important concept in terms of environments, this is where an environment is altered over time.  At geological scales, marine creatures form calcium rich debris on the floor of an ocean which is then compressed to form rock.  Rocks move with plate tectonics and what was the floor of an ocean becomes dry land and a chalk grassland, where plants literally thrive on the specific nutrients given by the bodies of long dead organisms.

In shorter time scales, lakes shrink as they accumulate organic debris from water plants.  Water loving plants such as reeds crowd the margins and over time the amount of open water reduces, leaving perhaps a bog instead of a lake.  Plants keep growing and organic matter keeps accumulating, eventually it is no longer wet enough for water loving plants and others plants move in.  One day trees might grow...

So the environment is ever changing as a result of geological factors, solar activity (which runs in cycles and causes climate change such as ice ages), the action of plants and animals (including humans).  Mountains are eroded and flow into the ocean and lakes clog up with plants and turn into forests.  There is a whole complex web of interactions that form a precise environment.

As dreamers that work with the Medicine Wheel, we commonly consider our animal totems, but we also have plant totems and rock totems.  There are environments where we thrive and those where we don't.  Some environments will suit some parts of our wheel, but not others.  Some swim in the ocean, maybe a whale returning to the arctic to feed and breed in the summer.  Some live in mountains and take to the skies, maybe an eagle riding the updrafts and hunting for prey. 

But who we are also affects our own environment.  Some of us have totems that are exotic to the places we live in.  Lions for instance don't live in the wild in the UK although prehistoric evidence shows that their ancestor, the cave lion, once did.  As humans we have homes, maybe it's important to make all of our wheel feel at home there.  A little hint of their distant home environment that they can use as a door....

Maybe that's why a print of this painting has hung above our fireplace for over a decade....

I find myself with more questions and things to explore as a result of thinking about environment in relation to dreaming and my wheel. 

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Renewal: A Path to Purpose

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog entry and it isn’t for lack of life experience.  Where do I start?

SPRING 2016

Spring came late this year; but when it did finally arrive it was beautiful, incredible and sweet as it always is.  The lilacs bloomed, the bushes were filled with flowers, the cedars sprouted through the fence, and the fresh perfume of grass and moss filled our nostrils.  So we couldn’t breath without sneezing for a month:  So what? The sunshine, the warmth and the flowers; they were all worth it.  Every year Spring is different and yet, every year Spring is Spring.  

Gérard and I give circles and dreaming workshops every year and when our regulars (students / dreamers) arrive we always tell them “how much they’ve changed.”  We may recognize their faces and their mannerisms; but their life story can be recognized through their attitudes, their body postures, and their eyes even. They are always surprised when we approach them with a word or comment that summarizes the last 9 to 12 months of their lives.

“How do you know?” they often ask.

One of the greatest complaints people bring to us (Gérard and me) is that of being “meaningless or invisible” in the lives of others.

“They don’t care, I don’t count…” are phrases we often hear. 

There seems to be this collective need to be heard, to be understood, and to be important to others.  Who doesn’t want purpose?  It’s not so much about “belonging” as it is about “being safe and secure” the way we believe we were in our mother’s womb.  We want to be welcomed, wanted, celebrated, and most of all accepted; but unfortunately we’re not given the path to purpose.   We agree we are all in search of the same experiences, yet even after all this time (250,000 years or more on Earth) we still don’t teach each other and our children the way to resolution. 

I told a friend / student today:  “Perhaps it’s because we don’t want it to end.  Perhaps the soul is so entranced with the endless potential of renewal that it has created an experience that can hypothetically always exist.”

Too many people create drama these days because they are looking to play centre stage in their lives and the lives of others.  I believe we are all born for a reason. We are exploring a story that hasn’t quite given us the ending yet.  Every incarnation gets us closer to understanding what the soul is pursuing.  I have no doubt we are all “seekers.”  Why else would we persevere through so many ordeals, challenges, and hardships? 

When people ask me: “What do you do in life?” 

I’m always somewhat surprised by the answers they expected.  People identify themselves to jobs and schooling.  They are conditioned to do two things:  Attempt to impress you or over power you.   Once they have done both, they are completely comfortable to tell you “they are mess”.   They were told and then, come to believe they are “worthless;” and yet they want YOU to believe they are “better than you.” It’s the constant inconsistencies; which throws us off…   

“We are all fucked up right?”  said a client once…

I believe the “World and a good number of the people in it are fucked up”; but I’ve never believed I was… 

The premise of our work (G and me) is to recognize that we all came into this World to live a story and that LIFE gives us an opportunity to experience and to react to this story.  Nothing is random and without reason.  My particular story fits me and in that attitude I feel gratitude and I feel blessed. 

Today a friend and elder thanked me for sharing my story with others. 

She said: “I don’t know if you realize how much your personal testimony gives courage, faith and hope to others?  You are important to people.”

I have two adult children and since the age of 23 years old they both chose to journey spiritually through a shamanic path.  In other words, they have joined the “flock” (so to speak).  I’ll admit that at first I was a bit worried about how they would integrate our shamanic community.  I was pleasantly surprised when they took their place like anyone else and accepted to do their work and explore their story with open curiosity and sincerity. 

In one of our Moonlodge circles / workshop my daughter openly admitted: “I do not come from a dysfunctional family.” 

In tears she explained how despite her happy family background she still struggles with attitudes, behaviours, and relationships. 

“I’m not happy” she acknowledged, “and I have to figure my shit out like anyone else. I fear that my story and my life’s challenges won’t be taken seriously because I can’t justify them by referring to a dysfunctional home setting.”   

Through her testimony several people realized that “blaming trauma, our parents and our upbringing” may not be the answer behind “why we are so discontent, lost and knee deep in addictions.”  There comes a point where it’s about truly exploring one’s inner basic nature.  What’s our story and what is it about it that brings us here and now?

When I call my adult children these days I always ask them: “What’s new?” 

