Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Truth About Healing

There was a time in my life when I thought that as a healer all I needed to do was become good enough technically to heal people. If I just learned the right techniques, or the right combination of techniques, I would be able to help anyone that came across my path. After almost ten years of extensive study to the exclusion of most other things in my life I found this belief to be false.

Somewhere in the midst of having the belief that all I needed were the right techniques or hand skills and knowledge base to heal people I began believing that all I needed was personal and spiritual power to heal people. Over the course of fifteen years I have meditated, studied and worked my way through spirit and physical teachers who helped me find my power and to work with and through power much, much greater than my own.

About two years ago a funny thing happened. Although I am still happy to learn, to deepen my knowledge and continue my technical education, although I still have my daily practices and have attained a satisfying state of both personal and spiritual power, I now know that I do not have the capability to make people ready to heal. I do not have the ability to make people take personal responsibility for their healing. I do not have the ability to make people want to heal.

I have talked to many of my “elders”- my physical and spiritual teachers about this realization. They all agreed with me and many have stopped their practices because of it. The truth is that most people do not want to heal.

We are willing to heal at a surface level, a conscious level. If we have a cut, we put on a band-aid. Many of us take steps towards healing- consulting allopathic physicians, holistic providers, astrologers, spiritual healers in our quest to heal. Some of these people, some of my patients are truly beautiful and heroic in their readiness and ability to heal.

But most people are not. I have endless compassion for people. As people we get stuck. We get stuck in our stories, we get stuck in our wounds, we loop again and again through the same situations because we are not ready to let go. I get contacted by people who are stuck in really horrible situations- curses, ancestral issues, spiritual awakening issues, spiritual experiences, contact by spirits, demons, and beings, harm from other practitioners, healers, or schools- it is hard for these people to find someone to help them. I am personally interested and easily get invested in stories of difficult spiritual happenings. It is hard not to. Some people have been struggling for decades, if not lifetimes with issues.

As I mentioned, some of these people are ready and able to heal from the difficulties and horrible situations they find themselves in, the wounds that keep on repeating again and again, regain physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. But most do not. There is a resistance, an understanding that if they gave that part of themselves up, what would they have?

Many of the people who contact me with spiritual awakenings have been seekers for a long time. They become invested in the seeking- the looking for practitioners, gurus, books, and attending of endless workshops. Some people who experience spiritual awakenings are caught by a surprise, spontaneous process. However it occurs, many become invested in how unique they are- how nobody else is like them. They have a deep fear of their experiences and the forces they come into contact with because they get glimpses of a world in which they do not have to suffer, in which they have balance, and peace, and their seeking can come to an end. This understanding, this realization that they are not unique, that they could transcend their wounds and traumas, and that there can be an end to seeking, an end to suffering and the battles they have waged for so long, is too much for them to accept.

Likewise many people contact me with difficult spiritual experiences. I have a wide variety of people contact me for spiritual healing. I specialize in spirit work, meaning I work with depossession, clearing spirits from people and homes, psychopomp work (moving spirits on, basically), ancestral work, and work with elementals and non-humans. I also have a talent for helping people with curses, people who have had magick worked against them, and with removing the negative imprints or effects of other healers, organizations, and schools.

Many of these people are truly a delight to work with. They are incredibly thankful and sincere, and love the fact that I give them “homework” or directions for how they can clear their home, themselves, spiritual bathing instructions, herbal instructions, or meditations so they achieve incredible and powerful long-term results.

While I do not blame or find it helpful to suggest that a victim is at fault for anything (even the people who contact me after invoking a demon and getting more than they bargained for) it is true that many people get really invested in their stories. They have a certain odd joy at telling people how cursed they are, how horrible their lives are, how odd their experiences are, and how much they are suffering. I have a huge amount of compassion for people who are suffering because of or due to magickal or spiritual means or because another practitioner has screwed someone up. But again we come to the point of asking what would happen if they were to move past the curse? What would happen if their house or restaurant were not haunted? What would happen if they no longer had the effects from that weird school who linked them to a vampiric sort of energy or the practitioner who accidentally attached a spirit to them?

Many of the solutions, many of the ways we heal are really simple. Most curses can be solved through taking of herbs, spiritual bathing practices, and the work of a competent spiritual practitioner. Imprints can be removed somewhat easily, beings and possessing spirits are typically not that difficult to work with (this, admittedly, will vary though). Spiritual awakenings can be navigated, people with psychic abilities can learn the appropriate tools to work through them. Healing, even from difficult circumstances, is often quite simple. But it is difficult for us to accept that. We choose to believe that life is a struggle, that we need to keep on searching, that things are complex, that we cannot heal, that we are too unique or difficult to heal, that we have had too much trauma.

