Love your blog and books!
I was wondering if you could give me a bit of guidance. I have been working my way through your books but was wondering if you had any advice. I have been doing shamanic and magical work for a few years, but am struggling a bit. There is so much information and advice out there, and it is hard to tell what is real. It also feels like a lot of stuff is the same? Like a lot of it feels off to me also. I would like to go deeper, but feel at a stalling point. Any pointers?
I edited and shortened your email a bit, but I think that the essential points still remain. I will be taking questions through my contact form again and responding to them via this blog when I think they would be a good thing to chat about and I think I could offer a valuable response.
One of the essential things about any type of spiritual practice (as a general term) is to actually do the work. I know, it sounds simple, right?
But one of the things that it took me a surprisingly long time to learn is that people tend to like to talk about the work, but so few people actually do it, especially on a regular basis.
Embodiment (direct experience) of the work is how to move beyond the peaks and plateaus.
The next is to truly sit with how connected you feel. I talk about this in my Shamanic Workbook 1 and 2, but communion and connection is a felt experience. It is an experience of direct knowing, of deeply feeling. This type of communion allows for someone to truly begin to differentiate when something is coming from their head (psychologically oriented, typically based on egoic needs and wants) and when something is truly based in connectivity and communion.
Another thing that is helpful to understand is what you are truly looking for. If you are a sincere seeker, all of those books that you describe that all say the same thing, the hodgepodge of New Age secularist thinking that strips spirituality from spiritual matters, aren’t really meant for you.
See this simply and clearly and dispassionately so you can begin to separate out works that may support you in your quest. By having a clear intention like this in time you can find what is calling you. Books and teachings and art have a soul, and can find us just as readily as we can find them.
Find books and art and music and authors who think uniquely, and who think differently than you do. Sit with their thoughts and recognize their unique brilliance. I cannot tell you what authors or paintings or music or art will allow for you to see the world from a different perspective, but what I can tell you is that finding those who see the world differently and think differently will allow for you to open yourself up in ways that you cannot imagine.
In terms of practice, the deluge of information can be difficult to sort through. There are so many paths, and it truly is impossible to study them all. I am someone who has been a voracious reader of the mystical, spiritual, and occult since I was a small child, and spent a decade-long period pretty much only studying and meditating and reading. I am mentioning this because I found out that it is impossible to study and know everything. I really did try.
I am also mentioning this because the “need to know” can be a pattern of the mind, rather than the soul. Consumerism teaches us to want more and more and more. The need to be superior can express itself through academia, through acquisition of knowledge, of wounding patterns where we feel we need to know in order to be approved of, in order to feel like we have a right to exist.
Paradoxically, to get to a place beyond this we often need to truly educate ourselves.
Education is key. We are living in a reality where the force of ignorance is in the forefront. While scam artists and scoundrels and Dunning-Kruger has always been a thing to find yourself beyond on the spiritual path, there is such a huge amount of misinformed information out there in the spiritual sphere because people generally do not have respect or regard for things that they do not have faith in or enough experience with. This type of spiritual poverty causes for people to not educate themselves on spiritual matters, to not understand that spiritually educating themselves might be something they might do, especially before attempting to lead others spiritually.
Generally most sincere seekers find themselves beyond this type of stuff reasonably quickly, but the word sincere truly is key. If you are looking for something of depth, something connected and embodied and spiritual and true, you will find it. If you are looking for something that will quell the existential dread, that will tell you that what you already think and believe is correct, that will cause for you to believe that someone or something outside of yourself has all the answers, that will support your wounding that causes for you to need to feel superior or separate from the rest of humanity, then that is what you will find.
So find philosophy, esoteric and mystical material that calls to you. That excites you, that vibrates while you hold it. Study mythology and folk tales and psychology and what spiritual teachers and authors have been saying for ages. You cannot know it all, but you can always educate yourself.
To go deeper, I would suggest finding a structured program of study to assist you. Instead of reading 10,000 books, find one book or training program or teacher that offers structure and a progressive method of understanding things.