The Medicine Wheel has 12 elements: 

  • Clarity, knowledge and illumination (east);
  • Growth, trust and love (south);
  • Experience, introspection and strength (west);
  • And renewal, purification and wisdom (north). 

Out of the 12 elements we rarely speak of “renewal”.  Actually, clarity, growth, trust, love, experience, strength and wisdom over shadows the remaining elements.  The fact remains that these elements are steps in the journey and if we jump from stone to stone we inevitably explore every piece of the puzzle; which ultimately leads to “renewal.”   

By asking my adult children “what’s new” I ask them “what changed in you and in your life since the last time we spoke.”  I open the door to their stories; but mostly I open the door to the lessons learnt and the “renewal” it brought forth.  I want to know about “who they are becoming.”

‘You’ve changed” we tell them showing them that we’ve been watching, listening and following their journey. 

It’s so important to be each other’s witness.  

I’ve always told my children: “You don’t have to work over time to be included in my World or my story.  I chose to bring you into my / our story when you were born and I make sure every day to let you play your role.” 

It’s the same words that I use with my students as they become part of our growing family / community.  Teaching people how to step into their story and understand the connection it may have to my story and the story of others is what I do in life… I’m good at sharing blessings and I believe we can all learn to become generous with the LIFE we’ve chosen to explore. 

P.S.  At the end of every blog I feel like I could write so much more about so much more….  Leave a comment and you may get me started all over again! 

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A Journey into Wisdom

The topic of the Medicine Wheel often inspires people to question the concept of totems.  Yet, there’s so much more to the Wheel.  In the last 30 years this ancient agricultural tool; which was once used to follow the stars and rhythms of nature has become a philosophy; and psychological  / spiritual tool into self-discovery.  Whether you are looking into the anchors, the clans, the elements or moons on the Wheel you are diving into a fascinating inner reality rich with stories, characters / inner fragments and memories; which trigger insightful knowledge about yourself. 

In a recent class on the Medicine Wheel Ellecia one of my students asked a series of questions that I thought were worthy of a blog.   This Spring while learning about the winds / roles of the Medicine Wheel Ellecia discovered that the East of her Sacred Circle was dominant with Heyoka / Initiator Medicine.   It explained the origins of many of her mundane life experiences and many of her daily challenges. 

Her first question was:  “How can I better use my East anchor and bring the initiator role to be more gentle and kinder to me?”

“In the East we find our FACE TOTEM:  How we express and present ourselves to others.  It’s the Social Me.  The best way to explore your East totem / and role is by observation.  Watch yourself.

  • How are you in social environments?
  • What’s important to you? How do you handle yourself?
  • What do you want people to know about you?

Don’t just depend on your observations because we tend to not be objective when it comes to the ME.  Ask your friends and family what they see?  Ask for bluntness and make sure to “not react” to their comments.  Just take notes.  Later these notes will be incredibly valuable because they’ll allow you to bring some changes to your life and develop into what will become one day – your true ME.

The Initiator in the East of your Wheel will become more gentle and kinder to you when you learn to approach “her” with respect, understanding, knowledge and wisdom.  For now she is a “pup or a chick or a caterpillar.”  Give her some time and she’ll grow into a hero!”  

Each of us possesses five  “winds” on our personal Wheels.  The winds speak of challenges, and medicine / power.  It’s basically about how we meet the different challenges; which present themselves in our lives.  Each of the eight roles describes different medicines but they also designate different trials.  Fortunately enough many of these roles / medicines have been explored through Native American Spirituality and literature.  We are not completely without any resources when wanting to understand the winds better. 

Here are the 8 winds:

  • Firekeeper (NE)
  • Visionary (E)
  • Peacekeeper (SE)
  • Warrior (S)
  • Nomad (SW)
  • Dreamer (W)
  • Heyoke / Initiator (NW)
  • Healer (N)

The Heyoke is often referred to as a Sacred Clown or an initiator.  I think many people today would relate to this role since we’re increasingly seeing people who are struggling with loneliness, stress, anxiety and panic attacks.  The Heyoka from ancient times was instrumental in helping people who were dealing with desperation.  A born performer and comedian, the Heyoke could pull people out of grieving and depression.   It wasn’t only about being a clown.  The Heyoke would act as a kind of life coach and initiate people: Pushing and motiving individuals to move on.  One of their main traits was to do “things backwards.”  No doubt this role gives new momentum to a story that seems “stuck.”

Individuals who enrol in our classes or circles are often interested in identifying their totems and “winds / roles.”  Most people arrive with the expectation that after a few hours of searching they will be able to leave with a list of a 5 concise totems / roles to brag about to their family and friends.  Definitely, there’s no doubt in my mind that it is possible to touch base with all kinds of “inner fragments” during a three-hour period.  G, many of our students and me do possess the skill to observe and reveal a handful of interesting facts about each one’s personal Wheel; but to truly and intimately connect to what we traditionally refer to as “totems” takes a lifetime.

The word “totem” implies “a kinship.”  It’s about family.  

It’s always easier to recognize totemic fragments in others.  MN had no idea what her totems were after 6 months of being with us.  When she finally approached us for help we all started laughing.  After 6 months of observations and “relating” it was obvious for the majority of the Circle that the Chipmunk was MN’s face totem (her social self / personality).  Ironically once she was told, the totem didn’t take her by surprise. 

When people hear the word “self-discovery” they understand: “Independent study of one’s self.”  From a psychology point of view this may make sense; but in Shamanism everyone and everything fits within a circle.  In other words, to truly journey into “self-discovery” we need to be ready to see ourselves as part of a big picture.  I’m always somewhat surprised when people tell me at the start of a class; that “they are not very good in groups and wonder if I’m open to them working on their own.” 

As explained through an earlier blog entry on “fragmentation” – we explore totems / winds / moons / clans to better understand our inner reality or “our inner community.”  35 years ago when I started my journey into Shamanism, I asked Brooke Medicine Eagle how she defined Shamanism?  She smiled at me and very carefully weighed her words. 

