"Your path is to be shared...It will be called The Golden Thread Road"
~White Buffalo Calf Woman

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Service Animal Spirit Guidance For The Changing World

I put together a list of 13 Animal Spirit Guides and how they can help us through this time of the pandemic as the world turns topsy-turvy. It is not a complete list by any means of the spiritual guidance, animal and otherwise, out there to help us thrive in these changing times, but these are a few of the ones I've personally worked with that have helped me, and who had specific attributes to face things that people are experiencing at this time. They can help steady our shaky steps and smooth the bumpy ride into a new reality.  

Call upon them as you would a friend or a loved one. Find a place and time when you can sit in silence. Imagine yourself surrounded by white light. Call in one, or more, of the appropriate guides and ask them for their strength and their wisdom. You can ask specific questions such as, "What is my next step to get through this?" or "Can you show me this situation from your perspective?" You may receive words, or images, or feelings. You may also notice nothing, but trust that you have been heard and help is on the way. Perhaps they will answer your questions in a dream or a in sudden flash of inspiration when the timing is right. Thank your Animal Spirit Guides for their help, imagine the white light dispersing, then return fully to your body and continue with your day, knowing that what you need will unfold in the coming days.

You can also simply call on them as you feel the need through out your day when you start to feel wobbly or in doubt. They are here to serve and guide us, and their method is always Love.

SNAKE: Shedding the Old. You are literally outgrowing your old reality. As snake sheds his skin, we are shedding the ways of life that no longer fit or support us. The old world is ripping to shreds, leaving us uncomfortably itchy and unsupported, and the new world has not solidified, like the soft and tender new skin. You are more sensitive right now, so nurture yourself. Know that the old skin would not be falling apart if the new skin were not pushing through to replace it even bigger and better than before. Also, while shedding Snake is blind, his eyes being part of the old skin. This is a time of retreating, nurturing, and building faith, knowing there are no accidents and that there is purpose to all of this. 

VULTURE: Sterilization. Clean up your space and your mind. Let Vulture consume what is dead and decaying in your life, the clutter of things and thoughts that support dis-ease in your life and prevent you from moving into your power and best life. Vulture sterilizes the environment to make it safe for other life to thrive. Raise your wings to the Sun and let what is toxic in your life be burned away by the light of Truth of who you truly are. All is well in your world.

BAT: Rebirth/Initiation. When the world turns upside down, it's time to shift perspectives. Cling to the ceiling of the cave rather than the floor in order see things differently, and in ways you never imagined. Know that no matter how scary, there is purpose in every change. Use this time in darkness and stillness to see with more than your eyes. Reach out with your feelings and intuition and trust what you receive from your non-physical senses. The cave is the womb of the Cosmic Mother. You are about to be reborn.

BUTTERFLY: Transformation. We are crossing a threshold where life will never be the same. Scary, right? But if you as Caterpillar knew you were destined to become more than you are now, to be given wings to fly rather than being stuck to a single branch, to become Butterfly, would you be afraid? Right now you are in the cocoon. As Caterpillar you are being broken down into genetic soup and your very DNA rearranged. There is nothing solid to hold onto, including your very identity and essence. Surrender to the process. There is purpose and you are meant for greater things. Don't be afraid. You were born for this.

DUCK: Calm. When the currents get too rough, fly to calmer waters. Float above the waters, the emotions, by finding those activities, or inactivities, that help you feel calm and centered. Take a break from the world, from the news, from the things that hold you down and unable to breathe, and nurture yourself. When you know you can swim, and naturally float on the water, none of the emotional turbulence can hold you down or overwhelm you. You can let it all roll off your back. 

TASMANIAN DEVIL: Appropriate Aggression. There is nothing in this world that can stand in the way of your purpose here on earth. Nothing. Even if you are sick, Tasmanian Devil can help you find the will to live, the will to heal, the will to break down any obstacles that stand between you and your purpose. It is various unrecognized and unfelt emotions such as anger and fear that can stand in the way of your health and well-being, and Tasmanian Devil can help swirl those into a tornado, utilizing their power constructively to burst through anything holding you back from living your best life.

FROG: Cleanse. Take a salt bath. Nurture yourself and release anything from your life that is toxic. Take a shower and as the waters rush over you, allow them to not only wash away the physical grime, but the emotional and mental grime that keeps you feeling small and worthless. Consciously introduce those things into your life and environment that feed you, nourish you, and make you feel whole and centered. Any thoughts and fears that make you feel small or worthless are intrinsically untrue. Practice through affirmations replacing those toxic, belittling thoughts with thoughts and words that validate and reinforce the Divine Being you truly are. By thus becoming your purer self you clear your channel to Spirit, and open your voice to be added to the chorus of the world.

