What is a Dreamwalker?
dreamwalker shapeshifter skinwalker shaman shapeshifter story
medicine wheel what is a mystic
For an example of dreamwalking through Yoga techniques go to six yogas
This page is about defining terms. Some of the terms included are: Shaman, Dreamwalker, Shape shifter, Shape Changer, and Skinwalker. These terms take us back to time that shaman were drawing pictures on rock walls to express sacredness, history, medicine teachings, and to establish territory. One example of the rock art is displayed at the right. This is located on the Navajo Reservation near a place of their emergence. This particular work is one I have traveled to and seen. It has corn plants (the essential food of life), water (rain), bow and arrows, concentric circles for the heavens and the earth, and just out of sight there are stars.
A dreamwalker is one who works with and within the dream to understand, to create, to heal, to meet with elderhearts, to journey this realm (out of body), to work with other worlds and realms, to teach, … to be one with the ultimate ONE.
Ways to enter the dreamtime are many. Shamanic journeying with drums can take one to the dreamworld. Lucid dreaming is a pathway for many individuals. Some people 'just do it' without any methodology. The many forms of meditation give pathways to the dreamworld. Channeling is a connection with dreamtime. Peyote ceremony is a path for Native Americans. Sweat lodges can be doorways to dream realms.
So, what is this thing called "dream realm"? In the most simple conceptual framework, it is any of many alternate realities. Realities are multiple in nature. There are other worlds similar to ours. I am aware of and work with about eight world places. There are realities I cannot begin to describe. I only know of them through personal experience. I could not have thought of them with my mind and cannot think of them now with my mind thoughts. One of those, I refer to as the geometry place - and it sounds as strange to my 'thinking' as it does to your thinking. But when I am there/it, it isn't strange at all. It is simply another reality. Of course there are also divine realms. Those are the most "blissful" to be with.
This term, like many of the terms I use, has multiple layers of meanings. When I came to the Navajo reservation I heard occasional references to skinwalkers. Tony Hiller man has a book out called the Skinwalker. My students talk about skinwalkers. Many people have tried to explain the term to me. I can't say that I totally understand, anymore than I understand the term angel. Some people would talk about half human / half-animal entities that would come around at night to "witch" someone. Often these stories would include something of the human or animal genitalia, frequently viewed as a threat. Other stories referred to "witches" - medicine people who had great power but used it against others to harm rather than help. These medicine persons could become part animal to travel to distant places to shoot bits of bone into someone - or to bury harmful "bundles" in or around the home of the victim. It is not necessary to be part animal or to travel to a distant location to "witch" someone but often it is done this way. Other medicine people could be - something like - a good skinwalker and use the spirit or body of an animal to protect, to heal, to cure, to teach, or in some way to benefit others. I have to say that references to "good skinwalkers" are rare.
Other perspectives on shapeshifters include merging with our spirit totem, animal spirit, or "non-human" spirit self in order to do some "work" that we cannot do in human form. Others of us put away the limits of our human self and step into our formless or shapeless selves. I think of this as more of a way to move into the most sacred aspects of "self" in order to release "ego" to divine will. Wow, am I getting hung up on words. Using words to share wordless experiences is difficult. The most straightforward way I can describe shapeshifting - for me - is to say, "shifting my shape - putting aside form (human limitations) - into sacred knowing". It can be through the teachings of animal spirits or any other image.
This part of this page is taken from a presentation/workshop I presented at the Internal Association of Metaphysicians in Denver, CO in 1986. It is part story and part definition of some of the terms I commonly use. These are terms I frequently forget that others may be unfamiliar with these terms.
A Shaman is one of many terms to describe those individuals who activate the wisdom that lies outside the mind. A Shaman brings the unconscious into conscious awareness. The Shaman as an individual is evident in various cultures all the over the world. Shamanism is a worldwide practice. Shaman are found in Africa, Asia, Australia, Siberia, Borneo, Malaya, Polynesia, Tibet, China, the Far East, North and South America in both the Indians and Eskimos. This is only a partial list to demonstrate the scope.
They may be called Shamans, Medicine Men, Medicine Women, Sages, Power Keepers, Masters, Lama, Rimposhe, or any of many other terms. The ecstatic experience of moving into and out of non-ordinary realities at will, the use healing skills, ancient memories, future knowledge, and expanded powers are all states of being that are experienced routinely by Shamans world over. These experiences and abilities define the term Shaman. Shamans may be male or female. Some tribes and cultures have only male Shamans. Others have only female Shamans. Still others have both male and female Shamans.
