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A Solstice Gift in the Forest

A dappled Light in the woods

I honored the Solstice on the 20th by playing my 3 Native American flutes in the Forest Preserve, under a 6-trunked tree next to a clear-running stream.  Just after the last note died, a doe approached from across the stream, apparently drawn by the sound.  She nibbled leaves off various branches, and slowly, silently drew closer, unconcerned by my presence.  Because I was aware that in the shamanic tradition, the unbidden appearance of an animal usually has something to teach us, I sent a thought to her, “Do you have a message for me, Lady Deer?”

Her head swung round sharply (though I had not moved or spoken and the wind had not shifted) and she gazed at me motionless for long moments.  Finally, “No, I don’t think so,” was the gentle response.  “We are just sharing the space.”  And then, some moments later, she turned and melted deliberately back into the forest.  Apparently she had completed her share of sharing.

And yet I DID perceive a message in the encounter.  Long, long ago, before things went so terribly wrong between humans and Nature, this equable and harmonious sharing of space was so simply and utterly normal as to be unremarkable.  It was always, as it is still, a Gift, like Light and Air, Earth and Water, and Life itself.  And like these other Gifts, it has been subjected to human indifference and mistreatment ever since we decided we were separate from Creation and the Creator and therefore could exploit Nature rather than tend it with no cost to ourselves.  But just as on the Solstice we reach a tipping point in the year, in this decade we are also reaching a tipping point, when the energy of the Healers will outweigh that of the Exploiters, and Earth will find a new and more wholesome balance.

And so I believe that ultimately, these moments of  “sharing the space”  will return to being normal, like clean air and water.  But perhaps we’ll feel deeper appreciation because they were lost and are found again.  Our appreciation, actually, can begin right now.

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A Weekend of Wonder: Celtic Shamanism

The weekend of April 28-29, I took an excursion into Celtic shamanism with Tom Cowan, sponsored by Animal Spirit Network, that was literally life-changing.  Being new to shamanism (even having done the reading and taken an online intro to shamanic journeying), I was a little unsure of what I’d experience.  I discovered that the synergy of Celtic lore and Native American shamanic practices, shared with other seekers, was wondrous, joyous, and almost overwhelming in its power!

Tom did a marvelous job of leading us through a truly sacred series of discussions, journeys, dances and ceremonies to bring Celtic shamanism to life in our minds, spirits, and bodies.  His depth of knowledge and love of story and poetry (each direction had its own story and poem, every one an exquisite gem of word art), along with his deep shamanic wisdom and engaging teaching style, created the perfect atmosphere for us to find our way into the heart of Celtic spirituality.

AHA moments:

  • The Irish “spirit wheel” is much like the Native American medicine wheel–4 directions plus center, serving as a spiritual pathway and practice.
  • My “home” direction was South, the place of music, poetry, dance, storytelling, and all kinds of ART.
  • Sovereignty (Center) is about self-rule, standing in your own power AND understanding how to yield it when that is best.  It’s like a Celtic version of Kwanzaa’s Kujichagulia.  Spirit Truth is Truth in every language!
  • There are people–LOCAL ones–who appreciate and UNDERSTAND my recent mystical experiences.

WOW experiences:

  • Helping a fellow student make a deeply personal breakthrough to honor her own shamanic gifts and experiences.
  • Receiving a spiritual healing  (a thawing out from old “frozen” ways and beliefs) from fiery Brigid in the East.   (Before the journey, Tom casually mentioned that this healing could take the form of dismemberment–a real deer-in-the-headlights moment for a novice journeyer….)
  • Journeying into the West with the Cailleach (as Crane) to watch the river of my life flow in peace, beauty, love and abundance to the eternal sea, and hear words from her of such deep compassion and comfort that I was brought to tears.
  • Dancing the spirits of Boann, Salmon and Sycamore in ceremonies.  This started one life change for me; I’m dancing  almost daily now as a way to meditate and manifest Spirit into Earth reality!

Personal breakthrough:

  • Shamanism is a powerful, beautiful spiritual path that I am meant to claim and practice for healing myself and others.

I had a lot of fears about shamanism–it seemed so alien, so primitive, almost violent with its tools of animal bone and hide, and its focus on earth deities who routinely dismember, disembowel, or otherwise destroy the seeker in order to rebuild him/her purified.  But I was given a very personal gift of tender, overwhelming LOVE in my rebuilding, from spirits who are now like family to me.  And I emerged renewed and filled with wonder that still echoes in my heart.