“Accept the call” she told me “and one day, you’ll be able to answer the question.” 

It was Elsie Cook, a Passamaquoddy friend, elder and teacher who shared with me one night, over a spaghetti plate in St-Andrews, N.B. that she “ignorantly” understood Shamanism as “the potential of knowing it all through a deep connection to all things.”  I understood through the help of both these women that walking a shamanic path is a long term commitment; which implies an infinite amount of experiences with people / animals / plants and territories. 

It’s a journey; which takes time and brings forth skills and wisdom.  

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The Desert --- by Joëlle.

Ever since he was a kid he felt a great disconnection from the people of the city in which he was born and bred. Every activity, chore, every waken minute seemed purposeless and empty of meaning and when he asked his mother and father about it he received tasteless answers and a slap behind his ears.

“Go hang those wet clothes in the tree in backyard, or go throw the leftover to the pigs instead of asking stupid questions!”

That’s how he learnt to stop speaking his mind; but then again, he was always quiet, so nobody really noticed what happened.

The only moment where he felt alive was through the stories. He would wait for Altaïb, the mailman, to come around in his rundown truck to hear about the stories of the Moving Sand tribes.  Altaïb would gratefully oblige, filling up the young man’s mind with intoxicating tales of harshness, treachery and illusions and their lessons of strength, beauty and wisdom. Altaïb explain that the friendly tribes he encountered talked with much passion of a certain place in the desert, a mount on which a sole tree was flourishing. The legends varied from tribe to tribe, but as they were compiling them, they came to the understanding that the tree was in fact the origin, a place out of time and space from which everything originated. Some stories stated that it was guarded by mystical creatures, some said that touching the tree made you insane, some stated that the taste of its fruit would opened a world of wonders from which you were not interested to come back. No one did, ever.

The young man quickly disassociated himself from the city, from the community’s teaching and the people that once had been his family and friends. He started to build his life around the dreamy world of the desert, with its creatures, wise or bloody people, and magical tree. His eyes and his mind were set out West; on the desert. It was calling out to him and just like his own loneliness, he would subdue it and make it his own. He would find the tree of the legends. See it for his own self.

Nothing in his life had ever filled him with that much vitality and vigor. That’s all he ever truly wanted.

It was a surprise to no one that, as soon as he was of age, he asked Altaïb to drive him out of the city and into the desert. The old mailman, tried to give him a concerned look, but his wry smile betrayed his real intention:

“I always had lot of admiration for the men that took on the tedious crossing of the desert, but you know, it is not a journey for everyone.”

The young man didn’t answer just like he was taught as a child, as he watch the city getting smaller and smaller in the rear-view mirror. His heart felt at peace as he was plunging into the vastness of white that would be the end and the beginning of him. He listened carefully as Altaïb gave him some last advice on how to survive the heat of the days and the cold of nights, and how to avoid the scavenging animals, the dangerous tribes and wandering warriors of the sand.

“Beware of illusions. They will get you if you don’t get them first!” he said, as a last goodbye.

The young man’s heart didn’t flinch as he watched the last tie he had with his past wear off into the distance. He set out into the vastness of white, walking, taking breaks when he needed some, hunting and eating lizards, venturing into small oasis to get a drink of water and fill up his gourd without leaving traces. He followed Altaïb advice to the letter but also made his own improvements, noting them in his booklet. He took note on where he was, trying to map the territory he knew and the one he discovered.

He met some other travelers like him, making their way to different cities.

They would ask him: “where are you heading?” and he’d always answer: “I’m looking for something”.

They would share a laugh, exchange some information and be on their way. He was looking forward to each and every impromptu meeting; but each time, his resolve was tested. Many times, kind travelers offered him a place in their procession and each time he seriously considered going with them. But he never did. With each separation, the young man would find himself lonelier than before, but in him, a sturdiness would grow, and along with it, his will to find the legendary tree.

It had been nearly four years of wandering in the desert when he came across a very singular oasis. The scenery had accents of strangeness that he never had encounter before in his travels. It was the most complex landscape he had seen in a long time. Set between two monstrous mountains of rocks, the patch of green was surrounded the ghastly sight of countless pillars of stones, spurting out of the sandy soil. The wind had striped them naked but the remaining cores were solid material, showing no signs of erosion. He immediately sketched the scene into his notebook. From where he was drawing, he saw absolutely no sign of activity. Human or animal. The scene felt undisturbed, untouched for millions and millions of years. But such an eerie place was bounded to be made by man, he thought. It occurred to him that it might be a mirage. His eyes had been fooled before…

He wondered still as he set foot into the haven.

The shade of the palm trees and wild foliage felt very real against his skin. It was much bigger than what it looked from the outside. He gasped as he realized there was pathways, ancient and overtaken by the vegetation, He decided to follow the paths and map them, to draw everything that he saw. His heart was pounding, for he believe that he had found what he was looking for: the mystical tree that the many tribes of the Moving Sands talked about. He considered himself on a holy ground, so close to his goal.

A sudden terror took him as he heard a sound of branch cracking in the distance. He waited for a while, his tired knife in hand, for a mystical creature to spring out of darkness and eat him whole. But nothing came, the forest was quiet again. Was that a predator, stalking its prey or was that the first sign of insanity, that the legends spoke off?

The young man’s heart wavered ever so slightly, but the journey that he endured had made him strong. He thought back on the moments where in the depth of his journey, he cursed Altaïb for accepting to take him into the wilderness. He thought back on all the nights where he wanted to go back so badly he punched the ground until his fist were red and the delicious merchant’s daughters that aroused his fire and his earthly instincts to protect and build and settle down. All of this, all that could have been, he had to gave up in order to be the ruthless wanderer that he was, the master of his very own self, undisturbed, indestructible. He walked in the oasis as a lord into his kingdom. Yet a terrible sadness assaulted him as the tree of legend was nowhere to be seen.