The Shaman may be a medical person, a healer, a religious leader, a priest or cleric. One may be a master over fire, a master of magical flight, a shape changer. Another may be a seer of the future, a prophet, a knower of wisdom of the ages. The Shaman may have any or all of these characteristics. They are spiritual teachers, elders of a tribe. They are traditionally the wise old ones, both men and women. A Shaman works with tremendous powers and vast experience, but does not seek power over others. The Shaman represents power over self, the conquest of fear and doubt. Recognizing that the worst has already happened many times over frees the Shaman to enter directly into life. One fully enters this life with mastery, and develops as master of the spirit realm as well as over non-ordinary states and realities. They undergo ceremonial self exploration to gain awareness and to expand skills and powers. They utilize their knowledge, power, and experience for the benefit of the tribe and others. Their powers work in combination with the natural and supernatural powers of the earth and the universe.
The Shaman recognizes earth ties we each have, the power and wisdom stored in the earth and it's elements. He uses this Earth Mother knowledge in shamanistic feats and ceremonies. He acknowledges the interdependence and interconnectedness of all things. In the shamanistic realm this information is fact not conjecture, reality not fantasy. The relationship to all sentient beings, plants, rocks, animals and spirits, is part of the cooperative efforts of life. Shape changing, taking on the physical and/or spiritual characteristics of an animal or other kind of being, is a frequent occurrence for Shamans. Calling on the powers of Father Sky, Earth Mother, Ancient ancestors, Spirit guides and others is a part of their prayers. They all are aspects of the Great Spirit, parent of all, the absolute source. The Shaman recognizes that everything is sacred ... all life and all death.
The Shaman is aware of memories from another time and place. This may be past, future or alternate realities memories. This is knowledge is from an unrecognized source, "I just know". Many peoples of the world understand this wisdom as the collective unconscious (Carl Jung's term), the storehouse of all that has ever been or will be. The shamanic journey aids in recalling these "other time" memories. On my personal quest for awareness, I have been on many journeys using varied paths and methods. Awareness of this wisdom may come in a stream of thought, a voice of higher mind, or a channeling of words from the source of wisdom. This knowledge may come in the form of internally heard words or in the form of visions. It may come from other realities.
Moving from this ordinary reality to other non-ordinary realities freely and comfortably is the most recognizable characteristic of shamanism. The Shaman of old as well as today's Shaman works with assurance, acceptance, and power in the reality of each moment. At the same time he is exerting influence of the events on the future. Through vision quest, dance, drumming, chanting, and journeying, the Shaman weaves from place to place and time to time. He shifts in and out of the here and now to actively seek alternate realities and the wisdom that can be gained there.
The title Shaman implies competence and ability, authenticity and knowledge of shamanic skills and powers through one's actions and deeds. The Shaman has overcome fear, including the fear of death. Traditionally, a part of Shamanic initiation has included the experience of self death. They each suffered the agonies of their own death, the pain of their rebirth or reconstruction. They have stretched their parameters and beliefs into new realms. They are no longer limited by ordinary boundaries set by the current culture and thought. The thoughts and actions of the ordinary individual are left behind in the old life. Through the initiation process, the Shaman has stepped up and beyond common existence into unique experience. He has brought that knowledge into his essence, his belief, and his behavior. Accepting the mystical calling of shamanism involves a separation from familiar life. There is often a loneliness due to the differences. Yet, there are new worlds to touch. There are new joys to behold.
In past times, Shamans were generally called to the position by a compelling force during a dream state or on a vision quest (dreamwalking). In some cultures the position was hereditary or was bestowed by an existing Shaman on an individual selected to be an apprentice. Today, the Shaman is frequently chosen, by that same force or in the same way. It is a mystical vocation. One is selected directly by the gods or by bloodline as determined by divine choice. In other cases someone chooses to become a Shaman rather than being chosen or selected. They request initiation. If they are judged sincere and willing, then the request is granted.
Most frequently, "Shamans are recognized as having expanded powers and knowledge. Those who are being served designate them as Shaman. It is a title given by other Shaman, by the powers of the Great Spirit and by one's peers. The important aspect is not the point of departure from the ordinary, which is the method of being chosen. It is willingness to answer the call. It is the journey into initiation. It is accepting the responsibility of service. It is incorporating the changes in one's life, living the teachings fully. It is enduring the training. It is dying to all the old and familiar to leap blindly and eagerly into the "void". In this present time and place, it is learning to live comfortable in a continuing state of "craziness".
