Monthly Archives: May 2016

What is a Shaman?

So this is seemingly a simple question, and there are opinions and thoughts that many of you reading this have likely read from many disparate sources.

shamanic-1276759_1920As you can no doubt read in some of my other blogs, I call myself a spiritual worker. This is because I both get tired of being identified with the psychotherapeutic “shamanism” movement, as well as can see the side of varying spiritual groups and indigenous groups who are uproariously pissed about white people taking yet something else from them.

As a side note, reading over past blogs is interesting. I used to be much more upset about this matter. This was due to my own unhealed “stuff”, meaning that I had a lot of anger and fear over the fact that I didn’t have much of a choice other than to be a spiritual worker. The irony that so many people really, really want the label of “shaman” and at certain points in my life I would have done anything to not be on the path that I am on certainly doesn’t escape me. I do find that most people who are called in various spiritual fashions go through this– the anger, the fear, and the utter disbelief about what is happening to them. It is the “grass is always greener” syndrome I suppose.

But I will say in general that the new-age “shaman” is concerned with self-healing, with self-help, and with connecting to nature and to the earth. These are not necessarily bad things, although some of the sort of “fluffy” aspects (such as the illogical “no ego” thing, which doesn’t make any sense. Ego death is a stage. And not a very pretty one), or the “do no harm” sort of mentality (which shows me that the person doesn’t actually do anything beyond self-help/psychological shamanism because spiritual work is messy), or the “everything is inside of you” sort of mentality to be a bit tiring. I have had people email me suggesting that I work with spirits as aspects of self. These people are always the types that simply haven’t run into anything outside of themselves, and haven’t done spiritual work for anyone else other than themselves.

But mainly, I wish that there was a bit of differentiation these days between what I do for a living and what most people popularly know “shamanism” or being a “shaman” (or in my preferred lingo, spiritual worker) to be.

Shamanism is based in animism. Not all animists are shamans, though. Animism in simplicity means that everything around you is alive, everything has spirit, and everything basically can be chatted with in some way.

Animism is wonderful– it can help you to feel more connected, more a part of the world. It can help you to realize that we all need to be caretakers of the earth. It is an important job that every single human should be doing. Our destruction of the earth is due to our feeling separate from it. When we realize the earth is vitally alive, when we accept its nurturing, we feel more alive. We feel more whole.

But shamans work with this animistic universe in a specific way. It is not about them communing with nature, or with natural forces, or with various beings and energies. My favorite term for being a shaman is “spirit lawyer”, because that is essentially what the work is about. It is about having not only the capacity to commune with nature, or learning to come into contact with beings, but being able to do so with such depth that you can be a “lawyer” to the varying forces, beings, energies, and so forth that may be in discord with one another.

As a shaman, you “spirit lawyer” between humans and other energies, between beings and other energies, and so forth. You counsel, create agreements and contracts, and break previous contracts that were causing harm or difficulty. You also smooth out relationships between energies of all sorts and help them to get along, or at least grudgingly accept one another.

Being a spiritual worker is a trade profession. I realize that that doesn’t sound terribly sexy. It is true, however. Being a spiritual worker is not a self-help path. It means that you have had a specific calling by the spirits, that you have done extensive training with physical and spirit teachers, and you now are of service to your community. It is a job, basically.

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Being a spiritual worker is a calling. I do realize that this verges on the sort of mystical new-ageings that people love after watching The Matrix too many times and who really, really want to believe that they are “the one”, but there are certain people that are intended to be spiritual workers for their community. Since a young age they have known this. There isn’t a question here, and this isn’t a sort of philosophical musing.

The shaman is part-wild, in touch with nature and spirits in a way that others are not, and have communicated with these forces regularly since being quite young.

There is a certain energy that is palpable, and incredibly noticeable for people who are called to this work, who are capable of doing this work. Those called to be shamans will be inundated with spirits, overwhelmed by spirits until they learn how to properly work with them.

The difference here is that people who are called typically are called in a sort of kicking and screaming fashion. This is not always the case, of course… although it is the case with pretty much every actual Shaman I have worked with or met. The idea that you do not have a choice in the matter, the strange experiences, the sickness, and the intensive training and initiations that a called Shaman has to endure are not pretty. They are difficult. They are life-changing. They are not something that can be relegated to a weekend or whenever the person decides to go in for training.