At what it seems to be the center of the oasis was a large pound of fresh water. He carefully kneeled to have a sip, and as the ripples wore off, he caught his reflection staring right back at him, a sight that had not seen in many years. He saw a frail man, his skin bake by the sun, his long hair and beard wrapped around his neck in the fashion of a hangman. On his face were the scars of the many times he thought he’d die of dehydration or at the hands of the sand pirates.

He plunged his whole head in the water. As it slid off his face, his heart begging started to feel lighter. Out of exaltation, he took a plunge in the lake. He felt the dirt leaving him along with the harshness of the years. He stayed a long time, adrift into the water, naked, cleansed, light as a breeze.

He thought about where he was, how far he had walked and how any of it didn’t really mattered. He had forgot about the ruthless wanderer, the sacrifices, the wait, the expectations, the loneliness. It occurred to him that nothing ever was in the first place except beauty and the walk, as he remember his father teaching his sister how to swim and him, looking out west to the desert.

***

When Altaïb heard that one of the Moving Sand tribe’s chief was looking for him, he immediately set off into the desert. When he sat foot in the settlement, he realised that it might have been the furthered he had ventured into the desert.

He entered the main tent where a man dark as coal, almost blue, welcomed him. He said, in a language that the old mailman could approximately decode, that they had found an object that he felt was of great value, but they were unable to understand it themselves. He handed him over a tired white booklet. The chief didn’t understand the scribblings or the language, but the images had peaked his interest and he wanted to know what it was all about.

Altaïb started translated the content, his hands started trembling and the voice breaking as he thought of the young man he had drove out years ago into the desert and all the fantastical stories that he had made up about the magical tree.

Not only did the young man had made his way into the heart of the desert and into the desert of his heart, he had created the tree, and the world of wonders from which he would never come back.

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Sacred Circle Tradition

In the last 30 years of studying, writing and lecturing on the Medicine Wheel I’ve met a hand full of First Nation people who believe that the Medicine Wheel was never part of their tradition. 

Andrea Bear a Maliseet Historian from Fredericton, N.B., will go as far as to say:  “The Medicine Wheel is a hoax created by white people in the 1970’s.”  As far as this woman is concerned if her elders don’t remember the Wheel it’s because it was never part of her culture.

I think there’s a big difference between the New Age Medicine Wheel literature that has been popping up in libraries since the 1990’s and the archaeological studies; which are increasingly occurring with the discoveries of Wheels all over America.  I tend to argue against Andrea Bear’s comment that “the Medicine Wheel is a hoax for many Native tribes in Canada;” because how do you explain the physical evidence of Medicine Wheels built all through the Canadian territory?

The earliest Medicine Wheel discoveries are found in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.  The Blackfoot Indians are happy to take credit for many of them.  Actually, there are a few tribes and Blackfoot families who still protect these Wheels against tourism and academic scrutiny.  These old Medicine Wheels are understood as sacred sites and are still very much part of the local spirituality.  If you happen to be lucky enough to know some of these Keepers of Sacred Sites and blessed enough to pray or journey within these Wheels --- it’s because the ancients are smiling over you!

In the last 15 years due to earth changes and human construction many Medicine Wheels were discovered through Canada and the United States.  Some are as old as the Ice Age while others go back 500 years.  Ironically, some of the Medicine Wheels that I visited in the Maritimes and Northern Quebec are sites not older then a thousand years.  In other words, maybe the Medicine Wheel isn’t a common household word for elders in Andrea Bear’s world (stemming back 200 years maybe?); but her ancestors were still building them 500 years ago (before the arrival of the white man).

I’m pleased to say that I found elders / teachers of the Medicine Wheel amongst the Wabanaki people.  Everyone agrees that the word “Medicine Wheel” was given to sacred circles in the mid 1800’s by Christian explorers.

Gwen Bear a Medicine Wheel teacher, elder and traditionalist once said: “Our ancestors didn’t quite believe in the mundane.  They had a Spiritual view and understanding of the world around them.  They didn’t use names to identify one other and so why would they use names to identify holy or spiritual sites and people?  A sacred circle was a sacred circle.”

I learnt the Wheel by tracing it back through ceremonies, rituals, stories and traditions.  You’ll notice that the Wheel that we teach is very different than the Medicine Wheel “teachings” you’ll find in books referring to it as a zodiac.  Our Wheel is fluid and alive.  It’s a philosophy…

The totems / roles as well as the moon refer to different part of you.  It’s through looking at your story, your personality, your thoughts / emotions as well as your beliefs and ideas that you’ll uncover these different fragments of your inner community.  There’s no doubt that the Medicine Wheel is an excellent tool for self-discovery; but it can also be a “guide or teacher”.   If you listen to the Wheel carefully you’ll notice that it whispers to you the step-by-step method of journeying in a sacred manner.

****

This January 2016 -- I'm giving a Medicine Wheel Class to those who are interested in "listening to the whispers of the Wheel."  Participants will learn about their own personal Wheel; but will also learn about how the Wheel can be a tool for Dreaming and for recognizing guidance through mundane living.  

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Three Wise Men

January 6th, 12 days after Christmas is when Christians celebrate Epiphany; which is when the Magi visited the Holy Family at the manger.  Where Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, the Kings’ visit is about the actual epiphany that Jesus is the Son of God.  The Twelve Days of Christmas (as the song stipulates) essentially refers to the journey; which leads to the realization that “a King was born.” 

The story of the three Wise Men only appears in the Gospel of Matthew (2:1).  All four disciples in the New Testament share a particular aspect of the Life of Jesus.  Matthew is known for focusing on the idea that Jesus was born the King of Kings.  It makes sense that the tax collector who probably had grievances towards the leaders of his time would be most interested in discovering what it means to be in service to a Kingdom lead by a God with the empirical knowledge of humanity. 

As a traditionalist who has studied and taught the Medicine Wheel for over 25 years, I certainly appreciate the different perspectives that we can get of the New Testament through the different personalities and life stories of the disciples. The Sacred Circle philosophy certainly allowed me to approach the Bible with a different point of view. 