Psychologist, psychiatrist, all mental health workers, artists, writers, poets, philosophers, scientists, are all a bit crazy, and also a bit shamanistic. They must be slightly psychotic or neurotic to see potential, and implement it. They go into these thinking, creative, helping, fields because they see, feel, and hear more than the average person and have the intelligence and the ability to use that extra something. They each were potential neurotics at one point. They entered their field because they see "the more" and because they question their own different-ness. A Shaman sees, hears, and feels "more". Each shaman passes through one or many neurotic episodes. He undergoes psycho-mental crisis. This experience is an initiation. Some pass through. Others become lost in neurosis or psychosis. The Shamanic path is long, lonely, arduous and sometimes dangerous.
One of my personal journeys to distant times and lives ... a memory, brings a painful recall. But it is more than a memory. When the memory first came into my conscious awareness it was part of my initiation. It was a reminder of how it is to live with shaman wisdom.
A time of woman wisdom, a time when all women had Shaman power, is in the forefront of my mind. I remember being part of this group of powerful women. We were the keepers of the power. This happened long ago, 8,000 and more years ago in this place called turtle island. We women were the keepers of the secrets. It was a time of great hairy beast and of being in touch with all existence. It was a power time. We women, with the cycles of our bodies, went to a special Woman's Place. We went to return our life blood, our sacredness to the earth. But, we also went to renew our knowledge of life and the earth. This was how we connected to the earth. We talked of our body rhythms and patterns and those of the earth; of how the cycles formed and reformed to recreate life and seasons.
We understood how life begins and ends as part of a process. We also knew how to talk to the earth - and how to listen; how to "be with" the earth. We understood that all things; people, animals, rocks, spirits, earth and sky; are connected with invisible threads of knowing. We knew how to reach out with our mind and touch one another. Dreamwalker, We could dream a person to us, call them and bring them to us. We knew how to bond our energies and use our combined understanding and power to tell our mother the earth what we needed and wanted. And because we understood and because we were a part of earth, she answered. Our power and the earth power were shared. We knew each other.
The men believed the women to be separate and apart during their monthly time. So, they left us to our time and our place and to our actions. We were separate, this was our special time. It was our time of coming together for sacredness, and for ritual and ceremony. To the men, it was as if the women had disappeared for a period of time. And we did disappear from their sight and from their thoughts. And they disappeared from ours. We left them to their tasks: hunting, and fighting, of proving their man-ness.
Because the young girls were in the care of women, the girls also went to the woman's place. That is how their training began. They learned of their bodies, of the ways of time and thought and of great secrets very early in life. They learned to "know" before they learned to speak. They could journey the Shamanistic journey before they could walk. When they began to talk, they already knew not to talk of secret 'woman' things. Because the woman's place was never mentioned, and in the minds of the men, did not exist, the wisdom did not extend to the men. Had the men dared to listen, they too would have known the great secrets. The men had their own ways of power. It came to them through the strength of their leaders, the medicine men and the warriors. When they were in conflict with each other, many died. Often the conflict was about having the most power. It was a time much as it is today, struggling for power over one another. Men used the strength of their bodies, their brawn, their cunning, the power earned in the tribe, and their position as men. The women knew with their spirit what the earth knew. They learned from the "life force of the Universe". They had the wisdom of time and of the earth. They used what they knew quietly and secretly, for the good of the tribe. However, their wisdom, could not counter the force of the men, or the patterns and cycles of life and death.
Because we listened, we women knew things before they happened. We knew when the seasons would change, when danger was near, when illness was coming. We knew the feel of death, the birth of children, the movement of the animals that fed and clothed us. We knew the time of the first snow and the coming of storms. Many times we could talk to the Mother Earth and She would help our people. Other times, the only way She could help was through the comfort that came with understanding. We knew then, as we do now that the valleys as well as the mountains are part of the earth patterns, and that death is part of life.
The day came when a young warrior, preparing for a long hunt, missed his love. She was in her moon time and had gone to the woman place with the other women. He thought of the taboo, and what might happen. Still, he wanted one last touch to remember on the hunt. His desires overcame the tribal laws. He came quietly and softly in the night, late, after the men had become quiet and begun to dream of successes with the hunt. The night sky was filled with the light of the full moon. It was a time for the moon to share her wisdom with the earth. The women listened eagerly to what the moon and the earth and their energies told them. The heartbeat of the earth and the pulse of the moon merged with the beat of their drums and the patterns of their chanting voices. They talked openly about all they had learned in their journeys of that night. What the young man heard as he hid just outside that special place was a song of the future, a song of the coming hunt, a song of the wounded and the dead. The women talked of the number and kind of the kills. They said prayers for those who would be wounded, calling them by name. They knew who would die on the hunt, and they knew of a girl child to be born while the men were away. They gave her a name honoring the brave hunters and the animal spirits from the hunt.