BLUE HERON: Self Reflection. This time of stillness is a gift. Rise like Heron over the waters of emotion, and look at yourself. It is the coolness of his shadow that draws the fish to him, so it is by looking at his reflection that Heron is able to feed himself. If you are flopping around in the water you are stirring up the mud and scaring the fish. Let Heron lift you on his long legs above the waters, your stillness allowing the waters to still and clear, and give you the perspective to observe yourself without judgement or attachment, giving yourself the power to move on and change, and to find those tidbits that only make you stronger.  Be still and observe. Sit with your feelings and allow them to abate. You are a Divine Being, part of the same source energy as everyone and everything else. There is nothing in your shadow to fear.

DOLPHIN: Breathe. Like Dolphin you are a creature of two worlds -- Think of Air as Spirit and Water as the World. It is the air/spirit inside of you that allows you to swim the the water/world, so use this time where things are shut down on the outside and venture into your inside. Explore meditation. Find your rhythm of surfacing into Spirit, taking a deep breath, then diving again, allowing that spirit to infuse you as you navigate the depths of this world. You might find yourself smiling more, and you may approach things more playfully. Breathe. Trust the ebb and flow.

COYOTE: Laugh/Play.  In times such as these, humor is especially vital. Constant fear and anxiety take their toll on your system and laughter reverses all those effects. It brings fresh, restorative energy to you, body and soul, and a place of renewed mental clarity with which to better access your circumstances and move forward effectively. Look at things through the eyes of your inner child. Find ways to play. Turn even your challenges into a game and you might find new and creative ways to remedy them. Find things to laugh about. If you don't, Coyote will bound after you, nipping at your ankles, possibly even tripping you up, to make you pause and laugh at yourself.

PELICAN: Resilience. Joy is your natural state of being. Love is who you are. You are intrinsically a high frequency being. Your spirit is buoyant and, like Pelican, no matter how deep you dive into the world, you will always rise back to the surface. Your soul is like a beach ball. It actually takes energy and effort to hold it down because it's natural inclination is to ascend. It is when we relinquish control and let go of the things that hold us down - our thoughts and worries and fears - that we naturally rise above it all. Surrender to who you truly are. Know that you are already whole. You are an eternal being in an impermanent world. This too shall pass..

BLACK PANTHER: Embrace the Unknown. The dark is but the womb of the Cosmic Mother. In the dark all possible realities exist and the Universe is waiting for you to make a decision on what future you desire. With hear dark, shimmering coat Black Panther is the reflection of the night sky - the microcosm of the macrocosm. As above, so below. Set your intention of the reality you wish to create then move confidently in that direction knowing that the Universe has your back and reflects your desires. It is a great hologram where every piece contains the whole, so within you exists the entire universe. The answers are literally within you. There is nothing in the dark to fear.

OWL: Seeing with the Heart. There is a reason Athena, the Goddess of Justice, has Owl as her totem. Owl's eyesight is as good as Eagle's, but she sees in the dark. Owl brings the ability to see with the heart and cut through the smoke and mirror illusions of this world. She can help navigate through the unknown and the uncertainties of the world, aiding in connecting with your own heart to see the rampant fears and anxieties for the illusions they are. Even when everything is dark around you, she will guide you from love rather than fear. And she is fierce, a winged-tiger. Be bold. Trust your heart. 

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Bearing It Well

It was in a Vision Quest about 10 years ago that I met Sitting Bull. I had just been having a nice sit down conversation with Jeshua (Jesus) when suddenly this great chief appeared with out warning. He told me who he was and I, just a little star-struck, stammered, “THE Sitting Bull?!” Taking it in stride he simply went on to thank me for honoring his traditions and for adapting them to my needs and my path (I lost count of the number of times my Lakota mentor facilitating this Vision Quest said, "If my teachers saw this they would kill me."), telling me traditions had to evolve in order to become accessible and applicable to more people. Then he said something that has stuck with me ever since -- "We may not be your Ancestors of Blood, but we are your Ancestors of Spirit." That was the only time I'd heard that phrase until it was validated a few years later in a class with Tom Cowan, the Celtic Shaman, when he told us of the three kinds of Ancestors -- Blood, Story, and Spirit

For several years afterwards Sitting Bull accompanied me on my path, popping up at different times, particularly during the Sacred Pipe Circle I attended every week. Most of the time he said very little, if anything, but just feeling his presence was comforting. When I saw him in my mind's eye or felt him sitting with me, I knew everything was right with the world. Even if I were going through some heavy emotional trials or something, with him nearby I knew I was still on the right path no matter what inner turmoil I was experiencing.

One day at Pipe Circle things changed. As I passed the chanupa to the person next to me and settled in to receive any messages or visions, there before me I saw Sitting Bull, but it was different. Normally he appears to me extremely close up and looking eye to eye. Instead I saw his entire buffalo blanketed form sitting a small distance in front of me, and he was turned to the right. "Huh..."I thought, "Wonder what that's about." Then I realized there was another figure standing behind him, another Native man with arms folded against his bare chest as he stared into my eyes, his face seemingly etched in stone with no hint of emotion. I think I gulped. "What is happening?" Silently sitting bull faded away leaving the tall, stoic stranger looming in front of me. From somewhere the name Standing Bear floated through my mind. That's when I realized this was basically a changing of the guards. Sitting Bull had fulfilled his purpose with me and now it was Standing Bear who would take over guiding me. Then I almost laughed out loud, struck again by the subtle humor of the spirits. Of course Sitting Bull would be sitting and Standing Bear standing. Okay, I could work with this.