When I was a child my mother made us (my siblings and me) memorize the names of the three Wise Men:  Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.  On the day of Epiphany, she would have us add three Camels along with the Kings under our Christmas tree.  I remember loving the ritual and loving the small bronze Camel statues. Since in my family our Native Spirituality was unconsciously woven through our daily living and upbringing, even the Camels were considered crucial characters in the nativity story. By January 7th the Christmas decorations would return to their boxes and it was understood that it was the end of the Holidays. 

In Shamanism prayers, rituals and ceremonies are dots or details; which make up a circle. After studying Religious Studies in Universities, I came to understand that in every Religion the same can be said: "There is no such thing as a prayer, a ceremony or a ritual that stands alone without any inter-relationship."  Today, where everything centres on the "me" it is difficult for most contemporary Christians to see and understand how their prayers, their rituals and their ceremonies come together to tell the story of Jesus and translate very real life lessons. We often forget the genius that exists behind the wisdom of the ancients.  

Here is a good example: In most Christian homes there’s always a cross over a door in the house.  Sometimes it’s over the main archway of the home and other times, it’s over the door of the bedrooms. My mother took this tradition very seriously.  Every time we moved and it was every 5 years, she made sure to place the crosses over our bedroom doors before we even brought in the furniture. 

I must have been close to 18 years old when I finally asked her: “Why do we do this exactly?”

Surprised she replied: “Christus Mansionem Benedicat;" which means from Latin to English “may Christ bless the house.”  She explained to me that this blessing was actually the meaning behind the gifts given to Christ from the three Wise Men since the first letter of each their names brings forth the dedication.

  • Christus -- C for Caspar
  • Mansionem - M for Melchior
  • Benedicat - B for Baltazar

Lets not forget that so much about the early years of the Church is anchored in secret codes and mystery.  Double meaning certainly doesn't cover it...  The amount of associations that can be detected as we begin to scrutinize biblical texts is unreal.  The Fathers of the Church were masters in puzzles and symbols.  These times were rich with myth.

In my family, Epiphany was more of a Spiritual celebration in comparison to Christmas; which was more of a social festivity for children and family.  The meaning behind the story of the three Wise Men was that Jesus was recognized as the Son of God and hence, came on Earth for all of God’s children without prejudice. It didn't matter the race, the religion, the culture etc... It didn’t matter whether we chose to be fervent Christians or walked a shamanic path – Epiphany spoke of three Wise Men who accepted a cosmological omen as a sign that a King was born and that the Kingdom of God was near for all people…

Whether we believe in Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar or Obi Wan Kenobi, Albus Dumbledor and Gandalf – the idea of the Magi or Wizards who wisely see beyond man’s ordinary vision is crucial to any era. 

We all need to believe that our World is filled with magical heroes who watch over us and protect us; who bless our homes and families.  The Three Wise Men teach each of us what it means to give; and definitely give us a good idea what the best gift of all can be...

At the end of the story of the Magi in the gospel of Matthew, the Wise Men receive a dream. They are told "not return to Herod" who first sent them to Bethlehem to confirm the birth of Jesus and to validate whether or not he is the true Son of God.  

The dream not only guides the Kings away from Jerusalem; but also dictates where the continuous story leads....  The Three Wise Men leave in different directions and share their news of the Son of God with all who want to listen.  It's obviously the kind of tale that many of us empirically understand and so, it's the kind of celebration that we many of us add to our calendar every year.  

I personally like the idea to devote to a Kingdom where Kings see beyond the ordinary and commit to the force... Lets all imagine this tale and for one day, take a moment to wear "the crown." 

 

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Lighting the Fires of Creativity

Something that has come up the last few days is the way in which so many of us lose our connection to creativity.  As adults we jdge what we create and often lose the enjoyment of simply creating.  I am aware that I lost touch with my own creativity as a child. 

What I loved most of all was stories..... The story would come to me in a flash, far faster than I could write it.  The worlds I visited amazed me.  But school teachers saw my writing and could probably read only one in ten words.  They started the process of teaching me grammar and spelling, how to phrase sentences.  They slowed me down.  They gave me things to write about.  Eventually I lost my inspiration, my connection....

Some years later I began blogging and set about rekindling my creativity.  I can and do write fiction, but it doesn't seem very often a story appears insisting to be written.  I don't think I make enough space in my life to write. Without judgement.  I still have not reconnected fully to that fire and passion I used to have.

But a few years back I wrote a story, and I wonder if I write all the unwritten stories in the story, maybe just maybe, it will undo what was done...

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Storyteller True

Once upon a time there was a beautiful little girl who could tell stories. Her stories took her to beautiful lands where there were amazing adventures to be had. Dragons and unicorns lived alongside animals never seen before in any story before or since. Her stories flowed from the secret place of magic within her.

One day an evil old woman asked her to tell a story and so the little girl did. It was a story of amazing beauty and wonder and the old woman listened intently. Or at least she did for a while and then she said

'You need to pause and take a breath occasionally. Try breaking your words down into proper sentences and then you won't end up getting short of breath.'

The little girl thought about this and thought it sounded very proper. She went to start her story again but she couldn't remember where she was. The story was gone, but that didn't matter, there was another, waiting eagerly to be born.

And so she began another story, a tall story of moon and mist and all the things inbetween.

The evil old lady scowled and after a very short while she interupted again.

'Oh i don't think that sounded right at all, you need to remember never to begin a sentende with but or and.'

The little girl's lower lip began to tremble a little. The story was gone but another grew and there it was a fable of foxes and forests.

'oh don't say the fox and me, say the fox and I'

The fable died but another grew of waves and mermaids and songs of beauty from beneath the waves.

'That was the wrong form of the verb it is you are, not you is'

The mermaids wrung their hair in sorrow and a tale of bear and eagle on a mountain of ice began

'Which form of the word are you using? B-E-A-R or B-A-R-E?'

Moles in pink winged glasses burrowing for hidden treasures....