The truth is… that when someone takes personal responsibility for their healing, when they find an appropriate practitioner or teacher to guide them to heal, they can heal. It is a question of if someone is ready to and if they are ready to move on from their stories and the stuck place they are in or not. If they are ready to stop seeking and just be. If they are ready to stop creating the same loop of behaviors, of beliefs, of circumstances again and again. If someone is ready to move forward, they do… as far as they are willing to move. If they are not, they don’t. We can all take responsibility for moving forward, as far and as much as we are willing to go. Some of my patients are completely open and achieve more in a session than others do in a year. Both are wonderful, as long as they are moving forward. Both move forward by being ready to do so, taking personal responsibility and remaining open to change what is static or out of balance in their lives.

Whether you are ready to move forward an inch or a mile I am ready to work with you if we are the right fit to do so. I do both readings and consultations via email or phone/Skype. You can contact me here with interest. I truly love all people who are courageous enough to work towards healing. It is something to be commended, and is a rare (and dare I say unique) gift. Whether or not you work with me, know that you are benefiting yourself and the world by taking the personal responsibility to do so.

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 the process of becoming a Shaman. 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. If you are being called to be a Shaman spending time in nature, surrendering to your calling, and paying attention to the messages that you are being given to follow in terms of books to read, teachers to learn from, and experiences in nature you should have will lead you further down your path.

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.

Mary Shutan L.Ac, CST-D, CZB, ABT offers readings, services and programs for people undergoing Spiritual Awakening issues, including Kundalini awakenings, as well as for people dealing with psychic abilities. You may contact her to set up a consultation for an appointment.

Spiritual Misinformation and Willful Ignorance

Every day I log on Facebook, read the news media, listen to radio and watch television, check out the groups that I am part of online and respond to emails from patients. Each day I am presented with a steady onslaught of misinformation by people who, although well-meaning, are convinced that their views and understandings of the universe are correct. Each day I am also presented with glimmers of hope and people who are more knowledgeable about the subjects I am interested in than I am and mentors who willingly and lovingly share their knowledge so I may grow as a person and practitioner. Upon questioning, many of these practitioners are as tired about the state of misinformation and willful ignorance in the world as I am.

This is especially true not only in the spiritual community but all communities. Interviews with Sheryl Crow saying that she got cancer from water bottles, people espousing diets and herbs and all sorts of cures for everything from A to Z without anything more than high school biology class to back them up, whatever the latest Dr. Oz fueled fad is, people espousing beliefs from the Bible without actually ever having read the Bible… There is so much information out there that is made for and consumed by people who have little understanding and knowledge on the subject. We live in a Wikipedia age, where a very small amount of understanding about the subject suddenly makes someone into an expert. And not only an expert, but confident in their opinions as valid. This creates a culture of misinformation and very basic knowledge that is perpetuated and harmful to not only the “expert” but anyone who listens to them as well.

Beyond this is a state of willful ignorance. Frequently these two- spiritual misinformation and willful ignorance- are combined. This is especially an issue in the spiritual community. It can be exciting to be on a spiritual path. Some people on the spiritual path truly open themselves up- they get mentors, teachers, read hundreds of books, study, meditate, dance… doing whatever they need to do to truly understand not only the universe but themselves. Most people on the spiritual path have not done so- they have not studied, not had teachers to guide them, or are in a state of willful ignorance.

Willful ignorance is evident on a spiritual path when someone claims that they do not need to learn or that their knowledge at the moment is appropriate. A while ago a core shamanic practitioner who claims to work with possession and curses stated that she did not need to know about the varying states of possession, about demons, or about curses. Her “spirits” would guide her through them- she did not need to know anything about the subject to work with the subject. Energy workers in particular are known for believing that all the body needs is basic balancing. There is not even a need to know about different energetic states, anything about the human body, anatomy, physiology, emotions, or spiritual conditions to them. Other practitioners of spiritual healing, energy work, holistic healing, and massage have no issue prescribing herbs, giving out medical advice, and counseling patients without any sort of proper training. The general population on the spiritual path is filled both with curious beginners who find it difficult to ascertain what information is actually helpful and “advanced” practitioners who are in this state of willful ignorance… with the population who has extensively studied, practiced, and continually opens themselves up to greater understandings and practitioners who are ethical and only work within the parameters of their licensure and what they really and truly know.