This type of calling typically manifests in late adolescence, when it is supposed to be a time in modern culture that people are supposed to be really quite selfish (this is in order for the adolescent to hopefully move through this and move into adulthood, but that initiation doesn’t happen as often as it should either). It is typical that for this trade, to become a Shaman, that the person being called will have to be singularly focused on training with physical and non-physical teachers for a number of years. These are years of painful growth which teach the Shaman the tools and allow the Shaman to cultivate spiritual relationships and hold the amount of power that is required to become competent at this type of work for the community.

Being a Shaman/Spiritual Worker is about spiritual relationships. It takes an immense amount of time to cultivate spiritual relationships. If you are not a spiritual worker, chances are that most, if not all, of your spiritual relationships are self-created. They are psychological, or disassociated aspects of you. Spiritual relationships with true “helping spirits” are external to you. They have power. They can function on their own. They have ideas, thoughts, and understandings that are way beyond what you can think up. And when we talk about the “power” aspect it is true– they are palpable presences, palpable by you, and palpable by those who have the capacity to see or sense them.

Cultivating these relationships takes time. A spirit or energy that has a lot of power is not going to say “here, sure, have my power. I would love to work with you”. If this happens, it is typically self-created. Beings, spirits, and energies of all sorts who have a lot of wisdom and power will require you to prove your worth to them, or at the very least will initiate you. Being calibrated to a specific energy, especially if it is much different than human frequency, can be an interesting process. A process that takes time. Otherwise you may not be able to appropriately communicate, or will be “blasted out” by the energy. But my point here is that much like any relationship in your life, spiritual relationships take time. They take trust to build.

Modern shamanism is about the techniques, about the “shaman” doing something, about neatly separated techniques and visualizations. What really happens when someone is called and has been properly trained as a Shaman is that the spirits do the work. They either do the work through possession of the Shaman (a word that is misunderstood), or do work externally.

Much of my work is talking my clients through the mental and emotional aspects of whatever they are going through, as well as relating whatever is going on. My spirits do the work. This is safer, more effective, and quite frankly a lot easier on me than me doing a bunch of techniques.

If you develop spirit relationships, they watch out for you. They do work for you (and through you). And they caution you about people and situations you should watch out for. Once you get to this level, there are little other protections that you need (unless you are being initiated or need to learn something). It is often the case that protecting spirits, depending on their fierceness, will do work separate from you (such as blocking, shielding, or even in some cases attacking or sending energy back to someone) and will later tell you about what happened.

This is obviously quite different than the modern construct of “shamanism”. Power needs to be built over time. It takes a lot of effort and training to know how to wield correctly. It takes a huge amount of time to grow. This is why the training for being a shaman is so long. This is also why the shaman needs physical as well as spiritual teachers and guides to do so. This is also why the shaman cannot do anything else with their lives– basically every other effort in their lives will not go well until they answer the call to do spiritual work. It take a long time to have enough direct experience to be good at shamanic work and to know how to do it effectively. Most shamans, no matter how experienced, will acknowledge how much they have yet to learn.

Shamanism is also about interfacing with other realities, other worlds and planes. Again, this is not for exploring for the sake of exploring or for self-help purposes. It is to help navigate these various realities for clients (be they living human, spirit, or other). The shaman has the capacity for seeing, for traveling, and has enough experience to know where they are so they can assist others in these varying realities.

Shamanism is ultimately about balance. It is not all “light”, or about transmuting everything to the brightest shade of puritanical white that can be found. It is about being of service– to black, white, and everything in between.

Spirits are complex, spiritual work is complex…and I know when someone is doing actual spiritual work when they understand this. I know from my interactions with spirits and beings that the biggest and brightest angel may also be fierce and violent, and a chthonic demonic presence may be brilliantly straight-forward and willing to hammer out a contract.

We as living humans are complex, and the spirit world has that same complexity. Working only in the “light” doesn’t work. If there is anything I have learned from my spirits, from my ancestors, is that the force of destruction or “dark” can be used to destroy sickness (for example). One for one ratios and puritanical Judeo-Christian fear-based constructs about only working “in the light” do not work if you are doing actual spiritual work.

Another aside, but even if you are doing psychological self-help style shamanism, working only in the “light” or trying to transmute everything into light has an ending point. The deep, dark, primal shadow aspects of us do not want to be light. They want to be as they were intended– primal, sexual, wild, violent. If we cannot contend with this, or work with this, or think everything in us needs to be “love and light” we are missing out on some vital work that can be done.

