Monthly Archives: July 2014

Shamanic Awakening: Dismemberment Dreams

One of the most significant occurrences that begins and occurs throughout a Shamanic Awakening or Calling is the dismemberment dream. These dreams can be terrifying, especially for someone who has no idea what is going on. As discussed in prior blogs, a shaman is called onto the path by a near-death experience or severe childhood illness that gives them the ability to see beyond “ordinary” reality. Although the child has had the experience of the shamanic sickness or near-death state they may not be initiated or called until they are are much older.  So a child at the age of two may have a severe illness that gives them the ability to see, feel, and work “beyond” but may not be called or begin initiations to become a Shaman until their teenage or early adult years.

In modern society this call of becoming a Shaman may not be answered until much later as we lack the proper spiritual understandings, teachers and mentors, and often deny what we are being called to do in this world. We are taught that we must be accountants (for example, no slam to accountants) because we must make money, hold a regular job, have a family, etc. Answering the call of becoming a Shaman is a severe and life-changing path and many of us deny answering the call because we subconsciously know how difficult it will be. For these reasons in modern society it is not unusual for people to be years or even decades beyond their early adulthood and finally answering the call to become a Shaman.

One of the first initiations into becoming a Shaman is a dismemberment dream, or series of dismemberment and then rememberment dreams. At first these will likely come in dream form during sleep. Nightmares and dreams about being torn apart by wild animals, eaten by snakes, bugs, and other creatures, buried alive and disintegrating in dirt, dissolving into the elements, being chopped into bits by various implements… these are all dismemberment dreams that signify that a Shamanic Calling or Awakening is occurring.

It is of course possible for people to have nightmares and dreams of dismemberment without the calling, in which case a dream analyst is helpful because these dreams for “regular” folks signify deep themes of emotional turmoil, losing of self concept, trauma from early childhood resurfacing, and large changes in life that may be uncomfortable.

But for the Shaman who has a background of childhood illness or near-death, someone who develops an interest and calling to spiritual healing or interests, who has the ability in some small or large way to see, feel, touch, or work “beyond” normal reality and has an animalistic, primal and rather strange quality to them that makes them understand that they are different in some way than those around them, the dismemberment dream is the first initiation into becoming a Shaman.

In later stages the Shaman may have reoccurring dismemberment visions during waking life, meditation, and dream states during important changes in their life and initiation into higher and deeper levels of knowing. The dismemberment is important for the Shaman to be able to fully work in different layers of reality and with different energies and beings. It is an opening, an initiation in which the Shaman loses identification with the physical body and gains a more open cosmology- a deeper understanding that there is a vital force, a current of energy  that flows through the world, and that animals, people, plants, minerals, and all of the life on this planet has a voice. The dismemberment allows for the Shaman to begin to have the direct experience that the world is vitally alive and that there is more out there than self-created energies, illusions, and spirits. The ability to have the physical self dismembered in a seemingly violent fashion allows for us to get over our fears of death and see beyond the material world and the physical container.

After a dismemberment there comes a remembering- a re-identification with the physical body. This can happen quite quickly or can take months or even years. Some Shamans who have no idea what they are going through require going to spiritual healers that can help them re-identify with their physical bodies. When the physical body is remembered it is with the understandings gained through the dismemberment. Each dismemberment going forward is a marker of a new phase, a new initiation, new understandings, new healing abilities, and a furthering of going down the proverbial rabbit hole. Frequently dismemberments allow for the Shaman to gain new non-physical spiritual teachers and be initiated into greater power and capabilities.

If carried forward it is typical for the shaman who answers the call to find the appropriate teacher, mentor, or other materials to guide them on their next step. If not resisted and properly understood, the Shaman will find both physical and non-physical teachers who can guide them to become a full-fledged Shaman or to help them understand their experiences and provide the appropriate context for them.

However, many people have a great deal of fear about this process, do not understand what is going on, or are resisting becoming a Shaman. The dreams of being dismembered are understandably scary, even for those of us who know what they are and what they signify. Some people simply consider them nightmares and do not have familiarity with anything spiritual or shamanic and so will not investigate in spite of extraordinary happenings. Others know full well, consciously or subconsciously, what is going on and are resisting the path because they know what being a Shaman entails. Many people get stuck after a dismemberment, losing their sense of self and not becoming remembered and cannot find the proper resources to help them through the initiation.

Other people will have these dreams and know they are being called but are confused and lack the proper guidance to help them. Due to the popularity of shamanism and the advent of “core” shamanic principles that merge modern psychology and new-age culture with shamanism for people who aspire to be shamans without actually having a calling most of the guidance and materials out there are for aspirational shamans rather than those who have actually been called. Those who actually are being called face a lot of confusion because they are faced with resources and guidance intended for those who want to be shamans, and not for those who actually are shamans and are going through a spirit-led initiation process such as dismemberment dreams. There is little truthful or helpful resources for those who are actual Shamans because the vast majority of people are aspirational shamans, and actual direct experiences and spirit-led callings are difficult to discuss due to lack of cultural identification with the spiritual, personal feelings of craziness or uniqueness and separation that these experiences create, and the simple difficulty of putting deep, direct spiritual experiences into common-day language.

Whatever the reason, know that shamanic dismemberment dreams signify an important awakening, the start of a process. Generally the next step in the path is to find a teacher or guide. I always suggest both a physical, in-person teacher as well as learning how to work with non-physical guides and ancestors.