I knew nothing about my new guide, and in his stoic demeanor, Standing Bear was not forthcoming on who he was or why he was there, so answers would have to come through research. I had never heard of him, that I remembered, so I started with his name to see if he were actually an historical figure. I did find a few Standing Bears through history, but before I could even question how I would know which one he was, I saw a photo and instantly knew, "That's him!" The same quiet strength and composure with an intense determination in his eyes.

He was a famous chief of the Ponca people, originally from Nebraska. Long story short, his tribe was forced into their own Trail of Tears on foot from Nebraska to Oklahoma, during which many, including Standing Bear's eldest son, died. Because his son was afraid the Ancestors wouldn't be able to find him and lead him into the afterlife so far from home, Standing Bear promised to return him and bury him in the land of his birth. This he did with a small group of tribal members, only to be captured and arrested in Nebraska for venturing off their reservation.

This led to a trial in 1879 where Standing Bear sued the United States Government --And won! What he sued for was habeas corpus - recognition as a "person" under the law and entitled to all its rights and protections. He was the one who so famously said...

"That hand is not the color of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow, and I shall feel pain. The blood is of the same color as yours. God made me, and I am a Man."

And that is where it suddenly made sense to me. One thing I have always struggled with is self-worth, self confidence, and just standing up for myself. Then along comes an individual standing up in front of an entire government and nation who denigrate him and his race to little more than dirt, to declare unflinchingly "I am a man!" Words can not do justice to how much this resonates with me and what strength it awakens in me.

Since then he has stood sentinel over me - an ever-present stoic guardian, huge on presence and small on words. I have to admit being at least slightly intimidated by him, and at the same time so grateful he had decided to come and stick around. For a long time that was enough for me. But just recently, after years of his silent and protective companionship, I finally asked what he'd actually come to help me with in the first place.

"Fortitude," was his single word answer. It instantly rang true and I understood, but at the same time I found myself asking, "What exactly does that mean?..."


                           courage in pain or adversity.
                           "she endured her illness with great fortitude"
                           synonyms: courage · bravery · strength of mind 

Holy Crap! How appropriate is that? In a word that is exactly what Standing Bear embodies, and what he is awakening in me. Indeed, this past year has been exceptionally trying, especially these last few months as I am continuously, and seemingly increasingly, challenged to rise to higher heights and release all the things I mistakenly took on as my identity. Not that I am not also in the best place I've ever been in my life. My lucid moments of connection with the Heart of Goddess are beyond words. I have a firmer faith and conviction in my true identity and purpose than I could ever previously have dreamed of. Perhaps that is what makes these times in my growth such a challenge. The distance in the fluctuations between ecstatic Divine connection and lying broken on the floor incapacitated by fear and anxiety are unimaginably vast. To quote Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. I mean you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space." 
And traversing that mindbogglingly big space through the mental debris field of old beliefs and identities takes courage.

Just the other day as I was driving to my day job after struggling to get out of bed and muster the gumption to stagger through another day at a job that, though I am grateful for everything it provides me, does nothing, nothing, to feed or even support my Spirit, I heard Standing Bear say, "This. This is the birthing ground of Fortitude." His loquaciousness made me pause and realize this was important.

A past version of me might have interpreted this to mean that life is a struggle and I must foster the fortitude to continue to fight my way upstream because that's the way it'll be until the day I die, fighting a hopeless battle but denying the hopelessness of the situation because that is the noble thing to do.

However, spending a great proportion of my time in non-dual reality gives me a different perspective. Yes. The battle is hopeless. Every battle is hopeless. That's because life is not a battle, and the value of fortitude is the ability it gives to walk through the mental and emotional structures based in the duality of the old world and step into the reality of non-duality -- the Oneness that lies behind everything. Fortitude is not banging your head endlessly against a brick wall. It is recognizing that the wall doesn't even exist and it is walking through the wall despite what you're senses may be telling you. It is the courage to recognize yourself as Divine Energy no matter what the world may be telling you you are. It is the grace to live as a butterfly in a world of caterpillars.

And so I am blessed beyond measure to have this Brother of Spirit standing sentinel for me, an unwavering beacon to light and guide my way. Thank you Standing Bear. Aho.


Epilogue -- 

Tonight, after finishing my blog post, I did a chanupa ceremony and as soon as I finished the initial blowing of smoke blessings to all the directions, Standing Bear was there, and for the first time in the years we’ve worked together, I saw him smiling. At first you might think it was because he was happy that I wrote about him, but what I felt was more of a “you finally got it!” feeling. It was pride, but not in himself. It was the approving smile of a teacher seeing his student succeed.