Shamanism is complex, it is wild, dark, light, grey, peaceful, violent, interesting… it is a path of service. There are people called to it– people whose jobs are intended to be to interface with varying spiritual realities, to work with relations and contracts between living humans and varying spirits and beings, to see into and beyond and within. We need people who are truly called to be mediators, balancers, and spiritual workers for their communities.

I will say, as an end note, that I do not have difficulty with self-help style shamanism. I think that people should connect to the earth, cultivate a relationship with it. I am all for people healing in whatever way they are capable of doing so. I will also say that many “shamanic practitioners” or people who learn techniques through me and others are being of service. You can be of service spiritually without being a called shaman. There are many painters, teachers, woodworkers, artists, creators, innovators, dancers, philosophers, writers, architects, plumbers (you get my point) that are being of their highest spiritual good in their profession. You can be called spiritually and not be a shaman.

I just wish that it was called something else, I wish that people who claim to be shamans or following a shamanic path would pick up a book by Holger Kalweit and put down the new age psychology-based books that assure everyone that they can “be their own shaman”… or at least meet someone that has been called and is functioning as a shaman for a while so they can see that pretty much no shaman is going to be a sort of “vegan love and light, egoless, etc” sort of person (most shamans I have met are actually quite blunt, practical, and incisive about their words and actions, and enjoy junk food just like the rest of us) but that isn’t my battle, and I don’t have a lot of emotion about it anymore.

I also think that people doing self-help style shamanism, such as “shamanic practitioners” have a purpose. Not everyone needs a shaman. Some people need someone to listen to them, to do lighter spiritual work, energy work, life coaching or psychotherapeutic-oriented work. Working on mental constructs and emotions is always a wonderful path for pretty much everyone. Generally people find what they are looking for, and I have realized that when people want to find something different, or of depth, they will find it if and when they are ready for it.

Personal Responsibility, Victimhood, and Spiritual Experiences

It is hard for us to take personal responsibility for what we are experiencing. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual experiences, or if we consider ourselves to be on a spiritual path.

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You would think that the opposite would be true– that people who would consider themselves to be “spiritual” or who are having spiritual experiences, such as kundalini awakenings, spiritual awakenings, memories of past lives, and people who are psychic, sensitive, empathic, and so forth would take more responsibility for themselves. And for a certain (wonderful) segment of people on the spiritual path, this is very much true. The spiritual path for these sorts is a constant appraisal of their own internal experiences… their own internal work that must be done. And everything else is a mirror, or reflection of that.

But the tendency of spiritual experiences (or emotional experiences, energetic experiences, or physical) when we are on a spiritual path is to either deny them, or deny responsibility for them. It is a convenient form of spiritual bypass– in which we conveniently hang on to the concept of being “spiritual” or having a “spiritual experience” to not look inward, to not accept personal responsibility.

Never is this true more than for the victim. When I speak about being a “victim” it is not as a one-time thing. We all have been victimized, some of us in horrific, life-changing ways. But some take on victimhood as a permanent role (for more on this you can read about the victim triangle). When someone takes on “victim” as a permanent role, the world is filled with people who are just waiting to persecute and victimize them. They are frozen, typically at the age that they experienced a difficult trauma, and are unable to accept any sort of personal responsibility for their thoughts, actions, or the illusions that they create about the world.

In the life of the permanent victim, other people are either enabling them (enabling their illusions about the world and everyone in it persecuting them, thus allowing them to maintain their victimhood state) or other people take on the role of persecutor (someone who typically has healthy boundaries, believes that the person could be something other than “victim” in their lives, or who refuses to enable them or act in the role the eternal victim has cast them in).

The permanent victim is always crying out for attention, to be healed. They will create continuous chaos and drama, casting villains of anyone who suggests that they could move forward in their lives, that they could accept personal responsibility for themselves in some small or large way.

But until someone is willing to look within, to realize that the world and the people in it are not out to persecute them, that the outer world is not filled with “bad guys”; until someone is willing (or able to, as some people are not ready or mentally capable of doing so… or it is simply not the right time to do so) to begin to accept responsibility and heal from their own trauma, to confront their own illusions in some small (or less small) way, the world will continue to be filled with people just out to victimize the eternal victim… or to enable them (which doesn’t get them what they want anyway, which is to heal from their original trauma or traumas).

Until we let go of our internal victim, the world and the people in it will always be looking to victimize us, to cause us harm. If we are able to begin moving away from this, and accept some sort of personal responsibility for our own internal state, our illusions about the world will change– and the world (and the people in it) will be more giving and caring.

