Thursday, June 2, 2016

Renewal: A Path of 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 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)
  • 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!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Moon of Inter-Relations.

I recently promised I would write about the Moon of Inter-Relations; which happens to be the Moon we are experiencing right now until the Full Moon of March (2016). I specify the year / or date because according to a Moon calendar based on the Blue Moon cycle -- the Moon of Inter-relations doesn't always fall at the same time during the year.  The Moon of Inter-Relations is the 7th Moon, found in the South of the Medicine Wheel.  She is definitely influenced by the elements of growth, trust and love. 

It makes sense doesn’t it?  No inter-relationship can survive without these three elements.

When I was a child I loved dolls.  Each doll had a name and a story.  It was only after having children that I noticed they too adopted the same kind of behaviour.  They didn’t need anyone to teach them how to connect to the World around them; they related to their toys in the same way that I had once did.  I believe that children are born knowing about  “their fragments.”  They are somewhat aware that they’ve existed before and that they carry within themselves countless pieces of the past, present and future. I remember when CT (my son) was 7 years old.  He woke up one morning explaining to me that "he spent the night running after a part of himself who was always 24 hours faster than him."  

Such comments from our children do make us giggle but when they are common enough to occur all the time and with every child -- they are science. It’s our job as adults to confirm and validate our children's experiences even if it may be unlike anything we've experienced or seen before.  I also believe that our physical body is designed to archive, trigger, and give us access to these inner characters and their personal stories.  They hold keys to a bright or difficult future.  No doubt they are the roots to learning and healing.  The whole point perhaps is to bring resolution and closure to a cluster of legends.

All 7 year olds learn the same basic lessons; but they all come about these lessons differently.   When working with Moons I often ask my students to remember and share one story for each Moon.  These stories often reveal very unique and sometimes eccentric characters who have particular habits, struggles, and even abilities / skills.  It’s through remembering our inner children and their realities as well as how they dealt with them that we can best get to know ourselves.  I often suggest some distance when exploring fragments so that we can truly hear them speak and share from their perspective rather than our expectations and ideals. 

The idea of soul retrieval isn’t to control our personal story and rewrite it.  It’s to develop the ability to listen and to truly hear what different members of our inner community are sharing.  They have numerous functions for which the ultimate one is to bring us to wholeness and what we call “Oneness.”

It’s only once we can “inter-relate” that we can truly “relate” to the World around us.

At a recent Grandmother Lodge gathering, I explained to our Circle that the Moon of Territory was teaching us about how “we take space, have roots, and are fundamentally connected to the land we are born on…” I have several ladies in my group who are from France, Ireland and other Canadian Provinces outside of Quebec.  Each of these women has strong ties to what they call “home.” Do they still call their native land home because their parents still remain on the territory or is it because a part of themselves hears  “a call” from the land and its ancestry? 

( I leave it to these ladies to answer the question in the comment section of the blog. Some stories should always be shared first hand.)

Since all Moons are connected within a cycle and influence each other, you need to explore the Moon of Inter-Relation by considering the Moon of Territory.   Imagine yourself holding two skipping ropes with the help of a partner.   The rope, its movement and rhythm represent the Moon of Territory.   We as the actors of our Wheel are the “jumpers;” we incarnate a story for a lapse of time.  The people holding the ropes represent the Moon of Inter-Relation (a fragment):  They hold space (so to speak). 
In most instances we have no idea who is at the end of “our rope.” Every day, we create movement, and rhythm in our lives.  We are the creators or instigators of experiences and stories; which inevitably brings us to learning, healing, and growth.  As a traditional Dreamer I approach life as if it was a constant series of dreams.  I pay attention to the synchronicities (what some call “omens) and inherently interpret the details / hear the messages hidden in my every-day-story.  I’ve come to see “life” as Mystery and phenomenon. 

Today at the age of 50 years old there’s no doubt in my mind that what holds the other end of my rope loves me and works along with me.  God, Spirit, Creator, or Guidance – these are a few names I’ve given my partner on the other side of “my rope.”

Yet, there were days during the last 50 years where all I could see or say was: “I’m at the end of my rope.”  I didn’t always give one end of my rope to God, Spirit or Guidance.  There were times when “my rope fell in the hands of people” who didn’t have ME in their best interest. 