He crept softly back to camp and thought about what he had heard. Deep inside he knew it was all true. It was not until after the hunt, after what he had overheard had been proven, that the young man told the other men what he had heard. Some believed him, others didn't. He was berated for breaking the rules. Yet, all the hunters had begun to notice the strangeness of the animal's behavior and had felt the tremors of the earth. The mammoths seemed to feel the end nearby and had stood still waiting for death. The land pulsed with a different heartbeat. The air had a new and frightening feel to it. The mood had been set. Change had begun. All creation was on the edge of change. It was the newborn girl-child that finally convinced the men that the women were the cause of the unrest.
The men held council many days, going deep into the hills. The women believed they were recounting the deeds of the hunt, bragging to each other. The women were busy preparing the meat from the kills, and gave little thought to the actions of the men. No women were in the woman place and they all allowed their "wisdom selves" to forget. The contacts had broken. The end had begun. The new beginning was still far in the future.
I understood the woman wisdom. It was carried in the cells of my body, in my inner knowing. I lived part of my life with the women and the others of the tribe. However, I did not live the tribe's man/woman way of life. I took no mate and had no children. Often I roamed the lands, sufficient to myself. Even when I shared camp with the tribe, I was outside, apart from the tribe's way. I was a woman but more than the others. I was part of the tribe and also part of another, older way - an ancient way. I belonged to an older, ancient tribe with different powers and ways. Many times I was with the women in the Woman Place. I was accepted there because of the common bond of the woman-ness. While there in that special place, we talked without words and shared secrets with our mother the earth and with father sky.
When I was not with the tribe I was in my own land with "tiger". Tiger was me and I was Tiger. Shapeshifter. Our land was marked and the other meat eaters did not enter. As far as we could run from first sun to last sun was our own country. At the edge of our land, the mountain stopped. We could stand there on the edge, look down and far, and see the entire land of the people of the tribe. Often, as we stood there, I would reach out with my inner self and touch my friends, the woman. They heard and they answered. I watched the young girl-children run and play by the stream. I heard their joy. The earth shared their pleasure.
Tiger/me, we were our greatest pleasure. Before our existence here in this dream time and place, we were the same, one not two. We split into two halves before we came to live on the earth. We were each other before my half became a woman, and his half became a tiger. There were no words or thoughts to explain this to the tribe. There are fewer words today to create an understanding for those that hear these words. The women then saw with their inner knowing, but still could not fully comprehend. It was a way of being that was outside what their people were. The tribe had shapechangers that could take on the appearance and powers of another creature. Still, they were not part of that other creature. They were not one, not the same thing. They did not join together. They could be like a tiger or could be like a bird but could not be that creature. The tiger and I could be two or we could be one. Sometimes we ran as two, sometimes as one. We knew, saw, and felt with the other, even when great distances apart. What the tiger saw I saw, what I saw he saw. It was a good time for Tiger/me and for the tribe, the time before the men discovered the woman secrets. It was before the earth changed, before the animals all died. It was before the killing of the women. It was before the end came.
For many days after the hunt, the men watched and began to see what women did and knew. They saw that women exert influence and create change. They observed their power, taking special note of the old wise women who directed the younger women. They saw who held the knowledge, who the teachers were. The women weren't careful in their actions and deeds, they had become accustomed to the men not seeing. At the next moon time they were at their place, the men attacked. All but the youngest were condemned. Many were killed instantly. Others were condemned to death in more lingering, painful ways.
The bones of the hands and fingers were broken, then the women were turned out alone in the wilderness to die of starvation or animal attack. I was one whose hands were crushed, for I was with the women that day of unclean bloodshed. I was different, I was apart, more unknown than the other women. I was more feared, and deserved a more painful death ... but, I did not die. Tiger saw and felt my pain even as it was happening. He came to me and shared his strength. He fed and protected me. He shared my wisdom. We were and still are 'one'.