Awakening Kundalini: Fate and the Cosmos

It is a common understanding that Kundalini, the spiritual force that remains dormant in most of us, can be awakened through meditations and breathing practices, movement practices, and mind-body focused exploration and other spiritual practices. It is also a common understanding that states of “spiritual emergency” can be created if Kundalini is triggered too early in an individual. Spiritual emergency basically means that the spiritual process we may be undergoing is so massive that we are unable to integrate it or work through it in our daily lives. A wide variety of physical and mental imbalances are said to be from this “early” triggering of Kundalini.

These understandings- that Kundalini is something that we can control or awaken ourselves, and in fact can do it to great detriment to our own existence- I have found to be false. Let me explain. When I was nineteen I began experiencing spiritual awakening issues. This first began with shamanic dismemberment dreams. A shamanic calling is another type of awakening but not the focus of this post- so I will just say that these dreams are quite frightening. Before this time I had always been called “sensitive” or “artistic”, “ethereal” or “otherworldly” but I also lacked understanding or context for my psychic sensitivities. I had begun meditating at the age of sixteen. Like any teenager it was an interest that I picked up for a month or so and then promptly forgot about. I would then rediscover a book at a later date and launch into the practice again. Also like a teenager (or most adults) I wanted the most intense and powerful meditations possible. I wanted to be advanced yesterday, and feel and experience powerful things without doing much of the basic or intermediate work required.

I found out about the microcosmic orbit and began practicing it around age 22. The microcosmic and macrocosmic orbit along with taking several Reiki classes in a very short period of time quickly erupted my Kundalini, and by age 23 I was in full-blown spiritual emergency. You can read about signs and symptoms of Kundalini here.

For years I blamed myself for the suffering that I endured. I called myself stupid, I blamed the writer of the microcosmic orbit book, I blamed my Reiki teachers… I blamed all of the teachers, gurus, and others who I contacted for help with Kundalini and found that they knew nothing about it or could not help me. If only I had not done that meditation, if only I had not taken those Reiki courses in such a short period of time, if only…

Several years ago I went to an astrologer who did an in-depth chart reading for me. I had never had a reading like his before. My only understanding of my chart was from a basic computer generated one I had done previously. Without knowing anything about me this astrologer pointed out the fact that I had a strong spiritual awakening that began between the ages of 20-25. With the knowledge that came from this session as well as other understandings that formed in later years I began to see how all of the people who came to me with Kundalini awakenings and other spiritual awakenings were supposed to have them in the course of their lifetime.

So what does this mean?
We like to feel as if we are in control, as if we as mere humans going about our mundane days can control the spiritual forces of the cosmos. We can trigger Kundalini, we can become a shaman if we want to, we can be in control of all of our spiritual experiences. In fact, we are to blame if we cannot control the spiritual experiences that occur in our lives. This blame helps no one. Most people who truly have spiritual experiences go through long periods of time where they do not want them, or hate them, and have intense difficulties accepting them. Most people who have are interested in spiritual matters want these experiences or claim to have experienced Kundalini, want psychic abilities or to become a shaman… because they do not understand the ramifications and the real-life experiences of people who are having them. In a nutshell, it is the “grass is always greener” syndrome. Without the direct experience it is difficult to describe to someone the difference between feeling energetic currents in the body and Kundalini. They will not understand, will not believe you, and may even get angry if you tell them that there is a difference between what they are describing or feeling and what Kundalini symptoms or experiences are actually like. We simply live in a time where either way it stands- having spiritual experiences, callings, awakenings or wanting to have them- we desire to have control over our experiences.

But we do not. Every single person that I talk to that has undergone a spiritual awakening of some sort was meant to have one in this lifetime. They were not triggered, they were not because the person did something or did not. In my case it would have likely been better if I had not “triggered” my experiences at 22 and they happened at 25 instead (as my chart read). In many other cases people have had decades of preparation where they sensed subconsciously that something was going to happen so they began meditating and doing other spiritual preparations. Even for those people the awakening of Kundalini can be difficult. Others have had no preparation- no spiritual practice of any kind- and have even more difficult experiences such as cases of intense spiritual emergency requiring hospitalization. And for most people- Kundalini or other drastic spiritual awakenings are not meant to be a part of their lifetime so they simply will not happen.

It is difficult to understand and be okay with the fact that there is a flow of divinity, a sort of cosmic consciousness, a higher power, that creates the larger events of our lives. We have certain events, certain experiences in our lives that are simply meant to happen. As human beings we have little control over these larger events and experiences. Having a full Kundalini awakening can be one of the more intense spiritual events that someone can go through. It is a way to be quickly propelled forward into that flow, that understanding of the cosmos, or the arms of a higher power. Having the understanding that if you are going through a spiritual awakening that it was and is meant to happen and that there is little you can do to control it is one of the best pieces of advice I can give anyone. Surrendering makes things so much easier. 

Do not blame yourself– if you are having a spiritual experience like a Kundalini awakening, or a calling to be a shaman, or a near-death experience, or whatever the case may be- it is because of forces much larger than you and very likely predestined. So give yourself a bit of a break, empower yourself to understand what you are going through, and learn the appropriate tools to deal with and even thrive while navigating your world.

If you are not in the throes of a state of spiritual emergency, or not experiencing a Kundalini awakening or other spiritual experiences know that spiritual emergency or a Kundalini awakening or a spiritual calling of any sort is not something most people would want if they knew the ramifications of the path. The grass truly is greener. It is wonderful to enhance yourself, to gain spiritual understanding, to meditate, to heal… I wish for everyone that they become more whole and gain more spiritual understanding in the course of their lifetimes. But to the countless people who email me asking how they can “start” or “trigger” a Kundalini awakening, know that if it supposed to happen it will. Otherwise simply strive to be the most conscious person you can during the course of your lifetime.

You can check out Mary Mueller Shutan’s books, including The Spiritual Awakening Guide, through Amazon and other booksellers.