I’ve been teaching the Medicine Wheel and Indigenous Dreaming for close to 30 years.  We (G and I) mostly work with young people between the age of 19 and 30 years old.  Recently, we’ve noticed that we’ve actually gone through a few generations of young people in the last three decades.  The youth of 2016 has suddenly hit us with new challenges and surprised us with new and sometimes even foreign perspectives.  The World has changed and although “young people will always be young people” they are rapidly showing us that stories have shifted; stories have been resolved; and we are now looking at a completely new series of tales with new and improved characters!

One question will always remain because no matter how many times "life changes or evolves" -- the teachings remain the same:  “Who is holding the end of our rope?”

Did you trust and rely on one of your wounded fragments or did you depend on the wounded fragment of a parent, a sibling, a spouse, or friend?

When exploring the Moon of Inter-Relation you need to follow a few steps:

1  Do a bit of self-discovery.  Acknowledge your fragments and get to know them.
2  Give space to your fragments (territory).  Explore your origins and bring consciousness, learning, healing and growth to your story.
3   Trust the end of your rope to caregivers, teachers and guides who want your best interest.  Don’t let others or yourself disempower your Wheel.
4  And finally don’t be afraid of transformation.  Accept a new perspective of “death” – see your fragments as pieces of a bigger puzzle and find a way to accept that “returning to wholeness and oneness” doesn’t mean that you’ve lost your uniqueness and power!  (A topic for another blog…)

If you are struggling with relationships you may want to take a moment to look inside towards your inner community and its conflicts.  Call in what you need and you may be surprised by the results. 

A young man recently asked me: “Lisa do you pray?” 

“Yes, every day” I replied, “I learnt to pray as a child and never stopped.  It makes me feel safe, serene, and grounded.” 

What it also does is “give the end of my rope” to a higher presence.  It allows me to explore “the names and stories” of these divine entities who truly want the very best for me.  It gives me access to my “library of fragments” and helps me develop the skill to be conscious of the alleged “invisible.”

There’s a domino affect between the Moons and we can’t forget that despite the notion of “fragmentation” on our Wheel, there’s also a pull towards the collective.  This means that “inter-relation” may apply in dominance to the 7th Moon but it has been created through small dosages of “inter-relation” all through the first 7 moons.  Take a moment to remember “inter-relation” all through:

1  The Moon of Welcome (0 to 12 months)
2  The Moon of Affirmation (12 – 24 months)
3  The Moon of Drama (3 years old)
4  The Moon of Self-Value (4 years old)
5  The Moon of Omnipotence (5 years old)
6  The Moon of Territory (6 years old)

It’s important while working with the concept or philosophy of the Medicine Wheel that you acknowledge both the fragment and the collective; the individual and the communal; and the ME or personal with the idea of wholeness and oneness.  Each anchor on your Wheel must be set in order for you to feel safe, sound, and whole.

   East is about incarnation, self-discovery and exploration:  A beginning.
   South is about attitude, behaviour, skill / ability, work:  MEDICINE / power.
   West is about duality, death, letting go and preparing for transformation and renewal:  Endings, closure, integration and resolution.
   North is about path and purpose, destiny, acceptance, forgiveness, and wisdom.  Here we see our whole wheel: All makes sense.

Where there are 36+ fragments on every Wheel – there’s also 36+ fragments attempting to work together and create ONE WHEEL.   The Moon of Inter-Relation brings us the understanding and wisdom of such a concept.  Imagine it’s the 7 year old inside of us who opened up the possibility that “we are all and all is us.”  It’s not coincidental that some cultures call the 7th year: The AGE of WISDOM. 

Traditionally Medicine Wheels are built by kneeling in the South.  This way we can keep our eye on our wisdom in the North.  It’s wonderful to acknowledge that every stone / fragment / piece of my Wheel resembles the Cosmos and is sprinkled with stars.  Wisdom, inter-relation, growth, experience, and / or clarity --- all of the details on my Wheel hold a little bit of everything and each other within them….


Photos: I added a few photos taken from workshops we've given; but with years between them....  Perhaps, some of you will be able to add some insights on the lessons and experiences relating to "inter-relations?"

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My Inner Community (Fragments).