Meditate. Yes, I will plug my course during this section, but meditation truly is mental training. It allows for you to understand how to work with the energy of the body, with the emotions, and with the contents in a mind so that there can be focus and clarity.
Meditating can make the difference between ineffective and effective work. I have met plenty of people who have had spiritual experiences by this point, or who are teaching and studying and doing all sorts of workings, and those who have a regular meditative practice of some sort are the ones who can maintain higher consciousness states and who have the capacity to do spiritual work that has a ripple effect on their outer reality.
I would go as far to say that if you do not have a regular meditative practice of some type that your work won’t have the focus and clarity and depth to gain the results that you are likely looking for.
Finally, look within. My Body Deva work can support you in doing this. Meditation can also support this as well. In the modern world we experience a huge amount of soul loss– a schism between the spiritual and the mundane (our daily, waking reality). This is lived out through all of us in some way in the modern world, and needs to be rectified on multiple levels to do in-depth work.
So look towards the parts of yourself that separate you from the Other. Look towards the parts of you that are conditioned to believe that feeling and emotionality are wrong, that your inner darkness and primal expressions and instincts are incorrect.
It is in those expressions and by deeply feeling that you can access the deep magic within yourself, each and every time. It is by gaining access to these depths within yourself that you can gain access to the depths within the Other.
Often our intuition has been obscured by being told so many times that the small inner voice within us is wrong. Uncovering that light and beginning to listen to that voice (without our inner critic admonishing it) can allow for us to express ourselves without shame, and to pair our intuition with logic.
By pairing our intuition and logic, we can begin to act in ways that spirit and our own inner urgings are already pointing us towards. We simply need to learn to listen with an open heart and a bit of pragmatism and discernment.
And finally, here are my favorite books for in-depth beginners that focus on “doing”. My definition of that is for sincere seekers who truly are looking for that sense of communion and spiritual revelation, no matter how long they have been on the path. I also tend to personally resonate with books that tend to be overlooked in modern spiritual circles (always rooting for the underdog and the unique thinkers). My apologies if a few of these books are hard to find (and yes, I will put my own books on the list):
The Shamanic Workbook 1 and The Shamanic Workbook 2 offer an extensive amount of education, skills, and practices for anyone looking to receive an education in animism/shamanry.
The Body Deva is for anyone who is willing and ready to look within. The intelligence of the body is such a massive resource, and this book offers the skills to connect with and chat with the consciousness of the human form. Based in self-inquiry and the understanding that our bodies hold the emotions, pain, and imbalances that we experience in our lives.
The Complete Cord Course teaches you how to work with your connections to other people (energy cords). I look at this work as essential for anyone who interacts with a lot of people each day (including online) as well as is a basic skill for any energy worker, spiritual worker, or holistic practitioner.
Initiation into Hermetics by Franz Bardon. This is the book I started my magical training with. I can see now that it has a gloss of Hermeticism, but mainly it is a really good training ground to understand a bit of magical theory as well as focusing and cultivating energy techniques.
The Book of Practical Candle Magic by Leo Vinci. Candle magic is such a beautiful and often simple way to begin to “do”.
Magic: An Occult Primer by David Conway. I truly wish I had found this book earlier, as I personally did not resonate with much of the popularized magical books out there. This book may be hard to find these days, but it is a clear and pragmatic approach to occult practice.
Magical Ritual Methods by William G. Gray. I was a ritual magician for eighteen years, and have such a love for ritual. William Gray explains magical ritual and the “how” and “why” of ceremonial magic in a way that shows many years of embodied practice.
Dreamtime and Inner Space or Shamans, Healers, and Medicine Men by Holger Kalweit. This is not a book of practices, but in terms of a shamanic or animist curriculum, I would read his work. He reveals not only careful studies but also real empathy and sight/shamanic capacities (this is an extremely rare combo in this field) that will get anyone excited about the possibilities of shamanic healing.
Mary Mueller Shutan is a spiritual teacher and author of multiple books, including Managing Psychic Abilities, The Spiritual Awakening Guide, and Working with Kundalini.