I recently took an online shamanic journey course with Sandra Ingerman and one evening's journey stood out from the rest. One of the reasons is the incredible timing of it, having happened just the night before a soul retrieval that a friend did for me, that was nothing short of epic.
So this night's journey started out normally enough, if anything pertaining to journeying can ever be deemed 'normal.' Actually it was the 'new' normal, the origin point of my recent journeys having shifted from a beloved tree on the old Faerieworlds site to the High Falls on the Pigeon River in Northern Minnesota that I visited last summer.
This was specifically an Upper World journey. We had done a Lower World journey the previous week, which was easy enough, simply diving into the water below the falls and following a blue iridescent tunnel before surfacing in a pool, that was just in front of the cave from which I used to emerge when descending through my aforementioned tree friend. But how, I queried, was I going to ascend to the Upper World from a water fall? My answer was quick in coming as Salomon, my salmon guide, appeared swimming up the falls. I jumped on his back and he carried me to the top where a rainbow arced into the sky. With out missing a beat, Sal continued swimming up the rainbow.
I don't exactly remember the transition from my piscine friend's scaly back, but suddenly I was standing in the living room of my Upper World spirit teacher, Fred. I received a warm welcome and a hug, as usual, then Fred, with his ever present smile, asked how he could help me today.
Our intention for this journey was to ask our spirit teacher to show us a wound that needed healing that we were unconscious of. Relating this to Fred, he reached over, without a word, and opened a drawer in the cabinet beneath his fish tank. His hand disappeared into the drawer and withdrew holding what appeared to be a strip of leather. "Here's your throat back after it was ripped out."
"And with your voice returns your authority!" Fred said with an extra twinkle to his smile. "Perfect," I thought as tears welled in my eyes.
Recognizing my own authority has been a regular theme of late, and after being raised in an environment where it was not safe to speak one's truth, this was no small feat. So to be given this gift and recognition by Spirit was huge for me. And to receive it in the form sacred to my ancestors was simply sublime.
In case my prior description was not descriptive enough, a torc is a band of metal, usually with a decorative twist, that is worn around the back of the neck, open at the collar with each end terminating in a metallic ball, sometimes in the shape of a totem animal. This was a Celtic sign of authority, royalty, and chieftainship.
To honor this spontaneous healing I began immediately shopping around for a torc, excited at the prospect of having a physical component to what I received in spirit. I would have to be patient, though, as it would require some time to save money for such a hand-crafted item.
In the mean time, as I walked past my altar one day, I looked down and was struck by what I saw.
Stretched across the front of my altar was the choker I'd gotten at Faerieworlds this past year. I had previously been hesitant to buy anything similar, not having Native American heritage, but this particular one spoke to me. Plus, I'd met and given a Medicine Card reading to the man who had made them, who happened to be the base player for a friend who performs at Faerieworlds every year. That seemed to make it okay.
So I wore it proudly at Faerieworlds, but once I returned to the mundane world, had trouble finding occasions to wear it, and thus placed it on my altar until the time seemed appropriate. Now I was looking at it in a new light -- This strip of leather that covers my throat. My throat, the expression of my authority, was already sitting on my altar just waiting to be recognized and claimed.
I still plan on purchasing a torc to honor my journey, but for now I have my choker to wear when leading ceremonies or classes. And it is amazing, and strikes me as strange sometimes, the element of authority that has somehow, unbidden, slipped into my voice when I speak now, especially things that afterward cause me to say to myself, "Where did that come from? I didn't know I knew that!"