'Your story needs a beginning, a middle and the end. You can't start at the end.'

Blue haired...

'Blue hair isn't sensible!'

Pink

'no'

Princess

'NO'

Moon

'No. this just won't do! Capital letters and full stops. Sentences have to make sense all by themselves. Use the right form of the verb. Spell all the words right. Never, ever make up words, use the dictionary....'

On and on it went. Each comment from the evil old woman stole a story from the Little girl. Each spell made it harder for her to hear what the stories were trying to tell her from deep within. Until she couldn't hear any more. They were gone and she sat there numb and practiced the form of the verb to be with the evil old woman before learning how to correctly join the letters a and e neatly together.

The little girl was so grateful that she was learning how to make her stories better that she didn't notice. One day she tried to tell a story and all that came out were words that sounded like the evil old woman

'i before e, except after c. No! That isn't a story!'

She sobbed.

She wailed, but the stories had gone and she cried for their loss. She couldn't remember the story of how to get them back. She was lost and she couldn't hear and she was alone and lost without them.

She went to the house of the evil old woman and she took out her fountain pen and stabbed the evil old woman with it. Everytime her pen swopped down, a story was freed....

A bunny rabbit with a tail of silver...

And again her pen flew.

A walk across the surface of the sun...

And down into the evil old woman it fell.

The evil old woman lay at her feet, quite dead. Covered in blood and ink.

The little girl looked on in horror but then a story grew inside her head.

Once upon a time there was a beautiful queen who was put under a spell that could only be broken with blood and ink and the words of a storyteller true....
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2016 Blog Suggestions and Ideas

2016 is at our door and we have just completed our Winter Solstice wishes. What are we planning to explore in the New Year? Are we looking for tools, new perspectives and guides? As Shamanism enthusiasts what are we hoping to learn, to heal, and to the explore in 2016? How can our Blog be of help? Please take a moment and leave us with comments, questions, stories and suggestions which can inspire us to write for you.... Help us write more blog entries in 2016. Leave us with topic ideas or simple "sharing". Thank you / Wolikon.
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Winter Solstice 2015

With the approach of the Winter Solstice coming up this weekend, I’ve been reviewing the last year and envisioning the next…  One of the most repetitive questions when it comes to Shamanism or traditional Spirituality is “why do you celebrate the Equinox and Solstice? And what do these celebrations mean to you?” Every year I give similar answers; but since Shamanism relates very much to experience, my perspectives always seem to come from a very particular context.

As most of you know the Winter Solstice relates to the “longest night of the year.”  When we celebrate the Winter Solstice we are actually standing in “the darkest moment of the year.”  18 years ago give or take a year Gérard and I spent time with some Huron friends during the Winter Solstice.  As with many traditional First Nation people it is custom to have elders tell stories during festivities.  At this celebration some of the stories that were shared spoke of famine as a common occurrence for Huron ancestors during the darkest time of the year (winter solstice).  What I found most remarkable through these stories was how these people had to find strength and faith to survive their ordeals.  Dark moments in our lives often reveal the most surprising light in each of us. 

EC a Passamaquoddy friend and teacher of mine once shared that “she adopted the ritual of fasting during the Winter Solstice” because it allowed her to truly understand what it means to “be empty.”  For her the Winter Solstice meant, “looking at the emptiness, loneliness, and darkness” within herself.  Through the years of celebrating this time of year with my First Nation family and friends, I learnt to respect, and truly value “darkness” in my life.  Where most people are eager to rid themselves of darkness or ignore it altogether, I was taught to accept it as a natural occurrence; experience it as I would experience light; and truly give it the “value or worth” it deserves.

In ancient times, many First Nation people did “prayer bundles” especially during the Winter Solstice and hung them in trees.  Prayer amongst traditional people has always implied a communication to Spirit; but also translates a profound communion with Creator and Creation.  It’s not just about “prayer” as a tool or medicine / power, but also about “prayer” as a deep personal experience.  Prayer can represent man’s personal, medicine story if we deliver ourselves to it.  Prayer bundles embody this complete significance of “prayer” and so, when they hang from the trees they are like “stars in the heaven” shining a mysterious potential of light through the darkest of times.

After almost a decade of sharing blog entries with you, I’m sure many of you have a strong idea about “me” and my interests.  Since January 2015 I’ve been incredibly busy with my dogs (beagles).  Murfle my senior dog was diagnosed traditional cell carcinoma (bladder cancer) last year.  We committed to oncology visits and chemotherapy for months and celebrated in August a complete remission.  Unfortunately, in early September Murfle started bleeding from the vulva and revealed another and more aggressive cancer.  She passed away in late September. 

I often refer to 2015 as my “prayer bundle” experience because it seems like every event; every lesson we learnt; and every dark moment delivered us to “some kind of light: Unexpected breakthrough and insight / consciousness.” 

Believe me when I say – “We were incredibly conscious of the dark this past year and very much involved in the notion of “prayer”. “ 

From a cosmological perspective it seemed we were destined to experience “the reality of darkness” since we moved through a few dark moons at the start of the year. What was even more impressive was when we took notice that this year’s Winter Solstice falls on the Full Moon of Omnipotence (as per our Moon calendar and tradition).  Cosmology in 2015 was telling us to “make peace with the dark and come out of it – BRILLIANT!”

We all have guides, teachers, or guardian angels; who show us the way when there are some hard times.  I’ve always been a dog lover; but this last year helped me delete the word “pet” from my vocabulary.  Murfle, Bella, Sunny, Freddy, Stella and now Oliver have been the best of teachers, companions, and even god / goddess presence in my life in 2015. 

In 2009 when the Dark Moon Journey started I told my students “not to approach this time of darkness with fear and apprehension but to embrace it; surrender to it; and have faith in the final outcome.”  I basically invited everyone to believe in the darkness and what it would bring to emergence. 