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Similarly, I speak to people all over the world who have experienced pretty brutal Kundalini awakenings and other spiritual awakening, as well as shamanic callings. I will write a different blog about this soon, but part of the difficulty of actually being called to be a shaman or of having a kundalini awakening is accepting that it is happening.

The biggest difficulty, however, is not the experience itself. Kundalini energies, shamanic initiations, and other spiritual experiences (dark night of the soul, initiations of all sorts) can be brutal in and of themselves. They really can.

But Kundalini is divine energy. It is bliss. It is radiance. Yes, it causes difficulty as it flows through you. But much of the difficulty is created out of our “stuck” material– our trauma, emotions, our fears, our desperate holding on for control. As I have written about, most people who are experiencing a kundalini awakening are not experiencing a “full” one– they are experiencing a bit of the energy… but it cannot flow anywhere (or cannot flow on a permanent and continual basis, it may sort of peak like a wave crashing on the shore occasionally, but it really is about how the energy flows on a permanent basis.. not what has happened once or twice).

And what is “stuck” is the person– their experiences, their trauma, their emotions. Until the person is willing to accept that it is not kundalini, that it is their own unhealed material that is coming up to be processed, and for that person to be willing to work on healing themselves and looking inward, they will continue to have issues with kundalini. And likely blame kundalini. There is no doubt that kundalini is a strong energy. It is massive– like a freight train running through you at times. I get that, I really, really (really) do. But what it is doing is clearing someone, bringing up everything that is unhealed within them.

And it is much easier to blame the Kundalini than to take personal responsibility.

It is much harder to realize that Kundalini is attempting to connect us to our infinite selves, to oneness, to bliss… and that it is not out to victimize us.

People do not like to hear this– we live in a society of quick fixes, of external blame. I do have a lot of compassion for people having kundalini awakenings, but until someone is willing to heal whatever is blocking the kundalini from flowing freely (again, experiences, trauma, emotions) they are going to go through life (or many lives) blaming kundalini for all of their issues, instead of learning how it is a gift, a blessing, pure divinity pouring through you… something that provides way more than it takes away.

Similarly with shamanic callings (which are actually incredibly rare… I can probably count on both hands and perhaps a toe or two the amount of truly called shamans I have met), the biggest issue (beyond spirit-led initiations, which provide an interesting existence but can be exhausting, difficult, life-changing, and so forth) is acceptance. It is of accepting the role, the calling… it is of letting go of the fear, the pain, and the trauma that arises when the role of shaman comes through. What I mean by this is that part of the shamanic calling is of releasing enough of your “stuff” to be able to be a facilitator for others. To have power flow through you, basically.

Becoming a “shaman” is not a self-help path. It really isn’t. It is about providing a service to your community, it is a communal role or trade profession, one that must have proper training and guidance as well as experience to be effective at (similar to all trade professions). But until the person experiencing the shamanic call is willing to get out of their own way and accept that they are being called, their focus cannot be on healing others, or providing their trade to the community.

I realize that this sounds funny because we live in a modern society where every surfer dude and person who has taken a shamanic class calls themselves a shaman, but when you are actually called there are a variety of emotions, disbelief, and rage (typically) that comes through. This needs to be worked through, and taken personal responsibility of, before someone can successfully be a spiritual worker. Otherwise there is still a focus on the self instead of a full working relationship with spirit(s), and until the person accepts the call they are going to be fairly miserable until they do so. Spirit-led illnesses are unfortunate, and miserable, and typically happen at a point when the spiritual worker needs to let something go… or if the spiritual worker isn’t getting something important (the “being hit over the head with an anvil” approach via spirits).

I could go on– empaths, psychics, sensitives. There is no doubt that this population needs tools, tools that are not taught that often (as we live in an aspirational society that wants to be psychic, sensitive, and so forth, rather than management of psychic abilities). But much of what I see, both from my own path, as well as from others I talk to is a fair amount of spiritual bypass by taking on the label of empath, or psychic, or sensitive. Like most things, if you work on your own unhealed material, and are willing to look inward, the weight of being “sensitive” lessens.

When I began working with past lives and ancestral healing I realized that it was another way for people to not take personal responsibility for themselves. Even as my sessions focused on this type of work provided deep healing and release, I had the realization that something was missing. And that aspect was personal responsibility. We all have patterns, traumas, and emotions passed down to us from family, ancestry, past lives, and more (for everything passed down to us you can look at my book The Spiritual Awakening Guide).