For those of us who believe in the Way of the Sacred Circle – we believe in the concept that “we hold a whole community within us.”  The notion of “beliefs” especially for contemporary Westerners often falls under the heading of “figurative or symbolic reasoning,” yet for traditional shamanic practitioners it’s an empirical reality.  In other words, for people like me the belief of an “inner community” takes tangible forms. 
Many years ago when Gérard and I started our study of the Wheel we were very impressed with how each “moon” explored very specific characteristics.  When we mention the word “moon” we assume “cycles”.  Every moon repeats itself every 13 years.  In other words you’ll revisit the Moon of Welcome or the Moon of Affirmation for example every 13 years: As a child, as an adolescent, as an adult and as an elder.  Through exploring the Moons and their unique traits G and I eventually named the moons to represent these features, and to help our student better explore their inner fragments. 
Moon fragments are called “inner children” in the World of Psychology.  Of course the Wheel helps us to bring growth, trust and love (the south elements of the Wheel) to these children so that they may develop into functional teenagers, adults and eventually elders.  When working through fragments on the Wheel with the help of Moons – it’s more then just “inner children”.  It’s also “inner teens, inner adults and inner elders.”  Even before you become an adult or an elder these “inner members of your community” exists.  You can refer to them for wisdom, resources and to so degree you can also have some “power” over how they develop. 
Through researching myths and legends Gérard and I noticed how the ancients were aware of natural and cosmological influences and personified them through stories.  The Gods and Goddesses for example were the “fragments” of the cosmos.  Mountains, Rivers, Rainbows and Northern Lights became Spirit with stories.  Even these fragments exist within our inner reality.  I’ve met a few people who hold the Medicine of Thunder and Lightning…
Humans have worshipped “superheroes” for millenniums.  The “superheroes” were neither good nor bad / heroes or villains.  They were simply “complicated or complex” with dualities; which influenced them to make countless choices, and take endless actions within the stories they starred in.  Like the Hebrew God of the Bible – his fragments ranged from “being angry and vengeful; to being fair and merciful; to being loving and protective; or even judgmental and unforgiving.” 
It’s not surprising that the same kind of characteristics can be explored in humans.  Some will argue that man invented God; and that like every author since antiquity we write fantasy stories inspired by our personal struggles.  Others will debate the topic and explore the possibility that “humanity mimics nature and the stars: The true inspiration behind the gods and goddesses.”  One way or the other a rainbow of characteristics or forms exists showing that each our Wheel (personal, collective, natural or cosmological) holds an array of fragments…
As I was growing up my parents often made the mistake of pegging my siblings and me under static, negative human characteristics. My brother was often called the “cluts”; my sister “the drama queen” and I was “cold blooded.”  My life certainly became easier when I stopped needing an “identity.” 
It was clear to me that I was a little bit of everything.  What makes me – ME – is how these different ingredients come together: The dosages of timidity, abruptness, kindness, or even snobbiness. I found it exciting and even inspiring to explore myself through “fragments”.  It gave me an opportunity to re-examine my life story and pinpoint the birth of these “characters.”  When did I suddenly find self-assurance; or get a touch of vanity?  I was able to explore the emergence of ME through my “fragments.” 
There are so many different creative ways to explore “fragments.”  For example as a child I loved dolls.  They represented parts of me and I valued them through this perspective.  On some days, I preferred the dolls that were athletic and adventurous; while other days, I brought out the homemaker and caregiver.  Through games I explored “duality” and searched for ways to be both independent and dependent; selfish and generous; loving and self-indulged … 
There had to be some way where I could bring all parts of me together and I didn’t need to feel divided, sad, angry or lost.
The 36 stones of the basic Medicine Wheel represent 36 different fragments of the self.  These fragments are scattered over an immense territory divided by the four directions.   They tell a story.  They explain every consistent and inconsistent detail within what we call: Our Story.  They represent “ME / US”. 
Fragments speak of us now (inner children, teenagers, adults and elders), yesterday (ancestral fragments / past lives) and even tomorrow… They can be totems (vegetable, animal, or mineral); and describes us within a communal setting; hence, within relations / relationships.  In the 21st century we can even relate to objects and suddenly, we’ve added another spiral of depth to our Wheel.  Fragments are all the different parts of us.  Through them we learn about self-discovery and we attempt the difficult task of “coming into wholeness or oneness.”  With the help for fragments we become more aware of how we represent the Universe at the finite and infinite dimension. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Happy 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….