Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shamanism.

By Lisa F. Tardiff

I had a few people approach me lately with questions on Shamanism.  Many of these individuals are students doing research papers (nearing the end of the University Winter semester); but one was a young woman seeking out a spiritual path hopefully (her words not mine) unlike the religion she was born into.  Amongst these people I found at least six different perspectives on “why Shamanism is a topic of interest for young people today.” 

One obvious reason is that Shamanism offers access to hallucinogenic plants as a mean to reach higher awareness.  Even if drugs are illegals in Canada and the U.S – the fascination towards psychedelics has only grown in the last decade making it a trend as well as a popular spiritual and leisure activity. Phenomenon and altered states of consciousness are a close second because it delivers an experience completely different than our ordinary life, alleviating boredom and daily stress.

3.  We’ve been noticing that a good number of therapists come to us to learn about Shamanism in order to complement their healing practice.  More and more shamanic philosophies and shamanic approaches are becoming acceptable means of healing.  4. With Global warming, we increasingly need to turn our focus towards ecology and the survival of our natural environment it makes sense that countless of people are suddenly learning about Shamanism and how our ancestors survived through an intimate relationship with Mother Earth.  5.  There’s no doubt we live in a technological era; but we also live in a World that is obsessed with knowledge.  Fortunately or unfortunately, it was the works of historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, psychologists and scholars; which brought the oral traditions of shamanistic communities to mainstream society.  It was this knowledge; which revived these ancient ways into what we call Neo-Shamanism.  The sixth and final reason: We are people driven by consumerism.  We seek out variety in clothing, homes, cars and food; but we also look for gateways into the Kingdom of God through learning all we can on a variety of Religions and spiritual paths.  Shamanism was the beginning to our quest into the realms of the Gods / Goddesses.  Why not come full circle and re-explore what served our ancestors for tens of thousands of years? 

Possibly this could be the answer to many of our questions…

I remember when I got serious about Shamanism.  I was 19 years old.  I was a hypersensitive out of control and a natural, intuitive Dreamer in the throes of initiation: Unconscious and evidently, lacking discipline. I was petrified of the paranormal, which dominated my life; and I needed resources rather than social programs that literally disempowered me.  At the time, I was in University, and came across a woman who held Medicine Wheel circles in the basement of a Church in Montreal, Quebec.  MR openly shared her journey and it was through her story of learning, healing and personal growth that I opened up to my own personal reality.  Strangely enough it was the potential of mentorship that attracted me to her and to the path.  I was hungry for knowledge; but most of all I was seeking out alternative methods to heal and to learn. 

Honestly, I don’t think today’s youth is any different than the young people of yesterday.

Above and beyond the supernatural, the altered states of consciousness, and the adventures into the unknown I needed someone to commit to me and to my story.  I wanted someone to tell me that I wasn’t crazy and that they shared similar scenarios to my own.  I was looking for people who could put words or vocabulary to my experience and show me how to manage it all…   Without a shred of a doubt, I was seeking wisdom and maturity in a World people knew very little about.  I wanted access to the oral traditions and their guardians. 

It’s so easy to get lost in fantasy and illusionary expectations when it comes to Shamanism.  The tales alone concerning the Shaman and his / her experiences is bigger than life.  In oral tradition sacred knowledge is hidden within the journey of the hero.  The challenges, the issues and the lessons are mythical.  Making sense between what is fictional and what isn’t implies dedicating to the journey ourselves and living it.  For some this kind of time and energy is too much; and for others, it’s a call to grace…

A few years ago, I had a discussion about Curanderos (Mexican Sorcerer / Sorceress) with the mother of a friend.  She’s an elderly woman (80+ years old) who lived her whole life in a remote village many hours from Mexico.  Sipping tea at our kitchen table during a hot and muggy evening in July, in a suburb of Montreal -- it seemed almost surreal to be talking about witchcraft, sorcery and Catholicism.  This wasn’t one of Carlos Castaneda’s books, it was the home reality of an individual I call family.  I realized during this conversation that often the answers we search for are in our own back yard. 

EC (friend and Passamaquoddy teacher) would say: “All you need is right here (with two fingers over her chest) close to the heart.”