“Discover yourselves as children of the Dark Goddess,” I often affirmed and even lectured.  A part of me no doubt had an understanding of this statement but it wasn’t empirical until September of 2015 when Murfle died.  Murfle embodied the Dark Goddess in every which way and I didn’t realize until the end – that Murfle claimed me as one of her children.   I had to show her that I wasn’t afraid of the dark…

Through the 49 days of passing, many of us had dreams of Murfle.  Many of them were quite scary and nightmarish.  So much so that some of us were worried.  Again I remember encouraging people to “have faith”. 

“Trust her: Trust the Goddess of Darkness,” I repeated constantly, sometimes not quite convinced myself.

During these 49 days, Murfle guided us to two other dogs (beagles).  Stella and Oliver appeared in our lives and showed us the “outcome at the end of a dark tunnel.”  Stella was particularly important for Sunny, a senior dog that we adopted 5 or 6 years ago after he was abandoned in the woods near our house.  We fed him and took care of him, to eventually adopt him in our community.  IL and her children are his family.  Sunny has never felt completely integrated.  A part of him stayed “judged as useless; rejected and abandoned.”  It’s as if we needed someone or something to reach out to him in the dark and bring him Home. 

Honestly I saw the scene as a Dreamer (of course) and envisioned the scene as the “hand of the Dark Goddess delivering a puppy to us.”  This female beagle pup appeared with a personality to bring any dog home!! J  Sunny who doesn’t do well with new dogs fell in love with Stella.  It was amazing to watch this small, Beagle puppy teach a Senior Golden Retriever how to let go of fear and trust…

Oliver appeared in our lives and became Bella’s new companion after Murfle’s passing.  I really had the feeling that Bella proved herself to the Dark Goddess like many of us; and in return the Goddess was kind and generous.  Oliver appeared with a lot of enthusiasm and affection.  He brought livelihood to Bella and triggered in her some of the wisdom and motherly teachings that Murfle had shown her…  Bella seemed genuinely happy with the puppy and was able to let go of the loss of Murfle.

There’s nothing more difficult than to loose a loved one.  Darkness comes in all kinds of packages: Divorce, illness, death, betrayal, loneliness, fear, etc….  It’s part of life and our incarnation experience to move through darkness and hopefully find some light.  For me 2015 has been one experience over another about “darkness.”  I truly and literally touched all of the “words / experiences” I’ve mentioned in the second sentence of this paragraph.  In the end, I’m left with profound insights and a sense of “prayer” that I never had before.  I see more clearly and I stand in gratitude of not only the results or outcomes of darkness; but especially the journey:  The details that brought us here –  now. 

Happy Winter Solstice to everyone. 

  • To those who stand in the dark – “it’s time to look up at the stars and believe in them.”
  • To those who are journeying towards “prayer” – don’t stop exploring, experiencing and trusting.  The end is worth the journey.
  • And to those who are looking forward to the next frontier – breath in the unknown, and Mystery!  A part of you already knows where all of this will take you.  Sit in the unknown with a sense of all knowing and you’ll bring your circle home….

 

HAPPY SOLSTICE to ALL

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A Bridge Between Realities.

Since the age of 5 years old I've been present to the passing of 5 to 11 people a year. According to the shamanic tradition; which I follow my life story shows without a shred of a doubt that I was called and chosen to be a Keeper of the Dead. Basically a Keeper of the Dead is an individual who can sense death and guide people through it. It’s a vocational role.

We are all born with the potential of “vocation;” which means to “be in service to others.”  On the Medicine Wheel there are eight vocational roles all of which connect to each other in some shape or form and create a perfect circle. For most people it often takes some kind of experience or ordeal to trigger or bring forth the medicine necessary to get us started in our vocational life. Exceptionally some individuals are born “in service.”

I’m often asked the question: “Would you have let your children at the age of 5 years old be present or even be actively involved in the passing of someone?”

It’s a tough question to answer.  We live in a World where there are so many rules and social programs concerning the protection of children.  We have strong ideals, judgments and expectations in relationship to “what should be a perfect childhood.” From my perspective, we’ve been on Planet Earth for more than 100,000 years and during this time we have yet to figure out exactly how “this life should be lived” as humans. I certainly wouldn’t want to get in the way of the “seers” of today; but I know for a fact that aside from being an influence on the journey, they are no where near understanding the “ultimate truth…”

My children weren’t born Keepers of the Dead; but I was!

Along with the mystery of what that means, I believe I was also born at the right time; for the right reasons; and with the right people in order to explore and develop this vocation in the way that fits me.

A Jewish midwife once told me that children remember quite clearly where they come from.  Unfortunately for us, between the age of birth and 3 years old, the time when children know the most about the “afterlife” they also are the most dependent to their caregivers, incapable of communicating their knowledge to them.  Then, once they can speak we are too busy wanting to “feed them knowledge” that we don’t listen… Rearing for Western people has taken so much space that we’ve lost continuity between one life and another. 

My children shared with us a wealth of knowledge between the age of 3 and 12 years old.  It was especially important to me that they be encouraged to share and encouraged to remember. Until this day (they are now 25 / 26 years old) they retain the memory of the knowledge they shared and the memory of their childhood experience.  Still the fact remains that most children are severely socially indoctrinated by age 10 and literally, completely forget what they once knew….

I remember how natural, simple and easy it was for me to help the dead between the age of 5 and 12 years. I knew what I was doing and it deeply touched me. Between age 12 and 18 years old, people's judgments and expectations got to my head. Suddenly helping the dead became a painful and abusive exploitation. Since there was nobody around to guide me back to 5 years old, it took another decade before I was able to return to the vocation with a sense of awe and gratitude.  

When people are about to die "I see this florescent white light emanating from them".  At first the light emanates from a specific spot on their body.  It can be the crown, the heart, their hands or feet etc. The closer they get to their last breath the more the light takes over the body. At some point I honestly, can't see their face or the physical contours anymore because the light is so bright and has taken over… 

As a child I always opened the windows just before someone was about to pass away. I was always impressed with the wind phenomenon that always manifested right after someone took his/her last breath. I believed at the time, that the “wind in nature” would come into the room and take back the “human wind”.  In some cases, there was no wind at all until the person would die …  It was always incredibly dramatic how the wind would suddenly appear, and move chairs and chattels off the tables.  I often rushed to the wall as if I had to be out of its way and give “it” full range of the room.  I believed the wind searched for the soul and like grabbing a Butterfly into a net, it retrieved it and embraced it before journeying HOME.