These events happened just before the time the earth changed. There were great and magnificent animals then. The huge mastodons and mammoths, roamed in herds on the land. The great cats, the saber tooth tigers lived in a nearby land. There were giant sloths and other creatures. They are all gone now. The land itself was in agony. All creation suffered. There was a great shudder from the earth and the earth turned upside down. Animals died, people changed. Thinking and knowing changed. Inner powers were forgotten. But we became more aware.
Now, back to … "what is a shaman"
Why did our mother, the earth, not intercede, why did she not stop the madness. She had taught us, she had loved us. She allowed us to hear her knowledge, to understand what we already knew. I think we knew even then that the cycle, the pattern was changing. Our hidden selves knew that it was a time for deaths and births, for the downside to become the upside. It was a time to learn new ways, new lessons. It was a leaving of time past, to enter time future.
Now is a time of the return of old memories, old wisdom. It is a time of the return of the Shaman, for we all have the power of the Shaman within us. We each have the old wisdom hidden inside and the new knowledge in our external awareness. We have the power of the present. We can see the path the earth and its people are on. Individual action affects the entire earth and we must begin to work as connected entities.
Memories are only one of many ways to experience initiation. A death experience in the Shamanic way is another. A severe illness in the physical body of this ordinary reality is one more. Though the Shaman is a healer, frequently he is in less than perfect health himself. This is sometimes the result of the initiation process the Shaman has endured to attain powers. There are always a series of initiation events. Sometimes they come in the form of sudden attacks, dream states and hallucinations. These may be mistaken for psychotic episodes by our mental health fields. For others, there may be an illness or progressive change in behaviors. An individual may become more meditative, seek more time in solitude, sleep or become absent minded, or begin to have prophetic dreams. These are the first signs of the transformation and may accompany a physical illness. Often, these stages catch us off guard and we are unsure in our reaction. The aspirant may actively seek other initiation processes. It may take place through night time sleep dreams, - Dreamwalker - through vision quest, through fasting, through the guiding influence of an experienced Shaman. It is always a dramatic experience, an ecstatic and didactic, totally out of the ordinary experience. The initiation is a teaching / learning time. It is an introduction to the Shamanic way.
Shamanic initiation involves learning through visions, voices, dreams, out of body experiences, illnesses and death / dismemberment experience. Reconstruction, renewal, or rebirth follows the death. It is a highly complex education in ways of wisdom that exists beyond usual learning techniques. This is not to say that much of the Shaman's learning does not take place in more traditional ways. The Shaman teacher shares personal wisdom of experience, through teaching or through direct transmission. But, it is the experience of ecstasy that creates the radical changes in the "chosen" person.
A death experience that I had, created just such a radical change in me. It began at a Shamanic meeting I attended. I had undergone significant changes and alterations in my own physical body, and my psyche over the previous several months. Many of these changes were difficult and painful (lupus flare). One of the purposes I had in attending this particular meeting was to rebuild and renew my emotional self through a drumming journey. The sound patterns of the drums were a familiar path to other realities and solutions. On my first journey of the night, I found my body confined on all sides by the feel and smell of earth. I was buried. It was confining but not uncomfortable. I just lay there aware but dead. I discussed the experience with the Shaman leader of the drumming. He said it reflected the psychic death I was feeling. The suggestion was to ask my power animals to assist with a death, destruction, and reconstruction of my body and spirit.
When the drums began again, I went down a tap root to a cavern deep within the earth. My hawk and tiger were nearby. We walked to a narrow cavity in the cave where they stopped. I continued a bit further and met a great gray wolf. Our eyes met in mutual agreement. He leaped and tore at my throat. I could feel blood and tissue being torn away. There were the sensations of death and dying but no fear. One last scream pierced the silence. Other power animals came to assist. They completely devoured my body while my spirit observed. Then they regurgitated and defecated my remains, which they mixed with the blood and earth on the cave floor. The mixture slowly became a recognizable form again. My physical body was being reconstructed. When it was ready, my spirit once again merged with it and was whole. The wholeness was real. I had undergone a cellular change. At the moment my spirit and body re-merged, I could once again hear the beat of the drums. I returned from the journey with a renewed mission and an enhanced sense of being part or the earth. The earth is my mother.