But we take these on in our own way. We add on to them based on our own experiences, our own traumas. I often compare this to a snowball– an ancestor or “other” of some sort may have started the snowball. Others may have added on to it. But eventually that snowball rolls down to us. And through our own thoughts, experiences, and emotions we have also added snow to that snowball. And until we unpack our own snow, the snowball doesn’t fully dissipate. This is why in my sessions I heal not only the ancestor (ancestors, past lives, karmic connections, cultural stuff, etc), but return to focusing on the client, and their experience of the energy. This is how to effect full healing.

Even if we have a completely “outer” experience– like a spirit attachment, there is often a sort of reconciliation that needs to happen. A release on the part of the client of the experience. Until this happens, they are likely to experience the same energy or experience again, or similarly. Sometimes stuff just happens– whether it be a spirit attachment or anything else (and whether it is something to open your eyes, test you, or simply just happened is always a consideration). People who get frequent spirit attachments typically have a hole, or tear, in their energy field. (Either that or they are really sensitive and do not have the skills to work with spirits, but that is another blog I suppose). Or both. But there typically is personal work, whether it be learning tools such as energetic boundaries, or healing of whatever created that tear, or opening, that can be done.

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So my point here, in this blog, is not to blame. We have all had difficult experiences in this world. It is part of life that we do. But we have a choice. We can choose to look inwardly and to take personal responsibility for our world. We can accept external help from others in our quest to heal our inner nature, our inner wounds, whatever they might be.

When we heal, we move out of victim mode. We move out of chaos. Our lives improve, often drastically. The more we can accept personal responsibility for our world, the more fair, loving, and healing the world can be.

As an end note, I do realize that when you do this, there will still be others that have not accepted personal responsibility for their own chaos, but when you heal yourself, you can look at those people, and the world around you, with compassion. They are no longer a mirror for you, but are just showing you their inner pain, confusion, and unhealed trauma. When you realize this, you take personal responsibility for any part of them that is mirroring something to you, and you can then leave the rest. A lot of people are in so much chaos, so much pain… and I get a lot of questions about what to do. The thing that you can do is take personal responsibility for any part of you that is reacting to them. If you are no longer reacting to them, and can simply look at them with compassion (even if it is something like “wow, that person has a lot of unhealed stuff. I hope they get help some day” or even if it is something like “wow, that person is a total jerk. their lives must reflect that otherwise they wouldn’t act like that) you know that you are no longer mirroring them, and can just let them be. They will decide if and when they are willing to ever take personal responsibility for themselves. We can simply be there if they ever decide to do so.

Treating the Root

It is understood by most spiritual workers that any sort of symptom or experience we have in this world is a result of spiritual energies, or causes.
japan-956073_1280I very much find this to be true, however, as someone who has worn many hats in the spiritual field and in other forms of holistic therapy (chinese medicine, craniosacral therapy, energy work, etc) that while all things are spiritual, they all get rooted differently.

In a basic energetic understanding of things, all things begin at the spiritual layer. This layer is the furthest out (as well as the furthest inward/deepest at the same time), and then go through other layers– the mental layer, emotional layer, and then physical layer (outer to inner, to be brief.. there are energetic layers and other layers in between).

What does this mean? In simplicity it means that all things are spiritual, and then they become mental, emotional, and eventually physical. This is if they are not taken care of at other layers (for example, if we heal emotionally, or take care of our emotions as they arise, they are less likely to entrench physically).

So in this simplistic sort of understanding of things, spiritual work can really help anyone. We are all spiritual beings, with spiritual imbalances.

But in reality we may have something going on with us that roots, or entrenches, at a specific layer, or level. And it needs to be taken care of at this level, or this level at first.

Let me explain.

The simplest way to explain this is that there might be a very spiritual reason for me breaking my leg. But if I break my leg I am going to go to the hospital and get a cast. I am not going to contact my spiritual worker.

Western Medicine is emergency medicine (although we use it much differently, I realize, but those are its roots). If you need emergency care– something taken out of you, something killed, or something scanned to find out what it is, this is the level to treat at.

I have had people contact me with emergency room type pain (possible appendicitis), strange growths, and feelings of being so suddenly ill physically that they cannot get out of bed. One of the biggest reasons that I state that I cannot assist people is because their experience is rooted at the physical level, and it is entrenched to the extent that it needs to be taken care of at that level first. Once that level is worked with, the person can question the spiritual and energetic (and mental) reasoning for things, but once something is really physically entrenched (causing a lot of symptoms of a physical nature) often hands-on physical care is necessary (whether that be through acupuncture, bodywork, massage, or western medicine).