It takes dedicating to our story and our journey for the details to take form and bring to us exactly what we need.  It takes faith, patience and surrender as well.  KM (the daughter of the elderly lady I spoke of above) did not share her shamanic experience with her mother.  She didn’t tell her that for almost a decade while she was in Canada, she was actually being initiated as a Carandeiro.

KM assumed her mother who dedicated her whole life to her husband, to her 12 children, and to the Catholic Church would be disappointed because KM didn’t follow the same path.  This was a woman who volunteered her time even at the age of 80 years old, to the local orphanage.  She provided clothes and toys every Christmas to hundreds of children with no families.  KM dreaded telling the elderly woman and fervent Christian that she had been called to be a Carandeiro.  After a little shove (from me) – KM finally opened up to her mother.

“Share your story,” I told her, “because above and beyond all the hocus-pocus, Shamanism is about being true to our selves and our journey.  Respect yourself and the people you love by being real and being true.”

No sooner had KM uttered the words to her mother, the old woman started to laugh. 

“Oh my God!” the woman cried out in Spanish (of course), “it explains so much of what happened surrounding your birth.” 

And that’s how the legend was suddenly revealed. 

KM was mystified, I was curious, and the old woman became a storyteller:  The guardian of sacred knowledge about Spirit, magic and the unknown concealed within experience, memory and oral tradition.  Like I pointed out to KM on the aftermath of the incident, none of this incredible story would have surfaced if she wouldn’t have shared her journey.  Both KM and now agreed that Shamanism is a web of stories and experiences that trigger more stories and experiences all in the name of growth, learning and healing. 

“It all leads somewhere,” I told MR today.
“And we are getting close to the end of this story,” she added with an air of mystery.


Stay open to the legends around you and don’t be afraid of sharing.  The guardians are definitely ready to share!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Home Blessing.

By Jennifer Johnson.

A few years ago my grandmother died, you may remember Lisa when I was asking about how to clear the house I had purchased from her estate. It had had some TRULY dysfunctional renters and I wanted to protect it because I was renting it out again and could still feel her there. I ended up realizing that what was still in the house was my own, and my family`s attachment to my Gran and the fact that it was Gran's house. 

I laid down anchors outside as well as a stone inside the house to gather shadow left by bad renters, and smudged the entire house room by room. My fire keeper was strong and the air was thick with smoke. When I went around again with my drum I noticed the smoke swirling around in her bedroom. She passed away in the exact spot the smoke was swirling. 

I knew that that was her presence, so I just simply said that it was ok, that we were letting go, and that new people would call this place home and I wanted the right people to love and feel safe there.

While I was doing this, a moth flew into the house in broad daylight. It was a large moth and in the empty house it had a big presence. I left for a couple hours and came back to show the place to potential renters. When i came in the house, the moth was in the livingroom dead. 

I took it out of the house and put it in the flower bed underneath the stone from inside the house. The people that came to see ended up renting the house and they were WONDERFUL. They nurtured the flowers my Gran planted and really made the place a home. 

That was the first time I ever really had the idea that the SOUL of a person could leave behind just pieces. That it wasn't my Gran stuck in the house unable to move on....it was simply the piece of her that I was not willing to LET GO OF. 

I felt like the moth allowed the piece of her that was left behind to move on, as though it died to open a door to the space that could reunite the fragment.

It was profound, amazing, heartbreaking, and phenomenal.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

South Elements: Growth, Trust and Love.

By Kristen Duncan
For all living things, there is some aspect of growth inherent in their nature. Growth is human nature. From the moment of conception, through childhood and adolescence to adulthood, there is a natural growth that happens physically. Phases of life I also see as a type of growth. Fetus, child, adolescent, adult, elder……


For growth & transformation to happen, what is needed is some kind of alchemy, some kind of alchemical process. With respect to physical development for example, consider all the alchemy that has to happen within the body in order to make a human grow. Alchemy to me is FIRE. Elements come together, there is ignition and cartelization (fire), and something happens. Something moves, something grows. How much growth happens is also dependent on other factors, like the right combination of elements, or the right environment.