Today we can learn much from written information that was not available until recently. Still, Shamanic power must be gained through direct experience. Shamanic Journey. This power must be used and shared to be made real, to be realized. Descent to the lower-world to converse with ancestors and/or dead Shaman spirits, descent to the lower-world to seek the support of personal power animals and ascent to the upper-world for dialogue with great spirits are all initiatory experiences. They are also paths of healing power, of gaining additional wisdom, or self mastery and understanding. A primary purpose is to learn religious and shamanic secrets and practices. Shaman enter realms beyond imagination. They move into alternate realities, into other times, other spaces at will. They are equally comfortable in any reality. They project their energies outside of themselves (shape shifting). The spirit animal or power may enter the body of another person or another spirit. The Shaman weaves in and out of realities beyond the awareness of most individuals. The Shaman is assisted with endeavors by helping spirits; nature spirits, power animals, ancestor spirits or spirit guides. Frequently, these spirit guides take the initiate on learning journeys that comprise a part of the total initiation process. The Shaman is not possessed by the spirits, the Shaman is in charge. It is he who directs the power and influence of the spirits at the same time he allows the guiding influence.
Crystals are often a component of the shaman medicine pouch and are a part of the initiation process. They may be inserted into the bones or internal organs during the reconstruction process, or placed under the skin in a kind of psychic surgery procedure. In one of my sleep dreams, (dreamwalking) I had a section of my skull removed and replaced by a slice of crystal. This replacement section corresponded to the third eye area. Later research proved this phenomenon to be a common occurrence among Shaman initiates. Over the next few weeks I began to "see" much more clearly. Auras, physical illnesses, moods that were being experienced by others, were even more apparent to me. I began to absorb these feelings of others and confuse their state of being with my own. It took another learning period to allow myself to be aware of the emotional output of others and not to take it on emotionally myself. A crystal talisman helped me to screen myself from these outpourings. Crystals are facilitators. They can store, reflect, project and protect according to the users direction. Crystals are almost always contained in the Shaman's medicine bag and are used in various ways especially for healing.
Crystals were one of my first sources of knowledge of the expanded ways of knowing. Thy talked to me in my dreams (dreamwalking), and called to me when I was awake. They told me of history, and of power of the future. They talked to me of storing information and of the steady pulse and beat they have and how it operates in the world. Now I learn almost daily. On one of my most significant initiatory experiences, I found myself standing in front of a massive crystal wall, taller than the sky or so it seemed. It stretched far above my head, into the distance on either side. It was clear, but because of the thickness I could not see clearly through it. I could see only the distant impression of that crystal shimmering
brightly. Long I stood there, in front of that crystal wall. As I stood entranced with the beauty and with the power, I became aware of the musical flow of a trickle of water. The sound merged with the power of the crystal and became a voice ... not heard, but clearly echoing in my thoughts.
I was questioned long and thoroughly about my reasons for pursuing my Shamanic journey and the powers I sought. I replied that I was as much the pursued as the pursuer. I said that I was grasped as firmly as I grasped. The great cosmic chuckle tickled me with it's knowing giggle, as if remembering some secret bit of knowledge beyond my knowing. We continued to parry, question after question, long. It was a test of commitment. I felt a belonging, a comfortable-ness beyond description.
Gradually I became aware of an increasing brilliance. The all pervading light was consuming everything around me. The light was so intense I could now see only a few feet in any direction. That warm embracing light invited me inside the crystal. I eagerly accepted. As I entered and became part of the structure I felt the changes occur in both myself and in the stone. I felt myself altering for the 'Pass Through' I was undertaking "the moving through" to the inner place. It was a cellular change. I knew that my life was altered. I would never again be the same.
The inner music of the earth and the unseen colors filling not only the space around me, but my soul, my essence, my very being with a light and a love more pure and caring than it is possible to relate with mere words. The music grew lighter and sweeter, more filled with joy, with each moment of my expanding awareness. The light dimmed until I could once again discern the beauty of my surroundings. The walls that formed my protected place were giant pillars of gemstones of every kind and color. Beginning at my left were deep blue-green stately columns of tourmaline, alternating with the pink crystalline forms. Then came an even larger watermelon stone, green externally, with the clearly defined transparent inner rind, and the rosy pink interior. The inside was as visible as the exterior. I could sense all parts equally. I was "seeing" and at the same time I was part of it all. I was the stones and their experience as I saw them.
After that specific crystal group, were the topaz crystals; clear, blue, gold, and brown, all with the sound vibration that accentuated the color to a power level of enormous energy. I understood the science and power of sound that had been lost so long ago, the science that is just now being rediscovered. As I continued to follow the lighting of the stones. As each became illuminated for me I felt their alive-ness, I felt the life forces that equaled mine. No, I'm mistaken. Their life forces exceed mine in both power and time. It simply operates on a different frequency, one that is slightly outside my range of ordinary hearing and awareness. The pulse of their frequency, their heartbeat acted on my physical body just as the beating of the drums do now. My body began to merge and beat in time with their rhythms.