The other reason that I hear “not my department” when people ask to work with me is because of something that is entrenched at the mental layer. I can speak a lot about mental illness, as I have worked with people who have been diagnosed with varying mental illnesses quite a bit successfully with spiritual work, but the person needs to be mentally balanced enough for there to have change happen in their lives.

I do not care about diagnosis, by the way, my thoughts on mental imbalances are fairly Confucian– basically my interest is in if someone is clear enough and stable enough to work in a spiritual manner. In many cases, the answer is yes. In some cases, it is no.

I wish that my screening and divination methods were perfect for this, that I could always know when someone is too ill and imbalanced mentally to work with me, but unfortunately one or two occasionally slip by. I wish I could be of service, and feel a lot of compassion for this population, but there is a small percentage of the population that truly needs medication. There is a slightly larger percentage of the population that needs counseling, hospitalization, or other methods to ensure their basic safety and well-being. I do not think that forty percent of the population needs medication (last numbers I saw for supposed psychiatric medications of varying sorts), but I have been doing this work for too long to believe the myth that all people can be helped (at all) or helped by spiritual work.

The point I am basically making is that if someone is traumatized and mentally imbalanced to the point that they lack functioning in their lives and are terrified at the thought of change because it would destabilize them, are threatening suicide, do not make any sort of sense (are not functioning dominantly in this reality), or project their trauma onto the world continually in a chaotic way, they require psychological assistance instead of spiritual work.

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I will say that once stabilized (even if on medication, or even with diagnoses like DID or Schizophrenia) that people who are considered “mentally ill” are often incredibly insightful, spiritual individuals, who are able to see the world with depth. I do agree with the assessment that some people who would be considered to be having some sort of breakdown are going through a period of spiritual emergency. I also very much know that a lot of individuals who are sensitive, psychic, empathic (and so forth) who are commonly diagnosed as “depressed” often need tools and understandings to know how to clear energy from them as well as learn how to function in this world as someone who senses, sees, and feels so much. This world is not intended for the sensitive, and too often sensitivity is treated as mental illness, when really it could be worked with in a spiritual manner to great effect (either instead of or alongside mental healthcare).

Spiritual work tends to draw people who think differently, who feel differently. It also tends to draw people who are severely mentally ill who would best be served by psychological services until they are stabilized. Until people in this category receive the appropriate level of care, they will look at any change as a possible threat to their existence (sometimes, rightfully so).

Also, if we consider the spiritual layers, the mental layer is just beneath the spiritual. What this means is that if someone has a lot of blockage in the mental layer (a lot of imbalances) their perception of the spiritual (or really any of the other layers) is going to be incredibly skewed. This is until the mental layer is healed, of course. Someone needs to have enough flow in their “mental” layer that the spiritual can work its way through without being dramatically changed by the mental layer. Without any sort of room in that mental layer for energies to come through, or to be exchanged with the other layers (physical, emotional…. to spiritual) the person is in their head, often delusional, not connected to reality, and unable to change.

This is in the most severe of cases, however. Most of us have mental conditioning and illusions as well as projections we should work on. We really create our world through our thoughts (in many ways, not completely, but enough), and a fair amount of us have a lot of energy entrenched at this level, that if we were to take care of it, we could connect spiritually in a way we likely never thought possible.

But my basic point here is that if we are delusional, in an emergency situation mentally, unable to see the world or participate in it, or unable to change because it would be too destablizing, it is best to treat the mental layer rather than the spiritual. When someone is stabilized, despite whatever energy they have left in that layer, and despite their history and diagnosis, spiritual work can be of real assistance.

The emotional layer is a large layer. We all have a core resonant emotion that creates our world. The simplest example of this (in an odd way, because depression is anything but simple) is of depression. When we are depressed the world as if it is in greyscale– we are not able to see colors, brightness, lightness. It is that sort of cloud within and surrounding us. When we are angry, and have that as our core emotion, everything in this world will seem as if it is there to make us angry.

root-1227268_1920Our emotions go along with our thoughts, and since they are the primary energy that circulates (or blocks) the physical body, due to its energetic relationship with it, they can be worked with through body-based techniques that approach the emotions (such as craniosacral therapy), psychological work that approaches the body (like Hakomi) or spiritual work that approaches the body (like the work that I do).