At the age of 6 years old I remember telling a priest in school; that “the Soul was light/fire and air; and the Spirit earth and water.”  I was very convincing because I seemed to “know of it”:  It was part of my memory / my experience. 

When I was asked what was the difference between the SOUL and SPIRIT, I didn’t hesitate and quickly replied: “One is pure consciousness and the other is pure existence.  One is breath and one is matter.” 

I’m 50 years old now, and I look back at a lifetime of “dying and death.”

Most people would say: “I have a macabre view on life or a dark kind of life story.”

But the fact of the matter is I’ve experienced more “white light” (no reference to the New Age concept) then most people. A few years ago, I traveled to Mexico and visited a few Mayan Temples.  The archealogist on site explained that each level of the temples took 50 / 52 years to build. These sacred sites weren't "constructions" in the way that we understand them today.  No! They embodied a life story: 50 to 52 years of medicine and wisdom.  Some of these temples were about the dead and recognized as well as respected the memory of "my ancestors" (Keeper of the Dead).

Our life experience certainly affects the way we view the World and the wisdom we acquire.  For example where most people believe they are heading towards a rainbow bridge between this reality and the other, I believe this physical existence is actually “the bridge.”  Ironically perhaps, I believe that science can better describes "death" than religion.  Our recent understanding of energy, the cosmos and DNA brings us closer to understanding what happens after we die.  But science doesn't see or capture everything.  It's simply a tool...  

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Thank you to those who participated in the discussion on palliative care because it's through your postings that I was able to write this blog.  I believe this entry started as a reply / posting to Arnitta.  Again, thank you Arnitta for consistently triggering some of my blog inspiration.  

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The Rainbow Tree

I have always liked to write but somehow it's something I largely stopped doing, at least the fiction side of things.  I have come to understand that some of the stories I have written in the past have been very much an expression of a dream, a way of connecting and seeing things differently.  So I have promised myself not to ignore the rustle of any words that fly into my head, any stories that wish to be heard.  Over a few nights last week,  I was drawn to write a few words.  The words came by themselves and I didn't know where they were going when I began.  The end didn't reveal itself until the end.

The tree sparkled in the light.  A million and one beams captured,glistening drops festooned al over it's branches.  A slight breeze and the tree quivers and rainbows dance all around.

A crow sits on a branch and then another.  Two black frowns in a sea of white.  They abesently poke at their feathers as they watch me.  Guardians of the rainbow tree.

Sometimes when you walk under the tree, it's braches rustle and chime.  Twigs caress your hair but there is no wind.  You never catch the tree moving...  Always where you are not looking.

Except once it dropped a glistening ball of crystal at my feet.

I smiled and took the gift.  In exchange I gave spit and hair and blood, tied together in a little bundle around some nail trimmings and I promised to tell the trees story so it could be known and visited once more.

The The crows noisily showed their approval and dropped a feather for me.

But having picked them up, I realised they had disappeares inside my skin.  A gift for all time.

So it isn't a very long story and it might appearto be, just a story, except as I neared the end and saw what was happening, I knew this story already and I know this tree.

My parents moved house in the last few years, finally leaving the house we moved into on my first birthday.  It is an amazing place, one I visit regularly in my dreams.  The house and gardens were old with many truly ancient trees in the garden.  Three of these were huge lime trees, also known as Linden trees.  Two of them were a small leafed type and almost appeared to be attendants to the third, a broad leafed lime.  Somehow the two small leaved trees impacted less on my life, they were less somehow, even though all three dwarfed the house.  These trees can reach 40 metres in height... 

The broad leafed tree was very generous of itself. It provided an anchorage point for our washing line and our rope swing.  My mum would make a tea from it's flowers.  Insects would come from all around to feast.  One year bees came there in their hundreds to die.  Somewhere, some chemical had been used and by the time the bees reached the linden their bodies were half burnt away.  A carpet of dead and dying insects we could do nothing for.  The tree sheltered us in summer providing some of the coolest, greenest shade.  Some nights the trees sang me to sleep with a roar like running water.  I was never decided if they were singing or if it was just the wind in their thousands of leaves.

When my parents were trying to sell the house, it was hard for all of us, to contemplate leaving such a place.  One time, in a UK drum circle, I visited the spirits of that place.  I didn't find anything I expected.  I met Grandma Crow sat knitting under this lime tree.  We talked.  I learnt she had always been with me, had taught me as much as my parents had, taught me to love the land.  She explained we no longer needed this place and it was the turn of others to be both guardian and benefactor and that we could always visit and remain connected.  I agreed to this and she explained that I should make a little bundle of things, as I did in the story and leave it under the tree.  In exchange she would leave something under the tree for me.

It was a few weeks before I was at the house and able to visit the tree.  It was winter, all the leaves gone and there was nothing under the tree.  I remember looking with a desperation, because I just knew there had to be something, how could there not be.  And then I found it, a moth eaten black feather, right where she had been sat, that looked like it had been sat there quietly rotting away ever since that day.  I left my bundle under the tree, tiny, tiny.  The feather has not survived the passage of time, but then I don't think it was supposed to be a physical gift.

So you see, I knew this story already, except this new telling adds new things. I know those crows, Grandma Crow and the taciturn Grandpa Crow.  This time, it isn't about me, or them, it's about the tree.  In the dreaming this tree is a King among trees, the Rainbow Tree.  And the Rainbow Tree lives on private land.  Now however the tree wants to extend an invitation for dreamers to go visit.

What will you find there?

Just don't forget the tree has guardians....  Grandma Crow, Grandpa Crow and me make three.

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