"You've been on your own Trail of Tears you know."
Thinking back over the past year and the recent months, I nodded. 
"No, not now. It was coming into a world you didn't understand and that didn't understand you. Now you are on your way back to your origins, as I was with my son. The journey is challenging, yes, but the return trip is laced with the joy of coming home."

Oh how I love this man.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

We All Make It Home

I was walking down to my spot on the river -- Actually "shuffling" is a more accurate description, kicking up the leaves and listening to them crackle and crunch. As I crested the little hill down to the bank I paused at the sight. The river was flowing very high, swollen with the rain that has deluged us in the past weeks. None of the normal, sandy beach was visible and, in fact, the place where I normally sit was about 20 feet out into the water.

As I approached the water’s edge I couldn’t help exclaiming, “Oh there you are!” I had had a small paper bag full of loose sage that I’d misplaced, having combed my apartment looking for it and having no idea where it could possibly have gone. It must have fallen out of my chanupa bag in the dark when I left here a couple nights previously after another pipe ceremony. And here it was, almost intact but for a small hole, despite the heavy rain that had soaked it. As I reached down to retrieve it, I realized I wasn’t alone. Right next to my sage bag, camouflaged in with the color of the leaves and earth, was a dead salmon. I felt honored that my unintentional offering had apparently been reciprocated by an offering from Grandfather Salmon. Picking up some of the sage that had spilt from my bag, I sprinkled it on the departed fish, saying something like, “I honor you Grandfather Salmon and thank you for the gift of your presence. I am sorry you did not make it home.”

Instantly I heard Grandfather laughing in my ear. “My son, we ALL make it home.” And I witnessed the image of this beautiful salmon swimming right out of its body and into the realm of spirits.

I found a spot just down river from where Grandfather lay, and made a comfy place to sit, spreading my blanket on the colorful leaves and wrapping my cloak around me. I had hoped to see some live salmon swimming upstream but the water was dark and rough so, other than just a couple feet out from shore, I couldn’t see beneath the surface. I performed a pipe ceremony, sending smoke blessings to the salmon lying on the bank, and calling out, “Grandfather Salmon come smoke with me!” Hoping to entice a live salmon to join me nearby in the river.

I smoked, and prayed, and cried, and sang, for a good hour or so until I noticed the clouds darkening, not only because of the encroaching night, but from the density of the water they held. I closed my pipe ceremony, thanking Creator for my life and my path, but then instead of releasing the directions as I normally do, I began to go right in to wrapping up the bowl and stem in their separate little cloth bundles. As I was doing this I happened to look into the water and there, just a couple feet from me and directly in front of me hovered a salmon, pausing in his swim. I almost burst into tears. It was such a blessing and honor to be visited, especially after I invited him to smoke with me. It was perfect.

After thanking the spirits and releasing my sacred space, I gathered my things to beat the rain. As I passed Grandfather Salmon lying on the beach I whispered, "Thank you Grandfather and welcome home!"

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Gator Aid

A few months ago I took a few days to myself at a friend's little cabin in the woods. It was a wonderful spiritual retreat and I spent the entire weekend meditating, napping, and connecting. I worked quite a lot with my chanupa, performing several sacred pipe ceremonies each day, and probably the most thrilling thing that happened was the introduction of a new Power Animal during one of those ceremonies.

Power Animals are those Animal Spirit Guides that usually come into our lives at a specific time for a specific purpose, to guide and help us in a particular direction or with a particular task. It is especially exciting to me when they pop up of their own accord rather than my journeying to seek them because there's a certain amount of validation that comes with a guide showing up before you even knew you needed someone to help you in a certain area. If you weren't looking for someone in the first place you don't have to be concerned with the whole "I'm just making this up" mind set. 

Of course with new Spirit Guides, especially ones that just pop up, it's always a good thing to double check and make sure they've got your highest good at heart, so I always run them past Nathaniel, my stalwart reindeer companion, for his approval. Another fun way to do this is to ask them to tell you joke. If they really have your highest good at heart, have no other agenda, and are of a higher frequency, they are going to have a sense of humor, so if they can tell you a joke you're pretty safe. 

The joke this guide told me:

Why can't ducks ever be experts?
Because they're always dabbling!

(In case you don't get it -- non-diving ducks are called "dabblers")  

But I'm getting ahead of myself... So there I was one evening in the middle of a Pipe Ceremony, negotiating a deal with the Mosquito Nation in order to keep from being bit (which they mostly upheld) when I became aware of a presence. Whatever it was I knew it was reptilian. When I am in Non-Ordinary Reality, things tend to look similar to what the world looked like to Frodo when he put on the ring and became invisible (between the worlds) in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so it sometimes takes time for the shadows of figures to solidify into recognizable shapes. Even then they can morph back and forth between different forms. 