While general energy work or practitioners who are willfully ignorant can be somewhat helpful in relaxing the body or mentally creating an environment of healing, if the practitioner does not know what they are affecting or what they are working with the results will be much different than a practitioner who does. Nobody wants to hear this, because it is so popular to become a Reiki practitioner after a weekend class, to be an massage therapist and not consider that your herbal advice can be harmful or even deadly, or be a spiritual practitioner with little understanding of the spiritual realms and accidentally attach an energy to someone. Doctors especially do not like to consider that if they have only had one day of herbal training or two weeks of anatomy training (which are both the standards at most medical schools) that they should refer to a certified herbalist, a physical therapist, or a massage therapist with extensive anatomy training.

But it is true. Every week I see Facebook conversations by people who give out advice from everything from cancer cures to Kundalini with little understanding or proper training, every week I get emails from people who go to spiritual practitioners and end up suicidal because the practitioner accidentally brought back an energy that wasn’t theirs. Every week I see massage therapists make recommendations about everything from herbs to surgical procedures. Every week I get hundreds of emails from people who have Kundalini and have been given advice by their friends, their online groups that has caused them further confusion and harm,  and gone to other clinicians who have tried to work with it without understanding what a Kundalini awakening is. I cannot describe the amount of sadness that this creates in me. I really hope one day for people to be able to honestly assess their own training and abilities and refer anyone that is beyond their capabilities. I have seen too many people at this point who have had their whole lives screwed up by a well-meaning but ignorant practitioner who is trying to work with something emotional, physical, or spiritual that they shouldn’t be. These people can search for years not only to help their original problem but also to ease the damage done by all of the practitioners they have gone through. Releasing imprints (basically other practitioners work) can be really complex work. I do it because I feel it is one of my callings, but there are times that I am honestly unable to undo the damage because it is too extensive. And most times the practitioner has little idea, or has little capability to be able to look at their own work honestly, or will even consider the fact that they were doing something outside of their scope of practice and knowledge.

Imagine this- you go to a Reiki practitioner for a session. She places her hands on you and does general healing. She has very little understanding about energy, energetic circuits in the body, or different type of energetic and spiritual forces in the body. She has very basic understanding of human anatomy, and almost zero understanding of the disease the patient is struggling with and how it presents. She herself struggles with depression and other significant emotional and physical health issues. Her Reiki session is okay- the person falls asleep and feels a bit more grounded.

Now imagine that same session with a Reiki practitioner who has studied and worked with energy, energy currents, meditation, and can differentiate the different spiritual forces in the body. She has worked with herself for years to be clear vessel for the patients she treats and dealt with much of her emotional and spiritual baggage. Although she does not have a degree she has studied anatomy enough to know where she is being called during a Reiki session and can name out the organ or area that she is working on. She knows what layer of the energy field she is working in, she knows what spiritual currents in the body are out of balance. She has a good understanding of a fair amount of diseases or at least is willing to look them up to understand what her patients are struggling with.

The above session is like night and day to the first. The knowledge base and skill set of the practitioner allows for her to be able to single out and identify exactly what process is going on in the patient- whether it be physical, emotional, spiritual, or all three. Not only that but she is able to sort out what is going on in the energy field and/or the physical body and focus her energy on that. This practitioner is willing to grow her knowledge base and if misinformed about anything willing to change and open. This openness and understanding then energetically allows for patients to reveal and work on a deep level.

It certainly is possible and common for practitioners and the general public to work on a very basic spiritual level (and physical, emotional, etc). We see it everywhere. It is possible (I suppose) to work even with things like curses when you don’t wish to talk about or think about anything “dark”. It is possible to have no idea what an autoimmune disease is and what happens to the physical body and give a decent Reiki session. But the specificity and knowledge base of the practitioner allows for work on a deeper and more transformative level. Without working and living at a deeper level we fall victim again and again to spiritual misinformation. Every time we think we are done learning we or don’t need to know about something we fall victim to willful ignorance. When we claim competence or mastery of something while only having a very basic or Wikipedia-type knowledge about it we are perpetuating this cycle. Every time we post a Facebook meme about cures for cancer or what spiritual awakening means we are perpetuating this cycle. Every time a practitioner does any of this they are perpetuating this cycle not only for themselves but possibly harming countless patients.