There are aspects of humans that grow naturally, like the physical I spoke of above. When it comes to personal growth, emotional growth, or growing into our potential, I believe the potential for growth is always there. But fire is still necessary to ignite some kind of change. Some people naturally have an internal “fire”. Others may need the fire to come from outside in order to initiate change and growth.


Trust and love are what keeps the growth moving. You have to love something enough to want to keep going. It could be love for the self, an idea, a person, a dream. Then there’s trust. Trust that all the work will take you somewhere. Trust in yourself and your potential. Trust in the greater meaning of it all. Trust in those that guide and walk with you. If you didn’t trust you would get somewhere, or trust in some higher aspect, you might give up or collapse in defeat.


You can have ignition, but without these other elements, nothing would happen. What would be the motivation to work? Trust and love are about something greater, something larger than yourself that keeps you moving and striving TOWARD something.


The world is full of stagnation, but I believe this is because so many people are just trying to survive, or on the opposite end are actually too comfortable and things are “good enough” for people just to stay as they are (I am thinking mostly of the Western world here). The odds are actually against growth. But those who have the desire, and who can find their fire and ignite it - still do. However I do notice in a lot of people, that sh*t has to hit the fan, or their backs have to be against the wall, before they actually act, move, and change. Again, back to fire. But the “ignition” will come in the form of illness, trauma, loss, a lightning bolt strike that brings people to their knees and forces them to tap into their deepest resources and the discipline necessary in order to grow. And even THEN people can still fall back into complacency, defeat and stagnation.

Is it human nature to love, or to war? I think it takes love to bring something into being, to grow, to exist. However, once in existence, depending on certain environmental factors the light or dark can be expressed. On this planet for example, if given the right resources, the right opportunities, would we gravitate toward something more loving, more whole? I know what many of us dream of and would want and yet something more sinister seems to be manifest.  

But it doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. Ever see a flower peek through the concrete and wonder where on earth it came from? I always smile and think wow, that flower really wanted to come into existence. That to me, is a combination of fire and love. It’s love that would bring that flower into being. Love as a primordial force, love as something that animates all things. And I believe we as humans have the same capacity, the same fire to grow through obstacles.

G told me once that it is love that drives his actions. And to let my love for E be the driving force in our work & our lives together (as opposed to anger, or self-interest). But this is not the illusory hallmark love we are programmed to believe, or the Webster definition which talks about  “attachment” or “an intense feeling of deep affection”. It is so much more than that, and something so difficult to define. It’s something that even in this moment I can feel but can’t articulate. It’s a feeling state grounded in my chest, a vibration almost, that cracks me open if I feel into it. It can be brought to the surface with certain pieces of music, in silence, in grief, in quiet appreciation of my partner, or when I sit by a tree and just listen. For me it’s something woven into the very fabric of our being.

When I look around now, I feel that revolution would be required to change things on this planet. An incredibly bold and significant act of warriorship, and fire. Fire grounded in LOVE, en masse. But honestly, looking through a larger lens, I don’t see enough love, enough warriors, or enough fire on this planet. People are either too comfortable, dead asleep, trying to survive, or trapped in a dark wheel of greed and power and control. Cut off from love. And those who do stand as warriors in love and truth, are generally arrested, attacked, shot down or put in jail. There are smaller revolutions happening, but will it be enough to turn things around?  

The potential for growth however, grounded in love and trust, is always present.

What will you choose? What will we as a species choose?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Phenomenon

Every time I bring up the topic of phenomenon, I’m always surprised with how many stories people actually have to share.  They seem countless. Twenty years ago it was taboo to speak of phenomenon unless it related to the Church and miracles.  People were quick to jump to the conclusion that you were mentally ill if you spoke of anything out of the ordinary. Today more and more people bring up the subject of ghosts, magic and mystery.  More and more individuals are ok with admitting that they experienced the unexplained. 

I’ve always been surrounded by “phenomena,” so much so that as a young adult I literally believed there was something wrong with me.  Until the age of 19 years old nobody outside my immediate family setting knew that I could communicate with Spirit.  The first time I told a friend, she literally recommended that I see a psychologist.   She even approached our common friends and told them “not to enable me.”   I was a young adult then and even though it hurt to be so quickly judged and  shun, it just gave me the incentive needed to walk away from the past and find the courage to learn more about me and the skills I possessed.