Then it raised its massive head and began breathing fire. "Mike?" I asked, referring to my dragon power animal, "Is that you?" But there was no immediate answer. Another dragon perhaps? You can never have too many dragon friends! But as the flames faded the form solidified into a giant albino alligator. Leave it to me to have something as unusual as a fire-breathing alligator as a spirit guide. As he stood there looking at me he began to glow from the inside. (...Make that a giant, albino, fire-breathing, glow-in-the-dark alligator). While we sat there staring at each other, the name "Ansel" floated through my thoughts. Really?! What is it with my power animals and alliteration?!

So I had a nice conversation with Ansel, asking what his message was for me, and how we were going to work together. Seemingly building on the insights I had earlier gained from my meetings with Sekmet about anger, Ansel was to help me learn when it's appropriate to 'breathe fire'.  And he was to help teach me how to dial it back to keep just enough flame burning inside to radiate the light, my inner light, to be a beacon. Again the message repeated through my spiritual history: I am meant to be seen.

With that, Ansel turned, very smoothly for his great size, and, with barely a splish, dove into a river I hadn't previously noticed but from which he had apparently emerged earlier. He sank quickly beneath the dark waters, his radiant white silhouette, propelled by his gracefully weaving tail, in stark contrast with the black currents as he descended, diminishing in size until swallowed by the darkness. It was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen.

It wasn't until I'd returned home and was doing a pipe ceremony down at the river that it occurred to me how appropriate Ansel's appearance was. Taking a long drag into my mouth, holding it for a second, then blowing it out, I suddenly realized I was literally breathing fire. Clever gator! The fire-breathing wasn't just about expressing anger, it was working with my pipe. He was here to help teach me how to work with my chanupa! 

Then another insight hit me that caused me to giggle out loud. Alligator is actually an exceptional mother. She doesn't just lay her eggs then disappear. She regularly tills the nest, turning the soil and stirring the eggs so that they get equal portions of warmth from the sun and coolness from the earth. Then when the babies hatch, she takes them in her mouth and carries them to the river where she teaches them to swim. Here I was, at the river, being taught how to swim, so to speak, by an alligator. 

It still amazes me how these things build on themselves, how something that seems relatively mundane at the time (at least as mundane as an albino, fire-breathing, glow-in-the-dark alligator can be) continues to unfold with deeper and more profound threads of meaning and connection. 

For instance - Even as I was writing this it occurred to me that Ansel is modeling the fact that I am the chanupa. I watch Ansel breathing fire and keeping his inner flame lit in the same way the breathing back and forth through the pipe keeps the embers in the bowl, the heart of the chanupa, alive, and just as it is my smoking the chanupa, breathing in and out, that helps keep the embers of my own heart lit, staying in alignment so I radiate more of my inner Divine light. 

I am finding that the more I work with my chanupa, the deeper I go (another river metaphor) and the more I'm walking in my own light, not afraid to step into the darkness and face it, or light it up. Like they say, "You can't be a beacon if your light don't shine."

So I now have a Spirit Ally ally-gator...  An animal spirit guide to help be my navi-gator... A power animal to help discover my deeper mysteries as my investi-gator...

Okay. I'm done. See you later...

...never mind...

Friday, July 5, 2019

Out of the Pan, Into the Fire

Not long after my last post, something interesting happened which could be viewed as an epilogue or sequel to that previous post. I was at my spot on the river, preparing to do another pipe ceremony on my way home from work. From my otter-hide chanupa bag I pulled my carefully wrapped altar cloth, which contained within it the bowl and stem of my pipe, each separately wrapped in their own fabric cloth. I unrolled the two segments of my chanupa and placed them gingerly in my lap so I could open up and spread out my altar cloth on the stone upon which I was sitting. I carefully unwrapped my stem, letting it roll out of the soft fabric into my hand, and then I unwrapped my bowl in a similar, but not quite as graceful manner. As I retrieved the bowl from the cloth I was surprised to find a small mound of tobacco, fresh and unburned, spilling from the smoke hole. This was particularly strange because between the ceremony with Sekhmet and this one I’d smoked my pipe at the weekly pipe circle at a local metaphysical store, after which we always clean our pipes and blow out any burnt or excess tobacco. “Okay. Something special is about to happen."

I completed the other preparations and began to smoke and pray. There was quite a breeze on the river so keeping the matches lit long enough to ignite the tobacco was challenging, but with a bit of patience and a lull in the wind I was able to persevere. I smoked out some prayers and blessings for myself as well as various friends who were experiencing a variety of challenges, then sat quietly to await whatever was going to happen.

I was curious after the ceremony with Sekhmet if she would show up because I wondered what she might have to say about how I was doing in following her suggestions. I reached out with my feelings and could sense that she was present in a general way, and somehow I knew she was smiling. Then a familiar energy I hadn't connected with in quite some time began to make itself known to my mind and I mentally exclaimed, "...Pan!" ..."Greetings Highlander!"