The same lower, slower frequency that frees them from the influences, from the influences which deteriorate our bodies and structures, allows them to continue for the duration of the earth, as receptacles of knowledge, as watch guards, as caretakers of the earth. Until recently their high frequency vibration was sufficient to neutralize the negative outpourings we humans create; just as the trees and plants convert our carbon dioxide to oxygen. We are overtaking their abilities, just as we are overtaking the cleansing, air purifying abilities of the plant world. We are again destroying our home.
This was not unseen, nor unplanned. It is just that it is time to make our contribution to the upkeep and care of our home, our planet. We WERE childlike, destroying in our innocence. Now, It is time to grow up. It is time to reach the developmental stage of growth in which we become responsible. We are no longer children of the earth. We are live-at home-adults, who must begin to do our share. All the time I was there my inner senses were treated to the show of color, of light, of power and of the crystal beauty. My inner knowing was receiving the truth of the individual, and the collective responsibility of humans and all entities that call this planet home. It is time to clean our room, kids. It is time to accept our responsibilities.
This knowledge... this information flowed into me from the stones. I was learning through direct connected-ness. After the topaz gemstones were apatite, citrine, garnets, rubies, emeralds and diamonds; all the gemstones were there. At the base of each of the gems were the less powerful but equally important stones. There were agates, malachite, jade, lapis, and common river pebbles, all lying there on the pure clean earth. There also were the elements of the sea; the coral, the pearls, the many colored sea shells. All the gems of the sea were there, no less significant. The ground had the smell of dampness, the fragrance of the earth after a gentle spring shower has cleansed and purified the air, the plants and the earth.
The stones stretched so far over head that I could not see the sky. It looked as if they eventually met someplace overhead, but I could feel the invisible threads that reach outward from me and contact the ALL. I felt those threads of connected-ness, the connections to all that exist, to all the segments of the universe, to the flow of life, the rhythm of existence, to the totality of the universe. I could feel the continuous nurturing I was receiving. Equally, I could feel these same threads of contact touching every part of the planet, and all it consist of. I became tree-like with branches and leaves stretching in the farthest reaches of the cosmic sky. My roots extended to every atom of the earth. My trunk was the creative wisdom of awareness that knows all. I was aware of being fed by the earth elements, by existence, with sustenance as important to the soul as food is to our physical bodies, as important as the air we breath. I could feel my connected-ness with everything. At the same time I could feel my separateness, my unique individuality. Once again I knew the individual self and the WHOLE, all at the same time. That is the gestalt. That is how the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts. The part contributes as a part; it also contributes equally and simultaneously, as the WHOLE. That is a westerners way of understanding ancient Indian wisdom.
The interrogation continued, more questions to assure my commitment, my dissolving into, releasing to, what it is that holds me. The assurance may have been more for myself than the elements. I cease to struggle. I yield, and I am filled beyond comprehension. I am complete. Forever without time, I am bathed in the beauty and love of the initiation. Time, space, and being no longer exists. I just am. At morning light of earth I returned to my body, my bed, and to my life. My live and its purpose has once again been altered, and at the same time renewed. And still I frequently do not know understand what my purpose is.
The Shaman may use sacred objects; the pipe, prayer fan, staff, gourd, rattles, drums, drugs, feathers, crystals, fetishes, herbs or any other elements that may be considered sacred. Many of these objects are carried in a medicine bag, a small personal bag containing special power items which may be worn on the body, around the neck or on a belt. A larger bag is used to store items like the pipe, fan, staff or other less portable items.
The Medicine Wheel is a blueprint, a Mandala, of the universe with all things moving inward in a spiraling toward the center and conversely and equally to the circumference. It is the circle in all it's symblolgy; the unending connection, the wheel o f life, the earth, the sun, the directions, the totality, woman, creation, love and containment. Points or places on the medicine wheel are marked with a rock, the directions of North, South, East, and West are marked first after the center. Choose t he rocks carefully, listen to inner knowing to select the representatives of the earth. The medicine wheel is a vision quest, a part of the journey we individuals make.
One important message of the Medicine Wheel is that you allow yourself to keep traveling, rather than tying yourself to one position and blocking your energies from growing and changing.
Begin by finding a special place and designate that spot as a power place, holy ground. This may be a very large area in a meadow or the top of a coffee table in a small apartment. The intention is the important part, not size or location. Then locate stones of an appropriate size and character. They may be special stones from special and distant places or they may be pebbles from a garden.