Our emotions are joiners– while things are deeply entrenched at this level emotions will frequently sort of “team up” with our physical body and mental conditioning to construct our reality. If emotions are so imbalanced that the person is hanging on for dear life, they are best dealt with through in-person care and/or care from an experienced therapist.

If emotions are not an emergency, they are well taken care of by spiritual workers (ones that do body based methods, and have trained in trauma care ideally), body-based services (again, like craniosacral therapy or somatoemotional release). This allows for the emotional root to be explored as well as the spiritual, mental, and physical connections. Emotions are large energies, and by taking care of not only the “root” (the emotion) but also the “branches” (mental, physical, spiritual) they can be lessened, or healed.

If someone has an imbalance at the spiritual level, it typically is odd symptoms and experiences that cannot be explained through the other layers… or it is someone who has the courage and willingness to explore the depths of their imbalances to the extent that they wish to explore all layers of their imbalance. Someone will sometimes have a sense of something “spiritual” going on as well, but the basic experiences of some process rooted at the spiritual level is that it just doesn’t make sense in any other layer.

I will say in treatment of the root that the “branches” need to be explored, especially in complex cases. We rarely heal at one level– once our primary (root) is being taken care of, at the appropriate level, we can explore the various ways it has manifested in all of our levels.

We need a team for healing. People rarely realize this. They think they can go to one healer, one clinician, for all of their issues. But complex issues, long standing issues, require looking at all of the levels. It is frequently that people come to me and say that they have been through the western medical gamut, have gone to counseling, and still either have the issue or want to explore the issue on a deeper level. What is needed in these cases is often connection– we are not just a physical body, or an emotional body. We are a spiritual-mental-emotional-physical (and other) body, and until all of these “bodies” are touched on, or are worked with, and are perhaps, most importantly, connected, we tend to not heal.

So taking stock of where your symptoms are, how they are clustered, can allow for us to understand what our primary concern is. We can then go find the appropriate healer for that, and then, as we heal, notice where are symptoms are clustering again, and work to resolve that. I do not encourage “healer hopping” but our healing with a particular healer, or method of healing, may reach completion at a certain point. Ideally the healer will recognize this, and mention something, but in many cases healers need clients, or are not attuned enough to really sense this dynamic, so inwardly questioning as someone looking for healing would be something each one of us can do to assist ourselves greatly.

  • I will mention, as a last note, that healing is different than curing. Spiritual work offers great healing to people, but I never promise cure/the disease process (or whatever process) completely being eliminated. Nobody should. If someone offers a cure, it is a huge red flag to me. Each person is an individual, with individual imbalances, and while someone may be really successful at healing (especially a particular disorder or imbalance) the concept of “cure” is not up to the healer.

Working with Cultural Energies

One of the things I have been working a fair amount with professionally and personally is with cultural energies.

I do quite a bit of ancestral healing– it is one of my focuses and passions. Ancestral healing can result in huge changes and release of long-standing patterns, especially powerful emotions and belief patterns.

I do find that people are “catching on” so to speak, with ancestral healing, and I am thankful for that. I do find it humorous that spiritual workers have been working with ancestral energies, and ancestral healing, for thousands of years, and recent techniques and psychotherapeutic oriented modalities act like they were the first ones to discover it or even think about it.

I also recognize more and more these days that removing things from their spiritual roots and re-creating them to be mental techniques and more palatable and recognizable to the “masses” causes them to lose their essence and much of their power… but I have also learned that people will, in general, find the healing that they are ready for.

I do find that with more mainstream acceptance or discussion that people will sometimes realize that they can accept that these energies are having an effect on them (because “society” has told them so), and so they are open to considering it, and of eventually working with it… which I am thankful for as well.

For more about ancestral work, you can read these prior blogs (ancestral healing; working with your ancestral line; ancestral healing and curses; understanding the gifts of our ancestors)

In doing all of this ancestral work I have noticed with some individuals that some of the healing work extends beyond that. In those cases, the healing of culture, and of cultural constructs becomes incredibly relevant as well as healing.

In “new-age” (I hate that word/construct, but it is the best way to describe mainstream spirituality) thought I come across the idea quite a bit that “we are all one” which typically means someone telling everyone else that they don’t see culture, race, gender, and so forth, and that those constructs are meaningless. (side note, in actual oneness states you are able to sense the oneness as well as the individuality of everyone and everything– something that people who have not actually experienced this state do not understand)

In spiritual healing, this is a complete falsehood. Our individual makeup, who we are, what society, race, gender, and culture we have emerged from is incredibly important. It is important because those energies, those essences, have created our beliefs, understandings, abilities, power, and pain in this world. It has created our wounds as well as our beauty.