He has addressed me this way since the early to mid 90s when I first started working with him, and over the years I have still never figured out why he greets me this way. The reason I began connecting with the goat-footed, horned god was inspired by two particular sources. The first was The Findhorn Book about the magickal garden that thrived on a lifeless, sandy Scottish beach because of the cooperative efforts of Humans and Nature Spirits. One of the founders had encountered Pan in a chance meeting in Hyde Park in London as the King of the Nature Spirits, sitting amongst his subjects. The second was a series of books by Michael J. Roads where he began communicating with the spirits of Nature, eventually meeting Pan, whom he came to know as the very Spirit of Nature itself, who took him on all kinds of incredible journeys and experiences into Nature.

In the early 90s I had already begun communicating with spirits. I was having daily conversations with Jeshua after attending regular sessions where he was channeled, and I had started interacting with Nature Spirits as well. I was working in Burien, Washington at the time, and next to the county library there was a little wooded park where I spent every lunch break. I would sit in the trees for almost an hour every day during the week learning to talk to the spirits of the trees and wildlife. One of the most memorable exchanges came one day when I saw a pretty little mushroom along the side of the path and I exclaimed, “Hello little mushroom!” In reply I distinctly felt the little spirit put it’s hands on its hips and pout, “I’m a toadstool!” So I was primed for the next s
tep, and after reading the aforementioned sources it felt like Pan might be that step. I craved a deeper connection into the heart of Nature, but the promiscuous reputation and wildness of Pan gave me pause. Did I really want to expose myself to that kind of energy?

In many areas of my life I’ve had a history of shyness with feelings of inadequacy, making it difficult for me to find the courage to try new things. Apparently my spirituality is not one of those areas because, despite any misgivings or apprehensions of approaching this wild, wild god, I stepped forward and asked if he could teach me. I was pleasantly surprised to find any doubts were unfounded because he greeted me with a warm, welcoming, joy as if we were old friends reuniting after lifetimes apart. Though I don’t remember now whether he told me this or I realized it on my own, it did come to me that this actually may have been the case because I probably had connected with him in my Unicorn days.

So for a long time I spent my lunch breaks connecting with Pan, learning and absorbing many lessons. At one point Pan said he had a gift for me, and not a minute later a long, straight branch fell out of a nearby tree. It has become a staff that I greatly treasure. Then, as happens, life shifted and so did my time with Pan. He still showed up from time to time, such as in one particular shamanic journey when he placed a huge chunk of rose quartz into my heart, but our regular time together waned to almost nothing up to the present time.

And that is why it was such a happy surprise to hear those words floating through my mind that day by the river. "Greetings Highlander!" We talked for a little while, most of it like a dream that I can't recall, and as we were thus engaged, the breeze from the river kicked up again with a bit more flare than previously. This had the startling result of fanning the sage stick I had smoldering in the abalone shell in front of me into flames, which in turn ignited the discarded wooden matchsticks that lined the shell until I had a little blazing fire going at my knee. Overriding my first impulse to panic and dump the whole thing into the river to extinguish it, I took a deep breath. I was in ceremony, nothing happens in ceremony that isn't supposed to.

As I watched it burn, I turned to Pan for an explanation. He told me that this was the inner flame that Sekhmet had discussed with me which had manifested as smoldering anger and frustration, and it was demonstrating how now, instead of squelching the flame, I was opening up and letting it burn. In so doing I was allowing it to burn away the unhealthy things that were no longer part of me without turning it on myself.

When it had burned down to a smolder again I found myself feeling quite exhilarated, and as I took a deep breath I realized I was feeling "clean" inside. I'm not exactly sure how to describe that sensation other than that I could breathe easier and there wasn't anything blocking the flow of my breath. I felt open with nothing gumming up the works. I felt clean.

I thanked Pan for his help and, feeling complete, I finished the ceremony and headed home. Later as I was recounting what happened, I was struck by a question... Why was it Pan that showed up rather than Sekhmet since she's the one who started this process? I knew it had something to do with my wild, primal, untamed, innocent self, and perhaps Pan was a better representative for that part of me?

Pan confirmed this suspicion at a morning ceremony down at the river before my day job. "By burning off those layers of gunk that kept that wild, innocent self encapsulated and blocked from expressing itself,  you are not only connecting deeper with your own heart, but..." He grinned and opened his arms in a 'Ta-da' sort of way, "...the Heart of Nature as well. That is where you and I connect."

"...It comes time for us to work again..." I was surprised to find out this was not just a cameo appearance on his part, and in answer to my unasked question Pan continued, "Our first connection was lifetimes ago, and these intervening years have been a Hero's Quest of sorts, traveling out on your own to experience, and learn, and mature, coming full circle..." "...To meet you eye to eye." I say, finishing his sentence.

With a smile and a nod he replied, "Speaking of eyes, it's time you really see me. I saw the lovely drawing you made of me," Referring to the drawing at the beginning of this post, "But really look at me and draw what you see rather than copying someone else's concept of me..."