The seven stones are placed in an inner circle a few inches or one or two feet across. One of the seven is at the North point. Lay a path of three or more stones to the outside circle. then place the North rock at the north direction. Directly opposite the north stone of the inner circle and between two inner circle stones lies the direction of the South. Just outside the inner circle lay a path to the South point of the outer circle. Repeat for the East and West. Then complete the outer circle with four stones between each of the direction stones. If the Medicine Wheel will have many participants, more than four stones will be needed. Use as many as needed but, keep the number of stones in the outer circle in multiples of four. I like to include some symbol, or aspect of the power of each direction in the area of the direction rock. This gives us a visual reminder of it's power. Each Shaman and tribe has differences in defining the powers and characteristics of each of the directions.
The neat step it to smudge the Medicine Wheel. Smudging is a ritual act of purification, of cleansing. It is the burning of sage, sweet grass, cedar or other sacred plants as an offering and invocation. The Shaman first smudges himself by taking smoke in the hands or the cup of a prayer fan and pulling it to and around his body four consecutive times. The Shaman then smudges the center stone and inner circle by spreading the smoke sunwise, East to West, then South to North, then West to East, and then North to South. This invokes the powers of that rule the four directions. The next step is to send smoke to the sky, asking for the power of Grandfather sky and toward Mother Earth asking her blessings. Beginning at the West point of the outer circle, smudge each stone and the participant sitting at that place. After completing the circle the Shaman is once again at the West most point and sits facing the East.
A prayer of invocation that I use as part of the smudging ritual follows. Great Spirit of all that exists.
White water Dawn calls to you.
Reach out, take our hands - guide us on our path.
Put wisdom in our words, - strength in our body, and love in our heart.
Empower our spirit to good service.
Red Earth Mother, life energy, Father Blue Sky, freedom space.
North, South, East and West, surround me with your presence. Fill me with your power.
Oh, powerful North, give us the clarity of wisdom and insight. Share your color white and your element water that cleanses and renews us. Bear spirit animal, give us your power.
Oh, morning East, give us the responsibility of illumination. Share your color yellow with all it's fire like the fire of the sun. Tiger spirit animal, give us your stealth and confidence.
Oh, loving South, give us the humility of trust and openness. Share your color green, your element earth, your living plant spirit. Turtle power animal, give us your perseverance and patience.
Oh, evening West, Teach us to honor death, and learn it's lessons. Share your color black and the cool, black, night air. Hawk spirit animal, give us your ability to see clearly and without judgment.
Surround us with your presence. Fill us with your powers.
White Water Dawn calls to you. Ancestors, Grandfathers, Grandmothers, Copper Woman, Spirit Guides, Power Animals, Dream Givers. White Water Dawn, daughter of Copper Woman, calls to you. Open our eyes, sharpen our hearing, help us recall our ancient memories, Blend your wisdom, sent it on swift wings. It's time to unite, time to grow, time to share.
Help us remember all that we already know.
The journey begins. The paths of the journeys are varied. Though each of the directions has a row of stones leading to the center, each additional stone has an invisible row, that also leads to the center. As the Shaman and other participants meditate on the Medicine Wheel they find their path toward the center, the final objective. Some make the journey to the center each time, others may move only a short distance. Still others may stay still and explore the lessons of where they are in the present. The inner circle of stones may also be an opening, a Shipapo (Hopi and Tewa) to the lower-worlds or to the upper-worlds. It may be the exit from this reality to another reality. It is a place of ending and it is a place of beginnings.
The age we live in requires more healers, more wise teachers, more individuals with expanded abilities. as the need has increased, the possibility has equally increased. Shamanic skills are available to any who ask and are willing to accept.
The New Age brings a particularly forceful energy to us, bathing the globe in healing light. This modern Shaman finds that she/he has no role models, no cultural context in which to function as a healer or teacher. The New Age Shaman frequently finds that every aspect of their life must change. Old beliefs must be reexamined, truths must be evaluated. Psychological risks are greater than ever before. Just as fears are overcome, new ones appear. Relationships alter, lifestyles change, needs die or give birth to new needs, commitments musts be redefined. We find ourselves lost in unfamiliar waters. Again we are in the initiation, finding comfort and familiarity in the midst of the unfamiliar.
In the present day metaphysical realm this is more commonly known as: power of future vision or seeing beyond usual vision is clairvoyance, clairaudience is future hearing and clairsensing is the gift of knowing through all the senses as well as beyond senses.
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