The culture that we come from can have certain beliefs and understandings similar to the way trauma is carried in our ancestral line. But cultural energies typically are a bit bigger. They have to do with loss of power, generally. Or even more generally, they have to do with the mis-use of power.

What I mean by this is that if we have come from a culture that experienced a lot of war and sacrifice, in that culture there may be a current of pain or despair due to another culture “taking” from them. Taking their power, basically.

Or in another culture they may have a legacy of being an oppressor– of taking from another culture. This energy may be a current of fear, greed, or shame.

How is this Different From Ancestral Energies?
So in this same situation a client may come to me whose ancestors were slaves. Those individuals (the people who experienced slavery) may have had individual traumas, as well as individual realizations– beliefs and understandings about themselves and the world– which were then passed down to my client through the ancestral line.

These energies are now held by the client until they can reconcile them, until they can heal them, and until they can come to a space of recognizing how those energies have impacted them.

Once these energies have healed– the individual stories, beliefs, and the actual ancestors have been healed (a big difference between mental work and spiritual work, by the way, is the understanding that the ancestors are still with us, and still can be communicated with and worked with as conscious beings), the strength and beauty of the ancestry can come through. It is truly a beautiful process.

Cultural energies are more like webs– webs we are connected to if we are a part of that culture (we are a strand of that web, basically). Or another way of looking at it is that cultural energies are like currents (like an ocean). If we are part of a specific culture, that current flows through us and informs us. (As another side note, this is why I will tell people to connect to their own ancestral practices and cultural practices, because they can easily tap into this current).

In the above situation (the client whose ancestors experienced slavery) there is also the cultural energy there. Basically, this means that this current is one not of the individual ancestor needing to be healed, or even the beauty of the individual ancestral line being carried through, but the cultural energy of many people from that culture being enslaved and the energies of pain, fear/terror, grief, rage/anger, and more that emerged from that culture as a result of this culture as a whole experiencing slavery… and that energy becoming a part of the current that informs my individual client.

But more importantly, the above cultural energy has to do with being “taken” from. A loss of power. A taking of power.

So obviously working with one individual and their cultural energies is not going to erase this pain, this legacy. It would be silly to suggest that, and quite frankly, disrespectful to the culture and to the experiences they had.

In fact, I would not suggest erasing that history (another “new-age” popular thing to do it seems). Our history has created that current. Out of pain emerges beauty, wisdom, and spiritual practices (as a side note, I do think that a lot of people do not understand this, and will gravitate towards the “trendy” spiritual culture and their practices, not understanding that if they do not know the history, or why the spiritual practices emerged… if they cannot place themselves in that current I describe here… Many powerful spiritual practices emerged out of necessity, out of a direct and specific history.. and without understanding the “why” the practices will simply be a form of play-acting and essentially powerless).

But through that one individual this loss of power, and the emotions that have arisen because of it, can be healed.

Or through an individual, the ill-gotten power and “taking” that have happened, and how that cultural energy has manifested… how that current of energy flows through that individual, can be healed.

This means that working with cultural energies has to do with balancing of power.

But it also means that working with cultural energies– healing that current that comes through that one individual– can allow for them to realign with the beauty, strength, and magnificence of the individual culture that they are from (or if they are from many cultures, to embrace that individual culture that we have worked on, as well as eventually perhaps their other cultures in time).

The current (or grid) that creates such a strong legacy (often an incredibly understandable one) of pain, chaos, trauma, and strong emotions… can then be recognized as a source of power.

When we recognize the culture we emerge from as a source of power we are more willing to look interior, to trust our own strength, to recognize the beauty of our own culture. Each culture that is on this planet is beautiful– with its own current that has unique energies that compose it. If we are able to recognize the beauty and strength, and fully step into the current of our culture, we can feel more aligned, powerful, and our spiritual path can often be revealed to us in really powerful ways.

I will say that this work is for everyone… but it is not for everyone. That means that typically there needs to be ancestral healing done before larger forces, such as ancestral energies, can be worked with. Such work can reveal and release the ways in which we have culturally lost or inappropriately gained power, and how to set that dynamic right within the context of our individual bodies and lives, however.