...So it's not exactly him, but this is closer to how I 'see' him. I present to you the great god Pan...

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Sekhmet Chances

It was such a beautiful day that I was concerned I might not be alone as I trundled down the steep path to my favorite spot on the river. I had recently discovered that I could no longer do Sacred Pipe ceremonies at home - my apartment complex, which apparently includes my balcony, is a smoke-free zone - so as a Pipe Carrier I needed to find other places to do ceremony. My first thought was the river. I was introduced to this particular, secluded site years ago by a friend, and it has since become one of my most magickal and favorite places in the world. A small number of people know about it, hence my apprehension, but as I cleared the trees I found myself quite gratefully alone beside the beloved river. From my mind I breathed a sigh of relief, even as my heart joked, “Duh! You were called to do ceremony here so of course you’re going to have solitude.”

For a second I thought about sitting on the beach next to the water, but then my favorite ‘sitting rock’ called to me and, without questioning it, I clambered atop and sat down. I breathed in the serenity and power of this place, exhaling a half dozen “thank yous,” then after laying out my ceremonial spread - My chanupa bowl and stem with the accompanying sage, tobacco, and matches resting on a blue patterned cloth I’d acquired during my Shamanic training - I set sacred space by thanking in turn the elements of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth, the Spirits of the Upper World, the Lower World, and the Compassionate Spirits of the Middle World - The Fae, the Spirits of the Land, and the Ancestors of the Land - for their presence, asking each to bless me with their Love and their Light. Relaxing into that glowing sphere, I pass my pipe, and everything that would touch it, through cleansing sage smoke, then taking the bowl in my left hand and the stem in my right, I close my eyes and breathe deeper into that liminal space. I raise the bowl and stem above my head, asking for permission to smoke in this place at this time, then join the bowl and stem together to form my pipe. I offer four pinches of tobacco to the four directions before tucking them into the bowl and then lighting up, I blow a smoke blessing to the directions as well, this time including Sky and Earth, ending by turning my pipe in a circle with a smoke blessing to All My Relations.

After a short round of intermittent puffing and sitting silently, I turn my attention to the main purpose of this ceremony. “Compassionate spirit of Sekhmet, will you come smoke with me?” For a moment I feel slightly embarrassed as I realize I’ve pretty much bogarted the entire space on the rock with nowhere left for her to sit opposite me. Then I hear her roaring laughter at my embarrassment as she towers over me, the river barely washing over her ankles. “I am a goddess unhindered by the limits of your time and space.” The next thing I know, she has shrunk down to a more or less human stature, and is sitting in midair in front of me, her lion tail casually splishing back and forth in the river below.

Sekhmet, for those unfamiliar, is the lioness-headed goddess of Ancient Egypt. She is one of the few solar goddesses you’ll find in global mythology. Born of the eye of Ra the sun god in a fit of vengeance, it is said that she created the barren Sahara with her breath and killed countless humans in her wake. Her unquenchable anger and blood lust could only be curbed by tricking her into drinking beer dyed red with pomegranate juice until she passed out. Upon awakening she found balance in the love of the god Ptah, becoming the Goddess of Appropriate Action. She is one of the most powerful deities in Ancient Egypt, her name actually deriving from the Egyptian word for “Power.”

For a very long time I have heard Sekhmet calling to me. At one point I even found myself spontaneously drawing a lioness’ face which developed into a portrait of her. Still, even though I felt a kindredship with her, I kept avoiding actually connecting with her. Turns out she wasn’t what I was really avoiding. Being raised both Catholic and Minnesotan, and by no fault of those who raised me, I already had two strikes against me as far as repressing my emotions. Between Commandments and the rules of polite society, there was nothing I did that didn’t come under the scrutiny of questioning or judgement, and for sheer survival I learned to hold myself in and not let too much of my true self show. That is the recipe for resentment and anger. Things improved in adult life with a wider acceptable range of self expression, especially as an artistic-type from whom a certain eccentricity is to be expected. But there was still those leftover emotions from my youth stuffed way, way down - Wasn’t there? I didn’t know because I was afraid to look. I was avoiding my own healing and my own power.

The thing about spiritual growth is that you can’t hide from those things forever. Sooner or later those stubborn little pockets of gook from childhood are going to be reflected in your present life situation - Not for punitive or patronizing purposes by the Universe, but simply as a natural process to heal those wounds and claim the wholeness that is your birthright. And that has been my current year. I have gone deeper than ever before, clearing out and healing all kinds of crap until I am left with those icky, sticky, gross emotional remnants that have been cooked and recooked onto the sides of the pan of my soul for countless eons which require scraping and digging-in to remove.