“Why was phenomenon more frequent for me than it was for others,” I wondered.

After a lifetime of living, exploring and studying phenomena I’ve come to understand that the only reason why certain occurrences are unexplained in life is because our culture or social values and beliefs do not focus or explore these experiences.  Today, I consider myself an expert in particular kinds of experiences; which most people call “phenomena.”  Where it may be unexplained and misunderstood for a great number of people; for me, it’s mundane and natural reality.

I honestly believe we are responsible for 70% of the phenomena we come across in our life story.  Our thoughts and emotions combined to vital energy can be incredibly powerful.  Add collective energy to the mix and anything can be possible. For those of us who have been to hockey games or rock shows it is not difficult to imagine how impacting a collective emotion can be.  For example, I have some friends who do a Cancer Walk every year (fundraiser for cancer research).  Both these women have family members who have passed away to the disease.  Every year the event brings them to experience beautiful phenomena like being hyper alert to the presence of deceased loved ones; bring deep and intense healing between family members; and help in self-discovery through the most bizarre synchronicities.

“We don’t get to see and hear the dead the way you do,” CM said to me last year, “yet every year, through this Walk we get a glimpse of that there is indeed an After Life.”

Both CM and PM have told me that they believe their heightened emotions based on their personal story along with a collective heightened emotional experience and focus is what allows so many people to live through phenomena for a whole day.  CM who is more interested in paranormal experiences has often said to me that there’s more of a correlation between the heart and phenomenon than phenomenon and the brain.  

With learning about the Medicine Wheel for the last 25+ years, I’ve come to understand that much of what we call “unexplained” is simply “mysterious.”  In fact, with the development of science many phenomenal incidents can be theoretically explained.  Personally, it’s not because we can explain a particular phenomenal experience that it makes it less phenomenal. 

Every day we witness phenomenal natural occurrences.  I remember the first time my two-year-old son witnessed an ice storm.  He was in complete awe.

“Look mommy,” he cried out, “ice cream trees everywhere.” 

To watch a tree grow oranges or bananas is quite extraordinary.  Scientists explain storms, volcanoes, earthquakes and tidal waves; but the explanation certainly doesn’t diminish the phenomenon.  From my point of view, a phenomenon should not be defined as “something that can not be explained.”  It’s more about an overwhelming feeling of surprise:  Awe or fear.  It’s really about the unexpected or the unknown; and this experience can vary from person to person.  Age, culture, religion seems to play a role in the actual experience of phenomena.

I’ve met too many people who fear phenomenon: People who continue to be afraid of monsters under their bed.  On many occasions I’ve met with individuals who were horrified by the idea that their house could be haunted; or their deceased loved one could be unresolved (a ghost); or that demons could exist!  One lady was horrified at the thought that her son who had passed away in a car accident had actually known of his demised a week or so before it occurred.  He had written about it in a personal journal with a hint of scepticism. 

It can be scary to suddenly find ourselves living an experience we were not prepared for and yet, life is filled with “phenomena” of all kind:  Natural and cosmological.  With technology these days we can all agree that even human phenomena can be extraordinary.

***
P.S. I've kept this entry quite broad and general because it would have been so easy to get lost in the vastness of it.   I often ask for suggestions when it comes to blog entries and this topic was given to me by MR (co-author of this blog).  She knows ME and my life story -- and thought it would be interesting (I guess) to discuss phenomena because it is 80% of my life (LOL).  I realize that for many people this subject matter can still be a mystery and also hugely fascinating.  I recommend that "you ask questions" in the comment section. Direct me towards areas of phenomenon that interests you and I'll be glad to write some more on this subject.
Woliwon (thank you)!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Towards the Stars.