And now my life, though better and more authentic than ever before, is starting to reflect the earlier crusted and baked on gunk that taints the taste of my life. It is time to finally look it in the eye and start clearing. It’s time to heal. And I knew it was time when Sekhmet followed me home last weekend from a Fairy Festival. At once I was struck both by her power and beauty, standing proudly on the store shelf, as well as by the sinking of my stomach when I knew things were about to get real. I was not wrong. This week has seen an escalation of feelings of frustration and desperation as I deal with what seems like an endlessly shrinking box of expectations and obligations, binding me further and further from experiencing or expressing myself as more than a mindless worker drone. I have awakened with a stomachache every morning just from having to face stress of the day, and there have been times when I felt the anger and frustration rise to such an extent in my chest that I’ve been afraid I would literally explode.

And that is what prompted this ceremony at the river. I am not generally an angry person, and I realized I didn’t have the tools to deal with these seemingly foreign feelings. I knew Sekhmet had come more prominently into my life for a reason to help me with exactly that, so I faced whatever fears and doubts I still had about working with the lioness goddess with a propensity for destruction, and I invited her into my circle to seek her council.

I took a puff and, blowing the smoke toward Sehkmet’s heart, I offered her the stem of the pipe. Then I returned my chanupa to my lap and sat quietly in her presence. Sekhmet was not the tough, harsh, disapproving, disciplinarian I expected, but rather soft, gentle, and kind. The first thing she did sitting opposite me, looking deeply into my eyes with a smile wrinkling her broad nose, was place a huge paw on my heart, where it lingered for some time before she started to speak.

“You fear your anger and that gives it power. You fear that it will become bigger than you, but you forget it exists inside of you, that you are bigger than it because you are the space that holds it. You only need to expand to the point where it becomes but a single candle in the vast night rather than a huge bonfire threatening to consume everything around it. You already are the infinite expanse of the Universe”

“It is trying to shrink yourself into the boxes of the expectations of others, and of yourself, that fuels the fire. When those feelings arise it is but a signal that you are playing small.  It is a reminder of your inner light and it rises to burn away the smoke of illusion as the sun burns off the morning mist, dissolving the illusions and revealing the truth of who you are." The image of a tepee with it's open smoke hole seemed to randomly drift into my mind, but then she said, "Open your crown like a chimney and allow the flames to rise. Your anger is constructive.  Align with it and allow it to carry you higher. It is meant to fuel your rise, not burn you to the ground. It is by remaining closed and continuously turning it inward that you suffer.”

I asked how to implement that when I’m at work in the midst of the frustrations. Her reply didn’t surprise me. “You are a carrier of the pipe, yes? You do not need it physically with you to utilize it. It is part of you now, and the same way you blow out the smoke in ritual, blow out those falsehoods and lies during your day. It is your breath that holds the power, not the smoke."

She lingered a little longer as I practiced blowing out those feelings, finding the in breath to expand me like a balloon and the out breath to cleanse that new space. I thanked her as
she faded away, and blew a couple more smoke blessings skyward in gratitude before closing my circle.

It's funny how a lot of times I have these experiences in ceremony or while journeying, and I don't understand how profound they are until I write them down afterwards. The next morning, though, as I prepared to apply Sekhmet's advice I knew for sure that some sort of shift had taken place. While walking the short distance from my car to the warehouse of my day job, I stopped short and stared in awe as a bald eagle flew directly over my head, less than twenty feet above me. "...Okay!" I thought, "Let's do this thing!"

Monday, July 2, 2018

My One and Yoni

A few weeks ago I was just hanging out at 4 Sisters, the store where I do readings every other Saturday, when from halfway across the room, an egg-shaped stone caught my attention and would not let it go. I walked over and picked it up, looking into the depths of what looked like a view of space from the Hubble telescope complete with nebulas and star systems. I was enthralled because this has been my Year of Deepening; A year of rebirth and new beginnings, of expanding beyond my limitations into the unknown, to boldly go where no one has gone before. And here I was literally holding the Cosmic Egg -- the birth of the Universe was lying in the palm of my hand. 

This representation and meaning alone was enough for me to know beyond a doubt that I had to take it home, but I was also curious about what kind of stone it was.

"I won't tell you what it is until you pay for it," the owner said slyly. 
"Okay," I shrugged, handing over the money.
"It's a 'Yoni Egg.'" She said with a smirk.

Now, I know what a 'Yoni' is, but was unaware of what a 'Yoni Egg' was, so she explained that it was for women to insert into their yoni and to hold and carry it there as a way to strengthen the muscles in that area.

“You know I would have bought it anyway.”
“I know. I was teasing. You’re probably the only guy I know who would knowingly buy a yoni egg.” 

What made this extra significant to me is that I am recently and newly single, and one of the things I found myself saying was, “The only relationship for me to focus on right now is the one between me and the Universe; Me and Goddess." So here I was, not only holding the Universe in my hand, but the Yoni of the Cosmic Mother. I am a Son and Consort of the Goddess, and here She was showing up in a manner that acknowledged and validated my journey, as well as allowed me to literally embrace the Divine Feminine. There is nothing about this that is not sublime and divinely perfect.