G and I revisited Star Trek Enterprise this month. It is one of the Star Trek television series that is often overlooked.  Its initial premise was quite unique in so much that it brought us back to a time before Captain Kirk when humans started venturing into space.  Unfortunately, the show seemed to loose its way after a few seasons making the story more about war and galactic prejudice than exploration and adventure.  Instead of lasting seven years as predicted the program ended after four years.  Both G and I were disappointed because the characters were fantastic and the story at first had so much potential.  We wondered if perhaps the writers tried too meet to many expectations and left themselves open to too many social programs?  Still after watching every episode we were both left thinking about how it would feel if we finally met Star People? Would we welcome them into our World or be incredibly suspicious and close-minded?

Honestly, we would most probably treat them in the same manner we treat strangers as potential invaders. History shows that we’re constantly looking to conquer.  We would definitely assume that other life forms would want to do the same.  We even treat the trillion of microorganisms that live within us in the same manner we treat the living creatures around us with raw defensiveness. A good example is how we are aggressive with treatments against infectious bacteria and cancer; willing to kill countless innocent microscopic entities vital to our health for even a slim potential survival. Finally, we teach our kids to stay away from people they don’t know. 

It seems difficult for most of us to grasp the concept that life manifests in diversified and unique fractions; and that each fragment is as valuable as the other dangerous or not. Perhaps the fact that our human nature is both cruel / unfriendly, and compassionate / loving shows us the basic nature of all living creatures? Instinctually we know how crucial it is to be both careful and hopeful.

Through looking at our human history and how we’ve treated invaders in the last 8,000 years (at least) – we know for a fact that we wouldn’t be friendly. From a Christian point of view it doesn’t shine a bright light on our divine self; but from a Shamanic perspective it explains how we’ve developed intuition and a hyper-sense of the World around us.  By constantly having to look over our shoulders for bigger and more dangerous predators on our trail we managed to mature.  Our brain progressed with the help of trauma, loss, challenge, and practice.  It may even explain how we came to acquire consciousness.  It seems our dual nature made it possible for us to reach beyond the now and here; to whatever lies beyond.

After a week in the Hospital because of a kidney infection my doctor asked with genuine curiosity how I manage to always accurately diagnose the bugs, which repeatedly attack my system.  I have juvenile diabetes (since youth) and as a young adult lost my bladder to the disease.  In the earlier stages of the issue I used daily catheters; which caused countless infections.  A urinary stoma eventually solved some of the issue; but it didn’t eliminate the contaminations.  It’s been a little over 20 years of living with regular antibiotic (oral and intravenous) treatments.  I can’t say I’ve enjoyed the journey; but I’ve certainly learnt a lot from it.  Shamanism especially allowed me to uncover that like “me” (so to speak) every part of me including microorganisms have a unique life signature.  By being aware of these different fragments and relating to them I’ve come to know them very well.  When I’m sick I can now easily call the culprit by name.

The word “spirit” for me as expanded beyond the notion of “entity.” Like plants, humans or animals the microorganisms in our body are “spirited” – in so much that they have personality, path and purpose, as well as their own story.  The last two decades have given me countless opportunities to probe these creatures and know more about them.  With the help of dreams, synchronicities, and a bit of study I’ve come to recognize these bugs by impression, presence and through exploring how my body relates to them.  Our Shamanic ancestors were great at observation.  They were able to come up with as much information as we uncover today through scientific study just by “paying attention.” 

Of course “paying attention,” which implies mental activity goes beyond thinking…

There is no doubt in my mind that illness can be a great teacher.  Carl Jung for example defined illness as the Earth’s way to seek out balance.  I can sincerely confirm that illness has taught me how to cultivate healthy ways.  It’s not just about eating well and exercising.  How we lead our lives is often more important than what we eat for meals.  The emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of our daily living are as crucial as the physical steps we take to survive. 

I personally wouldn’t mind connecting to Star People.  It seems that in the last 40 years the World has shrank so much that many of us could figuratively hold it in our hands.  Recently, I read that miners from Ontario, Canada approached NASA in hope to get permission to be the first to mine the Moon.  It seems it’s a project already in the making. It just seems to me that while we worry about whether or not there are aliens out there waiting to invade our World, we are showing that we are no better than what we fear! 


We’re drawing a picture of what we are every day.  Don’t be surprise if the first thing the Star People do when they arrive is protect themselves against us!